Player: “This must be the odd group of adventurers the Mayor was talking about! By the way, what is the name of this bar…”
DM: “Ummmm… The d20 Inn”
Player: “Really? That’s a stupid name…”
I was really lucky growing up. I had a great DM with a great imagination, and he was never at a loss for a tavern name when he was put on the spot. Albeit, some of them were so far out in left field, that when we heard them we would become hysterical with laughter. It didn’t matter; we were in high school and we were young. Sigh!
Now that most of us are all grown up now and no longer dim-witted and silly (yeah, right), some of still come up with the most horrible names for anything pertaining to our game. Be a little creative; use that schooling to make names that are interesting and punny! Have fun with them!
Taverns, in my opinion, happen to be one of the most memorable parts of my gaming. You get good names, and you get bad ones. You get funny ones and offensive ones. Most times though, the tavern is memorable for a few reasons: either the name of the tavern, the NPC associated with the establishment, or the memorable role-playing moment in these joints.
Regardless of how we remember them, in the course of the two parts of this article, I will be giving you a description of twenty-three 23 possible tavern names that can be integrated and used for your current or future campaigns. This first part will include eleven (11) tavern names.
Each name will have three parts to it: the name of the tavern, an explanation of how the tavern got its name and a possible NPC associated with these taverns.(click on tavern sign to see larger image)
The Bloated Beholder
The establishment gets its name for the medium sized stuffed beholder. The owner did not kill this creature himself (though he would never say it in front of his patrons), he actually found this creature freshly killed on one of his patrols of the sewers and claimed it as his own kill.
This tavern upon entering is decorated with swords hung high on the wall, some suits of armour lay about in different stance in the tavern. The most prominent feature of the tavern is the stuffed beholder over the fireplace mantelpiece in the center of the room.
Otivan Daleborn is or can be a retired guard from whatever militia or form of military control is present in your campaign setting.
The Dirty Bird
This tavern is more of an eatery, famous for its fried chicken and wings. People come from around the continent to eat this delicious concoction. This tavern could possibly be the first prototype of the modern day KFC. It is a small eatery with a take out window.
A gnome artificer named Stosaadi, came up with the idea of the deep fryer when she heard someone talk about how the orcs from (insert name here) boiled humanoids in oil. She thought if oil could cook flesh, then chicken is well within the means.
The Whispering Willow
This establishment comes very highly recommended, highly decorated, with the prices to match. Fine dining, comfortable rooms and live entertainment in the evenings. This tavern is usually a place where people of importance would stay when they are visiting. This place would offer a variety of suites and services; a classy place indeed.
Wandaatris, a female half-orc bard owns the establishment. She was raised by Halflings and learned the mannerisms to become an adventuring bard of some renown. She then settled and decided to start her own brand new adventure of hostess, with great success.
This establishment does not exist. It is a diversion. When your characters are on a path to someone who may have information, and they want to misdirect the adventurers, the informant would give them the name of this tavern with directions and all (false directions and all). You may want your NPC to roll a check to see if they can “pull one over” the eyes of the PCs
The Watering Hole
Just your run of the mill tavern. It name comes from the fountain in front of the establishment. It is an older place, a place where the town guard may hang out after their shifts are done. If the PCs are smart enough to know how to get it, this place could become a great spot for information.
The tavern is owned by Tiev Rustring, an older gentleman; just a local, born and raised in this town. In actuality, Tiev is no longer with the living. The owner actually died in his sleep one night which gave “Dareth the dish-boy”, the opportunity to literally jump into the shoes of his employer. In actuality, Tiev was replaced by a changeling named Hordak. This down on his luck changeling is now the owner of the bar. He has worked for Tiev long enough to have picked up his routines and mingled with his friends that no one suspects he is not Tiev.
The Magician’s Wife
If you want great home-style cooking, this is the place to be…only if you do not cast magic. This tavern boasts the best lamb stew in the whole region, if not the whole world. At night, the place is usually alive with local talent, ranging from comedians to actors, from acrobats to bards.
A natural singer and bard by trade, Wandalove Waveharp settled here when she fell in love with a powerful Mage. They commenced a passionate romance that lasted for many years. The romance eventually faded for the mage and he left Wandalove in the middle of one night to pursue his magic. She has not seen him since. She is a bitter woman and despises magic to this day. She is so bitter that she no longer has to heart to sing anymore. She will not allow anyone of any magical talent to enter her establishment. She has even hired two half-orc enforcers, who are extremely loyal to her.
This tavern can be used as a point for a skill challenge on why the magical characters of the party should be let into the tavern.
The XP Tree
This tavern can be a central location, where the PCs could come and get a drink, listen to some rumours, and look for some work. Upon entering the tavern, there is a wall with parchment hung all over the place announcing jobs for those adventurers who want to work.
Owned and operated by either one of the current leaders’ (of the town you are in) offspring, or at least a relative of the immediate family, PCs can find all sorts of work listed on the walls. PCs can find anything from mercenary work to full expeditions.
The Fallen Priest
For any type of religious information you would like to convey to your party, you can send them to the Fallen Priest, where upon entering the tavern you would be greeted by a plethora of religious items from a specific deity (you choose the appropriate deity for you adventurers)
Panrry the faithless (can be of any race), has lost his way. Once a man of the cloth, and now is a man of the bar towel. He spent 20 year of his life as a scholar and a devoted servant of his deity. After years of hearing his colleague’s tales of divine interventions, Panrry’s faith wavered as he wondered why his God would not grant him such an audience.
This tavern could be used as a starting point for a side trek to bring Panrry back to his faithful ways by your PCs. Some miracle happens and Panrry goes back to his faith. Otherwise, he is a good source of religious information specific to you adventure.
The Lame Unicorn
The Lame Unicorn sports a hanging sign outside with a picture of a donkey on it, lying on the ground, without a horn. Hold that though, because if you mention the “lameness” of the joke, you are likely to get something broken.
This tavern boasts itself as the melting pot of the town, where people of all races and classes come together for drinks. Sometimes, the bar can be a rough-and-tumble place (due to the disagreements between races), but a nice place to hang out nonetheless. Order in the establishment is kept by the Minotaur and goliath enforcers here every night.
The bar is owned by a none-too-witty Minotaur nicknamed “Greataxe”. This barbarian came into some money while adventuring and decided to open up his own place, where everyone could feel at ease. Quick to anger, Greataxe is quick to confront anyone if they mention the obvious “lameness” of his sign. He thinks it is quite clever (good place for a PC bar brawl).
The Tiny Portal
This tavern boasts a very unique entertainment experience. The doorway is set in an alleyway and is scaled to the size of a small child. It is actually a tavern that is particularly frequented by Halflings. Everything is small in this place. Even the ceilings are only 6ft high. People of all races are welcome and they even have seats in the back that are sized for the larger humanoid races. Entertainment is the driving force behind the success of this place. Set into the back of the room, is a large entertainment area, a small amphitheatre where class acts from around the world come and play.
Owned and operated by a Halfling named Hurley Tallfellow, he manages somehow to bring in the best entertainment from around the world.
This setting could be used to bring a little (no pun intended) flavour into the tavern scene.
The Rebel House
As you walk into this tavern, you know you are in someplace that is very different. In the courtyard sits a platform for hanging people (which is actually the main bar), cells line the walls on two separate levels. Tables and chairs occupy the courtyard. Each cell has been converted to be able to sit 4 persons. The interesting part about this establishment is that everything in here is original.
Ex prison guard Mikael Yoursty opened the tavern when he lost guard job due to closing of the prison. Having meticulously saved over his many years, Mikael was able to purchase his old workplace and turn it into a fascinating place to spend an evening.
Take these names! Use them, abuse them, modify them, enjoy them, because twelve more will be coming your way soon! Tell me what you think of them, I would like to know.
You can check out Part 2 here!