D&D 5e Tavern Encounter Tips & Cheat Sheet

D&D 5e Tavern Encounter Tips & Cheat Sheet

Paula Jakobs

Feel free to use any or all of the information below to flesh out your tavern and add some interesting encounters. Click here for a download pdf of the same information. It's formatted to fit on a single double-sided page.

Random Tavern Description

The inn is a large single story timber framed building, with a small fenced yard and a separate stable. Inside there are mismatched tables and chairs of different styles and sizes, but the room is clean and there are fresh flowers on the tables. The room smells of ale and roast meat. There is a bald, elderly halfling behind the bar, wiping the counter. He smiles and waves as you enter. A few of the tables are occupied with patrons and a teenage halfling boy in an apron walks between them carrying a tray of ale mugs.

A Few Tavern Encounters

  1. The players (or the most perceptive member of the group) overhear some NPCs plotting a heist or a murder at a nearby table.
  2. A gnome enters a crowded tavern acting kind of shifty (looking around a lot, as if he's being followed) and sits at a table near the players. A bit later, some thugs enter, clearly looking for someone. The gnome offers the group a few coins in exchange for them making a diversion, so he can quietly slip out. Turns out, he's a thief who stole something from a local noble.
  3. The tavern is out of its house specialty, blazing whiskey, and the owner asks the adventurers to fetch the main ingredient; the essence of a fire mephit, or other fiery creature, which can be obtained at a nearby hot springs. In return they will receive a bottle of blazing whiskey; a drink that gives you 1 casting of the spell dragon's breath.
  4. A farmer enters looking distraught, begging for help "they've taken Elsie!", he says. He's a bit incoherent because he's so upset but says that goblins came to his farm and took sweet little Elsie. The goblins live in a cave in the nearby forest and have been harassing his farm from time to time. If the players help him, they'll find out that Elsie is not a child, but a goat.
  5. A player's character finds some writing scratched into the tavern table. It says "I love" followed by the name of the character. Strange thing is, the character has never been near that town.
  6. A tavern in a rough part of town has a strict no weapons policy, so the characters have to turn in their weapons. Of course, a barroom brawl will break out and the group has to use improvised weapons such as forks, dishes, chairs, etc.
  7. If someone sits at the bar and orders a drink, the innkeeper will slide it across the bar. Have the character do a dexterity check to see if they catch the drink. If they fail, they spill the drink on themselves.
  8. A well-dressed young noble sitting at a nearby table with other nobles intentionally trips the bus boy as he walks past with a tray full of mugs. The tray falls and the mugs shatter. The innkeeper yells at the boy for being clumsy as the men laugh quietly to themselves.

Tavern Menu

Food

  • Beef stew in a bread bowl *10cp*
  • Lizard-kabob *5cp*
  • A beef patty between two halves of a sesame seed bun, with cheese, lettuce and tomato. Served with thin, fried potato sticks *15cp*
  • Fried Sausage & Boiled Potatoes *9cp*
  • Spicy Chicken Wings *4cp* (just comes with uncooked wings from a chicken with the feathers still attached, covered with spices)
  • Rabbit Food (a salad) *5cp*
  • Inebriated Goat Stew with Rosemary Bread (goat stew slow cooked in ale) *12cp*
  • Strawberry-Flavored Gelatinous Cube Dessert *5cp*

Drinks

  • Dwarven Ale *5cp*
  • House Ale *2cp*
  • Elven Mead *10cp*
  • Pear Cider *5cp*

Rumors

  1. There's a witch in the forest that provides healing remedies. But if you anger her, she'll curse you.
  2. Once a year, on the anniversary of a great battle, ghosts from the town cemetery rise up and reenact a final battle. If you can be there that night, and help them defeat the ghosts of their enemy, you will have their gratitude and a blessing that makes you resistant to necromantic damage.
  3. Caravan travel to the capitol is dangerous due to bandit activity on the trade route and merchants are always looking for body guards to escort their wagons safely.
  4. If you see a ring of mushrooms growing in the forest, don't step into it, it takes you away to the fairy lands.
  5. The red dragon who lives in Nahl's Peak hasn't been seen in years. Maybe he's dead and his treasure is there for the taking.
  6. Graves have been dug up in the town cemetery and bodies have disappeared.
  7. Several town children have disappeared. Townsfolk suspect a coven of hags that lurks in the ruins of Rehill Stronghold.

Tavern Names

  • The Hungry Goblin (Has a sign on the door that says "no goblins allowed")
  • Good For What Ales Ya
  • The Inn and Out Tavern
  • The Hook, Line and Sinker (frequented by fishermen)
  • The Bung Hole (a bung hole is an aperture through which a cask can be filled or emptied)
  • The Neighbor's House (so patrons can tell their spouse they're just going to the neighbor's house)
  • The Bard's Tale
  • The Bloody Baron's Inn
  • The Tipsy Pixie (often frequented by pixies who like to harass the patrons with their practical jokes)
  • The Salty Adventurer (the owner is a retired adventurer and complains a lot)
  • The Blind Basilisk
  • The Blind Eye (frequented by thieves)
  • The Apothecary (next to an actual apothecary)

Inkeeper Names

  • Georg Smythe (human)
  • Leona Lancelyn (human)
  • Selana Beisalor (human)
  • Gimrith Mugbeard (dwarf)
  • Strom Alestein (dwarf)
  • Arithorn Genlynn (elf)
  • Mirthal Olorise (elf)
  • Finkle Glenberry (gnome)
  • Wilmee Fizzlefroth (gnome)
  • Bruno Gluttonbelly (halfling)
  • Ruby Brockhouse (halfling)

A Tavern Mini Adventure

It's almost closing time and the bar is mostly empty. The innkeeper has left the room to get something from the kitchen. The only patrons other than the group are; a group of pixies at one table, clearly drunk and giggling at everything; and a sullen man dressed in wizard robes at another table keeping to himself.

One of the mischievous pixies flies over and steals the man's wand. The pixies then fly around the room passing the wand to each other as the man chases them around trying to get it back.

Eventually the entire group passes near the group's table. At that point, one of the pixies targets the wizard with a spell to shrink him, but she sneezes, and pixie dust goes flying everywhere and all the player characters get shrunk too. Medium characters are now around 3 inches (8 cm) tall, small characters are 2 inches (5 cm).

The pixies then put the wizard's wand up on a high shelf and fly away giggling. A moment later, the innkeeper enters the room to see what the commotion was, assumes everyone has left, grumbles about cleaning up the mess in the morning, and retires for the night.

The group is now stuck in their shrunken size until they can help the wizard get his wand back, so he can do a dispel magic spell on all of them. (This is best for a lower level party that doesn't have that spell themselves). They could wait until the innkeeper comes back in the morning and ask him to get the wand back, but the tavern cat is prowling around the room. They might not make it until morning if they do nothing.

Obstacles/Encounters

  • Everyone starts off on their chair, which is now quite high off the floor.
  • The tavern has a hungry cat.
  • Crumbs on the floor attract cockroaches who attack anyone trying to get past them.
  • The floors are sticky, and a character might get stuck in certain spots and need help to be pulled out.
  • The wand has been placed on a high cabinet shelf and they'll need to find a way to climb up there.