The Tavern from Hell

By James Mishler, Jodi Moran-Mishler
James Mishler Games
Labyrinth Lord
Level 1-3

A local tavern, known as a hive of scum and villainy, has fallen under the powerful curse of an angry wizard. The locals and the heirs of the taverner are offering an exorbitant sum for adventurers to go in and perform the needful actions to lift the curse. It is a LOT of money. And the adventurers get to keep all the treasure they find in the tavern. And the local authorities have even suspended their usual taxes on treasure. Too good to be true? As a down-on-your-luck adventurer, you are probably too poor to care…

This sixteen page adventure details a tavern, stuck in time, with three levels and 34 rooms. The pretext is pretty pretexty, it’s chocked FULL of monsters that a groups of firsties can’t deal with, the writing is padded out with historical context, and it lacks interactivity. There’s also the seeds, unknown to the designer, for a full fledged campaign that could be both interesting and boring as fuck.

Ok, so, bar is cursed and full of monsters, etc. You’re offered 1000gp to go fix it/clear it out. The locals know that its full of fursed tavern goers, and if you die inside you stay inside and you need to find five of the original bar patrons, kill them, and bring their foci, some shit, different for each one, that they wear out to the porch of the bar at first light. Then the curse is broken. They also know the exact foci of each one of the people inside. How? I don’t know. Shut up and stop asking questions. “But, they have the EXACT detailed information on the descriptions of each of the foci, from the wizards curse? That seems weird and …” I said shut the fuck up. It’s what the fucking game is tonight. 

In you go. Encounter one, in the foyer, is a 3HD black widow spider with 2d6 damage plus poison. TPK? Maybe. Directly beyond the foyer is the main bar, with 1d6+3+10% of the main gnoll force in the bar, as well as 1d6+3+10% of the ogres and orcs in the bar. They aggressively attack all intruders. TPK? For sure. 

And thus it goes. It feels like EVERY.FUCKING.ENOUCNTER. In this thing is a potential TPK. There is NO way in fucking HELL that a group of level ones is going to make it through this thing. And it’s all combat. There are no real secrets, or things to play with, or anything like that. There’s not really even any negotiating. Just roll on in and start fucking hacking. You got five dudes to kill … including a minotaur and a werewolf. Good fucking luck with that.

Oh? You’re a hot shot D&D player? That not hard enough for you? Well, you need to do it all IN.ONE.DAY. Yup, you got 24 hours to kill everyone you need to. Because at the dawn of the next day they all come alive again. Everything thing you’ve killed inside is back alive again and ready to go, again. Have at thee, varlet!

[Not mentioned are the bad room descriptions with historical context like: “(the body on the floor) … was reincarnated as a wolf, and no one has tried to enter the area since the GIANT …” or “an ogress thought to poach a dead adventurer, but was herself slain before she could, and the adventurer was reincarnated the next morning.” Perfectly adding nothing to the adventure but padded text that distracts. 

But …

This things got potential. Also, I’m living on 3.5 hours of sleep over the last 48 hours, so, bear with me some if I seem slaphappy.

It needs to be totally rewritten in to a groundhogs day adventure. Just make the entire campaign, the entire adventure path, in this one location. You go in, figure out what you need to do, get in good with people, and figure out a path through all the madness to get your five kills, against impossible odds (maybe all Hitman style?) through he course of one campaign. Like, one book, a hundred pages, different time/ages of the bar, different goals and how the bar changes over time as people reincarnate and come and go. It could be great Or an immense drag on everyone who plays it.

Like this thing is. I don’t see how its even possible to START playing this, given the spider and main room. I think you’re just gonna die. Meaning you reincarnate inside. SO, like, my groundhog day thing is closer to the truth than it might first seem? I think? mYabe? Is that how this thing is supposed to be played?

This is $3 at DriveThru. Preview is two pages, showing some random “how to reincarnate” bullshit. So, useless preview to figure out if you should buy it or not.

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4 Responses to The Tavern from Hell

  1. rekalgelos says:

    new suggested name “The Gauntlet/Adventure from Hell”

  2. Anonymous says:

    Is this a low effort version of DA-1 Adventures in Blackmoor without cover art and with added random stocking based encounters?


    This is why “OSR fundamentalism” is bad. No imagination. No Art. No creativity. No joy. Just the bullshit claim of authenticity … a challenge coin of game design: useless, derivative, commemorative, and not even worth the $3.00 you paid.

    • PrinceofNothing says:

      Trolling aside (and you are, the DA-1 reference is an unfortunate giveaway), you ideally need both.

      You absolutely need creativity or you are just rethreading old ground, often poorly. You also absolutely need a connection with and understanding of the fundamentals of the game to harness that creativity, or else it is aimless coffee table art not worth the pdf file it is stored on.

      What constitutes ‘creativity’ is often reduced to goofy landscapes filled with silly poop monsters or sparkly shiny magic items, spastically extruded across an ugly blockhouse nightmare of a map. People can, and should, aim higher.

      How can you innovate, if you do not understand what it is you innovate on?

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