I asked my players to each provide a fact about their home base in my new Shadows of the Demon Lord campaign. A few extra facts also came from the PC playing the bartender. As you can see, like so much of roleplaying, we threw ideas into a pot and it came out insanely awesome. If you’re running Tales of the Demon Lord, feel free to use the write-up for your campaign as well.
The Rusty Crown is a tavern in Grievings. It sits inside an old watchtower, along the banks of the Stream of Tears. It was abandoned of any official use by the militia long before any remembers. It was then a smuggler’s den and flop house, which is probably when they smashed in the interior walls between the tower and the guards’ quarters next door. Sometime after that, a clever and industrious Griever came up with the idea of making it a tavern. He turned the long guards’ sleeping quarters into a long-tabled eating area and common room, and the narrow circular tower into the kitchens, with staff accommodation above. The half-remains of a parapet buts out over the stream, allowing drunken customers to relieve themselves directly into the waters below, which adds to the sense of comfort and ease the Crown is known for.
Currently the manager of the Crown is Vat, the strange old quadrupedal many-tubed clockwork who is usually behind the bar, with Jess the hafling working in the kitchens and doing cleaning (and turning Vat’s key). Vat pays rent to some owner in Coins, who doesn’t care what the business does as long as he gets the rent. The Crown serves a simple lunch and dinner and provides drinks from noon till midnight. It’s not fancy, but Vat travels around to nearby towns to get good quality brews and wines which raise it above your usual Grievings waterhole. It’s never busy but seldom empty, and draws clientele from different walks of life, since it’s not far from Smoke and Redemption. Delia and her Treasure Hunter friends drink there from time to time, and so does Father Gregory, a scholar of the New God. The last time Charlie drank there, the local drunk Braidon took a swing at him. It’s never dull in the Rusty Crown. Indeed, sometimes even Lady Katandramus herself stops by, as part of her recent campaign to feed the starving and homeless in Grievings (on the rise since the recent drought and Halfling refugee arrivals). As a cleaner oasis in a dirty neighbourhood it makes a good base of operations for some of her endeavours although talk in the bar is that there is more to it. Some say the eponymous crown of the tavern once belonged to the King of Crossings, and Lady Katandramus wants to find it!
The Rusty Crown is certainly riddled with secrets from its smuggler days and ancient architecture. Once while cleaning the chimney in the kitchen, Jess uncovered what could be some kind of hidey hole or tunnel, although she’s never explored it. Vat has also never gone down the trapdoor behind the bar that he believes leads to the river, because he just can’t fit down it since he’s a giant beer barrel on legs.
Those are just two of the strange things. The old filigreed pendulum clock in the corner was a gift from some wealthy passer-by before Vat’s time and it cannot seem to tell time and neither can any other clock in the building – but it always chimes ten minutes before a delivery from the ale cart. There’s a corner in the common room where the wood grain doesn’t match and no matter how filthy it gets, is always spotlessly clean in the morning and smells of lilacs – but it gives the drunks sleeping nearby terrifying nightmares. The tarnished copper spittoon on the bar is nicknamed the Rusty Crown as well, and famously ends up on the head of any fool who starts a fight and fails to finish it, brimming with the donations of those annoyed by the disturbance. Maybe it’s a magical crown after all, of some long lost king, or it’s some stand-in for a crown that once stood there. You never known in a place as strange and likely fey-touched as the Rusty Crown. It’s like the Reach – old as dirt and criss-crossed with so many trails and tales even the lies are probably true. Go back far enough and maybe everything’s true.