Time to introduce my readers to another great writer from the DMs Guild, and let him tell us about his best-selling book, The Tavern Brawl Builder, the perfect guide to planning an old-fashioned punch up in a pub…
Take it away Jean…
Tell us about your book, Tavern Brawl Builder…
‘Tavern Brawl Builder’ is a 26-page supplement that details unique taverns, colorful NPCs and brawl encounters, all wrapped up with new mechanics for making brawls quicker and more fun! Specifically, there are 10 taverns, 10 brawl encounters and 10 complications. Pick one of each and you’ve got 1,000 unique brawls!
Why did you write it?
Since taverns are a staple of fantasy adventuring, I wanted to re-invigorate the cliché of the tavern brawl. I wanted to go beyond: “Drunk dwarves start arguing and a fight breaks out”. So I created story-filled, brawl encounters triggered by events both mundane (e.g. a jilted bride seeks retribution) and fantastic (e.g. an enchanter spreads his emotions to other patrons). These brawls have a reason for beginning and encourage the PCs to pick a side and get invested in the outcome.
But tavern brawls are pretty different from most D&D encounters: non-lethal attacks and improvised weapons should be common and there are a large number of combatants in an enclosed space. It’s a lot to keep track of with the 5e rules-as-written. So, I came up with new mechanics, focused on making a brawl simpler to run and keeping the dice in the players’ hands. Throw in a table of random tavern objects to use as weapons, and you’ve got the ingredients for a bang-up throw-down. Sooner or later, someone is going to get the fully-feathered dead goose…
You can buy The Tavern Brawl Builder on the DMs Guild for $3.95.
How about a little taster then?
Here’s the set-up to one of the brawl encounters:
Grandpa really wanted a drink
The animated skeleton of a long-dead local warrior appears and causes an uproar. To set the scene, read or paraphrase the following:
The tavern door creaks open and a skeleton dressed in adventurer’s garb slowly walks in. It slaps a coin purse on the bar and seems to be waiting expectantly. It takes a beer from the nervous barkeep and quaffs the entire pint enthusiastically. Every drop runs straight down its tunic, but afterwards it opens its mouth in what might be a long, satisfied belch. The tavern looks on in utter silence until one drunk patron breaks it: “The undead are among us!!” he wails.
The skeleton (MM) belongs to Ruud Stoneburner, a former (in every sense of the word) adventurer. By some magic or residual willpower, his skeleton has returned to deliver a message to his descendants. But he has to survive a brawl first.
Some patrons decide to rid themselves of this perceived threat. When you’re ready to begin the brawl, read or paraphrase the following:
After minutes of muttering and heated conversations, the bubble of tension bursts: half the tavern starts yelling “kill it!” and reaches for weapons. But one young man cautiously approaches the skeleton. He points to a decorative pin fastening the skeleton’s cape. “Gr- grandfather?” The skeleton nods, then turns to the barkeep and signals for a writing implement.
This interaction doesn’t stop a vicious melee from breaking out, with half the tavern-goers seeking to destroy the skeleton and the other half protecting their old, old acquaintance.
Who the hell are you by the way?
My name is Jean Lorber, and I’m just a long-time fan of D&D. I remember playing in the 1980’s as a kid, but I clearly didn’t grasp the rules because I had a level 52 wizard…
I started playing again only a few years ago, when my son showed an interest. After buying a few old books, the nostalgia-bomb detonated, and we started playing regularly with another family. It was a great bonding experience, and that was where I discovered my love of DMing. Making up adventures for my tabletop soon led to making up adventures and supplements for the DMs Guild.
The Guild community has been great, by the way, and I owe a lot to support from folks, including Jeff Stevens, Tony Petrecca, Chris Bissette, Teos Abadia and uber-mensch Shawn Merwin.
And what else have you written?
I’m working on my first proper adventure (‘Last March of the Tyrant Wyrm’), but the other titles I’ve completed for the Guild are: ‘Volo’s Lost Encounters’, ‘Unstuck Encounters’ and ‘Unstuck Encounters 2”. I’ve also contributed to a number of collections on the Guild. Here’s my DMs Guild page.
And just for fun…
What’s your current PC?
A half-elf paladin, the overzealous standard bearer of his regiment. He’ll give his life for the Empire because it’s surely working on behalf of all its citizens…right?
What’s your favourite character class?
Wizard. Because in my normal life, I don’t get to break the laws of Newtonian physics.
What’s your favourite monster?
Kobolds. They can range from naughty to homicidal, and I love designing traps.
What’s your favourite official D&D adventure?
As a kid, I loved all the basic D&D modules like ‘the Lost City’. As an “adult”, I’ve only ever played homebrew. But I’ve read all the official 5e adventures, and my favorite is ‘Out of the Abyss’. The Underdark is huge and totally foreign, and I like the range of weird settings and encounters. The interior art by Richard Whitters is also a big selling point.
Thanks Jean, was great getting to know you. How can we stay in touch on the interwebs?
You can find me on twitter: @jlorber4