There is no location that is used as often in OSR fantasy RPG as “the tavern”. In fact, I guess that taverns are even more prominent than dungeons. Sessions tend to start in it, leg work is done in them and more often than not the PC will spend an evening a night in one during their travels. Here a six simple events that will help to fill a tavern with a little life.
6 Happenings for an OSR Tavern
1# The local priest enters the tavern and, after a quick look around, adresses one of the patrons by name. The guy already had more than a few beer, and although there is no obvious age difference the priest gives him a fatherly speach about how long it was since he had seen him during service and that “many” would recently have concerns about his well being. The patron murmurs and tries to avoid giving straight answers, and after a few more lines he pays up and leaves (which the priest does a moment later as well). The tavern keeper will not say a word about it, but it is clear that he is frustrated.
2# Three halflings with large hats and large stools in their hands enter the tavern. They each seek themselves an empty space, put the stools down and climb up on them. What follows is an impromptu performance where the three sing raunchy tavern songs while they clap the rythem. This will last for 5 to 15 minutes before they take a bow, jump down and go from table to table with their hats to collect some money before they walk to the next tavern in town.
3# The tavern really comes to life as a young guy comes in and is welcomed cheerfully by about half of the patrons. It turns out that he joined the army of a local noble a few years ago and now returned after the fighting was over. He is happy to be home and alife, and pays round after round for his friends from his rather fat purse. Later the evening, the tavern keeper will have to admit that he has no (cheap) liqour anymore and the jolly guy will be next to broke.
4# A woman in a rather revealing dress comes into the tavern about an hour after the PC did. She will head to their table and ask if she may sit with them with a wide smile while leaning over. Before the characters can answer, one of the local serving wenches will have her by the arm and shout at her to “GET OUT! You are not welcome here!”. Will the PC still welcome the woman (a harlot) to their table?
5# A couple of locals throw knives at a wooden target at the end of the tab room. The small target has the shape of a deer, and they play with stakes. At the start of the game, everyone wagers some copper coins, the one who wages the most may start. A player that hits the deer with the knife gains a copper coin, one that hits the head gains all remaining copper coins and ends the game. A player that misses must pay another copper coin or may not continue.
6# The patrons at one of the tables drink a LOT over the course of the evening. At some point, they get really raunchy and one of them grabs a young serving wench right between the legs as she clears the table after bringing a new round. The woman screams in shock and quickly hits the lecher over the head with an empty tankard before dropping anything and storming out of the tavern. The patrons laugh at first, but the laugther quickly dies down as the guy the wench has hit over the head does not rise and blood begins to pool slowly around his head (it is up to the GM if the guy is dead or just unconcious).