Friday, 18 June 2010

inns & taverns - the pickled troll

There are many fine places to enjoy ale and wine in the city. The Pickled Troll isn't but it's ambiance as a former alchemist's shop piques curiosity. The sign shows a green, warty troll capering with a beer mug under a crescent moon. The inn is a converted three storey house whose timbers show signs of fire damage on the corner of a side street where neighbours rent rooms to traders and artisans working in the city.

Inside the walls are stained by fire damage and pipe smoke. Furnishings are simple carved wood and wrought iron, lit by oil lamps set around the bar. The effect is smoky and shadow-filled, perfect for clandestine meetings. The floor in contrast is pristine, a chessboard pattern of red and white marble tiles. A faint smell of pine comes from the floor at all times, masking the worst of the stale ale, smoke and sweat most inns develop over time and lending the place a friendlier air.

The inn is named for 'Oskar'. A troll's head on a barbed metal retort and spike in a thick glass jar bathed in cloudy 'vinegar'. This is firmly bolted onto the bar and occasionally the head will move it's mouth or roll it's eyes. While most folk believe it a fraud, a few ex-staff claim the troll's head is very much alive and will take a bite out of anyone stupid enough to take it out the jar. It's said to be cursed, anyone stealing it will die within a cycle of the moon.

The Pickled Troll prides itself on being a free house and prices are a little higher (+10%) but not unreasonable. As a result, the ales that can be found here are varied though there are two staples - a pale bitter called Knight's Ale, refreshing but for a faint bitter aftertaste that requires another to remove it. The other is a dark treacle-thick stout called Ogre-Beater jokingly said to be served in slices yet strong and warming. Both are brewed on premises.

The other refreshments are subject to the city market. Demand for certain ales are strong and The Troll is often unlucky due to a particular group of merchants so that the other ales often dry up during busy spells. Foods also vary, usually a pot pie filled with various meats and turnip though stylised decorations on the pie in the form of leaves and flowers sometimes draw comment. In autumn, pot pies that contain jellied fruits are sold to popular demand.

Staff in the Pickled Troll are a mixed bunch - ranging from surly, troubled youths to amiable and canny old geezers. The manager, Taslea wears a patch over her left eye (damaged by an alchemical mishap) and is wily enough to keep them running a tight ship. Her left arm has a serrated scar that looks suspiciously like the teeth-marks of a troll. Asking about either will make her angry and defensive but she is level-headed enough not to get violent but will wield a cutting retort.

Taslea can discreetly provide certain alchemical goods to those willing to pay a little more to keep such knowledge private. This side trade is more than enough to keep the Pickled Troll in business but she keeps the Pickled Troll running since the city's alchemists do not recognise her ability. She also prefers a more social environment and can often be found chewing the fat with her staff and regulars till the early hours of the morning.


  1. Very Nice! There's a bar in Anchorage Alaska with a jar full of petrified frostbitten fingers and toes floating merrily in some unknown fluid. Yuck.

  2. Very cool. I actually have at least a dozen inns and taverns described in such detail in my main game city. Too bad I haven't have a game set in the city for years...

    Thanks for writing about ale's Friday and I gotta get home to that Sam Adams in the fridge!

  3. @Tom - Probably formaldehyde or alcohol. Amazing that people just left them as souvenirs - or some way of settling a bar tab maybe.

    @Bruno - Post them up - or set a new game in that city! There is no such thing as a game that doesn't need a watering hole and it's a shame to see good work languish. Enjoy your brew!


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