Saturday, 25 September 2010

inns & taverns: the three suns

The Three Suns is a punning name for the three sons of a retired adventurer who decided to take the money left to them and set up a tavern catering to more of the same.  The Three Suns waits at the corner of the marketplace of a busy market town intent on separating the unwary from their money.  The sign is a blue sky with three sunbursts in a row with the words 'Three Suns' underneath it in yellow paint.  The Three Suns is a sizable three-storey building of dressed stone and oak complete with stable and courtyard.  People are greeted at the door by a pair of imposing gentlemen in spiked leather armour who assess visitors on seemingly random criteria (if you look interesting or like there's a story behind your appearance usually) and then grant access with a friendly bit of advice "Watch your head."  They do not engage in small talk but the observant notice the one on the left looking thoughtful from time to time.

The Three Suns is a sunken-level tavern with high ceiling supported by wide beams large enough for a gnome or halfling to sit comfortably.  Three wagon wheels decorated in yellow and gold paint serve as candelabrae.  There are benches and trestle tables capable of seating eight each side lined up under each wheel with sufficient space for two people to walk side by side between them.  The walls show almost no sign of their original plaster having been scrawled on with significant layers of graffiti, leaving a banded effect on the walls notable for bardic doggerel, gnomish puns, halfling recipes and scurrilous rumours about various public and private figures as well as a quantity of magical script that appears to resist casual vandalism.  Those wise to such will discover the inn's patronage by a number of reputable wizards.

Over the bar is a carved slate with the motto "You break it, you pay for it." and a list of beers with prices that are a bit expensive (+15% on normal) ranging from a simple nut-brown to a smoky-red dwarven ember ale to a black stout.  A collection of tankards, some of remarkable provenance surround the slate in a carved wooden case.  The ales kept here are deserving of the price and no less than six beers at any time as well as a collection of liquors and spirits bordering on the obsessive.  A large barrel of rough red wine is also available, served by the jug and watered according to taste.  When it comes to wine, the Three Suns policy is that you have one kind - rough red.  This policy appears to be sponsored by a criminal guild and those bringing in their own learn such behaviour is discouraged.  While salted nuts and pickled gherkins and onions are provided, there are no meals served at the Three Suns.

Obriana the landlady, is a former first mate and natural at her trade.  Scarred, tattooed and full of stories, the cat-o-nine-tails worn at her hip is a well-used warning.  The concealed silver knives remain that way until someone does something stupid.  Five working staff keep drinks flowing and run events like arm-wrestling tournaments, small lizard races and hopboard game tournaments.  All are fiercely loyal, capable of hefting a barrel of beer, holding their own in a fight or talking a drunkard out the door.  They dislike violence but are pretty good at it, each carrying a concealed knife and a sap.  Gambling is a common vice here and the house protects it's own and it's odds.  Most patrons don't mind and those who do find the door quickly enough.

Accommodation is provided on the implied understanding is food is consumed in a number of small rooms (maximum occupancy two people) on the top two floors. Prices are expensive to encourage short stays.  Simple straw mattresses and wooden furnishings are low-maintenance and the walls are regularly re-painted and once a year see some repair due to peepholes being repeatedly drilled into the walls.  The chambermaids at the Three Suns are not discouraged from plying other trades and one seamstress regularly offers to repair clothing as a sideline while working in the rooms. Older trades are tolerated with Obriana and her staff with the help of some off-duty watch officers carrying out an occasional purge to ensure the Three Suns doesn't get a reputation.  This 'turning of the sheets' is almost a public spectacle with screaming women and scurrying patrons seeking to keep their honour. 

Apart from the active gambling, the Three Suns encourages bards to perform.  Obriana has a weakness for music and this has led to more than one minstrel getting a 'lucky break' here.  If a bard has the nerve to ask Obriana for a table, she will take 20% of the earnings for doing so.  The audience is tough and more than one minstrel has left for adventure after a bad night here.  Obriana takes this mixture of fortune in good cheer, often using the minstrels as cover to get rid of beer that isn't selling at cheap prices.  To the locals, the Three Suns can be forgiven it's occasional mis-steps on this point alone.  The presence of bards leads to gossip and as a source of information, few places can rival the Three Suns in terms of value.  This has resulted in the Three Suns becoming the first inn visited by those new in town and looking for work.

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