Saturday, 15 February 2014

inns & taverns: the grinning goblins

While connoisseurs find a goblin-run alehouse bizarre, the Grinning Goblins Inn proves unusual ideas, like goblins, sometimes work.  While not perfect, it serves well enough. Patronage by paladin and noble alike has ensured it's longevity beyond the first winter.  Even the goblins seem to accept this alternative lifestyle. Only dwarves and gnomes refuse.

A charming and sprawling millstream bungalow with working water-wheel, olive-green painted stones and thatched roof.  A rustic haybarn nearby doubles as stable.  Another low-lying building smells strongly of malt and hops.  The door is ironbound oak stained red.  Next to the cellar door a narrow tunnel mouth yawns, wide enough for a goblin.   A carved oaken post by the door with three grinning goblin heads is the pub sign.

Inside, the walls are cream plaster rossed by black-stained oak beams decorated with horse brasses. These form quite the well-polished collection.  A framed manuscript by the local countess gives her protection in perpetuity to all Pale Stone goblins.  This unusual document hangs by the door.  Written in black by this is 'By noble decree, harm no goblin here'.  Etched in dwarf rune on a beam next to it 'They are serious. Leave now.'  Beyond this, a curved bar on the north-east corner watches a south-pointing L-shaped taproom. Long benches and seats occupy the long part of the L, seating twenty footmen or commoners.  Doors to the kitchen, cellar and privies are found in the western wall. The short east-west section is seated in an open enclosure suited for eight courtiers.  At the south-eastern corner of the section, a door leads away to three eastern rooms.  The first is a common room, comfortably sleeping a dozen. The second is locked, leading to Rutgor's spartan quarters.  Beneath the inn are tunnels to accommodate a dozen goblins, now only used by the four staff.

Patrons enjoy Mercyful Maid, a robust, thirst-quenching brown ale redolent of hops and inspiring flatulence. The cultured may prefer the red wine or a small glass of mead.  Then there is the house special.  Centipede Ale is a dark, muddy brew with considerable kick able to remove tarnish from silverware.  Those who sup in drow cities may find it  oddly familiar.  The food is equally eclectic.  A thick stew of meat and turnips is sold to the poor.  This is given at midwinter to any who ask.  Those with a little more coin may enjoy spit-roast chicken, mincemeat pudding or black pudding with baked tomatoes or pickled cabbage.  If a noble calls, no punches are pulled.  Beef haunches, honey-sweetened cakes and fruit grace the tables while ale and wine flows freely.

The aforementioned common room may be used for three silver a night.  The two stately guestrooms cost ten gold a night and rightly so.  The third is a corridor to two stately guestrooms.  Each is worthy of nobility, with down comforters, feather pillows and an enchanted clawfoot tin bath.  The baths heat any water poured in. This is heated to the bather's desire and never painfully hot for the bather to endure.  The baths cannot fit through the door without magic.  Water is retrieved from the stream outside by Luuz.

The landlord, Rutgor, is an ex-soldier.  Salt-and-pepper cropped hair and livid scarring at his neck denote a hard life.  Gimlet eyes seal all deals.  His rasping voice is equally adept giving orders or parlaying with nobles in matters of etiquette.  His only failing is backing the wrong political faction.  The family of goblins he was given command of are drilled to perfection as capable inn staff.  The last of the Pale Stone tribe tread carefully. Derg is scrawny yet nimble.  Shorn scalp, beady-eyed and in near-matching clothes, he is a capable maitre d'. Zhuj is his nemesis wife.  The nearest thing to a goblin diva, she cooks and brews with dwarven productivity.  Sturr is a proficient pot goblin.  Gathering tankards with unusual stealth, he like to whisper sweet nothings to highborn women paralysed by decorum.  Luuz works the kitchen, beaded braids hiding her face.  She hopes someone will take her away from the drudgery that Sturr just accepts.

The Countess is swayed by a well-meaning patriarch to send the Pale Stone Goblins on a pilgrimage.  They need an escort to mountain shrines.  Adventurers are needed for this hazardous duty.  Luuz may make a break for freedom.

Plans to assassinate the Countess are afoot.  The inn is the chosen locale.  The goblins will protect the Countess and help anyone trying to stop the plans.  Rutgor may be ambivalent about any such attempt…

Derg and Zhuj birth triplets.  The inn needs more staff and Rutgor can't hire.  Will the PCs find anyone willing to work in an inn with goblins and over a goblin lair?  Dare they trust the dwarven barkeep and his axe??

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