The House of the Duck has humble roots, the building’s original purpose was as a shipping warehouse with a large archive. compared to many similar establishments, the House of the duck is very large and spacious, avoiding the hot, smokey and cramped conditions endymic to other taverns and music halls. The exterior is made of rough boards and plaster that have been deeply stained by years of dock work and workers hands. The interior retains a rough appearance with exposed roof joists and rafters. Lighting comes from large hanging lanterns. This has made the place a good deal more fire safe than places that use torches in wall mounts or table to table oil lamps or expensive candles.
To show the change in operation, an attempt was made to renovate the exterior of the building. A tavern sign was acquired, carved with a duck. The animal was picked because of its comical nature, and the number of ducks that normally congregated along the waterfront. The building itself was whitewashed liberally and the doors, cornices and other facade works were painted in a blueish purple. All of the metal fittings were done of brass, and it is the job of a single worker to keep the brass shiny.
The House of the Duck is dominated by a single greatroom, the former warehouse section of the building. A short stage was built to accomodate musicians, and the large size and enclosure of the building gave it surprisingly good acoustics. Many taverns suffer from being oddly shaped, or over crowded, meaning that being near the back of the common room means being out of earshot of the musicians. Not so at the House of the Duck.
The lower offices of the scribes and clerks who formerly handled shipping records and letters of credit have been converted into a number of private suites that can be rented for the night, or for an hour or so. The house has a good number of prostitutes who on occassion do double duty as serving girls or scullery maids depending on the work available.
The second floor offices were converted into a single large suite that is often rented by nobility or the wealthy who like to take in the local music scene and be lavishly waited on by barely dressed women. Sometimes high level guild meetings are held in the Mallard’s Suite, as the room is named. There are several supply closets, and a small strongroom that formerly served as a coffer and arsenal.
The front of the building has a single small tower that rises three stories from the ground. This was originally built as a place for the shipping magnate to do his work in and ‘look down’ upon his small but growing empire. Now, it serves as the nexus of the House of the Duck. Here the coffers are held, and records are kept of payrolls and lists of musicians and the like.
Out on the Town
Unlike smaller taverns, the main purpose of the House of the Duck is an almost religious devotion to celebration. There are few dark and smokey corners, and fewer dark strangers eyeing each other over mugs of ale. Loud music dominates the common room, while drinks are hled in hands as tables, those small things crowded near the walls, are few and far between.
Dancing is a nightly event, and is the low and mean sort, far from the courtly and elegant affairs of the nobility. The pace is frenzied and hectic until the oil in the hanging lamps starts to run low. When the lights start flickering out, the music begins to slow and the patrons start to leave one by one, or in small groups and pairs.
Crime is a bit of a problem around the Duck as cutpurses and footpads know most of those leaving in the wee hours are tired, drunk, and often off guard. This vagrancy is unheard of at the Duck since the building has both a protective wall and half a dozen thugs to keep the other thugs at bay.
I’m With the Band - The PCs have gotten a job working as bouncers for the House of the Duck and have a big task ahead of them. Importatant Person X is coming, and there is a rumor that the Thieve’s Guild has a bounty on their head…dead or alive. The PCs become embroiled in assassin’s games, socialite circles, and people just behaving badly.
The Old Record - The PCs following a trail of clues go looking for the old warehouse of the Shipping Magnate, only to find that instead of an abandoned and dilapidated warehouse, the place is now a loud tavern. Finding the secret door containing the locked chest of rubies and the Celestial Key is going to be a good deal more difficult with a few hundred people drinking gallons of wine and ale.
For Sale - The gold heavy PCs need a place to dump some gold and it happens that the House, deeply in debt to the Vinters and Brewer’s Guild, is for sale, and cheap! Now the PCs can have fun trying to run a tavern, as well as settling debts with some angry old men who are used to being paid on time.