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November 24, 2014, 1:42 am

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The Verbing Noun

By:

You are the mighty heroes, slayers of dragons, vanquishers of evil, saviors of the lands, and scions of a new age; an age of peace, prosperity, and unimaginable boredom. Your life is devoid of challenge. You have been left to languish in opulent castles or waste away at the local tavern listening to renditions of your former escapades. When the letter embossed with a small pewter key arrives a journey with old friends seems just the thing to shake your melancholy. You have been called to claim the estate left to you by your great-uncle’s-cousin-once-removed, and will face trials and intrigue in overcoming the greatest challenge a hero could wish for: running a tavern.

This is a lighthearted series of adventures intended for characters level 17-20 who have recently completed a major campaign.

Background

The 'local tavern' is something of an enigma. Across campaigns, genres, and game systems the local tavern serves as the catalyst for adventures, yet despite its critical function remains one of the most ill-defined portions of any city or town. With formulaic names, uninspired menus, faceless barkeeps, and insipid patrons "The Roaring Kitten" seems to be the same tavern as "The Sneezing Goat" and rightly so; because it is. The greatest secret the universe contains is that just behind the humble facade of an inn or tavern is a whole new echelon of power, where Keypers tug the strings of a hero's fate to ensure the safety of a world for a new generation.

It was realized long ago that taverns and inns have an immense impact on the creation of heroes. The forces of evil led a vast campaign to decimate establishments across the universes, choking off the heroes before they could organize. All was thought lost, but the evil masterminds failed to realize that there were those among their number who patroned the taverns too. Antiheroes banded with thieves, swindlers with assassins, and every mysterious cloaked figure to haunt a shadowy corner came forth to fight the destruction of their lairs. They began with a few soft whispers in the right ears to catch attention, and soon they had mobilized an army. While there were no new heroes to be found the old ones remained, and many took the destruction of their beloved "Five Aces" or "Gnoll on the Knoll" personally. The crisis was ended quickly in a blaze of heroic glory. Anything longer would have been too hard on the knees.

Having come perilously close to annihilation the adventuring community gathered its resources around the eight remaining taverns and transformed them. Each was enchanted with the strongest magics from across the realms to withstand fire, flood, tornado, avalanche, and even time. These eight buildings were then propagated throughout the multiverse, manifesting shadows of themselves in all places and in all times to ensure that no world would ever be without a tavern again. Once the task was completed it was obvious such important touchstones could not be left in the hands of mere mortal tavern keepers, and the society of the Keypers was formed.

Deriving their pun-tastic moniker from the enchanted keys which bind them to their establishments the Keypers are a three-tiered organization comprised of legendary retired adventurers from all manner of worlds. On the low end of the spectrum is the Staff; individuals who performed a great many noteworthy and good deeds in their time but never had the opportunity or motivation to save their respective worlds from an all-consuming evil. The Staff perform much of the drudgery associated with actually maintaining a tavern. The middle tier is for those ascendant heroes who have looked upon the eternal darkness smothering their lands and railed against it with all their strength. These brave folk are typically the last one or two of their group and are trusted with overseeing the tavern under the title Keeper. The final tier, though officially lacking in name, is referred to by the others as “Management”. Little is known about Management. There seems to be an indefinite number of ‘interns’ managing the internal affairs of the Keypers on behalf of a Mr. Jeffrey Hart. Some have posited that they are liaisons for the gods, while others believe that there is no Jeffery Hart and Marjorie or Pat is pulling the strings. Whatever the case they typically do not interfere with the day to day activities of the taverns.

The Establishments

Illusions are used to re-skin the eight tavern to suit their environs, including the tavern name. Keypers must refer to their tavern by parts of speech rather than any particular name for the magic to function and avoid confusing the patrons; one may be in the Soap and Lantern but others might be in the Kitten and Sock.

The Noun

Ownership of The Noun was a concession made to those antiheroes and unsavory characters without whom the destruction of all taverns would have been assured. It is run by and for the villainous underclass of the multiverse by a kobold named Pat. He was chosen nearly unanimously by the 'good' Keypers from a set of ten candidates. Marjorie was the single dissenting vote.

This mottled-brown kobold looks down the end of his maw at you with the ink-slicked marbles of his eyes. Exhaling a slight sigh of boredom and fatigue he tucks his claws into the folds of his sepia-toned robe. Despite the consuming gaze you’re fairly certain he is not paying you the least attention.

Pat is a quiet kobold who seems to carry with him an aura of ennui. On the off chance he speaks it is softly, with eloquent condescension and cynicism. Despite the veneer of civility at his core Pat is a kobold, and undeniably evil. His current hobby is manipulating individuals into unintentionally hurting others. Lacking talent for social interaction and the motivation to put any effort into the endeavors damage is usually minimal. It simply is a small reminder that he is consistently underestimated by others. With the exception of Marjorie.

The Verbing Noun

Employees:

  • Barkeep/Brewer - Calico (Cal), Human Alchemist
    • The concept of names is confusing to Cal, as in his home plane people are defined by their characteristics rather than some arbitrary syllables given by parents. Cal was named after the black and brown discolorations on his pale white hands and arms - the result of various alchemical accidents that lend him the look of a calico cat. People from his home plane are uneducated and tend towards authoritarianisim. Revolutions that overthrow tyrants become tyrants themselves and Cal is an unintentional ‘hero’ whose attempts at weapons engineering for the crown caused an explosion which leveled the castle.
  • Butler, Valet, Clerk - Mithyn the Meditative One, Human Monk
    • Mithyn was the name of a monk who was captured and forced to fight in an underground arena to the death. The man responsible for his death, Winston, assumed his identity upon escaping in order to avoid detection. He began to live his lie, and became a (somewhat unorthodox) monk. His combat style and rare bursts of swearing hint at his alternate past.
  • Cook/Groundskeeper - Bunny Nash, Halfling Druid
  • Groom - Cosimo, Human Ranger
  • Housekeepers - Soleil (Human Ninja) and Etoile (Human Rogue)

The Noun and Noun

The Adjective Noun

Marjorie

The Numbered Noun

The Noun's Noun

Tint

The Owner's Name

Boog

The Miscellany

Beginning the Adventures

A Letter Arrives

You are the mighty heroes, slayers of dragons, vanquishers of evil, saviors of the lands, and scions of a new age; an age of peace, prosperity, and unimaginable boredom. Your life is devoid of challenge. You have been left to languish in opulent castles or waste away at the local tavern listening to renditions of your former escapades. When the letter embossed with a small pewter key arrives a journey with old friends seems just the thing to shake your melancholy.

Dear Beneficiary,

I am Jeffery Hart, an attorney of law to a deceased property magnate who was based in the gnomish lands also referred to as my client.

On the 25th of Erastus six years ago my client died, along with his wife and their two children in a miscalculated teleportation spell on their way to a world cruise.

Prior to that accident and since then, I have been managing Mr. Sundim’s properties here in the gnomish lands. Some of these properties, at the time of the accident, were already put on sale. I, as his attorney, monitored the sale of the properties, and the depositing of the proceeds into Mr. Sundim’s main bank account. I have contacted you initially to assist me in repatriating the money, and possibly ownership of some of the property left behind by my client.

Since I have been unsuccessful in locating any other relatives of my late client in the last six years, and with the bank indicating that they now wish to shortly start the procedure of reversion of ownership of the funds to the kingdom, I now seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased so that the assets may be given to you.

All I require is your presence at the southern border of the gnomish kingdom outside the town of Larkspur no earlier or later than four weeks from the date of my writing. I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law. Trust me, as Mr. Sundim’s attorney; this is a risk-free transaction.

Kindest regards,

Jeffery Hart

The journey is uneventful.

Putting out Fires

Appendix

The Many Excuses of Jeffery Hart

"Hello, I am {intern name} filling in for Jeffery Hart who..." (in preferred chronological order)

  • told me to say hello to all of you
  • is waylaid by bandits
  • is hunting down the scumbag who killed his father
  • messed with the wrong people and got himself in some serious shit
  • is the new king of Hersbargerfield
  • is being fitted for a sarcophagus
  • is standing over a bound and gagged man with a shovel wondering if he has the guts to go through with it
  • knows too much and can’t trust anyone
  • is staying off the grid until things cool down
  • is slowly gaining the trust of a group of rocs
  • is currently plummeting towards earth at 93 miles an hour
  • is wandering around Ebberon with amnesia
  • is racing towards the docks to catch the woman he loves
  • is regaling the interns with tales of his days at sea
  • is not handling his divorce too well
  • no longer works on Wheeldays

The Storied History of Marjorie

"Y'know, some say that she..." (in preferred chronological order)

  • left her husband and children before they were grown
  • worked until she created a monopoly on trade in a city
  • was knighted for rescuing the king's mistress
  • killed a dragon with her bare hands
  • advised and survived thirteen monarchs
  • assassinated a queen and claimed her throne
  • conquered an enemy nation in three days and two nights
  • killed a god
  • achieved immortality just because she could
  • became the queen of hell for two years to restore the balance of good and evil
  • is the only person to ask to become a Keyper rather than be invited

Acknowledgments

  • The Verbing Noun was inspired by Derek Myers' Sun and Moon Tavern and TV Tropes.
  • The many excuses of Jeffery Hart were inspired by The Onion's Clifford Banes.
  • The storied history of Marjorie was inspired by Top Gear's Stig.


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Comments ( 2 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

axlerowes
December 5, 2014, 0:34
0xp

I really want to love this. I already like this, I already respect this and I am inspired by it. But I want to love this and I can’t love it because of some very clunky prose and poor story telling. There is too much cleverness, wit and raw intellect in this post to let it stay as it is. You must edit this, and by edit I don’t mean proof read or correct.

I mean you must take the twisty and beautiful game of 52 pickup you are playing with your words and deal them out so that your readers can at least know were five cards are at a glance. Once we can figure out what is in our hand just by looking then we can take time to enjoy the puns and the self-awareness.

But let me sum up what I think you are saying here:

"You believe (rightfully so) that the use of the tavern as the birthplace of the heroic quests is a tired troupe. It is so trite in fact that the literary bad guys themselves realized that if they just destroy the taverns than Obi Wan will never hire Han Solo, the Magnificent Seven will never get past a pretty okay 2 or 3, and the hobbits will never meet Aragorn. But the plans of these forward thinking agents of evil was thwarted when the scummy villains realized that they need a hive as much as the hero’s needed a place of marginal danger from which to transition their narrative to places of true danger. So the bar flies among the villains tipped off the old heroes to the plans of the evil overlords, and the afore mentioned old heroes stepped in to put a stop to it. Is that correct?"

PoisonAlchemist
April 30, 2015, 0:18
0xp
Hey axle, didn't see you there! Thanks for your opinion, your interpretation is correct. I'll take it into consideration if I ever actually finish this.


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