Want to start your party in a tavern but don’t want to fall into a tropey trap? Need to spice up the boring tavern adventure?
I’ve put together a list of 25 plot hooks for starting in a tavern and some that even involve staying in the tavern.
If you use one of these, please leave a comment here or tag me on Twitter, @RolePlayRespite. Aside from that, these plot hooks are free to use however you like!
Be sure to check out my other D&D plot hooks for inspiration for game. And, if you need a name for any drinking establishments in your game, I’ve put together a random tavern name table / generator with 200,000 possible combinations!
Without further ado, here’s a list of 25 Tavern-themed plot hooks for D&D.
25 Tavern Plot Hooks for D&D
- The local tavernkeep hires adventurers to clear out the rat problem in their cellar. What they don’t tell anyone is killing a rat shrinks anyone in the cellar to roughly rat size. No adventurers have ever returned as the rats then press them into service for their society.
- A tavern owner hires the party to clear out a rodent problem. But, when the party leaves the cellar they find themselves in a completely empty tavern hall. Attempting to leave the tavern results in finding themselves in an identical room.
- The taverns of the country hold an annual event offering an enormous prize to the winner. The challenge: visit every tavern along what they call “The Hops Road” and complete a task for each location. This event draws adventurers and other less-savory types each year, so the competition is always fierce.
- Taverns around the nation start disappearing, with their occupants still in side. Only a handful of people escaped and they all claim a portal to some other world opened up beneath the tavern. They couldn’t see through the portal but they all claim to have heard cheers and laughter coming from the other side.
- A local tavern becomes alive and demands payment for its continued services. The problem is no one’s discovered what sort of payment the now sentient building likes or accepts.
- The owner of a tavern has ambitions of expanding their business into a sprawling attraction. Their dream is to run the biggest tavern in the land and they’re willing to hire adventures to help them procure the more exotic materials they need. Don’t ask where the money comes from.
- Two rival taverns constantly attempt to undercut their competitor. Often, this involves brawls in the street from each tavern’s staff. Both businesses are always on the look out for getting an edge over the other and they’re willing to hire outside help to achieve this.
- A seemingly ordinary tavern becomes a contested battlefield between otherworldly entities. The building always remains untouched in any ensuing battle, but the owner (as well as local authorities) want to find out why increasingly powerful entities vie for the tavern.
- A well-traveled tavern has a dark secret; the owner is growing it as a sprawling tavern-themed mimic colony under the ground.
- An avatar of a deity of drinking, revelry, and/or debauchery descends upon the land, declaring that all taverns must host a gathering to appease the entity. The deity leaves on an ominous note that any tavern who doesn’t meet their standards shall suffer a grim punishment.
- All the beverages of the local tavern turn into foul-tasing liquid and any other drinks brought into the establishment experience the same transformation. The tavern owner suspects the work of a fey after admitting an…unfortunate run-in with one of the creatures. The fey runs a similar tavern in the realm of fairies, but accessing the location requires a series of tasks to be completed while in the mortal realm’s tavern.
- A tavern functions as a portal to other worlds. The tavernkeep is an enigmatic individual who, when questioned, only ever answers “The tavern goes where it’s needed most.”
- For centuries, a local tavern was respected as neutral ground between the locals, nations, monsters, and even otherwordly entities. But, when someone breaks this sacred convenant, the ensuing chaos threatens the entire realm.
- A tavern serves as the front for high-end and less-than-legal potions, tinctures, and poisons. Their connections and business dealings mean they’ll pay well for exotic materials, reagents, and other supplies.
- A powerful fey creature opens a tavern on the mortal realm. The tavern has multiple themed rooms…some of which are safer than others.
- Every patron in the tavern shrinks to the size of mice and the exterior doors mysteriously lock. As time passes, the tavern becomes more and more dangerous as rats, spiders, and other creatures enter the establishment for shelter.
- The tavern enters an etherial plane of existence. The patrons become a sort of makeshift crew as they attempt to pilot the tavern through the plane in hopes of finding a way back home.
- A cult used a secret, underground chamber beneath a tavern to open a portal to a realm beyond reality. The tavern becomes a nexus of malevolent, otherwordly entities with seemingly no escape. Each door opens to a different room and every room has at least one door, making navigating the tavern nearly impossible.
- A mysterious fog blankets the land with the only unaffected area surrounding a seemingly unassuming tavern. Venturing out into the fog proves dangerous as creatures can be heard and shadows seen through the dim light provided by the tavern.
- A spirit haunts the local tavern. They claim their soul can get set free if someone willingly enters the spirit realm and breaks their chains. The spirit realm resembles a warped version of the tavern as the spirit reveals the form of their afterlife takes the form of the area where they are trapped.
- A local tavernkeeper boasts the most exotic selection of beverages. They hire on adventurers to procure rare and exotic ingredients for their mixtures.
- The tavern starts growing and assimilating nearby building into itself. Strange creatures begin appearing within the ever expanding halls. They start out as shadows but begin to take on more physical form as time goes on.
- Any tale told within the tavern turns the establishment and its patrons into key locations and figures of the story. These locations always bear some resemblance to parts of the original tavern and the people take on roles within the tale.
- A body gets discovered in one of the back rooms; a loved one of the tavernkeeper was recently killed in some brutal fashion. The owner locks the tavern, informing everyone inside that no one leaves until they’ve found the murderer.
- An friendly and excitable fey (or other strange) creature wants to open a tavern. They somehow managed to procure a building but they have no idea where to start after that. They turn to adventurers for help in building out their new establishment.