There are three things that make for a good tavern; strong drinks, a skillful bard, and the patrons’ gossip regarding local happenings. But, sometimes even the best of Game Masters can get caught off guard when it comes to the more inconsequential aspects of a gaming session, like alehouse rumors. The next time your players ask what their characters overhear while enjoying a round in a city tavern, just draw the top card off your deck and provide them with the rumor that corresponds to the card’s value:
Ace = Mysterious figures, clad in gray robes with purple sashes, have been spotted recently throughout the city. No one knows who they are or what they are doing in town.
2 = The Thieves’ Guild has been training ravens to steal keys and coin purses from people shopping at the bazaar.
3 = The statue in front of the Magistrate’s citadel is no statue at all, but actually a magically petrified criminal.
4 = A chandler sells candles that burn for three times as long as those made by others because he uses tallow rendered from the carcasses of a particular species of monster.
5 = If you look at the sundial in the central plaza under the light of a full moon, strange symbols become visible on its surface.
6 = The notorious highwayman that has been robbing merchant caravans headed for the city is the Duke’s illegitimate son.
7 = Unusual gold pieces from a foreign land have been circulating recently and become especially sought after, the foreign coins contain slightly more gold than domestic coinage.
8 = The holy relics of several temples have disappeared, sometimes during the middle of ceremonies and worship.
9 = The Magistrate plants to impose heavy taxes on all sellswords in the city who are not members of the Adventurers’ Guild.
10 = A spectral watchman can be seen at night, patrolling the alleyways of the city’s slums.
Jack = There’s a blacksmith renowned for the quality of the weapons he creates and for his massive stature. He will make a masterwork quality weapon for the price of finely crafted one, but only if the customer can best him in a feat of strength.
Queen = A horde of giant rats lives in the city’s sewers. They come out at night to feed and are responsible for the recent disappearances of several beggars & vagrants.
King = If you see a watchman with a dagger sheathed on the right side of his belt, it means he works for the Thieves’ Guild.
The Game Master may use these as nothing more than drunken canards to add ambiance to a session or decide there is some truth to the rumors and employ them as adventure hooks. Even the most innocuous rumor can be developed into an adventure. Take #4; perhaps the chandler hires the characters to slay some of the monsters he needs to produce the tallow for his candles. Or, a less scrupulous rival may employ the characters to steal the chandler’s tallow recipe or force him out of business.