Thursday, 11 June 2015

Boozers in the B Series - Fancy a pint?

Before I was entranced by the D&D world of escapism, socialising and imagination, I noticed a picture on my next door neighbour's wall.
This was a bad photocopy of ....
Emrikol the Chaotic

You want some?
Emrikol looked hard. He looked like a man who knew what he was doing.
But more than that, he looked a spellcaster riding a horse while simultaneously kicking arse.
You didn't see too many spellcasters riding horses in Edinburgh in those days.
And you certainly didn't see many spellcasters riding a horse while simultaneously kicking arse. Anywhere. (Even in D&D, where it's still next to impossible)
So that was me.
Before I knew it, I'd rolled up a Dwarf Cleric. And I was in.
But what was that pub in the picture? The Green Griffon. What went on in there? By this stage, I'd been in a pub or two. And I'd seen a few movies to know what Hollywood thought a pub was like. Especially in Ye Olde Dayes. Errol Flynn didn't drink Pinot Grigio down the wine bar.
 I still don't know what the Green Griffon looks like inside, but I've now seen my share of carefully mapped fantasy boozers meticulously keyed into booklets. And, quite frankly, there's not many of them I'd like to call my local.
On the whole, real world pubs in the UK have grown more like the D&D pubs than the other way. Pubs in the last 40 years have systematically been dismantled to an unreal pastiche of fantasy pub - the real old-wood pubs have had their wood ripped out and new pseudo old-wood has been put in. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. The Gastropub looks prettier than the old spit-n-sawdust dives of yesteryear. The food's a lot better, the beer's a lot better (on the whole) and one is less likely to be hospitalised after a night out.
Anyway, this is what the gang at TSR thought of the "Tavern" back in the 70s.
Here's the Boys From the B Series as a starter.

TSR 9023 - B1- In Search of the Unknown

Mike Carr, the author, doesn't do a pub.
"Your group, after purchasing supplies and getting organized, left their
town and went cross country till a deserted pathway was found which led into the hills, and finally to a craggy outcropping of rock . . ."
Alright, Mike, fair nuff. But I think  that's an opportunity missed.

TSR 9034 B2 Keep on the Borderlands

by Gary Gygax himself (by this stage the World Authority on Polearms) was different.
Although at the arse-end of no-place, the remotest part of The Land, on the Borderlands, The Keep had a thriving drinking establishment.
TRAVELERS INN: This long, low structure has five small private rooms and a large common sleeping room for a full dozen. (Servants and the like always sleep in the stables, 4., of course.) Private rooms cost 1 gp. Per night, but sleeping in the common room is only 1 silver piece per night. The innkeeper and his family live in a small loft above the inn. They are obviously normal persons of no fighting ability. This building is some 18’ high.
TAVERN: This place is the favorite of visitors and inhabitants of the KEEP alike. The food is excellent, the drinks generous and good. The place is always active, with 4-16 (4d4) patrons at any time of day or night. The bill of fare reads:
1 e.p.
1 s.p.
1 s.p.
1 e.p.
1 e.p.
1 g.p.
1 g.p.
2 g.p.
1 s.p.

1 e.p.
1 c.p./slice
1 s.p./wedge
1 s.p./bowl
1 s.p.
Now, in 1978, you'ld be lucky to get a pie or a packet of crisps in most pubs in the UK. Pork Scratchings were a revelation and people only ate the peanuts to see the girly with her kit off on the cardboard banner behind the nuts.
Tea looks a bit pricey at the same rate as a pint, mind you. But, in most pubs I knew of in 78, if a man asked for a cup of tea in a pub, he'd be barred for life. " or whisky, pal?"
The barkeep, if talking with a good customer and drinking to his health, will sometimes talk about the lands around the keep (1 drink per story, half of which may be true). He is known to hate small beer and love honey mead. There is a 50% chance that 2-5 of the patrons will be mercenary men-at-arms looking for work. Each will have leather armor & shield, and sword and dagger; all other desired equipment must be purchased by the employer, including missile weapons, and dungeon gear. Wages for duty include all gear purchased, room and board, and 1 s.p. per day of service. If no gear is purchased, the cost rises to 1 g.p. per day. (Note that a mere spear or minor equipment is considered as no gear.) It is always necessary to buy mercenaries a drink before discussing terms of employment. There is a 10% chance that each of the following persons will be in the tavern at any given time:
WANDERER (a 2nd or 3rd level fighter, dwarf, elf, or halfling as the DM decides, with complete equipment for adventuring; such a wanderer is 75% likely to join an expedition if offered 25% of the treasure gained, but 1 in 6 will be of chaotic alignment).
Well, there were plenty unemployed blokes hanging about in the pubs of Scotland in 78, so Gary's got that right. Weapons too. And short blokes.
The taverner is a normal man, as are his son and the pot boy, but in time of need they will don leather armor, carry shields, and bear arms against attackers.
Yeah, that sounds about right.
The place is also served by his wife, daughter, a serving wench, and a scullion*. (The owner and his son each have 2d6 gold pieces in their purses, the wife d6, all others have 2d6 coppers. The cellar is where drink and food are stored and prepared, and where the servants sleep. The family sleeps in the small loft. (Hidden in an old crock under empty flour bags in the back room are 82 copper pieces, 29 silver pieces, 40 electrum pieces, and 17 gold pieces.)
They look a bit light on cash. The Pub Trade was a Gold Mine in the 70s and this place looks heavin'.
Note that by the time we get to the sequel, this pub has changed hands...

TSR11327B99 - GH- Return to the Keep on the Borderlands

The unnamed inn has now become The Green Man. It looks a bit more cosmopolitan and a bit less "squaddie".  These patrons in the picture wearing armour don't look like they've worked up much of a thirst doing a hard day's graft. There's no menace or intrigue about the place. They all look to be posing over a glass of chard after working down at the estate agent.

This "Return" module came out 25 years after the original, I think. So, I suppose things have moved on in D&D land, these past 2000 modules.
Looks like they've still got their womenfolk serving the tables, cooking the food and sweeping up, though.
The tariff looks to have been inflation-proof, in fact, I think prices have gone down.
Judging by the text, it seems that the Wild Borderlands is a bit tamer these days. It's more "on the caravan circuit" than at the end of the line.
Guess those adventures must've cleared up those Caves of Chaos, rooted out the corruption of the evil clerics and moved on that wild hermit bloke, hanging about the woods.


It's a lot a nicer a neighbourhood, these days. People will be moving there for the good schools next.


 And the pub next door ....

The One-eyed Cat?
That sounds like some sort of rude euphemism.
The extract from the Adventure Module sounds like the blurb from a marketing leaflet.
"Touring the Borderlands by caravan this year? Why not pop in an d see us at The One-Eyed Cat where mine-hosts Wilf and Calista will be happy to serve you"
I don't see why they need to have 2 pubs in such a small place. They're obviously doing alright if they've kept both of them open all these years. But any pubs I know of that close to Squaddie Barracks would have been burnt-out in a bar-room brawl by now.
Still, I suppose if you get barred from one of them, there's still the pub next door to go to.

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