Worldbuilding Journal: Taverns, Restaurants and Brothels

Let’s continue with the Worldbuilding Journal. We had so much fun with just one entry, imagine what fun we can have with two? And I think, instead of coming up with a new blank slate every time we discuss a prompt from this journal, we can instead continue with Cadameria – maybe not just the city itself, but also the rest of the world that Cadameria is a part of. We’ve established that Waheed comes from afar, from a Middle Eastern inspired culture which is foreign to Cadameria. Who knows, maybe we’ll follow him home?

Therefore as we try to answer this prompt, we’ll try to use the concepts and ideas that we’ve established in our last worldbuilding post as well as the accompanying story that I’ve written for it. So things like Glintstone, the Schola Arcanum, a black market – these things carry over into our new discussion. We may not have a use for all of them, or as we explore ideas we may contradict them. For now, let’s leave them be. We won’t be turning away any new ideas at this burgeoning stage of the creative process. In the end, when we have a more concrete idea of the world we’re trying to build, we can be more discriminating.

So without any further ado here is the new prompt:

Whenever you and your company hit a new town or city, you’re sure to be tavern-bound eventually. Write a list of at least five tavern names, their themes, their proprietors, and their personalities. What characters or unique brews might you encounter at each establishment?

For some reason I have this feeling that this prompt isn’t the first in the book only because an editor took a look at the prompt list and thought it would have been way too cliche to start in a goddamned tavern. 

Well, we’re running into an issue early. Taverns are, essentially, pubs – places to go drink with your buddies. That’s why it made sense to start so many DnD campaigns in taverns. That was where the people were. You want to find a couple of murderhobos to kill some BBEG because you can’t be arsed to do it yourself, that’s where you go. The problem is, though, that I don’t drink, and thus have very little experience with pubs as it is. This can be a good thing – my mind is, as yet, unpolluted by the idea of what a pub ‘should’ be, but having also actually been in a couple of pubs I can say that they’re not that different from a restaurant or cafe.

When lost for inspiration, or when you find yourself doubting that you have the knowledge necessary to create a certain aspect of the world, the obvious next step is – research. For this prompt, I took a little wiki walk through the history of taverns, pubs and eating out. That last term took hold because during my wiki walk I discovered that the history of taverns had to do with a specific meal served at lunch. Basically, if you wanted to eat, you had to pay up and take a seat around lunchtime. You didn’t pay, you didn’t get a seat, you didn’t eat. There was no menu, either – you ate what the cook wanted to serve. This concept would later evolve into the restaurant, and taverns became restaurants that served, primarily, beer.

I had an idea when I was taking the above wiki walk. I was thinking why would someone want to eat out? Especially at a time when food security wasn’t as great as today. Why would there be someone willing to give someone else food? Answer: Profit, of course. There was obviously a need for food being served up for you without you having to find it or cook it yourselves, and this made sense if you were a traveler of some sort – say an adventurer, or a merchant. You’ve spent the whole day hoofing it, you didn’t have time to hunt for food. The most you’ve got is provisions, and those can go rotten, eaten by wild animals or other things. Once you’ve made it to civilisation, obviously you wanted some of the comforts of civilisation.

So I had it in my head that these taverns were, in fact, evolutions of the caravanserai, or places where merchant caravans took their rest after a long journey. Merchants were obviously loaded to the tits. They were tired, and hungry – and maybe more than a little bored. There’s a need, right there. And if they liked the town enough, they might always make it a point to stop there, thus driving trade – and more profit. That at the cost of a meal and a bed for the night (which would of course make your tavern an inn), and maybe someone to share the bed with? Everyone seems to win in this scenario.

Right away we have several needs to be fulfilled, and Cadameria, with a thriving black market, should also have a thriving legal market, and the entertainments and comforts associated with it. I’m thinking we can come up with one tavern that excels at providing one specific need, the top answer when certain needs are voiced. And I’m thinking we can expand on a detail we learned in the story Merchant of Death. Remember Alma, the favourite courtesan of the Schola Arcanum? We;ve established she works at a Red Light District at the Silk Dragon Tea House. Said tea house might be one of these establishments. That takes care of one need – perhaps the Silk Dragon might not be a ‘tavern’ per se, but it is a place where travelers can spend their coin for the comforts of civilisation after being on the road for a long time, so I think it fits.

Then we can start to think of other needs adjacent to the one the Silk Dragon provides. Beds come to mind. I imagine high paying Johns could have the beds in the Dragon itself, along with the service they paid for, but that leaves the rest of us poor bastards stumbling in post nut clarity (sorry). An inn that provides especially warm beds in Cadameria…sort of like a hotel, or motel, as it were. I’m imagining a quiet place, somewhere on the edge of the city (or even in as a halfway house by the roadside) where one can have a peaceful, uninterrupted snooze on a nice soft bed. Even as you enter, the place is quiet as a church, save for the crackling of the fire and the occasional creaking of the wood. A kindly woman stands behind the counter, smiling as warmly as the fire, and offers you breakfast along with the lodging. Man, that sounds so cosy I’m practically falling asleep already.

Now let’s talk about the ‘Board’ aspect of Bed and Board. I mean food and drink, in case that actually means something else entirely. So we have one place where they serve the best food in Cadameria, and another where they serve the best booze in the city. Nice! We have four places now – not fully fleshed out and textured, but good starting points. Also, I realise that I’ve come to take entertainment to mean sexual services, and that’s not right, is it? So our final place should be where people go to for non – sexual entertainment. I’m thinking gambling, performing arts, or maybe even fight clubs. Places where the fun is had fully clothed – or you’re expected to be, at least.

Now, here’s an interesting thought. Cadameria, as we’ve established, is a magical city. Does that mean that the taverns should be magical too? It might be, if the wizards of the city deign to descend down to the commoners’ level for their entertainment. Actually, we can draw insight from our previous story – as we’ve said, Alma is the favourite of the Schola Magi, and you don’t get a favourite unless you’ve gone and sampled all their wares. So yes – wizards, even the ones in the glass towers of the Schola Arcanum – do come down here for entertainment, so it makes sense for them to add a little touch of Glintstone to their workings.

The problem now becomes how. One thing we haven’t established is exactly how Glintstone works. We don’t need a magic system as hard as a diamond – not yet, anyway – but having some guidelines into how Glint works would be helpful. It means the difference between using it to create grand illusions and huge fireworks displays to simply using them to keep the lights and the heat on. I’m feeling like I need one of Hadrian’s primers to help me through this.

This has gotten a little long, so we’ll continue the discussion some other time. We seem to have gotten very little done – a short list of what each tavern should specialise in and the idea to integrate Glintstone into it – but if you couldn’t build Rome in a day, I doubt we could have built Cadameria in the same timeframe. Not for all the Glintstone in the world. Hopefully this triggered some ideas in you, and guess what – I’d love to hear it. Comment with your tavern ideas and your ideas on how Glintstone works, and maybe you’ll have lent a hand in building this world!

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