Game Night: Tavern in the Hole

It Was Like I Found A Missing Piece Of Myself

“It’s dark and stormy. The rain is coming down like it wants to kill you…”


And just like that we were off on the first night of many, sharing an adventure around my dining room table.

In the past, I played many roleplaying games, which I have written about before in a past internet life. The more I dig through online repositories of knowledge in the dorkish arts, the more games I recognize. “Hey!” I say “I played that one, too.” Then I realize I talk to myself a lot. 

Throughout the past year or two, I have really been feeling this nagging at the back of my mind. Then I came to realize it was from a lack of role playing. Sure, there is plenty of table gaming in my life, as I leapt face first back into Warhammer 40k when 8th edition landed and now find my dedicated hobby room filled to the fuckin’ brim with models. Both painted and unpainted.

Over time I found myself with the Dungeons and Dragons core books in my Amazon shopping cart. I have opened the documents for my own home brew RPG gaming system and half-heartedly began editing it. On the rare occasions that I play video games lately, I play either 40k games or expansive RPG experiences. 

After a decade-and-a-half away from the lofty tomes of role playing, two factors came together at about the same time to toss me straight into the deep end. 

Anyone that knows Kera well is fully aware, and lightly worried, about her obsession-level with Fallout (Don’t believe anything she says, she has her stem deck on her at all times and Fallout is always running). The two of us have been discussing digging out all of the Wasteland Warfare miniatures we own (a literal fuck-ton) and playing the RPG together. This is the first factor. 

Then Nate went to Comic-Con on a “work” trip and came back wanting to play Pathfinder. During a weekend 2v2 game of Nate and I versus Kera and Ryan, we got to discussing the fun he had trying the game out and how he was planning to join the Pathfinder society and play at an FLGS nearby. Well, we had spoken of the idea before and I already had the core rulebook and a book of beasties. So I suggested we find a way to play regularly. That shit is so much easier when you’re young, without families and careers and shit. But a plan we made. There was more excitement than I had anticipated and people were making characters before I had even read the rules. The next thing I knew we had a game planned. 

And then Baldur’s Gate 3 happened… The scales of fate were not tipped, oh no. They were berserker-smashed down by the sequel of a isometric game that, realistically, has no right being as good as it is. Well, I hear it’s good: Kera has assumed possession of my gaming PC and won’t even let me think about trying it (I kid, I kid: I am allowed to play when she goes to bed). The nostalgia of a follow up to Baldur’s Gate and all the Planescape and spelljammer terminology being thrown around (while I quietly listen as I paint models in silence) pretty much doomed me into playing. 

So, yeah. The four of us just closed our eyes and leapt into Pathfinder. Going through the books was more comfortable than I had expected. Back in college I ran Dungeons and Dragons 3, followed by 3.5 and I fuckin loved it. I ran games in a fantastical steampunk world I made myself and I barely needed the books since I knew the system so well. This felt like coming home after a long absence, a bit awkward at first but then back to a normal that you had temporarily forgotten.

When starting a new campaign, I don’t like to be pushy right out of the start after the group has met and formed. I like the stress of danger and excitement of combat to bring them together and find their natural rhythm. So, I found a reason to put them in a bar. As I stated earlier, it was raining like crazy and each of the player characters found themselves in a tavern, and then I asked what they were doing.

Ryan is playing a gnome Alchemist named Arlo. As the only sensible one in the group, he was occupying a corner booth trying to get some food, while minding his surroundings. Arlo spotted Louise, a Half-elf rogue with a pension for stabbing people and stealing their buttons, whom Kera seems to be fashioning a little after herself. Kera moved her character lithely through the packed bar towards Arlo, yet never quite made it over to try to pick his pockets or pluck any buttons. This was because she felt a bit of a rumble.

A Half-orc with some convoluted name, but whom Nate said was usually just called Tibbs, was making a scene in an arm-wrestling match; he had lost the first match, but intimidated his opponent into losing the next one. After mildly humiliating his arm-wrestling partner, the Barbarian noticed a rumble that moved through the tavern. He went to speak to the bartender, and found himself next to my Human Liberator Champion who was working his way towards being drunk. His name is Daeneth and he worships a rather silly god of drinking. Tibbs was finding out that the bartender wasn’t super-helpful as the tavern shook violently. Kera’s elf noticed a building collapse down the street…

And then the floor literally fell out from under them. Daeneth fell like an intoxicated stone, but luckily Tibbs caught him and carried him down safely into the hole. Arlo and Louise both fell fairly gracefully as the floor they had been standing on, and the basement, and even the sub-basement fell into some sort of cavern. 

Some fifty feet below where the tavern floor had been, the group spent a few minutes orienting themselves. Alro and Daeneth attempted to save some of the patrons that were enjoying food and drink only a few moments before. Kera looked for stuff to steal. Nate had Tibb attempt to be observant to aid us. Ryan wanted to try to heal someone that could help us. So we gained an action-rpg style follower that I named Berric on the spot. Other than Berric, we only saved a handful of people from the rubble before the attack. 

Some Kobolds came out of the dark to attack us. It was certainly a bit clunky at first, as Nate was the only one with actual experience with the system, albeit limited at that. I had rushed some supplies from Amazon and set up a hasty map on a dry-erase grid poster I got, and we placed some random minis on the table to represent our characters and the onrushing minions. 

Together we quickly worked out the kinks of the battle system and got into a nice rhythm. I soon found that Nate’s fucking barbarian could one-shot any level-relevant bad guys. So i brought in a second wave to push things a little more. 

We dusted ourselves off after the fight, took a moment to rest up so I could get my lay-on-hands healing ability back for the next encounter, armed Berric with some of the Kobold’s weapons to defend the other survivors, and then took off to find out what happened. The group found evidence of some kind of cult dedicated to The Dragon, but there was no other information to collect. 

Of course Louise, and Kera, were angry when she didn’t find very many buttons on the Kobold corpses.

A short ways down the cavern we found another cavern, larger than the one we fell into. We could hear many Kobolds milling about, heard coins being dumped and moved, and came to find out that it was indeed some sort of bank-heist. Louise remembered that the building that she saw collapse was a high-end retailer and the building next to the tavern we occupied was a bank of sorts. 

I didn’t have to come up with an elaborate reason why our floor had collapsed, the group didn’t find the time to ask. For although Kera made some successful skill checks to see what was happening, her checks on her return to the group didn’t turn out as well, and we all found ourselves in a fight. A big fight. As they worked through a pile of Kobolds, some using spears, while others stayed back and used their slings, they noticed a Drow with a leather mask of a Dragon. Was he The Dragon, or just an underling? Well, we (by which I mean they) don’t know, yet. That fucker released his big nasty guard dog, er…, wolf on us as he made away with the gold and some prisoners. 

Our characters survived the fight. Louise had a critical failure with a throwing dagger and pierced Daeneth’s wineskin, which resulted in a good laugh. Turns out that Arlo can do the Jeckyl and Hyde thing as he mutated into beast-mode and bit the spine out of a few Kobolds. He usually missed, but when Tibbs connected, he bisected those poor little Kobolds and gave me an opportunity to describe the critical gore effect across our toons. They also found that the group lost their chance to save the hostages (for now…) and we ended the night with a pile of experience points after helping Berric and the survivors out of the cavern.

The whole thing kinda came together that evening and worked as a quick intro adventure. We had spent half of the evening going over our characters abilities and motivations but wanted to get a little playing under our belts. They were told that we will pick up from here next time. It wasn’t the most inspired game, and it was far from my best off-the-cuff story. But I am proud of it. I had fun and I can’t wait for more. 

If you wanna see where the story goes from here, stay tuned...


Obsessive and neurotic collector of little plastic men, novels about the same little plastic men and paints to make the little plastic men pretty. Married to Kera, who puts up with him and pretends that she doesn’t hear him speaking to the little plastic men in between making pew pew noises in the hobby room. Requires adult supervision. A menace to himself but rarely to others. More beard than man

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