Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Is For Inn

One of my favorite reference books, The Encylopedia of the Middle Ages has a nice short entry for Inns and Taverns. "Until around the eleventh century, most travelers relied on the hospitality of private homes or monastaries to provide food and lodging. the increase in travel, particularly by merchants, made it impractical to rely on private dwellings, but it gave rise to the concept of "commercial" hospitality in the form of inns and taverns."

"The type of lodging a traveler could expect depending upon where he was going. In France, and Italy, a traveller could find inns or hostels in major cities, and smaller inns in outlying reigions. In the Arab countries, travelers could rest at a caravansary, which usually consisted of buildings surrounding a large courtyard. Less-traveled countries such as England and Spain offered fewer and more expensive choices, although In Engaldn travelers could get a drink and sometimes a simple meal, at an ale house.

"As travel increased, so did the number and quality of inns and taverns. Some enterprising individuals turned their homes into inns; others leased the inns from owners. Inkeepers eventually formed their own guild, which afforded a certain degree of quality control. Each room in these lodgins might hold several beds, and each bed in turn might hold several guests. Inns in university towns often rented rooms to students by the year. Inns usually had one or two paid employees beside the innkeper.

"Taverns also became more common, offering villagers, merchants, and students a place to eat and drink in simle but convivial surroundings. Already in the Middle ages merchants found a taverns a convenient meeting place to conduct their business."

In the fantasy settings that games like Dungeons and Dragons take place, the idea of a meeting place remains as true as ever. It's a bit of a cliche that the adventurers meet in a tavern, that there is a patron in the darker corners, that there are 'job postings' in the tavern wall that require specialized skills of the players. Even games like Warhammer though, aren't above using a tavern for a bit of quick fun as one of the most interesting short adventurers relies on a timeline of events and can play out different each time depending on the actions of the characters.

Inns are a place that can be customized depending upon the food and alcohol stylings, as well as any possible entertaininment that may be provided. Depending on where its located and which part of town, they may be reknown for places of gathering different types of information.

On longer trips, the Inn may transform, as it does in Warhammer, into a Waystation or sorts, a fortited tavern will walls and soldiers that has a higher cost, but is designed to keep the roads open.

As long as they're not overused or the players are seeking them out under their own power, the Inns and taverns of the setting should say something about the setting itself.