Master Pett’s Your Whispering Homunculus presents only the finest in British gaming. Indeed, you are not likely to find a more comprehensive assortment of miscellany anywhere. (So much more than just another bloke in a dress.)
“For the thousandth time, will you please refer to me as Master? I am, as you know, researching the magiks—magiks with a k I hasten to add—of our good friends the witches, and tonight I find myself in need of disguise. I intend to steal into the Quiet Woman Inn in this thick blanket of snow and lurk in the Old Doghouse chamber—the one everyone thinks was nailed shut when the previous owner imprisoned his Aunt Ethen in for burping in front of the local priest. I know different of course. The room may be hidden, but it is far from lost. I need to know what those witches are up to. Now, what do you want, dog-breath?”
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To some groups, the humble tavern has been the standby of our campaigns—whether it be as a meeting place, home, or even as the base for a memorable adventure path or two. To some, our first adventure began in one, and we hold them in a special place in our hearts. Tradition, and the author’s own sad predilection for finding himself in one, dictate we visit them from time to time.
Taverns, inns, coaching houses, and hostelries have to deal with crowds, particularly at festival times. Many taverns and inns have extra rooms that are opened up occasionally to cope during festivals and for those who like peace and quiet. Most of the time, these rooms are just a bit dustier, more damp, and colder than the others, but sometimes they are used for other reasons—storage, just plain forgotten about and left (maybe for a good reason).
Why do they exist? Who but you can tell; perhaps they are nothing more than abandoned corners or forgotten chambers. Perhaps, however, they have a more sinister or important reason to exist. Could it be that a whole adventure path begins with the PCs stumbling into an obscure room and finding some curious treasure map, artifact, or sticky oddity?
Here, for very little reason other than it seemed like quite a good idea at the time, are 20 obscure rooms that may appear in a tavern, inn, or coaching house—or anywhere else you like for that matter. They should all show trappings of being used by previous customers—who maybe left in a hurry. As ever, have fun with them, and see where opening their doors takes you and your players.
These rooms may be stumbled upon mysteriously via secret doors perhaps, the PCs may find themselves suddenly moved or persuaded into them, or may open them out of curiosity. You might also wish to use them as backdrops for quieter, more private meetings, with the landlady grumbling about awkward customers as she unlocks the door and….
- All at Sea: This chamber has been lovingly decorated to look exactly like the inside of a ship—right down to the place rising up and down as people walk across it. The only problem is that the ship is upside-down.
- The Room of Many Blank Faces: This room is crammed with preserved creatures—case after case of the blank staring glass eyes of birds, mammals and smaller monsters. The strange thing is that they’ve all been dressed up to appear human; they have hats, scarves and boots, pipes and flutes. You see a dried stirge with a monocle, a dodo wearing a scarf and slippers, and a desiccated kobold dressed in festive winter attire and smiling broadly. In the middle of the far wall, on top of an abandoned fireplace, is a preserved human head in a jar labeled Master Q Wivvle—I am watching you.
- The Doll’s House within a Doll’s House: This abandoned chamber must have been for a child; there are doll’s houses everywhere—some simple and rustic, others grand with towers and turrets. The entire wall of the room has been painted to resemble the interior of a doll’s house. There are hundreds of dolls within these places. As you look closer, you notice that all of the dolls have had their eyes removed.
- Chapel within a Tavern: This chamber is a fully functioning chapel, with pews and font and altar. Strangely, however, it is not angels and saints that grace its stained glass windows, frescoes and carvings, but rats—thousands and thousands of rats…
- The Chamber of Carter Willfry’s Obsession with Lumprel Quaim: This room clearly is—or was—used by a wood carver. There are tools everywhere. Although there are hundreds of masks, carved bas-reliefs, purlins, mannequins and countless other forms of work, there is only one figure depicted: a rather homely and rotund lady in her forties, always shown with the same indifferent expression.
- The Festive Fayre: This room is full of cunningly fashioned snowmen made of wicker and wood and plaster. They lurk in corners, sit at chairs, and toast each other with empty glasses. The unsettling thing is that their faces look like masks hiding something fleshy below, and there is a strange smell in here—a peculiar mixture of cinnamon, brandy, and old meat.
- The Private Cellar and Burial Vault: Is well named; for not only are there hundreds of beer barrels herein, but also the sarcophagus of a previous owner—Ernest Hawthorn—who is buried beside his beloved ferret Madge, who enjoys a raised sarcophagus shaped like a prancing stoat above her master. Beyond, the room has a small curtained meeting place with rickety chairs of various styles, and a broad circular table covered in carved puerile graffiti.
- Hanging Meat: This side room is full of recently slain hanging meat; blood drips from the corpses of pheasant, stag, grouse, and pig. Alarmingly, there are several polished billhooks left—one for each PC…
- Lady Muddlewood’s Luggage: This chamber is dusty, its contents covered in white sheets. Below are hundreds of cupboards, traveling trunks, cases, and boxes, all containing nothing but extremely voluminous ladies’ undergarments. This room is also home to a quartet of magically awakened mice, who became suddenly enlightened when a pair of wizards got drunk one evening and started mixing the verbal components of spells best left unsullied. The mice have a tendency to demand tribute of visitors from behind the wainscoting—a tribute that must be paid or the good Lady Muddlewood will come back to haunt the PCs’ bedchambers.
- The Last Resting Place of Loyal Mudge: Curled up in the center of this otherwise undistinguished chamber is a dead terrier.
- The Troll Museum: Odd. This room is filled with large jars and bottles containing nothing but troll parts; there are heads, legs, fingers, hands, and feet. It could be a trick of the light or your imagination, but occasionally one seems to move.
- Jacob Spret’s Secret Trystroom: A curious triple door leads into the chamber, cunningly designed so that those of broad girth cannot enter or see in. A magnificent four-poster bed, a wardrobe depicting angels, and a curiously enormous collection of false fruit fill the room. Legend has it that Spret’s fat wife could enter this room to catch him with his lover Maude, so she nailed them both in. The marks of the nails are still visible in the doorframe.
- Last Orders: At first sight, this seems to be a normal underused bar, a little cramped perhaps, with walls stained by tobacco smoke. However, set around the bar are a dozen urns containing the ashes of previous customers, all with their favorite drinking vessel set ready before them, seemingly for all time…
- Disturbances Beneath Us: As you enter this quiet dusty chamber, you startle a dozen cats, all of which look at you as one and scatter through various cracks and escape routes out, leaving in their wake a Ouija board, a glass, and a painted miniature depicting one of the PCs.
- The Beloved Dog Mausoleum: This marble chamber is surrounded on all sides by plinths, within which are small coffins bearing names such as “Loyal,” “Mauler,” and “Snatch.” It is soon apparent, when looking at the dates, that these are either very short-lived spartanly named youngsters, or it is, in fact, a tomb for the dogs of every tavern-keeper over the centuries.
- Guilty Secrets: It’s obvious that whoever comes to this room—and they visit it a lot by the looks of the grime—likes to knit. Balls of wool lie on the underused bar, and by a little stove in one corner is a half-finished pair of baby booties. The knitting needles are fixed to a trio of huge armored gauntlets covered in spikes
- Beloved Comfrey: There’s only one odd thing about this old and little used tavern chamber—the portrait of the piglet, Comfrey, whose eyes follow you as you walk around the little room.
- Strange Whispers: This snug little bar has cozy chairs and a welcoming corner with a loveseat that seems sadly neglected. Sadly, although all seems well, when one PC enters, a voice whispers, “Help me. I’m trapped behind the secret door—I’m dying.” Regardless of whether the PC tears the walls or ignores the plea, he or she hears scratching, scratching, scratching whenever listening closely enough, and sometimes when not listening at all.
- Echoes Below: Although welcoming enough, this room has an unnerving echo to it. Whenever anyone walks across the floor, the creaks echo far, far below as though the floor was suspended over a vast deep pit.
- One False Step: This chamber is filled with false legs. There are hundreds of them, all left legs and all quite old. The previous owner had one leg, and charged his (then profligate) customers to sail the seventeen seas in search of exotic false limbs. Within the collection are limbs made of brass with hinges, ornate walnut and mahogany legs carved with eagle’s feet, and a quite ridiculously large collection of legs with weapons—both hidden, like the delicate leg containing a poisoned dart, to a great falchion leg hanging off the ceiling.
Thank you for your continuing support of the humble whispering homunculus, and have a very merry Christmas from the Kobold team – huzzah!