20 Things to See in a Barroom Brawl

Barroom brawls are chaotic affairs and during them the most bizarre events can occur. Some are to be expected, the innkeeper calling for the watch or opportunistic thieves trying to steal unattended wagers, while others are completely unexpected: tables collapse, kegs of beer spring leaks and chandeliers fall. In the most deadly brawls, fires can accidentally start that if left unchecked can destroy the tavern.

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


Use this table, to generate minor events to add flavour and colour to your barroom brawl:

  1. A brawler tips over a table. Atop the table lies a small pile of coins — the pot of some game now unattended. 2d20 cp and 2d10 sp clatter to the floor. Nearby brawlers dive for the coins and try to gather   up as many as possible.
  2. A brawler kicks over a bench, chair or table. The next person who isn’t a PC, to move through the square trips over it and falls prone.
  3. A brawler tries to punch a target, misses and smashes a beer keg. Beer gushes out, creating a 15 ft. cone of slick floor (DC 10 Acrobatics check to move at half-speed through the area; failure by 5 or more and the character falls prone). The innkeeper wails at this unfortunate event.
  4. A random brawler hurls a flagon or chair at a PC.
  5. A small contingent of the Watch arrive to break up the brawl. They use nonlethal attacks to subdue the brawlers, beating them with the ends of their spears. Brawlers fight to get away from the Watch as no one wants to get arrested.
  6. A brawler leaps onto the bar and starts to kick half-full flagons of beer into the melee. Every time he scores a hit he shouts in triumph.
  7. Someone shouts that the Watch is coming. At that, many of the combatants make a break for the nearest exit. The area around the front and back doors of the tavern get congested as patrons fight each other to get away.
  8. One brawler throws another 1d2 x 5 ft. onto a chair or table. The piece of furniture collapses and the thrown brawler lands prone.
  9. Somehow, high-strength alcohol (such as brandy) lands in the fire. All combatants within 5 ft. suffer 1 fire damage as the fire sparks and spits.
  10. The innkeeper (or other staff member) gets attacked by a brawler. The innkeeper shouts for help; if a PC assists him, he gets free board and lodgings for one week.
  11. Three brawlers gang up on another patron and quickly kick him to the floor. They beat him unconscious in two rounds before moving onto another target.
  12. Desperate to escape the violence, a patron dives under a table and screams for help. The man is well-dressed and gives his rescuer a reward of 2 gp.
  13. Skirting the violence, a patron moves from table to table stealing coins, downing drinks and so on. After three rounds of this, he is spotted and attacked by irate patrons.
  14. A large brawler picks up a bench and belts nearby targets with it. Once he has knocked unconscious a few other brawlers, the rest avoid him and so he goes in search of new targets. He settles on the nearest PC.
  15. A female patron jumps onto the back of a brawler and starts hitting him over the head with a flagon. It smashes, blinding him for one round with ale. In the next round, he pulls her off and throws her to the floor.
  16. A table collapses dumping the patron on it onto the floor. The patron falls prone.
  17. A patron dives behind the bar and grabs several bottles or brandy or other expensive beverage. On the next round, he makes a break for the door clutching his prizes.
  18. The fight spills out into the street as several brawlers fall through the tavern’s door.
  19. A brawler is thrown through a window or door into the street. Three rounds later, the Watch arrives.
  20. Amid the chaos, a thief rifles the pouch of a fallen brawler. If no one stops him, he moves onto his next mark. If accosted, he flees.

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20Front_#1_220This article appears in  20 Things #1: Seedy Tavern. It also appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things I. Both are available now.

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Barroom Brawls

The material in this “20 Things” article originally appeared in Barroom Brawls and was reprinted in GM’s Miscellany: Urban Dressing. If you want more exciting tavern action, Barroom Brawls in available (in PDF) at d20 PFSRD, Paizo, RPGNow, DrivethruRPG and Warehouse 23.

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