The Wooden Tankard Inn, Fobin

Standard information

Name:The Wooden Tankard
Location:Crossroads south of Fobin.
Settlement:Fobin, Republic of Tharda
Proprietor:Samson the younger
Number of floors:2
Material:Timber frame with brick infill
Roof material:Clay tile


The Wooden Tankard is an inn just outside the small fort-town of Fobin. It caters primarily to the traveling merchants and the off-duty legionaries of the region. The Fobin Maniple has dubbed the inn to be its own. The maniple's colors can be seen hanging from the entryway. The Wooden Tankard shares its land with an ostler and a blacksmith thus offering its clientele fine service of their horses as well as their persons. The Ostler, Jarid of Gredar, can be often found in the Legionaries' bar. The blacksmith is more work-minded, and is usually inside his small shop from dawn to dusk. Travelers to Fobin along the river road down from Coranan can not miss the large wooden structure by the roadside nor the fresh smells of baking pies and roasting fowl.

Description of Buildings

The Wooden Tankard building was constructed over 40 years ago of local stone and lumber. Its brickwork is made of a mix of the local clay-laden soil and grasses baked in the sun. Samson the Elder traded his skills as a woodwright to the local masons of the area for the bricks. All the interior woodwork is carefully crafted and detailed with running vines and grass-flowers. It is a 2-story building, who's second story support beams stick out through the outer wall to provide the anchor for an awning against the summer heat.

The upper level is whitewashed each season, and the lower uses a brick facade that meshes the chimney walls of the kitchen with the rest of the building. The roof is made of baked-clay tile. The building has several large windows, each with graying wooden shutters that creak from age when they move. On warm nights the shutters are opened to allow the cooling breezes to flow through.

The main entry is a large, stout wooden door with metal reinforced studs along its length and breadth. It is open from dawn until the wee hours of the following morning when the guests are locked in for the night. The window shutters, while they look old, are equally reinforced on the inside; and they too are carefully sealed against bandits in the night.

While bandits have not been a problem in the area for the past 5 years, the building still shows scorch marks from their last visit. The scorching is most visible around the second story supports, and in places where the brick mortar seems blacker than elsewhere. All other signs were carefully scrubbed away.

The Ostlery is a large stable with living quarters hidden away upstairs amidst the hay storage. Located behind inn, it can hold up to 16 horses, and has a sizable horse-paddock fenced in. The ostler, Jarid of Gredar, is friendly enough - but it is often his son, Malreic, that is seen taking care of the horses. The paddock's fence has graying, but still stout, posts and cross-beams. The posts are about two feet apart, and the cross beams are at 3ft and 5ft off the ground.

The paddock has 2 gates. The first leads into the stables. The second that leads into the blacksmith's fore-court, that is just north of the inn.

The blacksmith's home is a small brick building. There, Areth the master blacksmith tends to his work from dawn to dusk. His fees are seen as reasonable by most - and he usually suggests his clients wait at the inn while their horse is shoed, or the weapon fixed. He lives alone in a small room that serves as bedroom and kitchen just behind the open-structured forge and surrounding work area.


The Wooden Tankard inn was raised by Samson the elder, when he first settled his family in this area in 692TR. He, and his wife Maria, had 3 sons. The first son, recently retired4 from the Legion, now acts as innkeeper, and is still known as Samson the younger. The other two sons still serve in the Thardic Legion -Samuel serves with the Geishtei Maniple, and Marcus serves with the Coranani Cohort, 2nd Maniple. Samon the younger is married to a local girl, named Susan. Their lives have been relatively quiet here but for a rash of bandit attacks some 5 years ago, in which the inn was heavily burned. With the help of the local Maniple (working mostly on their day off) the inn was rebuilt in a few months. The couple is now a little more suspicious of shabby looking strangers, and always locks up tight each night.

Samson the elder died in the fall of 719TR, but Maria, his wife, still lives and works at the inn. Locals consider the inn a fine place to gather and hear the latest gossip from travelers as they stop for the night. Susan is a renowned story teller who gladly trades old tales for new from her customers and guests. The Legionaries are friendly to any who enter - even nobles from distant lands, as they do not want to damage the reputation of the inn and thereby reduce their drinking privileges at this establishment. Some 10 years ago, the Samson family made a deal with a large group of slave traders who pass through the area. The traders smuggle whatever the black market may require from Coranan to Golatha. The Wooden Tankard is often a meeting place between the traders and their buyers. Freemen, imported silks, fine wines and foods, even gems and jewels recently removed from their owners have crossed the Wooden Tankard's threshold. Samson gets a 15% cut on all deals made in his Inn.

If ever caught assisting the black market, Samson could be hung, his business seized and his employees sold into slavery. The books kept in the basement show a brisk trade in 25 year old apple brandy - but there never seems to be a bottle in stock. Samson uses part of his 15% to purchase new items for the inn and claims them to be gifts from patrons. The other part is marked down as sales of 25 year old apple brandy.

Samson is not, himself, cruel or evil in any way. He does not beat his wife, nor his mother. He is kind to his servants and his family. He even finds the slave trade to be distasteful, but he gladly helps the black market trade. In part it is for the money, and in part it is out of fear. If he did not help the black market trade, he would be their next victim.


Business is brisk at the Inn. There is a regular traffic of around 20 people coming and going. Mostly this traffic consists of 5-10 legionaries usually drinking in the bar, a few local landholders come to exchange news, and a few travelers who make a weekly trip down along the river road. The shore near Fobin has no docks, as the river Thard flows fast and hard, so most all traffic into the inn comes from travelers making their way along the roads.

Rate of Charges

Samson the younger has several rooms, and gladly rents out a bathing and laundry service towards his more discerning guests. But guests should be warned that the washing board is hard on silks and embroidered finery. His rates of charge are reasonable and he is always willing to barter.

The Inn's rates of charge are as follows.

Sleeping on the common room floor1f/night/head
Sleeping in the banquet hall2f/night/head
Hire of a guest room (1 person)1d/night/head
Hire of the minor suite (2-3 people)3d/night/head
Hire of the major suite (4-5 people)4d/night/head
Provision of a bath1d / person
Provision of water jug and bowl2f / per night
Provision of a candle2f / night
Provision of laundry services3f / night/person
Stabling & Feeding of your horse3f / night
Shoeing your Horse1d / hoof


The bar is well stocked, just with not many choices. Old Stout is the common drink, but more worldly visitors may find it to be a watery drink better with meals than anything else. Since apples are the prime export of the area, the majority of the good alcohol available here are made from apples. Wines are imports, and rarely drunk by the local patrons.

First-time visitors who venture into the bar will be served a glass of chilled red wine by order of one of the Legionnaires present. If she drinks it - she will find it to be very young, and therefore as bitter as vinegar. It is common to see a member of the Order of the Scarlet Veil come in, and down the glass without reaction. The Legionnaires will cheer the drinker whether she spits or swallows - and once baptized in this fashion will always be welcomed. Even if they are poor sports.

Anything available in the bar is available in the dinning and commons rooms - but no food is ever served in the bar.

The drink list is as follows. It should be noted that the Apple Brandy is available in older stock. Five year old apple brandy is considered strong by your average drinker.

Old Stout, not very old, nor very stout1f / pint
Muddy Cider, cloudy and strong2f / pint
Clear Cider, very strong!1d / pint
Mead (apple and honey)2f / pint
White Wine (Imported vintages)6f / cup
Red Wine (Imported vintages)5f / cup
Mulled wine6f / cup
Apple Brandy6d / cup


The following menu is a typical weekly menu. The menu is changed on the 10th of each ten-day, most items being made up in bulk, and reheated during the week when required. All items on the menu are available throughout the ten-day.

If the customer asks for something else - he/she may have to pay in advance, and order it a few hours early. Special orders depend on whatever may be purchased from the local market. Customers who bring in their own food need only pay for the spices, skinning and preparation.

Samuleson is always willing to barter for extra food from customers. Banquet menus are always paid for, and set several days in advance. The person paying for the Banquet is expected to either supply the majority of the food, or hire a huntsman to acquire it. Samuleson charges an extra fee if he is expected to acquire all the food himself. The exact fee depends on the number of guests expected, and how much he likes his customer (begins around 2f a head).

The catch of the day depends if a local huntsman has been by, and was willing to sell his extra catch. The inn has special dispensation to take from the district legar's huntsman quarry anytime the fort-town is sufficiently supplied.

Items listed as item/item each have a 50-50 chance of being served any ten-day. Pastries and finer foods (found in larger cities) are not to be had in this rough-necked part of the world. The district ledger, and other local nobility, can often be found complaining of this. For good service it is highly recommended that guests of the Wooden Tankard not complain - at least not around Maria or Susan.

Beef/Mutton Stew3f
Bean soup/Vegetable soup2f
Chunk of Cheese (Cow/Goat)3f
Fresh loaf of bread, and butter2f
Beef and biscuits1d
Garden Vegetables1d
Pork and Apples 2d
Catch of the Day (fish)3d
Catch of the Day (meat)4d
Roast Hare with potatoes6d
Pan Fried Pork and biscuits1d

Staff and NPCs

There are 3 employees who live and work here along with the Samson family.

Samson the younger

First born into a small free family in Tharda, Samson was always expected to inherit and run the inn. He is a member of the Fobin militia, but never joined the legion. He is a tall, silent man who always seems troubled or worried.

His father's death last year did not seem to phase him. Like a good Thardic son he never speaks ill of his father - but as anyone from the area knows their relationship was neither tender nor loving. Samson the elder was forever yelling at the younger. The younger never speaks to his mother unless absolutely necessary and then his words, while respectful, are curt. The mother seems, if not happy with this, at least use to this behavior from her oldest son.

Samson is quick enough with a kind word or a laugh when in the presence of guests. His towering 6 foot frame and muscular build quickly become menacing when patrons don't pay their bills. He has deep set blue eyes that appear wise and cautious. He dresses in tunics and hose of earthen colors, usually wearing sandals, or boots if he must ride. His sandy brown hair is in a perpetual state of disarray, and is cut to fashion - short all around.

His dagger, at his belt, is worn but the blade is still sharp. He's been known to throw people out before remembering to open the iron-reinforced doors. He is a shrewd trader and use to getting a good deal from unsuspecting patrons who think him a country hick. His knowledge of politics and affairs of Tharda worldly in comparison to his backwater home; but he often keeps his opinions to himself. He can hold his alcohol, and never drinks to excess. He repays kindness and discourtesy equally, and in kind.

His wife, Susan

A tiny thing, she still wears her long golden hair braided and in a bun at her neck for working. While a good cook, Maria rules the kitchen. She can often be found milking the 2 cows, or the 4 goats in the stables first thing in the morning.

Like her husband, she understands the importance of silence. But she does like company. She would never betray her husband in any way, and loves him dearly. She is a good singer, and storyteller and dancer. She is the ray of sunlight in the dark inn, and all who know her, love her. She is stronger than she looks, and while her 5 foot frame makes it sometimes difficult to reach the upper shelves in the kitchen, she gets by. She rarely drinks, but will always share gossip and stories with her patrons and locals.

His Mother Maria

If Susan is normally quiet, then Maria must be mute. This elderly woman is always smiling, but rarely ever speaks. She dresses in straight shifts, and although her back is bent with age, and her hair silver, her mind does not appear dulled.

She seems to know what's going on. A quick smile, or a wink to patrons makes them wonder if she knows their secrets already. She delivers fresh linens to the rooms, and empties the night soil pots when guests go down to breakfast. If their room is locked, she finds them later in the commons and shakes her finger at the naughty guest. The joke is often explained by a local. The old woman seems content in this life, and intending to live forever.

Angus the Barman

This large-chested man is only 5'5", but weighs enough to be 6'5". He is quick with a joke, and knows all the gossip. He has piercing brown eyes and a quick smile. His black hair is shaved down to stubble, and he treats the Samson family as if it were his own.

He'll rattle on for hours about his past, and how he's a retired legionnaire with a bad leg. But his limp often switches legs. Sometimes it's his right, sometimes it's his left. The locals believe he was injured in the line of duty, but the limp is just a show for sympathy. It long ago got him free drinks from new legionnaire recruits when they first came in to hear his stories.

He has a short sword behind the bar, and appears to be quite capable with it. While he appears free with information, a good listener will realize he is careful never to speak much of the banditry in the area, nor speak loudly when Samson is in the room. <[>Angus is the black market's point man. He makes sure the Samson family stays in line. He's a freed gladiator and is more than capable in either hand to hand combat or with a short sword. He will gladly kill anyone he thinks may be trying to stop the black market from using the Wooden Tankard as they see fit. He set the fire 5 years ago that badly scorched the inn to remind Samson what could happen if he ever tried to deny the black markets requests. It was an act of simple malice.

Heather the scullerymaid

A simple child from Fobin proper, this young waif has no idea what's going on. Sometimes she sees important guests come and go - and can occasionally describe the finery they wear; but knows nothing about the black market nor any of its nefarious deeds.

She has long brown hair, and doe-brown eyes. She loves candy and sweets, and is quickly embarrassed. As a child of 8 she is well on her way to learning a good career.

Madia the chambermaid

Once she was a slave, but Samson purchased her 5 years ago from a group of local bandits and freed her. She is in her late thirties, and terrified of male contact still. Her nose was broken several times, and she is a mute - no tongue.

She dresses in earth-tone robes that are always too big for her. Her thick black hair is tied back beneath a scarf. Maria keeps a close eye on the girl, and often joins her whenever men are present. Madia is quick and efficient in her tasks, and appears to want to please Maria.

But Madia's big blue eyes have seen too much. She is telepathic, but loath to start communications with a stranger. She knows all the inn's secrets, and would tell them gladly to a friend; if she had any.

Jarid of Gredar the Ostler

An old drunk who barely manages to perform his expected duties. He always has a half-full tankard of apple-brandy that he claims to be 25 years old. But the barman will always tell you it's just a 5 year old vintage he's drinking.

The fellow's black hair is always oily and his clothes are in perpetual disarray. He's been roughed up recently and all the locals think it was probably done by a group of rowdy legionaries. He's always ragging the legionaries about how they've yet to stop the local banditry from raiding the area, and how they're ineffective as a fighting force. He thinks he was once a valiant fighting man - and his body is certainly scared enough to believe it.

He knows who Angus really is, recognizing him as one of the evilest gladiators who ever lived. He knows that Angus works for the black market and is dying to tell someone about the whole situation, as he's seen it before. He knows that eventually the inn will be the site of something very ugly - a kidnapping, perhaps a murder or maybe even become the home of some unspeakable cult, and by then Samson will be totally unable to stop it. Samson will be caught for whatever happens and used by the black market as a scape goat. And the old man feels there is nothing he can do about it. It's only loyalty to Samson that he stays on and tries to help.

He is a broken, old man who seems to be asking for someone to kill him. The locals all know that eventually - that's exactly what will happen.

His son Malreic

A dark and brooding boy, he is often in the company of Areth when not working in the stables. Malreic is quick whited. He is intending to join the legion when he turns 15, in just 2 years. His father has no opinion on the matter.

Malreic knows his father is a freed gladiator, and that someone is bullying him into silence - but has no idea why such a thing would occur.

Areth the Master Blacksmith

Areth is not only a master blacksmith and a retired legionnaire of good standing, he is also a mage. He is a plant, gathering information and trying to find out exactly who is using the inn for their nefarious deeds.

Areth keeps to himself, and none save Maleric know he is a mage. He never seems to cast any spells - and wears tunics and hoes like all civilized people. He appears to be a simple, honest, craftsman who prefers to keep to himself. His interest in Maleric is seen as healthy as he is acting as a positive roll-model for the boy.

Areth is a medium sized man, about 5'8" tall and not talkative. He can be friendly, but is usually uninterested in gossip or politics. Another mage may be able to sense something strange about the man, but Areth rarely uses magic. He knows Madia knows something, and is trying to become her friend. His shy meetings with her for dinner, or helping out with chores is translated by the locals as him trying to court her. Indeed, over the past year he has fallen in love with the chambermaid - but she is not yet totally comfortable with him. She will no longer flee his presence, but she does not yet seek it out.

Description of Layout

The inn is surprisingly large for its location in such a backwater town. The innkeeper appears worldly, and the building well-stocked and tended. Both the staff, and the building appears use to having important visitors drop by with little - if any - notice.

Basement (not depicted)

The basement of the inn is a roughly hewn room just below the kitchen. Stout beams are buried beneath in the kitchens clay tiled floor. The circular staircase down into the basement leads into a well stocked larder that remains cool even in the hottest days of the year.

There is a small wooden desk, and a series of ledgers also stored here. Any time anyone removes something from the larder, a mark is made beneath its picture in the book with a clay pencil. Once a month the book is taken to the local bonding house in Fobin proper where the books are complied and the innkeepers profits, and taxes are tallied.

Ground Floor

Plan (Gif - 982x722x256 col - 20kb)

The ground floor of the inn has a floor of hard-packed earth unless otherwise depicted (vertical lines). This floor has 5 major rooms.

The dinning room is the most commonly used room to sit, share gossip, and eat in. There is seating for up to 40 people comfortably on stools and rough-made chairs. Often, if a bard is in the region, he (or she) will entertain here. There is often some 20-30 people here each night for drinks and entertainment. The majority of these seem to be legionaries.

The commons room has several rough benches scattered about, with tables that line the walls. The room is used for dancing and games.

The kitchen is well stocked and often both Heather and Susan are hard at work inside. The preparing ten-day menu takes most of their time. Guests are rarely welcomed into the kitchen unless they are delivering meat to be cooked.

The counters are lined with preserves and spice bottles. The hearth always holds baking tins for bread and biscuits, as well as pots of stew and cooking meat. Susan is an expert at cutting and preparing game and will gladly prepare anything brought to her. All she asks is that the Samson family be given a portion of the meat. It is a request, and can be turned down. She will never take the innards, unless they are offered.

The bar is Angus' domain. No staff enters the area unless asked for by Angus. He takes care of the cash and the cleaning of the area. His loud, boisterous laugh, can often be heard wafting into the other rooms. Samson always seems perturbed by this, but keeps silent.

The banquet hall is rarely used. Twice yearly it is opened to the public when the local huntsmen stock the larder with venison, wild pork and rabbits. Then large feats are held to celebrate the district legar's birthday. Occasionally the banquet hall is rented by the legionaries for some special event. There is no such thing as a private party however - anyone at the inn is welcome to attend.

The stairs up go up to the first floor.

The stairs down go down to the basement.

First Floor

Plan (Gif - 928x620x16 col - 24kb)

The master suite has a giant bed with a feather-down tick atop a straw mattress. The mattresses smell slightly odd as they are full of a special anti-flea and bed-bug powder. The mattresses are changed each spring and fall. The room has its own full-sized hearth, lockable trunk and free-standing water basin. It is the largest, and most expensive room in the inn.

The minor suites are slightly smaller versions of the master suite. They are equally clean.

The guest rooms have straw mattresses laid atop the floor. The linens are fresh - but everything else must be purchased.

The storage area holds several sets of extra linens, water jugs and night soil pots. There are two free-standing mirrors on a tilting stands that are kept here, and available upon request. Three lockable chests are stored here for rent. They are all empty, and the locks open while they rest here. Samson has keys to all of them - and never tells his guests he always has a key to the chests. There are over 20 candles, and candle-holders here as well as three oil lamps ready to be lit.

The breezeway has a specially constructed ceiling to help tunnel morning and evening breezes off the river through the windows and into the halls to keep the area surprisingly cool during the hottest of summers. In the winter all the shuttered windows are covered-over by thick quilts that are tacked around the window. Anyone can roll them up, and open the shutters. During the other seasons, these quilts are stored in the storage room in their own unlocked trunk.

The beds always have enough covers, blankets and comforters to keep even the thinnest-skinned patron warm. There are no pillows - instead blankets are rolled up tightly and placed at the head of each bed. Each room is numbered - from 1 being the first door after the storage room off the stairs to 6.

One guest room appears to have no entry, and is not numbered. The thinner wall that leads into the corridor opens to reveal a hidden room. It is the same as all the other guest rooms, but is used regularly by the black-market contacts. It is explained as being a novelty room that costs extra to rent, and is currently rented by a traveling merchant.

Ostlery (not depicted)

The 16-stalled stables is made of graying wood in a simple square construction. The doors are on the western-most end, and the quarters of Maleric and his father are above the stables. Maleric regularly sleeps here to guard the horses. He has a large brass bell which he is suppose to ring if anyone tries to take the horses. His father sleeps wherever he may fall down.

Blacksmithy (not depicted)

Areth's smithy is a small two room brick building. The forge takes up the largest part. Around one side is his workshop, and around the other are his living quarters - a bed, a small kitchen and a desk. He has a chest of some 20 books hidden under his bed.

His diaries explain all his suspicions, including when he next expects a black-market contact to come through the area (about once every 14-24 days). He has a few rough sketches, descriptions and names written down - but has never actually seen any transactions. He keeps 2 copies of his diaries. Each month when he takes the 2 day trip down to Geishtei to get more supplies, he drops off a copy of his diaries with the a traveling mage on his way to the chantry in Golatha.

Common Guests

The black market contact changes from time to time. Often he (or she) appears as a merchant, and is greeted only as "friend" or "guest" by Samson. He (or she) is recognized by a ruby ring worn on the right index finger. The contact arrives a day before the client who could be anyone from anywhere.

The transaction between the black market contact, and his client always takes place in the empty banquet hall, or in the "novelty" guest room. The black market relies on their reputation of absolute secrecy, and Angus is well paid to make sure this reputation never fails them.

All manner of merchants, travelers and adventures come to the inn for a nights rest and a hot meal. The mix of people can, in and of itself, be an adventure. The few locals appear to be of common farm stock.

Story Hooks

The Wooden Tankard is a perfect place for a murder mystery. The black market would be trying to incriminate Samson, Samson would be trying to hide it - and Angus would be out to kill the investigators to make it all go away.

Otherwise the party may just find it an interesting place to take a mug of ale - and hear a story. Perhaps they're being hired by the black market - or they are Areth's contacts to try and stop the black market's nefarious deeds.

This backwater town is anything but quiet - and certainly not a friendly place. Thardic law is brutal, but swift - and neither Samson, nor Angus wants to be on the wrong side of a hangman's noose.

Theft is almost unknown at the inn - as the local thieves know better than to interfere with what might be a black market site. The locals have no idea that the Golatian black market operates this far outside of Golatha. But everyone knows something is going on at the Wooden Tankard.

Some believe Areth is a retired bandit, or perhaps a runaway slave. Some say Samson is out to stop the slave trade all together. The rumors are ripe with intrigue and adventure - but none of them come close to the truth. All the rumors have been carefully seeded by the black market over years of work.

Samson the younger inherited his father's troubles when the old man died of natural causes. While he prays reverently to Halea for his troubles to end - he does not expect them to. Perhaps one day Samson will go to the district legar for help. But then, perhaps the district legar already knows about the black market. The black market has very deep pockets and is as willing to buy-out their problems as they are to kill them off.

Copyright 1997, R. Downey