Postfest VIII(UPF1): The Sour Note Tavern
Date: Fri, November 09, 2007
Topic: Greyhawk Gazetteer

A simple discovery that could topple tyrants, how a small tavern could one day split a faith and endanger the stability of the Sheldomar Valley.

The Sour Note Tavern
By Crag

“A simple discovery that could topple tyrants, how a small tavern could one day split a faith and endanger the stability of the Sheldomar Valley.”

Cast of Characters
Bergull Vond - P2 of Olidammara – CG *portrays himself as a bard*
Tarro Sef – T1 – NG
Clemdan Hast – F2 – LN (LE)

Back Story
A simple priest of Olidammara, Bergull Vond, after a night of revelry had an idea; the faith will never fully lighten man’s spirit unless the joy of revelry is heard within the darkest of lands. Lands that know only despair and terror need not invading armies but instead the faithful to bring laughter, for how long can tyrants rule without fear.

Eagerly he went to his superiors and friends with his desire to send followers of the Laughing Rogue to every oppressed land within the Flanaess to sell spirits and quietly ferment opposition, to lift the sorrow of the people. Unfortunately, his idea was dismissed out of hand with much ridicule by all except his friend, Tarro Sef.

Undaunted he sold all his goods and with his friend purchased a wagon and several barrels of various spirits to sell for the cause. To avoid notice from his Gradsul ridiculers, despite his poor voice, Bergull has even adopted a wandering bard persona. He may have remained a small man traveling the road if not for a discovery one day.

Late one evening, the wagon overturned sending some of his inventory into the marsh. Recovering most of his damaged cargo, they continued until finding a dry spot for camp. In camp, unwilling to waste Olidammara largesse, they drank from one of the barrels and surprisingly found its potency had greatly increased, he collected samples of the local flora.

Taking this remarkable discovery as divine favor, he purchased a small rundown building in Seaton and began to experiment. He finally succeeded in isolating the plant extracts; he can now safely enhance the potency of his drink.

Bergull has decided that, obviously, Olidammara wants him to brew the drink rather than be the one to deliver it to the oppressed. He accepts the role Olidammara has chosen for him.

Urban - The Sour Note Tavern
Seaton has a reputation as a somewhat dull sea side town where the local authorities discourage riotous debauched behavior; Bergull chose it precisely because of its reputation as a perfect place to test his drink and beliefs.

He bought a small building north of the public stables, which he opened as a rustic tavern. The stories of the bard's awful singing voice seemed to reassure the other tavern owners and local authorities that “The Sour Note” was no threat to business or public order.

That all changed when Bergull finally began serving his special stock, and over the last two months business has boomed. Since the prices are the same for “ The Sour Note Specials”, he has become very popular among the poor working class; there is even some scattered applause for his performances.

Unfortunately the other tavern owners are beginning to notice the decline in business and the local authorities perceive an upsurge of public drunkenness.

Sour Note Specials use certain plant extracts to increase the alcoholic content.
Wine x2
Ale x3
Hard Liquor x5
Black Sludge x10 (a vile black residue of the plant extract fermentation process)

All are popular except “black sludge” which remains practically undrinkable.

Of course, once a drink is said to be “undrinkable”, customer interest is peaked. However black sludge is truly vile. The drink has become something of a rite of passage for first time fishermen and dockworkers. One dockworker has become something of a local celebrity claiming to actually enjoy black sludge.

Bergull despaired selling it, even sending some with Tarro during his semi-annual visits to the farmers, many of their friends from the wagon days, that live near the swamp. Surprisingly, the farmers claim to enjoy it and are willing to accept all he can send it as partial payment for collecting his plants.

News of the potent potables has begun to spread beyond Seaton and a few Olidammaran pilgrims have begun to arrive to sample “the blessed beverages”. This pleases Lord Suconforth not at all, but he has yet to act due to the popularity of the tavern among the lower social classes. Bergull has not decided yet if the pilgrims are his means to liberate the oppressed nations.

Pleased by the pilgrims, the local Olidammara priest is trying to convert him. The priest hopes The Sour Note becomes recognized as an official pilgrimage shrine to help strengthen the faith within Seaton. Bergull has kindly refused, but the priest is persistent.

Rural – Farms / Ranches
Farming in southern Keoland, especially bordering the marsh, has always been dangerous with many farms sending a portion of their crops to the richer local cattle ranches. Many farmers supplement their income by cutting “marsh hay” to barter for meat and a few copper. The local ranch owners profit greatly since they do not risk losing men to the marsh and buy cheap feed for the herds of cattle.

While beneficial for both sides, there was no doubt who benefited more. This created an expectation of cheap hay among the ranch owners and a sense of entitlement to use the farmers as a source of cheap labor.

Bergull has upset this traditional economic reality by giving the farmers another option, rather then cutting swamp hay which is worth coppers, many farmers are instead harvesting “bergull plants” for silver.

The local ranchers are angry and indignant toward the ungrateful farmers, especially when the farmers demanded silver wages to return to collecting swamp hay. Tensions are on the rise and Clemdan Hast leads a vocal minority among the ranchers that wants to teach them a lesson.

Hool Marshes
Another problem comes from within the marsh itself; contrary to what Bergull believes, the farmers have no taste for black sludge. Ror them its value is in trade.

Lizardmen have long resided in the Hool Marsh and have been a constant threat to the farms nearby, a recent internal war between “lizard kings” devastated several small tribes - among them the Black Claw tribe.

The Black Claw tribe has migrated to the fringes of the swamp to recover, rather then raid the farms and risk losses they could not afford, the chief convinced the humans that the tribe was merely the vanguard of a much larger force and crudely extorted the farmers.

Late in the fall, the lizardmen found a barrel of spirits within the marsh and took it back to the new tribal lair. It was consumed and enjoyed so much that the lizardmen demanded more when they met the farmers to collect the livestock owed to them. The farmers gave them the barrel of that awful black sludge stuff that tarro left, satisfied the lizardmen returned to the marsh.

Unfortunately, for the farmers, the black sludge was a tremendous success with the Black Claw tribe; the chief continues to send his emissaries to demand more of the black drink in ever greater quantities.

Possible Problems
* The owner of the Gateway tavern has bribed a Sour Note serving wench to try to discover bergulls’ secret, so far the barmaid has been unsuccessful.
* A local thieves guild has noticed the good business the tavern does and is offering to protect the establishment from “accidents”.
* The local Olidammara priest has written to a prominent priest in Gradsul asking for his help to convert a stubborn bard obviously blessed by Olidammara.
* Clemdan Hast has decided to attack the leading farm families to scare the other farmers back in line with or without consent from the other ranch owners.
* Tales of the black drink has sparked a lizard king's interest, he plans to visit the black claw tribe in the near future.

This article comes from Canonfire!

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