“This is a little place in Scaldwater called The Weary Wench. Skavos, a large burly lumberjack, serves awesome clam chowder (just like I had yesterday at The Warren Tavern!) and can tell you a tale or two. So pull up a stool, drop a couple silver on the bar, and enjoy a good bowl or two.”
So - a one-hour (more or less) writing exercise to fill it with backstory and local color. Here ya go:
Skavos bought the place after losing three fingers of his right hand in a felling accident. Not much use for a 'jack who could no longer swing an axe. But one thing he still had was his maw-maw's recipe for chowder. So he slicked his hair back, put on an apron, and fired up the stove.
The establishment is unassuming, but cozy. Rough-hewn tables and bar are slowly getting smoothed and polished from the constant rubbing of elbows, thumping of tankards, and spilling of food. Skavos trundles between the bar and kitchen like an affable bear, shouting greetings and winked admonishments to both guest and employee in equal turn. In addition to his prized chowder, guests may partake of bread, roast root vegetables, and boiled eggs. Behind the bar are a few casks of passable ale, although Skavos keeps a keg of decent perry under the bar for those who know to ask.
He's helped around the tavern by any or all of three employees, depending on the night and the crowd: Ellowyn, his daughter, who inherited both her father's build and joyful presence. “Mad Mary,” an orphan dropped at the dock two years back, who converses both with the customers, and the voices in her head. And young Peter van Kuik, who divides his time between splitting wood and tending fire at the tavern, and riding as a courier out past the town gates.
Skavos' ears are as sharp as his wit, and one hears much coming though a little port like Skaldwater. Peter occasionally whispers of the packets he carries out to the redoubts and hamlets along the trade road, as well, in spite of being sworn to strict confidence... Given a good night and a discreet tip, or some good information in return, Skavos is well known as a clearinghouse of information and tales. Once the evening rush has settled a bit, he wipes his hands and starts in on a tale imparted from some sailor or caravaneer...
- 'Zigzag' Nottley lolls at a table next to the fire. Late-arrivals will have the misfortune to sit next to him as he slobbers and stinks. The old wet-brain lost his ship and staggers between the tavern and a shack under the dock.
- Josep and Kitto Kestle stop in to check on their old colleague from the trees. The brothers are both built like oak stumps.
- Balla Ramóna plies her trade, seeking to provide companionship to a lonely sailor or caravan drover. Ellowyn stares daggers at her.
- Jan Hofste and his crewman Tijl Oldeman supply a share of their catch to Skavos for his chowder. Tijl has been saving his pay to buy a farm in the hopes of asking for Ellowyn's hand.
- Father Vincze arrives when he knows “Mad Mary” to be on duty. He surreptitiously keeps notes of her ramblings.
- Sheriff Demetrios Anagnas hovers at the end of the bar, twirling his spoon in an empty bowl. A teetotaler, he steeps an herbal concoction in a mug of boiling water provided by Skavos.
- The mage Iviar the Black has put up a bounty for an immature owlbear, if someone is foolhardy enough to wrest one from its mother.
- The halfling Williver Root was found outside the town gate, hallucinating and ranting of mushroom-men and their fabulous potions deep within the Horston Woods. He had several gourds containing unknown substances on his person.
- The bandit band led by Grinning Dudly hit another caravan last week.
- The cargo galley Pegase is in need of extra marines for safeguarding a cargo of value.
- A pair of desert elves arrived last week, seeking ship passage. These arid wanderers are well-known to fear open water.
- Arcano-mechanical walkers were spotted out past the trade road. Probably just gnomes up to no good, but best be cautious.
- A representative of the Prince Regent passed through recently, discreetly inquiring on the loyalty of the Sheriff.
- A Priest of the Divine Will has posted a flier seeking compatriots for a pilgrimage out into the Tomblands.
- The caravan of Udolf 'One Legged' Drakkar went missing last week. They were rumored to carry odd ingots purchased by an elementalist.
- The Broadrose River ran red for three days, and fish were killed out beyond the delta.