If you flip through enough GM guidance, you see repeated disdain for one fantasy-gaming trope in particular: the tavern opening.
You know the one: You’re all sitting in a bar full of tough mercenaries, enjoying your ale, when a stranger in a cowled robe approaches you. “Mighty adventurers! The people I represent are in dire need of your aid…”
Dragon Magazine, back when it existed, ran several articles over the years on ways to start off a new campaign or get PCs on the same team, and virtually every one of them started by slamming tavern scenes.
For instance, Dragon Annual 5 featured a Christopher Wilkes article titled “Fresh Starts,” which starts with an italicized tavern scene very similar to the one above, which he then calls a “tired cliché.”
And it is.
But why is it a cliché?