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The Moldy Maiden Tavern is a system-neutral tavern setting built to be dropped into your campaign at a moment’s notice, complete with characters, backstories, your choice of adventure tangents, and tavern menu!

With each groan of the ancient wooden steps you burrow deeper into the city’s underbelly, the heavy scent of rot and mildew tickling your nose as a clammy chill seeps into your bones. Descending further, the air thickens with rancid pipe smoke, cheap ale, and the fiery assault of throat-scratching homebrewed spirits. Finally, with one last echoing creak announcing your arrival, the staircase yields to the rough-hewn floor of a grimy basement room. The room, just recently filled with gravelly voices and harsh cruel laughter becomes silent, every creak and groan of the building amplified by the deafening quiet. Eyes, glinting from shadowed corners, size you up from beneath hooded brows, a few of the shadowy figures now grasping unseen objects hidden inside pockets. The laughter, once raucous, had curdled into a simmering threat, a promise of violence just barely leashed. You stand there, an unwelcome addition to their underworld, the air humming with the unspoken question: friend or fool?

The Moldy Maiden Tavern

Whispers claim The Moldy Maiden wasn’t always the dingy den it is today. Before it housed hooligans and miscreants, it was just a basement, a damp afterthought to the humble residence above. Then, during the thirsty days of Prohibition, Mr. Bill Darling, a slimy rascal with morals as crooked as his cellar stairs, saw an opportunity in these dull days. With a wink and a prayer, he transformed the cramped space into a den of forbidden delights, a speakeasy packed to the brim with thirsty souls. Despite the distinct lack of elbow room, the draw of illicit booze outweighed the strangling claustrophobia, yet soon trouble would begin brewing faster than a bathtub full of gin.

When law enforcement tightened their grip, supplies dwindled, leaving Bill with a thirsty clientele and a basement the size and usefulness of a broom closet. But Bill, who never did like dead ends, hatched another cunning plan. With a shovel and a sly grin, he carved a secret tunnel, a lingering and winding path that snaked beneath the noses of the law enforcement above, and now able to bring contraband straight to his thirsty flock once more. Soon, whispers of convenient and hidden tunnels spun across the stale air, drawing a new clientele – the kind who prefer dicey deals to Sunday markets.

As Prohibition inevitably came to an end, as it always does, the tavern emptied, its illicit charm fading. Yet, the basement now buzzed with a darker industry, and far more lucrative than the one before. Bill’s tunnel, like twisting roots, sprouted more pathways, one such tunnel is rumored to burrow its way into the depths of the Stabby Jane gang, a notorious crew named after their leader’s, shall we say, “enthusiastic” persuasion tactics. And so, the Moldy Maiden, once simply a haven for thirsty lawbreakers, became a haven for those who lurk even deeper in the city’s underbelly, a legend hidden in plain sight, with walls that hold shadows of forgotten secrets, and whose patrons are adorned with pockets stuffed with sin.

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Key Scoundrels

Blind Bill Darling ‘The Fixer’

Bartender, Tavern Owner, Male Human

Middle-aged, adorned with a mustache, sideburns, receding hairline, and icey blue eyes. 5ft. 10″, skinny with visible musculature

A raspy cough tears through the silence caused by your arrival. It emanates from the well-worn man tending the bar, he slumps against the bar at an angle that hints either past injuries or present inebriation. His aged tweed coat hangs loosely on his thin frame, each clumsy mismatched patch a battle scar telling a tale of a life well-lived, if slightly worse for wear. A bushy mustache twitches beneath a receding hairline, framed by impressive sideburns that seem determined to compensate for the vanishing hair above. An eyebrow arches – or was it two? The eyepatch covering his left eye makes it hard to tell. He sends another gravelly cough your way, this time laced with impatience. One question lingers heavy in the silence, does the man’s beckoning extend a lifeline, or a cunning lure into a trap?

Most of Blind Bill’s background is tied to the history of The Moldy Maiden Tavern, so there are few things left to say, but the most important thing is: Bill gets you what you desire, and the cost is never just coin. Not all debts are settled in currency, some require sweat, guile, and… unsavory deeds. Many saw these tasks as cunning ways to avoid paying, only to land themselves deeper in trouble. More than a few “task-bearers” still enjoy complimentary stays behind bars, thanks to Bill’s “generosity.” Remember, friend, Blind Bill doesn’t play fair. The game is rigged in his favor, and the price he exacts might not be what you bargained for. Gold may seem steep, but it’s a safer bet than getting entangled in his twisted games.

Likes

  • Loyalty
  • Fellow “undesirables”
  • Familiarity
  • His smoking pipe

Dislikes

  • Snitches and busybodies
  • Arrogance
  • High society, snobs, fancy clothing
  • Law enforcement

‘Stabby Jane’

Bandit Captain, Female Half-Elf

Young adult, golden yellow hair, green eyes. 5ft. 4″, deceivingly delicate build

Standing before you is the immediately confronting sight of a small half-elven woman, pacing from side to side like a caged wolf. A dagger twitches restlessly against her palm as her sharp green eyes, wide and unblinking, size you up like prey. “Well, well,” she rasps, “Bill brought us some fresh meat, it seems.” Her smile stretches wide, hungry, and just a touch too eager as her grip tightens on the dagger’s hilt.

Orphaned young, Jane’s memories began with the cold walls of the orphanage. Biting other children without remorse earned her another abandonment, forcing her to carve her future on the city’s unforgiving streets. Here, amidst the grime and grit, she discovered the thrill of steel, and the pleasure of combining it with flesh. It wasn’t just defense; it was a dark passion, a sickening dance that mirrored the chaos within. They called her “Stabby Jane,” a nickname she wore with a twisted grin, a badge of honor in a life devoid of love.

Her reputation with a blade drew others, captivated by her aggressive ferocity and the unsettling twitch that betrayed an unforgiving anticipation. They uncreatively became the “Stabby Jane gang,” a crew of outcasts who found twisted kinship in their shared resentment of the society that repeatedly pushed them down. Raids and bloody brawls became daily delights, their legend whispered with fearful fascination. Jane, hardened and twitchy, had now ascended to leadership, her unblinking eyes glinting with an unnerving mix of cunning and sadistic glee.

Likes

  • Stabbing
  • Carving
  • Tearing

Dislikes

  • Authority figures
  • Anyone telling her what to do, anyone
  • Being denied a chance to use her blade

Additional Rapscallions

Ken ‘Bruiser’ Jones, Adult, Male Human, Jane’s Bodyguard

Corvus ‘The Peddler’ Crowe, Middle-Aged, Human Male, Shady Merchant

‘Kelly Coincatcher’, Teenager, Female Human, Thief-For-Hire

Larry ‘Hands’ McCoy, Adult, Male Human, Muscle-For-Hire

Protects Jane at all costs, an incredibly loyal guard dog, won’t do anything without Jane’s permission

Enjoys the finer things, deals in shady goods to fund his dream of becoming a Lord one day

Former street urchin, professional pickpocket, professional break-and-enter-er

Well-known as the guy you hire when you need an extra pair of ‘Hands’, not tied to any particular group

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Rumors

The Death Worshippers. Some locals whisper that the Stabby Jane gang are actually death worshippers who use their grotesque woundings as offerings to the god of death, and in return receive dark powers unknown.

(False; Stabby Jane just really likes stabbin’.)

A New Substance. There are rumors of a new type of very addictive, life-ruining substance being brought into the city, and that it’s being facilitated by the Stabby Jane gang with the help of an unknown benefactor. The rumors have law enforcement stressed, as it is supposedly also going to be very affordable, at least to begin with.

(True; The Stabby Jane gang is working as the muscle to guarantee smooth transport of the substance, but ultimately the person in charge of the operation is Blind Bill, utilizing his tunnel system to smuggle the substance into the city.)

Blind Bill’s Golden Ticket. A few of the Moldy Maiden’s patrons have been heard discussing a huge opportunity from Blind Bill, with mentions of a rich fool hoarding trinkets inside his fortified basement.

(True; A local Lord with far more wealth than he needs, or deserves, isn’t even enjoying the use of his trinkets, instead choosing to lock them up in his basement like a jealous dragon protecting his hoard. They’re doing no one any good locked up there, maybe it wouldn’t be so immoral to contact Blind Bill about the opportunity.)

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Drinks Menu

ItemCostDescription
Copper Ale(mug) 1 cp (gallon) 5 cpNamed for its cheapness, and taste. Exceedingly frothy with small specks floating in it, ideally for those without tastebuds.
Wine(cup) 3 cp (pitcher) 1 spLiterally just called “Wine”, is it red or white? What grapes did they use? Doesn’t matter, it’s wine.
Dodgy Dan’s Whiskey(cup) 2 sp (bottle) 3 gpA whiskey with more burn than flavor, but does the job well enough.
Blind Bill’s Bathtub Brew(cup) 3 spTranslucent, slightly yellowed, incredibly strong, and tastes like de-greaser.

Food Menu

ItemCostDescription
Stale Penny Loaf (plain)1 cpA small palm-sized loaf, rock hard and dotted with powdery mildew.
Stale Penny Loaf (with pickled egg)2 cpA small palm-sized loaf, served with an excessively vinegared egg.
Stale Penny Loaf (with “cottage cheese”)5 cpA small palm-sized loaf, served with something resembling cottage cheese, but smells like regular cheese that has collapsed into mush.
Rehydrated Fish Soup (bowl)4 cpDried salted fish soaked in water for a while, served lukewarm.
Mystery Mash (bowl)1 spA bowl of miscellaneous fruit and veg that has been pounded together without thought, probably highly nutritious, probably disgusting.
Rodent Bolognese (bowl)4 spA Blind Bill specialty, the hidden tunnels supply him with an endless supply of “ingredients”.

I’m sure that you can find a use for this tavern in your game, we hope you’ll share your story in the comments below. 🙂

Downloads

You can use the button above to download the Moldy Maiden Tavern map, and I have listed many of the map asset packs used below. You can also find many more on our Map Gallery.

I chose not to include the actual tunnel for the escape hole featured in the Moldy Maiden Tavern map, as we have an awesome collection of tunnel maps and assets already!


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About the author

James

I help Ross with a chunk of the background work so he has more time for the part he loves, the artwork! When I'm not doing that, I'm working on my own maps & articles to assist you in your worldbuilding. :)

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