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The Need for Mead

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"Mead, mead, mead. Would it kill 'em to get a beer now and again? Stupid bees and their stupid honey..."

At times our adventurers feel the need. The need... for mead.

So they head to a stock fantasy tavern, which will be of wooden or stone construction and generally poorly lit. The drinks, generally either ale or mead, will be of questionable quality. Nobody there may even realize that mead and beer aren't the same thing.note  Other features may include:

Also a place for first meetings. Or to set up such meetings.

See also Medieval European Fantasy. Compare Rest-and-Resupply Stop, which is where there's more than just the tavern.

Not to be confused with Need for Speed.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Card Games 
  • The drink-based card game Drunk Quest has classes themed on various alcohols; The Paladin is mead themed.
  • Red Dragon Inn is a card game about a band of adventurers spending their hard-earned gold at a tavern. Drinking, gambling, and brawling ensue.

    Comic Books 
  • The Skullkickers spend a lot of time in taverns. In "Eighty Eyes on an Evil Island", they visit The Gizzard, which is every Fantasy Tavern ever. Literally.
  • Demon Knights begins with Jason Blood and Madame Xanadu stopping at an inn for a quiet drink. It just so happens that while there, they run into Vandal Savage, Exoristos, Sir Ystin, and Al Jabr. It also just so happens that the town they're in is invaded soon after, forcing them to team up with the others to try and fight off the invaders.
  • In The Mighty Thor comics this is done straight and played with. In the standard version of this trope, the unknown female Thor meets the Warriors Three in a tavern. There, they give her a series of quests to do before they will accept her as a rightful Thor (they also had her do a drinking contest as well to see if she could hold her liquor). In the 'played with' version, a little alien girl prays to Thor to save their harvest from a decades long drought. Thor does so and is about to leave when the grateful, impoverished aliens ask him to stay a while and they have a large stock of mead made from slugs to offer. Since 'mead' was involved of course Thor had to stay and in the course of the evening learns about the events of the Godbutcher. What makes this atypical was that there is no tavern, the aliens are too impoverished to have anything so fancy. It was just a somewhat solemn occasion held by a campfire.
  • Wonder Woman (2006): One of the first places Diana visits when she's stuck in an illusionary world/mental world by Stalker is a tavern with mead and barmaids where the patrons are all fur wearing viking pastiches. She meets her first ally there, a Hot-Blooded barbarian hero.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Good Hunter, The Prancing Pony is one of the many fantasy inns. Notably, The Protagonist Klaus is hired as a guard and a cleaner in the Sheffield Arc, having been offered a permanent place here.
  • The Night Unfurls: The original version features a couple of these, namely Hound's Head Bar and Talon Bar, the former of which is where Grace used to work in, while the remastered version has the Half-Moon Inn. Whenever several main characters bump into one of these, you can guarantee that a Bar Brawl is going to happen sooner or later.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Flight of Dragons sees the heroes stop at the Hell's Way Inn, the last bastion of civilization before passing Gormly Keep and entering Ommadon's hellish realm. It's here that Elder dragon Ssmrgol introduces human-turned-dragon Peter Dickenson to mead... by the barrel full. The innkeeper is most distressed by this but soon has other problems to deal with.
  • Shrek 2 features one, appropriately named The Poisoned Apple, where Puss In Boots is hired.
  • Tangled features the Snuggly Duckling. Flynn takes Rapunzel here in an effort to scare her into cutting her day trip out of the tower short, but then she saves him from the thuggish clientele and kicks off a Crowd Song.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Both the 1982 and 2011 Conan the Barbarian films feature scenes of the title hero celebrating a successful adventure at a tavern with free-flowing alcohol and half-naked wenches.
  • T meets Leonardo in one of these in Quest of the Delta Knights, complete with buxom serving wenches, sleeping quarters and drunken, superstitious peasants.
  • In The 13th Warrior Ahmad ibn Fadlan explains that, as a Muslim, he is forbidden to drink alcohol made from either grain or grape. His Viking host laughs and says mead is made from honey. Drunkenness ensues.
  • Swashbuckler: The day after stealing the Barnet treasure from Major Folly, the crew of the Blarney Cock take their celebration into a combination tavern/brothel. They are interrupted first by the arrival of Jane Barnet, and then by a squad of soldiers. Needless to say, a Bar Brawl erupts.

  • The Prancing Pony at Bree in The Lord of the Rings, one of many in that verse, but this one is probably the Trope Codifier.
  • In Dragon Bones, Ward finds his younger brother, Tosten, in such a tavern, where Tosten works as bard. This comes as a bit of a surprise as Ward had actually left him with a cooper, as apprentice. However, Tosten is a good bard, and apparently manages not to be molested by the sailors. (Ward was worried about this, as in the setting, the sailors don't wait until they've spent ninety days at sea. Nor does anyone else.)
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Tower of the Elephant where Conan the Barbarian hears of the title tower.
  • The Mended Drum in Discworld is a parodic exaggeration; it's been rebuilt several times, and is widely regarded as the best tavern of ill-repute in the world. The regulars are rough, in a rather specific way; someone coming in and calling himself "Urblad the Undefeatable" would soon have the entire bar proving him wrong with a wide variety of sharp and blunt instruments, but a ten-year-old popping in for a glass of lemonade would never get worse than a clip on the ear (and that more likely than not from his mother, when she hears her child's expanded vocabulary). By Going Postal, the brawlers rehearse their moves to look the best for tourists and the bar brawls have become Ankh-Morpork's most popular organized sport.
  • Dragon Queen features such a tavern. The protagonist works there.
  • The Inn at the Crossroads in A Song of Ice and Fire is the setting for a few important scenes in the first book.
  • A rather large fraction of the main characters of the Sword of Truth run into these at some point, and their responses run the gamut from avoiding attention to intimidation and in some cases just outright killing people.
  • American Gods really kicks off the quest with Shadow, Mr. Wednesday, and Mad Sweeney meeting for mead. Shadow doesn't quite like the taste, comparing it to "pickled honey." The sharing of mead is important to the plot, though, as the host is playing by old Norse rules of hospitality, and drinking the mead seals their deal.
  • The Inn of the Last Home in Dragonlance. It serves as a central point of meeting and reunion for the heroes of many of the books and short stories and has the best home-brewed ale.
  • The main setting in The Wandering Inn (named after the inn in question) offers everything but alcohol to its guests, much to their dismay.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Waldreg owns an poorly lit inn Tirharad, where people go to drown their sorrows daily. His inn is also the place where the people of Southlands and the Elves show they contempt for each other.
  • In Robin Hood the Crownkeeper has made a fake crown for Prince John. Robin and Kate, the latter doing a Dirty Harriet, distract him in one of these inns so they can steal the Keeper's keys.


  • Hello, from the Magic Tavern is set in one of these. The podcast is hosted each week from a tavern called The Vermillion Minotaur, a tavern that mostly serves mead. It's run by a half-elf by the name of Otok Barleyfoot, who vends rumors along with mead, and adventurers and all sorts of magical types are constantly coming through and can be interviewed by the podcast. They also have rooms, and host Arnie lives in the tavern in exchange for allowing Otok to run ads on the podcast.

  • The Champion Pub takes place in one of these, offering good drink, attractive serving ladies, and fine fisticuffs for entertainment.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Extremely common in Dungeons & Dragons. Stereotypical behavior for bad players is to ignore plot hooks in favor of visiting the nearest tavern to get drunk and either start fights or pick up chicks. The frequency for campaigns to start in an inn is a trope all to itself.
  • Enforced in the Conan the Barbarian d20 RPG — the game rules state that most of the treasure the PCs acquire is blown on ale and whores (even if the PC is female) between adventures.
  • The entire concept of Red Dragon Inn are about adventurers drinking at the tavern after a hard day's dungeon raiding. The objective of the game is to be the last person to not get too drunk/beat up while not going broke, using whatever talents or trickery your character has up their sleeves.

    Video Games 
  • Baldur's Gate has a fair number of taverns. These run the gamut from the Blushing Mermaid, which is a dive avoided by all but the roughest members of the titular city's underworld, via the Red Sheaf, which is a respectable, modestly priced inn for the frugal merchant, to the Helm And Cloak, which is more like an upscale boarding house for adventurers with plenty of gold who want a nice, quiet place to relax between adventures, and which very adamantly does not serve beer because "We aren't running a tavern here, m'lord!".
  • Very common in the Final Fantasy series, but Final Fantasy Tactics Advance deserves special mention for making these the only place to pick up quests. (Going by the English translation, it also calls them "pubs" and avoids specifying what anyone's drinking, but that's another trope entirely.)
  • Also common in Dragon Quest games
    • You organize your party in one in Dragon Quest III.
    • In Dragon Quest IX, in the inn in Stonewell, you can organise members of your party, do alchemy, and connect to the internet to do multiplayer or look for guests for your inn (Characters from previous Dragon Quest games.)
  • Several Zelda games include them, though the only one to play a significant role is Telma's bar in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, where La Résistance meets.
  • World of Warcraft has many of these, usually one per faction per zone (except for zones designated as starting zones), though some zones have a single one run by a neutral faction for use by players of both faction and each capital city features at least one. The exact nature of the building varies depending on the which race is running it with human inns fitting the trope description the most, except for being fairly well lit and Forsaken inns resembling a run down, rotting version of the Human inns (until they got their own unique style of architecture in the second expansion). They're used as safe points to log off and you get XP bonuses for your character staying in them while logged off.
    • In Warcraft III, players could swing by the local Tavern to hire neutral heroes in certain multiplayer maps.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has the Typical Tavern, where there is never not a brawl going on. Your second real quest involves clearing the rats out of the cellar.
  • In the Might and Magic games, there's one in every town, possibly two in a large city, and a few outside of towns. These are Rest And Resupply Shops for the franchise, although each varies in cost and the quantity you can buy. Many have various other functions, like obtaining information and hiring henchmen.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic has these available as an upgrade to your towns. Uses include hiring heroes, improving morale when the town is under attack and receiving cryptic clues about your enemies.
    • In Heroes of Might and Magic III, it's a prerequisite to the "Town Hall" upgrade (whence "City Hall" and "Capitol"). That's right, before you can get the most basic civic infrastructure up and running, the inhabitants need somewhere to go for a drink!
  • In Medieval: Total War, an Inn allows you to hire mercenary armies, a Tavern allows you to hire assassins.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Throughout the series, virtually every town, from massive cities to the tiniest of villages, has at least one such place. Plenty of others can be found randomly along the sides of roads. Many of them fit the Adjective Animal Alehouse naming convention. For many of these places, said bar/tavern/inn is also the Sole Entertainment Option. In many cases, they're good places to pick up sidequests and learn general information about the game world.
    • Skyrim, set in the home of the Viking expy Nords, kicks this trope up a notch and also plays it literally, with mead being a favored beverage. You can also engage in Bar Brawls, ogle the barmaids, overhear snippets of Infallible Babble in conversations between the other patrons, and hire mercenary companions. Amusingly, a few bandits will complain about the native Nords' love of mead, since they prefer a good beer.
  • The Hanged Man tavern in Dragon Age II is where you go when you need to have a conversation with Isabela or Varric.
  • You can build a Tavern in The Sims Medieval. It lets you make a Bard Sim, and provides full casks for Sims to drink from. Some quests even have you start a drinking contest or a Bar Brawl there.
  • Many players of Dwarf Fortress will build a nice place for their alcohol-dependent Too Dumb to Live smiley faces to get properly soused, but it would technically be a "dining room" or "meeting area" until .42 (released late 2015) allowed players to officially designate taverns.
  • Brütal Legend lacks a tavern, but it's got a Sacred Beer Tree that serves a similar purpose. Iron Heade loves parties, and beer's a very essential part. Eddie asks about flagons of mead, this being a vaguely fantasyesque setting and all, only to be informed that, no, beer is the drink of choice, and it comes by the keg.
  • Planescape: Torment has multiple taverns in Sigil and one in Curst, but the most prominent one is probably the Smoldering Corpse bar in the Hive. So named because of the floating, burning mostly dead guy in the middle of the floor that serves as both decoration and a source of heat and light. It's home to a number of different people including planar travelers, a party member, several Devils, and a barfly who's tab is so high that you can get free drinks forever if you convince her to pay part of it.
  • The Witcher games have these all around the place. They are places to buy drinks (which are useful for making potions or just to get drunk), gambling, getting sidequests, and at times are also where you meet people for your main quest.

    Web Comics 

Alternative Title(s): Fantasy Tavern