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You All Meet in an Inn

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Another good reason not to use the drive-thru.

Elan: Next, we go to the tavern.
Roy: Why? I need adventurers, not a drink. Well, not JUST a drink.
Elan: That's where adventurers are hired, silly!
Roy: Why? It's not like they're looking for jobs on the wait staff.
Elan: I dunno, it's just tradition.

The stereotypical opening to an adventure in tabletop RPGs: the protagonists are all gathered by prior intent or a "coincidence" of authorial fiat by the Game Master in an inn, bar room, or other common public meeting spot. Once there, some mysterious stranger or NPC of varying dubiousness will approach them with some job offer or plea for assistance. These strangers tend to seat themselves in the darkest corner of the tavern for some reason (probably to make themselves seem even more mysterious). Thus do our heroes receive their ticket to board the plot.

Careful, though, for the mysterious stranger has an odds-to-even chance of being the Big Bad or a similar miscreant. Expect a Bar Brawl or two in the tavern as well, particularly if the PCs start to get rowdy. Fortunately, though, the barkeep is usually a retired former adventurer willing and able to kick the asses of anyone who gets too uppity.

This trope is Older Than Print — no less an author than Chaucer had his adventuring party meet in an inn — but it later began to be considered a Discredited Trope through overuse. Actually starting an adventure with the words "So, you all meet in an inn..." may be seen as roleplaying's equivalent to "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night..." Thus, a lot of sources advise against using it, and give pointers on how to avoid it. The 3rd Edition Dungeon Master's Guide for Dungeons & Dragons, in a list of ways to bring a party together, dubs this "The Cliche". David Morgan-Mar, of Irregular Webcomic! and Darths & Droids fame, provides a list of less overused ways to start an adventure, as do the folks at the dice of doom blog.

On the other hand, cliched as it may be, it really is a logical opener. Taverns are the center of social life in many cultures, making for a good place to meet new people, and food and drink are good for bonding with new acquaintances. Some people even use the trope deliberately as an invocation of gaming tradition. It's also quite easy to play for laughs, emphasizing the comedy potential of enjoying a few pints down at the pub and deciding to go out and slay a dragon with your new-found acquaintances.

Real Life group meetings at an inn are usually a convention of some description. The "adventuring" usually takes place entirely within the building, and does not normally involve bloodshed, swordplay or dragons. Normally.

Sister Trope of You All Meet in a Cell (the story begins with a group of characters in captivity). Contrast Closed Circle, for when the DM wants to keep you in the tavern. Compare and contrast Hero Looking for Group (The Heroine actively seeks teammates to accompany her in her mission).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: Played with. Keith Shadis brings an apparently amnesiac Grisha Yeager to a tavern for drinks, where Grisha meets Carla; his future second Wife. It is played with in that this is at the tail end of Grishas' own journey before he would become a doctor, marry Carla, and have a son together: Eren Yeager.
  • Samurai Champloo: Two of the three protagonist meet at a tea house, where they immediate start a massively violent bar brawl. The third one wanders in by coincidence and joins in the fight. This very quickly leads to You All Meet in a Cell.

    Comic Books 
  • Legends From Darkwood involves several scenes with characters posting jobs or looking for jobs in "adventuring" posting to a bulletin board in an inn.
  • The Sandman (1989) volume World's End takes place entirely in an Inn Between the Worlds. The coincidence that contrives to bring together so many dimensional adventurers and agents also keeps them there, telling stories that in some way involve The Dreaming and The Dream King.
  • This is how the Demon Knights meet. Paul Cornell says the trope hadn't occurred to him when he wrote the scene, but he's glad it plays into something like that.
  • Superman:
    • In Way of the World, Supergirl meets a Krallian Green Lantern in the terrace of an alien tavern. Together, they begin planning the downfall of an alien overlord.
    • In Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, the quest begins when Supergirl goes to an alien inn and witnesses Ruthye being robbed by a mercenary. Supergirl protects Ruthye and then gets involved in the younger girl's revenge mission.
  • Selune's Smile (shown as more of a bar than an inn, but definitely with the occasional paying guest as well) in the city of Waterdeep in DC's old Advanced Dungeons & Dragons comic justified the trope by having one of the protagonists work there as a bouncer in her spare time and at least some of her friends adopt it as a favorite hangout spot as well...thus making it often more a case of "you all are at your usual inn when trouble shows up on the doorstep".

    Fan Works 
  • In The Commission, the girls of Team RWBY weren't actually together in a team when they were in Beacon. Instead, they met in a bar at a particular low point in their lives, bond over cookies and work out their conspiracy after.
  • The opening of notorious Off the Rails Trope Codifier That Guy Destroys Psionics gives one of the best descriptions of this trope:
    That Guy: We congeal off the walls of a high end tavern in some urban area.
  • In the twelfth installment of Skyhold Academy Yearbook, there's an RPG Episode in which Varric runs a Gatehouses and Ghouls campaign for some of his students and fellow teachers. Being the resident Meta Guy of both the game series and the fic series, he invokes the trope all but by name.
    "You all meet in the local tavern, because that's where every good stock adventure starts."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Northwest Passage, Towne and Marriner meet Robert Rogers in a tavern while running from the redcoats.
  • The entire plot of From Dusk Till Dawn is driven by the "Anti-Hero" meeting an ally in a bar.
  • Reservoir Dogs: The first scene is the bank robbers relaxing in a diner making small talk before their heist. They've all met and planned the job beforehand, however. A later flashback reveals that Mr. Orange received his interview with Joe in a bar.
  • In a slight variation, the founding members of the Mystery Men meet in a diner. While they do recruit the Bowler II at a backyard barbecue, the Spleen is recruited at the same diner and the Sphinx is found by going to a Mexican restaurant and giving a secret phrase, and it is after sending out feelers for membership from the diner that they meet Invisible Boy - who ends up being the one to go against the trope and say they need to do a recruiting drive with a backyard pool party barbecue. In addition, Mr. Furious meets his love interest at the diner; she's their waitress.
  • Ronin (1998) has a tavern as a pre-arranged meeting place for the team of mercenaries. It's even the first and last scene.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness, after the main hero's order is slaughtered, this is how he meets up with the unsavory band he's infiltrating to get closer to the ones that killed his companions and kidnapped his father. A blatant and unapologetic Shout-Out to many a classic D&D campaign start, as stated in the trope description.
  • Stalker (1979): Stalker, Writer, and Professor start off in a bar.
  • The Merry Widow (1925) with evil Crown Prince Mirko and his devil-may-care cousin Prince Danilo meeting at an inn, where they encounter the lovely Sally O'Hara, a dancer with a theater troupe. Romance ensues.
  • The Petrified Forest: A roadside gas station and diner in Arizona is where wandering tramp Alan meets and falls in love with Gabrielle the waitress. Wealthy tourists Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm also arrive at the diner, and then escaped gangster Duke Mantee and his crew arrive at the diner and make things really interesting.
  • Star Wars:
    • In A New Hope, while not all the characters met there (Leia is already held on the Death Star by this point, the droids had met Luke after being bought, and then they all go to meet Ben Kenobi to find out if the droids belong to him), the meeting with Han Solo and Chewbacca in the Mos Eisley cantina does represent the first time the main hero (Luke) is set to interact with the outside universe, and since the meeting is where the mission to Alderaan is planned that will link them up with Leia and set the plot for the rest of the movie (as well as set all the events of the trilogy in motion), it certainly counts as where the main adventure starts.
    • In The Force Awakens, Han and company go to a similar establishment, a thousand-year-old watering-hole run by his friend, Maz Kanata. Here, Finn — deserter from the First Order stormtroopers — takes the opportunity to flee to the Outer Rim by getting himself hired with a couple of guys on a different ship.
  • Heat Lightning: Many people find themselves meeting in Olga's gas station/mechanic shop/motel. The people among them are two criminals running from the law, two wealthy women and their chauffeur, and a local Mexican family.
  • Mythica: The party meets in a tavern. It's somewhat justified as this is frequented by mercenaries, and Teela comes in hoping to hire some that will help rescue her sister and retrieve the Darkspore. Also, the owner was a mercenary, who acts now as a sort of broker for teams to pursue such missions.

  • Older Than Print: As noted in the trope description, all the characters meet at an inn before starting their pilgrimage in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.
  • In the 14th century Chinese wuxia novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Liu Bei and his sworn brothers first meet in a small town tavern.
  • Ancillary Justice starts with Breq finding Sievarden in the snow outside of a bar.
  • Dragon Queen: the story starts with an old man entering an inn where the protagonist is.
  • The Adventurer's Guild in Goblin Slayer started out as a favored watering hole for adventurers between quests to eat, drink, and swap stories. Because adventurers between jobs often hung out at this one bar, people looking to hire adventurers went to that bar and wait for people they could hire to show up, and adventurers learned that prospective employers would go there, and visited to look for work. Eventually the arrangement became formalized and the guild was created to bring adventurers and job listings for adventurers to one place.
  • In Joel Rosenberg's The Sleeping Dragon, the heroes (a group of college-age roleplayers) are transported to a fantasy world, and the first thing they decide to do is...go to an inn, where one of their number is killed when he tries to pick the pocket of a nobleman.
  • Treasure Island begins with Jim Hawkins listening to Billy Bones' tale of Flint's treasure in the Benbow.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Gandalf meets Thorin in a bar in events before The Hobbit. He later states outright that the entire future of Middle-earth and the outcome of the War of the Ring was affected by their meeting.
      Gandalf: Yet things might have gone far otherwise and far worse. When you think of the great Battle of Pelennor, do not forget the battles in Dale and the valour of Durin's Folk. Think of what might have been. Dragon-fire and savage swords in Eriador, night in Rivendell. There might be no Queen in Gondor. We might now hope to return from victory here only to ruin and ash. But that has been averted—because I met Thorin Oakenshield one evening on the edge of spring in Bree. A chance-meeting, as we say in Middle-earth.
    • Though not at the beginning of the story, Frodo and friends meeting Aragorn in the Prancing Pony in The Lord of the Rings likely influenced many later examples.
  • Dragonlance:
    • The first novel in the series (which is based on Dungeons & Dragons to begin with) opens with the heroes meeting at an inn. This is justified; not only are the protagonists old friends who promised to meet here many years prior, but one of them has backed out on her promise, foreshadowing far worse things to come. There's even a mysterious hooded guy in a corner, though he turns out to be a good guy. He even rearranges the furniture for dramatic effect.
    • The heroes meet the people who start off their major quest in the inn, as well.
  • The action of Robert Jordan's enormous The Wheel of Time series begins with Rand al'Thor meeting up with both established friends (Mat & Egwene) and newcomers (Moiraine, Lan & Thom) at the Winespring Inn in the local village. Which, to be fair, is pretty much the only location of note, in the widest sense of the term, in the entire region. Additionally, the first place the group stays outside of the Two Rivers once they are forced to flee Emond's Field is at an inn in the town of Baerlon, and this is not only where the Wisdom Nynaeve catches up with them but where they encounter the oracular Min who will be a key character in the series.
  • Forgotten Realms:
    • In Spellfire Ed Greenwood as the creator of the setting sets the trend and subverts this classic trope deliberately, by having a party of adventurers meet at an inn, spontaneously decide to investigate the nearby ruined city of Myth Drannor, and then be annihilated (the main character aside) by the denizens of the ruins, whom they lacked the ability or experience to face.
    • Azure Bonds starts this way, after a fashion. One character was found unconscious on the tavern's porch, another was a client who happened to be a wizard and got curious about her tattoo, a third followed her to the tavern.
    • Smoke Powder and Mirrors by Jeff Grubb proposes a good hypothesis on this trope:
    On reflection, Jehan Wands realized why most adventures begin in taverns. It takes a combination of noise, bustle, the late hour, wrong-headed opinions, and ale, all in specific amounts, to convince otherwise rational people to do stupid things like go on quests and slay dragons. And only a tavern could bring all this together in one spot.
  • The first book in the Twelve Houses series, Mystic and Rider, begins with the main characters saving a Naïve Newcomer from a tavern brawl, evidently so they'll have someone to whom they can exposit.
  • Parodied (like everything else) in the Myth Adventures series, in which Skeeve recruits troops to save Possiltum in a fast-food restaurant called the Yellow Crescent Inn.
  • Khaavren and the others in The Phoenix Guards. It's played dead straight.
  • "The Most Precious of Treasures": Downplayed as it's only two people meeting there. It occurs because one has left a note for the other.
  • And then of course there's Callahan's Place where strange people of unusual talents meet in a bar and more or less stay there. Which still doesn't stop them from fulfilling this trope since the barkeep, Callahan, turns out to have specifically opened the bar so he could recruit people to help him save the world.
  • Happens a few times in Discworld:
    • In The Colour of Magic, there's a Bad Guy Bar called the Broken Drum in which adventurers meet and fight each other.
    • In Hogfather, a group of "businessmen" meet in an even worse Bad Guy Bar, answering the call of Big Bad Teatime. They mostly know each other and are on edge because Teatime is late to meet them and tell them what their assignment is. Then, it turns out the place never had waiters... Cue Oh, Crap! moment.
    • Lampshaded by Vimes in Jingo:
      "You'll be surprised how many people were ready to do business with a complete stranger they have met in a bar just a few minutes ago."
  • In Queen of Wands, invoked by Hjalmar at the start of the quest to rescue Janaea.
  • Not precisely an inn (nor are they all necessarily on friendly terms with each other), but the common interest of staying at Rotherwood for the night on the same night at the start of the story is what brings most of Ivanhoe's main characters together for the first time.
  • The modus operandi of the short story series The Astral Cafe is the main characters sitting around a restaurant until they are needed to go on an adventure.
  • The short story The Crystal starts with this, and even provides a nice bit of narration to lampshade it.
  • Justified in the Ironclaw novel Dream Carver, based on one of the author's campaigns. Baron Treeden was specifically looking for Capt. Salvatore, one of his house's Privateers, and Sister Annarisse in turn was trying to find the baron, to whom she'd just been assigned as a confessor.
  • In The Name of the Wind, the frame story occurs almost completely inside an inn whose innkeeper is secretly a legendary adventurer.
  • In Animorphs, the characters all meet in a mall. And just happen to be walking home together when they encounter the Call to Adventure.
  • The novel V. by Thomas Pynchon begins with Benny Profane going back to his old watering hole in his Navy days.
  • In Andre Norton's Quag Keep, the point of view character is magically transformed into his RPG character and dumped into Greyhawk — in a tavern. Where he meets another such player character's character — because they both sense something is wrong. The rest of their party, however, is collected by a wizard who's noticed there is something wrong about them.
  • Spells, Swords, & Stealth: In NPCs, the four main characters knew each other already, but they are all in the inn when a party of adventurers arrive and die. Inspecting the bodies yields an order by the king to come meet with him. The king is well known for not taking disappointment well, and taking his ire out on whatever location his disappointment occurred in, whether it had anything to do with what went wrong or not. The only way to resolve this problem is for the titular NPCs to set out adventuring in the dead adventurers' place.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire Bronn's adventures with Tyrion began after Catelyn persuaded him and a group of knights at an inn to arrest Tyrion for allegedly pushing her son Bran off a tower. This paid off after he championed and won a trial by combat for Tyrion, and he's been following him around since (at least until Tyrion gets falsely accused of and arrested for murdering Joffrey, and Bronn is bribed with a lordship in order to send him away).
  • The Dragon Waiting begins with three chapters separately introducing the three protagonists, and then the fourth chapter is set some time later at an inn where they are, more or less coincidentally, all staying as guests. Events cause them to become acquainted and to join forces.
  • First averted in The Wandering Inn where the main character finds an abandoned inn in the wilderness. Later played straight as the inn begins to attract customers and regular visitors.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Each episode of Estate of Panic begins this way in the foyer of the estate.
  • Cheers, the show that's entirely about a bar, its employees, and its patrons.
  • Daredevil (2015): Matt Murdock, Karen Page and Foggy Nelson get dragged into the mess of the Punisher manhunt due to Grotto, the sole survivor of a Punisher attack, stumbling into Josie's Bar while the trio are there playing an after-work game of billiards.
  • Game of Thrones: Several inns at the Riverlands facillate chance encounters between characters. Catelyn and Tyrion in Season 1, Arya, the Brotherhood without Banners and Sandor Clegane in Season 3, Arya and the Hound with Polliver and Mountain's Men in Season 4, Brienne and Pod meeting Hot Pie at the same Inn where he, Arya and Gendry last parted in Season 4, and later the two encounter Sansa and Littlefinger in Season 5. This is justified because the Riverlands is the networking region that connects all the major kingdoms, so it would be common for travellers to have surprising chance random encounters.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: The pilot introduces most of the important characters for the Southlands subplot meeting at Waldreg's inn. Arondir visits the inn, where he faces prejudice from those like Waldreg and Rowan, and has a secret meeting behind the inn with his Love Interest, Bronwyn.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One", the Special Children meet in a haunted ghost town called Cold Oak.

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS has an entire book for this, Dungeon Fantasy 10: Taverns
  • Warlord, a self-referential D&D-inspired card game, has a card called "Meet At The Inn". Its Flavor Text:
    "Come on, guys! I have an overwhelming urge to go to the nearest inn and meet a pair of strangers who will help us in our quest!"
    "What, so soon after our two friends died?"
  • The most common version of this in Call of Cthulhu is, "So, you receive a letter/package/telegram from [NPC]..." The second most common one is, "You are investigating the mysterious death of a friend/ally"; third most common is "You all meet in a Speakeasy/on a University Campus..." Various resources for Keepers have tried to provide alternative means for introducing Investigators into a scenario and setting up the plot without relying on these so much.
  • Delta Green has "you are all called into the briefing by a handler" (sometimes phrased as "You are cordially invited to a night at the opera"), although there's much fun on HOW you are called. Part of the impetus for the creation of the setting was to give a reason for surviving player characters to repeatedly get new mythos creepiness to investigate, and for dead player characters to be replaced.
  • Feng Shui, which makes no effort to hide the fact that everything in the game that's not a fight scene is a mechanism to get to the next fight scene as quickly as possible, demands this. GMs are instructed to decide where all the players will be when the story begins, and then simply inform the players of this unassailable fact. Players must then give a reason for why their character is at this place, with rewards given for reasons that tie well into their character's backstory in some way. An example:
    GM: You're all in a restaurant. Tell me why.
    Player 1: I heard a rumor that some operatives for the shadowy cabal that kidnapped my sister like to eat here and I'm staking the place out.
    Player 2: Since my character's very poor, he's been taking odd jobs lately to help pay the bills. I'm cleaning tables here.
    Player 3: This place has really good noodles.
  • Shadowrun:
    • This game has its own version: "You all get a call from a man calling himself 'Mr. Johnson'..." This was intended to be a Shadowrun trope from the beginning, as it's established in the rulebook that all sorts of "Mr. Johnsons" all over the country are looking to hire shadowrunners to do their dirty work.
    • Lampshaded in one of the Shadowrun novels, in which an employer admits that her name really is Johnson after screwing her hirelings over.
    • "You All Meet in an Inn" is also played straight in Shadowrun. Since Johnsons often treasure their anonymity, places like bars, taverns, restaurants and nightclubs are often where runner teams will meet up. White noise generators help ensure privacy from anyone trying to listen in. Some establishments who deal more regularly with the shadowrunning business often have booths with built-in white noise generators to allow for private meetings between Mr. Johnson and shadowrunners.
    • There's also the "Stuffer Shack" convenience stores. One module has the PC's patronizing such an establishment when it gets robbed.
    • In the Sega Genesis and SNES Shadowrun RPGs, nightclubs are specifically used as a place to purchase fellow shadowrunners' services.
  • The modern-day equivalent is "You All Meet at a Nightclub". Given the typical diet of the denizens of, say, Vampire: The Masquerade, you could easily see the nightclub as just another inn, providing food, drink and entertainment. Often simultaneously.
  • In Eberron, the city of Sharn has two adventurers' district. Those districts both have taverns that are specifically designed to serve this trope: they not only offer the usual services expected of a tavern but also offer services allowing adventurers to find people to team up with, as well as employment. Incidentally those taverns tend to be owned or be operated by retired adventurers. These taverns also tend to have irregular shapes, and intentionally poor lighting, so that they have more shadowy corners than usual.
  • Warhammer's WFRP rulebook justifies this trope: taverns are common meeting places; and, given the likely diversity of the party members, may well be the only reasonable way for the PCs to meet.
    • In particular the infamous Enemy Within campaign begins in the Coach and Horses coaching inn, with the characters delayed on the road to Altdorf.
  • Dungeons & Dragons is so Troperiffic that a cliché like this was bound to be used in a handful of modules:
    • Sometimes it turns out another way.
      ...and went to Baldur's Gate to celebrate their victory. Thick-headed with too much ale, they agreed to take on a job from a mysterious merchant (now believed, after several divinations, to be an agent of the Red Wizards) who sent them into the Troll Hills, which is the last anyone ever heard of them.
    • Special mention has to go to the 2nd Edition module "Reverse Dungeon", where the players are a group of goblins trying to save their tribe from an (apparently endless) stream of adventurers. The way the module suggests they achieve this is to destroy the tavern, so that the heroes can't recruit replacements for their fallen comrades.
    • Before the Spellplague, the Forgotten Realms had a justified example - one of the bars in Waterdeep, one of Faerûn's great metropolis, was not only run by a retired adventurer, but also happened to have an entry-point to Undermountain (a very, very large dungeon) in it. That, of course, made it a convenient place for adventures looking to strike rich in Undermountain to gather.
    • The 1977 Holmes Basic D&D boxed set. In the sample dungeon the PCs could gather at the Green Dragon Inn in the city of Portown before going on an adventure.
    • The AD&D 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide (1979) has this suggestion for getting a party of PCs together.
    As background you inform them that they...met by chance in an inn or tavern and resolved to journey together to seek their fortunes in the dangerous environment.
    • When Magic: The Gathering put out a D&D set, it included You Meet in a Tavern as a reference to this trope. If you don't have enough creatures out, you can "Form a Party" to get some more out of your deck and into your hand; if you have plenty and want to close out the game with some additional force, you can "Start a Brawl" instead.
  • In Eclipse Phase, "you all wake up in a resleeving facility" is a standard start to an adventure, including the example in the manual.
  • Pathfinder, following in the footsteps of D&D, has a few cases like this, some especially lampshaded. For instance, Cayden's Hall in Absalom is a temple devoted to Cayden Cailean (god of freedom, adventurers, and booze), meaning it's part-temple, part-boozefest, part-rallying point for anybody who wants to go off and punch evil and tyranny in the face.
  • Exalted has this built into certain locations for ease — like in Nexus, where no-one is allowed to eat alone after dark, so it's easy to just say, "You're all in Nexus, it's nighttime, so you all had to sit at a table together." Although it still strains Willing Suspension of Disbelief when you're one of, at best, 700 Chosen in a world of billions. The answer to that is usually Because Destiny Says So and/or Sidereals (which are often the same as the former and becomes extra convenient if you have one in the party.)
  • Tales from the Floating Vagabond deliberately shortcuts this trope by making the primary setting an Inn Between the Worlds, one which can pluck new customers from across time and space thanks to a device the landlord installed on the entrance.
  • Classic Traveller:
    • There was an early lampshading of this in Adventure 2 Research Station Gamma. The characters are space travelling ex-Navy, Scouts and whatnot, and where do they all meet? In an inn on some backwards world with 18th/19th century technology. All of them had the great idea to go there and now don't have enough credits to get off this hole. Of course the adventure then takes exactly the course you would expect from this beginning it's a dungeon crawl, just in a high-tech psionics research station.
    • Adventure 0 The Imperial Fringe plays it straight. The Referee is encouraged to tell the players "You're all sitting in the Starhaven tavern". The PCs quickly get into a Bar Brawl and meet their patron, who gives them a mission that will take them the length and breadth of the Spinward Marches.
  • The board game Tomb by AEG has a board that consists of two sections. One is the titular Tomb, full of monsters, traps, and treasures galore. The other section is the Inn, where you build your party to invade the Tomb.
  • Red Dragon Inn is an inversion. The entire game takes place back at the Inn after the grand adventure, where the adventurers gamble and attempt to drink each other under the table.
  • The Paranoia adventure "Orcbusters" starts here, and the D&D tropes keep on going...
  • d20 Modern Urban Arcana has a medieval-fantasy-themed fast food chain called the Prancing Pony. Shadowkind like the places because it reminds them of the inns of their homeworlds, and "many an adventure has started with a chance meeting in the dark corner of a Prancing Pony franchise".
  • RuneQuest 3rd Edition boxed set, "Gamemaster Book". The last part of the book is an introductory adventure in which the PCs start off by meeting at the Bouncing Buffalo Inn. A man then approaches them and offers them their first mission/adventure.

  • The first act of Hamilton begins propernote  with "Aaron Burr, Sir", which has Hamilton entering a New York tavern and meeting his Foil and Deuteragonist Aaron Burr and the trio of John Laurens, Marquis de Lafayette, and Hercules Mulligan.
  • All of Idiot's Delight takes place at an Italian ski resort on the Swiss border. The various travelers get stuck there when rumors of impending war cause the closure of the border crossing.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Empires:
  • Baldur's Gate
    • At the start of the first game, you are placed at the entrance to an inn. Then, for the first part of your adventure, your stepfather tells you to meet some friends in a nearby inn.
    • The second game includes an inn (The Copper Coronet) where a total of three potential party members make their first appearances. Most party members, should you drop them, will wait for you here.
    • The minor (as much as an Ancient Red Dragon can be "minor") villain Firkraag exploits this very trope. He waits at the Copper Coronet for adventurers he can trick and toy with. After all, a Red Dragon is just a few steps away from a cat.
  • In Bladestorm The Hundred Years War, the tavern is where you get new contracts, upgrade your weapons, meet fellow mercenaries and recruit new squads.
  • In Darklands, inns and taverns are where you start the game, and where you can hire and fire members of your party.
  • Dragon Age uses this trope on occasion.
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, after the basic party is assembled and and the main quest starts, the characters stop at the village of Lothering and meet the first potential new follower at the local inn. The next potential follower is located literally down the road.
      • The Gnawed Noble Tavern, in Denerim, is a hot spot for collecting side quests and, late in the game, encountering important nobles who may or may not be willing to help you overthrow the government.
    • In Dragon Age II, potential companion Isabela is met for the first time inside the local dive, The Hanged Man. This is also the setting for a number of other important meetings throughout the course of the game, and is in fact where Varric (the Unreliable Narrator of the story) lives.
    • Some characters in Dragon Age: Inquisition can only be encountered inside the Herald's Rest, the on-site tavern at Skyhold, including some who give quests. It's also where companions Sera, Cole, and the Iron Bull live when they're not out adventuring with you.
      • A little unnamed tavern in the Trespasser DLC performs a similar function, albeit on a smaller scale. If the Inquisitor romances Sera, it's where she proposes marriage.
  • From the Dragon Quest series:
  • Eye of the Beholder III: Assault to Myth Drannor begins this way.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Bars are where you go for sidequests in Final Fantasy Tactics, but your party begins as soldiers of the same troop.
    • In homage to its spiritual predecessor, Vaan looks up his very first Hunt in Final Fantasy XII at the local tavern, the Sandsea. He will graduate up to Clan Hunts afterward, but he can always find a minor Hunt or two on the tavern's billboard.
    • The two Final Fantasy Tactics Advance games similarly use the bar as a quest hub (both main and sidequests), and many cutscenes play out in one of them as well, including the main character's introduction to the clan. By contrast, it's not used as a place to hire new members.
  • Icewind Dale opens with the party in an inn, though they have not just met each other. Unless you rewrite their histories so that they really did just meet up at the inn...
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, you meet no fewer than three party members in bars. It is also possible to meet Calo Nord, a minor villain, for the first time in the first bar. One of said characters even tells you how to acquire a fourth character when you meet him at the bar.
  • While averted with the first partner in Miitopia, subsequent allies the player recruits are met in an inn between chapters.
  • Neverwinter Nights:
    • In the third expansion, the PC starts out and meets several future party mates in an Inn (a specific inn the source material had already established as being a common meeting place for adventurers seeking to enter Undermountain). Only one of them will stay with you until the end of the story—the other four in the Inn all go back to the surface at the end of the first chapter. The three potential party members that are not in the Inn at the beginning are met under much more unusual circumstances.
    • Several fan-made expansions also contain examples. In "A Dance with Rogues", your first encounter with Pia is in a private dining room at an inn, your first encounters with Bran, Norah, and Gemli in the second chapter are also in an inn. You technically meet Diane in an inn in the first The Bastard of Kosigan module, but you actually recruit her in a forest if you so choose. Several possible henchmen in A Hunt Through The Dark, in the final chapter, show up in the inn for the first time.
    • Neverwinter Nights 2 has the expansion pack Storm of Zehir, with all the original party members meeting (technically) on a ship. Additional party members can be in a variety of places, but you'll find a good third of them in inns.
    • In just vanilla Neverwinter Nights 2, you meet the fighter Dwarf at the inn you're just passing by. Starting a bar brawl. And then, when you meet him, another bar brawl happens. You also meet the Deadpan Snarker wizard and Sociopathic Hero ranger inside a later inn that's the party's base of operations in Neverwinter, and the pyromaniac sorceress outside its front door.
  • The eight protagonists of Resident Evil: Outbreak have never met before, but all happen to be in the same bar right before it all hits the fan with the zombies.
  • Dragon's Crown begins in an inn where your character and a thief named Rannie recounts how you both met. The inn is also where you recruit AI party members.
  • In the fantasy strategy game Heroes of Might and Magic, buying the Inn building in your castle allows you to recruit other Heroes (army leaders).
  • Shouted out to in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, with the Tavern neutral building, from which players can enlist a variety of mercenary heroes.
  • Averted in World of Warcraft, since party and guild recruitment can be done anywhere. However, players can set inns as their save points, and are popular venues on designated role-play servers.
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life As A King features the Inn building, which allows you to form your adventurers into parties. (Before building one, your adventurers all travel and fight individually.)
  • Paradoxically, in the Vampire: The Masquerade game Vampire: Redemption, taverns and pubs play no role in the Dark Ages portion of the game. In the modern era, however, you meet most of your party members (and undertake half the plots) in bars and nightclubs.
  • SaGa Frontier and its sequel both exhibit this. The first game has a bar in Scrap; a visit here at the start of a game could completely fill your first fighting party. The second game starts as a team joining to search for treasure and ends 3 generations later fighting a Cosmic Horror Story antagonist.
  • While most recruitable characters are found in random houses, the fact that Adventurer's Inns in Might and Magic VIII serve as the mechanism for storing surplus recruited characters and exchanging characters is very likely a reference to this trope (possibly by way of Heroes of Might and Magic).
  • During Starcraft II's development, units like the Reaper were hired at the Merc Haven, a bar with a holographic dancing Night Elf. It ended up being phased out (the building is still used, but just as a prop), but in the campaign you hire mercenaries from a man in the Hyperion's cantina.
  • The two games in the Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance series both use this trope.
    • The first game plays it utterly straight—the player character (or characters, if you go by the sequel which suggests all three available ones form an adventuring group together) is robbed in the streets of the city and ends up in the Elfsong Tavern. Not only is this where the player meets lots of NPCs of various trustworthiness who give them their quests, but the whole thing actually starts with being given the task of killing rats in the basement sewers under the tavern.
    • The second game inverts it—the player character(s) is/are traveling to Baldur's Gate in order to deal with the villains from the first game (not yet having gotten the memo they were defeated already), only to encounter merchant Randalla Brasshorn along the way and save her from goblins working for the new Thieves' Guild. In gratitude Rondalla asks to be escorted to the city and once there, will meet with the hero(es) at the Purple Wyrm Inn, which is where she will give out quests (though she isn't the only one in the city who will do so). So the hero meets their benefactor elsewhere (and if it's a group of heroes, they already met on the road while coming to deal with the villains), and only meet her at an inn afterward.
  • In Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land, you meet your first two party members in the last remaining inn in Duhan. Later when you gain more members, either those you create yourself or other NPCs who you interact with in the game, you can pick them up or drop them off here.

  • Goblin Hollow includes an arc where the characters are playing D&D. The GM opens the tale with the traditional phrase, is interrupted by snarks from the players about his lack of originality, and continues by smugly adding, "...and wake up the next morning in the county jail."
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • In On the Origin of PCs, Roy attempts to recruit party members on the street unsuccessfully. He is greeted by Elan, who says that to have a reasonable chance of finding willing party members, he must not only be in a tavern, but also sit in the corner, stare sullenly into his mug of ale, and wear an eyepatch. The back cover blurb reads "Like all good stories ever, this one starts in an inn!" and in a fit of undoubtedly intentional irony, the book actually doesn't, and the inn scene quoted above happens near the end of the book.
    • In Start of Darkness, Right-Eye meets Eugene in an inn to attempt to convince him to resume carrying out his Blood Oath against Xykon. When Eugene mentions he doesn't have a party to take Xykon on anymore, Right-Eye shouts "Hey! Who in this tavern is an adventurer?", and everybody else in the room raises their hand, even the waitress.
    • Also abused in #357. To get rid of a troublesome pest, all Belkar has to do is post a sign promising gold to the problem-solver on the door of an inn, and out come the adventurers.
  • xkcd provides an example of this trope eating itself. The DM has to say, "No recursing" to suggestions that the group that has met in the inn is going about adventuring in a rather non-standard way.
  • In Heroes Of Lesser Earth this trope is so common that taverns normally have bulletin boards for adventurer recruitment.
  • Weregeek:
  • This is double-defied in Irregular Webcomic!, where the characters meet this way, even though they didn't.
  • DM of the Rings lampshades the Prancing Pony scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in this strip.
  • Darths & Droids regarding the Mos Eisley cantina scene in A New Hope.
    • An alternate strip where the game they're playing is based on Casablanca has the GM resentful that he planned a globe-trotting adventure, while his players hardly left the bar they met in.
  • Schlock Mercenary has it lampshaded in this strip. At first they avoid it, but soon enough, they go to one and immediately find exactly what they're looking for (which isn't as much of a coincidence as usual for this trope).
  • In Yamara, local bars double as employment centers, even officially. The title character goes out drinking with her friend Stress, and warns against trying to fight off the hordes of adventurers, sages in dark cloaks, and barmaids with the low-down on local dragon hoards, since a bar fight will likely lead to a memorable encounter and forming a lifelong fellowship with some dweeb, and who wants that? Then she announces they'll join the party of whichever group buys them the most drinks, and the two of them get plastered for free.
  • Our Little Adventure begins at The Wayside, the tavern/inn where Julie tells her boss she has to quit. Angelika and Rocky meet with them right outside.
  • Rusty and Co. has the tavern of choice named "Ye Olde Proverbial Hook".
  • Spoofed in Exiern in an entire arc where Tiffany (and several background characters) are just trying to have a quiet drink without being bothered by the stereotypical adventure seekers, fortune tellers, and quest-givers (they fail).
  • Crawlers: A flashback reveals that the original Crawlers met in an inn. Earlier in the series the trope is made fun of as a device to let readers know the generic soldiers are actually new players.
  • Lampshaded in the first strip of Dungeon Crawl Inc:
    "Wait a minute! You're telling me that by pure chance I happened to walk into a bar where a group of would-be adventurers are forming a group, conveniently coinciding with a kobold attack on the farmsteads of Nashkell?"
  • In the first major story arc of Dominic Deegan, the characters meet up at an inn/bar in Barthis. Subverted however in that most of them had either met the heroes previously (Siegfried) or were actually old friends from the past (Milov and Jayden); this is simply the first place they could stop to rest and look for information.

    Web Original 
  • New York Magician: Most of Michel's escapades start in bars.
  • The eponymous Drogans of Dungeons & Drogans meet several new members in a number of inns.
  • Discussed in Ferret Steinmetz's anecdote, "The Worst Game I Ever Played In", about an incompetent Planescape Game Master, describes the opening of the game thus:
    The DM sighed, and in a voice that sounded like a very bored computer, he read the opening portion: "All right you guys are in a bar and a woman comes up to you and says 'Hey do you guys want a job?'"
  • In the opening of the parodic fantasy audio webseries Reflets d'Acide, the first protagonist hires his team in a tavern. The player playing the character complains to the DM because how stereotyped it is.
  • You Have Become Your Avatar: The transformed users all met in an unspecified hotel in the middle of nowhere. So far, the only clue to their whereabouts is a news report saying it's in the middle of New Mexico, overlooking the SCP explosion.
  • Toyed with in Fallout Is Dragons. The party did all meet in an inn... which Powder Keg promptly blew up, causing the mayor to exile them all and forcing them to team up to survive the wasteland.
  • The party in The Gamers Live. Justified in that they're playing a one-shot side adventure and don't have a lot of time, so they don't want to do an elaborate set-up.
  • Walking in Circles: It's revealed that the group leader, Krag, invoked this trope. Krag theorises that this is why he's Surrounded by Idiots:
    "Next time I do interviews, it will not be in a bar, because when you're in a bar you drink, and when you drink you hire people who can do lute riffs behind their back and not people who can guide you through unfamiliar forested areas."
  • Despite DM Matthew Mercer admitting to hating this standard beginning to D&D campaigns, the second generation of Critical Role heroes do meet in a tavern. A bit tricky for one character though — Nott, a Goblin, has to disguise herself as a Halfling to avoid trouble. In addition, this opening shakes it up a bit — the game has seven players, which arrive at the tavern in three different groups. All three of these groups have members that have known each other for at least a little while as members of work camps or task forces.
  • The Ballad of Edgardo: Like any RPG worth its salt, the start of it all was at a tavern. It didn't mix well with most of the other characters' antisocial nature, to say the least.
    "I swear the tavern had to be some kind of 8th dimensional shape, because EVERYONE was in their own fucking corner away from everyone else."
  • The Door Monster sketch "The Tavern" subverts this for comedy. An adventuring party are offered a job in a tavern. While the adventuring party really just wants to rest and relax with a nice game of cards, the tavern wench, innkeeper and mysterious old man are very insistent that they go on the adventure. The ending reveals that the adventurers were NPCs, whom players Kyle (the old man), Rachel (the tavern wench) and Jefferey (the innkeeper) tried to get to do their adventure for them, so they could kill them for their loot.
  • Played with in We Are All Pirates' Revenge. Both this thread and the original Pirates thread begin with the first couple player characters meeting each other in a tavern. However, there is no "mysterious stranger" that sends them on their quest, they just befriend each other and decide on their own to go adventuring. Add to that, barring those who came onto the ship after the group collected the first Egg shard, not everyone met in the tavern: at the beginning of the RP, Ezekiel is actually locked up in the bowels of the Zenpance, having encountered Melvin and Duane before they sought out other crew members.

    Western Animation 
  • Phineas and Ferb: Played with in the episode "Excaliferb". Phineas and Ferb-alot receive their quest and get their first ally in their own backyard. Then they go to the Inn of the Prancing Platypus to hire some muscle (and have a great taco salad). There they meet Bufarbalus and Baljeetalus. Only then does the adventure truly begin.
  • Final Space: In the season 2 episode "Arachnitects", Tribore leaves the Team Squad to rebuild the resistance. He pays three visits to a bar, recruiting one of the patrons as a resistance member each time.

    Real Life 
  • Public houses, coffee houses, cafes, beer gardens, saloons, etc. have historically served as meeting places for various groups who would, in turn, discuss politics, religion, economics, revolution, science, etc. Hence, adventures of all kind began with someone meeting in an inn:
    • In the 17th century Ottoman Empire, Murad IV legalized taverns serving alcohol, contrary to much of offical Muslim practice, but tried to make coffee houses illegal. He reasoned that people drinking too much alcohol simply passed out; while coffee drinkers got more energetic - to the point that coffee houses had gotten a reputation for being dens of anti-establishment dissent. This did not work out for him.
    • The Raleigh Tavern was the spot of several noteworthy (minor but crucial) events in the lead-up to the American revolution and was a spot where many leading Virginians, including George Washington, were known to dine. The United States started at an inn. Okay, that's stretching it a bit but it's a historical location you wouldn't want to overlook as concerns this trope....
    • The French cafes were notorious as meeting places of various Enlightenment thinkers, some of whom became the later revolutionaries who overthrew the monarchy.
    • On a rainy day, a group of youths gathered in a coffee house somewhere in a country subject to The Empire to discuss a list of social demands they planned to submit to the local government office. Things like stopping censorship, release of political prisoners, that sort of thing. By the end of that day, a full-blown peaceful revolution involving tens of thousands was behind them, eventually escalating into a war of independence that saw, among other things, the Empire's military and various armies of imperial-supported minorities getting so utterly humiliated by the insurgents that they had to Summon Bigger Fish in the form of another superpower to quell the uprising. Sounds like a fictional story but this is actually what happened in Hungary during 1848, with the Empire being Habsburg Austria and the other superpower being Imperial Russia. All caused by a meeting in Coffeehouse Pilvaxnote  in Budapest. That's one hell of a resume...
    • In their early days, both the London Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange were a bunch of broker-traders who hung out at a set of coffee shops in the same neighborhood, like Change Alley in London circa 1700, or the Merchant's Coffee House and Tontine Coffee House in NYC circa 1790. Lloyd's of London started in Lloyd's Coffee House circa 1688.
    • In Japan, coffeehouses are used for business meetings, so much so that the coffee was wickedly expensive. You were in essence renting the space to have your meeting by purchasing the drinks.
  • The Inklings, an informal literary discussion group at the University of Oxford (notable members include fantasy-fiction legends C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien), would often meet at local pubs. The most well-known was The Eagle and Child, and later, The Lamb and Flag.
  • The three guys who would go on to form Austrian black metal band Summoning met up at a pub. Oddly appropriate, seeing as how the main theme of the band is Tolkien high fantasy.
  • Then there's the Pixar Lunch, where after finishing Toy Story, several key members of the Pixar team got together to discuss future films, which would later become A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and WALL•E. You have to wonder just WHAT was in the food there.
  • Guy Fawkes worked with twelve other people, one of whom was drafted for being the only person sitting at the next table in the pub. (Unfortunately for them, this was the man who wrecked their plan by writing a letter to his friend in parliament telling him not to go because of the plot.)
  • There is a diner called Buck's in Woodside, a small town in Silicon Valley, where several IT / Internet firms were founded. (See here.)
  • The United States Marine Corps is traditionally regarded as having been founded at the Tun Tavern in Philadelphia.
  • The Shu faction of the Three Kingdoms period in Ancient China supposedly started in a "Peach Garden". This can be interpreted to be anything from a bunch of trees, an inn, a restaurant, a brothel or something else.


Video Example(s):


Please, Introduce Yourselves

The 1-For-All Adventuring Party meet a prospective quest-giver.

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Main / YouAllMeetInAnInn

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