Pillars of Eternity is out. You might have noticed. I’m not terribly far into it myself yet, but in between a spot of bear-bashing and wolf-wounding, I was struck by how very RPG Inn the first inn I visited was. Truly, the Black Hound Inn in the town of Gilded Vale is the archetypal RPG inn. I knew, the second I stepped foot in it, what it was, what I could do in it, what every part of it signified. There would be no surprises and no menace, but it would be as comfortable as cotton wool slippers. It felt like every RPG inn ever, because it is every RPG inn ever. Let me show you around the place.
Please click on the image for a full-size version:
1. Look at that. Neat, perfect floors, as spotless as a baby messiah’s bottom at bathtime. That’s the thing with RPG inns – they might be populated by poorly-washed medieval types who slosh thick, brown beer all over the floor and occasionally punch each other to death over a misunderstanding about someone’s prophecy, but somehow it still seems like you could safely eat dinner right off the floor. The RPG Inn doesn’t want you to feel dirty or uncomfortable. It wants you to feel welcome and safe. N.B. everything must be brown. Paint is forbidden in The RPG Inn.
2. Ah, the barman or barmaid. Glued to the spot, never troubled by another other customers, there only to serve you. Because The RPG Inn is all about you. In the RPG Inn, you never have to queue, never have to wave a note around in the universal signal of “I’m not just standing in this incredibly busy spot to rest my elbows, I really do want to buy a drink”, never have that thing where the bar staff pretend to be looking at something three feet behind your shoulder in order that they don’t have to make eye contact and thereby initiate a transaction. The RPG Inn is yours, and yours alone.
3. Riff-raff, clearly. That dude’s even brought a big sword into a public space. Up to no good, surely. But no. In The RPG Inn, even clear ne’er do wells hang around harmlessly. They would never dream of disrupting your RPG Inn Experience – unless of course you specifically choose it to be so. Notice also how the riff-raff all stand in small groups, pretending like they don’t know anyone else in here even though this whole town clearly only has a population of 17.
4. Please observe how every bench and stool is unoccupied. No-one ever sits down in The RPG Inn. If they were to sit down, they’d have to stand up when you went over to talk to them, thereby introducing unacceptable delays into your RPG Inn Experience. The people in this RPG Inn, like in every other RPG Inn, will stand on their calloused and lightly bleeding feet for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, ignoring the terrible damage to their bodies in the name of ensuring you can receive an instant soundbyte in the event you ever wanted to talk to them again. You will never talk to any of them more than once, unless of course one has a name other that ‘Villager’ or ‘Drunk’, which means you’ll come back to see them for a quest reward half an hour later.
5. Stairs! Another level! Whatever could be up there? The only thing that’s ever upstairs in The RPG Inn: bedrooms. These exist purely to be stolen from. No-one has ever slept in an upstairs room at The RPG Inn. They just leave some of their possessions there then politely hang around waiting for you to steal them. They put their life savings into that lousy entry-level shield they stuffed into that wardrobe, you know. They did that for you.
6. Token interactive object yielding token mention of this place being dirty and squalid, in clear disregard for point 1. However, being told that The RPG Inn is dirty and squalid is a vital part of The RPG Inn Experience; experiencing said dirt and squalor is very much against the nature of The RPG Inn Experience, however.
7. Look, here’s a box with some money and a vegetable in it. You can take it if you like. Nobody minds. They’re all for it, in fact. They left it there for you. N.B. attempting to take the money and vegetable from the box in the kitchen will result in the chef getting very cross. Please refer to Document 412.1b: Rules and Regulations Regarding Courtesy Box Of Money And Vegetable In The RPG Inn for further information about this arrangement.
8. A massive, mostly empty kitchen containing exactly one chef. A family of 8 could live in that floor space, but all he does with it is keep a box containing some money and a vegetable on a shelf at the back. None of The RPG Inn’s customers ever leave their spots, so he never has to cook. He’s paid to just hang around in this massive, empty kitchen all day long, which is why he keeps all his wordly possessions – a box containing some money and a vegetable – in there with him. This chef’s whole life is this room. Years ago, it seemed pointlessly massive to him too. Now it’s a cell, the walls closing in on him more each day. And the oven fire burns continually, of course. The RPG Inn Kitchen wouldn’t be The RPG Inn Kitchen without an eternal flame. This means the room has become a skin-blistering furnace. The chef is extremely worried that this has caused his vegetable to wilt.
(VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Pillars of Eternity is really good).
This article was first published as part of, and thanks to, The RPS Supporter Program.