GameJoy: GM Advice: The fantasy coffee shoppe

(Preview image credit to Varguy on DeviantArt)

I’m a huge fan of modern anachronisms in my fantasy games. Magical vending machines, elven cooking shows, sending stones used like cellphones, goblin labour unions, Hell just being a series of infernal offices filled with paper pushers, I could go on forever. Maybe it’s all the Simpsons/Futurama I watched as a kid, but nothing tickles my fancy more than the juxtaposition of something modern made to fit in a medieval fantasy world.

The one I get the most use out of though is the fantasy Starbucks. Probably because more often than not I just call it the ‘fantasy Starbucks’ rather than giving it a proper in-world name.

It provides a space for adventurers to go and chill that has a different atmosphere and vibe than a tavern or inn. It also shakes up the tired world building offerings of ‘ale and stew’ that fill in most interactions with food and drink in fantasy games.

In my weekly 5e megadungeon game, ‘Dungeons In A Time Of Isolation’, that I began around the time COVID-19 hit for my friends, I used the fantasy coffee shoppe to greater effect as a way of upgrading a town or settlement. Here are the rules I used for it:

Fantasy Coffee Shoppe
A single story shop that serves caffeinated beverages that provide individual buffs to those who drink them.

  • Staff. 2 (1 barista, 1 cashier).
  • Cost to Build. 1000 gp.
  • Building Time. 3 weeks.

The fantasy coffee shoppe sells all manner of fancy caffeinated drinks, as well as pastries and small bites. Specialty drinks, hot or cold, can be bought for 1 gp each, and confer one of the following buffs (player’s choice):

  • Advantage on any one ability check or saving throw (does not stack).
  • Removes one level of Exhaustion.
  • +2 bonus to Perception for 1 hour.
  • Grants darkvision of 30 feet for 1 hour.

The more characters frequent the fantasy coffee shoppe, the more it becomes a hub of conversation, gossip, and rumours. Eventually, adventure hooks can be given to PC’s from there.

This location and the drinks it provides is now a fixture of almost all my games. If you want to give your players more places to interact with before or between adventures, I highly recommend it!