On this week Raging Swan Press released another great GM supplement for the Pathfinder roleplaying game : Barroom Brawls. This new 15-page publication is really a great help if you want to run a good brawl.

   While such encounters are a well known staple of fantasy stories, and as the publisher states, it’s often avoided in adventures.  You may ask why, since  it’s essential for every tavern or pub ?

   The answer is, that the rules for unarmed combat, nonlethal damage and improvised weapons are quite complicated and in an average brawl there are much more participants than a Game Master could finely manage within a “normal” combat encounter. Well, Barroom Brawls nicely mitigates all these problems, and really help to create and manage memorable and chaotic brawls, without bogging down the players with overcomplicated rules.

So what is in this short supplement ?

   The supplement opens with a foreword, containing a nice overview on the content from the brawl trigger to the possible aftermath, and also includes several suggestions for the Game Master.

   The first table in the book contains 19 detailed possible reasons because the for the fighting, from “someone accused of cheating” to “fight for women” and many other good reasons to get started.

   Of course, for a memorable barroom brawl it’s more interesting that what happens during the encounter than before or even after, so the maybe most interesting table is about those random events that happens during the fight : maybe a thief thinks it’s a good time to get a little extra, the city watch may arrive, or somebody hurl a chair at one of the players.

  A page about the possible aftermath nicely round out the random tables, as the player actions (or random luck) could have a much more lasting ffect than some bruises and hangover.

  After dealing with these things Barroom Brawls deals with the most quintessential component for a good fight : the brawlers themselves. We receive some pregenerated characters (city watch, barkeep, common brawlers etc.) as well as different conditions for the several levels of drunkenness. Of course, an average villager (or even a city watch) won’t be a challenge for high level characters, but I guess that’s no surprise.

    The last few pages are dealing with things like special features  and the environment (cover, fighting atop a small table or a barrel etc) as well as improvised weapons and combat rules from thrown chairs to turning over tables and making balance checks if a lot of drink were spilled.

Final words

  I really like this little supplement, and its really contains everything you need about the topic. I guess it’s no surprise, that I give 5/5 points.

  For those who are interested, Barrom Brawls is available on RPGNow on this link.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros