Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Revamping the "Barista" D&D adventure

This one caught my eye today as I saw a couple of people talking about it. I've actually been kicking around a coffee shop roleplaying game for years but never did anything with it, so I was interested to see what D&D Beyond has done with the free Strixhaven promo adventure No Tears Over Spilled Coffee. I love coffee!

Ok, so what I read didn't really impress. I understand it's free and it's not super bad, per se, but it feels like it's full of missed opportunities. So I decided to consider how I would change it if I were to run it. 

Its main sin is that it doesn't really offer anything interesting to do. Cleaning tables and serving coffee isn't interesting in a high fantasy world. Sure there are two very hollow encounters but what choices are players actually making? And the events seem to happen without much reason.

So first I'd fill it with hooky NPCs with weird orders. Treat them as random encounters throughout.

Bartleby Flob, a first year who has brought in his own flavouring for his coffee. Problem is that he's got the ingredients wrong and it transforms him into a great gorilla. Looking through his book can possibly help reverse it, or make it worse (mega gorilla). He'll start trashing the joint unless he's brought down. 

Bebe Sabrelast, transmuter. She's on a date, but her date tries to impress her by turning a staff into a snake. It does not go well.

Nurt Sheaffer, a student with a charm on them that causes those within 20ft to fawn over them incessantly. Suddenly there's a huge horde of sycophants in the shop getting in the way. Let's hope a certain gorilla doesn't come to play right now. 

As for the mephits - they've been placed there by a spurned ex employee who's in disguise in the quiet room looking on. The mephits don't just attack - they go at the patrons, they break pottery. The more rounds they aren't dead the more money the cafe loses. The more they lose the more impetus the PCs have to get extra tips. Oh, and the mephits need to be projected. Some is curling from the coffee machine and it smells of brimstone. There's a gurgling within.

The ex employee may continue to try screw things up for the PCs throughout the day. They turn people's coffee bitter so they ask for refunds. They start spreading rumours that they have an infestation in the basement. Which leads me to...

The Infestation in the Basement

At some point the PCs need to get more beans from the basement. The ex-employee has released several giant weasels down there, who are eating the valuable beans! The more the PCs delay, the more they eat and the more money is lost. 

Finally, Quentillius comes along. I don't get what's so bad about him in the original adventure, he tips well and you can charge a stupid amount for a coffee. Let's turn him into an inspector. He's looking to make sure everything is ship shape. In fact, let's make sure that the PCs know there may be an inspector coming sometime during the adventure so the drama ramps up. Now they've got to make sure they're throwing out weasel bodies and cleaning up weird potion spills. The inspector grades them based on the number of discrepancies. If it's low enough the cafe could be completely shut down! 

Anyway, that's what I would do.