Information sourced from 'A Fresher's Guide to Anthor', 'History of the College of Creation', and 'Tavern Tales; The Stromlos Way'
When it comes to watering holes, you're spoilt for choice in Anthor. Of course, you can grab a cheap brew by the dozen in The Canny Lad or find quality entertainment from travellers sailing up and down the Stromlos in Under The Stairs, but nothing even in the rest of the Mortal Realm will compare to Piping Hot. Obviously, you freshers will have a worse chance of getting service that doesn't cost a year's wages than the Great Hag does at freezing the sun, but it's something to aspire to. The quicker you get off the chanter and onto the proper pipes, the closer you are to tasting that sweet King's Drop. Oh, and none of you try any enchantments of a charming nature, the publican probably wrote the trickbook you're pulling from.
Piping Hot is a gastro-pub and connected brewery located in the Castlerock District of Anthor, a trading city on the River Stromlos under the jurisdiction of the Grand Duchy of Rivercrown. It is located on the High Street directly across from the Bardic College of Creation in between a rich collection of student accommodation and noble housing.
The Piping Hot tavern is famous for this very reason, where students, professors and alumni alike regularly visit the tavern on breaks to spend their money on malt whiskies from the north, gins from the west, or local ales brewed round the back of the pub. As such, the building started to gain a reputation for a lively music and ceilidhs breaking out all seven nights of the week. As the sound of bagpipers playing to the beat of fiddles reached even the ears of the dockworkers who would drink and celebrate life outside the pub, the establishment changed it's name accordingly to the tongue-in-cheek name of Piping Hot.
For their live entertainment through music and making the entire pub dance from the people to the stools, the publican rewards the pipers and fiddlers with free tastes of the new batches of ale any night they play, as well as a plate of food for their trouble. And if the music isn't to a visitor's liking, they can always hear a ghost story or two from the publican and locals.
Three words describe Piping Hot; traditional, high-class and cultured. A two-storey manor house, with a stone ground foundation and second floor made of magically enhanced wattle and daub. Above the strong wooden door decorated in eternally summer vines is the sign of the pub, featuring a drunk terrier dog sipping on some wine while holding a fiddle.
Entering the building brings one into a spacious room with the main counter in front and an open fireplace on the left gable end. The counter is made of thick dark wood and has a carved design embedded in it showing what was clearly an earlier design of the sign surrounded by vines similar to those that grow on the front door. Behind the counter is a setpiece filled with the different bottles rare and common that can be drank in the pub, sealed within an artisan glass cabinet enchanted with anti-magic to prevent any theft. This open entrance room has a small collection of tables, but the majority of chairs are stacked behind the counter only to be taken out when a bard or more set up on the slightly elevated wooden performance stage in the corner between the fireplace and door. Behind the counter leads through into the kitchens and stairs down to the cellar. The kitchens connect Piping Hot to the Castlerock Distillery behind the pub, all owned by the same family.
The right half of the ground floor is a walled off collection of various sizes of snugs and rooms. This gastro seating area is quirky, eclectic and deceivingly big, with each snug having a theme which is shown through being filled with eccentric collections of décor. During luncheons and dinners, these snugs would be full of those seeking private drinks, wealthy visitors speaking business, a priest sneaking a dram away from their congregation, or young lovers seeking solitude away from the prying eyes of the community. A Keg Golem will often pass through each room, offering new refreshments to those inside.
To the left of the pub in the corner between the counter and fireplace, lies a path leading upstairs. The archway leading into the stairs is stone, and resembles the same design themes as the counter, but at the peak is an engraving of a shield. Upon this shield is the internationally recognised symbol of the Falconism Movement. Up the stairs leads to the lounge bar, which is off limits to all but regulars which includes most notably the Anthor Wine Society. Very few are permitted into this select group of Falconists, who consist of artists, folk musicians and thespians who gather in the candle-lit wingchairs and fainting couches to discuss their ideology, crafts and general news while sipping on only the most indulgent of alcohols.
The usual clientele of Piping Hot is of course local students and travelling alumni of the nearby Bardic College, though will also usually serve more affluent travellers and visitors to Anthor who could not gain entrance yet into the Weem Castle or merely need a place to rest and eat before moving on to see the sights of Anthor or go beyond. The pub has also become a particular haunt for the more influential residents of the city who wish to plan and sow the seeds of discontent throughout the surrounding region against the Rivercrown occupation though since the Second Treaty of Yuregrim occurred generations past this demographic in the city consists of merely elderly Vallator clinging on to the memory their grandfathers or fathers spoke of.
Piping Hot is also an internationally famous locale in the Falconism Movement, leading many to travel to Anthor in an attempt to soak in the feeling and inspiration the pub offers. Many a playwrite, author, sculptor or Druid can be found when a ceilidh begins. As such, one or two Rivercrowner guards will be posted outside or sometimes within the pub to ensure no outright heretical acts are conducted in the vicinity. Though this is a hard task when the sounds of music at the end of the working week drifts down to the docks, where everyone in between flood the High Street to extend the ceilidh all across Castlerock with Piping Hot at its centre.
One of Anthor’s best known ghost stories concerns a young bagpiper who disappeared without a trace. Back in the day, a secret tunnel was discovered beneath the Castle, heading down the High Street towards no one knew where. As the opening to the tunnel was so small, a young boy was sent down with his bagpipes to investigate. He played the pipes loudly as he walked through the tunnel, so people above ground could work out where the tunnel went. Around the College site the shrill of the pipes stopped. Despite search parties being sent to find the boy, he was never seen again. With the piper presumed dead, the tunnel was blocked up - but many people still report hearing the faint, ghostly sound of underground bagpipes to this day. When you drink your piece at Piping Hot, listen carefully, as you just might hear the faint sound of the lost piper boy playing on his chanter.
"A traditional pub famous for its lively crowd of student entertainers." ~ 'Tavern Tales; The Stromlos Way'
The menu of Piping Hot aims to bring all the traditions of each Vallatorlan Principality to one pallet. With the High Street being just a 10-minute walk downhill to the docks on one end and the Staghorn Bridge on the other, the fayre of this pub offers fresh native produce to all wealthy residents and travellers.
However, despite the flavour of Piping Hot's fayre being near perfection, it is well known for the eclectic collection of alcohols for sale.
The King's Drop
Brewed in the Castlerock Distillery, the King's Drop is Piping Hot's special ale which is kept relatively affordable so it is the most-bought of all options.
Named after the period of civil strife at the beginning of the Confederacy, where the uniting High King was executed by hanging and conflict broke out between the Highland and Lowland Kingdoms. It is said that High King Malcolm Bondsbreaker was hung drawn and quartered on the very street between the Piper's Rest and College of Creation. During this execution, his blood was collected and stored for decades before this very ale was brewed from a distilled portion of his blood.
The finest whiskey from the Grand Duchy of Rivercrown, now much cheaper to import than before. Brewed off the coasts of Hullraker Bay, sourced from the finest heather of the region and not for the faint hearted. Like the whirlpool the brewery lies on the banks of, swirling aromas and torrents of deep, peaty, peppery taste lurk beneath the surface of this beautifully balanced dram.
Coming in a small dram of copper gin, named after the Old Druidic word for a small old feisty woman, the students of the College often claim this beverage from the Principality of Yuregrim is aptly named. Brewed from the sugar kelp harvested from sea-lochs running into the Copper Sea, and softened by the fresh, low-mineral rainwater which streams down Ben Wyvern, it is known as the true expression of Yuregrim's maritime traditions.
Absinthe used to only be sold in Piping Hot throughout the entirety of the Principality of Anthor. However, after the alcohol was banned in the Heldenmarch and Rivercrown, it became impossible to import the drink never mind being unable to sell it under Conservative rulership opposed to the lassaiz faire attitude of the Falconists.
However, due to Castlerock District remaining as a heart of the Falconism Movement on the River Stromlos, Piping Hot has ended up becoming the source of an underground absinthe movement funded by the Anthor Wine Society who smuggle bottles of Black Wax Absinthe from the Kingdom of Analand via connections gained from the Clan Fierny.
For "display only", the cabinet behind the counter displays one of the last remaining bottles of Black Wax Noveau brewed 4E 262; An incredibly rare limited edition bottle of Black Wax Absinthe brewed with added drops of Hydra blood to prevent quick evaporation.
Aye come in, come in lads and lassies, we have a fayre selection to scran or swally and a certain something if you've a set of piper's lungs on you! Everybody's welcome here, from the lone wanderer, happy couples, families or groups on a night out. Even dugs are our pals!
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