Hell's Half-Acre

Hell's Half-Acre is the most hospitable tavern with the best food that one is likely to find in the world. Don't let the name, or the barkeep, scare you. Or the Chef, or the bouncer, or the farrier.... Look the name is well earned, but give it a chance. There is a reason adventurers haven't cleared it out, well, besides the combined might of the staff, the near god-like magic used in its creation, and the fact that it is frequented by several of the Wandering Immortals and at least three members of Winter's Court. Chef's honey glazed roast duck tastes just heavenly, and the booze...
— Jasper Cameron, Leader of the Bronze Ravens
 

The Premises

The Tavern

Whether through the nature of the barkeep or some other magic, the bar at Hell's Half-Acre always has room at it, either for sitting down, or just ordering drinks if you are to impatient to wait for the excellent and attentive wait staff to reach your table. Due to this, staring at the bar is a nauseating experience as the brain tries to comprehend how Til is standing in front of everyone at the same time, and talking to most of them. Some caravan guards actually make it a bit of a competition to see who can stare at the bar the longest without throwing up or falling over  
Hell's Half-Acre is not responsible for any nausea, headaches, vertigo or other symptoms that may occur from staring at the bar to long. It serves you right for being indecisive, pick a seat at the bar or sit at a table and get on with your night.
— Sign at the tavern entrance
  Separated from the bar by a low wall is an indoor dining area with a hallway leading off to 3 private dining rooms and stairs that lead to the rooms for rent, which is odd as from the outside Hell's Half-Acre is definitely only a single story.   Opposite the hallway is a fixture of any tavern worth the name, the stage. Though most often graced by the presence of Frejya Windsong, any traveling bard or performing troupe is more than welcomed to take their turn on stage. All of them will tell you that the stage has "a special something." If anyone inquires, both Til and Lux will be more than happy to put you to sleep with a discussion on the physics of sound projection and the nuances of interior acoustics as they apply to live music such that patrons can both enjoy the music and still hold conversations amongst themselves. Just past the stage is an outdoor dining area that blends at it edges into the grove surrounding Hell's Half-Acre.  

The Kitchen

Located at the end of the bar closest to the hallway is the kitchen of Hell's Half-Acre. Well, at least that is the assumption that one makes given that the smells of cooking food and the occasional clatter of dishes waft out from there to the rest of the tavern.  
I'm tellin' ya, somthin ain't right with the kitchen. Sounds right and smells delicious, but watch them dryads go through the door. They go through the door, it don't swing like it ought to..... naw don't give me that, just look, ready.... there, SEE! And it aint just that, I was walking round earlier, stretching my legs after bein in the saddle all day, you know, and the only chimney on this place is blacksmiths forge. How they cookin with no chimney? Now I can already hear ya thinkin' "What if they share a chimney Treth?" but the forge is opposite o' the kitchen. I'm not complainin mind, just worth noticin when things is strange, could save ya one day, ya know?
— Treth Gernshan, Caravan guard
 

The Rooms

Just past the 6 private dining rooms are stairs which lead up to the rooms. And the rooms run the whole gamut. With lodging suitable to both the guards of the stingiest caravan owner and the most pampered of nobles no one has ever been disappointed with the rooms at Hell's Half-Acre. Getting to ones room can be something of a surprise, as one will find themselves quickly surrounded by a dense fog upon ascending the stairs. With a Will-o'-the-Wisp appearing to lead you to your room. The walls and branching hallways can be seen, but it is not advised that one wander off into the fog, and please dont try to open any doors except the one you have the key for.  

The Staff

Barkeep- Tilloth'tonogozonannoth is an ancient and powerful Daemogoth bound to the area with an Imprisonment spell. He goes by Til.   How did I get here? Well an Archwizard (some might call him the first Archwizard) and I had a disagreement several millennia back. He Imprisoned me on a rather boring stretch of plains, I Imprisoned him in a crystal cave, Mab found the whole thing rather funny and somehow managed to steal both jade keys, which really irked a bit. Fast forward to around five centuries ago and a group of adventurers came along. Rather than try to kill me (which gets old after the first dozen or so times) they, meaning a bard of no importance and a mischievous dwarf cleric, decided to take pity on me and offered to build a tavern. I could either agree to be the barkeep, or they would build it just outside the edges of my prison and I could be an attraction. The druid managed to coax some few dryads to the area and Hell's Half-Acre was born (named after the size of my prison, you know). Less than a year later Lux showed up, sent my way by the same group of adventurers, and now here we are. I will say, though it took some getting used to. I have grown to enjoy my little corner of the world.
I know secrets and rumors galore. Now the ones I can tell you.... that is an entirely different matter
— Til
    The Barmaids - What started out as 5 dryads has since grown into a thriving dryad community unrivaled outside the Deep Forests and Old Growths that still share a connection with the Fae Realm. The surrounding mile supports roughly 600 dryads (and a forest), though only 20 or so make regular appearances at the tavern. Presumably, there are so many because of the protection offered by the various other staff at the bar.     The Bouncer - Archimedes, is an Androsphinx. To hear Til tell it "He wandered in, oh, about 120 years after the place was built. Looked around, talked with Lux for a bit then said 'This is a better place than most get to guard, much knowledge would be lost if it ever fell' and before settling down by the hearth."   Over the years, probably due to the influence of the dryads, 'Archie' has picked up some decidedly un-sphinx like habits. He is hardly noticed by most patrons as he blends in with the tressym rather well after learning to magically reduce his size. Indeed he has "deputized" the local tressym population (numbering 6, another oddity as they are usually solitary creatures), who seem to instinctively know where he is and will report problems to him.   The Farrier/Blacksmith - Lux is a slender, middle-aged tiefling of indeterminate origin. A rather gloomy fellow most of the time. Well, he isnt gloomy, gloom just seems to sort of follow him. He boasts an almost encyclopedic knowledge of metallurgy, blacksmithing, and the care of just about any mount or beast of burden you could name. His prices are most reasonable for the work that he does, and he is an excellent conversationalist and can tell you much about an interesting locations in the whole continent surrounding lands. He is rather small for a blacksmith, but that could just be something to do with his demonic origins.   He is a tiefling, right?
Lux is short for Valuxin'mardurace , an ancient red dragon partially corrupted by the shadowy influence of Cysgodol. He has a symbiotic relationship with Til that has been able to stave off further corruption, or at least that is the prevailing theory. Due to his age and the centuries spent with Til he is considered an accomplished mage, even amongst his peers.
   
The Bard - Frejya Stormsong has been a fixture at Hell's Half-Acre as long as anyone can remember. While she can play an assortment of instruments, she is most known for hauntingly beautiful flute melodies and lively flute/banjo duets, although no one has quite been able to figure out how the flute is played without magic. Friendly with everyone, if someone else wishes to take the stage for a night she is more than willing to let them, especially if there is a promise of dancing. She is a notorious flirt, but also more than capable of putting those who make unwanted advances in their place.   Trained by Lone Gull for long enough that a gentleman wouldn't ask, she is one of the more accomplished Wayang Minstrels in the world, being one of the few able to pull off the Minstrel's high level of shadow puppetry in solo performances.
 
I'm eternally grateful to Lone Gull for bringing me back to myself and will always treasure the decades we spent together. But this is my home now, and I wouldn't trade it for the world
— Frejya Stormsong
Who is Frejya Stormsong?
With the exception of Til, Frejya may be the oldest being at Hell's Half-Acre. She is a Storm Gaint Quintessent. Considered Lich adjacent by some, Quintessents are Storm Giant spell casters who later in life became a storm. All surviving storm giants following the fall of their Empire are Quintessents, most of those can hardly be considered sentient as the intervening centuries and their magical studies lead them further and further out into the planes. That said, Freyja provides much of the moisture needed to maintain the dryad's grove and can manifest at "a more tolerable size for normal folk" if she chooses, which is most of the time. Being a celebrated mage in the time of the Storm Giant empire, her time with Lone Gull, Til, and Lux has seen her magical abilities increase to truly mythic levels.
  Chef - Chef is an ancient Mimic. He is the kitchen, most of the private dining rooms, and part of the bar. Chef hails from the Elemental Plane of Fire (what, you thought only the Material Plane had mimics, oh you sweet child) and joind the staff at Hell's Half-Acre sometime after its first half-century of buisness. Presumably, at least, according to some of the more regular elven patrons, that is when the quality of the meals got significantly better.
Founding Date
4452
Parent Location
Additional Rulers/Owners

Hell's Half-Acre Drink Menu*


BeverageCheapGoodOf Wonder***
Water1cpxx
Ale**2cp1sp25sp
Mead**5cp1spx
Stout5cp2spx
Wine1sp5sp30sp
Whisky**5cp3sp75sp
Rum**5cp3spx
Coffee**x5cpx
****
TeaBlackGreenOolong

*For Elves and those with more discerning tastes, a full listing of available vintages is available upon request, Food pairing also available

**Dwarven Strength available on request, costs extra

***Drink at your own risk, crafted with genuine wild magic, results may vary.

 

Chefs Wonderous Creations

Breakfast

(served all day)

Burrito -3sp Perfect for the adventurer on the go, A whole meal that leaves one hand free. Cant finish it right now, re-wrap and heat by the coals later for a wonderful treat.

Omelett -5sp Made with eggs fresh from Frejya's cassowary Chicken Coop. Add in whatever you like, or let Chef surprise you

Scramble -5sp Its and Omelett, but less orderly, with fried potatoes mixed in

Elven Breakfast -1sp Assorted fruits and jams, served with warm bread and Outh Honey

Waffles with Bacon - 10sp Perfectly fluffy waffles served with honey butter and a generous portion of honey-glazed bacon.

 

Soups- 5sp

Served in Bread Bowl*

Dwarven Chili - Burns like the forge, thats how you know its good - Dwarven review

Seafood Chowder - A recipie created by Til and perfected by Chef, sinfully creamy broth with generous portions of seafood and potatoes, finished with bacon

Hearty Stew - Chunks of spiced sausage and bacon in a wonderful pork broth with assorted vegetables

Ramen - A soup that fills you belly and warms your soul. *Not served in a bread bowl, but still delicious

 

Chef's Specials - 10sp

Dinner Only

Catch of the Day - Fresh caught fish prepared by Chef, perfectly complimented with fresh steamed 'local' vegetables.

A Meal Most Fowl - Fresh caught game birds, roasted, smoked, or grilled. Served over rice or potatoes with seasonal vegetables.

Roast Beast - Freshly hunted and slow roasted to perfection. Served with potatoes and gravy.

Swineapple - Chef's Magnum opus, wild boar meat marinated in mead, stuffed inside a pineapple which is wrapped in bacon, smoked until the meat is tender, then finished with a honey glaze

     

An excerpt from the Journal of Lewanelle Glacierbreaker

Hell's Half-Acre is one of the most magically dense and mysterious places on the planet, ranking up there with The Tomokanga Desert - The Portal Wastes and The Edge of the Map on what we can potentially learn from studying it. It is also (usually) substantially safer than the other locations. The nature of Til's Imprisonment permeates the entire region with a unique tint of arcane magic found nowhere else in the world. It is similar to what the most powerful archmages can accomplish, but the dynamic nature of his prison puts it on a level even above their spells.   Then you have the fact that the nearby "fishing pond" is apparently a portal to only the gods know where. It is definitely clean, fresh water as that is where the water for the stables is pumped from. I also witnessed Frejya pull a Swordfish out last week, and today's Fresh Catch is mountain trout. This despite the fact that intra-planar portal magic is both banned by the gods and has been notoriously unreliable (astral rifts are bad) since the Fall of the Storm Giant Empire. Except all of that is apparently contradicted by the fact that it is shallow enough for wade across. The dryads even encourage children to splash around in it to cool off during the hot summer months.   There is not one, but two STABLE Magical Mansions (did you really not notice the stables were magical) existing in a proximity that shouldnt be possible, except that the mansions themselves shouldn't be possible anyway because according to reliable sources in the Fae, the Abyss, and the Astral Plane, the entire area is under a Forbiddance. And don't get me started on the trees.   Where else IN THE WORLD so this many dryads exist in close proximity. One of the 13 Yggdrasil Dryads is here (and whether there are actually 13 or all of them are the same person is a whole other research topic.) But all that aside apparently they can also create portals to and from the area, well, not portals per say, but traveling through trees to other parts of the world has long been theorized to pass through one or several other planes and should not be possible inside a Forbiddance. The Druids even agree with me on this, i suspect because none of them have been able to duplicate the dryads feat.

Comments

Author's Notes

Thank you for the read. Any feedback is much appreciated, to include formatting, spelling and grammar. If there is something in particular that you liked or think could be clarified please let me know. Last challenge I was knocking on the door of the world limit, so I will probably be spawning many supporting articles for this one.


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8 Mar, 2022 11:35

The Chef being a mimic and basically the kitchens interior is one of the best ideas i ever heard of. Hats off to you mate!

12 Mar, 2022 20:06

Thank you! I think Chef is people most liked part of the article, or at least the most memorable.

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
Deathshot
Brody Albert
17 Mar, 2022 20:38

I read that and it blends so well that the bar can seemingly expand endlessly along with the magic of the area. Chef is quite a cool character all right.

8 Mar, 2022 14:28

Ngl, this sounds like an absolute blast to have in a DnD campaign!   -------------------------------------------------   Feel free to check out my Tavern Challenge article if you want to see what I am up to! The Black Hare Tavern

12 Mar, 2022 20:09

That is the hope, is it an encounter in itself or just tavern with some fun quests to give? Let the players decide. (dont let the players decide, they will probably die, 3 lair actions and 9 legendary actions a round would be rough to deal with)

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
8 Mar, 2022 17:58

Liking the barkeep being bound to it. Nice touch.

12 Mar, 2022 20:09

Thanks, that is actually straight out of an old campaign, probably one of the last ones i was a PC in instead of DMing

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
9 Mar, 2022 03:11

So right off the bat, Love the quote that sets the mood and the description of the staff! Do hope we get to see a image or two about what it looks like. But overall I think it is a good article!

12 Mar, 2022 20:10

I'm glad the quotes are adding to the article for people. Still a bit to go before it is finished, but I am happy people are enjoying it.

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
12 Mar, 2022 02:05

I really loved the idea right off the bat when you first mentioned it and how it originally came to be. Reading this article really helped flesh it out and provided a fitting atmosphere to the location. The quotes are all fitting and gave me a few chuckles. All the staff members sound great and the mimic idea for the cook / kitchen is something I don't think I've seen yet. Good job!

12 Mar, 2022 20:13

Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad the quotes inject some humor. I am glad that Chef is sticking out to people. I do need to finish working on it, hopefully this weekend, maybe, if Forbidden West/Elden Ring dont distract me too much.

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
12 Mar, 2022 06:43

Including in-character quotes and excerpts definitely elevates this article for me. I also particularly like the idea of the kitchen just being a huge mimic that likes to cook!

Why not come visit the fantasy realms of Faerûn? Or a familiar future in Earth 2068?
12 Mar, 2022 20:14

Another fan of Chef! Who says mimics always want to eat adventurers, some of them have rather refined palettes.

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
12 Mar, 2022 23:18

Dem's a lot of dryads. o,o I am impressed. Sounds like a neat rpg campaign decision. And the mimic and whatnot is hilarious. XD   The quote then the excerpt feels a bit dominating, not entirely sure how that could be improved though. And there's a lot of space on the right now, might want to look into a few ways to extend the sidebar a bit.

15 Mar, 2022 22:36

Shuffled thing around a bit and finished the main body. Hope you like the new layout.   As to the large number of dryads, i sort of decided that my wilderness tavern needed a town of sorts, and figured I could use the dryads to that purpose.

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
15 Mar, 2022 23:00

Skimmed through and it looks real nice. Enough variation in sections that it doesn't feel like a monotonous read.

13 Mar, 2022 18:14

I really like this one! Nice work so far. I especially like that you included a journal excerpt about it to provide a different perspective.


Check out my entry for the tavern Challenge The Tiny Cat

15 Mar, 2022 22:37

Thank you. I'm glad you liked the journal entry.

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
15 Mar, 2022 07:54

That sounds like a great place with lots of cool magic! That poor Til though :( Does he enjoy his work as a barkeep or is he bitter about the situation? Has he tried/is he sill trying to escape his prison, or has he become content with the situation?

To see what I am up to, my latest article is Geography of magic for the River Challenge
15 Mar, 2022 22:49

Thanks as always for the read Amélie. I added in a bit to show that Til is content with his place in life. Partly because he and Lux actually do have a semi-symbiotic relationship according to D&D lore. Daemogoths feed on negative emotions, while shadow dragons generate negative emotions in those around them. Plus having basically unlimited access to a sphinx, an ancient dragon, the one of the last remaining storm giants has given TIl access to a staggering amount of knowledge. There is a small tidbit or 2 hidden for people about why he probably gave up trying to escape, and who it was that imprisoned him.

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
17 Mar, 2022 07:46

I were close to screaming as I accidentally read "Dwarven Child" instead of "Dwarven Chili" ... Now that I think about it, could one order a Dwarven Child from here?

Que the wardrums! Check out my bloodied river, running from the heart of the jungle:River Arteria!
17 Mar, 2022 14:58

Probably not, despite the somewhat monstrous nature of the staff it is a rather upstanding place. You could possibly try to broker a deal with a customer, but the chances of the staff not finding out about it and subsequently"encouraging" you to re-think trafficking in sentient races is very low.

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
Sage SailingOcelot
Sailing Ocelot
17 Mar, 2022 11:11

Lovely idea for the drinks menu! With the variety of strengths and the additional notes behind the *, you add in a nice bit of lore there. I would consider using the same style for the food menus as well, just so it stands out more. You might not need to add the description to some of the food, as it is food many of us from around the world are familiar with, on the exception of Elven Breakfast and Dwavern Chilli and Swineapple.   If you were to change the style of food menus, you could always put a picture of what an Elven Breakfast might be like underneath the first menu, and so on for the Dwavern Chilli and the Swineapple.   I think you have some very clever and creative concepts in your tavern. Regarding your request for feedback, I would suggest trying to shorten sentences and put the most important part of the sentence at the beginning. This is something I'm working on with my articles all the time! For example...   'Whether through the nature of the barkeep or some other magic, the bar at Hell's Half-Acre always has room at it, either for sitting down, or just ordering drinks if you are to impatient to wait for the excellent and attentive wait staff to reach your table.'   In my opinion, the first sentence underneath the quote in an article is the most important, so we really want that to shine. 'Whether through the nature of the barkeep or some other magic,' isn't the most important part of the sentence, so I would either remove this or put that information a bit later. For example...   'The bar at Hell's Half Acre always has room for new customers. It doesn't matter how many customers are laundering at the bar demanding drinks, through the nature of the barkeep or some other magic, space is never an issue.'   This is a strong article you've got here, and I envy your pretty hero forge pictures too! I wish you the best of luck for the challenge!

~~~~~~~~ SailingOcelot
17 Mar, 2022 15:21

Thank you so much for the feedback!   Shortening the sentences is definitely something that i need to work on. I know exactly how you feel about it being a constant struggle.   I may tinker with the food menu a bit more, but having any descriptions made the food menu as a table and the sidebar not play nice formatting wise. (admittedly, i am still very much a beginner when it comes to bbcode)   Thank you again for the read, and huge thanks for the feedback.

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
17 Mar, 2022 21:47

Definitly an awesome article!! Someday I hope to be at this level of detail.

22 Mar, 2022 22:14

Thanks for the read. Its definitely helps that this was in the works (sort of) for almost 5 years.

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
19 Mar, 2022 20:36

Lots of fun concepts here! I like that it's bigger on the inside and is home to lots of high powered shenanigans!

Visit my campaign world at the World of Wizard's Peak.

22 Mar, 2022 22:16

I'm not saying that Til should be RP'd a bit like the 10th Doctor (David Tennant's for those unfamiliar) but...

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
20 Mar, 2022 19:55

Amazing article!!! I love the relationships between the staff, especially how Til and Lux depend on each other. Little typo in the menu under Chef's Specials: A Meal Most Foul, you've written caugh instead of caught. The journal was really informative for showing how exceptional Hell's Half-Acre is for the world it's in. It also gave me 'exhausted and extremely frustrated researcher' vibes which was very funny xD

Chicky the wool chicken thinks you should check out my world Bréafír!
22 Mar, 2022 22:26

Good catch on the typo, thank you. As to the exhausted researcher, yes, very much so in Lewanell's case. Thanks for the read.

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
Sage PanAndPaper
AS Lindsey (Pan)
30 Mar, 2022 13:02

I know it's been mentioned by others, but I've got to reiterate that having a mimic tavern who is also the chef is just a fantastic idea. Love the humour you inject throughout your writing, too. Nice work.

Drake's Dozen | Magic and Tech and Identity, oh my.

Oh, you want to see my Rivers and Waterways challenge entry? Well, if you insist!

Hey, you! Log in to stay up to date with Drake's Dozen.

1 Apr, 2022 01:23

Thanks for the read. I'm glad that people are liking Chef so much, and that the humor is getting appreciated.

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
Sage eccbooks
E. Christopher Clark
2 Apr, 2022 13:34

Great work throughout. My favorite little detail? The review of the dwarven chili.

Check out Bü‘ükopo Oabü, my entry for the Rivers & Waterways Challenge