Almost Home

All th' way from the North Coast, ya say? An' headin' ter Karnstown, are ya? Make sure ta visit Almost Home! It's a tavern run by our Folk an' for our Folk. Apart maybe from what y'll get 'ere in Spudbarrow, ya won't find better 'alfling meals an' 'alfling hospitality anywhere else. Oh, an' tell Arabella that Farmer Toby sent ya.
— Halfling farmer Tobiadoc Dewfoot to a traveling Halfling merchant
uite a few Halflings make their homes in the City of Karnstown, and quite a few more that come to the city regularly to do business. Most of the latter are from the village of Spudbarrow, a few days travel to the east. The tavern named "Almost Home" caters specifically to these Folk, giving them a chance to relax and unwind among friends, in an atmosphere they are comfortable with.

The Tavern

Everything in the tavern is designed to accommodate Halflings and other Folk of similar size. Everything is targeted to evoke a sense of "home" to any Halfling who ventures into the place. Other Smallfolk - the Gnomes, Goblins, and even occasional Kobold also find the tavern more comfortable than the typical Human establishment: no need to climb into chairs, or sit peering over a nose-high tabletop to carry on conversation. Tallfolk are welcome as well - if they're willing to put up with the cramped conditions and some good natured ribbing. Much of the merriment on a typical evening stems from the Smallfolk watching some poor long-leg trying to navigate through obstacles high and low, and squeeze into "proper Halfling furniture".

The low ceilings, tiny-scaled benches, stools, and tables, and even the front door are small enough to present challenges to any Human, Elf, or especially Orc that wishes to visit the place. Even a shorter, but usually broader Dwarf will feel a bit crowded and uncomfortable. But the laughter of the patrons, and the aromas of fresh baked goods, succulent roasts, and herb-infused soups which almost, but not quite, mask the ever-present subtle hint of soothing lavender soon eases any discomforts.

In addition to the spacious (if you're a Halfling) main common room, there are three smaller rooms on the second floor of the tavern. These are available to rent for private parties, but on busy evenings they may be open to all clientele if they are not previously engaged. A narrow (even by Halfliing standards) stairway leads to a basement "Darts Room". Another bar and some tables for players and spectators are set behind an area where four dart boards are in place there. The boards are set at (Halfling) regulation height: the center of the board is set three feet, three inches (1m) above the ground.
Arabella Whitfoot
Karnstown East Market District, Just north of the East Gate Market Square
28 Time of V'nbarrgh's Greataxe, 2093CR (78 years ago)
  • Main Floor Common Room: 50
  • Basement Darts Room: 24
  • 3 upstairs "party rooms" can accomodate another 16 each
  • Architectural Details
    Tallfolk (Humans, Elves, etc.) will want to take note of the scaled-down dimensions of the tavern interior.
  • Front Door Dimensions: 5ft by 2.5ft (150cm by 75cm)
  • Ceiling Heights: 6ft (180m 5.5ft (165cm) to ceiling beams
  • Typical Table Height: 2ft (60cm)
  • Typical Stool/Bench Height: 15in (40cm)
  • Clientele

    Every Halfling that lives in Karnstown knows of the Almost Home tavern, and most have visited the place at least once. The farmers and artisans of nearby Spudbarrow that bring their goods to Karnstown's markets also make it a point to visit the place, whether for a quick "home-cooked" meal or three, or to spend a long evening relaxing after a busy day in the market squares.

    The clientele is not restricted to Halflings, though. Many of the Gnomes and Goblins of Karnstown appreciate the fact that tables and chairs are sized for them; some of these are among the tavern "regulars". The kitchen even offers a few special items for these "small cousins". While not on the official menu, an excellent bowl of Goblin Chili or a bowl full of Gnomish Rock Candy are always available to those who know to ask.

    The Tallfolk are made to feel as welcome as possible, too. While they spend much of their time ducking to avoid low ceiling beams and scrunching themselves up to fit on a tiny stool at a tiny table, most Tallfolk find their visit enjoyable.
    Graa'kaagh, the Buttered Orc
    One of the most memorable visits to the tavern by one of the Tallfolk was when Graa'kaagh, the full-Orc adventurer, visited the place with his companions. His two Halfling friends had insisted they check the place out, and so Graa'kaagh squeezed himself through the main entrance and settled himself on the floor next to the table where his friends seated themselves. After a few ales and a hearty lunch, one of the friends decided to head downstairs to play some darts. Graa'kaagh fancied himself a good dart player as well, and so insisted on coming along.

    The front door of the tavern is small by Human - or certainly by Orc - standards, but the narrow stairway passage to the basement dart room was smaller still. Graa'kaagh insisted he could fit. He quickly found that he could not walk down the stairs; he'd have to sit on the top step and "butt-bump" his way down. The combination of the several ales and the ridiculousness (to him) of this entire tavern left him without concern for his dignity as he prepared to bump his way downstairs.
    Graa'kaagh, the Buttered Orc
    In fact, he let out a friendly roar as he launched himself - straightening his legs to slide down the steps all at once.

    He made it halfway before his shoulders became tightly wedged between the narrow passage walls. His lower body continued another step or two, leaving him stretched out and suspended above the steps, unable to move his arms or wiggle his way free. After fifteen minutes of his friends pushing and pulling, he was only wedged tighter. Finally, the tavern cook arrived with a huge bowl of butter and, over the Orc's protests, proceeded to grease him up liberally, hoping the butter would let him slide his way to freedom. The butter helped, but it still took six Halflings tugging on a rope tied around the Orc's ankles to finally pull him free and down to the bottom of the stairs.

    The tale of Graa'kaagh goes on to say that it took another few pounds of butter and a full dozen Halflings on the rope to pull the Orc back up the stairs... feet first... head banging on each step... when closing time finally came around and he and his companions had to leave the tavern.

    To this day, the appearance of any Orc or Half-Orc at the front door of the tavern will cause a chorus of regulars to shout out toward the kitchen, "Get the Butter Ready!"


    Arabella Whitfoot

    Arabella Whitfoot

    Almost Home's proprietor is a middle-aged Halfling woman named Arabella Whitfoot (of the Spudbarrow Whitfoots, as she'll often add). She took control of the place twelve years ago when the original owner, Elanor Heathertoes, decided to retire. Her home is the living space on the third floor of the tavern with her life-mate Livinia Barrowhill.

    Arabella will always be found circulating among the patrons. When the tavern is busy, she helps the wait-staff deliver food and drink to the tables, and she is always stopping to chat with the regulars. When a new face appears at the front door, she will rush to greet it and welcome its owner, be they Halfling, Smallfolk, or Tallfolk.
    Livinia Barrowhill
    Livinia, Arabella's life-mate, runs the kitchen of the establishment and is therefore the busiest staff member in the place. She starts her day early in the morning to ensure that brunch is ready when the place opens, and the kitchen doesn't close until midnight snacks are prepared late at night. In between, of course, come lunch, tea, dinner, and supper.

    Livinia, a former adventurer, picked up quite a few exotic recipes in her early-life travels to enhance her already formidable knowledge of Halfling cuisine. The goblin and gnome regulars are appreciative of this, and Tallfolk visitors from afar are often surprised to discover a beloved delicacy from their cultures available from the kitchen from time to time.

    Livinia Barrowhill

    Ottorond Bristletoe
    The Halfling behind the bar - every day from opening till closing for as long as anyone can remember - is old Ottorond Bristletoe. "Muttonchops Otto" started working at the tavern two years after it opened, and has now been behind the bar for the past seventy-six years. When asked, he will insist that he'll never retire; he enjoys his job too much to consider it.

    "Muttonchops" Otto

    Otto is the consummate bartender: he sees everything that goes on and everyone that comes and goes, and hears everything that people say within his earshot. But he never pries into people's business, and never reveals any secrets he may pick up from a patron that is being less than discrete.

    Bill of Fare

    The one thing that is not reduced in size to reflect the clientele is the average size of a portion of food available from the tavern kitchen. Everyone knows that Halflings love to eat, and the staff at Almost Home are prepared to ensure that their customers are well fed. Portions here are known to be larger than in any other inn or tavern in the city - without the prices being inflated accordingly.

    The food menu is simple, with only seven items listed. But these are not ala carte items; they are whole meals. Seven of the eight traditional Halfling meals are served; breakfast being the only one missing. Each is served with all of the things any Halfling would expect to be served at a particular time of day. Patrons can order single meals, or "table meals"; the latter are portioned to feed a table of up to six.

    As far as beverages are concerned, the tavern always has a keg of Ginball's Nut Brown Ale tapped and ready. Other ales appear from time to time, and several meads (including Spudbarrow Strawberry) and wines (also produced by the Halfling village up the road) are always available.

    Specialty, non-Halfling dishes are often available for those who know to ask... and for those who ask nicely!

    Tavern Lore

    "Red-Eye" Benny's Record Run
    Benjagar Harwiggle, or "Red-eye Benny" as he is lovingly referred to, is a living legend among Almost Home's regulars. Nobody is sure what Benny has ever done for a living, nor where he gets the coin he freely spends at the tavern, but most suspect that wagers in the Darts Room have a lot to do with both. Benny is, without question, the reigning champion of the corkboards. Some say his nickname refers to the red-painted center of the dartboard; but the regulars know it comes from the fact that his accuracy is best only after he's had a few pints to "loosen up".

    Patrons still recall the time he threw forty-five consecutive bulls-eyes - "double corks" as the halflings call them. Late one evening, after Benny had been playing and drinking for several hours, he was challenged to see how many bulls-eyes he could hit in a row, with the stipulation that he had to drink a pint of ale after each flight of three darts. FIfteen flights and fifteen pints later, he hadn't missed. The streak might have gone longer except that after the fifteenth pint, Benny excused himself to "go make room for more", and was found an hour later curled up, asleep and smiling, in a corner of the tavern's privy.
    Like any long-established public house, Almost Home has a history cherished by its regulars. Some of the tales have to do with places within the tavern itself. Others are about the clientele: regulars such as "Red-Eye Benny", or visitors such as the aforementioned Graa'kaagh the Orc.

    For example, there is a small room in the basement that the staff will insist is just a storage room for extra furniture and bar supplies. The regulars know this space as "Tom's Room", though - a private meeting place used by "Lightfingers Tom", the Halfling head of the small thieves' guild that operates in town with the approval of the Karn Family. They target the out-of-town merchants that are suspected of cheating the Karn family's "import taxes" and pay the Karn a percentage in return for protection. ( The Karn gets his "due" one way or the other.)
    "Lightfingers" Tombert Brandyhouse does in fact visit the tavern regularly, and does make use of "his" room for "business meetings". When he does, though, he accesses it through a secret passage that leads to a tunnel system below the streets of Karnstown.

    An observant visitor to the tavern may notice Arabella occasionally ducking into the room with a full tankard of ale or two. She'll exit with empties, making sure to lock the door after herself when she leaves.

    Red-Eye Benny Taking Aim
    In the main floor common room sits "Poor Bill's Table" - a small table in one corner of the room where, it is rumored, old Billiford Broadfeet choked to death eating a scone during brunch one day. Regulars avoid the table, claiming it invites bad luck for any who sit there. Unknowing newcomers that find themselves seated at the table will discover that the wait staff will not serve food there for fear that the bad luck might find a new target.


      Page background images courtesy of Pixabay. (No source attribution available.)
    Banner characters, staff images, Graa'kaagh and Benny characters courtesy of HeroForge

    Articles under Almost Home


    Please Login in order to comment!
    15 Mar, 2022 02:09

    Bob, my kids absolutely loved the buttered orc story. Thank you.

    20 Mar, 2022 20:32

    Sorry for taking so long to respond (which I always try to do for anyone who takes the time to comment!) Glad your kids enjoyed it!

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
    15 Mar, 2022 15:37

    Bob I love the amount of detail in this article, I love the menu you provided! and the images of the staff and the great use of quotes!, Overall this is a fantastic article!

    20 Mar, 2022 20:33

    Thanks! and thanks for taking the time to comment. It's always greatly appreciated!

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
    18 Mar, 2022 15:53

    Awesome sauce! Also, the two tales just bring it over the top! Well done!

    Here is my River Challenge Darkwater River! Come vist my world Pangorio for exciting tales, world lore, and RPG adventures ! Hypnosium is my new world I will be trying to fill for Summer Camp ... perhaps even sooner if the muse sttrikes.
    20 Mar, 2022 20:35

    Thanks! and thanks for leaving the comment! It's always an extra "positive" when someone takes the time to leave a few words of encouragement! And you always have my back... especially when GoT times flow around.

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
    19 Mar, 2022 00:21

    I feel sorry for the orc but oh lordy! XD XD XD   I like the way the article is all about the tavern, even with the people. Their stories are told within the context of the tavern. And the place sounds delightful. As a human I'd love to visit, even though I'd have to duck below every beam. Heck, those meals might actually feed me properly. ^_^ In human restaurants there have been times when I ordered two main meals.

    20 Mar, 2022 20:37

    Yeah... Graa'kaagh got over his humiliation, though... and loves telling the tale in all the new taverns he visits to this day! As for the food, no Human would ever go hungry in a proper Halfling establishment :)

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
    19 Mar, 2022 15:37

    Before seeing you work on this article on stream and now reading it I would never think about a tavern made specially for halflings and other small species! Thank you, Bob! It is awesome!

    Check out the worlds of Veneficia, Magic Earth, Ithir and Vyraj
    20 Mar, 2022 20:40

    I sort of got the idea from the LotR movies and the Prancing Pony scenes... four tiny halflings trying to avoid getting stepped on or tripped over... it was time to turn the tables!

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
    Sage SailingOcelot
    Sailing Ocelot
    20 Mar, 2022 20:23

    Loved listening to this being read on Sable's stream! Very, very clever article here. I especially love the story of the Orc, what humour! Great work!

    ~~~~~~~~ SailingOcelot
    20 Mar, 2022 20:39

    Don't forget to check out Red-Eye Benny's story, too. I know Sable didn't get a chance to read that far... this article (as always for me) is bumping right up against the max wordcount. But... as Treebeard said, "If something is worth saying, it's worth taking a long time to say!

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
    21 Mar, 2022 18:34

    This is great! I tried to add some humor in my article as well, but I'm all but blown away by your buttered Orc.   "Get the Butter Ready!"

    21 Mar, 2022 21:32

    The buttered orc is definitely getting ravr reviews! Thanks for the like, and special thanks for takingvthe time to comment!

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
    21 Mar, 2022 19:54

    What a great article. I totally enjoyed reading every part of it. Loved the Stories, the buttered Orc especially, i can just picture it happening, lol. Everything about this article is fantastic. Great job and a well deserved Like/Fave from me.   Check out my Tavern entry The Singing Mermaid if you get a chance.   Aemon

    22 Mar, 2022 17:51

    Thanks for taking the time to read, like, and especially comment! Positive feedback is a powerful thing! And now, I'm off to find that mermaid...

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
    24 Mar, 2022 07:37

    Love the specifically sized Tavern for Halflings (and that its name ties in with this), as well as reading about the regulars here.

    24 Mar, 2022 12:21

    Thanks! And thanks for taking the time to read... and comment! I've spent enough time in bars in my life to know that it's the "regulars" that really make the place. (Benny is actually modeled after a RL person I knew from my college days!)

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
    Sage George Sanders
    George Sanders
    24 Mar, 2022 17:26

    Get the butter Ready! :) I enjoyed the light-hearted tone to match the halflings and whole atmosphere.

    Lutra lived in the Unilynn until its end, then her son Ardelis brought her to Etonia. She knows the story behind their home, The One River.
    25 Mar, 2022 12:36

    Yeah... everybody's getting a kick out of poor old Graa'kaagh... Thanks for the like... and extra thanks for taking a moment to leave a comment - they're always greatly appreciated.

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
    25 Mar, 2022 18:44

    This was great, so many great and funny characters and stories. The buttered Orc is gonna stay with me for a while, hahaha. You really brought this tavern alive, Bob.

    25 Mar, 2022 23:44

    Thanks! I'm getting a lot more mileage out of that story than I originally expected! Get the Butter Ready!!!

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
    30 Mar, 2022 08:54

    This was such a fun read! As a disabled person I love that there's a place built for inclusion of those for whom this world wasn't built, and the lore was a truly fantastic touch. Well done!

    30 Mar, 2022 12:26

    Thanks for the read, the like, and especially the comment! We all need more encouragement, and a nice comment goes a long way to remind one that the time and effort spent writing is worthwhile.

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
    30 Mar, 2022 19:35

    I do like the use of Heroforge for characters. They need to look for ways to cleanse the bad luck, that's revenue space that they're losing ;-)

    31 Mar, 2022 12:45

    Yes and no... If you want to actually keep your array of characters, you do need a non-trivial account at HeroForge. And its my experience that they gain sales from this - sooner or later folks want the actual minis... and they want them in color!   Thanks for taking the time to read, like, and especially comment! Its always great to see that people enjoy what I'm putting out there.

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
    Sage eccbooks
    E. Christopher Clark
    31 Mar, 2022 00:57

    Wow, each of these tavern articles I read is better than the last and this is no exception. From the menu to the staff to the story of the buttered orc, I love all the detail. I was hooked from the beginning on the concept, but the line that really sold me was "Tallfolk are welcome as well - if they're willing to put up with the cramped conditions and some good natured ribbing."

    Check out Bü‘ükopo Oabü, my entry for the Rivers & Waterways Challenge
    31 Mar, 2022 12:42

    Yeah. it's always cheerful at Almost Home. No need for bouncers on the staff! Thanks for the encouragement!

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
    Grandmaster Piggie4299
    Jacqueline Taylor
    2 Apr, 2022 08:18

    I love the idea of the small folk making a tavern that is sized for themselves rather then catering to the larger races. Most of the time we see the small races depicted as making things medium race size and why would they? This is wonderful. Sending you little hugs :)

    3 Apr, 2022 02:29

    Thanks for taking the time to read - and especially to comment! I've always thought that the poor halflings (and goblins, gnomes, and kobolds, for that matter) would eventually tire of peering over the tabletop like a child without a booster seat at the dinner table. But leave it to the halflings to actually DO something about it!

    A tavern by Halflings for Halflings in a city full of long-legs. Check out my Tavern Challenge entry: Almost Home
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