I was surprised when I was recently asked to review a portion of the newly released Kobold Quarterly #8, specifically the article titled "Tossing Kegs and Smashing Chairs", by Steven Furlanetto. And, although the article in question is mostly for 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons (and Pathfinder), I just couldn't say No since editions don't really matter to me - and I love tavern brawls.
"...Imagine the party wizard careening across the beer-slicked floor with angry peasants launching mugs at her as she slides by, the fighter wildly waving a broken chair while perched precariously on top of a rickety table about to be smashed by the town brute, or the rogue swinging to their rescue dangling from the chandelier..."
Furlanetto describes in detail some of the problems related to well... bar room fights. Usually in D&D, combat encounters are between the party (a limited number of 'heroes') and the enemy (a limited number of mooks). Of course, a bar fight is a completely different animal. You might be faced with an angry mob of disenfranchised dwarven mine workers who may already be six kegs deep into the latest union meeting. Or, you might be ducking the mugs and knives as the bartender quells a group of unruly thugs out for "a good time". You might even find yourself going to fisticuffs with fellow party members who "mistakenly" thought you were someone else before they crashed the chair over your head. Well, whomever the fight is with - a tavern brawl can work in D&D even though it should be non-lethal and often against many many foes. Fulanetto does a great job of pointing out the pros and cons of barroom brawls, and even provides some crunch for DM's asking questions like "I wonder how damage a small cask of ale would do? What about a large cask of ale?" For PCs who like to imbibe more than others, all this begs the obvious question: Can I get proficiency in Keg Throwing?
Heck, there's even a fair amount of "chandelier" mischief. Want some quick rules on swinging from a chadelier? Check. Want to fight a mob of drunks? Check. What some ideas on how to incorporate a bar fight into an ongoing adventure? Check.
So if you are looking to add a little spice to your game by introducing your players to the fine art of drunken combat - pick yourself up a copy of Kobold Quarterly #8. Go break some kegs for me!