Interlude 30: The Coffeehouse
It's a fact of life that pirates must sometimes interact with, well, regular folks, and not all people like to spend their time swilling ale and rum in the local tavern. It could be that some buccaneers are looking for a scholar to help decipher a cryptic document, or that they're meeting a secret benefactor who doesn't dare make an appearance in such unrefined places. Perhaps they're even looking for a legitimate cargo in order to do some honest business. Whatever the case, they might find themselves visiting a coffeehouse.
These locations first appeared in Europe around the middle of the 1600's, coming from the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire. They quickly became a place for people to gather and discuss all manner of topics, including politics and philosophy. As such, at least one sovereign, Charles II of England, tried to suppress their spread, claiming that they were a hotbed for dissenting ideas. Indeed, many of the important thinkers whose ideas led to the Enlightenment spent their time in these locations, reading and conversing.
In a Skull & Bones campaign, a coffeehouse can make a good location for a fish-out-of-water situation should the PC's need to meet with someone respectable. This could include a nobleman, a wealthy merchant, a sage/occultist, or the like. Of course, given the intrigues that can arise, this action need not be limited to roleplaying; perhaps the PC's are present during an act of thievery or even an assassination attempt. Alternately, a meeting here could be the start of a plot involving insurrection against the king or queen.
The coffeehouse itself is a rather simple structure. A broad bar in the middle of the room provides seating for many of the customers, while lining the walls are booths with benches and tables for those who like a little more separation or privacy. There are also two smaller rooms, one for storage and one that serves as an office for the proprietor.
Expert 7; CR 6; Size medium; HD 7d6; hp 27; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 9 (-1 Dex); Atk +5 (1d3, knife) or +4 (ranged); SQ none; AL NG; SV: Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +6; Str 10, Dex 8, Con 10, Int 17, Wis 12, Cha 16.
Skills: Appraise +15, Craft (cooking) +14, Decipher Script +9, Diplomacy +15, Knowledge (geography) +13, Knowledge (history) +13, Knowledge (local) +13, Knowledge (nature) +13, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +13, Knowledge (religion) +13, Sense Motive +13.
Fortunes: Enlightened, Guidance, Negotiator, Skill Focus (Craft: cooking).
Equipment: Clothing, pouch containing 20 poe in mixed coins, book.
Perceval Reed has a love of learning rivaled only by his loves of good food and living in comfort. Running a coffeehouse allows him to indulge all three of these passions, since his establishment is always filled with paying customers with whom he can discuss any subject imaginable. He is a jovial and open-minded fellow, but one who enjoys playing devil's advocate if doing so can facilitate a good discussion.