Professions: The Tavernkeeper
Crestabernus, by JuffaArchui of Pacific; edited by Xena Dragon


A Guide to Running a Player Establishment

by JuffaArchui of Pacific


  1. Introduction
  2. Starting Out
    1. Considerations
    2. Providing a Unique Experience
    3. Finding and Buying Real Estate
    4. Designing and Furnishing
    5. Making Initial Public Moves
  3. Staffing Your Establishment
    1. Finding and Hiring Staff
    2. Staff Organization
    3. Keeping Staff
  4. Popularity
    1. Posting and Advertising
    2. Quests and Events
    3. Gates and Runes
    4. More Important Factors
  5. Running Events
    1. Brainstorming
    2. Publicity
    3. Security
    4. On the Day
    5. Quests
  6. Managing Funds and Resources
    1. Donations
    2. Fundraising
  7. Getting Sponsorship
  8. Ensuring Longevity and Avoiding Burnout
  9. Cooperation with Other Groups
  10. Online Presence
  11. Conclusion
  12. Special Thanks

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1.0 Introduction

At the heart of Britannian society is player interaction. Nothing in our world is more magical or exciting than interacting with other people. At the core of player interaction are player establishments. Sprawled across our land taverns, inns, restaurants, cafés, towns and cities run by players offer services to every Britannian. If player interaction is magical and exciting, words cannot be found to describe player interaction within a player establishment – interaction in a rich roleplaying environment and within a thriving community.

I have compiled this guide so that the lessons I have learnt and the ideas I have collected - in the time I have been running player establishments and communities - can live on. The guide is by no means complete, and I welcome ideas and critiques from anyone. Perhaps, over months and years, it can become more of a resource for the hard-working owners and staff of player establishments across our world.

It should be clearly noticeable to any reader that the examples I cite and the experiences I relate are from a specific (sometimes limited) viewpoint. While I have studied the operation of other player establishments for years, this guide is based on the experience I have had with the Gathered Spirits Community on the Pacific Shard. I would strongly recommend that before you continue reading, you take a look at the Gathered Spirits’ website – A better understanding of the establishment I will be referring to throughout the guide will make for more worthwhile reading.

That said, most of the examples, ideas and issues I put forward are relevant to almost all player establishments. Staffing problems, for example, apply to an evil city just as much as they do to a healers’ café. I hope that the guide will help all establishments: I am a strong believer that only through developing and building player societies and communities through establishments can the true magic of our world Britannia be revealed.

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2.0 Starting Out

I had a fairly easy and painless entry into the player establishment circle – the city council I was running at the time was offered control of a large brick house, superbly situated on a road near Yew. It is for this reason that writing this section has been the most difficult for me. Hopefully I have been able to offer assistance to enough prospective establishment owners in the past to realize what the concerns and issues are in starting out as an establishment operator.

Months of replacing furniture after lootings would make me and the other tavern founders apt at writing at least a two-page treatise on preventing your furniture from being stolen during early days, but, with the advent of the housing system and the dawn of the age of lockdowns, that’s no longer quite necessary! Count your blessings at having the facilities to start a player establishment fairly painlessly, and let’s get to work!

2.1 Considerations

Do you really want to run a player establishment? I need not tell you that it is hard work and requires vast dedication. It will be filled with disappointments, and there will always be countless obstacles in your path. If you want to become wealthy or powerful, give up now. If you want to offer services to the Britannian community, feel you have the skills to do so, and have creative ideas about developing your establishment, being an establishment owner could well be the job for you!

Do you…

  1. Have at least eight hours of online time a week to dedicate during the infant phase (first two months) of your establishment, and at least five hours every week thereafter? It will probably end up taking much more of your time than these two figures, but they are a good guideline as to how much precious time should be necessary to develop and maintain an establishment.
  2. Have any planned real-life absences coming up within the next couple months? If you’re planning a vacation or having a baby, I would recommend waiting until most real-life planned events have passed and the horizon is clear. While you can never predict what will happen to you in the future, absence during your infant phase could mean disaster.

2.2 Providing a Unique Experience

If you have been seriously considering running a player establishment, it is likely you have a mental idea about its facilities and operation already. Creating another ‘tavern’ or ‘player city’ without a theme, underlying idea or original concept will make it more difficult for you to develop a character for your establishment. The following points are worth consideration:

  1. Classes of Character – will your establishment cater for a particular skill group of players? For example, perhaps you want to create a ranger den, a bard hall, or a place where archers of the world can gather to buy arrows and share their experiences? You might not want to ‘limit’ your establishment’s appeal to a particular class, but it makes it easier to cater for your patrons and draws people that are likely to have something in common, hence easy conversation. The inter-shard Mage Towers are an excellent example of establishments catered for a particular class.
  2. Unique Locations – people will be able to identify with and come to your establishment easily if it is in an appropriate location. For example, a tavern for hungry fighters would be appropriate near a spawning spot, while it would be superb to have a city for magi on the island of magic, Moonglow.
  3. Roleplaying Groups – will your establishment be the headquarters of a particular roleplaying group? Perhaps you could run an orcish tavern and hideout for the group of resident orcs on your shard?
  4. Orientation – will your establishment be open to all, or will an evil group be resident? Neutrality, order, chaos and evil are all orientations to consider. Most establishments, across shards, are entirely neutral and do not favor a particular group. They treat all patrons equally and only react to those who destroy the establishments or reduce enjoyment for other patrons.

2.3 Finding and Buying Real Estate

Once you have your idea in mind, and have spent some time thinking it through and doing some initial planning, it is time to concentrate on the real estate market if you do not already have a building. For this purpose, visit our Trade Forums and see what is available. The following points are worth keeping in mind:

  1. Buy a large building if you can. Most single-room building establishments fail because they cannot offer the facilities a larger building can and the public finds them cramped and unattractive. If you have a very unique idea, which you think will draw crowds and will be able to offer a unique and important service to the Britannian community, you might like to start with a small building. People are likely only to come to a small building if they can find something very special behind its walls.
  2. Consider cooperating with other groups on the shard (see section 9.0). You might be able to become the caretaker of a new building in an existing player run city or take part in another existing venture.
  3. Contact local guilds. Guilds often have buildings they would be willing to donate to a worthy cause. In exchange, they might like the establishment to be named after them or a guildstone put up in recognition, but it will probably be well worth it.
  4. Open area around the building is preferable to an area that is closed in with other houses or vegetation. Not only does this extra space outside allow easy and quick expansion for special events (just pull up a few tables for a banquet table outside or place some chairs for a convention center), but it allows the demi-gods provide you with additional facilities outside, if they sponsor you at a later stage. It is advisable you see Section 7.0 for information on blessings/sponsorships – it is vitally important you run your establishment from the beginning under the presumption that you will not be blessed. You cannot build your establishment relying on an event that only might happen in the distant future.
  5. Buildings that are in a location appropriate to your theme (Section 13.2) should be preferable. There would be few places better to set up a player merchant hall than the city of industry itself, Vesper! An excellent opportunity might turn up which dosen’t quite meet with your previous ideas – I was offered once a chance to run a building located right next to the lava pit on fire island, an outstanding location for a tropical café – so keep your eyes peeled!
  6. Establishments in high traffic areas can be both a blessing and a curse. The most-visited building on the Pacific Shard, for example, is a large store located just a couple screens south of the East Britain Bank. Depending on what your idea is based, such buildings might actually have detrimental effects (a store is appropriate in a high-traffic area, while a druid’s tavern might not be). For more information about the balance between traffic and patronage, see Section 4.0.
  7. Consider going into partnership with someone else or with a guild or organization. Not only will this make the purchase easier on your pocket, but it will offer excellent backup in the future.

2.4 Designing and Furnishing

The recent release of new decorative items (such as statues and furniture dye tubs) and functional items (such as ballot boxes) offer potential for very impressive establishment designs. Make sure that your design is appropriate for the service you are providing and the themes you have chosen in Section 13.2.

  1. The establishment should be as spacious as possible. The Gathered Spirits failed somewhat in this area – only one tile’s space was left near the door, one tile’s space in front of the doorstep, and one tile of space allocated for movement down the side of the bar. Make sure that there is a minimum of two free tiles for movement as the patron enters the door. During some of the busier events I’ve run, it could take patrons ten minutes to get from one end of the building to the other, which can be very frustrating. Including a rune to just outside the building in every room can solve this problem for those that can use magic.
  2. Functional addons (forges, spinning wheels) are often unnecessary. An oven makes an excellent decoration and makes the establishment cosy and warm, and training dummies are often more popular; on the whole, though, addons in establishments are over-rated.
  3. Professional interior design services are often available, and are worth consideration. Make sure, though, that the aims and ideas you have in mind are not thrown out for a design that is pretty but not functional and completely inappropriate.

2.5 Making Initial Public Moves

Once your establishment is set up, you’ll want to announce it to the public. Much of this section (and, as was pointed out in the Introduction, some of the entire guide) is not appropriate to all establishments. Many are run inviting only niche markets (such as particular classes or orientation) and these initial moves would differ wildly. Hold an inaugural event – a celebration at which you officially open your establishment to the public. At this stage, you will probably be working on a skeleton staff and might like to get hold of some of your friends to help out. Run a couple of original events to draw the crowds (see Section 5.0). You might like to also:

  1. Make submissions to major news sites (see Section 4.0 for details and hints). Stress the unique facilities your establishment will provide.
  2. Hand out free runes to your establishment and hand out free books (pamphlets) about what your establishment has to offer.
  3. Personally contact guilds, organizations and influential people. Introduce them to your establishment, and offer them individual services (for example, free meeting place for a guild with free food during meetings).
  4. Start working on a website. Even with almost no technical knowledge, a simple website with a map and a short blurb about your tavern can be produced – it will be a very important asset in your early days.

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3.0 Staffing Your Establishment

Finding, hiring and organizing staff for your establishment is quite likely to be the most difficult and time-consuming job you’ll have as an establishment owner. Most establishments hire staff on a voluntary basis – the staff don’t get paid and they probably don’t receive many benefits. They are usually expected to work out of sheer generosity and spend their valuable time and effort to develop your establishment and enrich the community. To many, it doesn’t sound like an attractive proposition. This section will take you through the process of finding staff, managing and organizing them to work most effectively, and making sure that their work is interesting and invigorating; whilst not losing sight of the principles of your establishment.

While your establishment is in its infant phase, you will probably have enough enthusiasm to perform most tasks yourself. However, as time passes, you might become short on time or your enthusiasm could burn up. It is important, then, to hire talented, dedicated staff from the onset.

You should first consider the tasks that need to be performed at your establishment. Reflect on the following list and add any duties you think are missing:

  • Providing food and drink for patrons (chefs);
  • Bartending or staffing the establishment during regular hours;
  • Running events and quests;
  • Advertising your establishment, marking runes and opening gates (public relations);
  • Providing entertainment to patrons (bards, story tellers, dancers);
  • Providing security for events and busy hours;
  • Offering special services to patrons (free repairing, carpentry services, etc.);
  • Offering services unique to your theme (for example, scribing if you are running a mage shop or fortune telling in a gypsy tavern);
  • Care taking the establishment during owner’s absence (being set as a co-owner, perhaps);
  • Administrative tasks – hiring new staff, managing existing staff and coordinating efforts to have regular hours, host events and coordinate security and public relations.

Which of these tasks do you think you will be able to perform yourself in the next few months of operating your establishment? Will you need help administering your establishment (the last point above) or is it not large enough to warrant staff in that area? Draw up a simplified list (the above list can be simplified into 6 areas – cooking, bartending, events, public relations, services, administration) and determine the areas in which you will need to hire staff.

3.1 Finding and Hiring Staff

Once you have an idea of what staff you need, your first step is to find suitable people for the job – those that have dedication, realize the goals of your establishment and have the necessary skills and talent to make a meaningful contribution.

You’ll find that most staff are people that have come to your establishment, have been impressed by the service you are offering to the community, and would like to help out. Usually, they will do some extra reading about your establishment (they’ll visit your webpage if you have one) and will contact you or one of your other existing staff about employment prospects.

Most establishments publicly advertise when they are in need of staff - this approach, in my experience, does not herald very good results. While it certainly helps, and I recommend it if you are urgently in need of assistance, few people will respond to the call of an unpaid position with few benefits unless they have visited your establishment and feel a calling to serve the community. When you do advertise positions, however:

  1. Stress the service you are offering to the community;
  2. Advertise specific positions with specific requirements and specific tasks involved. Don’t announce that the establishment simply "needs help". If you’re looking for bartenders, for example, create something like the following in your advertisement – a very specific job description:
  3. Title: Bartender

    Time required per week: Two hours (in two single-hour shifts)

    Prerequisites: Experience in roleplaying community, talent and conversational ability.

    Job involves: Serving patrons of the establishment, striking up conversations, handing out runes to the patrons and displaying an understanding of the establishment’s operation (including being able to answer any questions about the establishment);

  4. Don’t make unrealistic promises for staff benefits. I once made the critical mistake of promising staff a ‘percentage of the profit the tavern will make depending on your role and involvement’. It was revealed to me at a later stage that three staff who subsequently joined came only because of the prospect of monetary benefits and were disappointed when the tavern did not make any profit for months on end (I was hoping that just a small profit would allow me to offer incentives to the staff, but in an essentially non-profit organization, that was difficult to organize). You certainly do not want staff members who are there only for greed or personal gain.
  5. Encourage applicants to read through your webpage (if you have one) and visit your establishment before applying.
  6. Always ask staff to contact you by means of a formal written email expressing their interest in the job. It is easy to keep track of the email you have received – it is far more effective than trying to meet everyone in-game initially. The letter is also an excellent gauge to use when deciding on who to hire (see below).

Once you have a group of applicants who are looking for employment at your establishment, move on to the next step quickly. It is a very poor show on your part if they have to wait weeks for an interview (I have been guilty of this far too often) and they lose interest quickly at this stage.

You’ll want to decide who to employ and who not to employ. To get an idea of whether the applicant is suitable or not, I would recommend one or more of the following:

  1. An interview – highly recommended. The Gathered Spirits’ administrative council conducts panel interviews for senior positions and a single member of the council interviews junior applicants. Each interview is logged and is available for members of the council and the Gathered Spirits staff to overlook before making a decision. Interviews have proven to be very successful and are an excellent way to judge the communication skills, attitude and maturity of the applicant. Questions should be relevant to the type of position – if you’re interviewing a bartender, ask questions like "what skills and values are important to you as a bartender?" or provide scenario situations as questions, such as how the bartender would deal with a situation when a wounded patron enters the tavern. Some interview questions that have proved very successful at the Gathered Spirits are:
  2. "Which of the eight virtues do you think the Gathered Spirits is founded upon, and how will these values be an important part of your job?"

    "Suppose this tavern was in dire need of financial help, and the only solution would be to receive support from a group that has raised funds by ‘taking from the rich to give to the poor’. Would you accept these funds? Why or why not?"

    The two questions above particularly test the applicant’s maturity. They are difficult questions, but if someone can answer them with clarity of thought and approach, they will tower above another applicant.

  3. A day’s trial work at your establishment – recommended in addition to an interview. This is an excellent test of how the applicant can practically apply the qualities discussed in the interview.
  4. A mini-quest. I have occasionally used this to develop the confidence and understanding of employees that might have failed at their jobs. Such quests could include a pilgrimage (by foot) to the shrines of our land, followed by a talk about the virtue with a group that has applied it to life (I directed the staff to a Guild of Justice and the Yew Courts as the practical applications of the virtue of Justice, for example).

Once you’ve made your decision and hired staff members, it’s time to ensure that they work well within your establishment and maintain a desire to continue to improve the lives of people of our land.

3.2 Staff Organization

This section will use the successful ‘pyramid’ staff structure of the Gathered Spirits as an example of how to organize staff within your establishment. Apart from the initial tips, most of this section will be of relevance to larger establishments, communities and player-run towns and not smaller establishments whose operation is comparatively simple.

It is vitally important that staff know your expectations. I would strongly recommend putting together a document which outlines them – a staff "terms of employment" or similar. This is an example from the Gathered Spirits’ policy database:

Staff of any type for the Gathered Spirits Community will only be hired if they meet these prerequisites:

      • Roleplaying ability;
      • Suitable amount of time to dedicate to their position;
      • The ability to work as a member of a team;
      • They are not murderers;
      • They are not evil;
      • They agree to these terms of employment;
      • They are not chaotic; and
      • If the person is not known to the interviewer(s), two referees are provided

Staff will have their position terminated at any stage of employment if they:

      • Break the OSI Terms of Service, Counselor Terms of Service or Seer Terms of Service contracts (as applicable);
      • Do not conduct themselves in a manner suitable to members of a well-known, respected group of citizens on our shard;
      • Murder, harass, abuse, steal from or be rude to any tavern patron or tavern staff member while at the tavern;
      • Frequently, and with no valid reason, murder people (whether at the tavern or not);
      • Do not put in the required amount of time or dedication that their position dictates; or
      • Blatantly disregard any instructions from tavern coordinators, founders owners or senior staff members in the applicable area; or
      • The staff member no longer exudes the qualities expected of staff that are listed above.

Our policy on 'evil' staff:

      • Staff that are evil or murderous in nature are not permitted as part of the Community. While we do accept any kind of patron at the tavern and are entirely neutral, the image of murderous or dangerous staff is not one that we wish to exude.
      • Roguish staff that roleplay rogues and steal only as another form of offense against well-established enemies are permitted at the tavern.

Staff members that murder, loot or harrass anyone, anywhere, without valid reason, will immediately be excluded from any Community projects or events. The Gathered Spirits Co-ordinators will also report all such incidents to the member's guildmaster (if applicable).

The Gathered Spirits Community is one of the most respected organizations on the shard. We will never tolerate inappropriate behaviour from any staff member that goes in contradiction to any of our aims or breaks any generally accepted morals and principles. We will, without exception, terminate the staff member's position, publicly denounce their association with the Community and inform relevant people of the offences committed. 

Ensure that new staff have read the terms of employment and accept it in its entirety before they start working. If you ever need to terminate a staff member’s position, you can cite the exact points that he or she has violated and if you are ever thinking of handing out a staff award, you can see how he or she has complied with the terms of the agreement.

Your staff body should be structured in such a way that staff members can become suddenly inactive or suddenly retire without wrecking havoc on the organization of the entire establishment. Time, the most precious commodity in our world, is often limited. Valued staff members can and will suddenly run out of time and have to terminate their position or take a vacation from Britannia. You seldom receive advance notice of these events, so it is vital to be prepared. Your staff body should also be structured so that you – the owner or coordinator – can take breaks from time to time without the entire establishment falling apart (quite hilariously, an entire blessed establishment did quite literally fall apart (it was a wind storm, apparently) when a coordinator of the establishment left on a two month vacation last year!).

The solution is a ‘pyramid’ structure that is composed of department staff, department heads, a representative council, and a couple of arch-coordinators. This scheme should not be unfamiliar to you – it is used by several guilds and many real-life organizations, but it is particularly successful for establishments.

1 – Arch-coordinators. These are staff members who overseee the running of the establishment at all levels. They are at the top of the pyramid and it is recommended that large establishments have two (three is recommended only for very large organizations) at all times. The arch-coordinators can make any decision and take any action they think is necessary. Normally, they have been associated with the establishment for at least eighteen months and are very familiar with its operation. The arch-coordinators retain control over all assets at all time, and should not be appointed with temporary replacements.

2 – Representative council. Each head of department (below) is on the representative council along with the arch-coordinators and specially selected other staff members. The council has between five and seven members. The council discusses almost all issues concerning the establishment (it has proven extremely successful conducting these discussions via email). In the absense of arch-coordinators, control of establishments and daily decisions is passed on to the representative council rather than appointing temporary arch-coordinators. The council makes decisions particularly on staff applications, awards, promotions and terminations as well as issues such as establishment expansion, use of assets, etc.

3 – Department heads. A senior member of a department is appointed by the representative council as the department head. In the Gathered Spirits, for example, some of the duties of the department heads are:

  1. Cooking and Catering Head – coordinating catering events, ensuring all cooks are regularly producing food, ensuring constant supply of food and drink for bartenders.
  2. Bartending Head – organizing bartenders’ regular hours and bartending schedule.
  3. Public Relations Head – coordinating rune-marking and gate-opening efforts and ensuring PR for special events and quests.

4 – Department staff. These are the staff within each department – the staff that are most important to the establishment. They are all represented by their department head, who should be their first contact point for problems and questions.

This structure has proven successful because:

  1. In the absence of arch-coordinators, the council can make all decisions;
  2. Without the arch-coordinators, the council would not be able to make time-sensitive decisions speedily enough (they all have to offer their viewpoint);
  3. Without the council, responsibility would rest too heavily on the arch-coordinators and the different departments would not be adequately represented;
  4. Without the department heads, the council/arch-coordinators would be swamped with concerns and questions from individual staff.

Different establishments will operate in different ways, but elements of the above structure can easily be integrated into almost any organization. It operates so that any group can be removed and the staff body can continue operating normally. It also allows different levels and priorities of decisions to be made appropriately (speedy decisions by the arch-coordinators; important and department-specific decisions by the council; individual issues by the department heads).

A staff structure that is able to deal with decision-making effectively will make sure that administrative time is reduced and that more emphasis can be placed on providing services to the people of Britannia and developing a rich online community.

3.3 Keeping Staff

There are several measures you can take to make staff more enthusiastic about their job. It is vitally important to note, however, that staff are probably working for your establishment for one reason only – to do something for the Britannian community. Keeping this in mind, make sure that you are actively opening projects that offer services to Britannians or running events to keep the community alive. Staff will be more active and will contribute more if they are part of a thriving organization that really is helping the people of our land. You might also choose to:

  1. Offer staff rewards and medals. The Gathered Spirits regularly awards two staff medals – the "Steihl Green Medal of Staff Service" and the "Balin Gold Medal of Service Excellence". Though there are no monetary incentives (as was discussed above, this is not always a good idea) the staff receives some recognition for their very hard work.
  2. Have regular staff meetings at which every staff member is given the opportunity to make suggestions and be involved in the administration of the establishment.
  3. Offer staff members new projects and tasks individually. Often a proposition is much more attractive when it is presented on an individual basis.

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4.0 Popularity

Making your establishment popular among the Britannian community is, in itself, not difficult. But with popularity comes a huge amount of other problems, and so it is necessary to ensure that you draw the right crowds from the beginning and don’t end up with dreadful incidents occurring at your establishment (unless, of course, you’re after dreadful incidents. If you happen to be, just contact me and I’ll give you the perfect formula – I’m dreadfully familiar with them!). This section will briefly outline the ways to make your establishment popular, while keeping at bay some of the problems that can arise.

4.1 Posting and Advertising

One of the most obvious ways to draw the crowds to your establishment is by posting messages to the major news sites and message boards. Depending on the type of people you wish to bring in, this can be either beneficial or problematic. If you are running a small tavern or shop, with limited staff and limited means of handling the unfriendly folk, it is best that you limit your postings. The last thing you wish to do is draw a huge amount of people (which undoubtedly lead to problems) and develop a bad reputation for your establishment. There may be other circumstances, and your establishment may be designed to cater with this type of person, but be warned of the consequences of large-scale advertising. Posting on group and shard-specific messageboards is a good idea because there are fewer readers.

4.2 Quests and Events

Holding quests and events is an excellent way to bring patrons to your establishment. Make sure, though, that they are properly organized – someone who visits your establishment to attend an event is not likely to get a good first impression if it’s chaotic and unorganized when they get there. Some examples of events that have been held in the past include: chess or board game competitions, auctions, pub quizzes, and so on. In terms of quests, you are practically limitless! A well-oiled quest will keep people coming back to your establishment to find out about new developments. For more information about events, see Section 5.0.

4.3 Gates and Runes

Providing gates and runes to your establishment can prove an excellent way to bring in customers. Again, though, be careful at the audience you target. I would recommend against opening gates at a busy bank such as Britain’s – you don’t know who can step though and if your establishment is not guarded, a common bank thief is likely to go through the gate and cause a bit of trouble. Handing out runes is expensive, but worth the cost. In particular, giving runes to those who are actually at your establishment (not random people on the street) will often mean that they come back frequently.

If your establishment is in a location that is difficult to get to from any town, then you may wish to start a gating service at regular times every few days. For example, you could advertise "Gates are provided from the Theatre in Britain to the Tavern every Saturday between 1 and 2pm PST"

4.4 More Important Factors

The common ways of getting people to visit your establishment have been discussed above. The below considerations are even more important. They detail how to ensure that patrons keep on coming back, and that you develop a stable customer base.

  • Regular staffed / open times. Extremely important. Make sure that those who visit your establishment know of the times that it is staffed, so they will come when it is. If your hours are vague, people are likely to come when it is not staffed and their interest in returning will drop. Post the times your establishment is staffed on it’s webpage (if applicable) and even on the door sign. Make the hours realistic – it is considerably better to be regularly and consistently staffed for an hour a day as opposed to boasting that you are staffed for ten hours a day but seldom are. If you hire people to staff the establishment for you, ensure that they are reliable and on duty at the correct times! You will undoubtedly develop an excellent reputation among the community if your hours can be relied upon and a staff member can be found when someone visits at the correct time.
  • Every customer counts. If someone inquires about the establishment and wishes to get there, take the time to meet them and hand them a rune! In my experience at the Gathered Spirits, the vast majority of our customers are regulars who return every week or more.
  • Consider providing free food and drink. It is both inconvenient for patrons and staff to have to hand over gold constantly, and free food and drink can be attractive for both those newer to our world and others who don’t often carry gold with them. The Gathered Spirits employs a simple policy as far as payment goes: Everything at the Spirits is free unless it comes at significant cost to the staff. This means that almost all of the time, everything is free at our establishments: food and drink casually consumed is always free.
  • Provide unique, specific services as discussed in Section 2.1. Do something different that will get you known among the community.

Always keep in mind that developing a stable customer base is much more important than having a ‘quick expansion’. In the case of the Gathered Spirits, our popularity increased hugely after a couple weeks of opening, and it had its negative effects, for sure. The influx of thieves, murderers, and so on, scared away all the other customers. The establishment became a fighting ground and was camped out for murderers for many weeks. You can avoid this happening by taking special measures to ensure that the publicity of your establishment slowly increases in the different ways mentioned above. Spend time working out what the best route for your establishment is – they will all differ slightly from the specifics I’ve mentioned above. Don’t rush into things and try to get hundreds of people to grace your building. Take your time, and slowly develop your establishment into one that is well known and well respected throughout the land.

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5.0 Running Events

Running events is one of the most exciting parts of owning an establishment. If you have, at your fingertips, a successful establishment with regular customers and a good staff base, you should start putting some energy into running events. At the same time, if your establishment isin’t doing too well, an exciting event could really let things take off for you. Why run events?

  1. Publicity.
  2. Staff motivation.
  3. Massive fun for everyone involved.
  4. Encourages player-to-player interaction, which develops a thriving online community.

This section contains some of the important considerations you should take into account when running events.

5.1 Brainstorming

The first step is to come up with an original idea for an event. It’s your best bet to keep the less original, common events (such as dart contests) to your regular hours, holding them frequently and with minimal publicity, rather than making a fuss of them. What you really want to publicize are events that are innovative and unique to your establishment. It might seem as though everything has been done, but that’s not the case! In our world, there are countless possibilities for exciting events. Below is a list of events that come to mind – the idea isn’t necessarily for the list to encourage you to choose an event from the list, but rather to consider the elements in each that are exciting and original, and come up with a unique idea. Remember to run events that are appropriate to the area you are in (that tropical café I was fantasizing about would be the perfect location for a wildlife seminar and jungle taming expedition) and that are appropriate to your theme.

  • Story-telling contest
  • Archery contest
  • Fireworks display
  • Search contest (find a particular item within trap-filled building)
  • Melee contest
  • Board games
  • Pub quizzes
  • Elemental fights
  • Cock fights
  • Ladies morning tea
  • Boat race
  • Pub crawl (visit every player establishment on your shard in one night)
  • Shrine pilgrimage
  • Thievery contest
  • Auction
  • Lottery
  • Debating contest
  • Trivia contest
  • Raffle
  • Skinning contest
  • Treasure hunt
  • Merchant fair (merchant stalls and free services)
  • Drunken relay race
  • Horce race
  • Roleplayed battles and events
  • Singles night
  • Speech contest
  • Dungeon crawl
  • Snooping contest (try snoop a running man’s backpack)
  • Magery contest
  • Skill conventions (seminars by grandmasters of particular skills)
  • Markets
  • Receptions for other major events
  • Lumberjacking contest
  • Poetry night

5.2 Publicity

Although some events might be invitation-only or for a limited group of people, most events are open to the entire community, which allows for much better interaction and fun! You’ll want to publicize events that are open to the entire community extensively, whilst keeping in mind the possible negative effects of massive publicity as discussed in Section 4.0.

  1. Submit your event to the official UO Event Calendar at
  2. Submit your event to online news sites, such as UO Stratics at
  3. Change the sign on your establishment to announce the forthcoming event.
  4. Post on in-game bulletin boards.
  5. After the event, consider publishing a "success and thanks" news release if your event went well.
  6. Offer large prizes, if you can – they’re a huge incentive! Try for prize donations from guilds.

5.3 Security

Avoid guarding your establishment or having any resident military force. This might be one of my more controversial suggestions, but I feel quite strongly that heavy security personnel who are instructed to be aggressive can cause more trouble than they can prevent. What almost inevitably happens is that a troublemaker comes by and does something relatively minor – stealing a couple of tables for your party outside, or somesuch. Instead of just replacing the tables, the security force attacks the offender. The offender is killed. The offender comes back with five friends, who are killed, and come back with another five friends each. I’ve seen many bloody battles take place under similar circumstances. Make sure that any security personnel you do have are instructed to be peaceful and not aggressive, and that they are equipped to deal with problems in every way except force (it can be as simple as having a few tables on hand to replace what is stolen).

Always develop contingency plans in case something goes awry. For example, make sure you can move patrons and equipment into a nearby building (preferably your establishment) which you have security control over. If you are attacked outside or at another event location, make sure staff are ready to get patrons quickly to safety (make sure they have runes to the safe location on them and are ready to make the announcement).

5.4 On the Day

Here are a few suggestions for keeping things running smoothly while the event is in progress:

  1. Make frequent announcements. There is nothing event-attenders like less than hanging around a location not knowing what is happening. Even a shout of "Welcome! The event will start in five minutes," is helpful.
  2. Have a behind-the-scenes ICQ or IRC chat open in the background for staff and contributors. You can discuss issues and concerns with those that are helping to run the event effectively and hand out instructions and recommendations.
  3. Remember that everyone has other in-game and out-of-game responsibilities and probably won’t want to spend longer than two to three hours at your event. If you announce your event several weeks in advance, however, and they think it sounds exciting, they might set aside an entire day to attend it. Make sure that there is something going on constantly, even if its something minor like a dart contest. A major attraction should take place at least once an hour.
  4. Have more than enough seating. I’m confident that there is a psychological relaxing effect to be seated in-game.

5.5 Quests

Quests differ from events in that they have a specific plot and usually involve several significant characters as opposed to events, in which everyone is equally involved and take part in a wider variety of contests and actions. Perhaps the most enjoyable events are those that are tied together with a storyline – a combination of events and quests. However, at the moment, in the player-establishment sphere at least, quests are essentially a plot drawn up by a couple of players which is published step-by-step on news sites and which involves several "incidents" that usually occur once every couple of weeks and involve a group of about twenty players. There are resources elsewhere that deal with running quests – I would just like to offer a few suggestions based on my personal experience, if you plan to run quests around your establishment:

  1. Quests should not be a series of staged events at which characters read from a script and which run strictly according to a plan that has a set end. Rather, quests should be open-ended and the conclusion should always be a result of the actions of players, not the action of a mastermind’s pen on paper.
  2. If you’re running a quest, make sure that every player participating has an active role. They shouldn’t simply stand aside as the pre-planned events occur one after another – they should be able to interact with the main characters and each play important parts.
  3. Quest characters should be just that – characters – whole people with their own beliefs, lives and personality. They should react to other characters appropriately and not according to a set plan. They should be actively changing and developing and should change their values and ideologies according to what they have seen and heard.
  4. Not all quest plots need have dire consequences that will result in the "end of Britannia" or massive repercussions for all.

Running a quest that is based around your establishment is an excellent way of increasing popularity and putting yourself in the sponsorship notebook. They are also fun for all involved, and will allow you to offer additional excitement and enjoyment for the people of Britannia.

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6.0 Managing Funds and Resources

If your establishment is non-profit, you’re likely to have trouble with finding enough money to do what you’d like to do for the community. You probably want to run events, which need to be prepared and which need expensive prizes. You may have to feed your patrons for free, in which case you’re going to need a steady supply of gold or a very generous cook. In any event, most establishments need to raise funds one way or another – hopefully this section will be able to make life easier for you.

6.1 Donations

There are two reasons why people might want to donate to your establishment – either they want recognition or special benefits, or they want to make a sincere donation to the community. In reality, the reason for most donations is probably somewhere in the middle. Hence, you should try cater for both ends of the spectrum.

  1. Make sure that you are regularly providing non-profit services to the community. Help newbies in your local area with free newbie packs, or run free and fun events. Don’t attach ‘conditions’ such as entrance fees to anything or prospective donors might turn their backs.
  2. Offer recognition and exposure for donors. If a guild makes a significant donation which will allow you to run events and feed the hungry for many months, giving them some deserved credit could go a long way. Some forms of recognition and exposure for guilds or individuals include:
    • Guildstones named after the donor, such as "Celebrating the generosity of ABC" could be placed in your establishment.
    • An event could be named after the donor, such as "The XYZ Conference".
    • A future building or a building that was donated could be named after the donor, such as "The EFG Bakery".
    • A permanent or temporary notice on the main section of your webpage.
    • A monthly press release to news sites which contains announcements on donations received.
    • If your establishment offers any pay services, offer the services to the donor and the donor’s guild or friends for free.

This extract from the Gathered Spirits’ Policy Database shows how the GS has offered incentives to donors:

If donations are in excess of 100,000 gold (or equivalent in items), the tavern will erect a guildstone in recognition for that person’s efforts towards contributing to the establishment. The organization or person that contributes will be recognized as a ‘tavern founder’ and receive significant recognition on the tavern website. If the individual or organization wishes its funds to go towards a particular effort – perhaps hosting one or two events or purchasing a building nearby the tavern for tavern use, then the effort will be associated by name with the individual or organization. For example, if a guild ‘ABC’ contributes towards the tavern, a building may be known as the ‘ABC Gathered Spirits Tavern Extension’ or an event called the ‘ABC Magery Convention’. This gives the guild or individual a huge amount of exposure and allows them to contribute to their community. 

Donations between 25,000 gold and 100,000 gold (or equivalent in items) will allow the contributor to be listed on the tavern website as a ‘tavern contributor’. The person will receive recognition throughout the community and an event or building may be named after them (as discussed above). 

Donations between 8,000 gold and 25,000 gold (or equivalent in items) will have the donor listed as a ‘tavern contributor’ on the tavern website. If applicable, an event or item may be named after the person.

The Gathered Spirits also allows guilds to contribute to the establishment in two unique ways, which might well be worth trying:

Sponsoring an Event
The Gathered Spirits Tavern frequently runs events for the enjoyment of the Community. Eventually, we plan to have each event having a guild sponsor. Unfortunately, events are something of an expense to the Community, with over 200 000 gold being spent on event prizes, etc., over the past year. Guild sponsorship of an event involves: 

      • Providing the Gathered Spirits Community with prizes for the event or funds to purchase prizes (most events have prizes of value about 10 000 gold)
      • Providing assistance with the staffing of the event - if there are any members of your guild that want to get involved with assisting the event.
      • Recognition for the Guild. The guild that sponsors the event will have the event named after them. For example, if a guild ABC sponsors a magery convention, it will be called 'The ABC Magery Convention'. This provides for huge recognition.
      • Additional Recognition. Many press releases are sent out with each event. The guild will be associated with each and every one of these. People will recognize your guild as one that participates in the shard and actively makes a better life for all Britannians. Expect excellent people wanting to apply to become a member of your guild. You'll also have a much easier time with alliances and wars!

The total cost of sponsoring an event is around 15 000 gold. Relative to how much recognition and exposure your guild will get, and what a positive difference the guild will be making to the Community, this is the best-spent 15k of your life!

Sponsoring a Building
The Gathered Spirits Community is in the process of buying up an island South East of Britain to open up as a player run town. We already have a number of buildings, and the project is on the road to success. We are looking for guilds to sponsor the opening of a building on the island. This would involve:

      • Purchasing a building with guild funds on the island
      • The guild retains control of the building, but runs it as a planned part of the Community (For example, guild DEF buys a small building, they can open up the 'DEF Community Smithy')
      • Recognition for the guild - everyone that visits the town, visits the webpage, clicks on the sign or otherwise will know about your guild! 
      • The guild (obviously) gets preferential vendor placement in the building (and elsewhere in the Community) - so when the town becomes busy (which it inevitably will) your money will be made back in no time!

Another possibility is running a vendor with "donation booklets" regularly stocked. The booklets are regular, NPC bought books with a special code written in them. They are priced between 500 gold and 2000 gold, and patrons can donate to the establishment simply by buying a book! If they want recognition for their donation, they can contact the vendor/establishment owner, give them the special code inside the books they’ve bought, and be registered as a donor!

6.2 Fundraising

Fundraising is the second alternative for getting hold of enough gold to run your establishment successfully. It is important that fundraising is not confused with fee-charging. Fundraising does not simply mean charging entrance fees to events or increasing the prices of your food and drink. Instead, fundraising activities should be in addition to the services you normally offer (your aim as an establishment owner is to serve the community, so don’t alter your existing services to the detriment of the community) and you should make it clear that the proceeds from all funds go towards the future of the establishment. Some ideas for fundraising include running raffles and lotteries or holding a ‘resource gathering’ evening, at which staff and members of the public go on a hunt for hides or a chop for wood. Staff craft goods from the resulting materials and sell them to raise funds.

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7.0 Getting Sponsorship

The question I have been asked most frequently during my career is along the lines of "How did you manage to get all this cool stuff?". The Gathered Spirits was blessed after a few months (very difficult months, in the age of no lockdowns) of operation, and since then inquiries have been pouring in about our decorations.

It is vitally important that you run your establishment from the beginning presuming that you will never receive sponsorship. Your policies and design should reflect this, and you should never go into the industry if all you want out of it is a blessed building (it is important to reflect at this time that once your establishment is blessed, you will not be able to use it for personal ends – you will not be able to sell it for personal profit and you will not be able to close it down at your whim). I am fortunate enough, however, to have years of experience in communicating with the gods and demi-gods, and there are certain things you can do to increase your chances of receiving sponsorship. These points in themselves are a good overall guide to establishment-owning – if you use them as guidelines, you will unquestionably develop an excellent establishment which truly manages to make a difference in our world:

  1. Be consistently active. Avoid periods of inactivity by following the tips in Section 8.0.
  2. Make sure your establishment has the facilities, staff and attitude to continue operating well into the future. This is probably one of the seers’ biggest concerns – they don’t want to bless an establishment that will wither and die soon. I know that just before the Gathered Spirits was sponsored, the Seer Adamantyr took me to a set of ruins and told me that even the most wonderful of places will be ruined if it is neglected for a time.
  3. Personally take part in all events and quests, and make sure you regularly visit events at other establishments. Quickly, people (including the gods!) will recognize you as someone that is actively involved in all player-run and roleplaying spheres.
  4. Maintain a standard of establishment service and reliability. That might sound obvious, but the demi-gods will probably come to your establishment disguised during hours which you claim your "regular" hours. If no-one is there to serve them, or they are served poorly, they will not find it easy to recommend a sponsorship.
  5. Take a genuine interest in every patron. They might be a seer! Also remember that near-perfect spelling and grammar, and excellent role-playing skills are things you should look out for. I doubt that demi-gods could manage to drop any of those characteristics, even if they are in disguise!
  6. Roleplay, and have your establishment take part in roleplayed quests and events. If your establishment is one of the busiest gathering spots on the shard, you’ll find that seers will choose to appear there to give their quest riddles and clues. It happened thrice to the Gathered Spirits in only our first few months of operation. As the owner of the chosen establishment, get together the patrons and form a group to go out trying to solve the riddles and progress in the quest.
  7. Choose a unique, roleplaying theme. The attention of the gods and demi-gods will most quickly be caught if you have a unique idea (as you chose in Section 2.1) and, particularly, if it involves roleplaying. A group of players trying to play another race (orcs or elves, for example) is an excellent example of a unique roleplaying theme.
  8. In-game publicity is the most powerful. While you should have press releases on the main news sites at least once every couple of months, seers have their ears tuned to the ground in-game, too. If they’re on a quest, for example, and hear players talking about your establishment, you can be sure that they’ll visit it. They want to know that you are supported by a large player base, that your establishment is popular and that the community appreciates it – three things that can only be determined from the words of other players.

Zerver expressed the ideas behind sponsorship very well in his Sage Wisdom on Tavern Ownership and Sponsors:

"Don't for a minute think that just because you are "Willing" to run a tavern means that you are entitled to special attention from OSI. There are hundreds of wannabee shop owners out there and until you prove that you have the will to keep at it for a good while, you really don't deserve to have your place "Sponsored". Don't keep sending GM help messages, pestering councilors and seers, or complaining on the public boards. That usually does not help.

Instead, participate heavily in the major quests, offer to host meetings, hold contests, lead dungeon crawls starting at and ending at your place. In other words, become an integral part of your shard by sheer force of will and action. Be Involved, Persistent, Respectful, and especially be around."

The Seer Letter described the process of sponsorship briefly:

Green-robed Seers often visit such establishments in order to get a feel for the sense of community there. They then advise IGMs as to whether there is enough public interest and support to warrant special attention in the form of extra decoration and lockdowns.

An excellent guide to receiving sponsorships is written by Kazola of Kazola’s Treetop Keg and Winery.

Once you’ve managed to get the attention of the seers, continue to maintain excellent service. A couple of them will probably pay you more visits, often in disguise, over a few weeks. Eventually, they might appear to you – green-robed, this time, and discuss the possibility of a sponsorship. Don’t be demanding. They know perfectly well that one of the dreams of every establishment-owner is to receive a sponsorship – you don’t need to tell them that. Maintain that a sponsorship would be able to allow you to offer additional services to the community. Furthermore, do not approach RPCs (characters roleplayed by seers, often as part of a quest) about sponsorships. Mentioning your establishment casually while in conversation with an RPC can’t do any harm, though!

At this stage, you will need to decide what you would like done. At our blessing, the Seer Adamantyr asked us to put our ideas in a book and leave it on the vendor for him to look over. However, we didn’t feel we could put our ideas across very well in paper. We headed into a UOX world and designed the establishment from scratch there, adding the decorations and extra facilities we wanted. We uploaded the images and had the book direct the seer to their location. I would highly recommend doing the same - designing your establishment in an emulated world.

On the day of the blessing (the seer will have organized a time and date with you), it is likely that the IGM, the seer, you and your partners will be present. The seer will probably advise that you do not invite anyone else or make the date and time public, as it is easier to get the work done in a deserted establishment.

If you have been running your establishment for a while and have not yet received a sponsorship, it shouldn’t be too much concern for you. With the options you have nowadays, you can run a stunningly decorated establishment with a plethora of facilities – it’s sometimes the establishments that haven’t been sponsored that are the most popular on the shard! Just look at what you might be doing wrong, what you can improve on, and continue the good work!

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8.0 Ensuring Longevity and Avoiding Burnout

After a few months of running your establishment, you could quite easily find it difficult to keep going. It’s been hard work and you’ve spent your time trying to overcome the adversities that have been thrown in your path. You’re probably satisfied that you’ve managed to improve player interaction through your establishment and feel you’ve made many Britannians happy. But you’re not sure if you have the time and the dedication to continue.

At this stage, most establishments crumble. Make sure that yours is one of the few that battles nobly onwards into the future.

    1. Don’t let everything rely on you. Make sure that there are other people who can help you with your job.
    2. Take a week’s break. Speak to your friends and staff and organize for them to take over your job for an entire week. In that week, do not visit your establishment or answer any communication about your establishment.
    3. Use the ‘pyramid’ staff structure that was described in Section 3.2. The use of a council and a second arch-coordinator will reduce the pressure on you.
    4. Don’t spend entire days or weekends running your establishment. You should try not to put more than five hours into running your establishment on any day of the week. If you spend an entire Saturday and Saturday evening organizing staff, events and everything else in your establishment (something I’ve done far too frequently), you will probably be disillusioned by the end. Do things in shorter blocks every day, with breaks for real-life (or dungeoning!) in-between.
    5. Look for a partner. Constantly be on the lookout for someone with similar ideas who could become your partner (or, in the pyramid structure, your co-arch-coordinator). Particularly keep an eye on staff that excel themselves and would be willing to take up the extra responsibility.
    6. Try getting support from your friends or guild. If you have a guild with 25 members, they might be able to roster the shift you normally have to do at your bar every Friday. It means one free evening for you every week, while most of them have to take the shift only twice a year!

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9.0 Cooperation with Other Groups

Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments in the roleplaying sphere for me was the lack of cooperation between different groups and establishments. During the last couple of years, many efforts have been made to combine the skills and resources of all the different groups to improve Britannia. This short section includes a few ideas on how you can strike up cooperation with different members of your online community.

  1. Form a council that meets regularly. On Pacific, it’s the Great Council, which includes representatives from major establishments and player governments. The council can discuss how best to assist each other and perhaps even launch a project on which every representative works (for example, a combined player run town).
  2. Encourage travel between establishments. The Gathered Spirits is in the process of trying to set aside a day of the week for all the establishments to open gates to other establishments (a ‘chain’ of establishments is set up, where establishment A gates to B, B gates to C and C gates to A).
  3. Work on one large event in cooperation with other establishments as opposed to several small events. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when the resources and skills of two or more groups is combined!

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10.0 Online Presence

The Internet offers an excellent range of tools that you might like to use to improve communication within your establishment and with the outside community.

Building a website for your establishment is very important. Such a website allows people to quickly learn more about what you offer, how they can get involved and how they can contact the relevant people. Including a map is vital – without it, people will not be able to easily travel to your establishment. It might also be necessary to include sections on your events – detailing each one and their date and time; your staff – where visitors can find out who your staff are, and contact them if necessary; your recent news – where special stories and articles can be posted to inform visitors and staff of changes to your operation or additional services; your policies, where things like your security policy, your terms of employment, etc., can be posted; your services, which can include a breakdown of all the services you offer to the community and all the projects you run to improve the community. Some excellent examples of online community websites with appropriate designs and excellent content include and .

You might like to set up a mailing list for your staff and regular visitors. In this mailing list, you can include news articles and special offers. The Gathered Spirits has run a successful mailing list, called the "Spirits Express" through a free service offered by Bravenet,

Perhaps one of the most important communication tools is a messageboard. The messageboard can be used for communication between staff regarding issues that need to be discussed (if they are sensitive, you should consider password control) or it could be a public messageboard where all patrons can contribute. You might like to consider having one for each. Excellent bulletin boards are available from Ezboard,

IRC is also a very useful tool. It can be used for staff meetings when some staff cannot get in-game or you can have a permanent IRC channel for your establishment where staff and/or patrons can come whenever they like. The preferred IRC client is mIRC – offers downloads and advice on starting up. You could choose to use the Stratics IRC server –, which is popular for online communities.

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11.0 Conclusion

In writing this guide, I have tried to cite many practical examples and be as specific as possible to avoid the generalizations that are often associated with this topic. In doing so, it seems as though I have made establishment owning seem more complex and daunting than it is in reality. I hope, though, that the guide has been helpful and informative – if only a few of my suggestions come into practice through your establishment, I’ll be content that I have succeeded in improving the sense of community – albeit marginally – for Britannians on every shard.

My best luck to you and to all player run establishments, everywhere. I would be greatly indebted to you if you could take a few moments to send me your thoughts, comments and suggestions. It is my hope that this guide can be updated regularly, which I hope you can assist me with. Similarly, if you ever need any help or advice, I’d be only too happy to provide it.

I conclude this guide with every hope that your establishment and the establishments in your community live long and prosper – every breath they take enriching the Britannian community; every time they’re visited landing a smile or laugh on the face of a citizen, and every day they grow bringing us closer to our goal of a thriving, exciting and dynamic world.

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12.0 Special Thanks

Without the constant support of my friends and colleagues, not only would I not have been able to write this guide, but I would not have been able to have had endless fun, excitement and satisfaction from running the Gathered Spirits. My fondest thanks to Balin, my good friend and tavern founder; Gantoris Durran and Steihl, tavern founders; the current members of the Gathered Spirits Executive Council, Drahcir (the best bartender in the lands!), Annely (the most dedicated cook and caterer I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet) Aviendha (whose drunken relay race was an inspiration to us all), and, again, Balin.

I would also like to thank Zerver of Zerver’s Tavern reviews, the Seers of our land, and Kazola of Kazola’s Treetop Keg and Winery, whose writing was extremely helpful to me while writing this guide, and who permitted me to use their website content in this guide.

I would like to thank the Seer Rhykan and the Seer Adamantyr, who provided me with enough experience to write Section 7.0. I have dedicated this guide to the spirits of these two wonderful demi-gods, who enriched the Pacific community in every way.

Lady JuffaArchui
Email: [email protected]
ICQ: 4232188

Editors note: Crestabernus is derived from two Latin words - "Cresta", meaning 'thriving' or 'growing' and "Tabernus" meaning tavern, establishment or homely place.