There’s a cop show we watch on TV, and the bar where they all hang out keeps changing owners and decor. I think it’s every season that it changes. The spot that they hang out in doesn’t change (same place, same name, same layout), but silly theme changes keep happening. It was a plain old corner bar, then a “progressive” place (with stupid table plants and veggie menu); I don’t think I always picked up on the changes.
While I stress continuity in campaigns, I think this is a really cool idea. Maybe not cool, but fun! So what am I suggesting? Well, for the first couple of missions, they come home to a corner bar, a little rough, but good for adventurers. Then they return after being gone for a while and it has gotten a good coat of paint, some fancy candles in glass, and a musician playing soft music. Not a big enough change to make them stop coming, but different. Probably the same owners, so there is even more reason for them to hang out. Next time they leave town for an extended period they return to find that the bar is now decorated in the oddest “magical” symbols and has an illusionist entertaining. Probably new owners, but pretty much the same crowd, so they continue to hang out here, but it should be pretty comical that there is a bunch of blue collar workers and hired thugs hanging out in a bar trying to attract the young mage crowd. I think having a mission based on some sort of stupid thing the new owners do (paint symbols on the wall out of a book that happened to summon some manner of demons into the bar on the right day) will keep the party coming back, especially if the new owner gives them free drinks for saving his bar from the demons.
Is this a role-playing thing? Yes! Is this a mission starter thing? It absolutely can be. It’s just a fun way to add some life to the game. It might be a good way to ease a party of players who just don’t care about anything but gold and damage into role-playing. Once they sort of ease in by using the bar as where they get hired for the first missions, they should be willing to keep it going.
OK, I do want to throw in one advertisement - If you need to provide something other than “beer”, “ale”, “wine”, take a look at 100 Bar Drinks. Yes, you can look at it simply as a series of drinks to serve in bars, or you can pay attention to the companies that make the booze and use them to flesh out your world, or at least get some ideas. On Fletnern, some of the wine makers are some of the wealthiest and most powerful noble families in the world.