Near the Traveler’s Gate, the most used entrance to the Imperial capitol city of Zalash, on the Grand Boulevard that runs from the Gate to the Imperial Palace, there is a tavern and inn called the Magnificent Mimic. It is actually run by, and partially formed by, a mimic colony that decided there were better ways to get what they wanted, and it’s a very popular destination.
Imperial policy is that all beings of the Aberration type are to either be killed or be subject to frequent interrogation, and from their point of view the Mimic’s a good place to keep them all. From their point of view, the creatures that run the Mimic have seen pain and war and no longer want part of it, but they also have to do something with their lives, and the idea of being an unusual service industry location made it easy to keep in good order for the Imperial Registry.
The main door is nine feet tall and six wide, and has only been closed once that anyone remembers (and that was a very nasty ice storm indeed.) When you enter, you may feel like you’ve been watched on the way out, but any usual detection of scrying or invisibility will find nothing. (That’s because the main door guard is a Lurker Above. It uses the name Sagor, and regulars greet it on the way in.)
Inside, the tavern is always a pleasant temperature for the season, with many tables and chairs. The bar is along one wall, with the kitchen behind it. Keashan, the bartender (Changeling bard 5 (College of Lore)), is convinced he can make any drink he’s asked for, and if you ask for something he either lacks an ingredient for, or that he doesn’t know, you drink free for the night.
A half-dozen servers circulate, taking orders and money, and delivering food and drink. Some of the tables are mimics, so don’t worry if you spill something – it cleans itself up automatically.dung
For some reason, even when they just took your money, the servers never seem to have any on them except when they give you change. That’s because they’re all dopplegangers, and slip it into pockets in their flesh to keep it safe from pickpockets.
Bards are always welcome to play on the stage, and the best rarely pay for their food or drink. (The worst usually wear their food and drink, but such is the majesty of the stage…)
For one silver piece, you can get a mug of ale or a cup of wine; two copper will get you a cup of water. Five will get you the regular meal: a bowl of stew (your choice of beef, fish, or leek and spinach), a piece of bread, and your choice of drink. There’s also usually three specials each night, a fish dish, a vegetable dish, and a meat dish, which change regularly.
One may wonder how such a busy place runs with just a single cook. The answer is that Zoraphalon is a roper, and with six arms you can do a lot. He has two assistant chefs (both changelings who change their identities regularly to keep in practice). Zora lurked in a cave under the city until some members of the colony found him, and actually spoke to him, then taught him to cook and gave him a job. Now you couldn’t get him out of that kitchen for love or money. He has a paper on the wall for beasts he’d like to cook and serve, specifying non-sentients (as per the law) and offering bounties for it.
If you’re a traveler (a surprising number of locals use it as their “local bar”, but there’s also a lot of travel patronage), you can rent a bed for two silver a night. The mattresses on the beds are also, unsurprisingly, mimics (use the medium Mimic monster entry, but the mimic can decide if it wants to use the Adhesive trait, and assume it does not initially). These have learned some speech and can ask how the person wants their mattress and can make it firm or soft as the resting person wants. If someone breaks into the room and tries to harm the resident, it will open up, drop the resting patron through itself, then attack the intruder while ringing a bell.
(The mimics have gotten used to the idea that sometimes two people share a bed and move around a lot. It amuses them a little bit, even if they don’t understand it.)
The Imperial Inquisitors (the investigation and police branch, not the Inquisition, which is a different group entirely) have an office across the boulevard, allowing the inspections to happen. The Imperial Bureaucracy’s Hostelry Bureau also has its headquarters nearby, and reviews it once a quarter.
As far as criminal activity is concerned, one of the stories that gets told around the tables is that the infamous half-elven gangster “Bloodletter” Rolan Zaebok sent six of his people in to shake the place down, and when only one of them came back, he came himself with his two bodyguards. No one is quite sure what happened, but after that meeting, he left the place shaking and ordered it off-limits to all his people.
So, the Magnificient Mimic. A good place to stay, to meet, a neutral ground for the criminals, and the gods help you if you disturb the peace.
As you might expect, the world I’m building for my Dungeons and Dragons game is …a bit different from what you might expect.