External Links

IFComp version (v3)
Updated version with bug fixes.
Play this game in your Web browser.

Have you played this game?

You can rate this game, record that you've played it, or put it on your wish list after you log in.

Playlists and Wishlists

RSS Feeds

New member reviews
Updates to external links
All updates to this page

Tavern Crawler

by Josh Labelle profile

Screwball noir fantasy

(based on 36 ratings)
9 reviews

About the Story

Most fantasy stories are about slaying the dragon. This one is about what happens after that.

When you and your companions are approached by a man in a tavern who offers you more gold than you could spend in one lifetime to slay a dragon, you're torn. The money would buy you out from under the boot of the tyrannical queen. You'd never want for anything again. But do you schmucks really stand a chance against a dragon? And what did this dragon do to deserve being slayed, anyway?

Your instructions are simple. Travel to the cave. Chop off dragon's head. Bring it to Akema, the village at the base of the mountains. Meet your patron in a tavern to collect your spoils.

If only you hadn't been too drunk to remember exactly WHICH tavern you were supposed to meet him in.

Now, you'll have to journey from tavern to tavern looking for him. An inn full of yearning hearts and true believers. A burlesque house full of cutthroats and intrigue. A dive bar where you're likely to walk out with fewer digits than you walked in with. As you uncover the strange secrets of Akema, you begin to realize you've been lied to, set up. Can you unravel the mystery and get out from under before last call?

Game Details


Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Story; Nominee, Best NPCs - 2020 XYZZY Awards

1st Place (tie) overall; 2nd Place, Miss Congeniality - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)


- View the most common tags (What's a tag?)

(Log in to add your own tags)
Tags you added are shown below with checkmarks. To remove one of your tags, simply un-check it.

Enter new tags here (use commas to separate tags):

Member Reviews

5 star:
4 star:
3 star:
2 star:
1 star:
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 9
Write a review

Most Helpful Member Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A goofy and endearing RPG for beginners, October 23, 2020
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

I don't love RPGs as much as I did when I was younger, but can still get roped in if the focus on story outweighs the focus on stats. Tavern Crawler does just that and succeeded in keeping me interested for a couple playthroughs.

You play as a gender neutral hero (with a choice of fighter, mage, or thief) who tags along with a female mage and a male fighter on a quest to slay a dragon and collect a handsome reward. What follows is a charming quest with plenty of plot twists and character development. You can take on many optional quests which can improve your stats but mostly focus on story development and a lot of your time is focused on building or destroying your relationship with your two partners.

Another cool feature is that you can decide to play in a more traditional RPG mode where you can focus on building your stats, but almost every puzzle can also be solved even with poor stats if you make the right choices. Saving and restoring is also easy along the way and there's no way to get stuck. There are multiple endings and every playthrough also has an epilogue that shows you how your actions affected others as well.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
a fun, choice-based comic fantasy adventure, October 5, 2020
by WidowDido (Northern California)
Related reviews: if comp 2020

This game is likely a success in everything it attempts. No doubt entertaining to those who like traditional fantasy RPG adventures, and especially for those who want the fantasy with some occasional comedy.

A lot is nothing new: an initial quest spirals out, a number of side quests to increase gold and stats. The stats, as well, are traditional RPG fare: tank, rogue or mage. Different options open to the player depending on these stats.

The character begins with a couple companions. I think this element was well-done, and I found an unexpected modern twist particularly enjoyable. When certain options opened, I considered this the most entertaining part of the game (and will be the reason I replay it--(Spoiler - click to show)to see just how toxic one can make the relationship).

In all, there is enough interactivity, and a "Did You Try?" list given after finishing the game, to make a second playthrough interesting.

Since the mechanics seem to be very well-implemented, an individual's enjoyment will likely come down to the quality of writing. And here, the game is also a success. Low fantasy is not a genre I seek out or read for pleasure, but in this case it was a speedy and largely amusing read. Not plagued with purple language or overwriting that is unfortunately sometimes frequent in both fantasy and IF. While perhaps not necessarily my favorite type of game, I would not hesitate to recommend it to others.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
The most RPG like text adventure I've had the pleasure to play, November 30, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: 1-2 hours

This game has the feel and structure of a parser game, but in an extremely user-friendly choice-based, hyperlink format. A marvelous fusion between the two styles and something I hope to see more of in the future.

In this game you play as a member of a three-person team of mercenaries, given a quest to slay a dragon in exchange for more money than you know what to do with. As the game progresses you have to manage a few different aspects of the game including your personal stats, your loot and your relationship with your companions. Along the way to your ultimate goal, you will have the opportunity to explore the town you find yourself in, talk to many different people and even take on side quests to help boost your stats or acquire some loot.

The interface for this game is incredibly smooth and polished. The game gives you very clear directions, both on the instructions screen and weaved in to the text throughout. If I understand correctly this game was written in Twine and I think it really showcases just what Twine is capable of (and it is capable of a lot more than I thought before playing this game). Even though every choice you make might not have a huge impact on the game they all have a subtle impact that can be seen and appreciated in meaningful ways. You really do feel like you are living the story and that you have much more agency then is actually possible in a choice-based game. It really does feel like an old-school RPG or a D&D session, in the best way possible. There are a plethora of choices, the characters feel well-developed and the atmosphere is great.

My only complaint is that it seemed some of the tasks you can attempt to complete have very high stat thresholds for success. While all the major or necessary tasks seemed to have a reasonable bars to get over, some I felt like I would truly have to grind through the story, finding all the hidden ways that I could increase my stats, to be able to succeed at them. That was slightly disappointing. Also, I think there was at least one time that a certain choice was locked to me because I didn't have a certain relationship status with one of my companions, but looking at my stats page I did have that relationship. It might be a minor bug. Neither of these issues really got in the way of my enjoyment of the piece though.

Finally, I thought the epilogue was great. The author did a great job of making all those little side quests mean something in the end and I really appreciated that.

Well worth your time.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

See All 9 Member Reviews

Tavern Crawler on IFDB

Recommended Lists

Tavern Crawler appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Twine games with free range of movement: A personal list by Kinetic Mouse Car
Free range of movement means the gameplay has parser qualities without the parser part. It allows you to wander around and interact directly with objects or talk to characters in your environment. This list does NOT require games to have...

IFDB Top 100 by Pegbiter
An automatically updated list utilizing an IMDb style Bayes estimator to calculate weighted ratings based on all IFDB ratings. Questions and comments can be placed here....

Interactive Fiction Competition Winners by RichCheng
These are the games that won First Place honours in the IFComp each year.

See all lists mentioning this game


The following polls include votes for Tavern Crawler:

Games about travel by penguincascadia
This list is for games either about travel or with travel as a major part of the plot or background. Stuff like being able to choose where you go from a relatively wide range of destinations, road trips, exploring a city or region as a...

High fantasy interactive fiction by strivenword
My favorite genre of fiction, interactive or otherwise, is high fantasy -- the genre of such epic series of novels as The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien and The Wheel of Time by Jordan. I'm especially interested in games with an alternate...

This is version 9 of this page, edited by MathBrush on 3 August 2021 at 4:52pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page