Your party assembles in Ye Olden Plot Hook Inn…
If you haven’t started an adventure in an inn, then you probably haven’t been playing roleplaying games for very long. This is the classic adventure starting point, and often times I see it criticized because of its ubiquity. There are a lot of people out there that roll their eyes at the thought of starting their adventure in an inn or tavern, seeing it at best as passé, or at worst as wrong and awful and bad.
Of course, if you have some great idea for a game that starts with the characters as slaves, or guarding a caravan or involved in some high speed chase then go for it. But if you are wracking your brain to come up with a way to start you adventure somewhere besides an inn just because of some perceived stigma then maybe you’re focusing on the wrong thing. I’ve played in dozens of great games and dozens of shitty games that started in inns and taverns, and I can honestly say that starting in that inn or that tavern was never a deciding factor in determining what made a given game great or shitty.
Sometimes games start in inns and taverns because that’s just where they start. People meet at bars all the time; trust me on this. It’s convenient and it’s public; it is both casual and yet intimate if need be. Inns and taverns give people a chance to introduce their characters and interact not only with the other characters but with NPCs and their environment. Quiet characters can sit mysteriously by the fire and boisterous characters can strike up a tune on their lute and maybe make a couple extra coins. I’ve played entire game sessions where we never left the bar and everyone had a hell of a time. The experience is what you make it. Inns and taverns aren’t intrinsically boring or stereotypical; they are that way because you choose to perceive them that way or make them that way. So stop it. Go ahead and start your game in that inn or tavern. If your adventure is great then trust me – nobody will care.