A Pair of Black Antlers, or simply the Antlers, was a tavern in Elturel in the Western Heartlands in the mid–14th and late 15th centuries DR. It was the most well-known tavern in the city, recognized even outside Elturel as a meeting place for adventurers of all ages. Volo recommended that no adventurer should pass through Elturel and not visit the Antlers. Countless adventures started, or ended, right here.
In the mid-1300s DR, it was dimly lit and had wood-paneled walls, and the air was smoky because the fireplace didn't properly draw. It was a close and maze-like place with a multi-level taproom and filled with stone support pillars, thick low-hanging beams, and big dark-hued furniture salvaged or looted from old castles and villas. Illumination was provided by three blue-colored driftglobes that could be requested to come to one, but this attracted the notice and interest of other patrons.
It was heavily decorated with a wide variety of adventurers' finds, trophies, and paraphernalia, such as old and well-used weaponry and split shields; the dusty claws, tails, and shocked-looking heads of miscellaneous monsters; and ancient maps (though not all actually genuine) purporting to detail castle dungeons, dwarven holds, crypts, and cave systems said to house treasures and covered in corrections, notes, or blood spatters. Most impressive of all was an enormous rack of stag's antlers at least 20 feet (6.1 meters) wide for which the tavern was named. They hung on the wall over the bar and many patrons, including Volo, stood on top to measure them.
The staff were known to be jovial and hearty, all of them former adventurers of many races and ages and looks.
Around 1366 DR, drinks on offer included:
- Ale: 3 cp per tankard or 7 cp per hand keg;
- Stout: 5 cp per tankard;
- Wine: 6 cp per tallglass, with up to 9 cp per tallglass for better vintages;
- Brandy, sherry, and zzar: 1 sp per tallglass; and
- Elverquisst, 4 gp per tallglass—the most expensive in the tavern.
Drinks were poured generously; no one had cause to feel short-changed or cheated. Tankards were large and battered pewter mugs.
Food available included salted biscuits, slabs of a sharp onion cheese, clams from the river, and gurdats (pan-fried mushrooms with pepper spice and melted cheese batter). A plate of food was 6 cp; one served as a light meal, two as a full dinner.
Less formally, it was the place for adventuring matters. Folk came here to get the gossip and to hear songs and stories of heroics and horror. They could join a party or assemble one, find hirelings for a task or try to get hired themselves. They could come here to find a mage or priest who could cast a certain spell or lift a curse, or at least learn who might be able to and where to find them. Patrons could share all this information for no more than the cost of a drink. For a different kind of adventure, it was also the place to impress and pick-up a would-be partner, though it was warned a fine-looking young "blade" might just be a shapeshifter or doppelganger in disguise.
A favorite drinking song of the patrons of the Antlers was the classic bard's ballad "The Knights of Dragon Down". It was sung every night, but minstrels had to show the appropriate skill and treatment, playing it with a mournful and macabre tone, lest they earn the patron's ire. The patrons revered the ballad as an anthem to fallen friends, to adventurers still alive, and to the dark whims of gods who demanded to be appeased. However, the final verse was outlawed in Elturel by 1366 DR because an evil archmage of the city once made it the words of a summoning spell that quickly drew undead to those that sang it.
Renowned and well-established by 1358 DR, it was still operating through the 1360s DR. The famed travelogue writer Volothamp Geddarm visited the Antlers and wrote of it in his Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast around 1366 DR. He considered it to be among the more interesting—or in other words, "shady and rough"—taverns in Elturel.
In the 1480s DR, A Pair of Black Antlers was still in business as a tavern. It was also the "headquarters" of Ontharr Frume, a paladin of Torm and representative of the Order of the Gauntlet in Elturel. Heroes seeking him could find him here.
Rumors & Legends
Like any adventurers' drinking den, the Antlers had its fair share of stories of stashed treasure. While some might actually be genuine, a story about sacks of gold concealed under the taproom floorboards was definitely not. Nevertheless, patrons often attempted to pry up the boards when they thought themselves unobserved, with seemingly every board having pulled up and put back several times by the mid-1360s DR. Staff were so weary of this they had Volo report the story to be untrue in his book.
- Ed Greenwood (1994). Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast. (TSR, Inc), pp. 96–98. ISBN 1-5607-6940-1.
- Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood (1990). Forgotten Realms Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 84. ISBN 0-8803-8828-5.
- Wolfgang Baur, Steve Winter (August 2014). Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Edited by Miranda Horner. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-0786965649.
- Ed Greenwood (1994). Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast. (TSR, Inc), p. 94. ISBN 1-5607-6940-1.