Naming a gamers’ pub

In the state where I live (New South Wales) there used to be a wowserish law that provided that a bar could only get a licence to sell alcohol if it were a public house providing accommodation to travellers. The result was the traditional Australian pub, a large two-storey building with bars and a dining room on the ground floor and a lot of under-used and usually very cheap accommodation above, often surrounded on its street frontages by a two-storey verandah, and sometimes having a beer garden. These were prominent features of every Australian country town and quite a lot of roadside fly-specks. They are also found prominently in the streets of Australian cities and suburbs built before about 1970. Changes to the licensing laws since the 1970s mean that it is no longer compulsory for bars to offer beds. The licensed premises downstairs are still lucrative, but pubs now have a lot of rooms upstairs that they don’t have any use for. Most have simply turned the keys and lave the rooms unused. Two pubs in my town are letting rooms as student accommodation for the Chinese flying school. A few publicans are trying to wring a few stray shekels out of a resource that is almost costless by making their old bedrooms and parlours and commercial travellers’ rooms available to uses with very small returns. At the Heritage Hotel in Gladstone near where I live you can take your drinks and your meals upstairs to the verandah or help yourself to a private room, pretty much.

Now suppose that you owned such a pub in a large provincial city or a comparatively accessible part of Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane, and that you decided to put the upstairs into use as a friendly local gaming venue. There would be little prospect of making a lot of money out of gamers by way of cover charges or table rent, but it would cost very little and the might spend a bit of money at the bar, the bistro, or the espresso bar. What would you call the pub?

Bear in mind that this business venture would still depend largely on selling steak and beer and battered fish to ordinary working mugs who treat the downstairs as their local. So it would not do to name it something that either freaked the mundanes, made them feel unwelcome, or made them too embarrassed to suggest the place as a rendezvous with their friends. Nor could you afford an outlandish decorative theme. On the other hand, you might really want something that seemed almost explicit to gamers and perhaps sci-fi and fantasy nerds.

Gygax’s Red Dragon Hotel? The Tanelorn Hotel? The Sandtable?

“You all meet at an inn”

The White Hart, the Draco Tavern, the Hog’s Head, McAnally’s Pub, or Callahan’s Saloon would dog-whistle the sf&f set nicely without betraying anything.


Or indeed the Old Phoenix…

@JGD: The Meeting Place?

Or the Prancing Pony for that real old school feel.

You could go with the Vulgar Unicorn, but that might draw the wrong sort of crowd. Not to mention the possibility of running afoul of local decency laws with the signage . . .

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“Dog-whistling” is the just mot. How can we dog-whistle to gamers in the name of a pub?

  • The Rivendell Hotel
  • The Enterprise Hotel

Perhaps the name could abbreviate to something familiar: Duck & Drake Inn? Royal Plaza Garden Hotel? Hotel Palais Cardinal?

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Ooh! Good idea. A few very large initial letters on the sign to be suggestive. A couple of frivolous-seeming decorative representations to put it beyond doubt….

… paintings in the style of C. M. Coolidge of ducks playing at tables with books and polyhedral dice…

Except ducks would be playing Runequest, surely.

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Not if they thought that was too self-referential.

Does Australia not have a tradition of ‘amusing’ pub names, then? We’ve got a chain of pubs called the Slug & Lettuce. Pubs capitalising on the fact that ‘Firkin’ sounds like the F word. Pubs called things like The Nobody Inn.

Um… The Dragon & Horses. The Lucky Dice. Beer & Pretzels.

Not really. People have tried it here and there, but it generally doesn’t go over well. Australian pubs are very often named for the place they are in. Or features they are near (the Bank, the Railway). Or they are named after chains now long defunct: the Tattersalls, the Star, the Commercial. Or after 19th-century British politicians and dukes. The pubs in my area were the Kempsey, the West Kempsey, the Willawarin, the Bellbrook, the Macleay River, the Tattersalls, the Railway, the Sea Breeze, the Riverview, the Commercial, the Royal, and the Great Northern.

Maybe they could have a commonplace sounding name like the Baggins or the Farthing? (But I suppose “the Farthing” would invite rude mispronunciations.)

Gygax’s Royal Prince George Hotel might do it.

I told C about the name “Slug and Lettuce” and she laughed and laughed, and said that it must have been started by gardeners.

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The Inn You All Meet At