Explore Philadelphia's Drinks And Dragons
  • Explore Philadelphia's Drinks And Dragons



    Four blocks from the subway, in South Philadelphia’s Point Breeze neighborhood, you find a novel take on cuisine and nightlife called American Sardine Bar. This hotspot features the staples of art crowd and hipster culture. Home to creative food, craft beer, cheap shots of rotgut whiskey, and an upstairs bar with a stage where one could expect to see local comics, acoustic acts, and open mic nights. Tonight however, was something a little different. Tonight ASB was hosting Drinks and Dragons.

    The crowd is a mix of old and young, men and women, provocatively dressed and clean cut. Sitting and joking together, these strangers coalesce into parties as Game Masters choose friends and strangers to play in a multi-table collaborative campaign. As tables fill, each segment of the month’s adventure begins in earnest. Drama, violence, and humor unfold at each table and the sounds of other gamers experiencing similar highs and lows feeds the energy in the room. On the other side of the room someone shouts with excitement at their second consecutive critical hit while at the nearest table a player reaches for the ominous glass filled too high with cheap whiskey which at his Game Master’s table will afford him a re-roll of a fatal saving throw should he quaff it.


    One by one the adventures conclude. Players collecting notes and dice, Game Masters folding up maps and packing up books, generous souls returning to their new companions with a fresh round of drinks in hand or a basket of French fries, everyone satisfied. They finish conversations and “you shoulda been there” stories. Outside on the patio people discuss their own worlds and characters, and reminisce about games past. Downstairs patrons who are unaware of the event are surprised by the waves of normal looking players, their preconceptions of lonely basement dwelling gamers disappearing in the face of thirty people’s enthusiasm for a wholesome hobby.


    This is all the brain child of three friends working at a bar and pining for the days before adult responsibilities replaced their weekly gaming sessions. Don Caraco, Eric Rillstone, and Joe Shotkus wondered if they were the only ones who had seen their hobby derailed by responsibility. The idea was to take the bar, normally closed on Wednesdays, and open the upstairs for table top RPGs once a month. The owner, John Longacre, allowed them to go ahead with it and thanks to Don’s “It doesn’t matter who you are… if you like a good story and are interested in contributing to that story, come and do it” attitude the first game had twenty-five players and Wednesdays were suddenly profitable. As the events grow larger they hope to get the attention of sponsors for alcohol and gaming supplies, Limitless Adventure has already helped out by providing prepackaged modules for fast play. With PAX coming to Philadelphia in November they see an opportunity to become a new phenomenon if they can tap into that rich vein of nerd culture.
    Comments 16 Comments
    1. Grimstaff -
      Nice! I'd love to see this in Buffalo. It'd be a good fit with the huge craft brewery scene here.
    1. Henry's Avatar
      Henry -
      Cool. As. Heck.
    1. Quickleaf's Avatar
      Quickleaf -
      Outstanding! Cheers
    1. MichaelSomething's Avatar
      MichaelSomething -
      Hey I live near there! I might go check it out

      Sent from my VS990 using EN World mobile app
    1. Andy Hand's Avatar
      Andy Hand -
      What an awesome event! *Googles distance to Philly*
    1. Scrivener of Doom's Avatar
      Scrivener of Doom -
      I'm rather envious. I've never lived anywhere with a nerd community of a size to make events like this viable. It almost makes me want to live in the USA.
    1. Christopher Helton's Avatar
      Christopher Helton -
      Quote Originally Posted by Grimstaff View Post
      Nice! I'd love to see this in Buffalo. It'd be a good fit with the huge craft brewery scene here.
      There's a good chance that there's a brewery that would. We've got a couple in the area with board game nights.
    1. hung-low -
      They have this same thing in New London, CT. Its called Drinking & Dragons
    1. mcosgrave's Avatar
      mcosgrave -
      Cork Action League have fairly regular gaming in bars, usually Monday nights. Boardgames, Pathfinder. There's also a boardgames cafe on Sundays run by Tabletop Cork. Both are on Facebook if you are looking for gaming while over here .
      But as an Irish person, what I don't understand is this idea of a bar that is closed on Wednesdays: how does this happen? The words 'closed' and 'bar' do not belong together in this reality!
    1. AngusA's Avatar
      AngusA -
      I suspect gaming in bars/pubs is a lot less common in the US than it is the UK because of the perceptions (and age restrictions) on alcohol consumption. Many UK games clubs (RPG, Board/Card, Magic and even some of the more social LARPS) are held in pubs/bars and have been for years. Either hiring out the entire venue or part of it if they have a suitable 'function room' or separate room/basement that can be hired out.

      It's certainly a good revenue stream for the venue on a quiet night and gives plenty of potential locations for game groups to meet and socialise.

      Glad to hear the one in Philly is doing so well
    1. lyle.spade's Avatar
      lyle.spade -
      Great idea. There's a small microbrewery in Tucson that opened recently, and they're now hosting game nights on Tuesdays. The place is open to anyone, but they give 10% off drink orders to people who show up to game. It's been a slow start, but I'm hopeful that it'll take off.
    1. Mallus's Avatar
      Mallus -
      Thanks for letting us know about this! I'm a) in Philly, b) a fan of D&D and booze, and c) have been to Sardine many times. Yet I had no idea. This is what I get for being all late middle-aged adult and hitting the bars with far less frequency.

      I'm hoping at least some of my group will be, ahem, game.
    1. Edward Fadigan's Avatar
      Edward Fadigan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mallus View Post
      Thanks for letting us know about this! I'm a) in Philly, b) a fan of D&D and booze, and c) have been to Sardine many times. Yet I had no idea. This is what I get for being all late middle-aged adult and hitting the bars with far less frequency.

      I'm hoping at least some of my group will be, ahem, game.
      Definitely stop by. I attended the June event, playing in the "Call of Cthulhu" game, and am presently cobbling together a Post-Apocalyptic Bunker Crawl to run on July, 19th.

      There's alway room for another Wasteland Scavenger ... or Malfunctioning Robot ... or Mutated Moose and Squirrel.
    1. Fandabidozi's Avatar
      Fandabidozi -
      Quote Originally Posted by Scrivener of Doom View Post
      I'm rather envious. I've never lived anywhere with a nerd community of a size to make events like this viable. It almost makes me want to live in the USA.
      Let's not go crazy.
    1. Mallus's Avatar
      Mallus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Edward Fadigan View Post
      There's alway room for another Wasteland Scavenger ... or Malfunctioning Robot ... or Mutated Moose and Squirrel.
      As in "Must get mutant moose and squirrel"? Rocky and Bullwinkle meets Fallout? That sounds pretty good, actually.

      We'll try to make it. If not this month, then next. Even without the added inducement of gaming, I like Sardine. I recall their onion rings beings terrific.
    1. Zander's Avatar
      Zander -
      Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy that Philadelphia's gamers are getting together. But I'm baffled that this is "news". As Angus points out above, UK gamers have been meeting in pubs for ages.

      I run the London D&D Meetup ( https://www.meetup.com/London-DnD/ ). We have been going just over 11 years. Every week, we take over the function rooms/dining areas of four pubs, one each on Saturday (day), Sunday (day), Monday (evening) and Tuesday (evening). In one pub, we have colonised not just its function room but half its beer garden, too. Last Saturday we had 60 people. There is a Vice.com article about us here: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/5...on-meet-up-110

      If any US gamers (or indeed from elsewhere) want to find out more about running games at drinking establishments, they can PM me through the London D&D Meetup site. If this is a trend that could spread across the US, let the the Philly gamers as well as those overseas be your guide!
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