Earlier this year developer Kraken Unleashed successfully funded Crossroads Inn, a fantasy tavern management sim with RPG touches on Kickstarter. Now the team is feeling good enough to settle on a release date: October 18, 2019.
I dig the idea, echoing the role-reversal of Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale (opens in new tab) and Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop (opens in new tab), but with a more grounded, deeply systemic foundation.
Every good adventure starts in a tavern. The heroes eyeball one another over tankards of mead and wedges of cheese and bread. An assassin in the shadows, goblins in the square, ants in someone's pants—a thing happens that brings them all together, and so chapter one begins.
But what about the people serving up that mead and bread and cheese? For them, it's another Tuesday: a big mess to clean up, repairs to make, and more food and drink to prep. Then there are the other customers to attend to, people of every class from the farthest reaches of the land.
Crossroads Inn tasks players with creating and managing such a place, keeping a busy inn stocked up, profitable, and in good repute with locals and new patrons alike.
The plan is to launch with three modes: a campaign replete with characters and drama to challenge management skills in specific ways, an endless sandbox mode, and an editor for changing or creating entirely new building and design components.
Take a quick look at the sandbox mode in the video below.
Once the place is put together, the job kicks in. Here's a basic overview of how the simulation works:
Innkeepers are tasked with designing their inn, managing its employees and its money. How you price food and drinks and how you build the inn, from decorations to practical design considerations, will affect its profits and notoriety. More specifically, those decisions will influence who your inn appeals to, and while 'everyone' is aspirational, it is also very unlikely.
Different social classes complicate things further. Appealing to the poor and the rich, while making sure adventurers, bards, and the occasional noble would be equally pleased in your chill hang zone, doesn't sound easy. But there are unique benefits to keeping everyone happy. For example, pleasing adventurers means they'll share profits or join the team as guards, while keeping a bard happy lowers the chances of brawls breaking out.
I'm curious to see how the tangle of those systemic relationships plays out in the long term, whether they make for an interesting story generator or become rote and routine. From what I've seen and read, Crossroads Inn is looking like a clever role reversal with some good ideas, and it's in decent shape based on the sandbox trailer. I'm particularly hopeful that the campaign pulls a Frostpunk (opens in new tab) and mixes simulation with storytelling in surprising ways.
I think I know what kind of innkeeper I want to be, but I'd really like to see how the stresses of running one molds me into something unexpected. We'll find out whether I'm a gallant community leader or heartless profiteer (almost certainly the latter) this fall.