In Port Kepler, rumors of pirates run rampant. Of course, it's a fucking seaport in This Economy, but if pirates are mosquitoes, Port Kepler is the the murky pond in your grandma's back yard that she hasn't cleaned out in at least two decades. Indeed, the city is breeding grounds for trouble.
The Amnesty Tavern is well-known throughout Kepler for its no-violence policy and remains a popular spot for government bootlickers and notorious criminals alike. This makes the tavern a common place for holding peace treaty meetings between opposing parties. Also, it's a tavern, so it also stands as a pretty busy place for people who want to get their drunk on.
The reason that so many people follow the Amnesty Tavern's no-violence policy is because it remains common sense to locals and visitors alike. See, the founders of the tavern had learned the hard way that people listen to you more the bigger your reputation for ruthless brutality is. The staff at the Amnesty Tavern is well known for their years out at sea aboard the S.N.S. Heart, hunting criminals (those whose crimes were decidedly too far off the moral compass for sane pirates) and giving them a taste of their own medicine. Although skeptical of the crew's violent and vengeful ways, the government was grateful for them wiping out the worst of the worst and was more than happy to turn its head.
So, naturally, it created tensions between the government and the crew after they carried out a mutiny against Captain Thacker and quit the pirating life to form a pub. The pirate leader's bloodlust had gotten carried away, to the disgust and disappointment of his former staff. Even the Quartermaster ("I go by Mama, for the love of fuck, stop calling me the Quartermaster as if that's supposed to mean something significant,"), who was closer to Thacker than anyone else, was fully willing to lead the rebellion after seeing how mad he had become.
Mama and the remaining members of her group had plenty of funds to start their tavern. They were so goddamn sick of violence that they refuse to tolerate it in their workspace, and again, with their reputation, nobody has to be told to act with the maturity appropriate for an adult. They also refuse to work late into the night. You can't keep loyal friends and workers if you overwork them, dammit, so its hours are strictly 1 to 8 only. The Amnesty Tavern still makes a profit, though, and it's enough to keep paying their staff fair wages and afford the process of fermenting their mead (to get it extra sweet, you have to add just the slightest bit of caramel).
Some workers aren't comfortable with talking to customers, whether they aren't good with social interaction or they fear meeting old rivals. Thankfully, a few employees are willing to interact with patrons, including former second mate and sea artist Barclay. He tolerates the usuals, whether it's Mr. Newton, Mr. 'Trustworthy' Chicane ("You're never going to let me hear the end of that one, are you, old pal?"), or Ms. Aubrey Little, who Barclay swears is only ever present to flirt with Dani, Barclay's fellow bartender and the ex-pilot of the Heart.
Barclay also puts up with the tourists and sailors who are only present in Port Kepler for one or two nights. It's not usual for people to arrive in Port Kepler with intentions of staying unless they're completely desperate.
That's why the story of one Sir Stern caught Barclay's attention one night when he heard about him from his coworker, Jake, for the first time.
And that is where Barclay pinpoints the beginning of one of the largest downward spirals in his life.