Hammer (month 1) through Kythorn (month 6), the Sword Coast
The Drow’s Bane have been ‘pop’ stars in the months since their epic victory overthrowing the demon princes of the Abyss, saving the Underdark and Faerun. Besides much needed rest, each character has been invited all over the Sword Coast to accept awards, give speeches, and be sculpted or painted. Bards across the Sword Coast are singing songs about the glorious victory and the trials and tribulations of the characters’ lives down under.
Two of the most esteemed awards to be received are the title of Emissary and Royal Advisor to Laeral Silverhand of Waterdeep and Emissary and Royal Advisor to King Brunnor Battlehammer of Gauntlgrym. As emissaries to Waterdeep, Laerel gifts them occupancy to the estate known as “Catchbreeze” in the Castle Ward. As emissaries to King Battlehammer, they are assigned a residence in Gauntlgrym known as “Hwemenocter” in Vault of Kings. The expectation and new responsibilities as royal advisors require the characters to spend time between both places on a constant basis.
But as the Drow’s Bane settles into their new residences and responsibilities, the ranger Ilian and her companion Tusker are recruited by the Emerald Enclave for special assignment. She cannot share details with her comrades, who are now family to her, but the farewell feast is a hearty, joyful and tearful one.
Nong Sung Roc continues to struggle with hearing the voice of the Wand of Orcus in his dreams and constantly fights off Royce to open the bag of holding to have a little look at it, maybe even pet it slightly (i.e. imagine Gollum and ‘My Precious!’). A few days after Ilian’s departure, Nong disappears from Catchbreeze with just his personal belongings. Royce feels deeply disappointed but understands Nong’s affliction. With Nong absent, the wand becomes a constant burden to Royce; it subtly tempts Royce to join forces with it for ultimate power and authority…even greater than Orcus himself.
A modest, but comfortable city estate, easily recognized by its copper roof and ivy-covered red stone walls. It lies at the edge of Castle Ward, with its facade shielded from onlookers by a garden full of evergreens and rose bushes, and its heart well-protected by a steep drop in terrain, which provides a dynamic view of Dock Wards and the sea beyond.
The building is a former finishing school which was converted to a private residence after the idea of sending adolescents away to be educated fell out of fashion with Waterdhavian nobility. The building’s origins can still be found in the over-sized library, the large kitchens and store rooms and random bits of graffiti carved into the wood beams that support the lower floor.
These days, the estate has been lovingly refitted to accommodate half a dozen permanent residents. Both the grounds and the design of the building allow for much privacy, but the receiving rooms (former lecture halls and teachers’ common room) are well-appointed and can be used to host gatherings and soirées for visitors of all sorts.
Staff quarters are present and are all located on the lower level, adjacent to the kitchen and larder with wine storage. The majordomo has a small apartment to allow for receiving tradesmen, while a further 3 members of house and kitchen staff can be retained in individual rooms.
Residents quarters exist of apartments that have 3 floors, making the most of the different nature of each floor. The lower level has access to private washing facilities, and place for a dressing room or study. Each room has doors that open up onto a covered courtyard which has in the past been used as a place for physical exercise, as well as for hosting large, informal gatherings. While most of this floor lies below ground level, carefully enchanted windows allow daylight to come into the central covered courtyard, while being indistinguishable from the rock in which they are embedded from the outside.
Note that two hidden exits from the residence are on this level. The one accessed via the outer wall exits at the bottom of the steep drop that forms the estate’s border, landing the user on a small, unnamed alley in Docks Ward. The one next to the majordomo’s apartment exits on estate grounds inside the mausoleum of the Dessavere family – the founders and long-time headmasters and -mistresses of the once-famous school.
The garden level of the main building contains the entryway, library (continues on the balcony level via its own staircase) a music or drawing room, a salon and formal dining room, along with washing facilities for guests. The dining room, as well as residents’ quarters on this level all lead out onto an enclosed garden that shields against the strong winds and harsh climate of Waterdeep. A small fountain, various low-growing fruit trees and many flowering plants make for a lush retreat with ample opportunity for private conversation.
The balcony level is the most private, and yet the most open. Long, outward-facing porticoes allow residents to enjoy the ocean breeze and look down on city life as it spills out beneath them. Other than the second level of the library (no exits on this floor), there are no public spaces on this level, and house staff can use the exterior staircases to access quarters if needed.
The grounds, while small due to Catchbreeze’s central location, have some outbuildings. There is a dedicated guest house that offers two suites for visitors of various size and preference. The chapel is small, but lovely and sits among a carefully planted grove of fragrant besom trees. It has a small plot on which there is room to inter one’s loved ones. There is a groundskeeper’s cottage nearby, which features three rooms underneath a thatched roof.
Last, but not least, a stable offers room for riding horses, a pair of coach horses and coach, as well as room to house smaller animals such as hunting dogs or birds for falconry. Do note that Waterdeep does not permit hunting within the city limits, unless by guild-permitted rat catchers.
The estate covers its expenses by means of some acreage of field and forest outside the city limits. The fields are on a long-term lease to the cattle drivers’ guild, who rent out portions of it to local farms with small herds of either dairy goats or the local variety of longhorn sheep (prized for their delicate wool), and keep the other part in reserve to receive large herds of livestock from the backcountry prior to butchering or shipping. The forested parts of the estate’s grounds are currently under lease to the neighboring Bleutenger family, who use it to expand their recreational hunting grounds. This lease is soon set to expire and re-granting it could be a good way to curry favor.
Majordomo – Petha Amers, a half-elven woman of excellent repute. She is a middle-aged spinster who has worked in service all her life and was invited to administer the estate ages ago due to her flexibility when dealing with unorthodox residents. Her human origins lie in lands far to the east, and she claims wood-elf ancestry. While she would never gossip, she is a font of information about the city and its history. She has a sister, Esthra, to whom she writes and who she visits during her annual leave. Her sister has children, which are full humans, and she speaks of her nephews and niece fondly. The elder nephew, named Doro, has recently become a sailor. The younger one, Semre, is recently apprenticed to a cobbler, although it seems he can be found haunting the taverns more than usual for a boy his age. Petha’s niece is called Kasha, and she is still in school. It appears she has a little magical talent, and Petha wonders if she should give up some of her savings to get her niece into a proper magical academy once she is the right age.Petha is quite formal with most people, but once she has developed a sense of trust with her employers, she will show her innate sense of humor. She feels closest to Kendel, both because she enjoys his attitude and because he is the most traditionally ‘lordly’ out of the bunch. Her tasks are financial management of the house, arranging maintenance, acquisitions of household goods including food and wine, menu planning and serving at large or formal meals. She will be delighted if she finds that any of the estate’s residents has any interest in this work, and she believes that input from the owners is invaluable to the optimal running of a proper house.
Cook – Tarrus Ropewell, is one of the Hin (i.e. Hafling). A relative newcomer to the Waterdeep food scene, he made a grand entrance by challenging the long-time family cook of Kendel’s parents to a cook-off of a number of exotic dishes some months ago. While Tarrus’ cooking cannot be faulted, Kendel’s mother was not impressed with his style of showmanship (or his swearing), and decided the sailor-turned chef would perhaps be well-suited to serve at the estate which now houses her son. She arranged for Tarrus to be escorted to Catchbreeze with a glowing letter of recommendation and a complement of guards, which would not leave Petha’s quarters until she had promised a position to the young upstart. He now cooks pungent dishes from a variety of locales and origins, and has only stopped trying to serve his ‘Gracklstugh Mushroom Special’ to the party after Royce and Naismith once held him at knife-point.
Tarrus mentions neither friends nor family, only referring to his past in the vaguest of terms. Under what circumstances he lost his ear, is as of yet unknown. He likes to sing while working, but the words to any song are invariably changed to something raunchy. Tarrus can neither read nor write, which he will do his very best to hide. If he is ever found out, he will do everything he can to ensure his secret is kept, up to and including bribery and threats of grave bodily harm.
Djanni Morvillis is a young human woman who came to Waterdeep as a child when fleeing the conflict in the southern states. Now she lives at the estate and is responsible for the management of household tasks and chores. If needed, she can serve as valet or lady’s maid for formal occasions, but her best work is in arranging domestic tasks and services. She has deep roots in the community of professional service workers, and Petha, with whom she is fast friends, often relies on her to find additional serving staff for formal occasions. Most of Djanni’s pay goes to her parents, but she also tithes to the temple of Selûne, the deity she claims helped her and her people escape the war. She has two younger brothers, Aiken and Daran, who both work on the docks. Djanni’s most treasured possession is a fur coat: a present from lady Ervienne Melanctha, for whom she used to serve as lady’s maid. She is currently being courted by Domenco Melanctha, a younger cousin of lady Ervienne’s, but she is hesitant. While she likes the man well enough, she isn’t inclined to give up what she sees as the independence and freedom of a well-paid position for the relative bondage of life as the wife of a minor noble in the status oriented and hierarchical city of Waterdeep.
Joscellan Vegho is an older human male with an extensive resume in service, both as valet and household staff. He is extremely straight-laced and private, preferring not to share anything of a personal nature with those for whom he works. This reticence can easily be mistaken for rudeness, but it is really part of a sense of professionalism that represents an older ideal of service, no longer in vogue in households such as these. Joscellan occasionally laments the olden days but is also grateful for the improved standing of serving staff, and the rather loose approach that Catchbreeze’s current owners take with regards to propriety. It allows him leeway to take care of his oldest child and only son, Guilleme, who has fallen upon hard times after a failed business venture and needs both money and his father’s broad shoulders. Should Joscellan’s private concerns ever be discovered, he would greatly value discretion, but would feel obligated to accept any help offered if it benefited his son. In return, he would share information about his three daughters: Ermena, who has a small sheep farm outside of the city with her husband Denno and children Cara and Morro, Temera, who has recently made first mate on a trader ship, and Deleine, who works as a weaver in the wool district and has recently engaged herself with a young woman named Mayka and is set to marry come spring.
Jero Argario and Sur Hennerley, both human natives of Waterdeep, have worked on the estate since early adulthood, and have shared use of the groundskeeper’s cottage for almost as long. Some years ago, Sur’s sister Andra died in childbirth. When the baby also died and Andra’s husband had to return to sea, Sur took in Andra’s surviving daughter Yonica. She is a teenager with dark hair and eyes, who takes after her father, both in looks and temperament.
Jero serves as gardener, and he is exceptionally proud of the state for his rose bushes (along with tea roses and peonies he grows a unique purple variety, which is just now showing great results) and his ability to keep alive an oranianap tree in the sheltered house garden (they are rare and are native to much warmer climes). Petha allows Jero use of the house kitchen when the estate’s fruit harvest comes in, and so the house is always well-stocked with jams and marmalades. He will talk anyone’s ear off about gardening and botany and he will always treasure a gift of anything relating to plants and how to grow them. He doesn’t leave the estate often, but will, if given permission, borrow large quantities of books from Catchbreeze’s extensive library. If asked, he will mention his parents, both of which serve Chauntea. He has two sisters, Geri and Amri, but is not in contact with them at this time.
Sur is the estate’s handyman. He fixes everything, and if the job is too big for him alone, he knows which craftsmen to bring in to get it done. He is exceptionally well-connected in the city and knows many people in Waterdeep’s various guilds. Due to his exacting nature and limited quantity of patience, he is known as a hard taskmaster. He works together with Petha to keep the estate’s books current and spends much of his free time teaching his niece those things he considers useful. Sur is not very talkative, except on the subject of his latest project, but he is very observant and can sometimes let his curiosity get the better of him. This has occasionally unnerved his employers, especially if they were on the other end of his pointed questions, but his intentions are good, even if his manner isn’t.
Yonica, while still young, is very capable. She serves as stable girl and takes care of the estate’s population of (fully licensed) rat terriers (Snap, Fang and Spotty, the latter of which she delivered and named herself). She is shy and reclusive and often feels embarrassed by her uncles and their various passions. This is likely a feature of her age and will lessen over time. When she is feeling particularly rebellious, she may attempt to sneak away and explore the city in disguise. No one knows quite where she goes when she does this.
The Hwemenocter estate, located in the Vault of Kings in Gauntlgrym is a fantastic piece of dwarven architecture, unique in its design and execution, since it was built specifically for the treasured human concubine of a historic dwarven hero. It takes into account certain aspects of design not common to such venerable dwarven residences, but that are prized highly by other races, for example: private washing facilities (rather than relying on public steams and baths) and stout doors to separate private dwelling space from communal areas. The dimensions of rooms are of course, generously scoped out to comfortable accommodate even the tallest non-giant races.
The estate is fronted by a small, but meticulously designed moss garden that provides excellent privacy despite its modest size. The original design of this refuge dates back to the time of high cubism but has also been influenced in later adjustments by the principles of new elaboratoria and second romantic minerology. These influences are especially visible in the addition of the hot-water fountains that house the colorful algae collections, and the use of wrought-iron trellises to guide the growths of caveberry and chalkblossom.
The ceilings of the estate, which reach a peak height of 120 feet in the dining room, once were part of a multi-bulb magma chamber filled with a particularly mineral-rich brew of molten rock. When the chamber was drained, a thin layer of ores and mineral stayed behind, causing the ceiling to glitter and glisten in swirling colors. Once the city of Gauntlgrym was built, and this parcel of the King’s Vault was developed, these magma chambers were then deepened, and interior walls constructed from the finest hand-hewn Gracklstugh basalt. The floors have been laid in with petrified zirkwood, which is not actually a wood, but the silicated stem of a rare giant mushroom.
Of note is also the use of oiled Yartar oak wood, from which the elaborate privacy screens for washing and dressing rooms in each suite have been lovingly carved. Use of wood in any dwarven dwelling is a symbol of utter luxury since it is fuel spared from the forges and fires that make up Gauntlgrym’s source of wealth and fame. Each room’s screen is themed according to a prized sky-side beast: badger, mole, rabbit, otter, fox, bear, groundhog and mouse.
For the comfort of its residents, triangular hearths are placed at regular intervals in the dwelling, and a network of sub-floor steam pipes create both a pleasant temperature, as well as easy access to bath water. We must, however, warn you not to drink this water, as it has not been filtered after its use for the cooling of the forges, and may still contain traces of dawn titan essence. Instead, make use of the generous storage facilities accessed behind the kitchen and find large quantities of stout, pokeberry wine and of course, forge whisky and firespit drop.
The estate comes with a modest share in the famous Gauntlgrym forges, which, while not providing its owners with much income, more than suffices to maintain the estate and pay for staff. Administration of income and upkeep of the estate will be done by the Gauntlgrym Abacial Council, of which a thrice-annual report of its calculations can be requested.
Hwemenocter does not have outbuildings, but stabling and kenneling services for animals and pets may be requested at the offices of the vault’s Quartermaster, and space for storing bulk and precious cargo can be arranged via the same.
Unlike most sky-side estates, this dwelling has no live-in staff, and no quarters are present for their stay. Instead, a large number of families share the care and maintenance of the various estates in the Vault (this being a part of all adult dwarves’ communal service requirement), meaning that there is often a rotation for who is present when. However, since humans and those of other races often prefer to see the same faces, an arrangement has been made to provide a limited complement of staff to facilitate the residents’ comfortable stay. We kindly point out that the concept of body servants is unknown to the dwarves, and such services will not be provided.
Please also note that our staff members are not servants in the truest sense of the word. While Gauntlgrym has a monarch and we do observe certain social distinctions, we see our estate staff as valuable working professionals, not as chattel. When their treatment does not reflect their status, a complaint may be lodged with the Gauntlgrym Non-trade Workers’ Board.
Household Foredwarf –Ludgard Aurumfeldt, a male dwarf of dark complexion whose advancing age and decades spent in service have given him the patience and meticulousness required to make Hwemenocter run like a well-smeared machine. He has lost a lot of vision in one eye, and has gone somewhat hard of hearing and is sensitive about people noticing this. He is quite worldly and greatly likes to let his earlier travels and experiences with other cultures shine through in how he addresses people (messire, madame, etc) and how he organizes any chance for entertaining. He has a vast family of children and grandchildren (as well as great-grandchildren) of whom he rarely speaks. However, you may occasionally see him accompanied by a granddaughter or grandson, especially when he is not at work. He was approached for the position here at Hwemenocter by the chamberlain of His Majesty himself – having prior experience with the party, he felt that they would benefit from someone who knows the ins and outs of Gauntlgrym high society.
While his knowledge of sky-side is somewhat dated, he has a great number of friends and acquaintances throughout the city and one would be wise to ask him where to get help, counsel or services arranged.
Monitor Victualia – Kirge Veinfinder, is a youthful female dwarf whose age belies her experience as a cook for the finest and most prestigious clan halls in the Vault. For a time, she seemed poised to accept a position as Vice Monitor of bread and pastry at the court of His Majesty Bruenor Battlehammer himself, but she eventually refused due to a conflict of personality with the Monitor Victualia already established at court. When she heard that Hwemenocter would be once-more occupied, and learned who would take up residence in it, she petitioned the Chief Rosterminder for the position of Monitor. Due to her talents and insistence on taking the job, she was quickly affirmed.
She comes from the northernmost tribe of hill dwarves and has the associated reddish hair. Anyone who wants to keep on her good side, will not make jokes about her (supposedly also-fiery) temperament, no matter how tempting. She can be curt and is decidedly stubborn, but takes her work very seriously. When she is at the estate, no one will go hungry. Furthermore, she has a sense of humor that can be both dry and lewd, but is quick to defend those she considers vulnerable or in need of assistance. Her lifestyle is extremely sober since she sends most of her earnings home to support her mother and younger sister, since their father passed away in the mining of a risky passage through volcanic rock. The quickest way to earn her allegiance (and to find baked goods suddenly appearing in one’s room), is to display and explicitly value familial loyalty.
Chief Warden – Onk Rockbender, while he is a half-orc, we assure you that he is both capable and trustworthy, and comes with the highest references. He has a complement of guards dwarves under his command and will assign them to the estate as needed.
Onk is a deep-voiced, deep-minded, well-read man who has a great fondness for everything involving strategy and tactics. He is accomplished at dragon chess and will never refuse a bout. However, he abhors gambling, and will never place a bet. He has a talent for handling animals of all sorts, and can be trusted to take care of mounts, dogs and other animals, all of which will trust him immediately. His looks may be ferocious (he wears silver caps over his lower tusks to indicate his position of command) and his fighting style deadly to the extreme, he is, at heart, not a violent man. He is a teetotaler, and feels uncomfortable at events where much alcohol is consumed. Children, like animals, feel drawn to him immediately, and he will, when needs must, babysit the children of a few of his friends during his time off. He does not speak of his family, but will cheerily speak of his friends and companions of the present. In his free time, he likes to whittle, and a gift of a piece of sky-side wood will get you in his good books for a long time.
Craftsdwarves (on rotation)
(note: Should you struggle to tell them apart, Mal has a small scar just visible above his impressive moustache)
It has occasionally taken people several years to figure out that there actually are two Splitfault brothers, especially since twins are exceedingly rare among the dwarves. Like the others in their family, the Splitfaults are of that rare kind that can make anything their eyes see, not just in metal, but in wood, stone and other materials. It was their seven-times great-grandfather who designed and made the woodcarvings Hwemenocter is known for, and the family has maintained their patriarch’s handiwork ever since. They will often accept work at other dwellings and estates to round out their working days.
Mal is the more talkative and jocular of the two. Nic is often quieter, except when riled up by his brother, or when he’s seen occasion to partake of the spitfire drop. When at work they are serious and inspired, often finding ways to add a little flair or flourish to even the most mundane job (if one ever wonders why the nails on the claws of the clawfoot tubs are done in gold leaf…). However, once off-duty, they are some of the most extravagant partiers in Gauntlgrym and not every tavern will admit them. Never play cards with a Splitfault, unless your pockets are too heavy.
Domesticants (on rotation)
Olv Kuypenmack, a dour old dwarf with a tarred and pleated beard who irons the bedsheets (his iron is actually just that: a giant hunk of shaped metal which he wields with tongs) after making the bed and cleans smudges off furniture by spitting on a handkerchief the size of a table cloth. Will call anyone younger than Methusalah ‘dear boy’ or ‘dear girl’, and will get this wrong with elves about 25% of the time. If engaged, he will relish telling of the two trips he’s even made to the surface, once to visit a small dwarven outpost for a wedding of his sister, and once to assist the city’s Wildlife Wrangler on a mission to reclaim several rothe, since he was the only one well enough to ride during the Great Flu that happened 87 years ago (even His Majesty himself was ill, just ask anyone!)
Hilde Alsesdottr, an adult female dwarf who, by the standards of her kind, looks ephemeral and elegant. Her hair and skin are both exceptionally pale, and her build is very light (there is some rumor her mother may have had a gnomish lover, but no one who values their lives will ever mention this to Alse, her husband Kef or Hilde herself). She is gregarious and quick to smile, and has a fondness for studying military history. She is mildly suspicious of magic, unless it has to do with the city’s forges, and is somewhat more dependent on her parents than could be expected of someone her age. If asked about romantic entanglements, she merely stutters (but sometimes she can be seen with a particular dwarf from the Gauntlgrym guard, whose name is Rafk Bellowforce). Her somewhat unusual last name (a matronymic) is a custom of a small subset of eastern mountain dwarves, from which she is descended.
Annekje Silverbeard, this young, dark-complexioned female dwarf is the newest addition to the ranks of service staff in the Vault of Kings. Not one to continue her education for longer than absolutely necessary, she has been assigned to Hwemenocter rosters as a young adult to gain experience and encounter people outside of her (large, deeply devout) family. As one of the few of her line not pursuing positions in the faith of Moradin, her parents and siblings eye her with suspicion, of which she is often not aware. She is chatty and easily distracted, but can be petty when she feels slighted (which is often). Luckily, she also forgives and forgets quickly. She feels more at ease with those who show some sign of having faith, and can occasionally overstep the bounds of professionalism when she thinks a lack of faith poses a danger to someone’s soul.
Ferg Hammerstruck, an exceptionally good-looking young male dwarf with brown hair, beard and eyes, who is particular about the niceties of service, especially when it comes to table settings and dinner service. This makes him a favorite of Ludgard when entertaining (and Ludgard sees himself as the mentor of the young man). Reads voraciously, especially in books of etiquette from all races and cultures. Likes the finer things in life and spends most of his wages on fine fabrics, and quality accessories. Is an accomplished huntsman, and not a bad cook, who will occasionally help Kirge during busy times. Can be a bit shy when approached, but quickly warms to people, especially if he finds they have good taste.