Elminster's Guide to the Realms
by Ed Greenwood, illustrated by David Day, (Dragon #288)
Inns are vital in the Sword Coast North. Civilization is meager and wide-scattered, the weather is harsh, and the predators are harsher. Here, a known refuge often means the difference between life and death. Yet inns are themselves immobile targets, and tend not to last long. Many stretches of road sport the scattered, fire-scarred stones of a vanished hostelry. Often, these ruins become the home of some fearsome beast using the crumbling, overgrown cellar as a lair.
One roadhouse that has thus far defied the odds is the Moonwyvern Inn. It's a ramshackle roadhouse on the road between Silverymoon and Everlund, within an easy day's ride of the Moonbridge. It stands in the forest without benefit of neighboring farms or settlements and has offered shelter to travelers for some sixty years.
Who built and first ran the Moonwyvern is forgotten, but the present staff remembers that the place was named for a long-since-slain local wyvern often seen silhouetted against the moon.
The Moonwyvern is an dimly-lit place of rambling floors, stout pillars, and thick crossbeams. Those who expect fawning servants or cleanliness should go elsewhere. The worn-down but cozy atmosphere in the Moonwyvern is the pride of the Moonwyvern's staff and regular patrons.
Many folk in Silverymoon and Everlund have heard the Moonwyvern described as a place of plots and secret meetings. But seasoned travelers know that it's not the roaring place it once was. Some gossips credit the decline in scandalous activity to the current owner, and rumors that she is a harper abound.
The layout of the Moonwyvern changes often, as rotten parts collapse and demand replacement.
Clarshee Taraghe is "the ugly old woman who owns and runs the place." She's not a Harper although she sympathizes with many of their aims. She does follow a policy of keeping everyone's secrets, aiding those she likes, nursing the sick for days or even months, extending credit to the needy, and providing help to the desperate. Many patrons - even ruthless, brutal folk - love her like the mothers they once had and rush to her aid and defense if need be.
Not that Clarshee often needs such help. She stumps around her inn grumbling out constant mutterings of complaint spiced with colorful oaths like, "By the blasted blue danglepipe of Longjaws the dragon!" or "Cesspits of Waterdeep!" Despite her aging appearance, Clarshee is fearless and quite competent with axe, sledgehammer, pie-knife, or tar-brush. She runs the inn with the aid of Horokh and Beelbraeth, two monstrous athachs. (The athachs are lawful neutral, intensely loyal to Clarshee, speak Common, love to cook exotic foods, and sport long, shaggy fur and three horns.)
Clarshee also has at least one shield guardian in a closet that she can call on if guests get out of hand - and some means of calling on a friendly wizard to fight for her or protect the Moonwyvern.
The Moonwyvern itself is protected by flickering, sometimes-failing wards that protect it against fire (the structure is protected as if by an endure elements (fire) spell) and prying (clairaudience/clairvoyance, scry, and similar magic cannot penetrate the building).
Unscrupulous folk of all sorts use the Moonwyvern for meetings, hirings, and business not tolerated in Silverymoon or other settlements of the Silver Marches. As a result, the inn hides six decades worth of maps, messages, and items.
Its kitchens produce good, hearty fare - notably lovely fiddlehead soup and fried mushrooms (in season), roast venison, and fernwort bread.
The Moonwyvern sports at least one hidden room where guests can hide, a crawl-tunnel to the stables, and three tunnels to the nearby forest. The inn has two deep, clear wells in its cellars and a chest in which Clarshee keeps 14 crawling claws (see Monsters of Faerûn) that she can unleash to fight for her if need be. She often uses them to hunt down vermin in the inn. These claws hate pickling-juice, and Clarshee can 'herd' them by splashing it, when it comes time to return them to their chest.
Female human Sor8; CR8; Medium-size humanoid; HD 8d4+16; hp 36; Init +2 (Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+2 Dex, +1 ring of protection); Atk +6 melee (1d4+2/19-20, +2 dagger), or +8 ranged (1d4+2/19-20, +2 dagger), or +7 ranged (1d8/19-20, light crossbow); SA Spells; AL CN; SV Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +7; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 16. Height: 5'3".
Skills and Feats: Concentration +15, Hide +9, Knowledge (local) +7, Spellcraft +10; Combat Casting, Run, Skill Focus (Concentration), Skill Focus (Spellcraft).
Possessions: light crossbow with 20 bolts, +2 dagger, 3 potions of cure light wounds and 2 potions of cure critical wounds, +1 ring of protection.
Spells Known (6/7/7/6/3):
0 - daze, detect magic, detect poison, light, mage hand, mending, prestidigitation, read magic
1st - color spray, mage armor, magic missile, spider climb, unseen servant
2nd - arcane lock, darkvision, detect thoughts
3rd - dispel magic, hold person
4th - wall of ice
Each room in the inn is a potential repository for some forgotten note or message. There is a 30% chance that a room contains some hidden message. Finding a message requires a Search check (DC 30). To determine the content of written messages found in the inn, choose or roll 1d8 on this table (when a duplicate result turns up, substitute a variant of Message 1 or a DM's special):
- 1 "Meet at the usual place at moonrise, battle-ready. He's dead, but what we seek is missing."
- 2 "Tell the courtier with the long side-whiskers but no beard that Thauber seeks to buy more wine. The price he gives will be the room number. Go after dark, on the night after the day you get the courtier's answer. Weapons aren't allowed, but they can do nothing about spells or things of wood or strangle-cords carried concealed. Beware the tall one, who can change shape into a winged beast with claws and fangs. Their supply seems endless, but all who've tried to follow and learn whence it comes have been slain."
- 3 "Look for Maelra 'Moneyfingers' at The Blue Door, or Lassalan the Bowman at Gulorma's Roost of Gargoyles. Maelra's short, black hair, clever tongue, usually wears blue, corner table; Lassalan's tall, thin, usually plays at darts, and is missing the tips of the last two fingers on his right hand. They know who to send you to - but it'll be the wrong place unless you make sure to mention 'the black birds who tear up our gardens.'"
- 4 "Three magic rings and a sword that spits lightning - its commands and other powers we don't yet know. Hidden in the usual place, but the fourth statue this time."
- 5 "Down a broken drain-pipe on Sanger Street, third door down from the cobbler's shop. The place is watched."
- 6 "Her name is Aladorna, she owes me 3,000 gold, and the knife she wears in her bodice is poisoned with something that paralyzes. Look for the house with the white turret, and tell the guard that you've come for the 'wheel that needs fixing.' Don't try to go back out the way he'll let you in unless you like wearing crossbow bolts in your back."
- 7 "Blackbrows is the one. Beware: he has the magic already, and knows how to use it."
- 8 "Tansin and Gulder can show you where. The dragon must be dead by now. There's one trap on the well, but below it, the rest is filled up with gold."
Strange items abound in the Moonwyvern. Players have a 20% chance to find a hidden item every time they succeed at a DC 25 Search check. Possible hidden items include:
- Dagger with sheath and belt.
- Length of dark waxed cord (masterwork quality), affixed to grappling hook; cord length 1d12x10 feet
- Written message (create one or refer to "Found Messages" sidebar)
- Set of lockpicks in dark cloth carry-roll with many straps and buckles (for wearing around legs or arms under clothing)
- Spell scroll containing a single 1st-level spell of the DM's choice.
- Leather purse or wooden coffer containing 2d8 gp, 3d6 sp, 3d4 cp, plus a key, ring (plain), and a merchant's claim-token.
- Ring of keys
- Map to treasure or a meeting-place. The map is crude with a simple 'follow the lines' route plus warnings like "falling-blade trap, use pole," "key under sixth skeleton," "third step lifts up, door release lever under it."
Interesting items are hidden throughout the inn. Possible hiding places include:
- Hollow chair legs, above-bed canopies, or other pieces of furniture.
- Floorboards pull up to reveal storage below.
- Lintels above doors pull out to reveal hidden nooks.
- Ceiling-panels lift up into a cavity above and can be slid sideways.
- Concealed doors offer access to long, narrow storage niches.
- Door frames are hinged to swing open, offering ready access to stacked pull-out 'drawers' inside the wall.
- The trim above a door slides off to reveal thin hollows inside the door's top.
- Window-sills lift out to reveal storage cavities beneath.