Realms by Night: Part Four
Every ghost has a sad tale to tell, but figuring out how to communicate without getting attacked by them is always the hard part. What were the circumstances around their death, and what will it take to release their tortured spirit? Join designer Steven Schend as he reveals ghosts from Waterdeep, the City of Splendors.
by Steven E. Schend
Typical Location: Sea Ward-Interior of block bound on the south by Chasso's Trot and the High Road on the east. The main entrance to the Jhansczil noble villa ($14/#103) faces the northern entrance to the barely visible entrance to the dark court.
This enclosed alleyway within the block of taverns and businesses has long been known as Lhestyn's Court, and many wrongly assume this was the spot upon which she died. While that rumor confuses many, those who know their city history know this area where one of the battles against the Shadow Thieves occurred in the Year of the Pointed Bone (1298 DR). The Masked Lady (Lhestyn Silmaeril) led more than four dozen Shadow Thieves into ambushes within this court and she and her hidden allies killed all of them over seven encounters spread across a tenday. While the Shadow Thieves were physically removed from the city after that tenday, those slain here remained in spirit. They did not manifest fully for more than two decades, but they have been infrequently active since that time.
This area is haunted by five violent spirits, but as little other than refuse and stray animals are in this court often, few pay it little mind. Anything less than a pound is whirled about the court as if caught within a wind, though this effect occurs even when the air in the streets around it is perfectly still. The danger of the haunted alley comes from its shadows - the five Shadow Thief ghosts have become literally that, as their forms are manifest by the shadows playing on the inner walls of the court. If anyone enters the court without a light source and it is not within two hours of highsun, the shadows (including the entrant's own shadow) swarm over the intruder and deal 1d4 points of slashing damage each (THAC0 8; 1d4 damage for each hit) until its death or retreat. The most prominent slash of all-which becomes a severing blow if the victim is slain-occurs first at the right ankle; this initial mark reveals the nature of the attackers, for the sites of failed Shadow Thieves activities were marked by one severed foot from a failed assassin or thief. Thus, they prepare for potential failures by marking the victims.
If a victim falls prey and dies from the ravenous shadow-ghosts of Lhestyn's Court, the body always lies with its head just visible under the slim archway leading into the court. All victims dead or merely wounded have their shirts ripped open and other slashes form a pattern on their chests - a deep slash across the chest that pierces the eyehole of a mask-the mark of the Shadow Thieves. Many political enemies of the local noble clans - especially the Jhansczils and Rosznars - over the decades found themselves trapped in Lhestyn's Court after a disarming party at the nearby villa, where they often were hemmed in until dead.
DM's Notes: This is a quiet place in which ruthless nobles dispose of "problems," and the PCs might just earn themselves an escort here if they displease the more amoral nobles in their activities, whatever they might be. Priests can turn the ghosts herein as shadows, but the duration they are held at bay is halved. Only magical weapons of +2 or greater enchantments can affect the Shadow Thief ghosts here, and while dealing 10 points of damage or more to each one will temporarily disable the shadow-being, it will regenerate despite all other precautions and be back at full strength (and full despair) within 24 hours until damage continues and is constant.
Realms by Night Archive