Realms by Night: Part Nine

The Spirit of Ahghairon

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: Castle Ward, in the environs around Ahghairon's Tower (for initial manifestation)

The mage Ahghairon helped bring Waterdeep back from the chaos of the corrupt rule of the Lords Magister and truly make this place the City of Splendors. When he died, the city mourned for nearly a year, until evidence rose to prove the spirit of the aged wizard still watched over his children. Of all the hauntings and sightings throughout the city, more are attributed to Ahghairon than any other historical figure, although most in the know scoff at linking all of them to his presence.

One that is accepted without question, both due to its origins and its regularity, occurs every year at midnight on the 15th day of Ches. The magical fields around Ahghairon's Tower ripple and flash with color, and from its impenetrable walls comes a white great cloak once worn by Waterdeep's first Open Lord. It silently floats and flies about the city, its purpose known only to itself, and attempts to deter its flight by physical or magical means always fail. In its first hours of manifestation each year, the cloak is merely a phantom, untouchable by all and any powers, and it passes through crowds and chimneys alike, harmed not a whit by anything it encounters.

Eventually (before dawn and usually within three hours of its initial manifestation) the cloak settles onto the shoulders of its chosen bearer -- always a native of the city. That person's body hosts the spirit until the day ends at midnight. While the cloak remains in place, the host's eyes become pools of stars, and a hollow, male voice emanates from the person, regardless of normal tone. All in the city know to respect the bearer of Ahghairon's spirit and answer it as well as they are able.

While possessed, the cloak's bearer does all sorts of things, many of which leave few clues as to its true purpose. Bearers have sung songs long dead to bards in need of edification, aided in repairing the docks and warehouses, and cast defensive spells upon the roofs of various temples and festhalls. Some have simply settled into a tavern to listen to gossip or told bedtime stories to children in an orphanage. None have ever witnessed the selected bearer trying to resist the cloak's power, including once-possessed luminaries such as Maaril, Torias Wands, Anharla Harpell, and even Laeral Silverhand. If the cloak leaves its bearers with either reward or parting thoughts, none have told of such secrets, nor do any former bearers of the spirit lay claim to further knowledge of what lies within Ahghairon's Tower.

At the end of its 24-hour manifestation, the cloak simply dissolves into a mist of silver sparkles that drift swiftly toward the tower. Local lore calls the annual possession Ahghairon's way of keeping up with goings-on in the city; his cloak returns to him and records information in his journals. Many believe this cloak merely allows the wizard to prepare for his return to the city in its time of need.

Related Stories:

Many legends and rumors surround the Founder of Waterdeep, though few prove true when held up to scrutiny. Still, as with any city's favored son or legendary daughter, they're generated more from local pride than malice. Still, because Ahghairon's tower has remained sealed since his death, many speculate that many treasures (and more dangers) lie in wait within its walls. Others talk of spying various and sundry apparitions with links to Ahghairon, though these have yet to be substantiated by anyone of authority. Such tales include:

Ahghairon's Seal: The wizard's distinctive gold signet ring featuring the mark of the Lords of Waterdeep set in rubies floats about Castle Ward, punching lawbreakers and leaving the mark behind on their jaws.

The Dolphin Wands: Four spectral wands exclusively "patrol" -- or haunt -- the Street of the Singing Dolphins. Three remain tucked into an invisible belt, while the fourth is free to fire. It seems to fire only upon those not of Waterdeep, with a single effect: teleportation outside the North Gate.

Ahghairon's Path: A specific ghost walk calls out a favored path of the lord: a meandering stretch from his tower to the City of the Dead. Many say they hear his footsteps and the persistent hacking cough of his later years during the full moon.

DM's Notes

While none of the other reputed spirits of Ahghairon have been seen with enough frequency and accuracy to determine their abilities fully, the great cloak has made annual appearances since the time of its owner's death decades ago. Therefore, due to accounts by both witnesses and bearers, we have details on many of the abilities and powers of this minor artifact.

Ahghairon's Great Cloak

In many ways, this great cloak resembles and acts with all the abilities of a normal white robe of the archmagi. In addition to the powers described for it in Chapter 8 of the Dungeon Master's Guide, it can:

Fly 100 feet per round at will, bearing its wearer and up to 100 lbs. of additional material, with no seeming limits to the length of flight; Temporarily add the abilities of a 9th-level wizard to those of the wearer's actual class(es) and level(s); spells are chosen randomly; and Possess the wearer with its own intelligence. The cloak has its own mental scores (Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 15; Ego 24), alignment (Chaotic Good) and communicates via speech in Common, Dwarven, and Elven.

Caster Level: 19th; Weight: 1 lb.

Realms by Night Archive

(Intro) (Part 1) (Part 2) Part 3) (Part 4) (Part 5) (Part 6) (Part 7) (Part 8) (Part 9)