Realms by Night: (Intro)
A Ghost Walk in Waterdeep
by Steven E. Schend
You find yourself faced with a slim man of middling years, his face cracked and lined by years of sun, worry, and hard work. He leans heavily on a gnarled cane which he raps on the cobblestones to punctuate his points or gather attention, depending on his audience. His clothes and manners mark him as a commoner of the merchant class, though his knowledge and etiquette span surprisingly far for one of his bearing. He clears his throat as the crowd gathers round, and begins . . .
"So you think you know all there is to know about our fair city, do you? That's the beauty of Waterdeep - there's always something new for even decades-long natives to learn. I'd fairsay that e'en the Blackstaff hisself knows not all the secrets whispered in the dark about its every court and alley. And the secrets we're here to learn of tonight are ghosts.
"Aye, there are nearly as many specters and phantoms and apparitions about the city as there are living souls in Castle Ward. No, lad, not all of them mill about the City of the Dead, neither. If they did, why would our walk to meet said spirits begin under the shadow of Ahghairon's Tower itself? The ghosts of Waterdeep take on many forms and they tell many a tale, though most are tragic or terrible, for such is the nature of spooks. Still, there are those we may meet tonight who have walked Kelemvor's Halls and yet return to the Street of the Singing Dolphin as well, and their reasons for walking are as varied as the coins in a guildmaster's purse.
"Who am I who knows so much of spirits and specters and things that go bump in the night? I am called Taloc Sailson, though many call me "the Ghost-Seeker." For three generations, my family has had one child with the Sight to see and hear ghosts, whether they are visible to others or no. It is our curse and our gift, for while we must see, we cannot always help. I hope that there are those among you who, in learning of these ghosts I shall show you, may gain understanding and help the deceased find a way either to simple peace or final rest.
"You have all paid Mari, then? All right, gentles, let us be off to learn of the spectres of Splendors . . ."
Each of the ghosts below begins with a typical quote the player characters might overhear about the ghost or an answer they might get if they inquire about it. The location, basics of the ghost's appearance, and typical activities and its legend or tale follow. Then related stories or additional ghosts or famous events are told with their ties to the ghost. Finally, some entries have notes for the Dungeon Master with hints on how to work these ghosts into game campaigns in Waterdeep.
While we'll hear no more from Taloc "Ghost-Seeker" in these stories, rest assured that he and others like him do skulk about Waterdeep and many other cities by night, escorting their clients about in carriages or on foot to find the many areas where the afterlife and nightlife intertwine. All are accomplished storytellers, as one must be to keep the attentions of your clients in a place of distractions such as Waterdeep. This is not as difficult a task as some may see it, as, after all, even those whose lives are spent among wizards and dragons and shining knights enjoy a well-told tale with a touch of the supernatural. While sometimes seen as rude or disrespectful of the dead, the ghost hunts of Waterdeep (or Velen or Suzail, as we will see in the future) have been lucrative for a few of the independent carters and carriage operators about town, and the interest is best during the heights of trade season with many nonnative visitors. Should the few "ghost hunters" continue to profit, some guildmasters about town may look into adopting the trade into their guilds, especially the carters.
About the Author
Born in Wisconsin in 1967, Steven Schend fell into the world of fantasy quite quickly, growing up on L. Frank Baum's Oz books and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan and Barsoom novels. From 1990 to this year, Steven has been with TSR/Wizards of the Coast. He began his career as an editor and worked on a multitude of projects including the D&D Cyclopedia. By 1994 he had found his home as a designer in the Forgotten Realms. and he's enjoyed swapping tall tales with Elminster and company ever since, as well as his recent entry into the science fiction worlds of the Alternity game system and the wild game world of Marvel Comics. Steven has written more than 50 game products and magazine articles, as well as one published short story, though he now makes vague attempts at playwriting and screenplays as well.
Realms by Night Archive