Urban Dangers of Waterdeep
Although Waterdeep is largely civilized and its population comprised primarily of allied humanoids (humans, dwarves, elves, halflings, gnomes, and others), its dangers are not confined to the dungeons and sewers beneath the streets. Many sentient monstrous, races uniquely adapted for urban hunting dwell in and among the citizenry of Waterdeep, including doppelgangers, ghaunadans, greater doppelgangers, malaugryms, wererats, and vampires. Lesser predators and pests such as dweomervores, changesteed leucrottas, fihyrs, splinter waifs, and even wiloras are sometimes found in the city as well.
Other urban dangers are more localized, dealt with by the locals through avoidance rather than confrontation. Of course, if foolhardy PCs blunder into such a place and manage to dispatch the persistent threat, everyone benefits. If not, the attitude of the local citizenry and Watch contingent is usually "well at least it wasn't a neighbor who vanished."
Black Wagon Alley (EL 3)
Running east of Book Street to the north of Candle Lane, this narrow way leads to a warren of houses inhabited by the poor (including some thieves). City Watch patrols are often busy cutting away trip-wires and strangle-wires from its more easterly stretches. It is named for the ghostly apparition of a black plague-wagon, which sometimes meanders through the alley, slowly and silently, without horses or a driver. Anyone who encounters this haunting must make a DC 16 Fortitude save or catch cackle fever.
Black Well Court (EL 7)
Opening west off Book Street, across from the end of Drakiir Street, this cramped courtyard is known for its long-polluted well of black water. It serves as the meeting place for many gangs of street ruffians, thugs, and cultists. As such, it is regularly patrolled by the Guard and the Watch, who often find thugs, Dragon Cultists, or worshipers of Loviatar whipping an unfortunate victim kidnapped from somewhere nearby.
Rumors persist of something living in the well, coming out at night to snatch and feed on passersby. The rumors are true.
Qikna: Meazel rogue 1/assassin 2; CR 7; Medium monstrous humanoid; HD 4d8+4 plus 1d6+1 plus 2d6+1; hp 38; Init +7; Spd 30 ft; AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 14; Base Atk +5; Grp +7; Atk +9 melee (1d6+3/19-20, +1 short sword or +8 melee (1d4+2 and disease, claw) or +8 ranged (1d8/19-20, light crossbow); Full Atk +9 melee (1d6+3/19-20, +1 short sword) and +6 melee (1d4+l and disease, claw) or +8/+8 melee (1d4+2 and disease, 2 claws) or +8 ranged (1d8/19-20, light crossbow); SA death attack, disease, poison use, sneak attack +5d6; SQ darkvision 60 ft., evasion, trapfinding, uncanny dodge; AL CE; SV Fort +4, Ref +12, Will +4; Str 15, Dex 16, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 4.
- Skills and Feats: Disguise +1, Hide +13, Move Silently +13, Spot +2, Swim +6, Tumble +7; Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse.
- Death Attack (Ex): If Qikna studies a victim for 3 rounds and then makes a sneak attack with a melee weapon that successfully deals damage, the sneak attack has the additional effect of possibly either paralyzing or killing the target (Qikna's choice). If the victim of such an attack fails a DC 12 Fortitude save, he is paralyzed for 1d6+2 rounds or killed, as appropriate.
- Disease (Su): Claw attack, Fort DC 13, incubation time 1d6 days, damage 1d2 Dex and 1d2 Con per day. Any victim that takes ability damage must succeed on a DC 13 Fortitude save or take 1 point of Dexterity drain and 1 point of Constitution drain instead of the normal damage for the disease.
- Evasion (Ex): If Qikna is exposed to any effect that normally allows him to attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage, he takes no damage with a successful saving throw.
- Sneak Attack (Ex): Qikna does 5d6 extra points of damage on any successful attack against flat-footed or flanked targets, or against a target that has been denied its Dexterity bonus for any reason. This damage also applies to ranged attacks against targets up to 30 feet away. Creatures with concealment, creatures without discernible anatomies, and creatures immune to extra damage from critical hits are all immune to sneak attacks.
- Trapfinding (Ex): Qikna can find, disarm, or bypass traps with a DC of 20 or higher. He can use the Search skill to find, and the Disable Device skill to disarm, magic traps (DC 25 + the level of the spell used to create it). If his Disable Device result exceeds the trap's DC by 10 or more, he discovers how to bypass the trap without triggering or disarming it.
- Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Qikna retains his Dexterity bonus to AC even when flat-footed or targeted by an unseen foe. He still loses his Dexterity bonus if paralyzed or otherwise immobile.
Possessions: +1 studded leather armor, +1 short sword, light crossbow, 20 bolts, greenblood oil (3 doses).
Brindul Alley (EL 6)
This crescent-shaped alley lies between Sorn Street and River Street. It is a frequent haunt of a dangerous apparition, known as The Hand That Sings, which was seen more often near the docks in older days but has been in this new location for nearly two decades. The Hand appears to be an animated, severed human hand with a mouth in its palm - a strange apparition all too similar to the sign of cursed Moander, the ancient and evil god who never sleeps quite soundly enough. The Hand is said to snatch valuables it fancies - especially magic - when it encounters them, and to occasionally attack folk in the darkness, strangling them or tripping them into fatal falls. Most often, though, it seems to take no notice of those who do not bother or follow it, merely drifting along, eerily singing old and fragmentary Sword Coast ballads and love songs as it wanders through the night.
Unbeknownst to all, the Hand is actually a living combination of two spells: handfang and magic mouth. Fashioned by one of Halaster's apprentices long ago, it now wanders about Waterdeep, following the barely remembered dictates of its mad creator.
The Hand That Sings, Living Spell: CR 6; Medium ooze; HD 5d10; hp 32; Init +1; Spd 20 ft.; AC 14, touch 11, flat-footed 13; Base Atk +3; Grp +T; Atk +S melee (1d4+3, slam); Full Atk +5 melee (1d4+3, slam); Space/Reach 5 ft./5 ft.; SA engulf, spell effect; SQ damage reduction 10/magic, ooze traits, spell resistance 15; AL NE; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +2; Str 15, Dex 12, Con 15, Int -, Wis 12, Cha 15.
- Engulf (Ex): The Hand That Sings can flow around creatures' that fit within its space as a standard action. It cannot make a slam attack during a round in which it engulfs. The living spell merely has to move over the opponents, affecting as many as it can cover. Opponents can make attacks of opportunity against the Hand that Sings, but if they do so they are not entitled to a saving throw. Those who do not attempt attacks of opportunity must succeed on a DC 15 Reflex save or be engulfed; on a success, they are pushed back or aside (opponent's choice) as the spell moves forward. Engulfed creatures are subject to the full normal effect of the spell(s) each round on the living spell's turn, and are considered to be grappled.
- Spell Effect (Su): A creature hit by the slam attack of the Hand that Sings is subjected to the. normal effect of the spell or spells making up the creature, as if it were within the area or effect of the spell itself. Saves apply as normal for the spell (DC 15). The fanged, biting mouth deals 1d6 points of damage. With a successful DC 15 Reflex save, the victim takes only half damage, but if the target fails the Reflex save, the Hand that Sings automatically establishes a hold. Its teeth sink into the target's flesh and continue to bite for an extra 1d6 points of damage each round until the hold is broken or the spell ends. In addition, the fanged mouth delivers venom to a held foe, dealing 1d6 points of Constitution damage (initial and secondary) unless the target makes a successful DC 15 Fortitude save.
Reached from Chelor's Alley, this back-of-the-shops delivery route is always crowded with crates, barrels, and the like. By night, rats of both the human and rodent sort lurk here - where crates can easily be thrown or used to block the escape of surprised victims. This alley serves as the informal headquarters of the Plague Rats (see page 57) in the City of Splendors.
Lhestyn's court (EL 13)
Lhestyn's Court lies on the interior of the block of taverns and businesses bound on the south by Chasso's Trot and the High Road on the east. The main entrance to the Jhansczil Villa ($14) faces the northern side of the barely visible entrance to the dark court. Many wrongly assume this was the spot upon which the Masked Lady (Lhestyn Silmaeril) died, but those aware of their city history know this is the area where one of the battles against the Shadow Thieves occurred in the Year of the Pointed Bone (1298 DR). Lhestyn 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, the spirits of the slain remained here. They did not manifest fully for more than two decades, but they have been infrequently active since that time as greater shadows. The spirits never manifest within 2 hours of highsun or if a light source is present. The touch of these greater shadows leaves slash marks on a victim's body, the first of which always occurs on the right ankle. If a victim is slain by one of these shadows, the right foot falls off as if severed, a well-known calling card of the Shadow Thieves.
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 activi¬ties, whatever they might be. Over the decades, many political enemies of the local noble clans - especially the Jhansczils and Rosznars - have found themselves trapped in Lhestyn's Court after a disarming party at the nearby villa; such victims are often hemmed in the haunted locale until dead.
Greater Shadows (5): hp 58 each; see Shadow, Greater.
Pharra's Alley (EL 10)
This alleyway is named for the first magistress of The House of Wonder ($21), who died more than one hundred twenty years ago. It is a busy shortcut route used by merchants and their delivery carts, and is often crowded with would-be wizards coming to The House of Wonder hoping to hire on as an apprentice to a wizard. Some are anxious to impress everyone with their magic, or are just very, very nervous - and they have been known to let fly wildly with magic, endangering passersby.
They vanish hurriedly, though, when the Circle of Skulls appears. This spellhaunt (as wizards call it) is all that is left of some early priests of Mystra who tried to devise their own means of immortality and achieved only a lichlike state. These eerie skulls are always seen floating in a circle, arguing among themselves in hollow, echoing voices. They spit spells from their empty mouths or hurl beams of fire from their empty eye sockets when angered by those they encounter, but they are unpredictable and might help someone with information instead of attacking. They seem tied to Pharra's Alley, and they never appear anywhere else in the city (though the information they pass on indicates that they must be able to see and hear things in other parts of Waterdeep).
Flameskulls (9): hp 26 each; see Flameskull.
"The Prowl" (EL 4)
This short alley loops eastward off Alnethar Street, and through a side-spur, links up with Cymbril's Walk to the south. It provides rear access to a row of shops and a row of apartments in the center of the block Named for the acts of an eccentric nobleman who used to loose his pet panthers to stalk the alley, terrorizing the neighborhood (until one of the cats grew exasperated - or just hungry - one day and ate him), this otherwise unimportant alleyway is the favorite hunting-ground of a pair of skeletal hands that strangle folk from behind, leaving wither-scars where each finger presses deep into victims' throats. Some folk who have glanced into the alley at night but not entered have reported seeing two points of light, close together in the air, that resemble floating, glowing eyes.
This frightening killer doesn't strike often - four times a year, at most - and seems adept at evading detection whenever powerful wizards and priests come looking for it. No one is yet sure what it is - let alone how to destroy it. It seems to be active only in the hours of darkness, striking only in the alleyway, never at folk in buildings.
In truth, the killer is a dread, left behind with carefully crafted instructions by a long-departed evil wizard to torment his hated ex-neighbors.
Dread (Advanced, 6 HD): hp 39; see Dread.