Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Neighborhood at the Corner of Craft Street and Wagon Way; Part I

Every intrepid explorer needs a place to rest his weary bones at the end of a long adventure. The neighborhood at the corner of Craft Street and Wagon Way might offer such a destination. This article and the three that follow will present four abodes that a Player Character might call home. Taken as a whole, they will provide a dynamic base of operations that will evolve as the PCs exert their influence over the area.

Building A - Small Home with Loft
The Neighborhood
     This small house is comprised of a living room, kitchen, pantry and a loft that can function as a master bedroom. The loft overlooks the living room and is accessible via a flight of stairs. Two fireplaces - one in the living room and another in the kitchen - provide plenty of heat. Because the house is freestanding  it is rather quiet. The character who lives here pays 6 gp per month in rent.

     The landlord is a retired merchant named Bacchus Crane. He is a rotund, red-faced man, who cares little about what happens at the house as long as it doesn't burn down and the rent is paid on time.

     The house is not in very good shape. The wood shingles on the roof need replacing, so it leaks when it rains. The plaster on the exterior requires patching and the whole place could use some paint. It also looks as if the front and back doors have been kicked in a few times, judging by the numerous repairs.

     The previous occupant was a rather sleazy individual. The man, Shamus Kole, was a seller of White. White is a sticky, tar-like substance that is smoked, usually in a pipe. It is a debilitating narcotic that causes its user to lapse into a languid state where time slows to a crawl. White is not addictive, but its users tend to be overly fond of the effect it has on them.

Building A
     Shamus was forced to flee the house a few weeks ago when a local gang of toughs demanded a cut of his profits. He refused, so they kicked in his door one night and beat him badly. He fled into the night, leaving behind a cache of gold. It is hidden in a secret space under the stairs. A character who takes the time to thoroughly search the house will find the hiding place and its 75 gold coins. Races adept at noticing secret and concealed doors might note its presence without an exhaustive investigation.

Encounter at the House
     One afternoon, there will be a pounding on the front door. As the character moves to answer the door, he will also hear the back door being rattled. If the character answers the front door, a stern-faced woman with black hair tied into two braids will be on the doorstep. Her name is Nicole and she wears a scowl as her hands rest on her hips, quite close to the grips of her short sword and dagger.
Dan Smith illustration

     "Who are you and where's Shamus?" she'll spit.

     Near her, just a few steps away, is an ugly tough named Recks. His nose looks as if it's been flattened one too many times and he’s missing a few teeth. Tucked under his left armpit is a pair of brass knuckles, which he is wearing on his right hand. He seems like the kind of man who is very comfortable with violence.

     At the back door is an overweight, slovenly man in a stained tunic. His name is Roger and he loves to smoke White and drift away into a haze of food and sleep. Despite his numerous bad habits, Roger is a skilled rogue. Of the three scoundrels present, he actually quite likable and doesn't like violence.

     These three lovelies are members of the Thieves Guild. In Baldur's Gate the Guild of Thieves is divided into numerous, small cadres, crews and gangs. This particular group is known as Hargor’s Men, so named for their leader, Hargor Durn. Nicole, Recks and Roger are at the PC’s doorstep because they want to know where Shamus went. They are still determined to bring him into the fold, forcibly if need be.

     This encounter is important since the PCs will no doubt have frequent dealings with Hargor’s Men if they remain in the neighborhood. The two groups will have to learn to coexist. If the PCs are uncomfortable about living in close proximity to thugs and cut purses, they will have to accept that Baldur's Gate is a rough city. Rogues - and worse - are everywhere.

     Stat blocks for the three callers can be found below.

Nicole, Female Human, Fighter 2; Armor Class: 9 (Dex bonus), Hit Dice: 2d10, Hit Points: 11, THAC0: 19 (18 with short sword), No. of Attacks: 3/2 (short sword) or 1 (dagger),  Damage: 1d6+1 (shortsword) or 1d4 (dagger), Alignment: Lawful Evil, Move: 12

Strength: 10, Dexterity: 15, Constitution: 12, Intelligence: 10, Wisdom: 10, Charisma: 13

Saving Throws: Parlayzation, Poison, Death Magic: 14, Rod, Staff, Wand: 16, Petrification or Polymorph: 15, Breath Weapons: 17, Spell 17

Equipment: Short sword, dagger, 5 gp

Recks, Male Human, Fighter 3; Armor Class: 9 (Dex bonus), Hit Dice: 3d8, Hit Points: 21, THAC0: 16 (brass knuckles) or 17 (dagger), No. of Attacks: 3/2 (brass knuckles) or 1 (dagger),  Damage: 1d3+3 (brass knuckles) or 1d4+1 (dagger), Alignment: Neutral Evil, Move: 12

Strength: 17 (+1 to hit/damage), Dexterity: 12, Constitution: 16 (+2 hit points), Intelligence: 8, Wisdom: 9, Charisma: 9

Saving Throws: Parlayzation, Poison, Death Magic: 13, Rod, Staff, Wand: 15, Petrification or Polymorph: 14, Breath Weapons: 16, Spell 16

Equipment: Brass Knuckles, dagger, 3 gp

Note: See pp. 97-98 in the Player's Handbook for details on unarmed combat, Recks' preferred fighting style.  

Roger, Male Human, Thief 3; Armor Class: 9 (Dex bonus), Hit Dice: 3d6, Hit Points: 10, THAC0: 19, No. of Attacks: 1, Damage: 1d4 (dagger), Alignment: Neutral, Move: 12

Strength: 10, Dexterity: 15, Constitution: 11, Intelligence: 12, Wisdom: 9, Charisma: 9

Thief Skills: Pick Pockets: 20%, Open Locks: 65%, Find/Remove Traps: 35%, Move Silently: 35%, Hide in Shadows: 25%, Detect Noise: 30%, Climb Walls: 70%, Read Languages: 0%

Saving Throws: Parlayzation, Poison, Death Magic: 13, Rod, Staff, Wand: 14, Petrification or Polymorph: 12, Breath Weapons: 16, Spell 15

Equipment: Thieves tools, dagger, 8 gp, 3 doses of White, pipe

Notes: His backstab damage multiplier is x2.

Further Developments at the House
     One day while the character is relaxing, he will hear the doorknob on the back door being rattled. Attempting to force his way in is Shamus, the former occupant of the home. He is a thin, pale fellow who appears to be very stressed. He's rather panicked as he begins to speak rapidly.

     "Uh, hello. I'm Shamus and I used to live here and I need to come in because I left something behind. It's really important and I don't have a lot of time, so please let me in so I can get what I need and leave, okay?"

     Shamus is hoping to retrieve his 75 gp. If he is denied access or if the PC has already discovered the coins, yet refuses to turn them over, Shamus will make a veiled threat about coming back later with some friends. He does not wish to spend a lot of time at the house as he is afraid that some of Hargor's Men might spot him.

Shamus, Male Human, Lvl 0; Armor Class: 10, Hit Dice: 1d6, Hit Points: 3, THAC0: 20, No. of Attacks: 1, Damage: 1d2 (fist), Alignment: Neutral, Move: 12

Strength: 10, Dexterity: 11, Constitution: 10, Intelligence: 9, Wisdom: 9, Charisma: 9

Saving Throws: Paralyzation, Poison, Death Magic: 16, Rod, Staff, Wand: 18, Petrification or Polymorph: 17, Breath Weapons: 20, Spell 19

Equipment: 1 gp, 2 doses of White, pipe

     Finally, where is the cellar? Most houses in Baldur's Gate have cellars, so the PC who lives here might wonder where it is. A character with the Carpentry nonweapon proficiency will notice that the floorboards in the pantry appear to be newer and of different wood that the flooring around it.

     Further investigation will reveal that there used to be a trapdoor in the spot. Perhaps it was once the access point for the cellar? If so, why was it covered? What could be down there that would prompt the house's owner, Bacchus Crane, to have it concealed?


  1. I originally wrote this selection for Loviatar no. 1, but wanted to revise and present it here. Pigeon Street was such a lively destination for the PCs in my campaign, so I hoped to somehow integrate it with all the NPCs I've been presenting lately. Parts II-IV will appear over the next few days.

  2. Replies
    1. Will do, brother. Working on 2e Sword Coast material feels like coming home in a way. :) I hope you are doing well.

  3. Like this a lot. Will probably incorporate some of these into one of my campaigns. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I hope you like it. All four buildings provided us a surprising amount of mileage. Years ago I got into the idea of location-based campaign that utilized relationship webs to drive the story. This neighborhood was my first D&D expression of that thinking.

      In unrelated news, can you still believe it's boardshort weather?