The Deepwinter Vault was a mausoleum in the City of the Dead in Waterdeep that belonged to the defunct noble Deepwinter family. It was also one of the entrances to the former lair of Artor Morlin, the vampire lord of Waterdeep, and was the reason his subterranean structure was called the Dungeon of the Crypt.
The City of the Dead was a sprawling walled cemetery on the eastern edge of Waterdeep. The Deepwinter Vault was located in the northern part of the cemetery near the wall that separated the burial grounds from Zendulth Street, set back from the main path by a short walkway.
Deepwinter Vault was approximately 90 feet (27 meters) square with two large wooden doors bound in iron in the center of the south wall, atop a wide, shallow staircase of five steps. As of the Year of Wild Magic, 1372 DR, the one-story white marble structure showed signs of age with cracked masonry, lichen stains, and ivy-covered walls. The ivy hid carvings of landscapes covered in deep snow and the doors had broken locks and stood slightly ajar.
The double doors led into a grand chamber the full width of the structure and about 25 feet (7.6 meters) deep. Its walls were filled with stone frescoes that revealed scenes of Deepwinter triumphs interspersed with symbols of the church of Auril. At any time of the year, the walls were coated with a thin film of ice and minor icicles hung from the ceiling—the remnants of a magical trap placed on the room in the days when the Deepwinters still thrived—that kept the room temperature at 32 ℉ (0 ℃). Around the perimeter of the room were at least thirty short pillars once used as pedestals for displaying family heirlooms, but by 1372 DR most of them had been vandalized by treasure hunters looking for hidden caches. In the center of the floor was the crest of the Deepwinter family, a snow-capped mountain with a large, stylized snowflake above and to the left of the peak. The only other exit was a narrow door in the center of the north wall.
The middle third of the mausoleum was filled with individual crypts. A 5‑foot-wide (1.5‑meter) passage led from the forechamber to the Hall of the Patriarch and 10 feet (3 meters) down this corridor were two narrow passages that branched off to the left and right containing the resting places of the Deepwinters. The tombs were once sealed with stone plaques marking the name of the noble and their death year in Northreckoning, but by 1372 DR most of the seals were broken and scattered on the floor along with bones from the ransacked tombs.
Hall of the Patriarch
About 20 feet (6.1 meters) beyond the intersection with the crypt walk was the grand Hall of the Patriarch. The room was about 30 feet (9.1 meters) deep by 45 feet (14 meters) wide with a large stone sarcophagus sitting on a raised altar in the center. Openings to similar but smaller tombs exited the room through the center of the east and west walls. More crypts lined the south wall of all three chambers.
The lid of the main sarcophagus was carved with the outline of a human in full armor and helm, clutching a greatsword to its chest and covered in snow, with the head to the east and feet to the west. The lid could be moved easily on hidden tracks toward the feet until the coffin was two-thirds open. It contained the desecrated skeleton of a Deepwinter patriarch and nothing else. If the lid was positioned only 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) from fully closed, it allowed the entire sarcophagus to be rotated until the head of the effigy on the lid pointed north. This revealed a narrow stair going down and west for 20 feet (6.1 meters) and then turning north and widening out to a long stone stairway 10 feet (3 meters) wide that descended some 200 feet (61 meters) vertically and 500 feet (150 meters) horizontally (well under Mhalsymber's Way on the surface) to the foyer of the Dungeon of the Crypt.
Despite the fact that nothing of much value was left in the mausoleum from the original owners, it was apparent that the building got frequent but irregular traffic. The coldness of the forechamber tended to prevent any visitors or gatherings from staying more than a brief time. During the day when the City of the Dead was open to the public, entering the structure likely caused any onlookers to mutter about "tomb robbers", and exiting the building sometimes attracted the attention of curious children that wanted scary tales or trinkets. At night, the City was closed and patrolled, but this did not stop any number of clandestine organizations from entering or exiting the Dungeon of the Crypt.
As of 1372 DR, the wards on the Deepwinter Vault had mostly faded away because no one renewed them. The chilling effect in the forechamber was the last breath of an ancient trap set for intruders.
The resting place for the noble Deepwinter family was built in the Year of the Gilded Cormorant, 1129 DR when the clan had great wealth and influence. Unbeknownst to them, the surveyor they hired to place the vault was under the domination of the vampire Artor Morlin and he used his influence to get the structure built over the entrance to his extensive underground lair and then killed anyone who had knowledge of it.
- Eric L. Boyd (October 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Crypt”. Dungeon #127 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 66.
- Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Campaign Guide”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 10. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
- Inside cover included in Ed Greenwood (1987). Waterdeep and the North. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-88038-490-5.
- Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Campaign Guide”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 9. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
- Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 102. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- Eric L. Boyd (October 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Crypt”. Dungeon #127 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 65.
- Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 101, 104. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- Jason Bulmahn, Eric L. Boyd, Keith Baker, Philip Larwood (October 2005). Dungeon #127 Map & Handout Supplement (PDF). Paizo Publishing. p. 17. Archived from the original on 2009-07-11. Retrieved on 2020-11-17.
- Eric L. Boyd (October 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Crypt”. Dungeon #127 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 67.
- Eric L. Boyd (October 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Crypt”. Dungeon #127 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 68.
- Eric L. Boyd (October 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Crypt”. Dungeon #127 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 63.