The Fireplace Level was a large underground complex of rooms initially built by the noble Gost family of Waterdeep for storage and movement of goods in secret. It was eventually abandoned and forgotten by most surface dwellers after it became the home of a number of ghosts. The vampire lord of Waterdeep, Artor Morlin, later claimed it as one of his lairs. It was named by the Company of Crazed Venturers when they discovered an entrance to it via a fireplace flue located in the Dungeon of the Crypt.
- 1 Location
- 2 Structure
- 3 History
- 4 Appendix
This complex of rooms was excavated out from beneath the Gost family villa and an adjacent warehouse (that eventually became the Grinning Lion tavern), about 100 feet (30 meters) below the surface. The Gost villa was located in the North Ward on the northwest corner of the intersection of Golden Serpent Street and Geltoon Street.
In the Year of the Black Wind, 1262 DR, or shortly thereafter, the entire underground structure was warded to prevent the escape of ghosts. The "Ghost Cage" was a rectangular parallelepiped that surrounded the Fireplace Level beyond the outer walls, comprised of walls of force that overlapped with no gaps except at the three exits. These walls existed on both the Ethereal plane and the Material plane and formed a box approximately 145 ft (44.2 m) by 240 ft (73 m) and of sufficient height (at least 40 ft (12 m)) to encompass the floors and ceilings. The three Material plane exits were warded with ghostbane traps—a combination of alarm and antipathy spells that automatically reset if triggered.
The entire complex was carved out of the granite upon which Waterdeep sat. Interior walls were typically 1‑foot (0.3‑meter) thick and made of masonry, with doors made from solid oak 1 in (25 mm) thick. The doors were reinforced with metal bracing and each had a 1‑foot-square (0.3‑meter) steel inlay depicting the the coiled snake motif that was the Gost family insignia. Careful examination revealed a small hole that connected the mouths of the snakes on either side of the door. Each doorway was crowned with a semicircular arch.
Entrances & Exits
There were three physical passages through the walls of force, each 5 ft (1.5 m) wide and about 12 ft (3.7 m) high, warded on the Ethereal plane against ghosts. On the Ethereal plane, the gaps were 10 ft (3 m) wide. The northernmost passage was a long stone staircase without handrails that led up to the basement of the Gost villa. It was guarded by the floating permanent image of a stern human male face about 6 ft (1.8 m) tall that bellowed a warning to anyone that approached it. The face was recognizable as that of Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun, although he had no part in its creation. It was placed here by the patriarch of the Gost family in the Year of the Catacombs, 1308 DR, to frighten off possible intruders to their villa when they sealed up and abandoned the place. All records of this staircase were expunged and it was eventually forgotten by surface-dwellers. Artor Morlin made certain it stayed forgotten while he was in residence.
Passing through the floating visage tripped one of two traps unless the transgressor was bearing the badge of House Gost. The first was a forcecage that surrounded the victim and then summoned a hamatula into the forcecage with them. The second trap attempted to place feeblemind on the victim and then cast them into a maze.
About 50 ft (15 m) to the west (as the xorn flies) was another staircase that connected an old storeroom to the Stairs of the Lion beneath the Grinning Lion tavern. The stairs were concealed behind a secret door in the west wall of the storeroom, then turned north and ascended at least 70 ft (21 m) of vertical distance. At some point the stairs turned east and emerged under the bottom three steps of the Stairs of the Lion, which served as a trapdoor. In the Year of Wild Magic, 1372 DR, Unger Farshal, the proprietor of the Grinning Lion, used this passage to get to the Dungeon of the Crypt and then down to Skullport where he procured drugs such as mordayn powder to sell in Waterdeep.
The third entrance to the complex was in the southeast corner where a 40 ft (12 m) east-west corridor led to a portal the Gosts used for smuggling various beasts into Waterdeep from the Wormwrithings northeast of Blingdenstone. This corridor ended in what appeared to be a stone-filled archway but was in fact not a bricked-up arch but the portal.
The walls and ceiling of the passage bulged outwards and the stone masonry was cracked and crushed where a purple worm came through the portal and was caught in the temporal stasis trap triggered by the large symbol of House Gost engraved in the floor. The Company of Crazed Venturers discovered the frozen beast in the Year of the Gate, 1341 DR, while pursuing Artor Morlin up the flue of a fireplace in the Dungeon of the Crypt. The sudden appearance of a gargantuan creature in a space too small to accommodate it had opened up a fissure (big enough for a medium-sized creature to squeeze through) that connected the hall of shattered stone to the flue. After exploring this new discovery, they managed to remove the suspended purple worm and then Khelben cast gate seal on the portal "for the security of the city" before the Company returned to the surface. Despite the seal, any magic used or cast in the hallway partially activated the portal, as evidenced by a silvery shimmer in the archway. This alerted a pair of giant portal drakes that laired on the other side and could portal jump into the corridor while the portal was active.
Somewhere in this complex was the original portal to the southern Forlorn Hills that the Gosts used to quickly transport goods to the Delimbiyr Vale, or perhaps it was part of a network that included the Wormwrithings portal.
Unger Farshal's Storeroom
This 30‑foot-square (9.1‑meter) room connected to the stair under the Stairs of the Lion via a secret door in the west wall. In the north wall was a small door to another storeroom and in the center of the south wall was a steel-reinforced oak door that bore the Gost insignia. In 1372 DR, the room was dominated by a floating stone helmet some 8 ft (2.4 m) in diameter in the southeast corner. This solid piece of greenish-brown stone had its eye sockets covered with shiny mithral and was used as a coffin by Artor's chosen spawn, Medechai. Each eye had a small 1‑inch-diameter (2.5‑centimeter) hole in it that allowed the medusa-turned-vampire to access the hollow space behind the eyes via her gaseous form.[note 1] Against the west wall, next to the secret entrance, Unger had an old wooden table and chair where he sometimes parceled out the mordayn powder into packets for individual sale.
Through the south door was a 50‑foot (15‑meter) passage that ended in another door. Through this door was a 35‑foot (11‑meter) by 30‑foot (9.1‑meter) storage room with exits to the south and east. At the halfway point of the passage was a 10‑foot (3‑meter) alcove to the east and another door.
Chamber of the Beast Cages
The alcove door opened into a long, 90‑foot (27‑meter) by 30‑foot (9.1‑meter) hall with a rounded ceiling. Down the center of the room were five cages, each 10‑foot-square (3‑meter) and 5 ft (1.5 m) apart, with walls that reached from floor to ceiling and a 5‑foot (1.5‑meter) door facing south. In the far northeast corner was large pile of coal more than 20 ft (6.1 m) high that emitted a soft glow of burning embers. Exits to the room included double doors in the north and south walls. In 1372 DR, the westernmost cage had a broken lock and contained the bones of an owlbear and a gaunt vampiric illithid that wailed pitifully and laid in a fetal position to disguise its nature until approached by a potential victim. The creature was bound to the room by a special binding spell. This is one of a number of vampiric creatures Artor Morlin keeps for defense and study.
The other four cages were the home of the Gundwynd ghosts. When they were not roaming about, they could be seen moaning or rattling the bars in the cage where they died, still dressed in noble-born finery. They wanted nothing but revenge on the descendants of Lord Geldirth Gost II and attempted to barter with any living person that was not immediately hostile. They knew the location of Artor's coffin on the Ethereal plane and offered to temporarily possess the visitor and take them there. However, they did not negotiate in good faith. The only way the ghosts could escape from the Fireplace Level was by possessing a living creature that could pass through one of the ghostbane traps, and they would stop at nothing to get out and finally find peace in retribution on the Gosts. (Alternatively, if a living member of House Gost were brought before them, a ghost could win their eternal rest by slaying them.) If negotiations failed, they attacked in desperation, knowing that even if they were banished they would return in less than a tenday.
The pile of coal was fodder for Bloodfire, the cauchemar nightmare steed that served Artor Morlin. The coals burned very slowly on the Ethereal plane. Bloodfire roamed the Fireplace Level when not eating here or carrying Artor someplace.
This east-west corridor was 80 ft (24 m) long with doors at both ends and a door on the south wall at the midpoint. Diagonally across from the south door was the passage to the Chamber of the Beast Cages. The western door connected to the storeroom that was south of Unger Farshal's Storeroom. The southern door opened onto a 20‑foot (6.1‑meter) passage to another door and the Chamber of the Chalice (see below). The east door led to a 20‑foot (6.1‑meter) by 35‑foot (11‑meter) storage room that (in 1372 DR) was a prison for a blood fiend.
Blood Fiend Prison
The blood fiend trapped in this room was another of Artor Morlin's menagerie of vampiric creatures. It was contained in this room by a hedged prison version of a binding spell. Thrown in with it was a dretch that the blood fiend played with (that is, viciously tortured) for fun and blood. The room was barren and the floor was covered in a thick layer of dust. Dark stains could be seen in places. In the southwest corner of the room was a door to a small 20‑foot (6.1‑meter) by 15‑foot (4.6‑meter) storage room. The south wall was interrupted by a 45‑foot (14‑meter) corridor that led to another storage room that connected to the Wormwrithings hall and fireplace flue.
Chamber of the Chalice
This 30‑foot (9.1‑meter) by 40‑foot (12‑meter) room contained the detritus of decades worth of commerce, from broken crates to broken bottles, and a central pedestal made of white marble. Above the pedestal floated a gem-encrusted chalice to entice would-be thieves. This trap was placed here by the Gost family and Artor Morlin let it stand for his amusement. The pedestal, chalice, and ceiling were all part of a permanent image that triggered the trap if any of them were touched. Above the illusory ceiling was a wall of force that held huge gold ingots that were formed by a major creation spell and replenished when they dissolved. Touching the illusion temporarily made the wall of force vanish and the massive gold bricks then fell on everyone in the room with devastating effect. When the gold vanished, the trap reset.
The double door in the north wall of this room accessed a short passage to the central hallway. There were single doors in the center of the other three walls. To the east was a passage that turned south and connected to the same storage room as the corridor south of the blood fiend prison. The west door opened into a 20‑foot (6.1‑meter) corridor and a door to the Hall of Gibbering Madness. To the south was another 30‑foot (9.1‑meter) by 25‑foot (7.6‑meter) storage room.
Hall of Gibbering Madness
This 40‑foot (12‑meter) by 35‑foot (11‑meter) room was accessible through a door in the northeast corner that led to the Chamber of the Chalice, or by a door in the center of the north wall that opened on a 25‑foot (7.6‑meter) corridor that connected to the storage room south of Unger Farshal's storeroom. In 1372 DR, the floor of this old storage room was a sand pit with the consistency of quicksand. On the south wall was a door to another small storage room.
This room was the home of a large vampiric gibbering mouther that Artor captured during Halaster's Higharvestide. Artor somehow ascertained that the creature had been turned into a vampire by the will of Ghaunadaur while it dwelled in the Caverns of Ooze, so he added it to his collection of creatures to study and named it the Blood of Ghaunadaur. The creature gibbered at the first sign of life it detected, causing confusion, and attacked. It could transform itself into an ooze, summon other oozes to its aid, spit acidic saliva, turn the ground to quicksand, and swallow beings whole. The sandpit in this room was the Blood of Ghaunadaur's coffin.
Chamber of the Pool
This 70‑foot-square (21‑meter) chamber was behind the big double doors in the north wall of the Chamber of the Beast Cages. In 1372 DR, it was filled with dirty water that was nearly opaque. Rainwater drained here through various pipes and an overflow drain to the Underdark kept the level constant. The south door opened onto a 15‑foot-wide (4.6‑meter) landing above the waterline. On the opposite wall was another such landing, 10 ft (3 m) wide, that bisected a stone staircase that led down into the water and up to the Gost villa (warded by the image of Khelben Arunsun). The ceiling was nearly 40 ft (12 m) high and the water was deep enough to hide seven giant clam shells from all but the very perceptive.
This cavernous room was the home of another of Artor's spawn, Arrick Kaarvol, a formidable merman and priest of Umberlee, and his six merfolk vampire spawn. The giant clam shells served as coffins for this pod of bloodthirsty undead. Arrick kept the room warded with unhallow specifically tuned to protection from electricity. Arrick was charged with keeping trespassers from finding and entering either of the two portals in this room.
The first portal was a silvery shimmering curtain below the waterline about 10 ft (3 m) from the east wall, facing west. The curtain was of sufficient size to allow a large creature to pass, but deactivated for eighteen seconds each time a single creature went through. The curtain was a two-way portal to the Ethereal plane and the primary way Artor Morlin traveled to and from his coffin. The other portal was an innocuous stone archway that was filled in with bricks located in the southwest corner of the room. The key to this one-way portal was Artor's double-bladed sword Shoonfangs and it took the bearer to the catacombs beneath Morlin Castle (ruins upon which Castle Daggerford was later built)—Artor's escape route of last resort.
Lair of the Blood Baron
Artor Morlin's coffin was located on the Ethereal plane roughly in the southwest corner of the Hall of Gibbering Madness. It could be reached by using the shimmering curtain in the Chamber of the Pool and navigating through the Ethereal, or by other magical means of shifting to the transitive plane, such as ethereal jaunt, plane shift, cloak of etherealness, etc., but only inside the Ghost Cage. The room was filled with a thick, sloping web that appeared to be anchored to points in the solid part of the Prime Material plane. In the center of the web was a sarcophagus made of black marble with an ornately carved lid that resembled a male warrior in the prime of life, with thick braided hair and a grim visage, holding a distinct double-bladed sword. The lid was part of the coffin and could not be moved. A small hole in the pommel of the sword allowed access to Artor in gaseous form.
Suspended in the web with the coffin was one of three huge phase spiders that took turns guarding it—the other two lurked nearby. Unknown victims from the surface world could be seen cocooned in the surrounding webbing used as breeding husks for the spider's eggs. Beneath the webs were various coffers and chests that held some of Artor's accumulated treasure.
The Fireplace Level was built in the Year of Prideful Tales, 1219 DR, by Lord Geldirth Gost to facilitate his scheme for moving goods via portal and outmaneuvering competitors, as well as smuggling and dealing in prohibited cargo. The portal network was expanded in the Year of Many Monsters, 1233 DR, by Lord Harthar Gost to allow exotic beasts to be brought in for discerning clients. Problems with keeping the portal network secure led Lord Harthar to negotiate an arrangement with the Gundwynd clan to deliver goods via hippogriff when necessary. Harthar's son, Lord Geldirth II, fell in with the Shadow Thieves and then betrayed the Gundwynds in the Year of the Black Wind, 1262 DR, hiring assassins to kill or capture the entire family that resided in Waterdeep. He left the survivors of the raid to starve in the Chamber of the Beast Cages but their ghosts came back for revenge. Desperate for protection, he traded his stake in the Shadow Thieves for the services of Marune the Masked, a powerful necromancer, who constructed the Ghost Cage.
In the Year of the Catacombs, 1308 DR, a purple worm bumbled through the Wormwrithings portal and was trapped in temporal stasis—its bulk crushed and cracked the stone around the hallway, opening a fissure that connected to the flue of a fireplace down in the Dungeon of the Crypt. The Gosts abandoned their smuggling den, sealed up the entrance in the cellar of their villa, and expunged all evidence of its existence from the family records. At the time, Artor Morlin was the primary occupant of the Dungeon of the Crypt and used the flue as a way to reach the surface. He discovered the Fireplace Level and moved his coffin into it. In the Year of the Gate, 1341 DR, the Company of Crazed Venturers attacked Morlin in the Dungeon of the Crypt and followed him up the flue to what they dubbed the Fireplace Level. Morlin escaped detection but the Company got help from Blackstaff Tower to turn the purple worm into solid silver and then transported it away. Khelben himself sealed the portal that allowed the beast into the hallway.
Artor Morlin unsealed the entrance to the Gost villa and took on the guise of Delinth Oberlin, the Gost family's seneschal. Over decades he earned the full trust of the Gosts and was able to keep a backup coffin in the cellar and prevent any discovery of it or the secret entrance to the Fireplace Level. In addition, Morlin enthralled Lord Djarrus Gost, patriarch of the family in the 1370s DR, and pushed him to become an anti-vampire crusader, feeding him information about rival vampires while safely hiding in plain sight.
- The source describes this as the head of a fallen Walking Statue of Waterdeep, but as of 1372 DR no known statue had fallen and the scale of the artifact is too small, considering that the entire shop and residence of Thort's Findings fit inside the head of The Swordmaiden (see Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, p. 184).
- Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 117. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 75.
- Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 118. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- Eric L. Boyd (October 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Crypt”. Dungeon #127 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 64.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 73.
- Eric L. Boyd (September 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: Blood of Malar”. Dungeon #126 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 70.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 80.
- Ed Greenwood and Jeff Grubb (September 1988). City System. Edited by Karen Boomgarden. (TSR, Inc.), p. 12. ISBN 0-8803-8600-2.
- Map 9/10 included in Ed Greenwood and Jeff Grubb, cartographers Dennis Kauth and Frey Graphics (September 1988). City System. Edited by Karen Boomgarden. (TSR, Inc.). ISBN 0-8803-8600-2.
- Ed Greenwood (1987). Waterdeep and the North. (TSR, Inc), p. 24. ISBN 0-88038-490-5.
- Ed Greenwood (January 1993). Volo's Guide to Waterdeep. (TSR, Inc.), p. 239. ISBN 1-56076-335-3.
- Map included in Ed Greenwood (January 1993). Volo's Guide to Waterdeep. (TSR, Inc.). ISBN 1-56076-335-3.
- Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Campaign Guide”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 45. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
- Map included in Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). City of Splendors. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 978-1560768685.
- Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 94, 101. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 74.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 76.
- Tito Leati, Eric L. Boyd, Keith Baker, Richard Pett, F. Wesley Schneider and James Lafond Sutter (November 2005). Dungeon #128 Map & Handout Supplement (PDF). Paizo Publishing. p. 17. Archived from the original on 2017-05-06. Retrieved on 2020-08-13.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 82.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 84.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 77.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 85.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 81.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 90.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 78.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 79.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 83.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 88.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 86.
- Eric L. Boyd (November 2005). “Vampires of Waterdeep: The Fireplace Level”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #128 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 91.