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The Great Goblet was an unscrupulous mercantile organization with a grudge against certain Waterdhavian noble families, circa the Year of the Tankard, 1370 DR.[1]

OrganizationEdit

By the 1370s DR, the Great Goblet had nine members—seven human and two doppelgangers[2]—but they controlled approximately 200 agents in a dozen cities and smaller towns across the Western Heartlands. Likewise, the agents controlled their own network of spies that reached into many more towns and villages. Few agents knew the identity of one of the nine or even their fellow agents, unless the need arose for a mission. Any particular chain of command rarely had any knowledge of Goblet activities in which they were not directly involved.[3]

ActivitiesEdit

The ultimate goal of the Great Goblet was to bring down the merchant nobles of Waterdeep that interfered with their legitimate businesses. They started out by besmirching the reputation of their competitors, conducting clandestine operations to swap goods in storage with inferior or incorrect copies and selling the real items in other markets. As the targeted families stepped up the protection of their distribution chain, the cabal started hiring brigands and bandits to blatantly rob certain caravans. After the formation of the Great Goblet, the organization began to branch out, investing in new and legitimate businesses, such as leasing and renting land and buildings. They used these businesses to obfuscate their underhanded operations and prevent or slow down any investigations by the Harpers and the authorities from the City of Splendors.[2]

TacticsEdit

The doppelgangers in the group were used to hand down orders to the agents, taking on different forms in order to keep the lower ranks from knowing the identity of the inner circle. They often chose visages that would lead Waterdhavian spies to believe there were traitors in the targeted noble's servants and staff.[2]

Agents in the field that needed to contact each other made use of various forms of identification. A small drawing of the outline of a goblet was used on written communications or to designate meeting places or drop points. For visual recognition, agents often drew two lines down one cheek using blood, rouge, or some other form of red dye.[3]

"I'm looking for a lass called Jolorna."
"Aren't we all?"
— Great Goblet query/response indicating danger or being under surveillance.

Agents often spoke in code when there was a possibility of eavesdropping. Passphrases for general introduction included "I'm looking for a lass called Jolorna," which, when answered by "That wench again? She's everywhere, by Tymora's smiling chance!" indicated that the seeker should follow the responder. But if the word "smiling" was omitted, the meaning changed to "mission accomplished". When an agent was in dire need, he or she complained about their footwear, saying "Gods, this boot! Ever since I stepped on that snake..." to which a fellow Goblet member replied, "You, too? Mine was a two-headed viper. Worse luck! I know a man who's superb at fixing heels, though." and either led them to safety or gave them directions to find aid for their broken heel.[3]

Dead bodies with the symbol of the Great Goblet carved into their chest were occasionally left as warnings to rival groups or anyone contemplating betraying the organization.[1]

Base of OperationsEdit

The Great Goblet was established and based in Scornubel. They also had a presence in Daggerford, and their reach extended into dozens of cities, towns, and villages in the region.[1]

PossessionsEdit

Each of the nine members of the inner cabal had an identical golden goblet in which they kept either a finger or a toe belonging to Halonidas Dreie—a former member that tried to assert his leadership over the organization against the wishes of the others.[2]

HistoryEdit

In the 1340s DR, many merchants in Scornubel were disgruntled about how much they were at the mercy of the whims of wealthy Waterdhavian nobles who could manipulate supplies and prices of goods. Scornubel long had a reputation of being unwelcoming to outsiders, and their practice of petty vandalism (and the occasional warehouse arson) festered into a conspiracy against certain noble families. The more ambitious merchants formed a cabal and began recruiting resentful lesser merchants in Waterdeep.[1]

One of the conspirators was a wizard that had researched a spell that caused doppelgangers great pain if they got too close to a protected person. Armed with this spell, a shipment of captured doppelgangers from Baldur's Gate to the Inner Sea was intercepted and the creatures were offered membership in the cabal. The magical protection did not entirely prevent treachery by the shapeshifters (two were put to death in front of the others as a warning), nor did it have any effect on infighting between the humans for the leadership position.[1] After a few sudden or mysterious deaths, the cabal finally settled down to a working operation for a time.[2]

Soon, however, the wizard Halonidas Dreie, largely responsible for defeating the lesser mages that were hired by the merchant nobles to protect their caravans from steadily increasing loses, began to see himself as the de facto leader of the group, and once again this fomented dissent in the other, supposedly equal, partners. He survived three attempts to violently dispose of him, killing his rivals each time, but the fourth came from an unexpected direction and he was drowned in his own bath by two of his apprentices.[2]

The two former apprentices and the seven remaining conspirators toasted themselves over Halonidas' corpse, choosing a set of golden goblets from the wealthy wizard's household wares. They formed a council of nine "lesser goblets", gave themselves the title of Lords of the Goblet, and agreed to only make decisions when together to form the "Great Goblet". As a warning against treachery, they cut off his fingers and toes and placed one in each goblet. The nine members each kept one goblet and the remaining cups (with their grisly contents) were locked away for future use if new members were ever allowed into the inner circle.[2]

Since that time, the senior member, Ilverr Glaengath, acted as the chairman of Great Goblet meetings and the group allowed him to lead because he appeared to be genuinely concerned for their safety and not self-aggrandizement.[4]

MembersEdit

As of the 1370s DR, the nine members were:

AppendixEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Ed Greenwood (May 2000). “The New Adventures of Volo: The Great Goblet”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon #271 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 88.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Ed Greenwood (May 2000). “The New Adventures of Volo: The Great Goblet”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon #271 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 89.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ed Greenwood (May 2000). “The New Adventures of Volo: The Great Goblet”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon #271 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 91.
  4. Ed Greenwood (May 2000). “The New Adventures of Volo: The Great Goblet”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon #271 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 90.
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