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General Finishing Touches For Rethmar

We’ll bid adieu to Rethmar this time, by augmenting its recent events and what’s unfolding in town right now—that is, as the PCs tarry in Rethmar—and a little more of What’s Whispered About, locally (that is, behind-the-scenes intrigue and lawlessness beyond the remnants of the Claunkrar Coster).

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We’ve already established that nothing of any great significance has happened in Rethmar recently, at least as far as its residents know, but as it happens, there are some things unfolding right now, that everyone in town will soon become aware of, and these include the quiet settling in town of the head of the thieves’ guild in Sheirtalar, two wealthy noble families scheming to overthrow the Belt and establish themselves as rulers of Rethmar, and a local smith covertly digging a connection to the Underdark.

Jahalus Dree is a darkly beautiful woman, soft-spoken and a recluse, who has wealth and came here from the Shining Sea area, to live quietly in a modest house from which she never emerges, sending servants to shop for her. That’s about all Rethmar knows about her.

In truth, Jahalus runs the Evening Fang thieves’ guild in Sheirtalar, which now nigh-rules that city because almost all of its civic officials are guild members or firmly under the thumb of the guild. Wanting to establish various “boltholes” she could run to if fortunes ever turned against the Fang, the coldly calculating, always-icily-calm Jahalus established hiding places in Lushpool, Kormul, Shaarmid, Arrabar, Tharsult, and now is adding one here in Rethmar.

She has six hulking bodyguards (veteran adventurers who wear and carry small arsenals of magic items and weapons), and can call on the human resources of the guild, who come to Rethmar in disguise (running caravans). She bought her house, and—through intermediaries—several others, and a warehouse, and the guild dug tunnels (securely propped and stone-lined) linking all of these structures. They are now building a fortress inside the warehouse; the cover story is that a firm has rented the warehouse that builds fortified mansions and keeps for clients—and are pre-building one in the warehouse that when finished will be disassembled and transported to the difficult-terrain chosen site.

Jahalus Dree is using the name “Eszeldra Harendee” in Rethmar, a persona who will soon move on, selling her home to someone else (Dree’s new false identity).

Unfortunately for Dree, there are traitors in her guild, who have tipped off some old foes about her presence in Rethmar. These enemies, who include Zhentarim and some fell wizards from Chessenta and eastern lands, are sending their own covert agents to Rethmar, to find out where Dree is, what she’s up to, and how she can best be slain, and her holdings plundered. Things may turn very violent, very soon.

The two local families who yearn to rule Rethmar are the Darthaers and the Merendars. They plan to wed a young Merendar man, Roystan, to a young Darthaer woman, Oeloanil, and proclaim them ruling Lord and Lady of Rethmar. The young couple will, of course, be puppets (Oeloanil is already, thanks to being drugged with potions and misinformed about the world, under the sway of her mother Belrosa, and Roystan is being blackmailed by his uncle Torist over a string of youthful indiscretions; Torist will leave off doing so and depart Rethmar to take up life in Waterdeep, in return for Roystan agreeing to be guided in his ruling decrees by his father Gordaunt). The Darthaers and the Merendars will become the courtiers who make all the daily decisions in Rethmar’s governance, and have already hired the adventurers who will murder all of the senior Marmaces during their coup. The two families intend to assassinate the Belters themselves, then personally seize their properties and wealth.

The Darthaers currently make their coins buying and selling dyes and medicines (and, some say, poisons) all over the Vilhon Reach and the Tashalar (and are known to collect, rear, and breed vipers). They’re part of this grab-for-rule-of-Rethmar scheme just to gain the freedom to do anything they want locally, and to not have to pay taxes to anyone.

The wealth of the Merendars has come from parlaying inheritances (money they brought with them four generations back, when relocating from Sembia because swindles had made them unwelcome there) through shrewd caravan-cargo investments into impressive wealth that was in turn used to buy properties in Ormpetarr, Innarlith, and Arrabar. Rental incomes from these provide them steady funds to live large. They have long ached to build Rethmar into a bustling center of commerce, and chafed under what they term the “small-minded, petty and foolheaded” rule of the Belters.

Rethmar has a farrier (Undarl Harwinter, a skilled and kindly old man who’s gentle but as strong as a proverbial ox) and several amateur smiths, but only one official smith: Helburt Tronstram, an amiable wart-covered mountain of a man who has always dreamed of adventure and importance and making his mark on the Realms (somehow).

Tronstram has now hit upon a grand plan, and by night is personally digging a way (a sloping ramp wide and tall enough for full-sized wagons!) down from one corner of the storage cellar of his smithy into the Underdark beneath. He would love to meet and trade with dwarves, and has heard all manner of riches are to be had in the Realms Below. He plans to sponsor adventuring bands to go and explore the deep ways for him, and give him a share of all they find.

Tronstram would love to see some of the monsters of fables and tavern tales—provided they’re brought to him safely dead.

Which brings us to the bigger, darker stuff that Rethmarren don’t dare discuss openly. The matters that disturb them, that they murmur about to teach other in hushed tones only when they’re really sure they have privacy—or they’re too frightened, drunk, or magically compelled to be discreet.

Perenially whispered about in Rethmar are the doings or alleged deeds of the survivors of the Claunkrar Coster (that we looked at four columns back). But what else weighs on the minds of the folk of Rethmar?

Well, there’s the Lich Of The Cellars, for one.

Yes, there’s a lich living under Rethmar, under the cellars of a certain tavern. (It might be Aungul’s Tankard, or it might be The Hanged Horse, or then again it might be The Knave With The Sack of Heads. Or one of the others.)

This lich comes out from behind one of the huge cellar casks—through a gap too narrow for any living man, but liches are just bags of bones under their robes, see?—on nights when he’s worked a spell on the ale and the wine to make everyone who’s so much as sipped of them sleep as deeply as if they’re dead.

And then he works another spell that sends a whispered summons all over town, to the ears of those who serve him—and there are plenty of them, living among us, believe you me!

With everyone in the tavern all struck senseless, the lich—Nauvaerus, his name is—can come up and meet with his agents in the back rooms of the tavern, and they can eat and drink their fill as he gives them his commands, and none of them will be disturbed.

And in this way he runs his own dark band of thieves and kidnappers and slayers-for-hire, and uses them as couriers to sell the deadly toadstool-tincture poisons he makes, all across the Realms.

But what use are these last few columns, you may well ask, if I’m never going to go anywhere near Rethmar in my explorations of the Realms?

Well, then, you can cherry-pick all of these NPCs and Current Clack and other adventure hooks for wherever, in the Realms or elsewhere, your own D&D campaign is set. Most of this lore is portable as is, and much of the rest of it only needs a little tweaking to fit different locales and power levels and tone and player interests.

And tweaking, changing, and rearranging, I have found, is what gamers do.
 
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Ed Greenwood

Ed Greenwood

Forgotten Realms Creator

dave2008

Legend
—and a little more of What’s Whispered About, locally (that is, behind-the-scenes intrigue and lawlessness beyond the remnants of the Claunkrar Coster).
This got me wondering, does anyone ever create "rumors" of the good things people do, or is always just the bad things? What about a local inn keep trying to raise money for an orphanage, or the princess pretending to be a pauper (to see the real world or whatever), those type of things.
 

Scrivener of Doom

Adventurer
But what use are these last few columns, you may well ask, if I’m never going to go anywhere near Rethmar in my explorations of the Realms?

Steal the names, of course.

I really do love Ed's names for his Realms NPCs and places. It's probably the thing he does best of all.

Thanks, Ed and Morrus, for this outstanding series. I look forward to what's next. (Tharsult, perhaps? And with a pretty please....)
 

EthanSental

Adventurer
This got me wondering, does anyone ever create "rumors" of the good things people do, or is always just the bad things? What about a local inn keep trying to raise money for an orphanage, or the princess pretending to be a pauper (to see the real world or whatever), those type of things.
I do use rumors of all types, not just the bad stuff around town....but the bad tends to be talked about more.
 

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