Story suggestions wanted for making Durnan a magical creature (Tales from the Yawning Portal Content)


I'm running my group through Tales from the Yawning Portal. Its sort of an alt-campaign so I want to make it as streamlined as possible, basically getting the group from dungeon to dungeon without any of the world building in between.

To this end I was thinking Durnan, (the barkeep of the Yawning Portal) some sort of magical being. For those who have played Witcher 3 imagine a Gaunter O'Dimm type character. Basically a being that is either testing or messing with the group, wanting them to complete the 7 dungeons for some purpose.
I was thinking that at the end of Sunless Citadel, he could reveal himself and demonstrate his power, for example freezing all the other inhabitants in the bar in time as his offer is revealed. Maybe there is an artifact split into 7 pieces, a piece at the end of each dungeon, which when combined lead to something Durnan wants.

I thought this might work well as upon leaving the inn, the goup could be in a completely different part of the world, near the next dungeon in the book , reducing down-time between dungeons.

Any advice or suggestions would be really appreciated. Its my first time DM'ing and the quicker and easier I can get the group into the dungeons and areas covered in the book the better.


An older trope, but still good, is to have him be a Dragon in human guise. Gold type being my preferred choice, but your game can run with something else. Or perhaps, he is either an Avatar of a God, or some kind of Quasi/Demi-God, looking to test/mettle with mortals in Greek Myth style. If you want to do a evil patron turn, Durnan could actually be a lich with his powers sealed, and needs pieces of an artifact to unlock and release him, giving you a future bad guy to fight.

These all may depend on what pre-existing world, or homebrew campaign you are running.
I've adapted Waterdeep Dragon Heist to Eberron, and Durnan is still just a barkeep, but his portal doesn't just drop people below earthly terrain, but teleports into a region of the Khorvaire underdark, as it's located in Sharn's Mid level adventurer's quarters.

Sword of Spirit

Well, at a couple of hundred years or so, he should be dead by now. So he at least is gulping longevity potions. It's not much of a stretch to say he's become some sort of demigod or something.


I really like this idea. Another option I've been thinking about is Durnan is actually a Djinn. He is bound to the Inn and needs 7 artifacts to be able to leave. This way he can also reward the players with a wish upon completion of the last dungeon and maybe give the players the Inn, a home brewed Marvelous Mansion spell.

Todd Roybark

One old school explanation is that Durnan is one of the Curst: individuals inflicted by a curse created by Halaster or his apprentices that makes it so a person can not die, but also cannot leave a specified area.

When reduced to zero HP, the creature painfully regenerates. You could also rule that when a creature effected by the curse, leaves the area they are bound to, they painfully, degenerate until destruction and then reform in the cursed zone.

You can easily reskin the various adventures as levels of Undermountain. Durnan is the perpetual barkeep of the Yawning Portal because, like the line in the song Hotel California, he can never leave.


I was going to suggest a Djinn myself.

As for the 7 items, sound like maybe the items should be the 7 parts of the Rod of Seven Parts. Perhaps Durnan is one of the Vaatii Wind Dukes, or perhaps the Queen of Chaos herself, Miska the Wolf Spider.