Though such tales have grown in the telling, this is still a place raided at least once [every] summer by mercenary armies of 70 or more lancers or horse archers, hired by Amn and Baldur's Gate. As a result, prominent folk and businesses here tend to be (literally!) short-lived. Even so, two establishments of note have lasted long enough to garner well-deserved reputations: the Swordarm and the Broken Goblet.
The traveler should be aware that many pirates here are runaways, local thieves, and adventurers all out to make an impression, and perhaps attract some business as mercenary hirelings. A lot of posing goes on. This can make Roaringshore a very dangerous place for the visitor who isn't in a large, well-armed group, or obviously powerful. I had to flee it abruptly -- but I did manage to learn the details about the two main attractions first. The Broken Goblet:When pirates and lawless folk come to brawl and carouse, their first thought is to roll into the Goblet swords drawn, and swagger as they promenade along the raised entry dais and down toward the bar. Its the place to be seen -- and the place to be killed in, if the body count of the last few years is any indication. Don't go here unless you're very good with a blade, alert, have a lot of well-armed friends with you, and are protected against poisons.
A spell such as ironguard (which renders one immune to metal bladed
weapons for a time) is an ideal protection here, but beware, this place is strongly warded, and the defenses permit only existing defensive spells to continue. Newly cast spells are twisted and lost, without effect. The defenses also whisk all missiles (hurled glasses, daggers, darts, bolts, and arrows alike) up into gentle contact with the ceiling. This prevents broken glasses -- for drink is served here in ornately carved and blown glasses, some of which are exquisitely beautiful, and rather more of which are simply rude.*About the Goblet: The Goblet consists of a dark taproom with stone floors, massive wooden support pillars and furnishings (trestle tables, wall benches, and high-backed wooden chairs), and candle lamps. The latter can be raised and lowered on chains via ceiling pulleys and from hooks located behind the bar, and consist of wagon wheels that each support a circle of seven to nine fat candles, each set in a buckler to catch the melted wax. A favorite trick during a brawl is to leap behind the bar and undo the hooks, sending the heavy lamps plummeting down atop the tables. The danger of fire makes this tactic grounds for ejection -- dead or alive.
The staff here go armed with daggers, boot knives, and steel knuckle spikes. Overly amorous patrons are warned that the large men with many
scars are large men with many scars, but the buxom wenches with the long
lashes and ready smiles are doppelgangers. They often respond to overly familiar touches with a dagger strike and a shift in the form of one hand into a loose curtain of flesh that can be slapped over a patron's face to smother or blind him!
The street door is guarded by two house guards with orders to keep it clear so that access is denied to none. Brawls are thus prevented from erupting on the way in and out the door and harming trade. This has the effect of allowing each patron to make a grand entrance on the raised entry dais, which overlooks the taproom from behind a safety rail. A trophy of a long-ago brawl decorates this smoothed oak tree-trunk railing: A black-bladed battle axe split the rail in two and crashed down to bury itself haft-deep in the edge of the floor beneath. Its owner did not live long enough to get it free -- so the proprietors of the tavern left it there as a warning.
From the taproom, many small, shadowy stairs lead down to jakes (a dangerous place known for stabbings and impromptu body disposals, with
direct connections to the tidal sewers) and up to private drinking rooms, some of which have sliding panels offering egress to side alleys. Lighting is
always scanty in the Goblet, and a ghostpipes spell provides gentle background music to cover most conversations from casual eavesdropping.*Prospects: There are constant rumors that the staff and ownership of the Goblet are not human -- and consist of beings far more deadly than the doppleganger wenches. Most folk believe that some fell power runs the tavern. Its wardings are certainly strong, and spells have been deflected from them that hurled back or slew large mercenary attacking forces sent to cleanse or raid Roaringshore. (Those bearing a ward token can cast spells within the tavern.) The truth, according to one Harper I spoke with, is that illithids rule this tavern and use their powers to gather information about the illicit doings of the Sword Coast from the guests who come here. (Footnote: The Harper is right, Elminster confirms -- after which he sarcastically thanked Volo for revealing only what is prudent about Roaringshore.)*Prices: Ale is 3 cp per tallglass, and all wine (from a vast cellar) is 4 cp per tallglass. Sherries, zzar, and Tashlutan rollrum are 1 sp per tallglass. Whiskeys and fine brandies are 2 sp per tallglass, and elverquisst is 1 gp per tallglass. A recent fad is to mix drinks with syrups and flavored waters. Such concoctions bear such names as Flaming Dragon, Drawn Dagger Down, and Moonlit Knight, and go for 1 gp each. Trying every one is the current diversion of the idly rich and danger-seekers.
The Goblet sells no food, but patrons can bring in all they like. One free glass per patron per evening is included in drink prices. If one wants to buy others, they're 1 sp each. Many delighted merchants take away armfuls -- and the prettier or more whimsical or salacious pieces fetch prices as high as 12 to 14 gp each in far-off, wealthy places such as Saerloon, Selgaunt, Suzail, Teflamm, and Westgate.*Traveller's Lore:
The anonymous owners of the Goblet keep many treasure maps, wills, and
written deals hidden in vaults for pirates, who pay 100 gp per page for long storage. The items are stored from when they are left until they are retrieved by the surrender of a symbolic key (usually a brass token). Rumor has it that the tokens look like brass sea shells, but no one has ever been able to definitively prove this.
The Sword Arm:
You'd expect the only inn in a pirate hold regularly rocked by brawls and open fighting in the streets -- and often raided by mercenary armies,
too -- to be a crumbling, filthy, vermin-infested ruin of a place, on the verge of falling down. Well, the Swordarm was -- until a powerful evil wizard decided to make it an investment. He devised a mysterious spell of great power that entrapped his three apprentices, binding them in a mystic web of forces linked to the old stone-and-timber inn building. Their life forces hold the inn together and convert spells cast within it into raw power that binds together and repairs the place, and makes guests safe from hostile spells. (Footnote: Elminster refused to give out any details of this spell under any circumstances. He also said that the names of the apprentices were not forgotten -- but that they had done as many deeds of grasping evil as their master, and deserved their fate.)
The unfortunate apprentices can be seen to this very day, two young men and a young woman clad in dusty, dangling tatters of robes, floating face-down near the ceiling of the lobby and staring down in frozen, endless horror at folk who pass below. After they were trapped, their captor and master, the mage Aulyntar Cowlsar, pierced the walls with many new windows, added an ornate balcony and hanging staircase, and cut a pool now full of hot tingling waters into the floor of the lobby. (This pool would be a delight to bathe in were it not for the continuous feeling of being watched -- due to the unfortunate apprentices, no doubt.) These changes probably mean that should anything befall the apprentices, the Swordarm will undoubtedly collapse. Until then, it's quite an impressive place.
- About the Sword Arm:
The Swordarm is magnificent, akin to the luxurious Waterdhavian villas of richer nobles. It sports high ceilings, large windows, marble floors and window seats, and statues adorning the halls and rooms everywhere. (These statues were undoubtedly plundered by pirates from temples, grand houses, and sunken ruins up and down the Sea of Swords.) Local rumor swears Aulyntar spies on guests and goings-on through the carved eyes and ears of these stone figures.
Every floor of the inn has a central hall linked to a landing on the soaring hanging stairs, an audience chamber opening off the landing to the hall, a dining lounge, and guest chambers. The inn has no main dining room. Guests can elect to be served meals in their rooms, and most do. (A secret back passage is rumored to plunge down within the walls to a tunnel that runs far from Roaringshore. There it branches to open high on a cliff above the sea on one hand and in a swampy, overgrown ravine in the rolling wildernesses on the other.)
The Swordarm also offers guests a secure storage service, employing spell- and monster-guarded vaults under its imposing bulk. The roof has sliding panels in one gable that allow an agile aerial steed such as a griffon or a hippogriff, or a person employing flight magic, to arrive or leave without landing in the street below. This loft stables occupies the upper floor of the inn. The conventional stables are behind the inn, separated from it by a street. The inn is surrounded by streets and lacks any sort of yard. The stables open into a warehouse for the storage of wagons, coaches, and caravan goods.
The Swordarm has housed many powerful and dangerous pirates and adventurers over the years. They have come to expect -- and depend on -- a place that is clean, quiet, and safe. On the rare occasions when guests have offered violence to anyone, swift and sure spells (presumably those of Aulyntar, who prefers to remain unseen) have lashed out to end the matter -- usually by destroying the belligerent guest, although there have been some reports of such individuals being teleported abruptly into the depths of far-off Skullport, beneath Waterdeep, or the heart of the jungles of Chult, or into the midst of Icewind Dale.
So this inn has become a neutral meeting place for deadly enemies, uneasy rivals, and swaggering folk-of-danger alike. If guests intend to do business together, however, they tend to arrange to meet elsewhere -- no one is free of the feeling that Aulyntar or his frozen apprentices are always watching and listening. Some folk are so sensitive to this feeling that they cannot stay in the inn for more than a few breaths. On the other hand, it is the safest haven in Roaringshore -- unless one is a wizard. There are several tales of mage guests disappearing here over the years.
Everything at the Swordarm is the best, and everything's included in the daily rate except drink. Unfortunately, that rate starts at 6 gp per night for a tiny bunkroom and soars to 25 gp per night for the six largest suites. Pirate crews usually grab these suites more or less year-round. Here they can post guards, strew their belongings around, and still sleep farther apart than they do on board. The nicest single bed-chambers, though, are often all vacant (22 gp per night).
Drinkables are 2 gp per bottle or 4 gp per hand cask, regardless of what's inside such containers. Some rare vintages can be obtained here, but the variety is small, and the supplies irregular. The inn does not want to appear to compete with local taverns.
- Traveller's Lore:
The Swordarm bills itself as a home for those who swing blades for a living. Most wizards don't care to stay the night within its walls, for mages have a habit of vanishing from even the most securely barred bedchambers.
Most folk suspect these disappearing guests were wizards who tried to free the trapped apprentices or tamper with the protective spells of the inn. Most wizards suspect Aulyntar examines every mage under his roof, and destroys those who possess magic he covets. If this is true, he must be very powerful by now.
It is certain that one Haldanshyn Cloak of Swords, a wizard of both power and importance from southern Amn, lost his temper in the inn one evening six summers ago. All that night a furious spell battle raged above; around, and through the Swordarm, as Haldanshyn flew about, engaging a foe who appeared only as a swirling, sparkling cluster of luminous eyes.
Much of the inn was destroyed, or twisted and sagged about the terrified guests -- many of whom dove or tumbled out windows and fled for their lives amid explosions, gouts of flame, and hair-raising crawling fingers of lightning. Near dawn, Haldanshyn was seen to snarl and then howl in pain as his magical staff suddenly caught fire and blazed with phosphorescent orange and bilious green light from end to end. The blaze was intense, and the wizard plunged from his hovering position in the air above the inn, leaving his skeletal hands still clinging to the ashes of the staff.
The grisly relic remained aloft for some days, but the wizard was torn apart by unseen raking claws as he fell, leaving only his tattered, drifting cloak behind.
A shadowy form -- presumably Aulyntar -- emerged from the inn and caught the cloak, but it erupted in a rushing torrent of glittering steel, and the form hastily flew off, trailing a mist of blood. The cloak drifted away more slowly. What became of it, none in Roaringshore can agree. Some say another wizard mastered it, others that it blew out to sea or fell into Aulyntar's clutches -- and still others whisper that it yet lurks around the village, pouncing on lone, drunken sailors and slashing them to ribbons in fits of insane vengeance.