Vicious Venues
The Giant's Sandal
By Skip and Penny Williams

The Giant's Sandal is suitable for use with any D&D campaign.

This plain stone building wouldn't merit a second glance if it weren't for the very genuine looking bit of giant footwear -- a giant's massive leather sandal hangs above the door. A peek in the window reveals a room stuffed with some of the most outlandish footgear ever made. Who made all these fanciful wares? And is there more going on under the sign of the Giant's Sandal than shoemaking?

Background for the DM

Garvifra Dajklen, once a warrior in her clanhold's army, is now the proprietor of the Giant's Sandal, a shoe shop located in a predominantly human settlement. While she still lived in her clanhold, Garvifra was a leatherworker of some renown -- a talent not especially common among dwarves. She worked primarily as an armorer, producing both leather and metal armor for her clan. But an orc horde swarmed her clanhold, and its defenses proved inadequate to withstand the assault. Garvifra fell while defending a pocket of women and children, but awoke later amid the rubble of the clanhold to see a grig standing on her forehead. Introducing itself as Merrin the bard, the creature explained that it had been en route to an important gathering when the orc horde swept through the area, which is when it took refuge in the knapsack of a passing dwarf. Upon finding itself in the clanhold, it had made its way to Garvifra's armory in search of a scrap of leather to fashion itself a new suit of armor when the fighting broke out.

Garvifra thanked her odd benefactor for his timely healing and rashly promised him that he and his descendents would always be welcome in her home. Then the two parted ways, and Garvifra began to explore the ruins of her clanhold. She found a few survivors and led them out of the ruins, but dwarven lands proved inhospitable to her. Dwarves of other clans regarded her with suspicion for her failure to die in her clan's defense, and her story of being saved by a passing grig began to seem improbable even to her.

The shame of being a survivor eventually drove Garvifra away from dwarven lands altogether. She took up residence in a human-based settlement and began selling leather goods. Shoes were her best-selling products, and over time, she began to specialize in sturdy, serviceable shoes and boots. Her business prospered, and she began to deliver her products to outlying areas once a week. Her delivery wagon -- a custom-made red wagon with white wheels and "Garvifra's Leather Goods" emblazoned on the sides in gold letters -- was her pride and joy. But one day, while she was delivering a shipment of boots to a remote army outpost, her waiting wagon was crushed under the heel of a giant who was out hunting in the nearby hills. Enraged, she enlisted the aid of two army scouts, and when the giant was dead, she took one of its sandals -- the one that still bore traces of the paint from her wagon -- as a trophy. Upon returning to her shop, she hung the shoe outside as a sign and promptly renamed her shop the Giant's Sandal.

One morning a few weeks later, Garvifra was surprised to find a dozen grigs in her storeroom. Identifying themselves as relatives of Merrin, they announced that they had come to live with her, according to her bargain with the bard. Nonplussed, Garvifra agreed to house them, and she soon found herself with a band of merry assistants. At first Garvifra blessed her good fortune. The grigs proved to be industrious workers, and she had been behind on her orders. But all too soon, their high productivity outpaced her needs. Merchandise began to pile up in her back room, and though her sales increased, it seemed that her backstock was still growing faster than she could sell it.

All Garvifra's efforts to slow down production came to naught. The grigs were enjoying their new trade and refused to halt their shoemaking efforts, even for a day. Garvifra even tried cutting off their leather and thread supplies, but somehow they continued to find more materials. Linen shoes, wooden shoes, and shoes made from the tanned hides of creatures other than cows began to appear on her shelves. Some of these novelties became quite popular in the settlement, and the grigs' fanciful designs appealed to humans, elves, and even halflings -- though Garvifra herself was not impressed.

As Garvifra's shoe stock soared, her disposition deteriorated. Where was she to put all these shoes? She built two storage sheds behind her shop and filled them within a season. She was forced to cut prices to the bone to move old stock just to make room for new. Thus, she has become known as the "sour shoemaker" to those who live in her town.

Eventually, she hired an assistant named Perweddin to help her manage the business. Perweddin seemed able to manage the deluge of shoes more effectively than Garvifra could, and though the sour shoemaker wondered where Perweddin put all the excess, she has not openly questioned her assistant's abilities. In reality, Perweddin has been storing each day's new merchandise temporarily in the extradimensional spaces above rope tricks, and feeding merchandise more than a week old to a bag of devouring that he keeps in his quarters at the rear of the store. Customers who stray into the storage room run the risk of being hit in the head by pairs of shoes appearing suddenly out of expired rope trick spells, so Perweddin has posted a large "Danger" sign on the door to that area. He lets no one into his room, however, because he lives in fear that someone will stick a hand into his bag of devouring.

Regular customers of the Giant's Sandal have long ago learned that they must buy any shoes they like right away, or they will be gone. Special orders are problematical -- size adjustments are easy enough to get, but unless the shoe is one that Garvifra designed (that is, a sturdy, utilitarian dwarf design), older designs can never be restocked. (The grigs make only what they desire, and they prefer to make new designs. In fact, they have difficulty remembering the details of old designs.)

The Setup

The Giant's Sandal might be found in a settlement of nearly any size, so long as the surrounding area has a significant dwarven presence. Garvifra has lots of wares to sell (as she'll tell anyone willing to listen), and if her shop is not located in a city, it's a good bet she has some other pool of customers to serve. She might ship footwear to dwarven strongholds in the area, have a contract to make shoes for the local military, or perhaps she sells her wares wholesale to traveling peddlers.

Player characters might visit the Giant's Sandal when out shopping for gear, or they might become involved in some other aspect of Garvifra's business, as suggested here.

  • A group of dwarves believes that Garvifra's clan stronghold fell because a traitor either sabotaged the fortifications or simply fled before the final assault, leaving a fatal gap in the stronghold's defenses.

Garvifra might be the suspected traitor or she might have information that could reveal the culprit. In the latter case, Garvifra might not be aware that she knows something significant. If Garvifra is the suspected traitor, it's up to the DM to decide if she's guilty or not. It's not likely that Garvifra betrayed her clan out of spite or in return for money, but she might have experienced a moment of weakness on the eve of battle. In any case, if any accusation against Garvifra is substantiated, she will be stripped of her name and clan status -- a horrific result from Garvifra's perspective. Garvifra might well try to enlist the PCs' assistance with her defense.

  • Garvifra wants to sponsor an expedition back to her old clan stronghold, and the PCs can take on the job.

Garvifra will supply the PCs with the stronghold's location and a rough map of the interior. She might wish to join the expedition herself, or she might simply require a share of any proceeds. Garvifra could have several reasons to have the site explored. She might want to reconnoiter the stronghold prior to an attempt to resettle it, she might want to recover a specific item from the place, or perhaps she wants to discover just how the stronghold fell.

  • An envoy from a major dwarven clan is abducted while passing through the community where the Giant's Sandal is located. The PCs are hired to look into the matter -- or perhaps they're suspected of the deed themselves.

The missing envoy might be one of Garvifra's friends or relatives, or perhaps an old rival. In any case, the missing envoy secretly visited Garvifra before vanishing. The envoy might have carried a letter to her, or just stopped in to talk over old times or to bury the hatchet. In any case, Garvifra has enough information to allow the PCs to track down the missing dwarf.

  • Garvifra needs help tracking down a shipment of rare leather.

Garvifra wants to begin work on several sets of masterwork studded leather armor for a special client and has made arrangements to acquire certain necessary materials for the project. The leather, however, has not arrived. The seller might have decided to hold out for a better price, the shipment might have been waylaid, or perhaps the people carrying it have simply gotten lost in the wilderness.

Visiting the Giant's Sandal (EL --)

The giant's sandal has a plain stone façade with a pair of shuttered windows and a sturdy wooden door. As noted earlier, a giant's sandal literally hangs from the front of the shop. During business hours, the shutters are open and the door is unlocked.

Inside, the Giant's Sandal has a sales area with a counter and rack upon rack of shoes. Stools are provided to assist with fittings. Behind the counter lie several back rooms, and most of them are stuffed with more shoes. There's also a workroom for the grig cobblers, a bedchamber for Perweddin, a kitchen, and a pantry. The grigs work, eat, and sleep in their room. Garvifra has an apartment in the basement. Perweddin keeps a garden for flowers and vegetables behind the shop and has decorated the kitchen, his room, and the grigs' room with many potted plants.

Read or paraphrase the following when the PCs first enter Garvifra's store.

Though this shop should be spacious judging by its ample square footage, the interior evokes a feeling of claustrophobia. Literally every nook and cranny is crammed with shoes -- shoes of all descriptions, from the mundane to the outright fanciful. Leather shoes, linen shoes, carved wooden shoes, rubber shoes -- even bark shoes and boots with metal toes line the shelves. Shoes are stacked on counters, piled into bins, and even hung from the ceiling in spots. Some shoes are plain and sturdy -- worthy of a dwarf warrior or a working farmer. Others are whimsical creations decorated with feathers, small gems, and bits of colored fluff. Regardless of its style, every pair appears quite well made, and indeed, the place appears to have quite a bit of local traffic.

From somewhere in the stacks, a muffled voice is audible. "Look at this!" the voice exclaims. "Just where do they expect me to put all this stuff? My walls aren't made of rubber! And -- oh, now here's an interesting pair. Only an elf would buy this! If only they'd listen to reason -- but no. Perweddin! Now where is that boy?"

From somewhere in the rear of the store, a lithe young half-elf bursts into the room. "Here I am, Garvifra!" he calls loudly. "Did you see those gorgeous new -- oh! Hello there! Welcome to the Giant's Sandal, strangers!"

Both Garvifra and Perweddin are more than happy to assist customers with locating shoes, though Perweddin has a clearer idea where any given kind of shoe is in the store.

Creatures

The statistics below may prove helpful if you find that your PCs wish to confront Garvifra or the others in the Giant's Sandal. Below that are some tactics, too, in case combat breaks out.

Garvifra Dajklen CR 5
Female dwarf rogue 2/fighter 3
NGMedium humanoid
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 feet; Listen +7, Spot +7
Languages Common, Dwarven, Goblin

AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 16; Dodge; +4 AC against giants
(+2 Dex, +4 armor, +1 shield, +1 deflection)
hp 36 (5 HD)
Resist evasion, stability (+4 against bull rush and trip)
Fort +6 (+8 against poison), Ref +7, Will +2; +2 on saves against spells and spell-like effects

Speed 20 ft. (4 squares)
Melee mwk dwarven waraxe +9 (1d10+3/x3) or
Ranged mwk composite shortbow +7 (1d6+2/x3)
Base Atk +4; Grp +7
Atk Options Combat Expertise, sneak attack +1d6, +1 on attacks against orcs and goblinoids
Combat Gearpotion ofcure light wounds

Abilities Str 16, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 9
SQ stonecunning (PH 15), trapfinding
Feats Alertness, Combat Expertise[B], Dodge[B], Weapon Focus (dwarven waraxe)
Skills Appraise +4, Craft (leatherworking) +7, Craft (metalworking) +6, Craft (stoneworking) +4, Disable Device +6, Handle Animal +2, Hide +6, Listen +7, Move Silently +6, Open Lock +7, Ride +5, Search +6, Spot +7
Possessions combat gear plus masterwork chain shirt, masterwork buckler, masterwork dwarven waraxe, masterwork composite shortbow (+2 Str bonus) with 20 arrows, ring of protection +1, cloak of resistance +1, 5 gp

Perweddin CR 4
Male half-elf fighter 1/wizard 3
NG Medium humanoid
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Listen +5, Spot +2
Languages Common, Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Halfling; empathic link

AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 10
(+2 Dex)
hp 17 (4 HD)
Immunesleep
Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +2 (+5 against enchantments)

Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee+1 rapier +5 (1d6+2/18-20) or
Ranged mwk shortbow +5 (1d6/x3)
Base Atk +2; Grp +3
Combat Gearwand of color spray, 2 potions of cure light wounds, potion of mage armor
Wizard Spells Prepared (CL 3rd):
2nd -- rope trick (2)
1st -- charm person (DC 14), Tenser's floating disk, unseen servant
0 -- mage hand, open/close, prestidigitation, touch of fatigue (+4 melee, DC 13)

Abilities Str 13, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 12
SQ familiar (Arilis, bat), share spells
Feats Alertness[B] (if familiar within 5 ft.), Scribe Scroll[B], Silent Spell, Still Spell, Weapon Finesse[B]
Skills Climb +5, Concentration +4, Craft (woodworking) +7, Diplomacy +3, Gather Information +3, Handle Animal +5, Jump +5, Knowledge (arcana) +5, Listen +5, Profession (shopkeeper) +3, Ride +6, Search +4, Spellcraft +8, Spot +2
Possessions combat gear plus rapier +1, masterwork shortbow with 20 arrows
Spellbook spells prepared plus 0 -- all; 1st -- alarm, burning hands, color spray, grease, mage armor, magic missile, reduce; 2nd -- bull's strength, cat's grace, invisibility, knock

Skills Perweddin has a +1 racial bonus on Listen, Spot, and Search checks, and a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy and Gather Information checks.

Hook "Whatever you need, we've got it!"

Arilis CR --
Male bat familiar
NG Diminutive magical beast (augmented animal)
Init +2; Senses blindsense 20 ft., low-light vision; Listen +8, Spot +8
Languages empathic link

AC 18, touch 16, flat-footed 16
(+4 size, +2 Dex, +2 natural)
hp 8 (1/4 HD)
Resist improved evasion
Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +5

Speed 5 ft., fly 40 ft.
Melee none
Space 1 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Base Atk +2; Grp -15
Atk Options deliver touch spells

Abilities Str 1, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 7, Wis 14, Cha 4
Feats Alertness
Skills Climb -1, Concentration +4, Craft (woodworking) +2, Hide +14, Jump -1, Listen +8, Move Silently +6, Ride +6, Spot +8

Skills Arilis has a +4 racial bonus on Spot and Listen checks.

Quaal CR 3
Male grig expert 3
CG Tiny fey
Init +4; Senses low-light vision; Listen +6, Spot +3
Languages Common, Sylvan

AC 18, touch 16, flat-footed 14; Dodge
(+2 size, +4 Dex, +2 natural)
hp 15 (3.5 HD)
SR 17
Fort +2, Ref +7, Will +6

Speed 20 ft. (4 squares), fly 40 ft. (poor)
Melee short sword +8 (1d3-3/19-20) or
Ranged longbow +8 (1d4-3/x3)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Base Atk +2; Grp -9
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 9th):
3/day -- disguise self, entangle (DC 13), invisibility (self only), pyrotechnics (DC 14), ventriloquism (DC 13)

Abilities Str 5, Dex 18, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 14
Feats Dodge[B], Weapon Finesse[B]
Skills Appraise +2 (leather or woven cloth), Craft (leatherworking) +7, Craft (weaving) +7, Diplomacy +9, Escape Artist +7, Hide +16, Jump -1, Listen +6, Move Silently +8, Search +2, Speak Language (Common), Spot +3

Skills Quaal has a +8 racial bonus on Jump checks. He also has a +5 racial bonus on Move Silently checks in a forest setting.

Hook "Hey, let's try this!"

Tactics: Though Garvifra spends most of her time thinking about her business, she's always ready to take up her axe if necessity calls for it (a habit she learned while still very young). She wears her chain shirt under a simple leather tunic with an ankle-length skirt. If Garvifra can't defuse a situation by talking it out, she grabs her axe and buckler and attacks the opposition's leader or the biggest troublemaker. She's always on the lookout for chances to use her sneak attack ability (which usually means working with Perweddin to flank someone). If necessary, she'll feign a retreat, withdrawing into the shop and hiding among her bountiful inventory. Once out of sight, she uses her Hide and Move Silently skills.

Perweddin does what he can to support Garvifra in a fight. He first uses charm person on a fighting character (though not against anyone Garvifra is attacking) to help defuse a fight. If that fails, he moves in to use touch of fatigue. After that, he relies on his rapier. He's always watching for chances to set up flanking attacks with Garvifra.

The grigs (all of whom have statistics similar to those of Quaal, above) regard any battle as a chance to romp. They usually avoid physically dangerous opponents and instead swarm around opposing spellcasters, using their weapons to disrupt spells. If Garvifra or Perweddin gets into trouble, a few grigs might produce armfuls of Perweddin's potted plants, which they hurl down to use with their entangle powers. The plants are too small to hold anyone immobile, but they are large enough to slow movement and impose combat penalties as noted for the entangled condition (DMG 300).

The Giant's Sandal as a Darker Place

It's possible that Garvifra really did deliberately betray her clanhold. She might have been motivated by greed, or perhaps she had some score to settle with a rival. If so, it's a good bet that she really has a neutral evil alignment and that her business is a cover for some sinister plot -- or just a front for a smuggling or fencing operation. With her talent for stealth, Garvifra might work as a mercenary, spy, or killer for hire. If so, Perweddin most likely is in on the deal and also has an evil alignment. The grigs, however, are probably unaware of their hostess's true colors. (Garvifra might have been on the run from justice when she met her original grig benefactor.) The grigs regard Garvifra's dark moods as general dwarven surliness and think nothing of it, and Garvifra is very careful to keep them from learning otherwise.

About the Authors

Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies and was the Sage of Dragon Magazine for 18 years. Skip is a co-designer of the D&D 3rd Edition game and the chief architect of the Monster Manual. When not devising swift and cruel deaths for player characters, Skip putters in his kitchen or garden (rabbits and deer are not Skip's friends) or works on repairing and improving the century-old farmhouse that he shares with his wife, Penny, and a growing menagerie of pets.

Penny Williams joined the roleplaying game industry as Game Questions Expert for TSR, Inc. in the 1980s. Since then, she has served as RPGA Network Coordinator, PolyhedronNewszine editor, and Senior Editor and Coordinating Editor for the RPG R&D Department at Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Now a busy freelancer, Penny edits for several game companies and runs the online playtesting program for Wizards products. When not enhancing the cruelty of the deaths PCs will suffer at the hands of designers, Penny puts up jam, works jigsaw puzzles, and tutors students in math and science.


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