Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms
Realms by Night Archive
Part 10: The Cache Dwellers
Part 9: The Spirit of Ahghairon
Part 8: The Thann Guardian
Part 7: Kahla the Ghost of Heroes' Garden
Part 6: The Monks of the Three Candles
Part 5: The Crying Girl
Part 4: Lhestyn's Court
Part 3: The Magistree, or the Hanging Tree of Ravencourt
Part 2: The Phantom Milkmaid
Part 1: The Veiled Lady of Sail Street
Intro: A Ghost Walk in Waterdeep


Realms by Night: Part Ten
The Cache Dwellers
By Steven Schend

Typical Location: Dock Ward -- bottom of Waterdeep Harbor in and around Umberlee’s Cache.

"Only fools and Calishites would dream of robbing Umberlee of her due. `Tis said those who’ve sought to steal from her serve her forevermore, always within reach of the riches they sought in life."

With all the ghosts and restless spirits about Waterdeep, locals remain amazed that so few cause direct harm to those who witness them. Of course, those with sense take care to remind folks that spirits who would do harm to others often leave few witnesses to tell tales of their threats.

One such harmful type of ghost -- one which is more tale than terror to the living -- is not really a ghost at all. A cautionary tale of these Cache dwellers is told by land-lubbers and actually corroborated by the merfolk Guard of the Harbor. It is said that all those who drowned as a result of trying to steal money donated for Umberlee’s Cache now remain its undead guardians. These tales float around most often on the days of the Fleetswake Festival in Ches, especially during the collection of Umberlee’s Tithe for the year.

Since the earliest days of Waterdeep’s port, anyone insane enough to steal monies collected for Umberlee during the last two days of Fleestwake are doomed to an early grave. Regardless of where they die or how, they allegedly return to a watery grave, doomed to see the riches they sought to steal yet find the wealth useless to them. Others simply suggest that Cache dwellers are only those who drowned in or around Waterdeep Harbor. While not all stories agree, they do hold that those who transgress against Umberlee pay for it dearly.

The merfolk describe these "ghosts" as watery phantoms, closer in form to devil rays (or ixitxachitl) than to whatever race conceived them in life. They are rarely seen, as the merfolk’s underwater lighthouse keeps them within the rift and at bay. Little else is known of them, other than the fact that very few crazy enough to cross the threshold and enter the Cache caverns ever return. Mermaids speak of victims who escape long enough to gasp out the tales repeated herein, then quickly expire.

Related Stories: Obviously, many stories tie to Umberlee’s Cache, an unfathomably deep chasm at the bottom of Waterdeep Harbor. Into this rift locals each year throw thousands of gold coins in hopes of appeasing the Bitch Queen and keeping Waterdeep’s ships safe on the seas. Only a few tales, however, deal directly with the Cache dwellers, as though few people know of them -- or few wish to think about this curse on the greedy and departed.

At the edge of Umberlee's Cache stands a lighthouse with a magical light. This structure guides the mermen patrols, acts as a tethering spot for giant sea horse steeds, acts as an armory and storage facility for the mermen, and serves as a post for guarding Umberlee's treasures. It also acts as a subsurface beacon for the ships above. What few know is that the light is actual sunlight, magically transmitted to the crystalline beacon via a sister crystal within the Guardhouse near the griffon stables and training area up on Mount Waterdeep. For every hour of sunlight that shines on that crystal, the crystal below shines for three hours. The natural sunlight blinds the Cache dwellers, making them averse to attacking the subaquatic populations around the City of Splendors.

DM’s Notes: The Cache dwellers are a new type of undead creature. Here are the adjusted statistics for one of the few "ghosts" within Waterdeep that can be fought at all.

Cache Dweller
Medium-Size Undead
Hit Dice: 5d12 (32 hp)
Initiative: +7 (+3 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative)
Speed: Swim 60 feet
AC: 19 (+3 Dex, +3 deflection)
Attacks: Slam +6 melee
Damage: Incorporeal touch 1d6+2
Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft. / 5 ft.
Special Attacks: Create spawn, engulf
Special Qualities: Undead, turn resistance, sunlight powerlessness, unnatural aura
Saves: Ref +6, Will +4
Abilities: Str 14, Dex 16, Con —, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 17
Skills: Hide +15, Intimidate +11, Spot +9
Feats: Alertness, Improved Initiative
Climate/Terrain: Aquatic
Organization: Solitary or team (2-4)
Challenge Rating: 7
Treasure: None (They guard untold millions of coins sealed in magically protected chests and coffers. However, a character who grabs any of that treasure becomes cursed and is pursued by those faithful to Umberlee until his or her death.)
Alignment: Lawful evil

The Cache dweller is an incorporeal creature that looks nothing like it did during its lifetime. It appears as a transparent form akin to a waterlogged cloak with a drawn hood, beneath which lies a barely discernible pair of shadows (to hint at eyes) and a ragged maw. It is silent, though those in its grip would swear they heard an infernal moaning that overwhelmed their senses.

Combat

Cache dwellers attack with their life-draining touch, though they take full advantage of their dark environment and often attack from nonstandard quarters, such as directly beneath or above a victim, since most targets are not used to fighting in an aquatic environment. Some say they push or pull their victims deeper into the Cache to make them sacrifices to Umberlee.

Create Spawn (Su): The body and belongings of any humanoid slain by a Cache dweller dissolve into an equal amount of brackish water, which transforms into a Cache dweller within 1d4 days. Casting protection from evil on a body before the end of that time averts the transformation. The new Cache dweller possesses no abilities or memories of life, nor is it under any command other than to kill those who would approach or touch Umberlee’s tithes.

Engulf (Ex): A Cache dweller, in attacking, wraps around its foe (up to Medium size) as a standard action. The dweller cannot make a slam attack during a round in which it attempts to engulf. Opponents can make opportunity attacks against the Cache dweller, but if they do so they are not entitled to a saving throw. Those who do not attempt opportunity attacks must succeed at a Reflex save (DC 13) or be engulfed. The Cache dweller gains a +6 attack bonus on successive attacks to an engulfed creature. Engulfed creatures also are considered grappled and trapped within the dweller’s body. Attacks on Cache dwellers with an engulfed victim split damage evenly between the dweller and its victim.

Sunlight Powerlessness (Ex): Cache dwellers are utterly powerless in natural sunlight (not merely a daylight spell) and flee from it. A Cache dweller caught in sunlight cannot attack and can take only partial actions.

Turn Resistance (Ex): A Cache dweller has +2 turn resistance (see Monster Manual, page 10).

Undead : Immune to mind-influencing magic, poison, sleep, paralysis, stun, and disease. Not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, energy drain, ability damage, or death by massive damage

Unnatural Aura (Su): Wild and domesticated animals can sense the unnatural presence of a Cache dweller at a distance of 30 feet. They do not willingly approach nearer than that and panic if forced to do so; they remain panicked as long as they are within that range.

Skills: Cache dwellers are incredibly hard to see even in well-lit areas. They receive a+10 racial bonus to Hide checks to be noticed one at all due to their near-transparency in their dark underwater lair. If unnoticed, Cache dwellers engulf victims on their first attacks.

Beginning in 2001, Realms by Night leaves the City of Splendors
for a look at the ghosts of Silverymoon.

About the Author

Born in Wisconsin in 1967, Steven Schend fell into the world of fantasy quite quickly, growing up on L. Frank Baum’s Oz books and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and Barsoom novels. From 1990 to 2000, Steven has been with TSR/Wizards of the Coast. He began his career as an editor and worked on a multitude of projects including the D&D Cyclopedia. By 1994 he had found his home as a designer in the Forgotten Realms. and he’s enjoyed swapping tall tales with Elminster and company ever since, as well as his recent entry into the science fiction worlds of the Alternity game system and the wild game world of Marvel Comics. Steven has written more than 50 game products and magazine articles, as well as one published short story, though he now makes vague attempts at playwriting and screenplays as well.

 





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