The Sage of Shadowdale has something to say about pretty much everything. Despite having outlets in Dragon Magazine, Dungeon Adventures, and Polyhedron Newszine, the Old Mage still has more to say about Faerûn. Not wanting to anger an archmage, we decided it would be best to give him a regular column from which to discuss the finer points.
Listen well, young one . . .
Staying at the Shield
Sign of the Shield, Continued
With so many people, the Shield can envelop guests in luxury so thoughtful and attentive that some guests grumble that they're always being watched. Guests whose slippers fall from their feet as they recline in chairs with their feet up on plush stools have those slippers deftly replaced. Those desiring a bath are always scrubbed, toweled, and have their hair washed, combed, and styled by skillful chambermaids. And guests who enjoy backrubs or being assisted in dressing receive cheerful and skillful attention to these needs, though attempts at greater intimacy are be met by brisk directions to try elsewhere in Voonlar.
Rooms are furnished lushly, kept toasty warm in winter and as shaded and cool as possible in summer, and equipped with writing parchment, ink, and quills, plentiful seating, cushions galore, and even plants and flowers. All rooms or suites have at least a large high-backed armchair with footstool, a canopied bed large enough for three tall adults to sleep side by side in, a wardrobe, a writing desk and upright chair, and a bedside table, and a stepstool for the use of short guests ascending or descending from bed. Many rooms have far more, including those on the ground floor, which have baths set into the floor and plentiful closets (to muffle the noise of the kitchens and guests arriving and departing in the lobby).
All of this costs 3 gp/night per person for a small private room and an evening meal (with all drinks, stabling, and all other food costing extra). All meals are served in guests' rooms, although they can request meals be brought to them in one of the three meeting rooms opening off the lobby.
One of the three meeting rooms is as soundproof as possible and equipped both as a bedchamber, on one side of a privacy curtain, and as a meeting room for merchants, with eight chairs drawn up around a grand table, on the other. It must be rented by the hour. The other two rooms are free for the use of all guests desiring to meet with other guests or with passersby or Voonlarrens.
The Shield can offer guests a broad cellar of wines, ales, and sherries (fortified wines), though the accent is on quantity and breadth of selection rather than specific vintages. These are priced at 5 cp per tankard (tall and splendid silver affairs) for ales, and 7 sp per tallglass of wine or sherry (fluted, ornate glass affairs that really deserve the appellation "tall").
Food is prepared in the kitchens throughout the day rather than at specific times, so the accent is on soups, sauces, and fare that can be cooked and then kept warm without suffering overly much. Almost all guests agree that the Shield's table fare is fine or even superb, and it is kept so by using herbs from the roof and mushrooms from the inn's own cellars coupled with a menu that shifts with the seasons to always use provender at its best. As one guest famously remarked darkly, "At 1 gp a meal, it'd better be the best!"
A recent survey of Shield fare yielded the following menu: juicy oven-roasted quail drowned beneath an onslaught of lemon-and-garlic sauce or horseradish-scented lamb. Both are served on a hash of duck, quail eggs, buttery diced leeks, and potato, and accompanied by silky buttercream cakes and either a venison barley soup or apple-and-bacon soup.
Read the previous Elminster Speaks column or go to the Forgotten Realms main news page for more articles and news about the Forgotten Realms game setting.