Campaign of the Month: August 2021
City of Splendors. Dungeon of Madness.
The Goblin Market
The Goblin Market is a bazaar of the bizarre among the Arcane Chambers, the second level of Undermountain.
The market is a strange place. Goblins rub shoulders with gnomes, orcs, humans, and dark elves, and everything seems to move to the beat of haunting music that you hear everywhere. The constant murmur of commerce is occasionally punctuated by arguments as flesh, drugs, stolen goods, and precious information is bought and sold. The threat of violence lingers unspoken with each transaction, but a large contingent of bugbears with heavy clubs keep the brawls to a minimum.
A single, unspoken rule guides commerce in the market: Keep to your own business and you’ll live longer. The Goblin Market is considered neutral ground, both to the Ten Tribes of goblins in Undermountain, and the other creatures and factions that vie for survival in the deadly underworld.
A long, vaulted gallery punctuated with enormous support columns, the Goblin Market is a hidden black market of the dark and sinister, the taboo and the forbidden. Several large chandeliers festooned with continual flames give the chamber a garish, flickering light that the vendors and regular patrons don’t seem to mind. Two long aisles contain most merchants’ excuses for storefronts, businesses, and entertainments, with the most powerful claiming places along the chamber’s large center pillars.
Goblin Market Locations
Shops of the Market
The Market, the literal and figurative centerpiece of the Goblin Market, is the only place for some business to get done. The day-to-day business resembles a flea market, and buyers should beware, as goblins attempt to pass off worthless trash as priceless treasure.
All manner of useful things can be found for sale at the Smuggler’s Market, but one man’s trash may be a goblin’s treasure. The tables are heaped with the flotsam and jetsam scavenged from old shipwrecks in the harbor, gear of unfortunate adventurers, treasures from Undermountain, goblincraft objects, trash from the Rat Hills, and stolen hierlooms from the city above. All manner of the bizarre, wonderful, obscene, unwanted, and forbidden from across the Realms finds its way to the Goblin Market. Among all the dross, there can be found true items of power and provenance.
Those who visit require both stealth and smooth speech in addition to their mercantile acumen to get out of the market with the deals they need at the price they’re willing to pay. For sale are secrets, lore books, stolen jewels, enchantments, or swords and wands in service to any cult or patron willing to trade hard cash for stout hearts and discretion.
When an especially powerful item of dark magic surfaces in the Goblin Market, the Grey Hands raid it with a company of wizards or freelance adventurers, but few normal citizens of Waterdeep even know it exists.
Violence seems always at hand, but a large contingent of heavily armed bugbears from the Gnawers Tribe patrol the market and ensure protection for the cutthroats and nervous merchants who ply their trade in the market.
The Slave Block
The center of the market, this auction block is run by a group of darakhul, or “true ghouls”, from the White Kingdom, commanded by a slave-hunter known as the Veiled Man. Slavery is illegal and harshly punished in Waterdeep, so slavers take great care in their choice of product. Most of the slaves are goblins, kobolds, orcs, svirfneblin, and grimlocks.
The Xanathar slavers transport slaves from Waterdeep directly to Skullport, but occasionally offload unwanted captives to the ghouls. Unfortunates from Downshadow occasionally end up on the slave block: vagrants, beggars, or dream lily addicts too far gone to be missed. The slaves end up working in Underdark mines, fed to the vampires of Vanrakdoom, or as playthings for those with twisted appetites, like the drow or cultists of the House of Pain.
The Cut Purse Gambling Tent
Run by the tiefling Vukas, a very popular personality of the Black Market, the Cut Purse offers no-limit games of chance. Vukas has taken bets as high as 1,000 gp. Any who fail to pay find themselves sold into the Veiled Man slave pens, so few people skip out on their bets. Many call Vukas a scion of a devil, though without proof. More definitive is the gangster’s connection to the Cloven Nine.
The Five Masks
A caravan inn run by the Black Network. The street leading up to the inn is shaded by a canopy of colorful fabric. In front of the door is a monolith of rune-carved stone. The walls and ceiling are carved with protective wards.
The Scratching Post
The derro brothers Diirinka and Diirxaan run this miserable brothel consisting of little more than curtained alcoves. Both of them wheeze, cackle, and jeer, generally acting disgustingly obsequious. Both have a disturbing habit of lightly drawing a knife over their forearm while speaking.
Goblin Market Factions
Rustbone Goblins. A large tribe of goblins that breed rust monsters. They constructed the bazaar that operates as a black market for Waterdeep above.
The Gnawers. A tribe of bugbears that has been split among competing factions. Many of the Gnawers bugbears have joined the Xanathar Guild, while others have signed up with the Legion of the Red Hand. A few remain among the Rustbone Tribe to provide security for the Goblin Market.
The Black Network. The sellswords of the Doom Raiders have a long history with the Goblin Market, selling their services long before the Zhentarim were accepted in Waterdeep.
The Xanathar Guild. The criminal gang has a strong presence in the Goblin Market, and they are prone to violence as they attempt to take over.
Bregan D’aerthe. The shadowy mercenary company provides mercenaries and information for hire.
The White Kingdom. Veiled perfumed ghouls from the undead kingdom buy and sell slaves at the Goblin Market.