Shadow in the Sky
“Welcome to the Gold Goblin, handsome, the hot spot for turning fortunes and winning wagers beneath the arch. Looking for the squarest games, most honest dealers, and prettiest blamed barmaids anywhere in the port? Well, you found ’em, sugar! Ready to be a rich man? Hope so, ’cause tonight’s your night. Belly up to a table and get to winnin’; we’ve got the gold to make your dreams glitter. Good drink, fine food, and warm company’s extra, but we’ve got all that too—at prices so cheap we might as well be giving it away. So find a spot, honey, order a pint, and leave it all to us, ’cause here, even a goblin could win his weight in gold!”
—Mirri Salassa, head barmaid and greeter at the Gold Goblin Gambling Hall
The Gold Goblin Gambling Hall stands as a reminder of better times in one of the slummier sections of Riddleport, just off its wharves and within bowshot of the Velashu River. The Goblin, as it is often called, was one of the first and finest gambling halls established in Riddleport many years ago. At the time, its brass-plated dome attracted the attention of sailors as they first made port and offered them a fine venue where they could relax and wile away the time at games of chance. As time and mismanagement tarnished its splendid veneer, the Goblin fell from prestige, going from attracting the captains and officer corps of incoming ships to their surly and questionably groomed crews, and finally becoming a haunt for deserters, ne’er-do-wells, and worse. As its clientele deteriorated, so did its fortunes.
Most recently, the Goblin was purchased by one of Riddleport’s former crime bosses, a washed-up onehanded swindler named Saul Vancaskerkin. Vancaskerkin refurbished the place in hopes of recapturing its upscale origins, even as newer and grander game halls opened on the northern edge of the city. Saul has had some success and has regained a portion of the Goblin’s more respectable clientele, but he knows that if he’s going to make a go of this business venture, he needs something more dramatic. To this end, he decided to hold a gambling tournament called “Cheat the Devil and Take His Gold.”
- Grand Entrance – Standing before the main doors of the building is an 8-foot-tall statue cast in shining gold to resemble a largerthan- life goblin. It balances a golden dogslicer on a pile of gold as it smiles smugly down on all customers who pass beneath its gaze. A DC 12 Appraise check is sufficient to note that the statue is made of shining brass rather than actual gold. The doors themselves are of a strong dark wood imported from southern lands and are decorated with multiple panels depicting signs of luck and good fortune (four-leaf clovers, crossed fingers, and so on). They can be locked (Open Lock DC 20) and barred from the inside.
- Casino Floor – The casino floor is a wide room carpeted in rich red that has been recently patched in many places. Spread throughout the chamber are tables where different games are run. The floor hours are usually 12:00 pm to 3:00 am, though these are extended during the “Cheat the Devil and Take His Gold” tournament. Silken banners hang from floor to ceiling along the walls, and wide vertical blinds are drawn over the windows when morning light begins to peer in from the east. The chamber has a false ceiling 20 feet above, draped in layers of horizontally hung, gauzy beige curtains (in actuality there is no ceiling directly above these curtains—see area 30). Light is provided by numerous chandeliers hanging below this false ceiling as well as several large copper braziers spaced around the room with live coals to give the chamber a more hellish light for the tournament. At the back of the chamber between the kitchen doors is a small dais bearing a bust of Desna, goddess of luck.
- Cashier – This foyer provides access to the cashiers’ counter, which is secured by a row of vertical bars set firmly into the stone floor.
- Cashiers’ Cage – Two cashiers work here during operating hours. There are chips in various denominations totaling 10,000 gp stored in here at any one time.
- Guardroom – Two full-time guards, Hans and Beyar, reside in this chamber and guard access to the cashiers and vaults. They have keys to the guardroom and daily cash storage. One usually guards the cashier while the other watches over the daily cash storage during operating hours, taking only occasional breaks one at a time.
- Daily Cash Storage - This locked room holds the daily chips and monetary fund. Vancaskerkin likes to open the vault only once a day—usually early in the morning before the casino floor opens. There are another 10,000 gp in chips stored in this room. As with all of the other chips at the Gold Goblin, these are unique to the establishment and worthless outside its doors. One cashier and Beyar are usually here during operating hours.
- Counting Room - After closing, several of the guards and trusted staff members retire here with Vancaskerkin to count the day’s receipts and secure them in the night vault. At all other times, this room holds only a table with a few chairs and some slates with pieces of chalk. It is otherwise kept meticulously clean.
- Night Vault - The door to this reinforced chamber is composed of 6 inches of solid steel. Its hinges are securely nested in the stone wall. Seven keyholes and a locking wheel are set inthe center of the door (Lock DC 40 each).
- Floor Manager’s Office - This office is outfitted with an elaborate mahogany desk and a comfortable chair. Before the desk sit two more chairs of less-comfortable design with manacles set into their arms. The walls are painted a flat black, and a single candelabra provides only a dim light. The desk is covered in records and receipts from the day-to-day running of the establishment, and this chamber is likewise where Larur Feldin and a few of the guards sweat anyone caught or suspected of cheating the house.
- Private Dining Rooms - These rooms are comfortably appointed and hold two or three tables and a dozen or more chairs. Normally they are rented out for private parties at a rate of 5 sp per hour. During the tournament they are open to the public and are where games of poker and golem are held. When rented privately, all food and drink prices are triple what is charged elsewhere in the casino.
- Cellar Entrance - A lone guard normally monitors those entering this chamber. Within is only a simple wooden staircase descending into the cellar. During the tournament, this chamber is kept locked.
- Kitchen - This massive chamber houses the true heart of the gambling hall—its kitchen. Staffed by a dozen cooks, it remains open from 11 am to 11 pm, serving all manner of dishes and snacks. Side pantries hold dry goods and serve as cold storage for sides of meat and fresh vegetables. While open, the kitchen serves meals and standard fare at one-half PH prices.
- Scullery - A wooden tub holds grimy water and a smattering of soapsuds for cleaning the multitude of platters, trenchers, jacks, and cutlery used in the Gold Goblin. Firewood is stored just outside the back door and is distributed to the hall’s various fireplaces once per day.
- Staff Lounge - This simple chamber holds a few battered chairs and cushions for tired employees to use when on the short breaks that Vancaskerkin allows them. A stair rises to the second floor. A spittoon in one corner is about half full of foulsmelling remnants.
- The Goblin’s Tankard - This bar serves the entire house with a constant line of serving wenches taking orders and carrying trays of drinks between the bar and the casino floor. Two bartenders work the bar during the casino’s hours, serving drinks and occasionally picking a sot’s pocket. A long bar of polished wood extends along the back wall of the room and curves around at the end. Behind are mirrored shelves holding all manner of glassware as well as kegs of ale, beer, and mead and bottles of wine and liquor. At each end of the bar is a large tip jar.
- Public Privies - Each of these rooms is a simple privy that can accommodate four people at once with a modicum of privacy. The door of one is marked with a sword and the other a cup (sometimes leading to considerable confusion as to which serves what gender and creating the occasional embarrassing situation). Vancaskerkin is aware of the confusion this antiquated symbolism causes, but finds humor in the faux pas that sometimes occur.
- Atrium - This chamber serves as the entrance to the guest wing. It is floored in white marble, although the hallway and rooms themselves have only thin, somewhat worn carpet over wooden planks. In the center of the chamber stands a marble statue that once depicted a robed maiden holding a harp, although its head and one arm are now broken away and missing. Vancaskerkin passes this off as an ancient piece of art, but actually got it cheap from a shipment of art that was damaged in transit.
- Master Suite - This suite consists of a large anteroom with a chaise longue and two chairs as well as a master bedroom with a kingsized feather bed and modest furnishings. It is rented for 3 gp per night.
- Guest Rooms - These rooms are simply yet comfortably furnished with a double bed, table and chairs, and a fireplace. They are let for 5 sp per night.
- Guest Suite - This room is basically identical to the other guest rooms, save it has a small side room with two cots that can be used for manservants or storage. Its nightly rate is 1 gp.
- Linens - This closet holds the linens for the guest wing. They are replaced by a laundry service once a week.
- Staff Quarters - This cold, sparsely appointed chamber has a small fireplace, a threadbare rug, and 12 simple cots with thin mattresses. A curtained-off section holds a privy bucket and a window for emptying it. Those hirelings of the house that don’t live elsewhere reside here. Currently, only six hired guards make their residence here.
- Dressing Room This large chamber has numerous closet rods and a clothesline strung across it that hold the costumes and uniforms worn by the gambling hall’s employees. All servers, bartenders, cashiers, and floor personnel have a uniform. In addition, sometimes costumes are utilized by the Goblin’s employees, such as for the tournament, or on the occasions when dancers or entertainers are hired. Among the articles hanging here are enough clothing to piece together 1d3 of each of the clothing outfits listed in the PH except for the cold weather outfit and the royal outfit.
- Waiting Area Two plush-but-worn suede couches sit before a roaring fire and low end table here. Guests who have business with Saul Vancaskerkin wait here, and he and his chief employees sometimes take their ease here as well. A bell pull in the southwest corner summons a server from area 15 to take complimentary drink orders.
- Owner’s Office This large chamber holds a massive desk with a chair covered in the hide of a wyvern. Numerous paintings hangon the walls, including one that shows a group of canine therianthropes gathered around a table playing a game of golem. A humidor on the desk holds a number of fine cigars next to a mother-of-pearl snuffbox. Several cushioned chairs sit before the desk itself for visitors. This chamber is Saul Vancaskerkin’s office and the nerve center of the Gold Goblin. Only his most trusted colleagues or most distinguished guests are ever invited in here.
- Records This locked room holds cabinets stuffed with reams of paperwork. These are the accounting records for the Gold Goblin. Perusal reveals a struggle in recent years and the gambling hall is in a desperate spiral toward ruin.
- Dining Room A fine table marred by a few nicks and scratches stands surrounded by eight chairs and surmounted by a trio of gold candlesticks. The walls of the chamber are covered in thick purple tapestries depicting goldthreaded nymphs frolicking in a silver-threaded forest. The tapestries completely cover the door to area 30 (DC 20 Spot or DC 10 Search check to locate) to prevent light from shining through into that chamber. Vancaskerkin and his management team take their meals here. PCs might be invited to join in these repasts if they become partners in the Gold Goblin.
- Owner’s Room Vancaskerkin’s room is quite austerely furnished with only a small cot, washstand with basin and razor, and a dull bronze mirror.
- Private Apartment Used alternatively by managers, important guests, and business partners, this comfortably furnished chamber is currently unoccupied. Three bunk beds are shoved against the walls next to a pair of wide wardrobes. A small table with three chairs is pushed into one corner, and two overstuffed chairs sit on a wolfskin rug before the hearth. The entrance to a small privy is covered by a thin curtain. PCs might be given these quarters as their own during “Shadow in the Sky.” Vancaskerkin can provide up to four keys for the room’s door.
- Security Catwalks These narrow, swaying, railed catwalks hang suspended by chains hooked to the ceiling 10 feet above. Immediately below them is a layer of gauzy curtains serving as the false ceiling of area 2 below. Security personnel typically patrol these walks watching for cheaters.
- Wine Cellar This chamber holds large barrels of common port and rows of bottles holding wines and various other alcohols. The floor manager and head bartender hold keys to the door of this chamber along with Vancaskerkin. The room bears a subtle, musty odor underlying the spoiled, sweet stench of wine.
- Wrangler’s Chamber Bojask the beast-wrangler occupies this chamber when not overseeing the Octahedron fights. A portcullis controls access to the hallway beyond, and a small covered eye slit provides a view as well. The portcullis is kept in the down position.
- The Red Room This rough chamber has a short bar and a number of battered tables and chairs squeezed into it. The walls and floors are crudely painted a rusty red. This is the Gold Goblin’s “underground” bar that services the Octahedron. A bartender and guard handle the crowds when the fighting pit is open. Drinks here cost double what they cost at the Goblin’s Tankard.
- Guard Alcove Seemingly nothing more than a guard alcove when the pit fights are in session, there is actually a crudely disguised secret door at the back (DC 17 Search check). Remember that the secret door in the floor of area 34 is buried under the sand, so there should be no chance for the PCs to find it or suspect its existence at this time
- Armory Hanging from the walls of this hall are weapons used by Octahedron combatants intelligent enough to make use of them, as well as a variety of chains, harnesses, spiked collars, leashes, and other animal training equipment.
- Infirmary The room has sand and old bloodstains on the floor and a rough wooden table. A cabinet holds dirty bandages, needle and thread, and splinting materials. At the back is a single potion of cure light wounds, to be used only in emergencies when expensive animals are dying.
- Kennel Five mangy dogs, two angry monkeys, and the house’s current champion a fat, broken-tusked boar named Pigsaw are kept here in cramped cages filled with filthy straw. They serve as pit fighters in the Octahedron, the Gold Goblin’s hidden blood sport arena. On rare occasions, actual monsters or intelligent creatures are chained here for use in special events, like goblins, zombies, or—rumors say—penniless gamblers.
- Arena Steeply inclined bleachers and narrow stairs make up this crude arena that looks down into the Octahedron fighting pit 10 feet below. A short stone rail and iron bars running from the rail to the ceiling prevent any accidental entries into the contests. Two nights a week, this arena hosts a crowd of about 30 spectators with a 1 sp cover charge.
- The Octahedron This sand-floored fighting pit is known as the “The Octahedron.”