The Heap of Skulls

The Heap of Skulls is a tavern in the worst part of the Docklands. The building has four rangers of two storeys surrounding a courtyard, and the tavern takes its name from the heap of goblin skulls in the court. The heap is quite big, and constantly growing, because Sendra Jarn, the half-orc proprietress, has a standing offer of a free meal and free drinks for one evening for anyone who brings her a goblin head. She does not talk about her reasons for this, but does nothing to discourage speculation among the tavern's patrons.

For a tavern in such a rough area, The Heap of Skulls is a remarkably safe place. One reason for this is that Sendra carries a wand of sleep at all times, and is not at all averse to using it if people get out of hand. Brawlers are stripped off all their clothes and possessions and dumped in the street. The dumping is vigorous enough to wake them up, but Sendra keeps their goods as penalty for their misbehaviour. Because she doesn't worry about who started it, people find it hard to start a fight in the tavern; the most hardened regular appeals for help from Sendra's bouncers rather then fighting back.

The food, and most of the drink, at The Heap of Skulls is mediocre at best. However, Sendra keeps an expensive brew of beer (1 sp per mug) which many half-orcs swear is the best in the city. Some claim it is the best in the world. Sendra brews this beer herself, and has refused all offers to buy for resale.

The shape of the tavern means that there is nowhere inside whence you can see the whole interior, even though the whole of the ground floor is one room. This is deliberate, as it makes it easier for people to have unobtrusive meetings. There are no private rooms; the first floor consists of quarters for Sendra and her staff. (The Heap of Skulls is a tavern, not an inn; it does not provide accommodation.)

The Heap of Skulls is one of the few places in Marchion where all the races are treated completely equally. Given that, and its suitability for clandestine meetings, parties including half-orcs, or having dealings with them, might find themselves meeting here quite often.

Sendra Jarn

Half-orc 4th level barbarian/1st level wizard

Sendra Jarn does indeed hate goblins with a passion, and some of the guesses come quite close to the mark. She used to be an adventurer, and commonly took lovers from the other members of the party. Two of her lovers were killed in an ambush by a tribe of goblins, and she gathered another party to avenge them, again taking one of them as her lover. Again, the goblins killed her lover. A third attempt had the same result.

A combination of fear, despair, and grief drove her to abandon adventuring, and she took over The Heap of Skulls, which was called The Golden Barrell (sic) at the time. Her standing offer was made as soon as the tavern opened, and the skulls started to flow in.

The excellent beer is made with the aid of a magic item that Sendra found on one of her adventures. She refuses to sell it on so that those who want it will be encouraged to go out and hunt goblins.

Apart from her genocidal hatred of goblins, Sendra is a good person. She is tolerant of other races, avoids killing brawlers in her tavern, and treats people fairly. This means that she is chaotic neutral, with evil tendencies, rather than actively evil. As time goes by, she is overcoming her fear, and in time she might try to gather allies for a last attempt to wipe out the goblin tribe that killed her lovers. Player characters who frequent The Heap of Skulls would be a good choice.

Sendra knows a first-level wizard spell which instantly rots the flesh off a skeleton, without any stench, producing a useful plant fertiliser. She uses this to create skulls from the heads that her patrons bring her.

Clean Skeleton


Level: Sor/Wiz 1

Components: S

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Touch

Target: Corpse touched

Duration: Instantaneous

Saving Throw: None (see below)

Spell Resistance: None (see below)

The targeted corpse, or corpse part, instantly rots to a clean skeleton and an amount of odourless black liquid, depending on the size of the corpse. Medium-size corpses produce thirty two gallons, and this doubles for each step by which the size increases, halving for each step by which the size decreases. The liquid is an extremely good fertiliser for plants, and particularly good for wheat, corn, and other grains. Any animals drinking it become nauseated, but while it is odourless it tastes foul, so most animals refuse to drink. The spell only works on dead bodies that are nothing more than that, and which have no magical defences or enchantments.

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