Quel remembers two things about the pirate ship he was born on: they sailed so close to the stars that they could touch them, and his father kept a blade hidden away that whispered to Quel to play. His mother Ilya was always busy captaining the ship, and his father Leuk, her first mate, was lax in keeping the children in order. Quel, in fact, had many moments to devote to his sword friend. His grandmother Amalya was a drow who had left the Underdark to seek the truth of the moon herself, and she held the women in her line to a high standard. The men, of course, couldn't be expected to achieve much of anything worthwhile, so while Quel's mother focused on Quel's two sisters, Quel himself was left to whatever his father deemed important to a young child, which was very little apart from basic ship work.
The secret blade's whispers had a fascinating cadence, one that sometimes blended with the shanties the pirates sang while Quel worked among them, but only Quel seemed to hear it. Still, it was always there, a song and rhythm hidden in the daily life of the ship. Whenever he could, Quel stole away to play with the sword, and in truth, his father was bemused to find Quel shirking his duties for swordplay.
The ship would sometimes dock in the port of Waterdeep, in part because Amalya had emerged from the Underdark there, and Ilya had an older sister and brother who still lived in the city. Pirates often leave their young children at port until they're old enough to properly join a crew, and Quel's parents were no different. Once they were old enough, Quel and his sisters were left in Waterdeep with their groundling relatives for an upbringing more diverse than life aboard ship could offer. Although Quel was aggrieved to leave his friend behind, Leuk softened the blow by giving Quel a near perfect replica of the blade, and Quel was delighted to find he could still feel the blade's rhythm distantly through its duplicate.
Even in Waterdeep, Quel's grandmother's values still ruled the family, so while his sisters were kept close to learn an adapted version of a drow matriarch's education, Quel and his male cousins were left to discover whatever small interests they might find in the city at large, often falling in with its seedier elements. Quel himself found that lurking in the city was other music that sometimes reminded him of the secret blade song but other times was quite unlike it but rang with a power of its own. He felt its rhythm echoed in clashing blades and skirmishes that broke out in the streets.
Once Quel was old enough to truly work with a blade, he took up formal training through his family while wandering the dock ward's seedier establishments for those who would teach him the dirtier and flashier elements of swordplay. He also picked up the bits of song here and there that contained real power. Here, he met Lord Drylund, a visitor from up north who saw great potential in the young man and offered to apprentice him on his riverboat out of Yartar, the Grande Dame. Intrigued, Quel left Waterdeep to see what Lord Drylund could offer.
To Quel's delight, Lord Drylund offered a fuller course than Quel's own family had bothered to. Quel learned true art and extensive blade craft from bards and martial experts that Lord Drylund invited aboard the riverboat for Quel's benefit. Most important to Lord Drylund himself, Quel proved an aptitude at Lord Drylund's own passion: gambling. By the end of his apprenticeship, Quel was a gifted performer, fearsome tough, and sly gambler sometimes able to beat Lord Drylund at his own games.
It all came to an end, however, when Quel also drew the attention of one of Lord Drylund's regulars: Clint Brickwell of the Rime Coil, a mercenary captain out of Triboar. Clint was an alluringly dangerous man who offered to show Quel another outlet for his talents. Over Lord Drylund's objections, Quel signed on for a tour with the Rime Coil. Quel soon learned that the mercenary corps were in the employ of the Zhentarim, and Clint was one of their Vipers. In their easy violence, Quel heard for the first time since his childhood the whispers of the secret blade. And in Clint himself, Quel found another outlet for his passions.
When Quel returned to the Grande Dame, Lord Drylund scorned the young man's intoxication with Clint and the Zhentarim and demanded that his protege denounce any future allegiance with them. After an impassioned argument, Quel left the Grande Dame to seek his own fortunes with the Zhentarim.
However, Lord Drylund's teachings still sat well with Quel, and he decided that rather than sign on with the Rime Coil under Clint, he would operate as his own man. He took up the persona of Quell the Rising Edge, a traveling entertainer of the North and blade for hire for those with the right connections.
- Darkvision: 60 ft.
- Fey Ancestry: You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can't put you to sleep
- Spellcasting: DC 15, +7 • 3 Bard/2 Warlock Cantrips • Spells/Day: 4/3/2 • Spells/Rest: 3
- Spells Known: 2/8
- Cantrips: Eldritch Blast, Mage Hand, Message, Minor Illusion, Prestidigitation
- First Level: Comprehend Languages, Cure Wounds, Dissonant Whispers, Hex, Shield, Thunderwave
- Second Level: Detect Thoughts, Shatter, Natural Attunement (free blessing from Gwaeron)
- Third Level: Dispel Magic, Sending
- Bardic Inspiration: As a bonus action, choose one creature other than yourself within 60 ft who can hear you to gain one Inspiration die, a d6. Once within the next 10 minutes, that creature can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes. The creature can wait until after it rolls but before knowing if the roll succeeds or fails. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (4) and regain any expended uses after completing a long rest.
- Song of Rest: During a short rest, friendly creatures who can hear your performance regain additional hp when they spend hit dice based on your level (1d8)
- Expertise: Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make with chosen proficiencies (2 at 3rd lvl, 2 more at 10th) 3rd: Stealth & Persuasion
- Font of Inspiration: You regain all of your expended uses of Bardic Inspiration when you finish a short or long rest.
- Countercharm: As an action, you can start a performance that lasts until the end of your next turn. During that time, you and any friendly creatures within 30 feet who can hear you have advantage of saving throws against being frightened or charmed. The performance ends early if you are incapacitated or silenced or if you voluntarily end it.
- Hexblade's Curse: As a bonus action, choose one creature you can see within 30 feet of you. The target is cursed for 1 minute. The curse ends early if the target dies, you die, or you are incapacitated. Until the curse ends, you gain the following benefits:
- You gain a bonus to damage rolls against the cursed target. The bonus equals your proficiency bonus.
- Any attack roll you make against the cursed target is a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20.
- If the cursed target dies, you regain hit points equal to your warlock level + your Charisma modifier (3).
You can’t use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.
- Hex Warrior: Whenever you finish a long rest, you can touch one weapon that you are proficient with and that lacks the two-handed property. When you attack with that weapon, you can use your Charisma modifier for the attack and damage rolls. This benefit lasts until you finish a long rest.
- Two-Weapon Fighting: When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the off-hand attack.
- Blade Flourish: You perform impressive displays of martial prowess and speed. Whenever you take the Attack action on your turn, your walking speed increases by 10 feet until the end of the turn, and if a weapon attack that you make as part of this action hits a creature, you can use one of the following Blade Flourish options of your choice. You can use only one Blade Flourish option per turn.
- Defensive Flourish: You can expend one use of your Bardic Inspiration to cause the weapon to deal extra damage to the target you hit. The damage equals the number you roll on the Bardic Inspiration die. You also add the number rolled to your AC until the start of your next turn.
- Slashing Flourish: You can expend one use of your Bardic Inspiration to cause the weapon to deal extra damage to the target you hit and to any other creature of your choice that you can see within 5 feet of you. The damage equals the number you roll on the Bardic Inspiration die.
- Mobile Flourish: You can expend one use of your Bardic Inspiration to cause the weapon to deal extra damage to the target you hit. The damage equals the number you roll on the Bardic Inspiration die. You can also push the target up to 5 feet away from you, plus a number of feet equal to the number you roll on that die. You can then immediately use your reaction to move up to your walking speed to an unoccupied space within 5 feet of the target.
- Entertainer Routines: Blade Dance (Flourishes and Displays, Knife Throwing, Acrobatic Tricks), Juggler, Vocalist
- By Popular Demand: You can always find a place to perform, an inn, tavern, circus, theater, or even noble's court. At such a place, you receive free lodging and food as long as you perform. In addition, your performance makes you something of a local figure. When strangers recognize you in locales you've performed, they generally take a liking to you.
Faction Traits: Zhentarim (Rank 2 - Wolf)
Current Renown: 4 (Rank 2 @ 3 renown) Prerequisite: Rank 1 and Zhentarim renown 3+
- Secret Missions: You may now occasionally be assigned secret missions that you are required to fulfill. Though you do not have a sponsor any longer, you are part of a pyramid of operatives, and the assignment may come down from any part of that chain above you. Though you may not be required to accept the mission, they are often the most reliable way to continue advancing in the organization.
- Flying Snake: You are granted a flying snake. During a long rest, it becomes accustomed to you and stays near you at all times. Its only benefit is to deliver written missives or small bags (with single gems or a few coins). During a short rest, you can write a message and release your flying snake, which will fly back to a single central point, usually to the handler where you got the snake from. Flying snakes can fly 72 miles per day. If you will be in the same place, the snake can be sent back to you. Alternately, you can simply pick another one up at a Zhentarim stronghold elsewhere.
- Operating Capital Loans: By this point, you are expected to manage your finances and accomplish things on behalf of the faction based on your own prosperity. That said, this is not always possible. You have the option of sacrificing a point of your Zhentarim renown to gain funds for a Zhentarim project. This amount is 300gp plus 100gp per your rating in Zhentarim renown before you sacrifice the point. If you pay the loan back, you may recover the point of renown; there is no requirement that you do so, however. You will not be able to use this feature again, in either case, until your renown is at least one point higher than it was before you made the sacrifice.
- Lifestyle Increase: Money travels up the chain in the Zhentarim, and you are expected to show the coin of your success to your superiors, to help finance their endeavors. Your Lifestyle costs increase by 1gp per tenday (or 3gp per month).
- Mercenaries: Because Zhentarim plans may require some extra muscle, you have the right to requisition a small group of Zhentarim mercenaries. You may keep them for up to a month, without charge; when you do so, you may receive one guard for every point of renown you have above 2. You may trade in two of these mercenaries to gain a veteran, though you can only do this once. These mercenaries work for one of your superiors, but are willing to follow you during that time.
- Trained in Terror: Zhentarim train their agents to invoke fear in others. You become proficient in the Intimidation skill. If you already have this skill, choose another skill from your class list options instead.
- Tool Training: You may go to the faction for training in useful tools. When you take the Training downtime action to gain proficiency with the disguise kit, forgery kit, poisoner's kit, or thieves' tools, you may do so at half the time and cost.
- Coins: x cp • x sp • x ep • 205 gp • x pp • Other coins: x
- Gems: x
- Shortsword +1
- Wand of Lightning (Rune-Seeker)
- Bag of Holding
- Worn: Breastplate, Longbow
- Belt: Belt Pouch, Black Longsword, Dagger
- Backpack: 5 Candles, 5 Days of Rations, Waterskin, Disguise Kit, Trinket from Admirer
- Saddle Pack: 3 Costumes, Bedroll, Lute, Songhorn, Rapier, Hand Crossbow
- Moonglow: Dappled Gray Riding Horse
- xxx: (x gp/day). x
Faction & Organization Lore
The following are locations and people you know are associated with the Darburl, and to whom you can go should you be in the area. Other areas may have Darburl representatives, but they are not currently known to you. (Mothers & Fathers are leaders in the organization; Aunts & Uncles are lieutenants, each usually with a specialty of some kind.)
- The Delimbiyr Vale: Daggerford: Mother Arcric, the halfling barkeep at Tyrmora's Cup.
- Nightstone: Uncle Dunlis Arcri, stablemaster at the inn in Nightstone.
- The Dessarin Valley: Westbridge: Father Thentilyr, a half-orc who runs a local slaughterhouse
- Triboar: Aunt Klethja Thentilyr, a gnome farmer at the Goldshine Farm, who specializes in recruitment.
- Yartar: Uncle Discretion Thentilyr, a tiefling fence and smuggler, who operates a message and package courier service
- The Sword Mountains: Leilon: Mother Thentilyr, a dwarf woman who runs an eatery
- Waterdeep: Aunt Alindue Thentilyr, a festhall opera singer who specializes in contacts
- The Silver Marches & Delzoun: Everlund: Mother Dlarhund, a genderfluid half-elf innkeep
- Sundabar: Uncle Kentar Dlarhund, a dwarven washerman
- Neverwinter Wood: Helm's Hold: Father Dlarhund, a rotund human fighter who teaches combat skills
- The Frozenfar: Mirabar: Father Arcri, a young human finesmith
The following are locations with Zhentarim holdings, including a leader of at least Rank 3 stationed there.
- Anaruoch: The Black Road, a trade route entirely owned by the Zhentarim, used for trade between the North and other parts of Faerûn without having to pass through the Western Heartlands.
- Delimbiyr Vale: Loudwater: The current High Lord of the town is a well-paid agent of the Zhentarim who maintains the Network's interests there. The Zhentarim has ample forces in Loudwater, but it keeps them hidden away, both disguised in-town, and in out-of-the-way wilderness outposts.
- Daggerford: The Snail, found at one of the local taverns, is the main Zhentarim operative in Daggerford.
- Nightstone: The Seven Serpents, a small troop of specialist mercenaries, have been hired to patrol the wilderness around Nightstone.
- Dessarin Valley: Bargewright Inn: The closest thing the Zhentarim has to a central headquarters in the North. The inn itself is a Zhentish holding, although that ownership is kept subtle. Show Zhent coins for free room and board.
- Rassalantar: The innkeep of the Sleeping Dragon inn is a Network agent and provides aid to his fellows.
- Triboar: Triboar Travelers is operated by a member of the Network, and flies the Zhentarim sigil openly upon its sign.
- Yartar: The Black Network has a coster-house and barracks here, doing business with merchants. They also have inroads with the local thieves guild, the all-female Hand of Yartar.
- The Fallen Lands: The villages where the Black Road out of Anauroch enters the North (Parnast, Llorkh, Orlbar) are all Zhentarim-controlled, by and large (though the control is more or less overt, depending on the site).
- Silver Marches: Everlund: The northernmost Zhentarim outpost, in the form of a coster-house and mercenary barracks.
- Sword Mountains: Waterdeep: Several groups of Zhentarim operate out of Waterdeep. The public face for the Network are the Doom Raiders, a band of adventurers who also act as defacto leadership for the merchant and mercenary bands. There is also a more secretive faction within the Zhentarim who operate on their own, eschewing connections to the Doom Raiders and the rest of the organization.
- Western Heartlands: Baldur's Gate: The city contains a major Zhentarim mercenary and coster holding in the city, defensible, with barracks space
- Darkhold, the central operational citadel for the Zhentarim, is in the Far Hills. It is home to many of its leaders and top operatives.