Descent into Undermountain
The Yawning Portal
The Yawning Portal Inn stands on Rainrun Street in Waterdeep’s Castle Ward, two doors west of The Empty Keg Tavern. Right next to the inn, between it and the Keg, stands Mother Salinka’s House of Pleasure, a shabby, low-coin feasthall.
The Yawning Portal houses the most famous and accessible entrance to Undermountain. Built around a vast pit in the earth that drops to the Dungeon Level, the inn has for more than a century used its connection to the dangers below to attract the brave, foolhardy or merely curious.
Built on the site of Halaster Blackcloak’s ruined tower and founded with loot claimed from Undermountain, the Yawning Portal is a rambling structure that boasts three upper floors of guest rooms and a huge taproom. The centerpiece of this taproom is a 40-foot-wide well with a low wall. This is the “yawning portal” to Undermountain. Tables for patrons surround the well, and a large winch-and-pulley contraption grips the thick rope dungeon delvers use to descend the 140 feet into Undermountain. Entrance costs 10 gp per person and takes 10 rounds as Durnan lowers the individuals while they cling to the rope, their feet in attached stirrups.
Durnan the Sixth, descendant of the Durnan who originally built the inn, happily lowers any paying patron into the well by means of the winch. If a dungeon delver returns to the well room below and wants to come back up, he or she must drop 10 gp into a bucket Durnan lowers down before the innkeeper will haul the person back up. Durnan doesn’t provide healing or other help to returning adventurers, but he’ll send a runner with a message to one of the temples for no extra charge. (He considers the Undermountain entrance fee enough to cover such service.)
When adventurers pay to enter the well, patrons cheer, share rounds of drinks, and generally give the dungeon delvers a grand going-away party. For those the celebration doesn’t distract, the scene might seem a bit grisly as customers and inn workers openly bet on whether the adventurers will return, and how many will live to tell their tales.