Best known for their scholarly pursuits and fine wines, Waterdhavians in the know like to say that the Melshimbers have combined those two interests to master the art of gossip and information-gathering. One of the older families in Waterdeep, few are such a fixture on the social scene as the Melshimbers. It is a simple fact that no social event can be said to truly occur in Waterdeep without at least a flurry of invitations being sent to the Melshimber Villa, and acceptance by at least one is required to accord such an event a success.
The Melshimbers never surrendered their nobility, unlike many others, though the dark times in Waterdeep hit them just as badly as others. Their old matriarch Edura was practically a slave to Open Lord Dagult Neverember, who used her information network as his personal spies, controlling her through a very addictive drug that he alone doled out to her. When she died of the caustic drug's effects, her eldest son Lord Harlond became head of house, and has sworn to never be beholden to such again.
Members of the Family
The Melshimbers are a rollicking large family, with a great many branches scattered all over. Not all Melshimbers are recognized as House Melshimber, in fact, due to various familial enmities and falling-outs, although Laeral's Reinvestment did bring quite a few of them home to roost (so to say).
The main branch today traces its lineage back to Lord Khallos Melshimber, the son of Lady Hlanta.
Patriarch of the House (Rank 3) • 45 years
A man comfortable in his role as head-of-house, Lord Harlond is part of the backbone of Waterdeep's noble community. He makes the requisite appearances at public events, of course, but his forté are the parlor and study meetings, the conferences late in the night, which shape the futures of Waterdeep, insofar as the nobility have any sway over such. He is pleasant but his smiles never reach his eyes.
Consort (Rank 2) • 41 years
In contrast to her husband, it might almost be fairly said that there is no social set in Waterdeep without Andraethra. She sets a great deal of the nobility's standards of comportment and presentation, and a critical word from her has crushed reputations and futures within those circles before.
Heir, firstborn daughter (Rank 1) • 23 years
Young and ambitious, Tasheene seems to hold her parents' stodgy, traditionalist ways in contempt. She certainly is as power-hungry as they; she simply doesn't see any use in avoiding employing whatever contacts and resources come her way. Oddly enough, however, she has been quite sedate in the past half-year or so.
Secondborn son (Rank 2) • 21 years
Spoiled and focused mostly on his own pleasures, everyone seems glad that Kobrostos is not the heir...including Kobrostos. Kobrostos runs with a clique of young nobles who spend their time partying and gambling, and he puts their diversions above all else. His father despairs of the boy coming to any use whatsoever, though his mother insists that he simply has "a young man's humors, which need to be expressed!"
Patriarch's sister and Master of Pages (Rank 2) • 43 years
Secretive and elegant, Gholsetha delights in the social rounds. In many ways, most think of her as the very icon of the Melshimber secret-merchant: she always knows just the right gossip for your needs, so long as you can bring her something she didn't already know. If not, she's happy to direct you to discover some!
Gholsetha's consort (Rank 2) • 48 years
A scholarly man raised in Candlekeep, Elbymil assists his wife's work as Master of Pages. While she focuses on the informants and secret-mongering of her position, she leaves a great deal of the management of the House library and archives to Elbymil. He has a reputation for a certain dourness of outlook, and is quite quiet most of the time. Elbymil is one of the few people that Gholsetha seems to trust implicitly, however, and is without question one of the finest minds of the House currently living.
Gholsetha's firstborn son (Rank 2) • 22 years
Quiet as his father, Veluithan is his mother's right hand, acting as her eyes and ears in the salons of the younger generation of nobles. Not given to smiling or revelry much, Veluithan still manages to collect plenty of useful information for his mother's network. Indeed, he seems to have a somewhat sinister reputation among certain circles of his generation of nobles.
Gholsetha's secondborn daughter (Rank 1) • 19 years
Bright where her brother is dark, and cheery where he is melancholy, Jhaenureth is often the foil to Veluithan's brooding sobriety. Since her Coming Out, she has gained quite the reputation as a reveler, befitting the Melshimber reputation for love of wine and song far better than dour Tasheene does. Jhaenureth and Tasheene have not gotten along since both were girls, and their contempt of one another is notorious in noble sets.
- Elhorar Melshimber: Patriarch's brother (Rank 1) • 39 years. Elhorar has always escaped into his books. Fortunately, in House Melshimber, that is a viable option for one's vocation. Elhorar is a sage for the familial business, although he doesn't try to actually run any of the Melshimber sage business. He's simply a scholar, happy to help folk within his areas of expertise (jewelry and gemstones across Faerûnian cultures, as well as the religious traditions of the cultures off the Sword Coast, including the Moonshaes). Halrond wanted him to take on the Master of Wines title, but Elhorar couldn't be less interested in wines.
- Alon Melshimber: Elhorar's consort (Rank 1) • 34 years. The handsome Alon is Elhorar's husband. Tall and muscled, Alon was a dancer that the bookish Melshimber met when a theater company hired him to advise them on the proper jewelry to use for a theater production. Elhorar attended every show, eschewing the noble boxes so he could sit as close to the stage as possible, his attention rapt on Alon. The two have been together for ten years or so now. Alon is very social, and still dances semi-professionally, and Elhorar still attends every performance faithfully.
- Diemba Hunabar: Patriarch's sister (Rank –) • 37 years. The youngest of the four children of Lord Hasten, Diemba married into House Hunabar some fifteen years ago, and has several children by her husband Lhuellyn. She occasionally visits and seems very intent that her children should have relationships with their Melshimber cousins. She has three children, Narenda (age 14), Lyelle (age 10), and Xavin (age 4).
- Ruldryn Melshimber: Patriarch's cousin (Rank 2) • 33 years. The son of Lord Hasten's younger sister, Ruldryn has always been a staunch supporter of the main branch of the family, particularly his cousin Harlond. Ruldryn is a trained fighter and oversees the Melshimber guards.
- Mrinil Melshimber: Ruldryn's consort (Rank 0) • 33 years. The daughter of Karadaq Ampesarr, the former guildmaster of the Master Mariner's Guild, Mrinil was just as happy to meet Ruldryn and marry into a family that didn't expect her to engage in "maritime nonsense." She vastly prefers her feet on dry land, ideally propped up while listening to a handsome minstrel play something racy. Mrinil tends to be quiet at parties, but is quite sociable in smaller groups.
- Ilomnar Melshimber: Ruldryn's firstborn son (Rank 0) • 14 years. Ilomnar has been learning the use of the sword since his father would let him, and has since enrolled in the Agundar's Grand Salle academy as part of his finishing years. He has spoken with his father about the possibility of enlisting with the Skybolts (an Agundar mercenary company) when he is of age.
- Brylla Melshimber: Ruldyryn's secondborn daughter (Rank 0) • 11 years. Painfully shy and generally uninterested in the presence of other people around her, Brylla is quite clever. Though she has a hard time learning from a traditional tutor, her mother has noticed that she learns excellently from books, and so has focused her education in that direction as much as possible. Her refusal to make eye contact and general confusion or disdain for what others see as basic etiquette is a source of ongoing concern for her father and mother.
- Shalyth Melshimber: Ruldryn's thirdborn daughter (Rank 0) • 8 years. Brylla's staunch defender, Shalyth is very well-spoken for a little one of her age. She makes friends easily and often, from the other nobles to the serving staff to the guards. In particular, she seems to currently adore a young woman in the Melshimber guard, one Meridee Talan, who seems embarrassed and unsure what to do when the little girl inevitably seeks her out so she can sit nearby and chatter with her all day.
The Scornubian Branch
Only about half of the Scornubian branch of Melshimbers is actually in Scornubel. The rest of them are located in Waterdeep. While the matriarch of the Scornubian Melshimbers remains at the Helm-and-Eye Estate, her son and his family act as her representatives to the House in Waterdeep.
- Nethlaw Melshimber: Patriarch's cousin (Rank 2) • 42 years. Grasping and jealous, Nethlaw sees everything as an insult from the "main branch" of the family. He is sure Harlond is out to deny his family their due, despite all the hard work they have put in maintaining prosperity in Scornubel.
- Serielle Melshimber: Nethlaw's consort (rank 1) • 38 years. Serielle is exhausted with her husband's constant whinging, and utterly delighted to be out from under the thumb of his mother in Scornubel. She has taken to Waterdeep's many delights and diversions with aplomb, so much so that she utterly dreads leaving it in winter.
- Rilnissa Melshimber: Nethlaw's firstborn daughter (rank 0) • 18 years. Friendly almost to a fault, if Rilnissa were less meek she could be a very good mediator. Unfortunately, she is often browbeaten for her "soft, useless opinions" by her father, and her mother does nothing to protect her from his temper. Rilnissa has found a friendship in an unusual spot: Kymeera, the mother of the two Melshimber tieflings, whom Rilnissa adores.
- Vhirar Melshimber: Nethlaw's secondborn son (rank 0) • 14 years. Taken out of the home he's always known and plopped down into a confusing, antagonistic, strange situation, it is no wonder that Vhirar is something of a trouble-maker. He frequently sneaks out of the Melshimber villa – growing up, he had the run of the Scornubian estates, and he misses the freedom of the countryside. He has fallen in with some less-than-savory boys his own age, the sons of non-nobles who do not know of his nobility.
- Dleathe Melshimber: Nethlaw's thirdborn daughter (rank 0) • 9 years. As much as Rilnissa loves the tieflings Psalm and Hosannah, it was probably inevitable that Dleathe should react with jealousy. She and Hosannah often play, but their play frequently turns to squabbling.
The Silverymoon Branch
Descended from Ciro Melshimber and his husband Naerond Aerasume, the Silverymoon Melshimbers tend to be tall and fair of hair and demeanor. Though half-elven Naerond is still alive, he has never considered himself a Melshimber. Despite this, he is basically the patriarch of the family. The Silverymoon Melshimbers seem to have inherited no small measure of wizardly skill, likely from their mother, a renowned half-elven wizardess who is part of the clergy of Lurue in Silverymoon. Only two of the family are in Waterdeep: the cousins Evannos and Ymetta.
- Evannos Melshimber: Patriarch's cousin, Ymetta's brother (rank 1) • 24 years. It is no surprise that Evannos is kindly regarded by Harlond and Andraethra both: he is young, handsome, polite, and a Knight in Silver. With his dark hair and bright blue eyes, Evannos has set hearts aflutter in Waterdeep's social set. He is happy to flirt and more, but has not taken anyone in Waterdeep as a lover – which of course only heightens the pull he exerts on his admirers. Though everyone who meets him expects him to be protective of his sister, he has every faith in her ability to take care of herself.
- Ymetta Melshimber: Patriarch's cousin, Evannos's sister (rank 1) • 22 years. A young wizardess as lovely as her brother is handsome, Ymetta is the more serious of the two. She was trained in the Art by her
The Baldur's Gate Branch
Descended from Ymayra Melshimber after she fled Waterdeep in grief, the Baldur's Gate branch was found through the efforts of Laeral and Falconfree. Her descendants inherited Ymayra's skill for wizardry. They are rarely seen in Waterdeep, focused as they are on the management of Melshimber lands around Baldur's Gate and throughout the Western Heartlands.
The New Kin
Matriarch's Cousin (Renown 4) • 44 years
A distant cousin, Kymeera showed up in 1471 DR, when things were looking very bad for House Melshimber. The infusion of coin she brought with her prompted Lady Edura to overlook the stain on her name: her tiefling children Psalm and Hosanna.
Kymeera's firstborn son (Renown 1) • 21 years
Kymeera's secondborn daughter (Renown 0) • 8 years
Sweet dispositioned and gregarious to a fault (although with a slight impulse control problem), Hosanna loves making friends. Unfortunately, she's realized that a good many folk don't wish to make friends with someone who looks like her. Though her relationship with her cousins her age is still fraught, she has taken solace from the welcome she has gotten from some of her aunts and uncles.
Patriarch's Valet (Rank 2) • 44 years
The patriarch's valet is his right-hand man. Though his formal duties deal with grooming and dressing Lord Melshimber, like so many valets, Erathus's responsibilities include any other tasks the patriarch puts to him. Everyone in the House knows that when Erathus speaks, he does so with the backing of the House patriarch, and those who seek to stymie or deny him risk the lord's wrath. Still, Erathus himself isn't cruel or petty – he is simply deadly efficient and loyal to a frightening degree. He is also known to be a deadly hand with a hidden blade, a fact that has saved Lord Melshimber's life one at least one occasion.
- Resources Limit: If necessary, House Melshimber could probably generate about 50,000 gp in liquid coin and valuables within a month.
Wine's Wisdom Hall
Sea Ward of Waterdeep, Waterdeep
The estate villa of House Melshimber consists of a trio of buildings, with extensively landscaped gardens between them. The whole is surrounded by a fine white-washed wall, decorated with carved interwoven grape vines around quills across the top of it. The buildings themselves are likewise a mist-grey (almost white) stone, and they are fond of decorative stained glass windows - even the regular windows often have a frame of stained glass across their tops and bottoms, usually depicting grape leaves and clusters, books, scrolls, writing utensils and the like.
- Wine's Wisdom Hall: A five-story structure, Wine's Wisdom's best-known feature is the Tasting Room, a large rounded room that sticks out into the gardens. It is four stories in height, and its garden-facing walls are all fine glass windows. It is a fine party chamber that is the envy of many nobles, and rightly so - many of the finest social events in Waterdhavian histories have taken place there. The rest of the building is made up of private living spaces, for the most part: the ground floor features sumptuous chambers for entertaining guests, including a massive banquet hall with a stage on one end that is sometimes used to host theatrical events or musical performances. The upper floors are all wings of private suites for household members. Lady Gholsetha's immediate family maintain rooms here.
- The Vintage House: This five-story house has extensive rooms, including two floors of guesting housing for friends of the family visiting Waterdeep. The street-front face of the building features a massive set of oaken double-doors all entwined with grape vines and closed books in the center of the doors emblazoned with the Melshimber heraldry. There is also a small gate in the wall directly north of the house, allowing delivery wagons access to the house's extensive wine cellars. The cellars themselves are the size of the whole of the building, and entirely made up of row-after-row of ceiling-height wineracks. Half the servants of the Vintage House are directly under the Master Sommelier Denaren Izira, and employed to keep the wines in fine shape and inventoried properly. These servants also deliver wines to the houses of the estate and see to its proper service.
- The House of Parchments: Before the House maintained separate offices for such, the Parchments House provided them with a base for their sages to do their work from. Now friends of the family (and other Waterdhavian nobles) still occasionally visit for that purpose. The ground floor is made up of a handful of reading rooms and parlors which line the outer walls of the building. The southern edge of the building juts out in the gardens - this is the House library, a massive four-story construction, with literal walls of books. The upper second through fourth floors of the northern portion of the building is divided into a variety of suites.
- The Great Cellars: Beneath the villa grounds is an extensive warren of cellars. These cellars can be accessed from the cellars of any of the houses, although only a few heads of house (generally those of Rank 7+) have keys to them. The family maintains a massive wine cellar down here somewhere, in which they store ancient and extremely valuable vintages, including some wines magically restored or preserved garnered from ancient historical sites (a neat cross of the House's interests). It is also said that the House's vaults are down here somewhere, hidden away behind traps and locked doors. Family rumor maintains that one passage also extends out into the sewers.
- The Garden Chapel: A small private family chapel, situated in the northwest corner of the gardens, shrouded by trees.
- Melshimber Offices: Castle Ward. House Melshimber maintains a small office, with ample library (all copies of the House's own tomes) for the use of its members who maintain public presences as sages, with a set of apartments above.
- The Quill Hall: Trade Ward. House Melshimber also maintains a rooming house, which they rent out to only writers, sages and the like. The top floor of the house they keep empty, for the exclusive use of those writers they patronize to produce written works for them.
House Melshimber maintains extensive vineyards around the North and Heartlands, which produce their variety of fine vintages.
- The Helm-and-Eye Estates: A collection of rich vineyards just outside of Scornubel, with an opulent manor in the center of the lands, the Helm-and-Eye (named for the Melshimber heraldry) is home to xxx. They are masters of over a dozen individual vineyards and two small villages where the harvests are brought in and made into wines at the estate proper.
- Greenfields Vineyards: Though they own only a few of the vineyards to be found in these lands just north of Amn, House Melshimber invests in quite a few others here, and usually benefit from a pick of the harvest. They also own most of the best wineries in the area.
- Heartlands Estates: The Melshimbers also own a handful of vineyards and wineries across the Western Heartlands, including in Bereghost, the lands around Baldur's Gate, Triel, Scoubar and Elturel.
- Printers Through the North: House Melshimber also owns an extensive printery out of Silverymoon from when they print a great many books that find their way into libraries in the North.
- Patronage of Authors & Sages: The Melshimbers also make a point of acting as patrons for many writers of topics they consider of interest or importance, providing funding and even room and board (in the Quill Hall, above) for promising writers.
- Contributions: House Melshimber contributes heavily to a great many institutions, mostly libraries and temples to Oghma. Every major urban library and temple to Oghma in the North receives an annual stipend. They also contribute heavily to Candlekeep's coffers.
Best known for their scholarly pursuits and fine wines, Waterdhavians in the know like to say that the Melshimbers have combined those two interests to master the art of gossip and information-gathering.
House Melshimber is a House of scholars and carousers. They are usually quite well-regarded for their winning charms, their love of (and access to) the finest wines, and as patrons of the arts. Once, the Melshimbers were regarded as intrigue-loving dilettantes and party-goers, but their reputation evolved a somewhat sharper edge for knowing everyone's secrets. To this day, everyone knows: the Melshimbers know.
Goals and Philosophy
Where once the Melshimber investment in intrigues was simply a harmless game to engage in between parties and events, now they are nearly a stock in trade. The Melshimbers continue their oldest vocations - that of wine merchants, vineyard owners, and patrons of the arts - but all of those can be and have been turned to the increase of power for Hlanta's House.
By and large, Melshimber scions are involved in sagecraft, wine (either the making or selling of it), and the patronage of the arts in any number of capacities. In many ways, the House as a whole is involved with Hlanta's search for interesting secrets, which she rewards her family and household well for.
Quests undertaken by agents of House Melshimber might include the following:
- Deal with anything disrupting the lines of wine flowing from any Melshimber property to Waterdeep.
- Seek out by any number of unsavory means the secrets of other Houses...and even those beyond the nobles' Game.
Scions and agents of House Melshimber in good standing might receive the following benefits:
- Living Quarters: Renown 1+. Those in good standing with the House are given quarters within the House's Waterdhavian villa appropriate to their role in the House.
- Living Expenses/Salaries: Renown 1+. Those in good standing with the House also receive a stipend of 1gp plus 5sp per day per point of Rank. This is not actual cash, but simply familial credit towards payment of Lifestyle costs. This stacks with the same kind of familial credit received from the Waterdhavian Noble Background (see Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide).
- Business Opportunities: Renown 3+. Lynchpins to House Melshimber's operations receive access to a variety of business opportunities within the House's money-making endeavors. This is handled as "Running a Business" in downtime months. This does not incur a business expense, but if the character rolls results that end in a loss of money, he can and will find access to his House funds reduced until the loss has been made up for.
- Heir or Consort (Title): Renown 3+. The holder of one of the legal titles Heir of House and Consort of House, as recorded with the city of Waterdeep, is entitled to an additional 2gp per day in familial credit, per the "Living Expenses/Salaries" entry above. The heir is also accorded certain privileges within the legal system of Waterdeep, including the ability to speak on behalf of his House in some legal proceedings and the like.
- Vault of Secrets: Renown 5+. Upper-tier House members gain access to the House's "Vault of Secrets," a metaphor for the body of knowledge the matriarch and the upper echelons of the House have accrued about other nobles and other important individuals in Waterdeep. Those with access to that Vault may seek out information from the House's sources, taking up a day of discussion with family members and records. If the individual or organization in question have any secrets known to the House, that scion gains access to them at the end of that day...although the asking may draw the interest of Gholsetha or any of the other important House members.
- Master of Pages: Renown 7+. A family title, the Master of Pages is the head of the house's sagely business, considered the direct employer of the family's many sages and librarians, as well as its network of informants and information-brokers. This title comes with a monthly stipend in addition to familial credit in Waterdeep and mastery of the House of Parchments, including unrestricted access to the House's fine library therein.
- Master of Wines: Renown 7+. A family title, the Master of Wines is the head of the house's wine business, considered the direct employer of the family's many sommeliers, wine merchants, and vineyards. The title comes with a monthly stipend in addition to familial credit in Waterdeep, as well as the right to take residence either in one of the House's many vineyards or in the Vintage House in the Waterdeep villa compound.
- Wealth of the House: Renown 10. The matriarch of the House is in total control of the House's finances and various holdings, established by the laws of Waterdeep.