Yartar is a roaring trade town frequented by adventurers and maverick merchants. This town of 6,000 folk is connected to a fortified bridge and a citadel on the west bank. Yartar is always buzzing. Caravans come and go, and goods are shipped from the caravans to freight barges. The fisherfolk of Yartar scour the Three Rivers for catfish, cold-water crabs, eels, silvertail, and shalass. All these can be bought fresh from stalls in Yartar's central market.
- Most overland travelers use Yartar's caravan services. There are places for horse trading, wagon sales, repairs, outfitting, and provisioning. In addition to the services available, Yartar is famous for a temple of Tymora and its Shieldmeet festivities that draws thousands of people.
- During the three years between Shieldmeets, Yartar hosts the Hiring Fair. Outcasts, bandits, homeless, isolated landholders, and adventurous Uthgardt gather on the field just north of the town. Here, those who need bodyguards, miners, farmhands, scouts, builders, grooms, guides, and the like try to find employees that suit them.
- The Hiring Fair is a time of crime; brawling; buying and selling armor, weapons, and stolen goods; covert exchanges of funds and information; and one or more wizard duels. It's not unusual for adventuring bands to be formed by ambitious and unattached adventurers, or for wealthy folk to look for adventurers to solve their problems. These tasks are known as "slaying the local dragon," whether that's what's actually called for or not.
- Except for torches around the edges of the stone hall of the Waterbaron and for signal lights on the river, Yartar is dark at night; by tradition, light lasses are young local girls who know the streets and lead the way.
- Yartar is a bubbling cauldron of plots, schemes, cabals, alliances, and under-the-table business arrangements. Everyone in Yartar is after money, power, or both, and they'd like it in as short a time as possible. There's a thieves' guild known as the Hand of Yartar. It's continually razed by feuds, power struggles, and corrupt double-dealing; so, in effect, every thief operates for himself. They are said to have been run by a shadowy cabal called the "Twice-Born" after an attempt to poison them was made by a rival. After verifying their deaths, this cabal appeared at the rival's home later that night, perfectly alive, and slaughtered everyone within. Zhent agents are rumored to exist in Yartar, in an attempt to secure a trade route through the vicinity.
The ruler of Yartar, the Waterbaron, is elected for life. The person who has held the office since 1346 DR is Alahar Khaumfros.
- Waterbaron's Hall: The Hall is the residence and court of the ruler. Rooms are provided for merchants, and feasts are thrown for important guests. The hall is rich with marble stonework, tapestries, and high, echoing chambers. Its over-hanging, peaked roof is held up by two ranks of pillars that march down both sides, passing stocks for flogged prisoners; even these items are ornate, carved in the shape of stone lions. At the end of the colonnade, a flight of broad stairs leads to the grand chamber. Servants' quarters and kitchens are below, as are secret passages linked to the meeting rooms above. A ward without tokens prevents bloodletting in the building, meaning sharp and piercing weapons cause no damage. Maces and spells govern violence here.
- The Shield Tower: The west bank of the Surbrin River is the site of the Shield Tower, home to the Shields of Yartar. These 150 mounted town guards police Yartar and fight off orcs and trolls and the cutthroats calling Yartar home. The Tower has a strong inner wall and a crumbling outer wall. The ring of bare ground between them has pit traps, rubbish, and a ward linked to guardian skeletons. Outside the wall are paddocks for caravans, and drovers selling horses and livestock. The Tower has a guarded dock, roofed to protect barges from the weather. The Waterbaron's Barge is stored here.
- The Waterbaron's Barge: This metal-armored, ram-equipped brute carries 200 warriors, crossbow guns, and barrels of water and buckets of sand to dampen fires from incendiaries. Its armor is fluted and chased to show off the skills of the local bargewrights.
Places of Interest
- Alleys (The Long Creep, Mindulspeer Lane, Dead Cat Cut, Shadowskulk, Spitting Adder Lane): Sixty years ago, Yartar was viewed as a pit of angry vipers by the late sage Dalcass, and the town hasn't changed much since then. Informants, bodyguards, escorts, errand runners, and dealers in potions, poisons, and shady goods live along such walks.
- The Fishyard: The visitor to this bustling town always finds his way to the noisy, crowded, market area in front of the Waterbaron's Hall. Known locally as the Fishyard, the market always has fish on sale. Even in the depths of winter, ice fishermen bring their wares to the stalls. The market is a maze. Many stalls sell fresh catches from the Three Rivers, while others offer every trinket or small item imaginable, including crystal perfume bottles from Calimshan, magical potions, amulets, and spellcasting components of great rarity and power.
- Dannath's Pickles, Nuts, & Foods: Foodstuffs (4c) • Alukk Dannath runs a shop with his three strong daughters, specializing in foods prac- tical for northern travelers. Typical items are dried apricots, figs, and garshells. Prices are high, but worth it. Anything in danger of spoiling is detected by the proprietor. Such goods are converted into some other form. For example, overripe fruits are added to a wine or syrup mash. Dannath is a short, bristle- bearded, red-haired man who sees with the aid of two thick monocles.
- Esklindrar's Maps, Books, & Folios: Bookshop (4c) • This is the home and shop of Esklindrar, a sage whose expertise is written humans works of the Sword Coast, from earliest known times to the present. This feeble, white-bearded, doddering, acerbic, old man has the best mind for books this side of Candlekeep. If it's not in his shop, Esklindrar has probably seen it and remembers where it was and what it looked like. For 500 gp, he gives enthusiastic answers on the spot, pointing out locales with his pointer on the map of Faerûn adorning the ceiling. The musty shop contains a thousand treasure maps, but woe to the thief who steals from or threatens the old sage. He's under Alustriel of Silverymoon's protection, who's laid two spells on Esklindrar. He's protected by a spherical wall of force whenever he wills, and he can cause a blade barrier to erupt from any book or scroll he's handled, even if they've been taken away from his shop. Furthermore, the shop is warded. There are no tokens; the ward merely prevents all fire and explosions, magic or otherwise. Fiery missiles are snuffed out as they enter.
- Firelust Fabrics & Tailoring: Tailors (5c) • Firelust Fabrics is run by the jolly Firelust family. All are quality tailors, from white-haired grand-dames to fat and tumbling youngsters. Prices are high, but well worth it. They're renowned for whipping up costumes in minutes when a client demands it. Family members descend in a whirlwind around customers and dress them where they stand.
- Halassa's Waterwell & Fine Wines: Spirits Shop (3c) • Halassa's is run by a short, sharp-tongued old woman who seems to know everyone. She's seen most days giving strangers salty advice as if she were their grandmother. Halassa has never adventured nor even traveled far from Yartar. Nonetheless, she's learned to stomach all the drinks humans, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, and elves make. She sells most of them at prices reasonable for this remote locale. The selection is stored in cellars that spiral down around Halassa's well, and it is guarded by many locked gates. Her stock has astonished many a traveler, but locals are more appreciative of the one free bucket of water a day she gives them from the deep well.
- Hasklar's Arms & Armor: Armorer (5c) • Hasklar's shop contains the best on public display of high quality armor and weapons in the North. Hasklar prides himself on having at least one of every metal thing that can be used by a single person engaged in war- fare, though some of his specimens are odd sizes or of limited usefulness. He has gorgets with key- or coin-sized storage pouches. They're favored by thieves because of the lockpicks one can hide therein. He has throwing knives with nonreflective handles and needle-sharp points at both ends. Hasklar is not a smith, and he has no metalworker to call on, so he doesn't provide alterations or custom orders. His prices are high even among nobles, but his wares are the best. Thieves are discouraged by magical, animated weapons that pursue for days if need be. Hasklar often talks to empty air and listens intently, as if holding a conversation; he may share his shop with a ghost.
- Winter Winds: Clothiers (4c) • This clothes shop is run by Felassal and Thuorn, two arguing brothers from Baldur's Gate who moan and complain of the conditions of the North as they drape customers in cloaks, boots, furs, leggings, and mufflers. Though they rarely agree on anything, their taste is good. Prices are typically above standard prices, but customers with patience enough to be swarmed over by these two are likely to emerge looking quite wealthy and cultured. The two brothers rarely forget a face.
- Beldabar’s Rest: Inn (4c) • This is perhaps the most unusual human-built inn of the North. It's located underground, beneath Yartar's central market. It was created by linking together the cellars of old warehouses. The first part of Beldabar's is the gatehouse. The building is lit by a lamp holding seven thick candles leading down into the inn's circular common room. Beside the gatehouse is a roll- up gate, and behind that is an earthen ramp leading down to the inn's stables. The common room is 120' or more in diameter. The room is home to the innkeeper's desk, a bar, and dining tables and chairs. From this room, passages radiate out like the spokes of a wheel. One hallway leads to the vast, low, warehouse that's now the heavily guarded stables. Other passages lead into areas converted into damp sleeping rooms. The whole area is lit by pale driftglobes.
- Beldabar is a burly, handsome ex-adventurer. He cultivates a dangerous atmosphere, and the curious guest may hear the occasional clash of steel, the crack of a lash, or a scream of pain from behind closed doors. Much drinking, gambling, and bartering goes on here. To keep brawls and bloodshed to a minimum, the common room of the Rest is open only to guests. Patrons can be expelled from Beldabar's for creating any fire, molesting the staff, practicing slavery or theft, or drawing steel (except in self defense). Not surprisingly, the staff includes many former adventurers who can handle most trouble (usually including one F10, a T8, a W9, and a P7 of Lathander, Selûne, Sune, or Tempus). Beldabar keeps many cats, who prowl about hunting rats.
- Adventurers and frontier folk love the atmosphere of the Rest, so the place is busy. It's cool in summer and easy to heat in winter. Every room has a bar to prop the door closed, but every room has two secret entrances known only to the staff. The Rest has a smuggler's door opening onto a cavern dock on one bank of the river. There are hidden entries and exits con- necting to locales around Yartar. Notably, there are tunnels to Shadowskulk alley and Kissing Court at the east end of town.
- There are rumors of secret doors leading to deeper halls; one may lead to an ancient, abandoned, dwarven citadel linked to the Underdark. This may be used by drow who trade in slaves. There are traps waiting around the Rest for the nosy; and, from time to time, skeletons or impaled corpses are found in passages. There are legends about a wererat colony and an illithilich (undead mind flayer) lurking under Yartar, preying on those who venture away from the safety of the central Rest.
- The Cointoss: Tavern (3c) • A mediocre tavern, the Cointoss is a low- beamed, smoky, poorly lit place with wooden tables and benches. It's occupied by locals who drink the night away. The Toss is favored by Yartarrans as a place free from intrigue and noisy visitors - neither are welcome. The place gets its name from a helm over the bar. If a patron tosses a coin through the eye slit of the helm, he gets the next glass free. The proprietor, Tanataskar Moonwind, loves to hear tales of adventure. He even neglects the bar to sit and hear them. His heart is set on adventuring, not pouring drinks dragging drunks to the door, or breaking up brawls.
- One Foot in the Boat: Tavern (3c) • This is the sort of tavern that's too noisy and too crowded to be as good as you remember it being, but it shines in memory, and it smells exciting. It impresses peddlers all over the North, and native Yartarrans too. If lucky, a patron may overhear something that may lead to adventure, or at least give him something to talk about in other taverns.
- The Pearl-Handled Pipe: Inn (4c) • This is an excellent inn. The owner and keeper, Elladuth Myristar, loves good furniture and cozy decor, and she spends her time making or acquiring more. Caravans carrying fine carvings, tapestries, and furniture stop here to sell Elladuth all she has room for. She can't say no to a nice-looking chair or bed, so she has an attic filled with furniture. Elladuth is always adding new rooms to the inn so she can set up the furniture. At last count, the Pipe can sleep 600 in comfort and privacy. This is the best place to stay in Yartar, and one of the best in the North.
- The White-Winged Griffon: Inn (2c) • This creaking hostel threatens to come down during high winds, letting the chill blow through the bones of tenants. Known locally as the Whitewings, it has the virtue of being cheap, but the rooms are small with partitions between them. More rats than people live here, and the plumbing consists of chamber pots emptied out of back hatches into a cesspool. The Whitewings is run by two mumbling, toothless old brothers who shamble about with mops and greasy rags and seem too decrepit to notice anything.
- The Wink and the Kiss: Festhall (4c) • This gaudy festhall is fun and informal. Easy camaraderie is encouraged here. Rowdiness is discouraged by Beldorm (CN hm F12) and Asklar (CN hm F14), the bald, 7-foot-tall brothers who own the place. It's a labyrinth of rooms, secret passages, hanging curtains, and galleries. On occasion, the concealment offered by the maze has been used by killers. The Hand of Yartar declared the festhall safe ground. No feuds are pursued here, and no weapons are drawn. Guests must leave all weapons, clothing, and gear in safe storage, and they are asked to don costumes instead. This fad threatens to spread across the North. Already someone has worn a stolen costume while slaying in the alleys of Yartar.
Temples & Shrines
- The Happy Hall of Fortuitous Happenstance: This hall is a temple to Tymora. Built like a fortress of grim, forbidding stone, its arched windows look down on the town from the temple's own small hillock. Locals often call it Two Hap Fort Hall, or just the Two. Run by High Priestess Velantha Waerdar, the temple has a policy of sponsoring adventuring bands to guard it. The bands are asked to go out and stir things up, aiding those whom the priestess favors, rescuing lost or weakened caravans, and aiding adventuring bands whose luck has run out.
Roads & Trails
Three roads lead outside the gates of Yartar: the western road leading to Triboar, a northern road that follows the River Surbrin to Nesmé, and the easterly Evermoor Way.
Yartar is located at the fork where the River Surbrin merges with the River Dessarin, making it a place that sees a great deal of merchant barge traffic.