House Ghallanda

HOUSE GHALLANDA “You look at me and see a simple innkeeper, harmless and jolly. But I know five places where you can find dreamlily in this city. I know two members of the royal family. And I know a man who would kill you for a cut of the silver in your purse. People underestimate my family . . . and that’s the way we like it. Now, freshen your tal?” —Torish d’Ghallanda, owner of the Lonesome Dog Inn Fine food, a comfortable chair, a mug of ale, and a roaring fi re: These are the treasures of House Ghallanda. The blink dog seal of the house is a beacon for the weary traveler. When stamped on the trade sign of an inn or tavern, it promises reliable service and reasonable rates—but there might be more to this simple inn than meets the eye. House Ghallanda goes to great lengths to form bonds within local communities, and Ghallanda heirs take pride in being able to acquire special services for valued clients. The Ghallanda innkeeper is not a spy, nor does he solve crimes. He knows the word on the street, though, and if you’re looking for tickets to the Absalom Opera, a discreet bordello, or a trustworthy diviner, he can help you. Though Ghallanda is known for its inns, the house has other holdings. Ghallanda landlords offer longterm housing, and the master chefs of the house prepare meals for kings and queens. The wealthy of Avistan vacation at Ghallanda resorts and gambling halls, while house decorators have helped to establish the aesthetic of the modern age. The heirs of House Ghallanda might not be as impressive as the arcanists of House Cannith or the warriors of Deneith, but it is dangerous to underestimate the power of this house. After all, many an adventurer feels more loyalty to his bartender than to his king.

The Sign of the HELPFUL HOUND

The Mark of Hospitality manifested among the nomadic halflings of Varisia approximately thirtytwo hundred years ago. For those accustomed to the hard life of the plains, the powers of the mark were a boon. The half lings knew nothing of the draconic Prophecy, concluding instead that the marks were a divine blessing, and that those so blessed were obliged to use this gift to help others in need. The majority of marked half lings chose to follow this call, coming together to form a new tribe. A number of ancient Talenta legends involved blink dogs helping stranded travelers, and the tribe drew on this tradition when they adopted the name of Ghallanda, a Half ling word that roughly translates as “helpful hound who appears where needed the most.”

For centuries, half lings of the Ghallanda tribe roamed Avistan, offering food and shelter to the needy. They sponsored glorious feasts for the heroes of the plains, standing apart from feuds and tribal conflicts. The helpful hounds were welcome in every camp and assisted people of all tribes.

THE RISE OF HOUSE GHALLANDA

Karrn soldiers first explored the Talenta Plains when Karrn the Conqueror sought to spread his rule across all Avistan. The Talenta half lings were puzzled by these large and unwieldy creatures, but the Ghallanda tribe had vowed to help all who were in need. Soldiers returned with tales of little people using magical marks to conjure food and castles from the air. These tales intrigued the other dragonmarked families, and House Cannith and House Sivis organized a joint expedition that led them to discover both the Ghallanda and Jorasco dragonmarked.

Despite their altruistic traditions, the elders of the Ghallanda were no fools. Even those who desired to leave the plains and explore foreign lands did not intend to do so as servants. They agreed to work with the other houses, provided those houses would help them fi nd a foothold in their lands. After much negotiating, House Ghallanda was born.

GHALLANDA IN THE MODERN AGE

It took some time for House Ghallanda to spread its roots. Many humans considered the half lings to be cousins to the goblins, who were largely oppressed and enslaved at the time. The Ghallanda halfl ings had often served as mediators in their homelands, and they used their skill and charm at every level of society as they carved out a niche in the young Five Nations. During the confl ict of the War of the Mark, the Ghallanda halflings proved their worth by supplying and supporting dragonmarked forces in the field. This effort gained them the support of the other houses and secured their place among the Twelve.

Over the next thousand years, House Ghallanda spread across Avistan, and today it is one of the most trusted houses in the land. Though some claim that House Cannith caused the Day of Mourning, or blame House Deneith for the Darguun uprising, few people have harsh words for the halfl ings of Ghallanda—at least as long as the ale is flowing.

House Ghallanda AS AN ORGANIZATION

“Home is where the gold is.” —Ryla d’Ghallanda, Absalom socialite

The halfl ings of House Ghallanda have long dominated the hospitality industry by means of charm, skill, and dragonmark magic. A majority of the inns, taverns, and restaurants of the Five Nations are licensed by House Ghallanda’s Hostelers Guild.

JOINING HOUSE GHALLANDA

Although some other houses seek exceptional talent or skills in nonblood members, almost any halfl ing who can win the heart of a Ghallanda heir is welcome to marry into the house. In accordance with tradition, no heir of House Jorasco has ever married into House Ghallanda, but on a few rare occasions, halfl ings with aberrant dragonmarks have married Ghallanda heirs—a practice that would be all but impossible in any other dragonmarked house. The vast majority of the members of House Ghallanda have NPC class levels; those who have levels in PC classes are often rogues, bards, wizards, scouts, or swashbucklers. The swashbuckler class (from Complete Warrior) is common in Avistan, especially in the cities of the former Five Nations. Scouts (introduced in Complete Adventurer) were found among all the armies of the Last War.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS Race: Halfl ing. Special: Must be related to a member of House Ghallanda by blood or marriage.

Members of House Ghallanda commonly work at one of the house’s bound businesses. Experts, commoners, and magewrights perform the everyday tasks of the house, while rogues often serve as bouncers and security consultants, dealing with threats as quickly and quietly as possible. Bards and rogues also work to help the house establish and maintain its web of connections, making contacts among the nobility as easily as among the criminal underworld.

HOUSE GHALLANDA BENEFITS

Ghallanda’s power is not measured on the same scale as Cannith’s or Kundarak’s, but house membership provides a number of benefits of use to adventurers. Economics: A Ghallanda heir in good standing is welcome at any house business, normally receiving a 50% discount on lodging, food, and other goods and services. An heir in a desperate state can receive free food and lodging, though he and any companions are expected to earn their keep through labor.

Information: The greatest benefit of Ghallanda membership might well be the network of communication that thrives throughout the house. The heirs of Ghallanda enjoy the company of family and friends, and they love discussing gossip and local news. House members can gain invaluable inside information on nobles, criminals, merchants, and common folk.

Favored in House Benefits

A simple favor check can grant a character and his companions a night’s lodging, but Ghallanda’s social connections are sometimes its most useful tools. House Ghallanda’s information is acquired through connections with guildmasters, criminals, nobles, and the like, as opposed to active intelligence-gathering. As such, the DM might decide that Ghallanda simply does not have access to a particular piece of information. The following table indicates the types of favors a Ghallanda character with the Favored in House feat might request.

FAVORED IN HOUSE GHALLANDA DC1 Benefit 10 One free use of the least Mark of Hospitality; a night’s free lodging for four characters; use of house contacts to gain a +3 circumstance bonus on a Gather Information check; a loan of 100 gp at 10% per year2

15 One free use of the lesser Mark of Hospitality; an introduction to a well-placed guild official, skilled criminal, or similar NPC; an invitation to a gala event; use of house contacts to gain a +6 circumstance bonus on a Gather Information check

20 One free use of the greater Mark of Hospitality; free use of a 3rd-level member of the Hostelers Guild (least dragonmark) for 1 week; an introduction to a crime lord, guildmaster, or similar NPC; a chance for four characters to attend a royal banquet as servants; use of house contacts to gain a +9 circumstance bonus on a Gather Information check

25 Free use of a 5th-level member of the Hostelers Guild (lesser dragonmark) for 1 week; an invitation to a royal banquet for four characters; use of house contacts to gain a +12 circumstance bonus on a Gather Information check

1 If a requested favor involves an illegal or dangerous act, increase the DC by 5. Favors with DCs of 20 or higher always require additional service to the house. 2 A character can have no more than one loan at a time.

GUILDS IN HOUSE GHALLANDA

The Ghallanda seal is a promise of quality, and guild inspectors ensure that licensed and bound businesses maintain the standards of the house.

THE HOSTELERS GUILD

The Hostelers Guild encompasses all aspects of the hospitality industry, from food to lodging and legal gambling. In addition to those establishments owned by the house, the Hostelers Guild includes hundreds of licensed businesses, each independently owned. The Hostelers Guild has close ties with the Shadow Network of House Thuranni and the Entertainers and Artisans Guild of House Phiarlan, using these guilds to acquire entertainment for its businesses.

PLAYING A MEMBER OF HOUSE GHALLANDA

Your house has little tradition of adventure. You were raised to appreciate comfort, conversation, good drink, and hot food—not to wield a blade or smite enemies with force and fire. Do not make the easy mistake of assuming that all members of your house are good or altruistic, however. Social connections are valuable tools, and the man who is friends with the crime lord, the merchant, and the king has three powerful weapons for dealing with his enemies. You might be a charming and witty fellow who loves nothing more than a good chat—or you might be a calculating individual using your family’s reputation to help you win allies who will serve you one day.

As a member of House Ghallanda, you need to decide what has drawn you to adventure and away from the comforts of home. Perhaps the tales of the Wandering Inn fi ll you with a desire to escape the cities and test your skills in the wilds. Perhaps you intend to open an inn of your own and are adventuring to raise gold—though by the time you earn it, you might find the life of the innkeeper too dull for your tastes. You could be an enthusiastic young cook on a quest to acquire the culinary secrets of other cultures and ages. Like many Ghallanda heirs, you might adventure simply to meet useful contacts, whether in the interests of the house or for your own personal gain.

Combat

Diplomacy is the preferred weapon of your house. When words fail, a Ghallanda heir tries other tricks before resorting to combat: a swift sneak attack with a sap, paralytic poison in a drink, or an appeal to those nearby to help contain the problem. House Ghallanda establishments usually have bouncers, but these guards come from no single source. A Gold Dragon Inn might be protected by defenders from House Deneith, an ogre attached to House Tharashk, or a Talenta Plains barbarian. Many Talenta tribes owe ancient debts to your house, and they occasionally choose to repay this debt by protecting their weaker kin.

Advancement

The first step to rising in the ranks of House Ghallanda is to have an interest in doing so. Most heirs are more concerned with running their own inns and restaurants than overseeing the international affairs of a dragonmarked house. Develop your conversational skills (Bluff, Diplomacy, Gather Information, and Sense Motive) in addition to one or more Profession skills. You must learn to master your emotions, and to approach others with disarming warmth regardless of your true feelings. Agents of the house are evaluated on temperament as well as talent. Ghallanda banks on its reputation for hospitality, and an unfriendly halfl ing won’t rise far in the house.

Missions

As an agent of Ghallanda, you will often be asked to perform favors for house allies, thus strengthening the ties between you. On Mol, you might help a merchant deal with a band of extortionists; on Wir, you could be sent to collect rare components for an infl uential wizard in the local circle. It is impossible to predict what mission a particular day might bring.

HOUSE GHALLANDA IN THE WORLD

“When you spend your days on the road, you never know where you’ll find your next meal. That’s what I like about the Gold Dragon Inn. Oh, you might fi nd a hostel with softer pillows or larger beds if you know the town. You might get lucky. But when you only have one night? With the Gold Dragon, you know where you stand.” —Cassus d’Orien, bound courier

House Ghallanda is one of the most widespread dragonmarked houses. It maintains enclaves, but not on the scale of a massive Cannith forgehold or one of the Phiarlan demesnes. Instead, its families are spread across hundreds of inns and hostels, any of which can serve as a temporary shelter for a wandering heir. More than any other house, Ghallanda is a ubiquitous presence in the world. Even if a village doesn’t have a tavern run by an actual Ghallanda heir, there’s a decent chance it has a Ghallanda-licensed inn or hostel, even in Darguun or Droaam. Adventurers who build a relationship with the house can find allies across Avistan, while those who offend an innkeeper do so at their peril. A Ghallanda bartender might not pose a physical threat, but the conversations he has heard and the friends he has made give him far more influence than an adventurer might expect.

When Ghallanda spread to civilized lands, it adopted the dragonmarked hierarchy established by House Sivis and House Cannith. Every region is governed by a council of viceroys, and Patriarch Yoren d’Ghallanda (CG male half ling expert 3/bard 4) leads the house from Gatherhold in the Talenta Plains. One of the oddities of the house is that viceroys often maintain businesses of their own. Yoren himself is a master chef, and spends almost as much time in the kitchens of his great hall as he does in the council chambers.

On the Plains, an older hierarchy endures in the form of the Wandering Inn. The Ghallanda half lings who make up this traveling fair follow the ways of their tribal ancestors, providing a nomadic place of refuge for the Talenta halfl ings living outside Gatherhold’s walls.

Though the Wandering Inn seldom leaves the plains, small splinter groups carrying on its traditions have been encountered in Q’barra and Valenar in recent years. Tales are even told of weary adventurers fleeing the Mournland who have stumbled upon a bright wagon of the Wandering Inn and the safety of the Mordenkainen’s magnifi cent mansion inside.

The Wandering Inn is largely isolated from the main house. The half lings of the inn abhor the idea of settling in cities, while house heirs outside the plains often consider the life of the Inn to be rough and uncivilized. Young halflings are sometimes drawn to explore the path on the opposite side of the house, though, and these ambassadors keep the bonds between the Inn and the main house strong.

Ghallanda halfl ings have never bothered with family names. Though the original Ghallanda tribe was formed from dozens of different families, the names of these original tribes were abandoned within a generation of the Mark of Hospitality’s fi rst appearance. NPC Reactions

Though people are often fond of the Ghallanda halfl ings they deal with on a regular basis, heirs of Ghallanda typically receive an indifferent reaction from strangers. Because of the strong economic ties between the houses, members of House Phiarlan, House Thuranni, and House Jorasco are often friendly toward heirs of Ghallanda.

The presence of the Wandering Inn means that heirs of Ghallanda are usually welcomed by the people of the Talenta Plains. An heir of Ghallanda can improve the attitude of hostile, unfriendly, or indifferent tribal halfl ings by one category by revealing her dragonmark or offering aid to the tribe. Excoriates and orphans have abused this trust in the past, but the viceroys of the house and the elders of the Wandering Inn go to great lengths to seek out and punish such dishonor.

HOUSE GHALLANDA LORE

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (local Talenta Plains) or Knowledge (nobility and royalty) can research House Ghallanda to learn more about it. When a character succeeds on a skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC 10: The halfl ings of house Ghallanda operate taverns, inns, and hostels. These businesses carry the shadow of the dog—the Ghallanda seal.

DC 15: Ghallanda half lings have the dragonmark of Hospitality. They work with food and can even create it magically. Some powerful members of Ghallanda can conjure shelters, such as stone cottages or invisible castles.

DC 20: House Ghallanda has more influence than most people believe. Innkeepers make numerous connections, and often know where to fi nd hard-to-get, even illegal items.

DC 30: Characters who achieve this level of success can learn important details about House Ghallanda in your campaign, including history, notable members, the areas where it operates, and the kinds of activities it undertakes.

HOUSE GHALLANDA’S HOLDINGS

House Ghallanda’s oldest and most important enclave is the great hall of Gatherhold, on the edge of the Talenta Plains. Located on the eastern shore of Lake Cyre, this area has long been a border between the Five Nations and the eastern wilds. In the aftermath of the Day of Mourning, the hall became a haven for the adventurers and scholars exploring the eastern Mournland.

Gatherhold is an ancient cliff dwelling, filled with tunnels and warrens carved into the rocky hills that run along the lake. Patriarch Yoren presides over a great hall at the center of the town, but House Ghallanda maintains the entire community for the nomadic tribes who come and go with the seasons.

MEMBERS OF HOUSE GHALLANDA IN THE GAME

Though House Ghallanda does not run every inn or restaurant, the cheerful halfl ing barkeep is a common fi xture in central Avistan. In the wild regions in and around the plains, adventurers might fi nd assistance from members of the Wandering Inn. Whether in the plains or the cities, Ghallanda NPCs can make the quiet moments in an inn or tavern more memorable. If you don’t have time to come up with a distinctive hostel for a town the party passes through, the Gold Dragon Inn is there for you. Want a little color? Throw in a Talenta troop performing a traditional dance—with clawfeet in the act.

The house’s interest in networking can make a Ghallanda heir a valuable contact for PCs. If the characters manage to earn the friendship of a Ghallanda innkeeper, they might discover a connection to the black market, a friend of the captain of the city guard, or an envoy capable of arranging a meeting with the mayor. However, an innkeeper who does favors for the party typically asks favors in return, often on behalf of his other friends

House Ghallanda

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