True to its nature, Xanathar, a beholder, is concerned about one thing only. Himself. This self-serving perspective takes hold in both a compulsion to acquire items and information as well as a healthy dose of paranoia.
What makes Xanathar unique in relation to the other fronts is that it may or may not even care about the cache of gold dragons locked away in the Vault of Dragons. What is money when you can possess a one-of-a-kind artifact? And once it learns the depth of knowledge the stone can provide it, well then there is only one goal. Get the Stone of Golorr at all costs.
Xanathar also has his sights set on being the de-facto ruler of the criminal underworld. The guild has a long history of operating smuggling and slavery trade out of Skullport. Only recently have they begun to focus on the import and distribution of Black Lilly. Xanathar hopes to create a dependence on his drug trade and is now flooding the streets via its many fronts. (See Black Lilly Drug Trade in Waterdeep, Guilds of Waterdeep, Pawns in the Game, and The Perfect Storm )
Aside from his need to acquire the eyes (and at the start of the campaign that is all he is concerned about), he is also dead-set on destroying the Zhentarim who he believes betrayed him. When Dalakhar absconded with the Stone of Golorr, Xanathar placed the blame on the Zhentarim envoy who had been sent to broker an alliance. It not only disintegrated the envoy but views the Zhentarim’s retaliation as confirmation of their betrayal. [WDH - pg.6]
The beholder’s last goal is to maintain the aura of secrecy surrounding the organization. Xanathar is convinced that if the existence of its operation was to be confirmed, the Lords of Waterdeep would stop at nothing from finding its lair and destroying it. [WDH - pg.6]
Much like the Zhentarim, Xanathar’s goals aren’t dependent on each other. While there may be cross-over, that is a function of pure efficiency rather than codependence.
Primary Goal - Part 1: Maintain Anonymity
In order to remain in the shadows, the Xanatharian organization employs many freelance thieves and mercenaries to carry out their missions. They consistently operate through third and fourth parties to prevent anyone from learning too much. Examples of this are Old Xoblob and Jhant Daxer (see the Members section). Xanathar will also go out of its way to avoid open conflict with the Open Lord, Laeral Silverhand. So much so that every action he takes is weighed against the risk of being known. If one of its other goals might lead the spotlight to it, Xanathar will opt to delay any action instead of risking exposure. [WDH - pg.6]
Primary Goal - Part 2: Acquiring the Eyes
Only once Xanathar learns of the other eyes will he begin tapping its network for information. This will come in two forms, research, and surveillance. Xanathar will spend significant time learning about the eyes (and eventually connect them to the Stone of Golorr). It will also put individuals it suspects of dealing with the eyes under surveillance with its gazers and those under the influence of Intellect Devourers.
Secondary Goal: Dealing with the Zhentarim
Because the Zhentarim operate relatively openly within the city, Xanathar has to take the fight to them. He uses his hold in Mistshore, the multiple fronts throughout the city, and the extensive sewer network to quickly strike the Black Network without notice. This has resulted in an escalation of violent events in the city streets.
These are meant to be carried out in sudden bursts by mercenaries not directly associated with the guild so that if one is captured or killed, there are no links back.
Xanathar hopes that the longer this goes on, the more pressure the Open Lord will exert on the Black Network, effectively trapping it between the two forces.
Auxiliary Goal: Expanding Operations
Leveraging the many fronts throughout the city, Xanathar has created a distribution network via the sewer system. Those looking for Black Lilly can find it at various apothecaries, taverns, and stores throughout the city. As the demand grows, Xanathar is looking to expand the supply chain up and down the Sword Coast.
Base of Operations
Xanathar’s Lair - Primary
Skullport - Dragon Heist, pg. 132
An ancient dungeon complex originally built by Netherese wizards and gradually expanded by beholders over time. It connects to both Skullport and the Waterdeep sewer system.
Mistshore - Dragon Heist, pg. 65
Kraken’s Folly is a beached pirate ship that some residents of Mistshore use as a tenement. It also oversees Hearthfire, a central hub of the docks, with walkways branching out in all directions. The Xanatharians use Mistshore as their ‘above ground’ base. As such, they keep a close eye on any unusual travelers making their way through the Hearthfire. Noska Ur’gray oversees all operations here.
Castle Ward, Downmarket - The Alexandrian Remix
The Terrasse Estate is secretly owned by the guild. It operates as both an entry point to the underground and a medical base. A tiefling priest, Keln Trigos, manages the estate.
Waterdeep Sewer System - Dragon Heist, pg. 28
The Sewer Hideout is a large structure that acts as a base of operations under the city. It is here that Nihiloor, one of Xanathar’s lieutenants, watches over the actions of Grum’shar, Zemk, and others who frequently make their way to the surface. There is a portal, of which Nihiloor holds the only key, which connects directly to Xanathar’s Lair.
Cellar Complex - Outpost
Southern Ward, Harbor Beach- Dragon Heist, pg. 83
Entered through The Blushing Mermaid, the Cellar Complex serves as an outpost and transitionary point for the organization. The location is packed with unremarkable items kept in storage, however, it serves as a strong tactical advantage. From the Complex, one can easily access the ‘Old Sewers’. These are largely unmaintained passages that allow for undetected movement throughout the city. If one knows what they are looking for; a marking in the shape of an eye allows one to easily traverse these unmapped tunnels. (See WDH page 27, The Path of the Purple Eye and In the Eye of the Beholder)
The tactics of the Xanatharians center around secrecy. As much as possible, they will operate through third or fourth parties, making any accusations stick incredibly difficult. Often times they will staff their operations with free-lancers and/or mercenaries.
- Xanathar will first use his network (both willing and unwilling) to collect as much information as possible. Nihiloor will run point on these efforts. The mind-flayer has infected many denizens of Waterdeep with Intellect Devourers, including Meloon Wardragon and the Dungsweeper’s Guild. All of these individuals serve as eyes and ears, feeding information to Xanathar.
- When it comes to acquiring the Eyes, they will hunt any thread that will give Xanathar an advantage in acquiring the stones.
- The Black Lily expansion efforts are two-fold. The first is supply. To increase the volume of the drug coming into the city, Xanathar is looking towards smugglers known in the area. One such smuggler is Harko Swornhold who is in town to meet with the beholder.
- The second is logistics. The Xanatharians use the sewer systems as their distribution networks. This gives them access to fronts all over the city with minimal risk of being caught.
- In addition to the drugs, the Xanatharian’s are also smuggling in weapons, armor, and other paraphernalia. (See Dark Waters)
- The Xanatharian’s will not shy away from delivering a beatdown. Noska Ur’gray is particularly fond of this tactic and will deploy any number of strike teams to deliver a message. He also will not shy away from delivering them himself.
- As an act of intimidation, a black marker with a white eye painted on it may be delivered to an individual. This is well known as a promise that the target does not have long to live. (See Art Imitates Life). If one is handed the black marker, it is imperative that whatever wrong was committed is rectified as soon as possible. Even then, it may not matter.
These members are mentioned by name in the source adventure.
|Xanathar's Lair or Skullport
|Lieutenant. He is also known as The Hand and runs the slave trade for the organizations. He oversees the blood tournaments. (CoS - pg. 80, WDH - pg.104, 105, 107)
|The court jester. (pg. 104)
|Cook in the recreation hall. (pg. 112)
|Xanathar's master alchemist. Nar'l is a double-agent working for Bregan D'aerthe. He is brothers to Soluun Xibrindas. (pg. 113)
|Xanathar's Lair or Kraken's Folly
|Lieutenant. Reliable. Brutal. Runs operations out of Mistshore. He is the guild's primary enforcer. (pg 104, 105, 114)
|The guild's chief smuggler and expert in rare acquisitions. His primary responsibility is to care for Sylgar, Xanathar's pet fish. (pg. 107)
|Xanathar's beloved pet fish. (pg. 107)
|The guild's chief engineer. He is building a mechanical beholder and a 'pulverizer' for Xanathar. He is also a double agent for the Harpers but is ultimately looking to get out of the guild. He is under the constant watch of an albino gazer. (pg. 86, 105)
|Cook in the recreation hall. (pg. 112)
|A mage who is know to have "done business with the Xanathar Guild before". (pg. 67)
|Xanathar's Lair or Sewer Hideout
|Lieutenant. A mind flayer running the hideout in the sewers. He submits those he captures to his Intellect Devourers. He then expands his information network by releasing them back into the city. (pg. 28, 111)
|He is a mid-level boss in the guild and reports up to Nihiloor. (pg. 28)
|Sewer Hideout or The Yawning Portal
|He is a thug with an eye-shaped tattoo on his bald head. (pg. 21, 28)
|Sewer Hideout or The Yawning Portal
|He is a duergar thug who is close with Krentz. (pg. 28)
|Old Xoblob's Shop
|A deep gnome running an eclectic shop. He is a spy of the guild. (pg. 23)
|Dock Ward or Kraken's Folly
|He is a large drug runner up and down the Sword Coast. (pg. 38)
|He manages the Cellar Complex. (pg. 86)
|He is the leader of a duergar strike force. (pg. 70)
|She is a bugbear leading a kobold strike force. (pg. 62)
|The Dungsweepers Guild
|They have been infected by Intellect Devourers by Nihiloor. (pg. 35)
Members - Affiliated
These members are connected through resources outside of the source adventure (e.g. books, video games, other adventures, general lore, etc.) These characters had to be alive at the time of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist.
|She used to be the Command of the Hand before she defected and became a lich. She is currently the leader of the Sightless. [Downshadow]
|He works for Ahmaergo as a slave pen guard. [SoW - pg.20]
|A leader for an enforcement gang. He is Second to the Hand and specializes in assassinations. [CoS - pg. 89]
|Security chief of the Gentle Mermaid in the North Ward. [VGoW - pg. 85, 223]
|Keln is a tiefling priest managing Terrasse Estate. [Alexandrian]
|He is the owner of the Gentle Mermaid (a front for Xanathar). He runs smuggling, money drops, kidnappings, and goods reallocation errands. He is generally not at the Gentle Mermaid. [VGoW - pg. 85, 223]
|In charge of magical defenses and information gathering. [CoS - pg. 89]
|She is a female drow responsible for blackmail, extortion, and information gathering. [CoS - pg. 89]
|He is in charge of recruitment, enforcement, and mercenaries. [CoS - pg. 89]
|Slink is in charge of bookeeping and information gathering. [CoS - pg. 89]
|The guild's commander in Skullport. [SoW - pg. 12]
|A duergar captain supplying the guild with metal in the Skullport docks. [SoW - pg. 26]
1. Waterdeep: Dragon Heist (Amazon)
2. Black Lily Drug Trade in Waterdeep (DMsGuild)
3. Skull Port: Shadow of Waterdeep (SoW) (DriveThruRPG)
5. Downshadow (Amazon)