Skullport, the Port of Shadow, is perhaps the best kept secret in all the Sword Coast. A mile and a half beneath the orderly streets of Waterdeep squats the most wretched and lawless pit of thieves, buccaneers, slavers, and sellswords the Realms has to offer. Under a moldering tangle of catwalks threaded between the stalactites and stalagmites of the cavern city, illithids, drow, beholders, and other plot and trade with emissaries from the surface. Monsters prowl the dark recesses and alleyways, gangs of zombies shamble about performing menial labor; here, anything and everything can be bought and sold—lethal poisons, foul tomes of forbidden magic, and slaves.
The only law is meted out by the enigmatic Skulls of Skullport, mysterious floating humanoid skulls whose capricious judgements and madness-induced destructiveness are the stuff of grisly travelers' tales. Gold rules the ever-present twilight, and only those with keen eyes and blades may keep it long.
This 96-page book contains the following:
- maps and general information about the three layers and four wards of Skullport;
- descriptions of over 100 notable sites in the wards;
- a partial map of the dungeons of Skullport—where the Skulls throw the folk they let live; and
- descriptions of notable NPCs and power groups of Skullport.
Although no other Forgotten Realms setting products are required to use Skullport, this accessory can be used to provide supplemental information for the Ruins of Undermountain campaign expansion. Dungeon Masters can also use Skullport as a basis for an Underdark city in their own campaigns.
Note: The map on page 32 is a low resolution scan.
Skullport, by Joseph C. Wolf, is a sourcebook on Waterdeep's underground port. It was published in June 1999.
Continuing the Forgotten Realms Setting Books. Although the "FR" series ended in 1993, TSR continued afterward to publish one or two geographic Realms setting books each year, most of them now thick, perfect-bound books. Wizards of the Coast not only continued with this trend, but upped the count of hefty sourcebooks, probably as part of President Peter Adkison's promise to bring new value to the TSR lines.
Skullport was thus released the same year as two other major Realms sourcebooks: Sea of Fallen Stars (1999), which appeared in August, and Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark (1999), which was released in November. Sadly, they'd be among the last sourcebooks for the 2e Realms, as Wizards moved away from geographic FR books in 2000.
A History of Cities. Skullport details an underground city (bringing a new definition to the word "suburban"). There's no dearth of good city books in the roleplaying field. Some of the earliest supplements in the industry focused on cities, such as Judges Guild's "City State Map" (1976) and Midkemia Press's "Cities" (1979). TSR themselves had also released several city supplements of note, including Lankhmar: City of Adventure (1985), FR1: "Waterdeep and the North" (1987), The City of Greyhawk (1989), Menzoberranzan (1992), and City of Splendor (1994). Thus, Skullport was part of a proud tradition.
Skullport is rather unique among cities because it consists of both horizontal and vertical sprawl, with city levels literally built atop each other. It's also notable because it gives very comprehensive details of much of Skullport—without using random building contents, geomorphs, or undescribed buildings, like most city books tend to do.
Expanding Undermountain. Skullport was first mentioned in Ruins of Undermountain, where it appears as part of Level 3 of the Undermountain dungeon. Shortly thereafter, Ed Greenwood and Steven Schend detailed much more of the underground city in "Seeing the Sights of Skullport," an article in Dragon #172 (August 1991). That information was in turn incorporated into City of Splendors's description of Waterdeep. However, that's all just a drop in the bucket compared to what's in Skullport, a massive book that contains more material than had ever been suspected about the underground realm.
Future History. Skullport was the sixth and final supplement covering Undermountain for AD&D second edition. However, there have been returns to Undermountain in the more recent editions, most notably in Expedition to Undermountain (2007) for 3e, Halls of Undermountain (2012) for 4e, and the first D&D Encounters: "Undermountain: Halaster's Lost Apprentice" (2010).
Skullport itself has also received a bit of attention. Matt Goetz wrote "Backdrop: Skullport" for the anniversary Dungeon #200 (March 2012), while the port is also used (lightly) as the setting of Scoundrels of Skullport (2013), a supplement to the Lords of Waterdeep (2012) board game.
About the Creators. Skullport is Wolf's only TSR supplement. He also did some writing for the Blood of Heroes and Deadlands RPGs.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.