Joerge Tenderfoot, Faêrun Gazette - Dining at the Yawning Portal in Waterdeeps Castle Ward is not your average night at the neighborhood tavern. I had heard the stories of Duran, the bartender, and owner since I was a boy. The stories were always larger than life.  He had ventured into the Undermountain as a young man returning with riches.  Upon his return, he built his tavern right on top of a well that is the only entrance to the Undermountain. He had discovered a treasure that has kept him young ever since.  Later he decided to return to the Undermiuntain himself only to emerge over a hundred years later still appearing as young as the day he left for his first adventure. 

The stories didn’t do justice to the man himself. He is full of stories about his adventures with Mirt and his misdeeds. If you want a sympathetic ear then Duran is not who you should seek out.  He has been known to leave a group of adventurers at the bottom of the well, that is the centerpiece of the tavern because they lacked the gold dragon for the ride up.  Legends say more than one person wandered back off into the dungeons never to be seen again.  Tourists who want to ”Ride the Rope” and simply go all the way to the bottom of the well and then right back up better make sure they can send their dragon up in the bucket first or their ride is one way. 

The tavern itself is rustic as its age warrants. Upon entering the first thing that grabs your attention is the well itself which is 40 feet in diameter and 140 feet deep.  Next, you will notice the three levels of the tavern that go up the walls around the tavern. The effect is to emphasize the well.  The food was good and the ale was even better.  There seems to be no shortage of adventures from near and far sitting around the fireplace sharing their stories. It was troubling to see a small group of halflings, who had obviously been enjoying too much ale and listening to too many stories, make the sudden decision to set off on a crawl through the dungeon.  It is worth noting it is also the largest dungeon in Faêrun.  When Duran took their gold for the ride down he asked if they had dragons for the return trip.  They simply proclaimed that when they were done they would have enough gold dragons to buy the Yawning Portal itself.  The consensus in the room was that we had seen the last of that group. 

The Yawning Portal is one tavern any self-respecting adventurer or even resident of Waterdeep should plan to visit.