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In the adventure "Waterdeep: Dragon Heist", part of the adventure takes place in

Xanathar's Lair. One of the rooms is "X11. Ah­maergo's Collection."

One of the two things the location contains is a:

10-foot-long, 5-foot-wide, 3-foot-high rectangular slab of stone with a hand-carved, miniature model of a stone maze atop it. And if you touch the stone maze carved into the top, then you're hit with the Maze spell.

But why? Why the hell does the owner have such a random ass thing just sitting in that room? Is this just one of those things that the writers thought was cool but didn't really have much explanation for?

I get that he's totally into minotaurs and mazes are associated with minotaurs... is that the entirety of the reason? A giant 10 x 5 x 3' tall stone slab that doesn't contain anything? Why? Where did it come from? Who would make such a thing?

I'm really trying to understand this so that I can craft a scenario for my players that makes sense, and when there are random things like this it tends to detract from their enjoyment, so I want to figure out the motivation here.

This room is his "collection" and it just has two things in it. The aforementioned stone slab and a stuffed minotaur which is a sentry. Where's the actual collection? It just seems weird.

Am I missing something? Any help? If there is something to it, I want to weave it into my story. If it's just kind of a random cool thing, I'll likely change it.

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It is unclear

This room, and even Ahmeargo's fascination with minotaurs is new to 5th edition. We find no mention of this obsession in the previous two books he appeared in.

AD&D 2e's Cloak and Dagger says only that he:

represents the slave-trading interests of Xanathar's Thieves' Guild... is in charge of the buying and selling of slaves within Skullport and the movement of living cargo to and from those interested in it. He is known as the "Horned Dwarf" in Skullport because of the magical, spiky, black-iron platemail.

...before going on to mention that he is trying to go independent from Xanathar.

3rd edition's City of Splendors: Waterdeep is even briefer only mentioning his class as a level 9 fighter.

What the book tells us

Since we have nothing to go on beyond what is in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, we can only infer that the collection consists of this stuffed minotaur with necromantic magic, and the maze slab.

There are many ways to incorporate it into the story, but all we really know is that Ahmeargo was interested in it and put it in his fairly small collection.

How I would handle it

I would probably flesh out the room with a slightly larger collection with trophies from minotaurs, and other such items. Only if my players showed specific interest (perhaps even enough interest to use legend lore regarding the object) would I use the magic item as a plot hook.

If it were my campaign and the players were interested, I would write up a bridging campaign from level 5 to level 8 (to help uncover more secrets about the relic) and take my players into the Underdark for chapter 10-14 of Out of the Abyss (which is my favorite adventure path, so I am a little biased).

All of the story elements can be taken out of these chapters (perhaps just replacing the powerful enemy in Chapter 14), and can certainly be applied to a story about finding the powerful artifact this maze slab was a part of. Here's a brief synopsis of a story I may employ (spoilers for Out of the Abyss):

After uncovering that the maze slab was part of a larger machine, you discover it is found deep in the Underdark within a sprawling labyrinth, the location of which is known only to the librarians of Gravenhollow.

First you visit Mantol-Derith to find the location of Gravenhollow which seems to be haunted by a plague of madness causing some kind of family feud that seems to be set off by some archmage named Vizeran. Surviving here gets the party to level 9.

You find Vizeran's tower and negotiate with him to end the madness, or at least get him to tell you the location of Gravenhollow. He agree if you kill for him a beholder named Karazikar that his magic has trouble touching, but a full party can surely make quick work of.
While defeating the beholder, the party learns more about the Maze Engine the slab was a part of, and is ready to learn of Gravenhollow. The party then reaches level 10.

After arriving at Gravenhollow and negotiating for the information, you learn the location and that you must seek the egg of a purple wurm in order to gain passage into the labyrinth. The party reaches level 11 after learning this information and level 12 after gaining the egg.

The party is then ready to search the Labyrinth for the maze engine while being hunted by a powerful gnoll warchief (I would customize the boss since Yeenoghu doesn't make sense; although the warchief is certainly inspired by him). The party finds the Maze Engine looked after by a minotaur priest named Nalfeshnee who mentions that their leader is trapped within.

Placing the last piece into the maze engine starts the tribulation of the whirring machine as it frees the minotaur leader and he rewards the party for freeing him as befitting a grand quest before setting out to rid his labyrinth of the gnoll infestation.

Add in a few of the best characters from Out of the Abyss as random encounters and you have yourself a great extended campaign based on a single magic item that your party was interested in.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The maze spell takes you to a demiplane. I assume that it is normally a different demiplane each time, but this is a permanent magic item. Who is to say that Ahmeargo does not store valuable items there? If anyone thought to look, they could end up trapped for ten minutes or so, potentially giving someone time to come back and catch them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 8:08

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