DMs, I need your expertise.

I have a 1 year downtime between campaigns (ingame) and I'm in Waterdeep.

I want to become something between Littlefinger and Varys (from Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire) - have a web of kid spies throughout the city and build a Tavern/Inn and a brothel - my end goal is to build a net of information traficking; the kids collect rumors, the prostitutes and the barkeep absorb information through conversations, I need help with understanding costs.

I want my Tavern/Inn and brothel to appeal to the city's rich and famous - ranking officers in the guard/military, town officials, people of power, so I need my facilities to be high-end.

  • How much would it cost to operate the tavern?
  • How much would a high-end prostitute in Waterdeep charge, and (after expenses) earn?

1 Answer 1


Your DM can use the rules for downtime in the DMG

Maybe unsurprisingly for a game targeted at an audience that may include minors, there are no specific prices for prostitutes, high-end or otherwise, quoted in the rules of D&D 5e. Nor are there any given in any of the sourcebooks on Waterdeep, whether for 5e or for earlier editions. I at least checked Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, City of Splendors, and FR1 - Waterdeep and the North. (The earlier editions do refer to brothels as fest-halls. City of Splendors gives The House of Purple Silks as one for the Sea Ward, where many nobles live).

However, there are rules under More Downtime Activities: Running a Business in the DMG, p. 129f. These apply to running any kind of business, whether a tavern or a house of pleasure.

Adventurers can end up owning businesses that have nothing to do with delving into dungeons or saving the world. A character might inherit a smithy, or the party might be given a parcel of farmland or a tavern as a reward.

You can use those for the costs (and time needed) to operate your tavern. The way they are designed, it is hard to turn a profit unless you spend a significant amount of your time on it, but that may be worth it for you if your main goal is creating an information network.

There are also rules for hirelings, in the PHB, p. 159. An Untrained hireling costs 2 sp per day, a Skilled hireling costs 2 gp per day.

Building prices can found under More Downtime Activities: Building a Stronghold, on p. 128. A tavern is not explicitly listed, but a guildhall or trading post is, costing 5,000 gp and taking 60 days to construct. For something as high-end as you have in mind, maybe a Noble Estate is a better comparison. That costs 25,000 gp and takes 150 days to construct.

In a city as densely populated as Waterdeep, I'd expect that you can't just build on an empty lot. You'll likely need to buy an existing property and perhaps remodel it, or even demolish it and rebuild. The price will depend on what the DM determines appropriate for the size, condition and location or ward. Dragon Heist has a cool inn called Trollskull Manor that you can get as an adventure reward.

In fact, for all these things, I would workshop the costs and procedure with the DM.


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