In the darkest reaches of the underworld, deep under the strata of normal city life, the wretched burn their gold coins and assets in the Hookah Casino. This gambling hub is the most influential establishment in the city, even if most common folk do not know about it. The number of gold coins that cycles in and out of the Hookah Casino is so large that the city might suffer an economic depression if it were to be closed.
Fortunately, such an outcome is unlikely. The Hookah Casino is famous among the highest echelons of the noble and political class. It is not rare to see members of parliament, knights, lords, and other members of the high-class gambling unreal amounts of money in the casino. The presence and sponsoring of such individuals protect the Hookah Casino from City Watch raids and problems related to their line of work.
The casino is, in theory, open to anyone. However, any person wishing to gain access must first exchange fifty gold coins for hookah coins, the local gambling chips. Such cost of entry prohibits access to medium and low-class cityfolk. Once inside, all patrons have free access to food and alcoholic drinks. They can keep on eating and drinking for as long as they keep on gambling.
The owner of the casino is a sturdy, middle-aged human known as Sharp Joe. He is usually in his office (Area 11) but also visits the other areas of the casino twice a day. Sharp Joe was a famous underworld boss a decade ago. His criminal guild specialized in smuggling stuff in and out of the city. At some point, he was arrested and spent two years in jail. He learned a lot about gambling in prison and came up with the idea of the casino. After being released, Sharp Joe decided to open up shop. His contacts in the underworld and experience in criminal activities were fundamental to having the success he did. Nowadays, while his endeavors are not all strictly legal, he enjoys the protection of important individuals in the city which he has pampered from time to time to gain their favor.
The Hookah Casino is only a story below the surface level. This chamber features a waiting room with two seats and a registration desk. A small metal safe box on the desk and a sack of purple hookah coins take up the entirety of the desk’s surface. The cashier collects the minimum cost of entry of fifty gold coins and exchanges them for hookah coins (gambling chips). A person leaving the casino can exchange hookah coins back to gold or precious stones here too.
2. Slot Machines
Ten metallic slot machines arranged in a row and by the south corners dominate the room. The slot machines are all identical. The machines feature a couple of levers to adjust the bet parameters and a large red-handled lever to start the game. There is usually a player or two at any given time. Every month or two, a lucky individual hits the jackpot and earns a price of thirty thousand hookah coins that fall from the machine like a waterfall of purple light. When the staff detects a jackpot winner, their only mission is to keep the person playing for as long as possible to increase their chance of losing some or all of the new chips.
3. Card Games Room
The room features two tables for card games. The croupiers are always ready to deal to any number of players from one to six. Waiters refill alcohol as soon as possible.
4. Elemental Battles Room
The north side of the room is at a lower level, 15-feet below the entrance. Down there, two magic circles on opposite sides of the rooms are used to summon elemental, fey, or fiendish creatures to fight to the death. A croupier explains what they are about to summon and collects bet registration cards to handle the fight gambling. All registration cards are put in the machine by the wall. The machine is a clockwork wonder that functions as a variable calculator that handles the odds and profit percentages for all encounters.
Food plates, snacks, and all kinds of edibles come from this room all the time. Most of the food is spiked with caffeine to keep players engaged in their games and to avoid them leaving the casino to sleep. The chef is a thri-keen named Kuk.
6. Blackjack Room
Similar to Area 3. The two gaming tables here deal only blackjack and other similar games. The croupiers in this room can accept bets not handled in hookah coins. They are expected to motivate people to bet valuable stuff like horses, carts, jewelry, and even real estate. Legends of people losing all their livelihood and houses are not rare when people tell anecdotes about the Hookah Casino.
7. Roulette of Hell
There are no parties suck as the ones in the Roulette of Hell. A group of ten to twenty people surrounds the roulette at any given time. They all pay attention to the person in line to throw the dice and make a call for the marble in the roulette. Large amounts of hookah coins change hands in this room. The crowd applauds, shouts, and boos every few minutes as something incredible or terrible happens.
8. The Remedy Bar
Ten to twenty people rest from betting in this bar while they weep or share their winnings. The environment changes according to who is in the room. When many losers are in the room the air feels heavy with the many sour individuals in the room. The bartenders are trained in psychological tricks and arguments to motivate people to go back to the gambling tables and regain their loses.
9. Gambling Room
A medium-sized room with three game tables. The games in this room are different. Game cards, board games, and tile games like domino are common here. People in this room tend to gamble their chips at a slower pace. Usually, older customers and veterans come to this room. They have grown out of the ecstatic, fast pace of blackjack or roulette. When full, casino staff give priority to returning customers in this area. The room also features its own bar.
10. Hookah Room
The casino takes its name from this room. It is a place to relax while people take turns inhaling flavored tobacco vapors from the hookahs. A hookah is a complex tobacco pipe with a long, flexible tube that draws the smoke through water contained in a crystal bowl. Clients share hookahs and enjoy the flavors which also make the air smell of many pleasant fragrances. The room features a small wooden stage by the southeast corner. An artist comes on stage once an hour and performs.
Performances of many kinds are accepted at the Hookah Casino. Dancers, musicians, poets, comedians, and minstrels are all welcome.
11. Sharp Joe’s Office
Sharp Joe seldom lets a client come inside his office. It features a large desk, a corner seat, and a large steel safe box. Sharp Joe does not believe in banks. The casino profits of the last two weeks are kept in the safe box. Every two weeks a shipment-service takes any gold from the safe and moves it to Sharp Joe’s vault under his manor.
Biff and Bash. Two ogres who wear a black vest flank the casino’s entrance on the surface. They speak common but their comprehension of any speech longer than two sentences is limited. They let in any returning customers with no questions. New customers have a difficult time getting in unless they flash a hookah coin to prove they have been invited. Their way to work is to hit first and ask questions after.
Reptilian Croupiers. On weekends, a pack of tuxedo-wearing kobolds come to work the tables in Area 3 and Area 6. They are trained in many card tricks and illusions.
The Faith Dealers. The Hookah Casino employs a few croupiers who are acolytes of the God of Gambling. They can detect if anyone is uses luck altering magic and promptly alert security. They are also trained to spot cheaters as part of their sacred vows.
Elvis Imitator. A green slaadi with an eye-catching white suit and a wig sings cover songs in the Hookah Room on Thursdays and Fridays. If asked, he explains he is an admirer of a human singer named Elvis. No one except him is familiar with that name.
Lola. She is a brown bear that just happened to wander in after Biff and Bash petted her. Its breed does not grow as large as common bears. When inside, she was fed by some of the patrons and decided to stay. Lola uses to sit beside any gambling table and watch, waiting for food. She is treated like a good luck charm by some gamblers. Now nobody has the heart to shoo her away.
Ogo the Blind. A poet and story-teller. His narrations emphasize the smells and sounds of the scene. The yelps of victory and the subtle weeps of loss. The exotic herbs of the smokes and the aromas of the many liquors. He is an old monk on the run from the royal family but no one knows this.
3 gnomes in a trench coat. Barly, Goty, and Chamy pose as a tall humanoid silent high roller. They make use of illusion innate magic to enhance their rolls and strategies. They are part of the security staff, though. They go undercover and find cheaters while pretending to play games.
The Squabbling Sisters. The Ys’Ael sisters, twin heirs to the Ivory Throne, have a terrible feud. They have settled to solve their succession dispute at the casino, but are banned from all games because they are known for using their innate psychic powers to cheat. They’re looking for someone to play in their place. Each of the sisters will accept one representative and gamble the throne on a blackjack game.
Phariel. He is an evil incubus who frequents the Hookah Casino. He represents a fiendish patron entity and can make diabolical deals with unsuspecting mortals. He is an accomplished gambler who loves to use his abilities to win bargains with people, possibly even pushing people to up their bets until they gamble their very souls.
Orb Rockjaw. A wealthy dwarf who enjoys the game and the perks that come from being a patron of such an establishment. He often hangs in lounge areas and tables with games of chance discussing his new ventures of questionable legality and looking for partners and employees. He is a useful contact and source of work.
Neliel De’nardran. A male drow that escaped assassination from his house in the Underdark. He makes a living by pretending to be bad at games and using spiders as a means of gathering information for blackmailing. He has a deal with Sharp Joe: he gets one-hundred gambling chips for free daily which he must lose playing. Any information he sells he must pay 20% of the profits to Sharp Joe.
Lootz, the Cooler. A tiefling cursed with bad luck after breaking an infernal contract. Sharp Joe hires him to end patrons’ winning streaks before they break the bank. He is good with words and befriends people easily, convincing them to play in teams of two people. Lootz’ curse makes him lose every three times he gambles.
The Benner Siblings. A group of rowdy, drunk halflings appears like they are losing large amounts of money, but having a great time anyway. Their family is in politics and they have money to burn irresponsibly. The man of the hour is wearing a bright, glittery hat almost as tall as he is. They are too drunk to care about any shady dealings going on nearby.
Jon Breet. This individual is so often at the casino he is almost a resident. He is an infiltrator, saboteur, information broker, and high-class con artist. An anonymous employer hired him to spy on the casino and collect as much information as possible. Perhaps he can lead to the Hookah Casino’s worst enemy or competitor.
These are the general features of the Hookah Casino. It is located underground in the busiest quarter of a metropolis. The only entrance is in a quiet alley, an unmarked door flanked by two ogre bouncers.
Terrain. The floor in the casino is made of stone tiles. Most of them are in good condition. Some areas within the complex have limited space. In combat, squares with a piece of furniture are considered difficult terrain for the purposes of tactical movement.
Doors. The double doors that connect Area 9 and Area 11 are reinforced with metal bands metal and superior locks. An adventurer can bypass a superior lock with a successful DC 16 Dexterity (Thieves Tools) check. Only the owner and the casino manager have keys to these doors. The rest of the doors in the casino are normal wooden doors with no locks.
Light. Stone sconces on the walls with permanent produce flame spells provide bright warm light. Dealing 2 points of damage with a bludgeoning weapon to any sconce causes it to fail and turn off.
Smells and Sounds. The smoke from cigars permeates the underground chambers and gives the place a misty look. After a few minutes inside, creatures also perceive the faint smell of food and beverages.