Rogues' Gallery: The Cassalanters
Who are Lord Victoro and Lady Ammalia Cassalanter, the vainglorious aristocrats adorning the cover of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist? Dressed in shimmering, golden finery, and blessed with hauntingly beautiful looks, they seem to be villains cut from the same cloth as Game of Thrones’ Lannisters, James Bond’s Goldfinger, Marvel’s Wilson Fisk, and Critical Role’s Briarwoods. But unlike the other villains of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, Lord and Lady Cassalanter are new to this era of the Forgotten Realms. As such, they may be the adventure’s most mysterious villains of all, as their diabolical plans are utterly unknown to even veteran fans of the Realms.
Todd Kenreck interviewed Chris Perkins about Lord and Lady Cassalanter in preparation for the Stream of Many Eyes. The video below provides a broad look at this scheming duo, but for more information and about the history of House Cassalanter and what this might mean for the Cassalanter’s plot in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, read on.
Cassalanters at a Glance
House Cassalanter is but one of the hundreds of noble houses that make up the landed gentry of Waterdeep. It is, however, one of the oldest and wealthiest of the city. Lord Victoro (and by extension, his wife Lady Ammalia) have inherited a vast sum of money from their ancestors’ business and investments. Much of this wealth was amassed through banking and moneylending, and one could assume that more than a few minor noble houses and Waterdhavian businesses have filled the Cassalanters’ vaults with gold from their loans.
More than just preying upon the people of Waterdeep through mundane banking, however, the Cassalanters have a darker side: a compact with an otherworldly being that has sustained their good fortunes and granted them incredible supernatural powers that no Waterdhavian noble would be expected to possess. No one in Waterdeep knows of this pact, and the true identity of their sinister patron is unknown even to us! Chris Perkins was tight-lipped in his interview with Todd, and he only let slip that their patron is “an otherworldly being of immense evil power.”
What we do know is that the Cassalanters have three layers of immense power. The first is financial—the ability to buy anything and anyone. The second is political—they are one of the oldest and most respected families in Waterdeep, and can pull strings even some Masked Lords can only dream of. The last is supernatural—whoever their foul patron is, it has granted the Cassalanters a truly frightening amount of its dark power.
Cassalanters of Ages Past
Lord Victoro Cassalanter is the latest patriarch in a long line of human noblemen—though judging by the pointed tips of his ears, his mother must have been an elf—and as such, lords and ladies of the house of Cassalanter have the tendency to die with the passing of centuries. The last known Cassalanter heir we were privy to was Caladorn Cassalanter, an adventurous young man who appeared in three novels by Elaine Cunningham, though only as a supporting character. The first two books he appeared in were Tangled Webs and Windwalker, the second and third books of the Starlight and Shadows trilogy starring Liriel Baenre, in which he uncovered a political plot upon the high seas. Caladorn made his final canon appearance in Elfsong, in which his identity as a Masked Lord of Waterdeep was revealed by his lover, Lucia Thione, and was nearly assassinated when she poisoned his drink in an attempt to steal his identity as a Masked Lord.
Though Caladorn’s saga ended here, he made one final memorable appearance as a playable character in the board game Lords of Waterdeep. Though Caladorn’s last canon adventure took place over 100 years ago in Forgotten Realms canon (in 1364 DR, compared to the modern day of around 1490 DR), Victoro Cassalanter is a half-elf, and could still easily be a tall, dark, and handsome man, presuming that Caladorn was his father and that there wasn’t another generation of Cassalanters between them.
Though it is possible, however tenuously, to unearth some history on Lord Victoro’s ancestors, we know almost nothing about Lady Ammalia’s origins. Presumably, she possesses dark power similar to her husband, and she knows something about her third “not-so-lovely child” that Perkins laughingly alluded to in the video above.
Just like the player characters at the start of Dragon Heist, we have no idea what lies beneath the Cassalanters’ gilded veneer of respectability. They crave the vast cache of gold hidden within Waterdeep, but they are already wealthy and powerful beyond their wildest dreams! What could they possibly want?
The Cassalanters are just one of the four modular antagonist factions in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. Who are you most excited to see enact their schemes within the City of Splendors?
Disclosure: James Haeck is a co-author of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
James Haeck is the lead writer for D&D Beyond, the co-author of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and the Critical Role Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, and is also a freelance writer for Wizards of the Coast, the D&D Adventurers League, and Kobold Press. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his partner Hannah and their lords of the jungle, Mei and Marzipan. You can usually find him wasting time on Twitter at @jamesjhaeck.