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Neverwinter:

has a population of about 23,200 at last count and is also known as the City of Skilled Hands and Jewel of the North. It also serves as the origin of the phrase “by the clocks of Neverwinter”, used when one is solemnly swearing, a reference to the precision of its timepieces. The erudite travel writer Volo (among others) credits Neverwinter as the most cosmopolitan and the most civilized city in all of Faerûn. He regards this as quite a reputation, considering the breadth and variety of the continent.

The name of the city has its origin in that even though the town is situated in the cold north of Faerûn, the Neverwinter river that flows through it is heated by fire elementals living under the nearby Mount Hotenow in the Neverwinter Wood. The heat given off from the river creates a permanent warm climate in the immediate area; without the elementals, the river, and subsequently the city’s water supply, would freeze over.

The city is ruled by Lord Nasher Alagondar, an aging, veteran adventurer and devout worshipper of Tyr. Neverwinter is prosperous, its master-craftsmen making lamps of multi-coloured glass, precision water clocks and exquisite jewelry. Its Tyrran faith promotes justice and fairness, and greed is frowned upon.

In addition to its unnaturally warm climate, Neverwinter is a rather picturesque city. It founds such sights as its three spectacular, intricately carved bridges: the Dolphin, the Winged Wyvern and the Sleeping Dragon. Under these, the waters of the Neverwinter River cascade over small, gentle waterfalls as they course into the city’s bustling harbour. Neverwinter’s magnificent gardens (the phrase “the City of Skilled Hands” refers to Neverwinter’s accomplished gardeners2) ensure the warm winters are colourful and the summers are rich with fresh fruit. The city is replete with beautiful and ingeniously designed buildings, many of which are famous in their own right, such as The House of Knowledge, and Neverwinter’s tall and many-windowed temple of Oghma. In addition, the reputations of such unique taverns as The Moonstone Mask and The Fallen Tower reach far beyond the Neverwinter’s walls. These elements generally make Neverwinter a rather distinctive city.

The city is a member in good standing of the Lord’s Alliance and Lord Nasher has ensured that the city is well defended, both physically and magically, against attacks or infiltration from Luskan, Neverwinter’s warlike rival. Maps of the city, which has a maze of meandering streets, are not distributed, as part of an effort to thwart Luskan spies. Some merchants in the city do however sell such maps, often over a black market.

Sharn:

is the largest city in the kingdom of Breland and indeed, the continent of Khorvaire. It is a melting pot of all races, with the human population being the largest but still only a third of Sharn’s some 212,000 citizens.

A vertical city, Sharn is linked with the plane of Syrania, granting enhanced power to flight and levitation magic, a feature that the city’s residents have used to build towers that rise higher into the sky than any other place on Khorvaire and possibly the world of Eberron. Due to the myriad of cultures that live and have lived in Sharn, examples of architecture from all over Khorvaire can be found. Most of Sharn’s wealthiest inhabitants live in the upper regions of the city, enjoying the freshest air and least claustrophobic views.

Sharn has a long and rich history starting with its foundation in ancient times by hobgoblin warlords. It was called Ja’shaarat (“Bright Blade”) and even then it was one of the greatest cities of the Dhakaani empire. In contrast to modern Sharn’s soaring towers, Ja’shaarat was built mostly underground with only its tallest buildings inevitably becoming the foundation of Sharn.

When the Dhakaani empire was devastated by the daelkyr, the city was ruined and never recovered. Goblin tribes who took refuge in the city’s bowels renamed it Duur’shaarat (“Blade of Sorrows”).

Years later, when a wave of human explorers flooded the coasts of Khorvaire, Malleon the Reaver discovered the fallen city. He enslaved the remaining goblin tribes and renamed the city Shaarat. In time, Shaarat grew into a wealthy and powerful city only to once again be destroyed when Malleon’s descendants refused to bow down to Breggor, the man who would become the first king of the nation of Breland.

After a long siege, Breggor’s wizards finally rained destruction down on the city. Breggor renamed the city Sharn. During the next 800 years the towers of Sharn rose and the city flourished. When all of Khorvaire was changed with the War of the Mark, Sharn was once again ruined and abandoned for 500 years. When Galifar I became king of the Five Nations he ordered the rebuilding of Sharn. With the funding of noble houses and the help of House Cannith and Dwarven architects from the Mror Holds, Sharn’s great towers were returned to their former splendor.

Luskan:

(also known as the City of Sails) is a port city on the northernmost point of the Sword Coast, on the continent of Faerûn. It is considered by most to be the furthest reach of civilization, the Spine of the World Mountains which mark what most believe to be the end of the known world (this is of course not true as the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale lie past them) being just a couple of hundred miles north of the city.

Built on the ruins of Illusk, which fell in 1244 DR to the orcs of the Bloody Tusks Tribe, Luskan has a very intriguing history. Most of its inhabitants, however, couldn’t care less. Luskan is a port town frequented by pirates, thieves and other disreputable folk interested in only one thing: money. Although you could be murdered, mugged or kidnapped at any moment within its walls, Luskan is a very lucrative city. Pirates bring in their booty to be sold to the black market, northern traders frequent the place as a rest stop on their way to the aforementioned Ten towns during the warmer months, ready to buy exotic scrimshander ornaments, several taverns do a roaring trade in ale and other spirits, the drugs and slave trade are rife (although obviously sublimated) and information brokers and prostitutes ply their trade during the night-time.

The city was officially ruled by the five High Captains: Taerl, Baram, Kurth, Seljack and Rethnor, former pirate lords all. In the game Neverwinter Nights which is not considered canon, in the year 1373 DR the High Captains were either killed or forced to flee during a vicious civil war caused by a cultist named Maugrim, who planned on using Luskan’s might against the city of Neverwinter.

The true power in the city actually resides in the Host Tower of the Arcane. The 130 loosely affiliated mages use the High Captains as puppet rulers, mostly keeping to themselves and working on their own magical experiments. They encourage the harassment of the trading routes of small cities such as Longsaddle, Mirabar and Neverwinter although they stay well clear of Waterdeep and Amn’s routes. They also encourage local traders to treat travellers with disdain and suspicion, in the possibility that they may be spies for their enemies, often sending agents to follow strangers personally.

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