Chapter 6: Sharn, City of Towers
I’ve been here a week, and it’s still hard not to be overwhelmed by the city. The towers rise up until they disappear into the clouds. Lights gleam in a thousand windows. Skycoaches work their way through the maze of bridges connecting the massive towers, and up above I can see the burning ring of an elemental airship.
Staring into the sky, I nearly walk into a massive warforged juggernaut. It’s my first time seeing one… but there’s so many things I’ve never seen in this place. A tattooed elf haggles with a masked halfling, arguing about the price of lizard meat. A gargoyle watches from a high perch. I gather my senses and keep moving.
It’s not until I reach the lift that I realize… that warforged stole my purse.
All of the themes of the setting are made manifest in the great city of Sharn. It’s a place of magic, with skycoaches circling mile-high towers and mystic forges toiling endlessly in the bowels. It’s a place of adventure and intrigue. A fallen angel is gathering minions in the ruins below the city. A gang war is unfolding in Callestan. The corpse of a murdered nobleman has just been discovered in his floating mansion. A Cannith artificer is experimenting with a planar gateway — and something is about to go terribly wrong.
All of these adventures and a hundred more are waiting in the City of Towers.
This chapter provides an overview of Sharn, with a host of story hooks to help you get started. For more information about the city and its inhabitants, refer to the sources in appendix A.
The City of Towers draws people from across the world. What’s brought your character to Sharn? Do you have deep roots in the city, or have you just stepped off the lightning rail?
Backgrounds provide a strong foundation for building a story. If you’re a noble, are you tied to one of the founding families of Sharn, or are you a scion of another nation visiting the City of Towers for the first time? If you’re an entertainer, are loved in the upper wards or a favorite in Sharn’s lowest dives? The tables provide a range of ideas that can be used for PCs or NPCs with strong ties to Sharn; work out the details with your DM.
Shrines and temples can be found across Sharn. The Pavilion of the Host is Breland’s largest temple to the Sovereign Host, and the Cathedral of the Cleansing Flame is the bastion of the Silver Flame in Breland. Of course, Sharn’s churches are infamous for harboring corruption. Are you part of the local establishment, or have you come to Sharn from afar?
|1||You’ve come to Sharn to investigate corruption in your church. Have you been sent by authorities in your faith, or are you driven by a divine vision?|
|2||You’re tied to a small temple in one of the lower wards of Sharn. It’s poor and dilapidated, but it’s a true bastion of your faith and doing good work for the struggling people of the ward.|
|3||You’re tied to a small temple in one of the lower wards of Sharn. It’s poor and dilapidated, but it’s a true bastion of your faith and doing good work for the struggling people of the ward.|
|4||You’re a minor acolyte at one of the major temples. It’s a maze of intrigue, graft, and politics. You’re playing the game, working with a patron within the church. Do you hope you can improve things once you rise up in hierarchy? Or are you only interested in power and influence?|
Whether you’re a grifter or a spy, there’s plenty of opportunities in Sharn.
|1||You’re a con artist from the lower wards, but you’ve established a false identity as an upper ward noble.|
|2||You’ve crafted the identity of a prophet driven by holy visions. If you are a divine spellcaster, your actual faith may be entirely different from the one you profess.|
|3||You’ve adopted the identity of a refugee from the war, but in fact you’re running from an infamous past. Are you a war criminal? An agitator? A former spy hiding from your employers?|
|4||You’re a covert operative working for another nation, or for a powerful agency (a dragonmarked house, the City Watch, a criminal organization). Are you carrying out missions, or are you a sleeper agent building a deep cover?|
Sharn is home to a number of powerful criminal organizations, and your background gives a tie to one of them. Work with your DM to decide which group you’re connected to, and use this table to determine the nature of that connection.
|1||You have family or friends in the organization, but you’ve still got to prove yourself to the gang.|
|2||You retired from the criminal life long ago. But you still have deep roots with the organization, and now they’re pulling you back in.|
|3||You’re secretly working for the City Watch or a foreign crime agency, trying to worm your way into the underworld of Sharn.|
|4||You’re an independent agent working with more than one of Sharn’s gangs. While you value your freedom, if you’re not careful you could make enemies on all sides.|
As an entertainer, you can find a place to perform anywhere in Sharn. But where are you recognized? Another thing to consider: House Phiarlan and House Thuranni train and license entertainers. Do you have a license with one of the houses, or are you entirely independent?
|1||You’re a favorite in the toughest taverns of the lower wards. The darker the dive, the better.|
|2||You’re an understudy at one of the grand theaters in Upper Menthis.|
|3||You specialize in religious music and performance. You will usually be welcomed at any temple of your faith.|
|4||You’re preserving an unusual artistic tradition through your work. You have an eccentric patron who’s driving you to explore the roots of this tradition.|
As folk hero, you have your roots among the common people. Where are you from, and who do you fight for?
|1||You grew up in the lower wards. You fight to protect your people both from the depredations of gangs and abuse at the hands of the wealthy.|
|2||You’re working to improve the image of a marginalized minority group (goblins, changelings, warforged) in Sharn.|
|3||You’re a refugee driven from your home by the war. You want to protect other refugees, but you’re also an opponent of the monarchies that drove the nations into war.|
|4||You’re celebrated for an amazing feat of heroism, which may have happened in Sharn or during the war. The problem is that you didn’t actually do it. Can you live up to everyone’s expectations and become the hero they believe you to be?|
There’s always work for a talented individual in Sharn. Masons work on the towers. Smiths hammer away in the cogs. Bakers and brewers tend to the endless appetites of the common folk. The largest guilds are tied to the dragonmarked houses. The Fabricator’s Guild of House Cannith deals with manufacturing trades, while the Hosterler’s Guild of House Ghallanda covers inns, taverns, and restaurants. Are you part of one of these international guilds, or tied to a smaller local organization?
|1||You’re a young prodigy. You’ve just joined the guild, but your comrades are amazed at your early talent and push you to excel.|
|2||While you’ve still got your guild ties, you retired from the business some years ago. You hate the newfangled techniques the kids are using today.|
|3||You’re a respected member of one of the dragonmarked guilds, but you’re concerned about the policies of the house and the direction of its leadership.|
|4||You’re a member of a small alliance of independent artisans. You’re fighting to keep your collective from being crushed by the dragonmarked houses.|
As a hermit, you spent a considerable time in seclusion before making a discovery that drew you back to the world. Were you isolated in Sharn, or did you discover something that’s drawn you to the City of Towers?
|1||You spent the last ten years meditating on a pillar on one of the highest points in Sharn. A recent revelation has brought you down from your perch; what is your quest? Over the course of your isolation you became something of a tourist attraction; a gnome merchant used to sell plaster statues of you on your pillar.|
|2||You spent your life in a hidden monastery in Sharn. Did the master of your order send you out on a mission? Or are you the lone survivor of an attack that destroyed your monastery?|
|3||You were the lone survivor of an airship crash and spent years in a remote location until you were found. In that time, you experienced a remarkable revelation. Did you have a religious experience, or did you have an arcane insight into the workings of the universe?|
|4||You’re a librarian. You’ve spent your entire life in the labyrinth of books below Morgrave University. A few weeks ago you stumbled on a secret buried in the vaults — something so big that it’s driven you from your beloved books and into a life of adventure. Is it a fragment of the Draconic Prophecy? A complex puzzle leading to an ancient treasure?|
Are you part of one of the noble families of Sharn, or you a scion of a distant line? If you have your roots in Sharn, you likely have a family estate in an upper ward. However, being so close to your family means that you’ll have to deal with their demands and expectations… and your actions could tarnish your family’s reputation.
|1||You’re ashamed of your family. Were they war profiteers? Are they taking advantage of refugees? Whatever the cause, despite being an heir to wealth and power, you’re currently keeping your lineage a secret.|
|2||You’re a local celebrity. You delight in slumming in the lower wards, but wherever you go in Sharn, gossip is sure to follow.|
|3||Your family is involved in a long-term plot to overthrow the monarch of your homeland. Your job is to find capable comrades to help you with your quest and to gain the support of other powerful people.|
|4||While you are still recognized as a noble, your lands were lost in the war and your title is all but meaningless. Can you find a way to regain your birthright?|
You are unfamiliar with the ways of civilization. So what’s drawn you to the greatest city in Khorvaire? Are you dazzled by the wonders of Sharn, or do you find the city to be disturbing and unnatural?
|1||You were born in the ruins of Fallen and grew up feral in Sharn, hunting in the cogs and sewers. What finally drew you out into civilization?|
|2||You served as a mercenary scout in the Last War and followed your comrades to Sharn in the wake of the war.|
|3||You were brought to Sharn as a curiosity. You were exhibited in the upper wards for a time until people grew tired of you.|
|4||You are an exile from your homeland. Did you commit a terrible crime? Was your tribe wiped out in a feud? Are you following a divine vision?|
You’re well versed in history and arcane lore, and you have a gift for uncovering the information you need. What is it that drives your pursuit of knowledge?
|1||You’re an untenured researcher at Morgrave University. You’re fascinated by history, and you’re desperate to delve into actual ruins.|
|2||People think you’re crazy. Yes, you have a lot of unorthodox theories. You’re certain that hidden dragons and disguised fiends are manipulating governments and that the Mourning was an inside job. And sure, maybe your “library” is a collection of rotting books and old issues of the Sharn Inquisitive pasted on the walls of a burnt-out bookstore. But what if you’re right? Hmm?|
|3||You’re with the press. You’re a freelance chronicler for the Sharn Inquisitive, always on the lookout for breaking news. You know your history and you know how to research a story. But if you want to make headlines, you need to be on the scene for something big.|
|4||You’re on the cutting edge of arcane theory. House Cannith, Arcanix — they’re all idiots. You’re on on the verge of a major discovery (The cause of the Mourning? The nature of warforged souls? Establishing a connection to new realms of existence?) but the pieces you need are out there in the world.|
Sharn is one of the most important ports in Eberron. It’s the gate to the Thunder Sea, and ships come in from across Eberron. Are you a local, or did you come to Sharn on a Lhazaar vessel or an Aereni galleon?
|1||You’ve got deep ties in Sharn. Your family owns a ship, and you’ve spent as much time on the water as you have on land. Are your people merchants? Explorers? Or privateers?|
|2||Your family works the docks in Sharn. You know everything there is to know about ships, and you know half of the captains who pass through the port, but you’ve never had the chance to take to the open sea.|
|3||When you were a child, you served as a deckhand on a ship that explored the coast of Xen’drik. You saw many wondrous things… including a secret location you’ve never forgotten. Now you’re a capable adventurer in your own right. Someday you’ll lead a ship back to that forgotten cove!|
|4||You’re an infamous pirate. You never harmed a Brelish vessel, but you were the terror of the Thunder Sea, raiding merchants and smugglers alike. At least, you were… until your crew mutinied, leaving you humiliated and stranded in Sharn. But you are sure new fortune lies just ahead!|
The echoes of the Last War can still be heard across Khorvaire. Many player characters may have served in the Last War, but your Military Rank feature means that you still have clout from your service. Did you fight for Breland, or did you serve in a foreign army?
|1||The war is never over. You know your enemies are still plotting, and you’re going to do whatever it takes to protect your nation. If you’re not from Breland, that means serving the interests of your nation in Sharn — whatever those may be.|
|2||You’re an old soldier: you served with distinction and retired with honor decades ago. You’ve got an endless supply of stories of your heroic deeds. It’s been a long time since you’ve been in combat and your skills are a little rusty. But you’re sure that if you pick up a sword, it will all come back to you soon enough.|
|3||You’re an officer of the Cyran army. You once held a fairly high rank, but your nation is destroyed and your soldiers scattered. Do you still feel bound to protect your people, are you only looking out for yourself?|
|4||Your ties aren’t to the traditional military; they’re to the Sharn Watch. You were forced out of the Watch by a group of corrupt officers. You still have friends among the guards, but there’s a lot of bad apples in the barrel. Do you want to clean up the Watch, or are you content to enforce justice on your own?|
The lower wards of Sharn are riddled with poverty. You had to find your own path in the harsh city. Are you an orphan, or were you scavenging to help ailing parents or needy siblings? Are you still young, or is your time as an urchin a thing of the past?
|1||You grew up on the streets of Lower Dura. You had to find or steal the things you needed to survive. You don’t trust anyone or anything… except the few friends you’ve made over the years. You’d do anything for your friends — even become an adventurer.|
|2||As an orphan, you were recruited by a gang of thieves. The rest of your crew was wiped out in a brutal gang war, and now you’re looking for a new team.|
|3||You grew up crawling the walls, and you know the city better than anyone. The world’s a ugly place, but there’s a lot of wonders in these towers… and you’re happy to share those secrets with your friends.|
|4||You’re a refugee. You were put in the camp in High Walls, but no walls can hold you. Sharn itself is an adventure, and you’re dealing with the horrors of your past by exploring your new home.|
The Shape of Sharn
When you live on the inside low, you never see the sun. People hear ‘towers’, they think of graceful little spires, the sort of thing you see poking up in the corner of your lord’s keep. We’ve got those, and lots of ‘em. But the foundation of the city is the core towers. The walls of these towers are so thick, you could fit your lord’s entire castle in one.
You’ve got your outside districts where you get the open air, built on the bridges and platforms that connect the core towers together. You’ve got the little turrets, built on the core tower walls and the bridges between. You’ve got the folk in the middle, who live and work in the walls themselves. And then you’ve got those of us on the inside, our districts entirely contained in the hollow well of a great tower. You look up in Callestan, you see twinkling lights, to be sure. But those aren’t stars, and that isn’t the sky. You’re looking up through a mile of bridges and platforms crossing the well, looking up at the districts above you.
You live up high, you can touch the sky. In the middle you can still see the sun. Down on the inside low, all we have is gloom and the constant drip, water and worse flowing from down from the streets above us.
Sharn is the largest city in Khorvaire, with a permanent population of approximately 210,000 people. Humans make up about a third of that number, and dwarves are a sixth of it; the rest is a blend of every race found across Khorvaire. Halflings, elves, and gnomes have a significant presence in the city, but even kalashtar and changelings have communities in Sharn. Beyond the permanent population, tens of thousands of people pass through Sharn every day. Refugees from the war still find their way to Sharn, along with tourists, spies, merchants, and people hoping to find their fortune in the grandest city in Eberron.
Sharn stands above the Dagger River. It’s an important port for anyone dealing with Aerenal, Xen’drik, or Sarlona. Mountains line the shores of the Dagger, and Sharn can’t spread out… so instead it’s grown ever upward.
Sharn is broken into five “quarters”: Central Plateau, Dura, Menthis Plateau, Northedge, and Tavick’s Landing. Each of these quarters is a hub of massive core towers. A web of bridges and platforms connects these vast spires, and a host of smaller turrets sprout from the edges of the core towers. The district of Skyway floats above the highest towers, while the tunnels of the Cogs stretch out below the lower city.
Sharn is a vertical city, and height is a simple indicator of status and wealth. Each quarter is roughly divided into three levels, and the combination of quarter and level defines a ward. Thus, wards include Lower Dura, Upper Central, and Middle Menthis. This distinction gives a general sense of the tone of a ward.
- Upper wards are home to the wealthy and powerful. Here you’ll find the finest goods and the most expensive services. The typical quality of meals and inns is wealthy or aristocratic, and rough adventurers may be treated with suspicion. Violence is rare; the City Watch is active in these areas, and if they’re corrupt, they’re at least taking bribes from people richer than you.
- Middle wards are home to the middle classes. Here you’ll find bustling markets and taverns, along with a wide range of entertainment and housing. Services range from modest to comfortable, with a few wealthy-grade options tucked away. The City Watch has a presence, but not as strong as in the upper districts.
- Lower wards house the hard-working laborers, but they’re also home to the destitute and the desperate… refugees who’ve lost everything in the war, orphans and urchins who never had anything to begin with. Modest services can be found, but overall the lower districts are squalid and poor; a visitor in fine clothes might attract unwanted attention. The City Watch pays little attention to the lower districts, making them a haven for criminals and gangs.
This is a broad stereotype that doesn’t apply to all wards. Dura is a particularly poor quarter, and Upper Dura is effectively a middle ward; meanwhile, Central is a center of wealth and power, and Lower Central is also effectively a middle ward.
Each ward is further subdivided into districts, neighborhoods defined by an economic role, a specific community, or both. Lower Northedge includes the districts of Stonegard, Longstairs, and North Market. Lower Dura includes seven distinct districts. This book doesn’t delve deeply into unique features of each district; the broad flavor of a ward is enough to drive an adventure. If you’d like to know more about the districts of Sharn — along with more information about its many factions, plots, and locations — refer to the sources presented in the Appendix.
Sharn is an enormous city and traveling from one side to the other can be quite an ordeal. As a rough guideline…
- It takes up to 30 minutes to move around within a particular ward.
- If you’re traveling between wards, add 30 minutes for each ward you pass through.
- Dura and Tavick’s Landing are especially large; double the time to move through one of these quarters.
So traveling from Lower Menthis to Upper Central involves passing through three wards (Lower Menthis to Lower Central, then ascending two levels) and can take up to 90 minutes. If you want to add a little color to your travels, you can roll on the Street Encounters tables when you pass through a district. The Central quarter is only connected to Northedge and Menthis, and there’s no bridges between Dura and Northedge.
Traveling from district to district involves lots of bridges and ramps, along with magic lifts — vast floating disks that slowly ascend and descend along threads of mystical energy. Lifts are designed to move cargo and can be up to 30 feet in diameter. Most lifts have rails but aren’t fully enclosed; when fighting on a lift, pushing someone off the edge is always a possibility. Should this happen to you, the section on falling later in this chapter may prove useful!
There are many ways to speed up travel in Sharn. House Orien manages a system of coaches; taking an Orien coach cuts travel time in half and costs 2 CP per ward travelled. Flight is the prefered way to get through Sharn, cutting travel down to a sixth of the usual time (5 minutes per ward). It’s also more expensive: 2 SP per ward involved. The most common form of flight is the skycoach, but many flying mounts can also be encountered in Sharn: hippogriffs, griffons, glidewings (a small Talentan pteranodon), and giant owls can all be found around the city.
Skycoaches are small flying vessels. They come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. A typical air taxi might resemble a rowboat, while a touring vessel could be the size of a longship and have an enclosed cabin for guests.
Unlike airships, skycoaches don’t make use of bound elementals. Sharn is located in a manifest zone that enhances magics tied to flight and levitation, and this is what makes both skycoaches and the towers themselves possible. If a skycoach is taken more than a mile away from Sharn, its enchantments will fail and it will crash.
House Lyrandar maintains and licenses most of the skycoaches in Sharn, but you don’t have to have the Mark of Storms to pilot an skycoach. It does require specialized training — a tool proficiency with air vehicles — so if you’re planning to steal an airship you’ll need to make sure you’ve got someone who can pilot it.
Central Plateau Quarter
The power and wealth of Sharn are concentrated in the Central Plateau. It’s the safest place in the city, combining the most capable units of the City Watch with the headquarters of Sharn’s elite forces. Whether you’re looking to deal with powerful merchants, city councilors, dragonmarked barons, or the ambassadors of other nations, Central Plateau is a place where deals are made and gold changes hands.
Both gold and power flow down from Upper Central. The Council Hall is the seat of city government, while the Korranath — the grand temple of Kol Korran — is the heart of Sharn’s financial district and the location of House Kundarak’s largest bank… along with the legendary Kundarak Vaults. Upper Central houses the mansions and estates of powerful nobles, along with businesses that cater to them. Between the Sharn Watch and private security forces, this is a bad place to start trouble, and player characters who appear suspicious may be challenged by guards.
A center for intrigue and espionage. The district of Ambassador Towers includes embassies and consulates from the Thronehold Nations, along with Aerenal and Sarlona. Ambassador Towers is also home to the King’s Citadel, headquarters of Brelish intelligence. Across the ward, the district of Dragon Towers holds the primary enclaves of the dragonmarked houses. Rounding things out, the district of Sovereign Towers is home to Sharn’s greatest monuments of faith, including the Pavilion of the Host (Sovereign Host) and the Cathedral of the Cleansing Flame (Silver Flame). While it’s a middle ward, services are comfortable to wealthy in quality.
This district is peaceful and largely residential; it’s the safest and most pleasant of the lower wards. Services are largely comfortable in quality, and the Sharn Watch is plentiful and well paid.
Things to Do in Central Plateau
Attend an Auction. The Aurora Gallery (Upper Central) is the finest auction house in Sharn and specializes in auctions of exotic magic items and relics from Xen’drik. You never know what’s going to be available — or who will be bidding against you.
Plan a Heist. Rob the Kundarak Bank of Sharn (Upper Central) or the Brelish Museum of Fine Art (Middle Central).
Go to Jail. The Citadel in Middle Central is also Sharn’s high-security prison.
Pray. The primary temples of the Sovereign Host and the Silver Flame are located in Middle Central, along with a host of shrines to specific Sovereigns and lesser faiths. Take part in a festival or drop in for some spiritual guidance!
Espionage! Whether you work for your nation or get entangled in the schemes of the dragonmarked houses, there’s a lot of powerful people in Middle Central with a use for capable agents.
Sharn began with Dura, but the city has left it behind. Dura is the oldest quarter of Sharn, and many consider it to be a blight on the City of Towers. There are cracks in the stones and places where enchantments have failed and never been restored. Dura is riddled with poverty and crime, and overall, it’s the most dangerous section of the city. But it also holds opportunities you can’t find anywhere else… and if you’re looking for smuggled goods or a place to lay low, head to Dura.
This ward is full of life, home to talented artisans and successful merchants. There’s a seedy edge to Upper Dura, and in general it has the qualities of a middle ward. But it’s a place that welcomes all manner of suspicious customers… which makes it a haven for adventurers. Clifftop is a home away from home for explorers and mercenaries. The Sharn Watch maintains a fortress garrison in Daggerwatch. The Highhold district is an upscale dwarven neighborhood; it’s said that the strongest spirits in Sharn are served at Morragin’s Tavern. Hope’s Peak is a temple district, notable for the Citadel of the Sun. Dedicated to Dol Arrah, this church is considered to be a true bastion of light. Finally, the Overlook district is home to most of the kalashtar in Sharn.
Middle Dura caters to the working class of Sharn. Its inns and taverns are modest in price, but there’s gold among the dross. The Bazaar is the largest commercial district in Sharn, though it’s certainly shadier than the other major markets in the city. Middle Dura is home to a host of inns and taverns. The King of Fire is a popular tavern and reputable gambling establishment. Ghallanda Hall has the only comfortable rooms in the ward; this old inn was the first Ghallanda enclave in Sharn, and it also has modest and poor rooms for the common folk of Dura.
The district of Precarious is the gateway to Cliffside and the docks of Sharn. The Sharn Watch maintains an active presence in Precarious, securing passage to the docks and watching the many warehouses. The rest of Lower Dura has been left to rot. Ignored by the Watch, it is the domain of gangs and crimelords. The district of Fallen is a haunted ruin; this temple district was abandoned after a floating tower collapsed onto it. Malleon’s Gate is home to the goblins of Sharn, along with other monstrous immigrants from Droaam and Darguun. Callestan is a center for criminal activity.
Things to Do in Dura
Talk About the Race. The inhabitants of Dura are devoted to the Race of Eight Winds and are always willing to discuss the latest news.
Gamble. Legal gambling is heavily taxed and limited in its scope. Dura is home to a wide range of shadier and more profitable games.
Go Shopping. If you’re looking for expensive goods shop elsewhere. But the Bazaar of Middle Dura is an excellent source for exotic goods… legal or otherwise. Clifftop caters to adventurers and has a reasonable selection of magical goods.
A Little Crime. Looking for a fence? Need to find a smuggler or an assassin? Do you want to set up a meeting with a Boromar lieutenant? Lower Dura is the nexus for criminal activities in Sharn.
Suffer A Terrible Accident. The Sharn Watch ignores Lower Dura, and even in the higher wards they’re spread thin. There are even stories of dragonmarked houses and mad wizards conducting dangerous experiments in Lower Dura… who’s going to stop them?
Menthis Plateau Quarter
The hub of Sharn’s entertainment industry and home to Breland’s largest university, Menthis Plateau is one of the most diverse quarters in Sharn. Whether you’re looking for classical theater, a fine bookstore, or an illegal fighting ring, Menthis has something to offer.
Elegant and civilized, Upper Menthis is home to four of the finest theaters in Breland: The cutting-edge Art Temple, colorful Khavish Theater, traditional Grand Stage, and the open-air Stargazer Theater, along with the Kavarrah Concert Hall. It’s the location of Morgrave University. It includes upscale shops with a focus on fine food and fashion; the most remarkable glamerweave in Sharn can be found in Den’iyas, a gnome district known as “Little Zilargo.” Adventurers who visit Den’iyas should be careful not to get involved in the many intrigues and feuds that play out between the gnome residents.
This ward is the most diverse in Sharn, and includes communities drawn from across Khorvaire. The Little Plains district draws halfling immigrants from the Talenta Plains. Cassan Bridge has a significant population of orcs and half-orcs from the Shadow Marches. Immigrants from the Lhazaar Principalities have settled in Warden Towers. And Smoky Towers had a significant Cyran community even before the Last War; this has become a haven for Cyrans wealthy enough to avoid the refugee camps of High Walls. This results in a diverse array of cuisine, entertainment, and services drawing on the traditions of these places.
The Everbright district may be of particular interest to adventurers. This is a hub for mystical goods and services. There’s a wide assortment of magewrights, and the shops have a good selection of common and uncommon magic items. With that said, the people of Middle Menthis are law-abiding folk; if you’re looking for spellcasters to help you with illegal activities or want to sell stolen artifacts, you should turn to Lower Dura.
Providing cheap entertainment to the masses, Lower Menthis is crowded. It’s filled with sketchy taverns and theaters ranging from the innocent to the risque. There are gambling halls, brothels, and spontaneous performances in the streets. Lower Menthis is also home to the Burning Ring, a fight club where spectators bet on amateur gladiators. Technically illegal, the Burning Ring moves around the ward. Competitors are armed but unarmored; matches continue until a contestant yields, but fatalities do happen.
Things to Do in Menthis Plateau
Consult a Sage. Morgrave University may not be the finest institute of learning in Khorvaire, but it’s the best Sharn has to offer. Whether you want to conduct your own research in the library or to find a specialist in goblin history or the theory of manifest zones, Morgrave is your best option.
Show Business. Menthis has a host of performance venues, from the Grand Stage to the many taverns of Lower Menthis. Spontaneous street performances are common throughout the quarter. In addition to enjoying the entertainment, you could always try to find work — either showcasing your artistic talents on stage or displaying your prowess in the Burning Ring.
Join an Expedition. Scholars at Morgrave often sponsor expeditions to Xen’drik and into the ruins below Sharn. Cyran nobles in Smoky Towers look for brave souls to venture into the Mournland to reclaim lost treasures.
Cultural Exchange. Den’iyas brings a touch of Zilargo to Sharn. You might find a clawfoot raptor running down the streets in Little Plains, or a Gatekeeper druid casting bones on Cassan Bridge.
The residential area is the quietest quarter of Sharn. At first glance there’s little to attract adventurers, unless you’re interested in quality real estate. On the other hand, you never know when this charming and innocuous quarter could be hiding a nefarious cult or devilish plot!
This is the perfect place for the noble who can afford a manor in the clouds but wants to avoid the bustle of Upper Central. It’s also home to most of the elves of Sharn. In particular, the district of Shae Lias is a bastion of Aereni culture and traditions. The heart of Shae Lias is Gates of Passage, which serves as the Aereni embassy and a temple to the Undying Court. The Oaks is one of the finest restaurants is Sharn (aristocratic quality… at aristocratic prices). The Veil of Flesh specializes in body art, both traditional tattoos and temporary illusions woved directly into the skin.
This ward caters to the middle class of Sharn, with a wide range of comfortable housing. Dwarves make up the majority of the population, especially in the district of Holdfast. In contrast to Highhold in Upper Dura, the dwarves of Holdfast have deep roots in Sharn and feel no strong connection to the Mror Holds or its traditions. High Hope is a temple district; while the most impressive churches and shrines are located in Upper Central, it’s commonly known that if you’re looking for a truly devoted priest, you should go to High Hope.
While poor, Lower Northedge is a significant step up from the slums of Lower Dura. The people of Lower Northedge don’t look for trouble, and they don’t like it coming to their doorstep. North Market is one of the largest markets in Sharn, though it specializes in simple, everyday goods. The Stoneyard district has a significant shifter population; the Rat’s Nest is a tavern catering to shifters, while the Bear’s Rest is a shifter inn.
Things to Do in Northedge
Settle Down. If you’re looking for a place to live in Sharn, Lower Northedge combines reasonable quality and price with more security than Lower Dura.
Die in Style. The elves of Shae Lias are experts in funerary customs and embalming. In addition, Mayne Jhaelian of the Gates of Passage is one of the few people in Sharn capable of raising the dead.
Find a Patron. There are many eccentric nobles in Upper Northedge. A patron of the arts could take an interest in the career of a bard or entertainer. A collector might keep capable adventurers on retainer with the understanding that they’ll deliver any Dhakaani artifacts they come across in their travels. You never know what benefits a patron will provide; at the least, they can give you an introduction to high society.
Tavick’s Landing Quarter
If you come to Sharn by land or air, you’ll enter the city through Tavick’s Landing. The quarter took on a martial aspect during the Last War, and this can still be felt today. On the positive side, the Watch Commander Iyanna ir’Talan has gone to great efforts to purge corruption in the local garrisons of the Sharn Watch; this is one of the few districts where the Watch is both helpful and competent. On the downside, citizens of any nation that fought against Breland during the war may be greeted with suspicion or hostility.
Upper Tavick’s Landing
This ward is effectively a self-contained city catering to the nobles that live there. It has fine housing, skilled services, a luxurious mercantile district, and even an entire district — Sunrise — devoted to the servants of the nobles. Services and lodging in Sunrise are poor to modest, as opposed to the wealthy to aristocratic goods found elsewhere in the district. During the war, fears of attacks by foreign agents resulted in the establishment of a number of laws that affect adventurers.
- The soldiers of House Deneith have full authority to act as agents of the Sharn Watch within Upper Tavick’s Landing, and a hundred elite Blademark mercenaries maintain checkpoints at the district’s edges.
- You need a license to carry a weapon in Upper Tavick’s Landing. This costs only 5 gp, but you’ll have to plead your case to a clerk; it’s generally understood that this is a tool to keep undesirables out of the ward. Any Blademark or member of the Watch can demand to see your license and may confiscate unauthorized weapons.
- You also need a license to cast spells in the ward. This costs 10 gp and you must specify the spells you wish to cast. A fine can be levied for any unauthorized use of magic.
- Inhabitants must dress “in a manner that upholds the solemn dignity of this proud ward.” Blademarks and officers of the Watch can choose how to interpret this. Typically, armor is considered inappropriate unless you’re tied to House Deneith, the Sharn Watch, or you’ve served with the Brelish military. Anyone held to be in contempt of this law is escorted out.
- Any sort of unruly behavior — fighting, shouting in the streets, etc — earns a fine of up to 5 gp and temporary expulsion from the ward.
For those willing to put up with these restrictions, Upper Tavick’s Landing has many fine features. Wyredd’s Spirits is the best source for wine in Sharn. The Crystals of Denion buys and sell rare magic items, though it only has a handful of such items at any given time; it also sells expensive magical works of art. Transmutation is the name of a renowned beauty salon. House Deneith maintains a fortified garrison and training facility in the Copper Arch district. To get licenses for weapons or spellcasting, you’ll have to go to the courthouse in the Twelve Pillars district.
Middle Tavick’s Landing
In contrast to the upper ward, Middle Tavick’s Landing welcomes travelers and tourists. There’s a host of lively taverns and excellent inns. The Cornerstone is a massive arena that hosts everything from circuses to aerial jousting. The Deathsgate district caters to adventurers, much like the Clifftop district of Upper Dura. Like Clifftop, it has an adventurer’s guild — though the Deathsgate Guild has a dark reputation, and its members often pick fights with Clifftop adventurers. House Jorasco has a large house of healing in the ward, and House Deneith has a recruiting station for would-be mercenaries. The Graywall district has deep roots in Karrnathi culture that predate the Last War, and Slogar’s and The Bloody Mug are places where you can find blood sausage and Nightwood ale. Tavick’s Market is one of Sharn’s main market districts; it’s right above Terminus station and is a source for produce and goods brought in by local farmers.
Lower Tavick’s Landing
Visitors arrive at Wroann’s Gate or Terminus, but they leave through Black Arch, the gateway to the rest of Sharn. This is a heavily fortified garrison district, designed to withstand a full siege. The ward includes other services catering to travelers; the Dragoneyesdistrict is a maze of taverns, inns, brothels, and gambling halls. Dragoneyes is also noteworthy for having one of the few changeling communities in Breland.
These days, Lower Tavick’s Landing is best known for High Walls — a former residential district converted into a home for refugees from the Last War. High Walls is filled past capacity, mostly with Cyrans displaced by the Mourning. Today, the gates are open; but High Walls is designed to serve as a fortress prison if need be, and the Sharn Watch keeps an eye out for any signs of unrest.
Things to Do in Tavick’s Landing
Gamble. Dragoneyes is filled with opportunities to lose your wages, both in established halls and on street corners. One especially noteworthy venue is Chance. If you believe the rumors, Chance can arrange and cover almost any sort of contest.
Hug a Shifter. Middle and Lower Tavick’s Landing are home to much of Sharn’s shifter population. Middle Tavick’s Landing has the only official court for the shifter sport hrazhak.
Find Refuge. While most of the refugees in High Walls come from Cyre, the district is a haven for anyone displaced in the war, including Brelish victims of the war. It’s over-crowded and resources are stretched thin. Tensions are high, and there are feuds and power struggles among the refugees. If you’re from Cyre, you might have a cot in High Walls with your name on it; even if you don’t, you could have friends or family living in High Walls.
Sharn: Above and Below
The five quarters of Sharn make up the bulk of the city, but here are additional regions that you may wish to explore during your time in Sharn.
There are a number of floating towers orbiting the upper wards of Sharn, but these are dwarfed by Skyway, an entire district that floats above and between Central Plateau and Menthis Plateau. Built on an island of solidified clouds, Skyway holds the estates of the wealthiest people in Khorvaire — nobles whose feet need never touch the ground. Skyway contains a host of aristocratic boutiques and restaurants, along with astonishing mansions. Chief among these is Tain Manor, home to most powerful family in Sharn. Celyria ir’Tain is the queen of high society. She holds a ball at the manor each month, and the guest list at the Tain Gala defines the social order in the city. If you need to mingle with celebrities, find a way to wrangle an invitation to the Tain Gala. And if you’re looking to pull off a heist on some of the richest people in Eberron, Skyway is the place to start.
This small ward contains the docks of Sharn. Cargo is hoisted up to the city with magical cranes, and people take levitating lifts. All traffic into Sharn passes through the district of Precarious in Lower Dura, and Cliffside has much in common with Lower Dura. It’s rough and poor, filled with sailors and dockworkers. On the other hand, some people swear that Cliffside has the finest taverns in Sharn.
Sharn was built on the foundations of an older city, which was itself built atop goblin ruins. This old city was destroyed by dark magic — the elemental powers of the infamous Halas Tarkanan and his consort, the Lady of the Plague. It’s said that vile powers still linger in these ruins, and for this reason King Galifar I had all passages to this undercity sealed with gates of metal and magic. These portals remain sealed today, and it’s illegal to tamper with them. But it’s generally assumed that there may be many treasures hidden in the ruins of Old Sharn, along with untold secrets of the past.
The Cogs lie deep below Sharn, below the sewers and even beyond the Depths. Incorporating natural tunnels and ancient goblin ruins. Streams of Fernian lava flow beneath Sharn, and over the centuries House Cannith has helped Breland establish vast foundries that tap this mystic resource. Ashblack and Blackbones are industrial districts, largely inhabited by warforged laborers and miserable workers of other races. It’s said that House Cannith maintains a massive forgehold in the depths, and that this is where Baron Merrix d’Cannith conducts his arcane experiments. In addition, The Red Hammer is Sharn’s only tavern catering specifically to warforged.
Beyond Ashblack and Blackbones lies Khyber’s Gate, a maze of tunnels and tenements carved into the stone. The Sharn Watch has no presence in Khyber’s Gate, and the closest thing to an authority is the criminal organization known as Daask. Many of the inhabitants of the Gate are goblins and immigrants from Droaam, but it’s also home to fugitives and other desperate people. You can find mad cultists, undead, and even demons, along with a handful of hermits and visionaries seeking to escape the city above. Shamukaar is the most successful tavern in Khyber’s Gate. This bar is a safe haven for all within it, regardless of species or politics; once you make it through the door, you can breathe easy.
Things to Do in Sharn
Sharn is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in Khorvaire. Covering all the things that you could do in Sharn could fill an entire book (and does, as covered in the Appendix!). But here’s a few things you might want to do during your time in Sharn.
There’s always a celebration in Sharn, whether it’s a parade in a single district or a festival across the entire city. Here’s a few to put on your calendar.
The Ascension (1 Sypheros). A celebration of the sacrifice of Tira Miron, who gave her life to serve as the Voice of the Silver Flame. There are services at all Silver Flame churches and shrines, and the faithful are encouraged to find some way to help their communities.
Aureon’s Crown (26 Dravago). A celebration of knowledge. Elders share their knowledge with the young. Morgrave University holds its graduate services on this day, and there are public lectures at the Great Hall of Aureon in Upper Menthis.
Boldrei’s Feast (9 Rhaan) is a celebration of community. There are gatherings across the city, and the wealthy compete to throw the grandest parties.
Brightblade (12 Nymm). The festival of Dol Dorn, celebrated across the city with prizefights, wrestling matches, archery contests, and other tests of strength and skill. This culminates with a grand contest of champions at the Cornerstone in Middle Tavick’s Landing.
Crystalfall (9 Olarune). During the Last War, saboteurs caused a floating tower to fall into Lower Dura. This devastation can still be seen today in the district now known as Fallen. On 9 Olarune, people gather to commemorate this tragedy. There’s a tradition of crafting elaborate ice sculptures and throwing them into the Dagger River.
The Day of Mourning (20 Olarune). The nation of Cyre was destroyed four years ago on the Day of Mourning. While the Mourning had an impact on everyone in Khorvaire, this day is especially important for Cyran survivors. It is a time when Cyrans come together to remember their lost kingdom. Some tell stories or sing traditional songs, ensuring their culture isn’t forgotten. Others seethe with anger at the enemies who brought Cyre to this place, and it can be a time for riots or violence.
Fathen’s Fall (25 Barrakas) commemorates a priest of the Silver Flame martyred while exposing hidden lycanthropes in Sharn. It is a time when followers of the Flame come together, but often causes tensions with the shifter community.
The Hunt (4 Barrakas). In honor of the Sovereign Balinor, a fierce beast is brought to the city and released into an isolated section of the Depths. Anyone can participate in the Hunt by making a donation of 5 gp; the hunter (or hunting party) who brings down the beast wins a purse of 500 gp and the blessing of Balinor. The Hunt can vary; some years multiple beasts are released and the hunter who catches the most of them is marked as the victor. Often, though, the other hunters are a greater threat than the beast!
Long Shadows (26-28 Vult). It’s said that the power of the Shadow — sinister deity of the Dark Six — is at its height on these three nights. Wise people spend these nights indoors with friends, but those who celebrate the darkness may take to the streets to prey on the weak and foolish.
The Race of Eight Winds (23 Lharvion) is an aerial race that takes place around Dura Quarter. See the sidebar for more information.
Sun’s Blessing (15 Therendor). The festival of Dol Arrah, this is a day of peace and a time for enemies to find a peaceful resolution to their conflicts. It’s one of the safest days in the city.
The Tain Gala (First Far of each month). The ir’Tains are the richest and most powerful family in Sharn. Each month, Celyria ir’Tain holds a ball at her Skyway mansion. The guest list defines the social order of the city; those families with permanent invitations — known as the Sixty — are the royalty of Sharn. However, Celyria does invite unusual guests each month, and an up-and-coming entertainer or a renowned folk hero might get the call!
Thronehold (11 Aryth) is the day that the Treaty of Thronehold officially ended the Last War. This year (998 YK) is only the third time this event has been celebrated, and the Lord Mayor of Sharn has promised a truly epic festival.
Wildnight (18-19 Sypheros). Supposedly the Fury — Sovereign of Passion and Madness — reaches the height of her power on this night. Emotions run high and impulse control runs low. Shy and superstitious folk stay indoors, while others see it as a time to cast aside all inhibitions. The streets fill with raucous revelry and wild celebrations stretch into the night… though riots, brawls, and other crimes are all too common on Wildnight.
THE RACE OF EIGHT WINDS
Legends say King Galifar II used Dura as a proving ground for aerial cavalry. Over the centuries this evolved into the sporting event known as the Race of Eight Winds. Dura is divided into eight regions for the race, each of which is represented by a particular creature. The beasts of Lower Dura include the Gargoyle, the Glidewing, and the Griffon. Middle Dura fields the Owl, the Hawk, and the Eagle. Upper Dura supports the Hippogriff and the Pegasus.
The race takes place on the 23rd day of Lharvion, but the inhabitants of Dura are devoted to the event. Preparations and debates are ongoing throughout the year, and as the race grows closer there are feasts, parades, and ever more serious arguments between the people of different districts. The race is an easy topic of conversation with anyone from Dura, but professing support for the wrong beast can be a dangerous thing.
Need to get a message to someone? If you’re not in a hurry, the Orien post has boxes across the city; you can mail a letter for 1 cp. Hiring a courier generally costs between 5 cp to 5 gp, depending on the size of the package and where you need it delivered. You can find Sivis message stations in every upper and middle ward, and if you absolutely have to get a message to someone instantly, the Sivis enclave in Dragon Towers (Middle Central) can perform sending for 200 gp.
House Tharashk has brought a new innovation to message delivery in Sharn: gargoyles. Tharashk has licensed a score of gargoyles, and these flying couriers are a quick way to get a message across the city. If you spot a gargoyle you can flag it down, and it costs 5 gp to deliver a letter or small package.
Have A Great Fall
Sharn is the City of Towers, but it’s also a city of bridges and balconies. These can be extremely narrow or remarkably wide. There are entire districts largely spread across vast bridges. While there are walls and rails on most bridges, there’s always the chance that your time in Sharn will end with someone going over the edge. So, what does that mean?
Those who can afford it usually carry a feather token (see chapter 5) as insurance. No token? Don’t panic! Because of the maze of bridges and spans connecting the towers, there’s an excellent chance that you won’t fall more than a hundred feet before hitting a lower bridge. While this may seem like small comfort, the major bridges in the upper and middle wards are enchanted with feather fall enchantments that trigger automatically… keeping you from crushing an innocent passerby in your fall.
Of course, there are many things that could happen during a lengthy fall. It’s always up to the DM to decide if you have a straight fall to the bottom. But the Falling in Sharn table presents a few of the many possibilities.
|d10||Falling in Sharn|
|1||You fall hundreds of feet before striking the ground at the base of the towers.|
|2||You fall 3d6x10 feet before striking a bridge. A major bridge in an upper or middle ward will have a feather fall enchantment, otherwise it’s going to be a hard landing.|
|3||You fall 2d4x10 feet and land in a passing skycoach. Do you crush an innocent passenger?|
|4||You fall 4d4x5 feet and strike an outcropping, flagpole, or projecting statue. If you survive, you’re still stranded on the edge of a tower or bridge.|
|5||You fall past a hippogriff — make a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (DC 15) to catch its leg!|
|6||A giant owl catches you… and threatens to drop you if it doesn’t get a reward.|
|7||You can fly! Actually, a nearby magewright cast feather fall to save you, but for a moment it feels like you can fly.|
|8||You strike a small air elemental that was drawn to the city. This cushions your fall… but now you’re on top of an air elemental.|
|9||A guardian angel manifests and catches you. Is this sheer luck due to Sharn’s proximity to Syrania? Or does this celestial have a purpose for you?|
|10||You slip through the manifest zone surrounding Sharn and find yourself in the plane of Syrania.|
Criminal Activities in Sharn
Crime takes many forms. Any sort of theft is illegal, including “malicious theft of identity” — the use of shapeshifting abilities or illusion magic to impersonate someone with the intent to cause harm. Assault, murder, and fraud will all land you in hot water. Other crimes walk the edge of legality. Both gambling and prostitution are legal in Sharn, but these industries are heavily taxed and regulated; the most profitable games are found in the shady halls that operate off the books. Likewise, smuggled goods include strictly illegal things — illicit drugs, mystical explosives — but also highly taxed goods from Xen’drik or other nations.
While crime occurs throughout Sharn, it is most visible in Lower Dura and the Cogs. The Sharn Watch has a minimal presence in these wards, and these are the easiest places to sell stolen goods or to hire an assassin. Of course, they’re also good places to get robbed or caught up in a street brawl.
Sharn is home to a host of minor gangs and independent criminals. However, most criminal activities ultimately fall under one of four criminal organizations; even independents will usually have an arrangement with one of these major powers. If your character has the criminal background, you should work with the DM to determine which of these organizations you’re connected to.
The Boromar Clan
- … is the oldest and most powerful criminal organization in Sharn.
- … dominates gambling, theft, and smuggling, including the dreamlily trade.
- … governs a wide network of lesser gangs and crimelords reaching across Sharn.
- … has halflings in many leadership roles but includes members of all races.
- … is facing a serious challenge from Daask.
The Boromar Clan began with a family of halfling immigrants from the Talenta Plains. Today the Boromars are one of Sharn’s most influential families. There’s a Boromar on the City Council. The Boromars have close ties by marriage to the local branch of House Jorasco. Boromars can be seen at every Skyway gala. But it’s an open secret that they’ve been running crime in Sharn since the first days of the city. They’ve been bribing the Sharn Watch for so long that in many districts, the Watch effectively works for the clan.
Having a connection to the Boromar Clan makes you part of the established power in Sharn. It’s an organization that values tradition and prefers to avoid violence. However, you’ll be expected to respect the hierarchy and follow the rules… and you may be targeted by Daask.
- … is led by monsters from Droaam.
- … is based in the Cogs but has been recently expanding into the lower wards.
- … specializes in violent crime and extortion.
- … is aggressively targeting the Boromar Clan.
Formed by monstrous immigrants from Droaam, Daask has been building its power for a decade and has recently begun an aggressive campaign of expansion. Humans, shifters, goblins, and changelings are all found in Daask, but the organization is built around a monstrous core: gnolls, ogres, minotaurs, harpies, even a handful of trolls. The leaders of Daask include oni and medusas. Daask doesn’t have the connections or infrastructure of the Boromar Clan, but the sheer physical force it can bring to bear is impressive.
Daask has almost no influence in the middle or upper wards, but it is a powerful and dangerous force below. It’s a simple organization with few traditions or layers of leadership. Having ties to Daask gives you allies in the undercity and few restrictions. But it sets you against the Boromar Clan and makes you complicit in Daask’s increasing aggression.
- … is a small, elite force of thieves-for-hire and assassins.
- … is comprised of people with aberrant dragonmarks.
- … has a rivalry with the dragonmarked houses.
- … remains neutral in the brewing gang war.
The members of House Tarkanan all possess aberrant dragonmarks. Rumors say that the gang began as a secret Brelish black ops team. True or not, the members of this small gang are skilled thieves and assassins whose natural talents are enhanced by their aberrant marks.
The organization takes its name from Halas Tarkanan, an aberrant-marked leader who fought against the dragonmarked houses centuries ago. In addition to its criminal activities, House Tarkanan is known to offer shelter to people with aberrant dragonmarks, and protects persecuted aberrants.
While anyone can have a contact with the House, you must have an aberrant dragonmark to join it. House Tarkanan remains neutral in the conflict between the crimelords and won’t accept contracts against gang leaders.
- … include members of all races, but primarily changelings and doppelgangers.
- … specialize in information, forgery, blackmail, and fraud.
- … remain neutral in the Boromar-Daask conflict.
The Tyrants are forgers and grifters, specialists in deception and the acquisition of information. The majority of the Tyrants are changelings, who use their shapeshifting abilities to fool marks and acquire secrets. There are magewrights among the Tyrants who can permanently alter your appearance. So, the Tyrants can steal someone’s identity, but they can also provide a fugitive with a new life.
The Tyrants are an enigmatic organization. They act to protect the changelings of Tavick’s Landing and they pursue schemes that generate profits. But they also gather secrets they might never use and, sometimes, even provide assistance when they don’t appear to benefit from it themselves.
They have an longstanding truce with the Boromar Clan and remain neutral in the current struggles.
Having a connection with the Tyrants gives you access to expert forgers — and could provide you with unexpected secrets. One of the tricky issues with the Tyrants is that many of its members maintain shared identities. A particular persona is a job and different changelings may take it on from day to day. So if you have a contact in the Tyrants, the contact you meet seems consistent, but you may actually be speaking to a different changeling each time you meet with the organization.
The four organizations mentioned here are the ones people have heard of. The Boromar Clan is well known in Sharn. The Tyrants have been around for centuries and are often considered an urban myth by people who haven’t encountered them. Daask and House Tarkanan have both appeared within the last decade, but both are known to anyone who’s spent much time in the lower wards.
These are the major players in Sharn’s underworld, but there’s a host of minor players. Both the Boromar Clan and Daask support a number of smaller gangs and criminal organizations, and it may not be immediately obvious who a gang is working with. And there’s always new people looking for opportunities, who haven’t yet been noticed by the Boromars. So, this is a partial list. Don’t assume you know everything about crime.
A psychoactive liquid that smells and tastes like your favorite beverage, essence of dreamlily is a Sarlonan opiate. First imported to manage pain during the Last War, it’s now the most commonly abused illegal substance in Sharn. Dreamlily dens can be found across the lower wards.
Dreamlily causes disorienting euphoria and remarkable resistance to pain. While under the effects of dreamlily you are poisoned; you are immune to fear; and the first time you drop to 0 hit points without being killed outright, you drop to 1 hit point instead.
A dose of dreamlily typically costs 1 gp, and the effects last for one hour. However, there are many varieties, and this may affect the duration or the price.
Sharn holds the potential for endless adventures. The City of Towers can serve as the foundation of a single adventure or an entire campaign. Defining a starting point is a way to give an initial focus to the campaign — setting a tone and giving players an initial investment in the story. The player characters may be meeting in a tavern — but it’s their favorite tavern. The bard performs twice a week and the barbarian has a huge bar tab to resolve.
This section explores three different starting points.
- Callestan is in Lower Dura. It’s a dangerous district riddled with crime and gang conflict. A Callestan campaign is a dark neo-noir story.
- Clifftop in Upper Dura is a district catering to established adventurers. This is a place for pulp heroes, established explorers whose services are in demand.
- Morgrave University is in Upper Menthis Plateau. This is a college for adventurers, and an opportunity to add a little levity to your story.
Choosing and developing a starting point should be a collaborative process between the players and the DM. A starting point sets a tone; if half of the players want a light-hearted romp, Callestan is a poor choice.
Once you’ve agreed on a starting point, the next step is to work together to develop the story. This section provides details about each district, including prominent NPCs and locations. Using this as a foundation, each player should work with the DM to answer the following questions.
Why Are You Here? What has drawn your character to this place, and what keeps you here? The idea of using a starting point is that it’s your home — what does it say about your character that this place is your home?
Friends and Rivals. Who do you know in the district? The DM should work with each player to develop a friend or rival in the area… or both. A character’s background is always a good place to start. If you’re a criminal, do you have a friend in a local gang? If you’re an entertainer, do you have a professional rival? If you’re a folk hero, did you deal with a thug causing trouble in your favorite tavern — earning you the gratitude of the owner and the enmity of the villain?
This is a collaborative process and the goal is to enhance the story, not to spoil it. You may be friends with a Morgrave professor, but that doesn’t mean they’ll magically solve all your problems; more likely, they might ask you to help solve one of their problems. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, the DM can propose something and have you flesh out the details: “You’ve made an enemy of a Daask ogre named Brokentooth. How’d that happen?”
You Meet at a Tavern … But Which Tavern? Where do you spend your off hours? As a group, once you settle on a location, each player can add one cosmetic detail about it. This could involve a staff member (“The bartender is an old dwarf named Clanky; he’s got a prosthetic arm.”). It might be something about the food, or about events hosted at the location (“Once a week, the local mediums hold a public seance.”). All of these ideas are subject to DM approval.
You don’t have to have a starting point, and even if you pick one, you don’t have to answer all of these questions. The goal of this is to set a tone — if this campaign is a movie, what kind of movie is it? — and to give each player a personal investment in that story.
Starting Point: Callestan
The Sharn Watch won’t set foot in Callestan. Located at the base of Lower Dura, it’s been abandoned by the city above. Colors are faded, stones are cracked, and half the buildings should be condemned. The closest thing this district has to law is the Boromar Clan… and now they’re being challenged by the monsters of Daask. Every day there’s the chance that a war will break out on the streets.
A Callestan campaign combines gritty dark fantasy with the classic Western. Callestan is effectively a frontier town in the middle of Sharn. The law is what you make it and brigands walk the streets. But it offers freedoms and opportunities you won’t find in the towers above!
Setting the Tone
Callestan is a district shaped by poverty and neglect. People come to Callestan to engage in criminal activities: visiting dreamlily dens, buying or selling stolen goods, negotiating with a Boromar lieutenant or hiring a Tarkanan assassin. The thing that holds the district together on a daily basis is personal reputation and relationships. The reason no one robs the Anvil is because people love Eranna… and because they know Ilsa Boromar would hunt them down.
Poverty is a part of a Callestan campaign. Most of the people in this district have never seen a platinum piece, and a single gold piece has considerable value. Maintaining a comfortable lifestyle can be a challenge, and an uncommon magic item is a significant treasure. The material rewards of adventure should be lower than in a heroic fantasy campaign. But reputation and relationships are the true treasures of this style of campaign. If you save Ilsa Boromar, she might give you a purse with 10 gp for your trouble… but her favor may provide you with far more protection than a set of +1 armor.
An important piece of the tone is that no one cares what happens to Callestan. Things can occur here that would never happen in the upper towers. Daask might release a gorgon into the streets. The necromancers of the Emerald Claw could test a necrotic weapon or a new form of undead. A pack of wererats could take root, unnoticed by the Church of the Silver Flame. It’s a grim truth that anything can happen here… but it’s also a great source of adventure.
Why Are You Here?
What brought you to Callestan, and should your fortunes change, why would you stay?
You may have roots in the district. Perhaps your mother ran a small gang that was wiped out when you were a child. Maybe your family still lives here, running a struggling business.
For many people, the appeal of Callestan is its freedom. If you’re a criminal or a charlatan, you’re likely connected to one of the gangs and you appreciate the opportunity to ply your trade. As a sage you could be engaging in research that your compatriots feel is dangerous. As an acolyte you might harbor heretical beliefs.
A variation of this is that you’re hiding. As a devout cleric or paladin, you may have made enemies of the corrupt authorities in the local churches. If you use the haunted one background, you may have seen something in the upper wards that has driven you into the darkness. Any character could have run afoul of the Sharn Watch, a powerful noble, or a sinister conspiracy; if you leave the lower wards, you may have to evade this enemy.
Another option is that you’ve taken on a role in the community. Your cleric is the preacher for the district, trying to help these troubled people find the light. Your soldier or folk hero serves as the unofficial sheriff, protecting the innocent as best you can. You might work as a ratcatcher, a healer, or a private inquisitive solving mysteries. Callestan may be miserable, but it’s your home and these are your people.
What Do You Want?
Once you know what you’re doing in Callestan, the next question is where you want to go from here. What motivates your character? What could drive you to place yourself in danger? Do you want to help your friends, or protect the innocent people of the neighborhood? Are you seeking revenge on a powerful enemy or organization? Are you trying to establish your own business, or make an arcane breakthrough? These can be long-term goals or general themes, but it’s good for both player and DM to know what motivates the characters.
The Shape of the District
The heart of Callestan is the plaza called the Bridge. This central square serves as an open market and speaker’s corner. It’s not on a bridge; rather, the center of the plaza contains the wreckage of a bridge that fell from one of the higher wards.
More recently, the Bridge has taken on another meaning: it’s the line between Boromar territory and the wilds. Everything to the west of the Bridge is still under Boromar dominion. Fences, dreamlily dens, gambling holes — if it’s Westbridge, the Boromars take a cut and will act to protect it. The halfling Ilsa Boromar is the local clan leader. She despises needless cruelty but is ruthless in protecting her family’s interests. Eastbridge is a blend of Boromar loyalists, Daask insurgents, refugees and veteran soldiers driven here by war, even a small band of warforged. Westbridge is as safe as Callestan gets, while anything goes in Eastbridge.
Westbridge has a significant halfling population. In Eastbridge, a group of goblins, kobolds, and gnolls have taken up residence in a block of condemned tenements known as the Kennels. Aside from this, Callestan is incredibly diverse, and members of any race can be found here.
Callestan is an inner district, which means that it’s largely enclosed in one of the massive core towers of Dura Quarter. However, it’s large enough that it extends out to the walls of the tower. Many people live in or on the walls, in tenements or shops carved into the thick stone.
The Anvil was once The Golden Anvil, House Ghallanda’s flagship inn in Sharn. Now it’s faded and forgotten, but it still has traces of its former glory. There’s a few gaming tables and a small stage; there’s a dwarf comedian who’s been doing the same act for sixty years. While most services are modest or poor in quality, there is a single comfortable room. Eranna d’Ghallanda runs the inn; she’s kind, honest, and much beloved in the district. The Anvil is on the west side of the Bridge and is a common hangout for Boromar allies.
The Broken Mirror is an inn run by a family of changelings; the theme and tone of the inn changes every week. It’s said to have ties with the Tyrants, which keeps troublemakers away.
The Butcher’s is a combination butcher shop and bar in Eastbridge. It’s popular with the local gnolls and is the best place to find Daask soldiers, though not all monsters in the region have ties to Daask.
The Crooked Cat is home to dozens of cats, and this odd feature draws tourists from the higher wards. The proprietor is a shifter named Whiskers. He runs a side business as a fence, buying and selling unusual goods. Rumors say that Whiskers is some sort of warlock or druid, and that he can see through the eyes of his cats as they wander the city.
The General is a headless statue in a small square in Eastbridge. It’s hundreds of years old, and no one actually knows who it represents. The statue radiates the effects of a sanctuary spell within a 15-foot radius and serves as a refuge for those in danger. The most destitute inhabitants of the district often sleep around the General.
The Silvermist Theater stands on the west side of the Bridge. Like the Anvil, it’s a remnant of Callestan’s glory days; a fine theater that’s a rotting shadow of its former self. The current owners have grand ideas about future productions, but it’s the dreamlily parlor in the basement that keeps the theater open.
Starting Point: Clifftop
Sharn is a city with an appetite for adventure. It’s the gateway to Xen’drik, a land filled with mystery and danger. Eccentric nobles and dragonmarked barons alike need capable agents for their many intrigues. So Sharn has a steady demand for adventurers, and Clifftop is where you go to find them.
A Clifftop campaign focuses on heroic fantasy. You’re a professional adventurer with a reputation established, and you’re always ready for the next challenge. When you live in Clifftop every day brings a new thrilling challenge — a new chance to put your life on the line in pursuit of fame and fortune.
Setting the Tone
Clifftop runs with the idea that the player characters are known as adventurers. They’ve accomplished remarkable feats and beaten impossible odds. One way to reflect this is to start the characters off at a higher level than usual. With the DM’s approval, use the following rules to create a Clifftop adventurer.
- You begin at 5th level.
- You start with 600 gp in addition to your normal starting equipment.
- You have two common magic items and two uncommon magic items.
All magic items are subject to the approval of the DM, and the DM may choose whether to assign these items or to allow you to select the items you want. Either way, take a moment to come up with the story behind these items. How did you acquire them? Were they treasures found on your adventures? Heirlooms from your family or your time in the Last War? Or just something you bought with your earnings?One point about a Clifftop campaign is that you won’t stay in Clifftop. This district is your base of operations, home to valued comrades and rivals. It’s where you get your next job. But as a Clifftop adventurer you’ll be venturing to exotic locales. You may delve into the ruins below Sharn or crash an airship into Skyway. You may head to Xen’drik or other distant lands. Wherever you go, adventure awaits!
Why Are You Here?
As a resident of Clifftop, you’ve got a reputation. What is it, and how did you earn it? Are you a new prodigy, or an old retired hero who’s just getting back into the game?
As always, consider your background. If you’re a soldier, you might have had a celebrated career. As an entertainer, you might perform at one of the theaters of Upper Menthis between adventures. If you’re a sage you could be considered an expert in arcane lore or the history of Xen’drik, giving lectures at Morgrave University in your spare time.
One question to consider is if you’re part of the Clifftop Adventurers’ Guild. This is serves as a social club for adventurers and a one-stop marketplace for anyone seeking to hire a capable and reliable champion. If you’re part of the CAG you have access to the guild hall and a host of potential friends and allies. Perhaps you have a mentor at the guild, a retired adventurer who regales you with tales of her epic deeds. Or maybe you’ve take a novice under your wing and you’re teaching him the ropes. A critical point is that the CAG has a positive reputation and doesn’t condone evil behavior; if you’re part of the Clifftop Adventurers’ Guild, you’re expected to adhere to its codes of conduct. Less reputable characters can find work with the Deathgate Adventurers’ Guild in Middle Tavick’s Landing. There’s a long-standing rivalry between the two guilds, and if you’re part of the CAG you might work with the DM to develop a particular nemesis in the Deathsgate guild.
What Do You Want?
As a Clifftop adventurer, you’re regularly putting your life on the line. What is it that brought you to this risky line of work? Is it just about the gold? Are you driven by academic curiosity? Are you seeking the answer to a particular mystery, or searching for clues about an ancient threat? Are you primarily interested in your reputation — perhaps hoping to gain entry to the legendary Wayfinder’s Foundation, or to prove yourself to your family or your true love?
The Shape of the District
Clifftop sits atop Dura Quarter. While it’s an upper ward, it’s still part of Dura Quarter. The stone is drab granite and the towers are simple and functional. It’s no match for the splendors of Upper Central or Skyway… but the colorful inhabitants more than make up for the somewhat dingy surroundings.
In Clifftop, a ring of simple apartments and hostels circle the pinnacle, a high peak filled with shops and services catering to adventurers. The laborers and artisans who keep the district running are usually ready to drop their daily tasks and serve as hirelings.
The Clifftop Adventurer’s Guild is the physical and social heart of the district. You don’t have to be a member of the CAG to get work in Clifftop, but it certainly helps. The current leader of the guild is a dwarf named Sumara Korranor, but she goes by Summer. If you’re part of the CAG, the DM and the players should work together to add additional details about Summer: what are her traits and quirks? What’s an interesting encounter you’ve had with her, or a story you’ve heard about her?
Violence and crime are relatively rare in Clifftop; the members of the CAG usually handle any troubles that arise. However, the district is under the jurisdiction of Watch Commander Lian Halamar, a halfling who runs the Daggerwatch garrison in Upper Dura. Halamar has no love for adventurers and is always happy to catch a member of the CAG on the wrong side of the law. It’s generally assumed that Commander Halamar is working for the Boromar Clan, though he’s never committed the Dura Watch to their struggles with Daask.
The Augury is home to a circle of magewrights who specialize in divination magic, including augury (50 gp), divination (200 gp), identify (150 gp) and speak with dead (200 gp). The master of the Augury is an elf named Kestia. She has ties to a number of angels of Syrania, and if she chooses she can perform commune. However, as this requires her to call in a celestial favor, it’s not something she offers as a standard service.
The Drunken Dragon is a legendary watering hole. While the service is slow and the food is modest at best, it has the widest selection of beverages and spirits in Sharn… and maybe Khorvaire. From Lhazaar mead to the fermented honey-milk favored by the shifters of the Eldeen Reaches, if it’s strong and strange you can find it at the Drunken Dragon. The proprietor, Hascal d’Ghallanda, has the Greater Mark of Hospitality and can give his favorite customers access to his magnificent mansion.
House Sivis maintains a small enclave in Clifttop. In addition to the speaking stone, this outpost specializes in translating exotic texts and providing legal services to adventurers in trouble with the law. Josilian Tarli d’Sivis is one of the best barristers in Sharn, though certainly one of the most expensive.
Kavv’s is quieter than the Drunken Dragon, but the food is far better. Saza and Taji Kavv are immigrants from the city of Stormreach in Xen’drik, and use many exotic ingredients and spices the people of Khorvaire have never tasted. The Kavvs have many friends in Stormreach, and their insights and contacts could be useful to adventurers heading to Xen’drik.
The shops of the Mystic Market deal in magic items, whether locally produced or bought from explorers. The Mithral Blade produces fine and uncommon weapons and armor. Wise Wood buys and sells arcane focuses and other wands. The Moonlit Loom deals in magical clothing; the Dragon’s Hoard sells wondrous items; and Boldrei’s Tears and Good Spirits are a source of reliable potions.
Starting Point: Morgrave University
Morgrave University is the largest institute of learning in Breland. While it’s not as prestigious as Arcanix or the Library of Korranberg, Morgrave is known for its unorthodox methods and hands-on style of teaching. If you want to learn about the history of Sharn, what better way than to explore the ancient ruins below the city? Critics say that Morgrave is a college of tomb robbers, and much of its endowment does come from the sale of artifacts recovered on its expeditions.
Morgrave University can be a useful resource in any style of campaign. It’s an asset for sages conducting research and a source of potential patrons. But it can also be the foundation of a campaign: heroic fantasy seen through the eyes of students at the university.
Setting the Tone
A Morgrave campaign is a coming of age story in a fantasy world. In between delving into ruins and uncovering demonic schemes, the player characters need to decide what to do with their lives, humiliate their rivals, and figure out what to wear to the Crystalfall dance. You can play up the humor in this scenario, but it can be just as dark as Callestan if you choose.
A Morgrave campaign isn’t driven by material wealth. Even when you go on expeditions, the University will lay claim to most of the treasures you find. Instead, the rewards of Morgrave adventures are measured in relationships and in learning. Can you earn a professor’s trust? Can you get unrestricted access to the library stacks? Can you impress that mysterious stranger?
At the DM’s discretion, accomplishing these sorts of side goals can provide concrete benefits. A wizard who has access to the library may be able to swap one of their known spells at start of each session. As a simple reward, a character who accomplishes a meaningful personal goal could receive one to five hero points, as described on page 264 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
Another twist that works well with a Morgrave campaign is to use story-based advancement instead of standard XP. Level advancement could be based on time: player characters gain one level each semester, leveling up after finals. Alternately, advancement could be tied to achieving specific goals: You’ll all gain a level as long as your professor survives the expedition! See page 261 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide for more information.
Why Are You Here?
As a Morgrave student, you’re not an adventurer yet. You’ve got talent, but you’re learning. Consider how your background ties into this. As a noble, are you an entitled rich kid who thinks you’re better than everyone else? As an urchin, did you somehow earn a scholarship, or are you literally sneaking into your classes? As a criminal, you could be the daughter of a Boromar crime boss, or you might be an entrepreneur selling dreamlily to the nobles. A charlatan could be a brilliant drama student or an undercover spy trying to root out enemy agents in the faculty. If you’re an entertainer you might be a prodigy whose talent is only just emerging. A Morgrave story is about coming of age and unlocking your potential. So think about your background as a way to set up the person you’re becoming, as opposed to representing adventures that you’ve already had.
What Do You Want?
Figuring out what you want in life is one of the main goals of a Morgrave campaign. As wizard you’ve got remarkable arcane talents. But what are you going to do with them?
You can establish a grand goal from the beginning. Perhaps your wizard needs to master magic to summon and destroy the demon that killed your parents. The bard is determined to play on the Grand Stage. The paladin keeps having a divine vision… but what does it mean? But such goals should be something that guide you down the path of knowledge — things that can evolve and change with your character.
The Shape of the District
Morgrave University is located in Upper Menthis Plateau, where it occupies the aptly named University district. The university itself occupies the massive Dalannan Tower; this includes a number of layers.
- The tower is crowned by Lareth Hall, a beautiful domed structure than holds administrative and faculty offices.
- Classrooms and auditoriums occupy Dalannan Proper, the levels directly below the dome.
- The Dezina Museum of Antiquities occupies a number of levels below Dalannan Proper. This showcases many wonders recovered from Xen’drik and other expeditions, though anything truly valuable tends to be sold by the university.
- The Morgrave University Library stretches down below, with levels and levels of stacks below the public reading rooms. While the library has its limits — including a level of disorganization that results in texts being randomly lost in the stacks for decades — it is the most extensive collection in Breland.
- Below the Library lie the Vaults. These hold crates of relics waiting to be catalogued, shelves of oddities deemed to have little monetary or academic value, and a few heavily secured chambers holding artifacts deemed too valuable or dangerous to be put on display.
Breland Spire is adjacent to Dalannan Tower and holds the standard student dormitories. The Commons is a large open-air plaza situated atop Breland Spire. This massive rooftop garden serves as a space for reflection, public events, and meals; vendors at the edge of the Commons offer a wide range of culinary options. A wide bridge connects the Commons to Dalannan Proper. One side of this bridge holds little shops and vendors catering to students, while the opposite side is the standard place to display notices of interest to students.
Upper Menthis is a center for entertainment, and a number of Sharn’s finest theaters are located in the University District, including the edgy Art Temple, more traditional Grand Stage, and the legendary Kavarrah Concert Hall. Of course, few students can afford to go to the Kavarrah, and they may go down to Middle Menthis for the more affordable shows and dinner theater. Students feeling bold may descend as far as Lower Menthis, home to a wide variety of illicit entertainments… including the prizefights of the Burning Ring. But for those who stay close to home, here’s a little of what the University district has to offer.
Detention. This tavern celebrates its reputation as a watering hole for the worst students in Morgrave. There’s always an exotic drinking game or a lively debate on the current state of the Race of Eight Winds. Detention is run by a halfling who calls herself Brandy. She claims to be a excoriate, driven from House Ghallanda after refusing to water down her ale, but some say she’s the Ghallanda patriarch’s heir. The warforged bouncer Bumper keeps the rowdiest students under control.
Golden Horn. This wealthy inn includes a library, a few large meeting rooms, and a small concert hall. Rumors say that this is an outpost of the secret Circle of Song, a society of bards and entertainers spread across Khorvaire; others swear that House Thuranni and House Phiarlan regularly send talent scouts to the Golden Horn. Many aspiring musicians perform at the Horn in the hopes of being noticed by one of these organizations.
The Great Hall of Aureon. Devoted to the Sovereign of Law and Lore, this grand temple is an architectural marvel as well as a sacred site. Many scholars and sages make the pilgrimage and spend one night in the Great Hall, hoping that inspiration will strike them as they sleep; stories say that Merrix d’Cannith first conceived of the warforged after spending the night in the temple. The staff of the temple are devoted to their faith — a rarity in Sharn — as well as to the general acquisition of knowledge. Most priests are also experts in a particular field of study and are usually happy to share their knowledge with students.
Honors. The counterbalance to Detention, Honors is both bar, bookstore, and reading room. Many of the more respectable faculty members take their meals in Honors, and it’s a good place to find a debate on the cosmology of Eberron or the morality of the Last War.
Classes at Morgrave
Morgrave’s physical education classes cover everything from acrobatics and athletics to archery, dueling, and various other forms of combat. The arcane studies program covers the Arcana skill, as well as honing the abilities of arcane casters. Divine magic can’t simply be taught, but Morgrave has classes in theology and religious history — essentially, the Religion skill.
While these classes may not make for interesting adventures, Morgrave is famous for its hands-on teaching style. This often involves competitions against other students. It can also involve a professor’s personal projects: Why don’t you come help with this conjuration? Trust me, nothing will go wrong. Once students have proven their competence, it can involve expeditions — trips into the Depths of Sharn, or even to distant countries or lands.
Although Morgrave professors are experts in their fields, this doesn’t mean they have all the abilities of high level player characters! Just because that conjuration professor can perform a summoning ritual doesn’t mean he can cast fireball. Always remember that player characters are exceptional — and as that talent begins to show, people are sure to take an interest in you.
A Quick Sharn Story
Use these tables as inspiration for the weary DM who needs to put together a story in a hurry. Don’t feel bound to use any of these details exactly as presented — this is purely a source of ideas. The Villain table suggests an archetype along with an organization; consider both as as possibilities. A local crimelord could be tied to House Tarkanan or the Tyrants instead of Daask. The sinister cultist could be a priest of the Mockery — or a mind flayer serving the Daelkyr. Make every story your own!
|1||One of the PCs is nearly crushed when a man falls from a high bridge, striking the ground near them and dying instantly. He’s carrying a sealed bag of holding and the badge of an agent of the Argentum, a Thrane agency dedicated to the retrieval of dangerous artifacts.|
|2||The PCs are caught in the middle of a pitched battle… and they don’t know the people on either side.|
|3||The PCs notice a corpse in an alley… a corpse that looks exactly like one of the player characters.|
|4||A former comrade in arms shows up. She’s badly injured, and her enemies are right behind her.|
|5||A gargoyle courier delivers a mysterious package.|
|6||A delirious street preacher has an apocalyptic vision concerning one of the player characters.|
|7||The PCs discover a bound-elemental explosive device in their quarters. They have three rounds to flee or attempt to disarm the device.|
|8||A skycoach crashes through the wall. Is this an attack, or the result of sabotage?|
|1||A dragonmarked baron|
|2||An eccentric noble (Aurum)|
|3||A local crimelord (Boromar Clan)|
|4||A nefarious necromancer (Emerald Claw)|
|5||A sinister cultist (Dragon Below)|
|6||A misguided paladin (Silver Flame)|
|7||A clever doppelganger (Tyrants)|
|8||A vengeful warforged (Lord of Blades)|
|9||A possessed innocent (Dreaming Dark)|
|10||An oni mastermind (Daask)|
|11||An enigmatic rakshasa (Lords of Dust)|
|12||A disguised dragon (The Chamber)|
|1||Arrange a dangerous alliance.|
|2||Acquire a powerful artifact.|
|3||Assemble and use a magical weapon.|
|4||Defeat a rival.|
|5||Open a planar portal.|
|6||Summon fiends or undead.|
|7||Overthrow a peer or superior.|
|8||Cause a riot in the Cogs.|
|9||Start a war between two allies.|
|10||Collapse Skyway or one of the towers.|
|1||A friend or former ally is working with the villain.|
|2||The villain is not who they appear to be.|
|3||A third party shows up with their own agenda.|
|4||There’s a hostage, or an ally of the PCs is directly at risk.|
|5||A manifest zone or planar conjunction has an unexpected effect.|
|6||The villain has a personal connection to one of the PCs.|
|7||The initial plot was just a distraction from the actual plot.|
|8||The villain is fighting a greater evil, and their plot is an important part of that.|
The Final Scene Is In…
|1||An invisible floating fortress above Sharn.|
|2||The heart of Khyber’s Gate in the Cogs.|
|3||The Bridge in Callestan in Lower Dura.|
|4||A Cannith forgehold seized by the villain’s forces.|
|5||The heart of the High Walls refugee camp in Lower Tavick’s Landing.|
|6||A festival at the Pavilion of the Host in Upper Central Plateau.|
|7||A noble’s mansion in the restricted districts of Upper Tavick’s Landing|
|8||The vaults of Morgrave University in Upper Menthis Plateau.|
|9||An abandoned foundry in the Cogs.|
|10||A demiplane with unusual properties.|
The Streets of Sharn
The player characters are making a trip from Lower Dura to Upper Menthis. What happens along the way? The tables on the following pages are filled with ideas for random things and people you might encounter while wandering around Sharn. These could be used as pure color, or you could expand any one of these ideas to spark a full scene if the initial situation attracts the players’ interest. Not every result from the table needs to be the beginning of something in your story. Simply showing that Sharn lives and thrives around the players’ characters — that it’s full of stories happening all the time — helps bring the city to life for everyone.
Use these tables as sources of inspiration. They reflect the general activities and flavor of the different levels of Sharn, but you can tailor the results to be a better match for any ward.
Behind the Results
The entries in the following tables depict things that adventurers in Sharn might encounter by chance or happenstance. Each of these is an immediate, visible part of someone’s life in Sharn. Each entry also has room to imply or imagine backstory or history — and to encourage players to ask “What happens next?”
What happens next depends on their involvement. What led up to this moment is fuel for the ever-burning fire of Sharn’s own history and character. Consider answering one or more of these questions to add another dimension to each entry in the table:
- Where did participants in this moment start off? Where did they wake up today?
- Why aren’t other locals participating? What’s complicating things here?
- What do participants in this moment hope will happen? What are they afraid might happen? Why now?
Lower Sharn Streets
|2d20||Streets of Lower Sharn|
|2||You find a newly-painted mural of a halfling standing atop the bloody corpse of an ogre.|
|3||A dwarf is selling kebabs from a cart. “Crispy spiced rat!” He cries. “The best in the tower!”|
|4||A changeling street performer adopts your face and begins to match your actions.|
|5||An old goblin has goods laid out for sale, odds and ends salvaged from the sewers.|
|6||A pack of children clusters around you, begging for copper or food. Do you help them?|
|7||An attractive young human presses a small pamphlet into your hand. “Come to Chance in Dragoneyes! All bets will be covered!”|
|8||A sudden, horrible stench makes you gag.|
|9||You come upon a minotaur with a broken horn and a spiked club in one hand. He’s urinating against a wall, and snarls when he notices you watching.|
|10||A half dozen rats are clustered around a bloody bundle of cloth. They scurry away as you approach.|
|11||A young half-elf with a crimson eyepatch offers a fine set of pens and parchment for sale, at a price of 3 sovereigns (3 sp). “Top notch! And not stolen or anything.”|
|12||You step into a shallow puddle… and then realize it’s a pool of fresh blood.|
|13||You nearly walk into a well-dressed halfling. She studies your face carefully and scowls. Other onlookers carefully turn away.|
|14||A large black and white cat watches you from an alley. It’s caught a surprisingly scaly rat.|
|15||Hungry people stand in line outside a shrine to Boldrei, waiting for conjured bread.|
|16||You bump into a medusa, causing her to drop the package she’s carrying. You freeze for a moment, then realize she has a leather band covering her eyes. Her serpent mane hisses as she retrieves her belongings.|
|17||Fresh graffiti shows a Cyran crown with a sword through it. The text reads “Cyre is dead, no place for Mourners.”|
|18||A group of shifter children take turns trying to make the biggest howl, laughing in between.|
|19||Two shifters are arguing in the street. One of them snarls, and sharp fangs extend from her gums.|
|20||A young woman is repairing a damaged everbright street lantern, muttering curses under her breath.|
|21||A well-dressed elf from Aerenal walks along the filthy street, accompanied by a dour ogre hauling a large trunk. The elf’s face is hidden behind a brass mask, but he looks lost.|
|22||A group of drunken soldiers are singing a warbling Brelish anthem from the Last War. A few of them spot you and demand that you join in. Do you?|
|23||A dwarf and a goblin are arguing about the Race of Eight Winds, a local sporting event. The goblin insists that the Gargoyle will win this year, while the dwarf supports the Griffon.|
|24||A warforged skirmisher and a Valenar elf are engaged in an argument. The elf takes a step back and draws her scimitar.|
|25||A trio of hobgoblins walk through a makeshift market as though they’re hunting for something.|
|26||You’re drenched by a sudden gout of water — you hope — from a bridge above you.|
|27||A group of Cyran refugees are gathered in a circle, singing a haunting song.|
|28||You see a tall, thin woman pulling a body — Dead? Drunk? — into an alley. Her arm is covered with the blood-red lines of an aberrant dragonmark.|
|29||The window of a bakery holds a display of impossibly beautiful cookies. What is this quality of goods doing down here?|
|30||Outside a shop, a grimy halfling promises better deals just down the alleyway.|
|31||A dragonmarked gnome walks down the street, carrying a small stone in his hand. Every few yards, he raises the stone to his lips and says, “Can you hear me now? Good.”|
|32||An austere monk of the Silver Flame makes their way down the street, handing provisions to beggars.|
|33||You hear someone softly singing the Bear’s March, a Brelish battle anthem from the Last War. The singer is a young man leaning against the wall; he’s missing his left arm.|
|34||A headless warforged sits in an alley begging for coin. It waves in a signal of thanks whenever someone drops a coin in its bowl.|
|35||A crowd is gathered around a young adept of the Silver Flame. She’s performing a ritual to purify a pool of run-off water.|
|36||You notice a large metal hatch in the ground, engraved with warding symbols and a ancient proclamation that it should never be opened.|
|37||A group of goblin children chatter and shout at one another. They scatter when they see you approach.|
|38||A goblin tumbles out of a nearby tavern. A warforged juggernaut steps out of the door and snarls “Don’t come around here until you can pay!”|
|39||A trio of Morgrave students take notes and they ask a goblin about “the goblin experience.”|
|40||Near one of the entrances to the Cogs, you come upon a large mob chanting slogans and shouting. The carry signs protesting the use of warforged laborers.|
Middle Sharn Streets
|2d20||Streets of Middle Sharn|
|2||“Best tours! All the facts!” crows a kenku guide, trying to catch your eye.|
|3||An Aundairian man in a glamerweave vest — patterned with blazing flames — interrupts your travel. “You know the best place to play cards around here?”|
|4||A cheerful gnome offers olfactory illusions. “For just five crowns, I can make the most dismal districts smell like roses!”|
|5||A clump of hippogriff dung falls from the sky.|
|6||A halfling vendor is selling dried lizard jerky from a wagon. “Talentan style!” she says. “Just like elipa used to make!”|
|7||A crowd stands outside a rundown building. A grim quartet of halflings wearing the insignia of the Ratcatcher’s Guild head inside.|
|8||A half-chewed drumstick falls from an passing skycoach, nearly hitting you in the head.|
|9||A dragonmarked half-orc holds what appears to be a dowsing rod, slowly passing it over doors and passerby on the street. The rod begins to shake violently as you approach.|
|10||A human merchant argues with a giant owl.|
|11||As you cross a bridge, you notice a pair of stonemasons studding a crack running through the stone span.|
|12||Two people are arguing in front of a city guard, and you hear accusations that someone is a changeling.|
|13||A Karrnathi couple step off a lift, a large map in their hands. They turn and rotate the paper several times, trying to make heads or tails of the directions.|
|14||A warforged waves at you from a dingy cart piled high with a frightening array of foods. “Hungry? I could use some taste testers. As in, what does food taste like?”|
|15||A scaled humanoid — one of the lizardfolk or dragonborn of Q’barra — is delighting onlookers with displays of firebreathing.|
|16||You hear screaming above you. When you look up, you see a well dressed noble gently floating to the ground.|
|17||A young child sits crying on the stairs of Tharashk inquisitive’s office. If you ask, he sobs that they won’t help find his dog.|
|18||You spot a moss covered warforged sitting in a small park overlooking the Dagger River. Birds are nesting in an small, open compartment in the torso of the warforged.|
|19||Two veteran soldiers — a Karrn and a Thrane — are shouting at one another. The Karrn draws a dagger.|
|20||The crowds part, making room for a halfling warrior riding a snarling clawfoot raptor.|
|21||Three children follow a warforged juggernaut, giggling and throwing garbage at it. The warforged stoically ignores them.|
|22||A squad of the Sharn Watch pushes past you, urging people to get out of the way.|
|23||An Aereni stops you to ask for directions to “Shae Lias.” She wears a silver mask and a glamerweave robe, and carries a sizeable purse.|
|24||A cheerful man sells a wide variety of souvenirs to commemorate your visit to Sharn: sketches, crystal globes, and small plaster towers.|
|25||You pass by a shifter and a dwarf merchant arguing with a member of the Sharn Watch. Apparently, the shifter believes he was charmed into making a foolish purchase.|
|26||You come across a wall where people have written the names of friends lost during the Last War.|
|27||A halfling wearing the livery of House Jorasco argues with a member of the Sharn Watch, apparently trying to absolve a friend of an accusation of pickpocketing.|
|28||The smell of fresh, buttered bread wafts through the middle of the thoroughfare, but you cannot find the source.|
|29||A street performer dressed as King Boranel offers to knight tourists for a copper piece.|
|30||A well-dressed human floats down from a balcony above, his fall slowed by a feather fall spell. He bids you, “good day” and walks off quickly as you hear guards shouting and pointing from a bridge above.|
|31||A gargoyle swoops overhead, landing on the street in front of you. It pulls a piece of folded parchment out of a leather satchel and heads into a nearby shop.|
|32||A one-eyed half-elf opens up his cloak to reveal a selection of wands carved from different woods. “Eight galifars (8 gp) each! Top quality. And not stolen or anything.”|
|33||A human fishmonger and a half-elf are arguing about the Race of Eight Winds, a local sporting event. The human thinks that the Hawk can’t lose, while the half-elf insists that this is the year of the Owl.|
|34||Fresh graffiti proclaims “The crown dies with Boranel!”|
|35||A well-dressed gnome offers to sell you an invitation to the Tain Gala. “It’s the grandest celebration in Sharn! I’m too busy to go this month, but it’s a bargain at 10 pieces of gold!”|
|36||A man in faded finery extols the virtues of a miracle elixir to a small crowd. “It’s the secret House Jorasco doesn’t want you to know!”|
|37||With a loud cry and wildly pinwheeling arms, a child plummets from a crowded bridge above.|
|38||“They’re eroding our traditions! Don’t let these thieves tell our king what to do!” A young woman stands on a corner shouting about the threat posed by the dragonmarked houses.|
|39||A panicked gnome runs out of an oracle’s tent. “We’re doomed! Dooooomed!|
|40||A man begs for coins outside a Jorasco house of healing. “One galifar, please! I know it’s a lot, but if I can’t raise the money today, she’ll die!”|
Upper Sharn Streets
|2d20||Streets of Upper Sharn|
|2||You’re nearly run down by a gilded carriage, pulled by a team of warforged gilded in the same patterns.|
|3||A magewright offers to use a simple charm to polish the coins in your purse for just 3 crowns (3 cp). “We wouldn’t want anyone to get grime on their gloves from handling filthy coins from the lower wards.”|
|4||An illusion of a warforged butler appears as you pass by the sealed gates of a mansion. “I’m afraid my mistress isn’t receiving guests today.”|
|5||A dragonmarked halfling offers a cleansing enchantment for 5 crowns (5 cp). “Gets rid of the dirt, brightens your brights, puts a little bounce back in your hair! Just the thing to make a good impression.”|
|6||“Make way! Make way!” A young boy clears a path for a jewel-encrusted warforged wearing a lovely fur cloak.|
|7||A flustered gnome carrying stacks of paper and parchments taller than himself. He is oblivious to the trail of smoke coming from inside a tall, rolled-up scroll on his back.|
|8||Two nobles are locked in a bitter argument. They’re wearing similar cloaks — glamerweave garments imbued with the illusion of shifting clouds — and this seems to be the problem.|
|9||A regal woman with auburn hair held back in a silver diadem waits for a skycoach. She holds a darkwood staff encrusted with dragonshards, and she taps it impatiently.|
|10||A gray-bearded sage argues with a pale tiefling, whose horns appear to be carved from ice. They seem to be debating the dangerous effects of Risian planar influence.|
|11||A Morgrave professor leads a pack of chattering students on an expedition. From their spelunking gear, you imagine they’re heading down into the Cogs.|
|12||As you pass by a fancy inn, a nobleman hands you a copper piece and the reins of his griffon. “Do take care now, she bites.”|
|13||A tour group pauses to marvel at the gates of a mansion. Apparently, it’s the home of one of the divas of Upper Menthis.|
|14||An enchanted mirror allows you to view the streets below you, to see how the less fortunate live.|
|15||A kalashtar storyteller shares a tale of life in Sarlona and the endless struggle between the peaceful monks of Adar and the cruel soldiers of the Inspired.|
|16||A half-elf wearing a jeweled eyepatch offers a fine spellbook for just forty galifars (40 gp). “Really interesting stuff! And not stolen or anything.”|
|17||You come upon a gilded statue of Queen Wroaan, the queen who led Breland into the Last War (“and freedom!” the plaque proclaims).|
|18||A warforged with roses twined around her limbs offers to sell you a bouquet for five sovereigns (5 sp).|
|19||A string quartet gives an impromptu performance — publicity for the new season of the Kavarrah Concert Hall.|
|20||A dragonmarked elf dazzles passerby with a illusionary tableau of two dueling dragons.|
|21||A mansion has a few gargoyles sitting on its walls. They’re probably there as security, but they offer lively commentary about everyone who passes by.|
|22||A street performer is drawing patterns on the ground in chalk. As each picture is completed, it starts to move.|
|23||Someone’s painted the crown dies with Boranel across the gates of a noble’s mansion. A member of the Sharn Watch is talking to the servants.|
|24||A girl wearing the colors of House Vadalis chases her miniature chimera.|
|25||A team of handlers from House Vadalis walk alongside a small gelatinous cube. “We’re trying it out, seeing if it can keep things clean,” they say.|
|26||It starts to drizzle. A well-dressed half-elf glares at the sky and snaps his figures, and the rain immediately stops.|
|27||A vendor offers a selection of mouth-watering Aundairian entrees from a floating cart — only 8 sovereigns (8 sp) for a magical meal!|
|28||A member of the Sharn Watch stops you. “Can I help you? Are you sure you’re in the right ward?”|
|29||You pass the open doors of a smithy. Inside, a number of hard-working tools are moving and floating independently. A nearby smith waves a wand as if conducting an orchestra.|
|30||A priest explains how the best way to earn the blessings of Kol Korran is to donate. “For each coin you give, you’ll surely get a hundred in return!”|
|31||You come upon a fountain of cold fire. In the center, a brass dragon spits brilliant flames into the air, and the spill down and out into the pool below.|
|32||A trio of elves perform perform a remarkable display of athletics and illusion magic, advanced publicity for the Carnival of Shadows.|
|33||A lovely mosaic displays the seal of the united Galifar.|
|34||A large statue commemorates Lord Dalian ir’Tain II, a noble philanthropist lost at sea. He holds a spyglass in one hand and a dragon turtle in the other.|
|35||You pass by a Hope Well. Supposedly, any coins you throw in the well are transported down to help the troubled people of the lower wards.|
|36||A half-elf noblewoman strides by wearing a fancy red dress and carrying a matching parasol. Both the dress and umbrella are decorated with Siberys dragonshards.|
|37||You come upon a beautiful garden at the edge of a tower. An elf in fine mourning clothes looks out over the edge.|
|38||A gnome in nautical outfit offers tickets for a ‘celebrity skycoach tour’ for just 5 galifars (5 g) a head.|
|39||You spot a unit of the Redcloak Battalion, the elite soldiers of the Sharn Watch. They’re talking to the owner of a local tavern.|
|40||A half-elven poet loudly recites a lengthy poem about the tragic destruction of Cyre.|