Cities and Sites of Dambrath
Most of Dambrath's population lives in the various cities, towns, and villages along the coast. Almost every community of any size on the Bay of Dancing Dolphins is a port, and more traffic occurs by boat than on foot among these settlements. Every harbor is filled with fishing boats, and substantial markets on shore handle the incoming and outgoing trade goods. Each of the larger port cities features a sizable stockyard, where the prized horses from the ranches await their sale to merchants, who in turn ship them to far-off ports.
The rest of Dambrath's citizens reside on the ranches scattered across the plains or in the mining camps nestled along the south side of the Gnollwatch range. Each ranch is a sprawling, self-sufficient community that includes a main manor house for the Crinti owners, barracks for the ranch hands, a smithy/armory for ironworking, numerous barns and grain storage buildings, and several corrals. These buildings are surrounded by thousands and thousands of acres of open grassland, where herds of horses run. The proprietor of the smallest such ranch might own a herd numbering close to a hundred, while the wealthiest Crinti rancher might own a dozen or more separate ranches, each with several thousand horses.
Somewhat surprisingly, the capital city of Dambrath does not sit on the Bay of Dancing Dolphins, but rather just east of its mouth, on the shore of a smaller bay along the coast. Cathyr marks the southern end of the Trader's Way, which runs almost due north up the eastern side of the country toward Delzimmer. Formerly known as Shantil, Cathyr is perhaps the most cosmopolitan city in Dambrath. Indeed, the right amount of coin can buy almost anything here.
Thick, solid stone walls surround Cathyr, but the gates are seldom closed. The marketplace actually sits outside the walls to the north of the city, since the stockyards where horse trading occurs take up far too much space to be contained inside. In fact, caravans arriving from the Trader's Way must stop in the marketplace, and their wagons may not enter the city proper, though caravan personnel who are not elves can do so - for a fee.
The queen's palace sits near the center of the city, surrounded on all sides by broad green parks. On one tide of the palace is the nation's largest temple to Loviatar; on the other is a slightly less august temple dedicated to Lolth. This latter temple sports flying buttresses shaped to resemble spider legs, and its main entrance is carved to resemble a spider's head and mouth.
The inner city is a crowded, bustling, aromatic place. The smells of hay and horse manure permeate the air, since the nobles maintain several hundred stabled horses here. The wealthy live in roomy townhomes that rise two to three stories up from the wide streets of their neighborhoods, most of which are located on the west side of the city. Most of Cathyr's poor crowd together in the eastern section of town, closer to the docks. Some, however, dwell outside the city walls in hovels that stretch southward along the coast in a wide band. In this area, sharecropping farmers who work land owned by the Crinti provide much of the food for the folk living inside the city walls. Legally speaking, these human and humanoid workers are indentured. debtors and minor criminals who can earn their own freedom with years of hard labor in the fields of their Crinti mistresses, but in practice they are little more than slaves.
Cathyr maintains a garrison of 2,000 troops to keep order in the city, battle invaders, or overcome monsters that threaten the populace. This military force is roughly two-thirds cavalry and one-third foot soldiers. The garrison is commanded by Rimala Grevos (LN female half-drow fighter 6/evoker 7), a competent leader who also happens to be a Daughter of the First, though she has little political ambition.
In addition to this land force, Cathyr maintains a fleet of twelve warships. Half of these vessels are out patrolling the waters near the city at any given time, while the rest are positioned to defend the port.
Cathyr (Metropolis): Conventional; AL LE; 100,000 gp limit; Assets 211,870,000 gp; Population 42,374; Mixed (human 74%, Crinti 15%, drow 5%, halfling 3%, gnoll 2%, half-ore 1%).
Authority Figures: Hasifir Hazm'cri, LE female half-drow wizard 12/cleric 4 of Loviatar (Queen of Dambrath and High Priestess of Loviatar).
Important Characters: Chaladra Sse'blis, CE female drow cleric 14 of Lolth (High Priestess of the Temple of Lolth); Nuriel Limbiya, NG female half-drow cleric 9 of Eilistraee (leading priestess of Eilistraee's followers within the city); Rimala Grevos, LN female half-drow fighter 6/evoker 7 (commander of the city garrison).
City Garrison: Fighter 9, fighter 8 (2), fighter 7, fighter 6 (5), fighter 5 (13), fighter 4 (21), fighter 3 (122), fighter 2 (312), fighter 1 (457), fighter 3/evoker 3, fighter 5/wizard 5, fighter 2/wizard 1 (8), fighter 1/wizard 1 (7), warrior 7 (3), warrior 6 (7), warrior 5 (19), warrior 4 (32), warrior 3 (217), warrior 2 (316), warrior 1 (382), wizard 8 (3), wizard 5 (4), wizard 4 (11), wizard 3 (24), wizard 2 (36).
Herath (Large city)
Located at the headwaters of the River Dambron, Herath boasts a population of nearly 18,000, making it the third-largest city in Dambrath. The city's economy centers around the silver mined in the mountains just to the north, as well as a lively smithing trade. Most of the nation's dwarves reside in Herath, where they earn top coin for their smithing work. A number of human smiths have also made names for themselves here. So good are the smiths of Herath that they equip most of Dambrath's armed forces.
Selanith L'baros (LE female half-drow aristocrat 13), the baroness of Herath, is a cruel woman with a fondness for games and contests that end in death. The city arena offers regular events designed to sate the baroness's unusual tastes. Selanith is Queen Hasifir's third cousin, and like many Crinti related to royalty, she hopes that someone in her family (preferably herself) will one day sit on the throne. But although she is ambitious, she is also realistic; she has only 1/32 drow blood, and her features resemble those of a human far more than a dark elf. Still, she was shrewd enough to take a male drow as her consort, so her daughters should all be quite eligible for the crown should the opportunity ever arise.
Like its sister city Cathyr to the east, Maarlith is one of the busiest trade ports in Dambrath, though its population is only a bit more than three-quarters that of the capital. Since foreign trade caravans can't venture any deeper into Dambrath than Cathyr, Maarlith has become the dispersal point for most of the trade goods destined for the interior of the country, almost all of which arrive here by ship. Much of the city's business district is occupied by Crinti trading costers whose sole business is transporting needed goods' and luxury items inland to the other towns, villages, and ranches. In addition to the ships carrying goods from elsewhere along the coast, the city's docks are crowded with oceangoing vessels bringing trade items from other lands and loading up with goods for export. Like Cathyr, Maarlith maintains huge stockyards just outside its walls, where many of the ranchers house the horses they intend to sell.
The baroness of Maarlith, Jofline Dulare (LE female half-drow fighter 7/Crinti shadow marauder 5), spent much of her pampered youth becoming an expert horsewoman, and she rode about the countryside with a small following of friends whenever she pleased. She even ventured into the Nath region of Halruaa several times to raid the villages there, just for the fun of it. Jofline inherited the rulership of Maarlith after she and several of her friends bribed the house guard, kidnapped her mother while she was vacationing at one of her numerous ranches, and then hunted her down for sport.
The name of this pirate haven on the coast of the Great Sea is a bastardization of "pearl," the gem that, many of its visitors use to pay their expenses. Nestled among the hills, the village is half hidden from both the sea to the south and the rest of the country to the north. In reality, Purl is little more than a shanty town - a fetid collection of brothels, beer halls, flophouses, and gambling dens. Its merchants cater to the less savory types who make their livings aboard the corsairs' ships and privateers' vessels that sail the high seas around Dambrath.
Most of Purl's visitors are grizzled veterans of the sea, though not all are independent fortune-hunters. In fact, at least half the sailors in port at any one time are in the service of one or another of the Crinti nobles, though the seadogs themselves might not even realize that they work for someone other than their captains.
With a population just a little above 400, Purl is large enough to cater to every visitor's tastes, yet small enough to be beneath most folks' notice. In fact, were it not for the ships that anchor in its small, sheltered harbor and the orange glow of its nighttime fires, no one would know the town existed, since its buildings are hidden from sight.
Though Purl is nominally under the jurisdiction of Dambrath's matriarchy, the Crinti completely ignore it. The village has no laws - only the understanding that no one rules anyone else. Fights are not just common, they are part of the attraction, and more than a few unlucky souls wind up dead each night when the carousing gets too rowdy.
T'lindhet (small city)
The drow living below the Gnollwatch Mountains might have a valid claim to the lands of Dambrath, but few of them ever venture forth from the more pleasant, shadowy confines of their home city. With a population of slightly more than 9,000 drow and slaves T'lindhet is somewhat small compared to many of its sister cities in the Underdark. Still, it can be a formidable opponent, as the Arkaiuns discovered half a millennium ago.
The city proper is situated atop an immense plateau inside an elongated cavern about 3 miles below the surface. A great underground river flows through the cavern, parting at the base of the plateau into two streams that skirt the sides of the rise before rejoining on the opposite end. On the cavern floor, beyond the protection of the plateau, the drow have established a separate market village right at the end of the trade route that emerges near Herath. Within this area, merchants from the surface and elsewhere in the Underdark congregate to ply their trade. As a result of this unusual proximity to a permanent commercial site, the drow of T'lindhet enjoy a variety of goods from all over Faerûn at better than reasonable prices.
T'lindhet boasts fourteen great drow Houses, which languidly vie for control of both the city and the lands above. Since their conquest of Dambrath, the drow of T'lindhet have fallen into a rather placid state of comfort. Seemingly content to enjoy their accumulated wealth, they display little of the ambition that drives other drow. Perhaps the drow of T'lindhet have grown soft, but with the increased creature comforts that their trading acumen has bought, they see little reason to play such destructive games of maneuver and counter-maneuver. They have not completely abandoned their drow ways - certainly the members of every House enjoy the spectacle of rival siblings struggling for control of the estate, and occasionally an opportunity for one House to bring another low is too ripe to pass up. All in all, however, the citizens of T'lindhet would rather partake of the fruits of the lesser races' labors than struggle to advance themselves.
Heroes and Monsters
Despite its busy commerce and growing population, Dambrath produces surprisingly few adventurers. Those rare characters who do take up the adventuring life are mostly humans or Crinti. Human adventurers are either Arkaiuns seeking a better life outside the oppression of their Crinti mistresses, or the offspring of outlaws from the Swagdar. Most of the Crinti who choose this path are simply dissatisfied with their lives as pampered: nobles, but a few take up adventuring because they feel that their more human-like visages prevent them from gaining prestige within the ranks of the nobility. Regardless of their race, males often have a strong desire to escape the oppression they face in Dambrath. Lizardfolk characters might leave the Great Swamp and strike out on their own, and occasionally a half-orc or gnoll who has grown tired of life as a bodyguard or sellsword might be ready to leave Dambrath in search of something more.
The monsters frequently found in Dambrath include the beguiler, the dark tree, the mantimera, the tall mouther, and the tasloi. Other creatures commonly found in the country include gnolls, various giants, lizardfolk, nagas, and drow.