Elminster Speaks

(Part #35) : A First Glance at Delzimmer

Perendra's specific interests in this hot, surprisingly damp trading city remain a mystery to me -- but 'tis the sort of lawless, everchanging, bustling center of commerce that appeals to wanderers and merchants everywhere. Aside from the climate, dusky-skinned elves that many might mistake for drow going about openly in the sunlight, and an abundance of chattering halflings, one might well be in Scornubel, far to the north in the Sword Coast lands. Delzimmer's population rises and falls constantly, but I'd judge that in most years, 'tis about eight to eleven thousand, perhaps falling to as little as six-and-three-quarters of a thousand in winter.

In Delzimmer, winters tend to be two months of lashing cold rainstorms that are hurried through the city in swift succession by fierce winds. Sometimes rain falls hard enough to flood the streets for some hours at a time. That potential for flooding and the snakes and dust the rest of the year combine to make cellars rare, to make ground-floor rooms sparsely furnished (and often tile-, flagstone-, or dirt-floored), and to restrict any opulence of furnishing and storage of valuable items to upper floors.

Delzimmer has city walls, which are of stone and about twenty feet high, sloping from a thickness of three feet or so at the top to thrice that at the base and lacking battlements or a walltop walk for defenders. However, their condition is somewhat akin to those of the ring walls of Malthuk's Tower: crumbling and pierced by many breaks, which now carry streets through them, and which long since allowed Delzimmer to expand beyond and in the end ignore its walls. The cute little one-room, spire-topped towers that cap the wall every so often now serve as rookeries for trained message doves and pigeons. (The ranks of which are often thinned by hungry local urchins skilled at slinging stones and desirous of pigeon pie.)

Delzimmer lacks a formal ruler or much authority. What it has instead are four well-established human families who operate storage warehouse, moneylending/changing/banking services, and caravan outfitting concerns. (These are not costers. They prefer to let other individuals go to the discomfort and danger of actual caravan travel.) Their private armies of liveried guards police the streets in a rough-and-ready manner -- and interestingly, although the four families are rivals, they seem to have long ago come to some firm pacts to prevent their clashing interests (and the swords of their guards) from ever erupting into open strife. In short, they share the wealth that flows to them by maintaining Delzimmer as an open trading city.

These local satraps (I employ the collective southern term for petty rulers because these de facto rulers of Delzimmer entirely lack any formal titles or authority) are the families:

We'll explore these folk, and the Delzimmer they dominate, in subsequent missives.

Elminster's Archives
© 2002 Wizards of the Coast, Inc. All rights reserved.