The Shadow of Dragons
As a wealthy port metropolis, with over 22,000 inhabitants (although that almost doubles in the summer months), it is an important merchant city on the Meridal Sea. Its strong Watch and the presence of powerful mercenary companies maintain order within the city.
The city’s unique shape, curved around its harbor, gives it the appearance of a crescent moon. The docks and shipping facilities are among the most efficient along the coast and the city relies heavily on the ships that dock there. A large open marketplace, called The Wide, dominates the northeast portion of the walled city, and other large structures include The High Hall, seat of the city government, and a large temple to Kord. To keep vermin from spreading too much into the city proper, cats are bred and encouraged to roam the city.
Approximately 22,000 citizens.
Royals and Rulers
Varsten is ruled by the Council of Four.
Grand Duke Eltan, leader of the Flaming Fist mercenary company
Grand Duke Belt, a powerful warrior priest
Grand Duchess Liia Jannath, a mage
Grand Duke Entar Silvershield, the richest man in the city
The Council is part of the Lords’ Alliance, which includes Exridge, Torsuul, Dol-glorim and Endsport.
Varsten also contains a very effective Thieves Guild, as well as a powerful and honest Merchant’s League. Additionally, the Knights of the Shield and the Knights of the Unicorn are both active in the city.
Varsten has no qualms that it is a trade port, and its buildings reflect that. Aside from the small government district and more well-to-do garden districts, the city embraces the sea. Warped wooden walls are blasted smooth by the salty winds. Netting and fishing gear piles high in every unused corner, and is draped from every empty wall. The influence of dozens of cultures combines in a sometimes garish, but never boring, feast for the eyes, ears, and nose.
Varsten is divided into three distinct segments: the Upper City where the richest and most influential citizens live and where the city’s marketplace (the Wide) is located; the Lower City, which surrounds the harbor and where most of the city’s merchants live and conduct their business; and the Outer City, which lies outside the walls and where most of the city’s laborers reside in conditions that vary from crowded but clean to squalid.
The most important location in the city is the docks, and so all things spread from the sea, organized to move cargo from ship to city gate, or gate to ship. However, the city doesn’t allow wagons, pack animals, horses, or even dogs into the city. The streets are so narrow, steep, and slick from frequent rain that heavy wagons would be a menace. This is actually one of the reasons why Varsten is such a bustling commercial hub: for goods to pass through the city, they must be unloaded in the Outer City north of the wall, carried through the city by porters on foot, and loaded onto ships at the southern or eastern docks.
Take a dozen dwarven longshoreman, some insanely rich eladrin merchants from the far west, a handful of drunken halflings, and then force them all to live with a pack of Kord-crazed barbarians in the middle of a pile of gutted fish. Pump enough coin through there to fund several moderately-sized wars and a new religion or two. On the same block you might meet the most wealthy man you’ll ever know, and have your throat slit by the poorest. Varsten is chaos, but controlled and very profitable chaos, and the people know and take pride in that fact.
A Brief History of the City
988 – A bustling fishing village grows and prospers, Varsten takes its place among the largest cities in Turrion.
1114 – An unprecedented economic boom begins as a result of the land deal between Turrion and Sureth.
1311 – The city, previously governed by a single elected official, reorganizes its governance. The Council of Four is founded.