Breath of Zehir
Large enough to be considered a small city rather than a large town, Erathis Watch is one of the safest settlements on the Moonsea. Founded in 612 as a mission for Erathis, god of civilization, the city has grown to its present size over the course of eight centuries.
- Population: About 10,000.
- Government: Theocracy. The Brothers of Bahamut, a religious order in the service of the Platinum Dragon, rules the city. Its five leaders form an adventuring party that spends half the year on local matters, and half on events outside the city walls. Simeon Watch is the appointed viceroy to oversee administration, and an elected town council represents the interests of the middle class.
- Defense: The Brothers themselves take personal command of the city’s defenses, each with a detachment of 100 professional soldiers. Up to 2,000 militia may be called up in extreme circumstances.
- Commerce: Basic supplies are readily available, with exotic goods and services harder to find. Inns and taverns support travelers.
- Organizations: The temple of Bahamut holds political as well as spiritual authority, but merchant guilds also hold power over commerce and secular matters.
As the settlement grew into a town, the church sought to expand its governance too quickly, and its leadership was plagued by corruption. Erathis Watch soon gained a reputation as a haven for bandits and smugglers, where coin in the right pocket could let you get away with murder. In the year 910, an elder adamantine dragon by the name of Virgiliantus unexpectedly flew into the city and announced that he, alone, would be taking charge of the town’s affairs and that the current leadership was relieved of duty. Most of the town’s nobles and guilds attacked the dragon with their private armies, and were soundly defeated. Virgil formed an order of knights, the Brothers of Bahamut, from his most trusted dragonborn followers, and over the next several decades purged the corruption and organized crime that was rampant in the area.
In time the city of Erathis Watch was reformed in the image of the Platinum Dragon, and the Brothers rule the city to this day. Virgil himself left the city in 1158, instructing the order to quest twice yearly to help others in need, and not to become so comfortable within the city walls that they succumb to the vices of their predecessors. He was never heard from again.
Several paved roads lead through Erathis Watch, from the southern docks to the major highways running out of the city: Glister to the north, Orspring to the west, and Thentia to the east. These thoroughfares are wide and reasonably well maintained. They direct travelers toward the central piers and jetties, which are in good repair and surrounded by relatively clean buildings. The city’s civic center is at the intersection of these major travel routes.
The tidy and simple appearance of these central roads gives no hint to the rest of the city’s nature. Streets and alleys beyond the central thoroughfares are cramped and dirty, with broken or missing cobblestones – many are unpaved entirely. They add up to a twisted knot of random turns, with many streets unlabeled. Beyond the central jetties, the piers and their access paths are filthy and broken-down, and the surrounding buildings have similarly deteriorated. Strangers in Erathis Watch are encouraged to stick to the central parts of town. Those who do not know any better – or who cannot afford to put themselves up in the more expensive areas – have plenty of time to observe the two-faced nature of the port city as they wander its bewildering byways.
Like most port cities, Erathis Watch has a fairly high crime rate. However, the strong influence of the Brothers of Bahamut keeps violent crime to a minimum; purse-snatchings, rigged games of chance, and vandalism are relatively common, while murder, arson, and conspiracy are not. The city watch keeps the peace along the main thoroughfares and the central docks, scattering criminal gangs that grow too large, preventing crime from spilling over into the important neighborhoods, and ensuring the comfort and security of ship captains or caravan leaders. In the back alleys, though, travelers risk their their coin purses—and rarely, their lives.
Despite the city’s importance to local trade, most of its wealthier citizens simply aren’t as well off as their counterparts in centers of commerce such as Mulmaster or Thentia, which actively exploit the lower classes to serve the merchants’ special interest. Many citizens of the Moonsea are used to their own leaders being the worst criminals, and Erathis Watch is a haven for the good citizen. Erathis Watch has a thriving middle class, and even the poorest citizen is afforded basic rights beyond those of other serfs in the region.
The keyed locations on the map indicate various districts of the city.
- Civic district: The “Throne of Vigiliantus” is the name of this quarter, and holds the city zoo and gardens, the library and university, and the courthouse.
- Fine shops: “Fisherman’s Wharf” is heavily trafficked by travelers from in and out of the city, and boutiques and restaurants line the wharf. Imported and exotic goods are found here. The downtown shopping district caters more to the city’s residents, selling luxury items and upscale services such as lawyers, accountants, and bankers.
- Wealthy residential district: “Little Arkhosia” is home to the city’s upper class, mostly Dragonborn.
- Average residential district: The city’s middle class population is primarily human and elven. Temples to Corellon and various other nature gods are in these districts.
- Dwarf neighborhood: The “Nordholm” district has been heavily settled by dwarves, importing stones and ores from their mines along the northern highway. Naturally, Moradin’s temple is here.
- Garrison: Adjacent to the “Throne”, the city’s central castle is home to the training grounds and armory for the city’s army and navy. Its position on the High Road allow fast deployment. The Western Garrison is the headquarters of the City Watch, and it is centered in the most densely populated part of the city. The Northern Garrison is a relatively new outpost built to alleviate poor conditions in the northwest part of the city.
- Gnome neighborhood: “Smaland” is a wedge of tiny buildings east of the main highway. Populations of gnomes and halflings prefer to live in this district and its buildings and services cater to the small. Much to the gnomes’ distress, a few families of kobolds also live here, revering the metallic dragons and hiring themselves out as servants to the dragonborn upper class.
- Guildhall district: The heart of “Old City” is home to the guilds, which hold significant economic power in Erathis Watch, controlling trade in, out, and within the city. The guilds own most of the property, manage the piers and highways, and employ the majority of the city’s population. Avandra’s theatre-like temple is in this district.
- Marketplace: Open-air markets are scattered throughout the town. The Docks and the Square are the primary destinations for the city, with the eastern Bazaar seedier and busier.
- Temple district: The Erathis Watch “Mission” stands here in the oldest part of town, with the Temple of Bahamut and the Temple of Pelor also very prominent. Kelemvor’s small chapel overlooks the cemetery.
- Caravan district: Traveling caravans moving through the city often don’t have the resources to book inns, and simply camp in these open fields in caravans. All manner of creatures can be found passing through the caravan districts, with the population swelling in autumn and thinning out again in the spring.
- Waterfront: Docks and piers of all kinds line the bay of Erathis Watch, and the place is constantly bustling with freight, cargo, livestock, and passengers. Temples to Kord, god of storms, and Selune, goddess of tides, can be found here. The city’s shipyard is on the southeastern peninsula.
- Inn/Tavern district : The city is large enough to have a quarter dedicated to hospitality. The district’s waterfront hotels are high-class and very expensive, with more affordable accommodations becoming available the further one moves from the bay and the road. The western district caters to the travelers on the Tormel River, which runs deep into Thar.
- Red-Light district: The farthest part of the city from the garrisons and temples, “The Hole” is chaotic and dangerous, with vice dripping from every doorway. This district has not changed much since Virgil’s renovation of the city. Gambling and prostitution dens line the narrow crooked streets, and secret underground shrines to evil gods may also exist here. Blackmarket goods and services, such as poisons, can be found for the right price.
- Shantytown: The poorest parts of the city are the shantytowns in the southwest and northeast of the city. The homeless and destitute eke out a living here, outside the protection of the city watch and bereft of city services like plumbing and sewer.
- Slave quarter: Under pressure from its neighbors, slavery is tolerated but frowned upon in Erathis Watch, considered a necessary evil of civilization. Goblins and bestial humanoids reside here in their own tribes and camps. Most slaveowners here are benevolent, allowing their slaves to keep their own culture and family ties, and the goblins consider their servitude to their master no different than their devotion to a chieftain. The cruel and abusive are soon shunned and boycotted, and quickly move to other, more welcoming cities on the Moonsea.
- Slum/Tenement district: Working-class humans and oppressed tieflings and genasi live in the lower-class areas of town. Buildings here are poorly maintained, roads are commonly unpaved, and public services, when available, are overstressed and underfunded.
- Workshop district: The city’s industrial districts include tanneries, mills, metal and woodworking, and other light manufacturing. Most of the city’s population works in these areas, turning raw materials into finished goods for export.
- Warehouse district: Vast areas of the city are given over to warehouses to hold materials and goods for import and export.