Dragonport (The Port City)
Large City: Conventional/Monstrous; AL N; 40,000 gp limit; Assets 26,216,000 gp; Population 13,108; Mixed (82% human, 6% halfling, 4% gnome, 2% dwarf, 1% elf, 1% half-elf, 1% half-orc, 3% other).
Named for the great dragon turtle that once dwelled in the bay, Dragonport has grown from a small village with a single pier into one of the most vital ports on its coast. A constant flux of cargo travels to and from its many docks. Dragonport benefits less from this activity than does a trading city such as Four Winds, however: It is designed to facilitate passage of goods, not to encourage local business.
Dragonport is officially ruled by a council of governors, who covertly cooperate with a tribe of sahuagin dwelling in the outer depths of the bay. The council pays tribute to the tribe out of the city's profits and consults with the sahuagin before expanding the city or changing policies. In exchange, the sahuagin do not raid Dragonport; they also prevent ships from departing without paying docking fees, protect the community from pirate attack, and discourage the development of nearby rival ports.
Dragonport is built for functionality. Most of its buildings are squat and square, though some have sloped roofs to protect against sea storms. The majority of the city's structures are wooden; stone is simply too difficult and too expensive to come by in any great quantity. Only near the central docks, and along the main thoroughfares, is any effort made to beautify the architecture, and even here such efforts involve cleaning and whitewashing more than fancy construction.
Dragonport, like other port cities, developed a mishmash of cultural styles as a by-product of its function, rather than through deliberate effort, as happened in trading hubs such as Four Winds. Along the waterfront, shopkeepers both native and foreign set up establishments to match their own preferences, or to attract a certain clientele. Homey pubs stand beside exotic restaurants, the shops of elf tailors beside the forges of gnome blacksmiths.
Several paved roads lead through Dragonport, from the docks at one end to the major highway running past the city at the other. 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 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 Dragonport 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.
Dragonport Map Key
The keyed locations on the Dragonport map indicate various districts of the city. For a general discussion of these features, see City Districts beginning on page 34.
1. Civic district
2. Fine shops
3. Wealthy residential district
4. Average residential district
5. Dwarf neighborhood
7. Gnome neighborhood
8. Guildhall district
10. Temple district
11. Caravan district
12. Fisher's wharf/Waterfront
13. Inn/Tavern district
14. Red-Light district
16. Slave quarter
17. Slum/Tenement district
18. Tannery district
19. Warehouse district
Dragonport is a major city, not the pirate-infested and dirty little town of fantasy cliché. Still, it does conform to that stereotype in some respects. The city government encourages openness toward outsiders, and Dragonport's merchants welcome foreign trade, but much of the population is gruff and surly. This attitude comes in part from frequent dealings with sailors; in part from a desire to cling to local customs in the face of foreign ideas; and in part from resentment of wealthier, more influential cities. Despite the city's importance to local trade, most of its citizens simply aren't as well off as their counterparts in centers of commerce such as Four Winds, which actively encourage merchants to do business.
Like most port cities, Dragonport has a fairly high crime rate. 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 lives -- or at least their coin purses. Many citizens of Dragonport are actually proud of the city's reputation for crime, embracing it as proof of their own toughness.