Dark Tide Over Cormyr
|Area||South Central Cormyr|
|Races|| Humans 82%|
Elves > 3%
Other > 10%
|Primary Commerce||Hospitality, farming, major trade (water and land), farming, pelts, fishing, government.|
|Exports||Pelts, armor, clothing, fine goods, jewelery, timber, building materials, weapons.||
|Local Ruler||King Azoun IV Obarskyr||
Suzail, the capital of the realm and Crown City of Cormyr, contains a busy port; the most beautiful gardens in nearly any large city, anywhere; a magnificent palace; a large, labyrinthine, highly efficient Royal Court; the largest fortress of the Purple Dragons in all the realm; and the dwellings of thousands of hard-working, prosperous tradesfolk who seem to love their city. It is smaller, cleaner, and easier to get around in than most capitals in Faerûn, and it is home to some establishments that pleasantly surprise the visitor who turns away from the splendor of the Promenade and the Royal Gardens long enough to take the trouble to seek them out.
The capital city of Cormyr1 is a bustling, prosperous place, the monetary and cultural heart of the realm. It’s always afire with new ideas, new ventures, new things to buy, and fresh ways of doing things. Fashion in Cormyr is set in Suzail, and with each passing year the city grows more important across Faerûn as a center of learning. King Azoun vigorously eradicates all attempts to form thieves’ guilds and smuggling cabals, making this one of the safest cities in the Realms. It is also one of the wealthiest and cleanest, a place travelers love to visit and revisit.
Purple Dragon street patrols are numerous, and at any sign of trouble war wizards visibly accompany the soldiers. Curfews are also placed on the city to make it clear to all that no lawlessness is tolerated in Suzail. It should be noted that folk who have lawful business at night (loading or unloading a ship or shop delivery cart, for example) can always get license to break curfew, but they find themselves under the watchful eyes of an escort of at least three Purple Dragons all the time they’re doing so.
As befits a busy trading center, the guards on the gate are always courteous to visitors unless their unseen war wizard overwatcher speaks within their heads to warn them they’re facing a Zhentarim or other evil mage, disguised monster, or known traitor to the Crown. Be advised that telling an intentional untruth to a guard on watch is an offense. It earns a Cormyrean a fine and placement on the ongoing list of people to question carefully for a year, but usually wins an outlander a ban from entering the city on the spot.
Over 129,000 registered citizens call Suzail home. Purple Dragon estimates place the average headcount closer to 148,000, with the population rising to 160,000 at the height of the summer trading season. The citizens are defended by a garrison of 4,500 soldiers, the Imperial Navy of Cormyr, and 92 war wizards who’re known to reside in the city.
Mighty 80-foot-high curtain walls protect the city on all landward fronts, and a broad street, the Promenade, links the two main gates in this rampart. The Promenade runs from Horngate to the west to Eastgate in an arc that separates the Court precinct from the rest of the city. Few attackers care to assault such a secure fortress. A large resident army mans those walls, and private citizens can provide respectable support. Indeed, the wizard Maxer was accorded the title Defender of Suzail for slaying four dragons that attacked the city!
The garrison is based in the Citadel of the Purple Dragons at the southeast corner of Suzail, and it is led by Sthavar, Lord Magister of the City. Three hundred of these soldiers are on civic street patrol duty at a time. Purple Dragons on this duty are housed in auxiliary barracks around the city walls.
The Purple Dragons share their fortress with the Navy: 14 major ships and their crews, totaling over 2,500 trained sea warriors known as the Blue Dragons. The largest vessel, the Crown of Cormyr, is a floating palace. It is often used by the royal family to relax away from the eyes of the Court or to entertain guests in secret. Both it and the Dragon, Cormyr’s largest warship, are well equipped with ballistae and firepothurlers. The presence of such ships serve to persuade Westgate and other maritime powers that Suzail is too well defended to harass, but it’s the small, fast coastal runners of the fleet, like the Blade of Espar and the Lance of Wheloon, that see action most often. Almost daily they’re active against piracy.
Suzail is a major center of magical learning and power. It is home not only to the secretive College of War Wizards and Vangerdahast, Royal Magician to the Realm, but also the Council of Mages and such important wizards as Argûl, Baskor, Laspeera, Maxer, and Valantha Shimmerstar.
All mages of 5th or greater level who enter Cormyr must register before the next sundown with a king’s herald, a local lord, or at the Court. Once on the rolls, they’re welcome at meetings of the Council of Mages. These meetings are evening affairs held in the Court in Suzail once every three rides (tendays). Vangerdahast or, in the rare event of his absence, Laspeera chairs the meetings. At such gatherings, decrees of the Crown bearing on magic are proclaimed, issues of interest to workers with magic are discussed, and mages can advertise their services or their needs for the aid of other mages or would-be mages. Many a starry-eyed apprentice comes to such gatherings.
The war wizards always have a recruiting representative at council meetings. Those mages who are most loyal to the Crown can by free choice and Azoun’s agreement swear a secret oath and become war wizards in the service of Cormyr. The oath is known to involve a geas cast by Vangerdahast that prohibits war wizards from working to the harm of Azoun, his family, or the good of his kingdom.
Suzail houses two major temples and several lesser shrines. The Towers of Good Fortune, dedicated to the worship of Tymora, stand on the east side of the Promenade where it meets the Royal Ride. The Silent Room, venerating Deneir, is on the west side of the Promenade at the eastern end of the ornate iron fence that separates the street from the cobbled courtyards of the sprawling Royal Court building. For a fee of 5 gp per volume anyone can peruse books at the temple of Deneir, which houses a large library of both histories about and the fanciful fiction of the Dragonreach lands.
The city also holds shrines to Lliira, Oghma, Malar, Tyr, and Milil. Lliira’s is located on the north side of Stonebow Street, between Torch Street to the west and Blade Lane on the east. Oghma’s shrine is found on the west side of the Promenade, just inside Eastgate. Malar’s shrine crouches on the north side of the Royal Ride a few doors west of the shrine of Tyr, and Tyr’s shrine is perched in the angle where the Promenade and the Royal Ride meet. Finally, the shrine to Milil can be found on the west side of Coachwheels Way just north of Blade Lane.
Those with coins enough to spend can get almost as wide a selection of fine goods in the shops of Suzail as in fabled Waterdeep. Musical instruments, cloth, finished garments, sword blades, and armor in plenty are made in the city. From the docks these products, as well as copper bars mined near Espar, grain (sold in 25-lb. sacks, but priced by the quintal or hundredweight), and bone carvings from the uplands of the realm are exported. Most folk of other lands don’t think of Suzail as a source of fine armor and blades, but they do remember the city for the good, durable, every day woolen clothes that are often trimmed with leather it produces.
In the past, sail-making and shipbuilding were important industries in Suzail. Almost all such trade has moved to Marsember and smaller coastal communities as land has become more valuable in Suzail and the transport of lumber into the shipyards has become an increasingly slow and expensive process. The Citadel of the Purple Dragons still uses its repair slips; lumber inbound there is usually floated in over the city wall by the spells of war wizards.
Resident shopkeepers sometimes use tally sticks in their dealings, but the visitor must pay in cash. In earlier days when coins were scarce, two sorts of trade tokens were used in Suzail. These flat, shaped pieces of wood branded with a treasury stamp are still honored, and Suzailans can turn them in to the Royal Court at double face value when they are used toward tax payments. The two sorts of discs are the anvil and the wheel, and they are shaped accordingly. Five anvils equal a wheel, and a wheel is worth 1 gp, so an anvil is worth 2 sp. Anvil and wheel trade tokens havent been made for 30 years, so one can tell something about the age of found money caches by their presence.
The noble families of Cormyr are a large, influential, and constant presence in Suzail. Their fashions, free-handed spending intrigues, and entertainments; in particular, their costume balls, feasts, and hunts set the tone of the city.
Most noble families have homes in Suzail, some of them quite modest buildings hidden away on back streets. Tradition and comfort matter more to the nobles than opulence, except to the recently ennobled and merchants trying to buy their way into the nobility.
Suzailans see a side of their proud and mighty nobles that few others in Cormyr ever observe: Suzail hosts many nobles’ parties held in the Royal Court on fine evenings. All too often, these affairs become debauched revels spilling over into the Royal Gardens. Many trysts are kept, arguments begun, and insults and witticisms exchanged at such events.
In the streets of Suzail, half-cloaks, fullsleeved shirts or bodices, slim jeweled blades, and ornate masks mark one as a noble or a wealthy would-be noble. Cormyreans like to dress as dashing adventurers. Even folk who’ve never held a sword in their lives sport half-armor of everbright silver for formal wear or adopt the flared-boots, laced-leather-and-vest look of the reckless vivant. As dress goes in Suzail, so goes fashion in the rest of the realm, from feathers in hats to glitterweave doublets. At least regal blue and dusty beige are favored colors now, so the finery doesn’t tend to be hard on a visitor’s eyes.
Most Suzailans havent the energy left at the end of their workday for evening revelry. They meet with friends at a favorite local tavern to talk over a tankard or two, and then stumble home to bed. This tendency of the average Suzailan to congregate in small taverns is why visitors bearing news are so popular and good storytellers can earn a copper or two for a tale. Those Suzailans too drunk to be moved from their pub seat are usually carted to a back room of the tavern to snore their drink off. Just about every tavern in the city has a snoring room for this purpose, and tavernmasters who put customers in one are entitled to take from each of their purses the cost of one drink of the most expensive sort they’ve drunk that evening.
Entertainment for Suzailans comes in the form of day-long fairs and festivals. Most shops close down for these celebrations, which consist of all the usual seasonal feasts Creengrass, Midsummer, Deadwinter Day, and the like, plus hiring fairs in spring, summer, and fall, and the Festival of the Sword. Hiring fairs are gatherings of journeymen skilled in a trade held so that prospective employers can select new employees. The choice offered by a large selection of skilled craftsfolk pleases the employers, and such public hirings deny any merchants the opportunity to hire a desperate worker unfairly, dirt-cheap, to later undersell their rivals.
The Festival of the Sword, held on the fourth day of Kythorn, is unique to Suzail, representing the importance of the arms trade to the city. It consists of a mounted parade of people dressed in the best armor their shops make who gallop around the streets as fast as safely possible (and sometimes faster!), waving blades, bellowing war cries, and sounding horns. They entertain the populace with their thundering progress until the Citadel bells toll, whereupon they all race to the gates in the ornate fence of the Royal Court. There they enter into the Court and are toasted with fine wine, sherries, and exotic liqueurs.
After thirsts have been slaked, these gallant armed folk look out through the fence into an area of the Promenade kept clear for the Triumph of the Sword. Many other townsfolk also gather around this area to watch a fully armored fighter combat and slay monsters. When the battle is done, the fighter casts the killing blade into the air and general feasting begins.
Of old, the monsters slain by the fighter were people in costumes, and the battle was play-acting. Later, real monsters were brought in, caged, and the battle was in earnest and often deadly for the fighter! These days, captured jackals and leucrotta that war wizards have magically altered into the shapes of monsters are slain. These beasts arent given time to become familiar with their new bodies, nor do they command any special powers of the beasts whose shapes they wear (for example, dragon or gorgon breath).
Suzail has one other interesting festival: Chasing the King. It is celebrated on the sixth day of Marpenoth. It seems Boldovar Obarskyr, who reigned briefly some centuries ago, was a wildbeard, or madman. Although he was usually of calm and normal temperament, he’d suddenly fly into berserk, killing rages, seize a weapon, and set off across the city hacking and slashing at everything and everyone who got into his way until dusk. He eventually perished as a result of driving his blade through his favorite consort, who was trying to soothe him and stop one of these rampages. Her falling body dragged the king, who wouldnt let go of his sword, over the edge of a parapet. He was impaled on an array of upright lances bundled for transport on a cart standing below.
In the present-day festival, the unfortunate king is represented by a criminal already condemned to death. This miscreant is given a blunt sword, encased in full armor, and furnished with a belt of potions of healing. Then hes let into the streets and not allowed out of the city until sundown. (Some men have shed their armor and swum the harbor or crawled through the sewers to get out of Suzail earlier.)
Anyone who likes can attack the fleeing king, who cant run with any weapon but the one he was given and can do anything on his run without fear of reprisal. (The king is allowed to seize weapons raised against him and use them on their wielders.) One fleeing king set several streets ablaze, which kept a lot of folk too busy to harm him, but he tried to hide in the smoke and died. Townsfolk usually dont have to worry about being struck down by surprise by the fleeing miscreant. Hes usually at the center of a whirlwind of barking dogs, running boys, and jeering journeymen.
If the false king can stay alive until dusk, he is fully healed by a priest of Tempus hired for the occasion, given 50 sp, a good horse, food, and clothing, and he goes free. Several criminals have so won their freedom in recent years. The criminal must agree to play the king, but the lord chamberlain chooses who is asked.
There are at least two festivals each month throughout the year. Each is an excuse for parades, drunken revelry, minstrelry, wrestling in the streets, and eating far, far too much! The day after each festival all businesses except restaurants are closed. Most folk spend it visiting family and friends and dining out.
Suzail began as a farmstead in 6 DR when Ondeth Obarskyr and his immediate family settled there. Others soon joined the new settlement and by 16 DR the population had grown to 350, having become a port a year earlier with the construction of the first dock.
Between 376 DR and 432 DR, Suzail was affected by a plague brought from the merchants of Marsember, and many people died, despite the efforts of the priests. Once the priests had almost exhausted their healing spells, they reserved them for their own use, and were consequently slaughtered by the peoples of Suzail. Only priests of Talona survived, but they merely further spread the plague.
Around 429 DR, Suzail was sold to Magrath the Minotaur, a pirate lord, for 500 sacks of gold, by Melineth Turcassan, father-in-law to King Duar Obarskyr, who was away fighting orcs at the time. The city’s treasury was plundered and Magrath assumed its rule. Magrath was later defeated by King Duar and the city returned to normal.
A Look Across the City
The northern part of Suzail is all tall, narrow, grand houses that are complemented by the rolling greenery of the spacious Royal Gardens. The spectacular bulk of the Palace of the Purple Dragon and the Royal Court rise out of this. But what lies outside the wide arc of the Promenade? Well, the bad part of town stretches to the west, near the harbor around the open market. Some gentlefolk never venture there. To the east stands the Market Hall, into which farmers from outside the city stream at dawn to sell their fresh produce to sleepy-eyed servants. Also to the east lie the city garrison (the Citadel of the Purple Dragons) and the city jail (the Lock-Up).
Between the far east side and the far west side of town lie bustling, close crowded shops, houses, and inns. These tend to be more expensive and taller nearer the Palace of the Purple Dragon and cheaper, noisier, and more rundown as one nears the docks. The oldest noble families almost all dwell north of the Promenade.
The docks are a whirlwind of activity apt to be dangerous to the bystander. Overloaded carts and overloaded burdenbearers are constantly rushing about, cursing each other and their loads. The harbor is a place of few entertainments. The stink of rotting fish is strong, and it is good place to watch gulls mate and paint the countryside white. Except for the everpopular pastime of watching ships from far-off ports arrive and leave, and seeing their exotic crews and the lady escorts of Suzail who come to meet or bid good-bye to them, there isnt much to do.
The city has a wealth of shops, inns, and taverns, and boasts some truly splendid restaurants. Eating out is a citywide pleasure and tradition. A fast-growing custom is to have gourmet meals run in, that is, delivered hot to ones abode.
By night, continual faerie fire radiances light up the Promenade with bright amber tones. These radiances also illuminate major cross streets at each intersection, but appear less frequently than on the Promenade. They make Suzail less smoky than some cities, as torches and candle lamps are fewer, and frequent Purple Dragon patrols render even the darkest streets relatively safe.
With the fall of the King in the Abraxus incident, the city is sure to be in a state of chaos. Rumor has it that the entire affair has been blamed upon the Mage Royal Vangerdahast Aeiulvana. Rumor has it that a spell he unleashed caused the planar rift which has allowed the shadowed goblins into the country. Although specifics beyond this are unknown at the time.
Although Suzail is a busy port with shops and eateries of sophistication and repute, its most important building is the Royal Court. The Palace of the Purple Dragon, of course, is more magnificent, but the Court is unique: a sprawling labyrinth of interconnected buildings, erected and expanded over the centuries as needed. The turrets in one place may clash with the sloping roofs in another, but the assembled pile stretches along almost a quarter mile of the Promenade and is undeniably impressive. The Courts several thousand chambers are connected by arches, servants passages concealed discreetly behind tapestries, cross-galleries, balconies, and sweeping stairs. The Court has its own deep wells, its own streets (in the cellars), and even enclosed glass-roofed courtyards where fountains gurgle softly and harpists are wont to play.
This grand structure houses the legal and administrative bureaucracy of the government of Cormyr, from the offices of Alaphondar, Sage Most Learned of the Royal Court to the rooms of Anzser, Lord Chamberlain of Suzail and Master of City Revels, who oversees the issuance of all permits, licenses, city ordinances, and tax writs. Royal guides and escorts wait here and royal surveyors work on their maps and charts here. This the heart of power and intriguein Cormyr.
The Court even has its very own fish-pond where salmon, trout, and silverfin swim until theyre caught with dip nets for use in meals at the Court and Palace. Court cooks feed these fish every day and also tend to a smaller eel pool. So large and confusingly laid out is the Court that one can wander its chambers all day and fail to see everythingor to find a particular room or person one is seeking.
Guests at court are usually housed in apartments in the Royal Court. Only rarely, since assassination attempts have grown numerous, do even the most exalted guests stay in the Palace.
Upland Cormyreans speak of the Royal Court with reverence: Its their place amid the nobles halls and the grand villas of the wealthy, second only to the Palace itself. At one end of it stands the Hall of Honor, where one can see the arms, armor, and relics of the heroes of Cormyr from the pitchfork that the farmer Jult of Waymoot defended an early queen of Cormyr with when she was menaced by orcs to the 7-foot-long boar blade wielded by giant Baron Hlombur when he split skull of the orc lord Aragh. (It is displayed, of course, with the riven skull.) Everyone is welcome to see the glories of the past and take pride in the valiant deeds of forebears here.
Along the many south-facing windows of the Court runs the broad Promenade, the
most important street in Suzail and one of the best shopping strolls in the world.
On the other side of the Court, the rolling green beauty of the trees, lawns, mazes, fountains, and flower beds of the Royal Gardens stretch out all around, down to the glimmering waters of Lake Azoun, where in warm months pleasure sculls await and swans glide. At one end of the Court and Palace. the Court, across a small strip of cobbled court where three watchful wizards always stand guard, rises Vangerdahasts Tower, the darkly slender abode of the Royal Magician to the Realm and Chairman Emperius of the College of War Wizards.
Many tales of magic, messages, maps, and inscriptions hidden behind the paneling of the Courts rooms make the rounds in Cormyr, and most are true. Also true, however, is the far-less-often heard rumor of diligent magical eavesdropping by loyal war wizards carried on constantly in every chamber and back passage of the Court.
The Palace of the Purple Dragon rises out of the wooded Royal Gardens like a fairy-tale castle, all slender spires, bal conies, and pennants. It houses private apartments for all four families of the blood royal: the ruling Obarskyrs, the Crownsilvers, the Huntsilvers, and the Truesilvers. The opulence of its tapestry and painting-hung chambers is legendary. It is a rare thing for a Cormyrean to be invited inside: "He’s been to the Palace!" is a sentence uttered with awe in upland villages of Cormyr.
The Royal Treasury under the Palace is also famous, though very few visitors have ever seen it. The vaults are said to be heavily guarded by magic, traps, and monsters, and to hold great wealth and magical treasures. The truth of these rumors has been confirmed by many archmages over the years, including the Zhentarim magelord who tried to seize all he could and ended up blown to bloody mist in front of all the Cormyrean court when a stolen device he was carrying went off.
The city also boasts some impressive statues. Even at intersections not guarded by such offerings look for carved beasts on building corners. The gargoyles at the meeting of Dragonfall Alley and Ustors Street are particularly fine, and like several such specimens around the city, locals swear they can fly off to fight to defend Suzail if one but gives the right command.
Places of Interest
The Lock Up (prison)
Belaeron’s Best Bread (baker)
The Ring of Coins (Pawnshop)
Tavernant’s Tellings (Printer)
The Weddng Knight (Fine Clothes)
The Osculatory (Club)
The Society of Stalwart Adventurers (Club)
The Stag Transfixed (Club)
The Old Boot (Restaurant)
The Puffing Jester (Restaurant)
The Golden Goblin (tavern)
The Winking Eye (tavern)
The Laughing Lass (tavern)
The Dragon’s Jaws (Inn)
The Leaning Post (Inn)
The Nightgate Inn (Inn)
Shaliber’s Ship (Inn)
The Six Candies (Inn)
The Wailing Wheel (Inn)
People of Interest
Azoun IV Obarskyr