Dhaztanar, the “crystal towered,” is the largest city of Semphar. Fabled and fabulous, Dhaztanar is the key to trade between the east and west. It is considered by Semphar to be one end of the Silk Road, the busiest caravan road between the Western World and Shou Lung. It is the largest port on Gbor Nor, This is the home of the Phi, master of all Semphar.
Dhaztanar is a sprawling city of brick and stone. Only a few buildings are made of wood, since lumber must be shipped from the Shalhoond. Most wood brought in is used for shipbuilding or furniture.
The majority of houses are two stories high, although the slums are filled with little hovels. Public buildings and palaces are imposing exhibitions, often rising to a height of four stories or more.
The central parts of Dhaztanar are protected by walls, towers, and moats. The oldest walls are near the harbor, the Furdah Rustauk. These are old, made of mud brick, and are in sad repair. Canals run through the district, for use by smallboats carrying the cargos of larger ships.
Adjoining the harbor region is the Round City, the Madinat. This is the heart of Dhaztanar, the main city. The Madinat is the best fortified section of the city. Laid out in a perfect circle, it is surrounded first by a moat, then an outer wall and inner wall. There is an empty yard between the outer wall and the taller inner wall. Both walls are wide enough to have walkways atop them. Another open roadway separates the inner wall from the houses inside it. At the heart of the Madinat is a third wall, again set off from the houses by a road. Beyond this wall are the gardens, temples, and palaces of the Caliph.
Four gates, the Grand Bab, pierce the walls, leading to the Phi’s palace, Dar al-Kalif, at the center. Outside the Round City is the Shari-souk, the Market Quarter. Here is where most of the buying and selling takes place, the true life of Dhaztanar. Protective walls have been built haphazardly throughout this district, the city expanding beyond each before it is finished. Canals carry water in curving rings, adding further to the chaotic layout.
Finally, outside all walls are the Quarters of the Unclean. These are the slums of Dhaztanar. Tiny, crooked little streets lined with wretched little hovels crowd the areas around the gates. Just beyond the edges these slums become unmapped tangles where a man can disappear from the authorities forever.
Dhaztanar earns its appellation “crystal towered” from the Dar al-Kalif, the magnificent crystal palace of Abu Bakr, Phi of Semphar. The palace is crowded with minarets of clear rock crystal, brought at great cost from the distant mines of the Firepeaks. These gleam like beacons in the sunlight, so much so that Dhaztanar is sometimes called the “Shining City.” Their light plays over the rich red and green stone of the palace and brightens even the darkest corners of the Phi’s gardens. At night a fire is lit in the tallest of these towers to serve as a light for sailors. It is said this light can be seen as far as 50 miles from the shore.
Dhaztanar is a city where anything can be found. For the bold, the cunning, the wise, there are great fortunes to be found. Riches from the east and west converge on this spot— and so do rogues and scoundrels. There is work for strong swordsmen, skilled sailors, light-fingered gentlemen, and persuasive prophets. Furthermore, the Phi is an enlightened despot. His treasury supports a college of wizards and a university of learning famed among the sages of the southern lands. The Phi is generous in his donations to certain temples and unrelenting in his persecution of others, whom he fears may be used to rally the oppressed against him.
The city is a gathering place of many races and adventurers. Elves are uncommon, as are dwarves. Gnomes are seen, but are extremely rare. In the less savory sectors can be found many goblinkind, although these creatures are under bounty in the city.
Dhaztanar is not without its enemies. Its chief rival is the city of Zindalankh of Hallstatt. Privateers are a constant threat to the Dhaztanar sailors. To counter them, the Phi has built a powerful navy, but has only done so at the expense of his army.
Possibly the most noted aspect of all Dhaztanar is the famous Semphar University of Mages.