|Government||The High Council (the heads of 16 noble merchant families plus the High Priest of Torm)|
|Exports||Fish (spiced, pickled, and barreled in the city for shipment across Faerun, as "Tantran finefish" - or, to those not fond of it, "silvermuck"), wagons, crates, locks, hardware (wrought iron), carved wooden casements, railings, and posts.|
Tantras is a walled city north of Raven's Bluff and like Ravens Bluff benefits from the trade coming up from Procampur. It is a large, walled city that has recovered well from and even prospered after the Time of Troubles. A godly battle during that period resulted in the destruction of a large portion of the city, and left a very large permanent dead magic area that extends from the north of the city.
Tantras is ruled by its High Council, a collection of local noble merchant families plus the high priest of Torm. The Council provides an invisible government, concentrating mainly on tariffs and merchant laws and less on the thieves' guilds and adventurers (save when they start affecting the merchants). As a result, Tantras is a rollicking, wide-open town, with only the more severe breaches of courtesy and law bringing in the guard. Alliances among the old merchant noble houses, voting together at Council to arrange affairs to their liking. Current alliances are as follows (family surnames given): AldimerMathlin-Uruthkurt; Baraedin- Mithertul-Onsil-Naskurl; Channath-Elovear-Laranadda-Tithlin-Vandover.
Tantras is dominated by the Temple of Torm's Coming, the center of Tormite activity on the Sea of Fallen Stars and that faith's largest temple. It was at Tantras that Torm perished defending his faith in a battle with Bane, creating the great dead magic area that lies over the northern city. The High Priest of Torm is Barriltar Bhandraddon (LG hm P19), and he is aided by 49 sub-priests. Torm's church is the most influential in the city, and Bhandraddon has a seat on the High Council.
However, the faith of Torm is very indulgent toward other religions, and there are temples of many other gods in the city, including Tempus, Lathander, Gond, Selûne, Milil, and Tymora, all with established priests of no less than 13th level in power. In addition, shires to Lathander, Loviatar, Umberlee, and Cyric dot the city.
Tantras does have an effective thieves' guild, the Grayclaws, an organization of smugglers and thieves who tend to prey on newcomers and those native Tantrans who have gotten gloriously rich, smug, or unscrupulous. The Grayclaws keep a firm watch on their member activities, so that they do not run afoul of the High Council. The Grayclaws have to date defended their turf from various forces, including the Red Wizard's, the Zhentarim, slavers, the Harpers, and the Cult of the Dragon.
The combination of merchant-dominated politics, light rule, many priests, an active thieves' guild, and a large dead magic zone has made Tantras a haven for a large number of adventurers, including those who are currently unwanted by nearby Calaunt and Ravens Bluff. The dead magic zone is particularly good for those on the run from wizards, and many who have offended such groups as the Zhentarim and the Red Wizards of Thay have used Tantras as their bolt-hole.
The Guard of TantrasEdit
The guard of Tantras consists of units of 14 1st-level warriors, dressed in plate mail with the arms of the city emblazoned upon it, and armed with short swords, spears, and daggers. They are led by a 3rd-level sergeant armed with long sword and mace. If more than one guard unit is called, an officer of 5th level with a morning star is with them. Crossbowmen and wizards can be called out in case of emergency.
Standard practice for the Tantran guard is to try to sort things out, first peaceably, calling for all sides to put aside their weapons (the "Whot's all this then," approach). However, in crisis situations where native Tantrans are threatened, they will shoot first and use speak with dead later. The large number of temples (and knowledgeable priests) in Tantras makes this approach feasible.
- Dhaerhaera Nanatar, an adventuress who recently captured and tamed a griffon, which she often rides into the Vast in search of adventure. She is currently searching the ancient tombs and ruined strongholds of the elves and humans who shared the mountains with orcs and worse, when dwarves ruled all these lands - hoping to find lost magic, meeting with some success.
- Tarntassa, a bronze-haired adventuress-mage immediately recognizable in the streets by her tall stature and long, long ponytail. She went to Waterdeep in the Time of Troubles, and has since returned to Tantras as a friend and ally of Khelben - and, secretly, of the Harpers, who are welcome at her Tower off Sandril's Lane, if they come quietly, by night.
- Zhundult "Stormhand" Ulblesk, an aggressively private, dangerous, and possibly deranged man, who spends his time researching planar powers and conditions, and how these may be harnessed for use in destructive spells. Zhundult is known to have strange and deadly blasting spells at his command.
- The Temple of Torm's Coming, temple complex to Torm; High Priest Barriltar Bhandraddon (LG hm P19); 49 priests, 75 followers). Renamed since the Time of Troubles to reflect Torm's earthly appearance in the temple itself, this flourishing establishment leads the city's spiritual and social life.
- The House of Glory, temple of Tempus; High Battlemaster Thiotar Umbarton; 16 priests, 22 followers;
- The Morning Halls, temple of Lathander; High Morninglord Alansyn Ambrilar; 14 priests, 21 followers.
- The House of Skilled Hands, temple of Gond; High Artificer Eldorn Mindalar; 9 priests, 18 followers.
- The House of Moonlight, temple of Selune; High Priest Pellar Thalangrim; 9 priests, 16 followers.
- The Happy House of Splendor and Song, temple of Milil; High Mistress of Song Elassuara Narithan; 6 priests, 11 followers.
- The House of Hope, temple of Tymora; High Priestess Lashaera Thindol; 5 priests, 8 followers.
- Shrines to Lathander, Loviatar, Umberlee, and Waukeen.
Notable Rogues' and Thieves' GuildsEdit
"The Grayclaws" are an organization of smugglers and thieves who operate only against visitors and Tantran natives who have grown very rich, very arrogant, very unscrupulous, or all three. The Harpers are also strong in the city, under the local guidance of the Temple of Milil, but largely leave the Grayclaws alone - because the Greyclaws have very effectively fought off attempts by the Zhentarim, Dragon Cult, Red Wizards, and pirates of the Inner Sea (sponsored by Calishite slavers) to move into the city's underlife and take hold.
The Grayclaws are currently led by Amlithor Harlguss and Othniir Xalast. Locally important Harpers include Felitarr "Flyingfingers" Wendilar and Deltara Dragynstarr.
Tantras is a busy trading port, with much coming and going from the Dragonreach (via ship) and the interior of the Vast. It has many inns, which welcome adventurers along with everyone else. These include:
- The Roaring Lion Inn, "the best in town" (excellent/expensive);
- The Weeping Wyvern, large and fairly new (good/expensive);
- The Green Sirene, favored by sailors (good/moderate);
- The Lazy Moon Inn, well-located and always busy (good/moderate);
- and Gulder's Good Grub Inn, cozy and usually full of regulars in all but the depths of winter (good/cheap).
Tantran inns tend to be quiet places where hard-working merchants can get a good sleep; noisy carousers are expected to go to a tavern at any time of the day, if they wish to revel. Tantras has a famous nightclub, the House of Twilight; a very good tavern, the Net of Stars; and an infamous, very wild tavern, the Silly Satyr.
There are others, which often open in small shops near the center of the city, appearing and disappearing with the changing fortunes of their owners.
- Bhaeryta Chassendora; a merchant specializing in rare and difficult-to-find substances used in magic. She sells to mages and often buys her wares from adventurers who acquire as the spoils of their adventuring - dragon blood, wyvern scales, and manticore spikes, for example.
- Somidorr Danthan, a dangerous character who has become very rich by shrewd smuggling decisions, and wishes to increase his personal power by acquiring useful magical items from anyone who happens within his reach, by any means necessary.
Important Features in TownEdit
Visitors to Tantras often remark on its crowded, busy harbor - not for the activity, which can be found in many port cities all over Faerun, but for the many cranes used in loading and unloading. Installed by the local temple of Gond, which collects a copper piece for each cargo-load lifted by them, these innovations (also found in several other places in the Realms, such as Baldur's Gate and nearby Scardale) enable Tantras to handle a high volume of freight in a short time. This ability, coupled with the strict policing of the harbor and the high security of its defenses - and the contrasting tolerance of merchant needs and ways that governs the city - has made Tantras a more popular port than other nearby ports offering access to the Vast.
Tantras is a prosperous city, from its grand nobles' houses to the well-kept cottages of shopkeepers and laborers. Its shops offer fine wines and a good variety of curios and hard-to-obtain gear; establishments are more fully detailed in module *FRE2.
The widespread damage from the Time of Troubles has been almost entirely repaired (the only evidence left is that many of the city's trees are small, newly-planted saplings), but a large area of the northern city and beyond remains magic dead, the ground burned and blasted down to bare rock. Spellcasters will feel dazed merely upon entering the area. Diligent work by the restored Torm has made magic work again within most areas of the city itself. However, the magic-dead regions within the city walls and without are now being settled by those individuals who would prefer to not be affected by opponent's magic, and the foundations are being laid for several large towers north of the city.
- Upwall District-The northern most area of the city.
- Oldcoin District-The middle of the city.
The heraldic arms of the city are a silver curling wave (breaker) surmounted by three silver stars, on a field of royal blue.
Tantras is a wealthy and proud city, still vigorous and active, rather than decadent or set in its ways. Dominated by the worship of Torm and the entrepreneurial diligence of its merchant families (in particular, the established noble families who have been leading citizens of the city for four generations or more), Tantras is a place of bustling industry, to which farmers and craftsmen of the Vast bring their wares for sale to far-off lands of Faerun via the ships that come here.
Tantras possesses fragments of a sewer system. That is, it has lots of center-gutter street runoff down into the harbor (in some cases passing through pipes laid under the wagon-ways right along the docks to prevent stormburst ‘rivers’ from sweeping wagons and all into the harbor), and it has various small and often-flooded sewer systems emptying into the harbor from various western parts of the city. The problem is seawater flooding back in (when winds blowing to the east augment the tides) and washing everything ‘back up whence it came,’ so to speak. This problem has never been solved, but attempts were made to lessen the severity of the ‘backwash’ by hollowing out increasingly large water-chambers (rooms) along the network of sewer pipes, and by enlarging those pipes. Part of Tantras stands on solid rock, and part of it’s built on layers of ooze, so much of the sewers are lined with stone blocks or large sections of round tile (and extensive cellars are thankfully few). Gratings are fitted over most of harbor-mouth sewer outlets to prevent the tides bringing large objects (that can become wedged, and created blockages) into the sewers. However, the tidal back-and-forth flows do a fairly good job of sluicing out the sewers. Some of the largest sewer water-chambers have been fitted with bucket-run chains (not pumps, but something akin to the way some primitive water-wheels work: literally, a string of buckets that dip out water and then are carried aloft when the circuit of chain is moved). These mulepower chains lift (filthy sewer, not drinkable) water into silo-like water-towers located in the eastern reaches of the city, which are from time to time drained in a ‘flushing rush’ (gravity-powered flood) through the easternmost sewers, to carry the reeking dung they contain out into the fields immediately east of the city (where, as you can imagine, there are some rather noisome marshes). The presence of these wetlands is one of the reasons Tantras has been slow to expand in that direction (with most new contruction outside the walls planned, if the current city-defense decrees forbidding unbridled building sprawl ever change, for the south). Drinking-water enters Tantras through pipes (pumped by mules or oxen traveling around and around capstans) from springs well to the northeast of the city (building on or near these springs is forbiddem, and the city maintains guardposts over them).
In severe winter weather, of course, most flowing liquid things freeze, and the sewers of Tantras are no exception. Human waste generates its own heat, but still: things get hard and won’t readily flow anywhere. The upside is, cold air cuts down on the smell, and insects that can carry diseases from dung to people are largely or wholly absent. So in winter, Tantras does what a lot of places do: uses nightsoil-wagons (that ‘pick up’ along each street from residents shoveling middens and dumping chamberpots) to carry wastes away (unless heavy snowfalls prevent travel - - and all of the nightsoil-wagon owners have built huge, heavy, multi-runner sledges that can be slid under wagons to allow travel in deep snow). It’s during the winter months that wastes get spread over many farm fields all around Tantras (instead of getting dumped in the swamps). Drinking-water gets brought in in large wagons (metal tanks sitting in trays in which small fires are built and tended, to keep the tanks warm, said trays resting on massive crosstimbers, on flatbed wagons) from the springs, and men use pickaxes and hammers to keep the springs and their plungepools free of ice. The pipes that bring water to the city in the warmer months are opened up in several places to allow for ice expansion (so the pipes won’t burst in other, much-harder-to-reach spots).
Catacombs: yes, there were many in the early days of the city, but almost all of the older subterranean ones got flooded repeatedly and have either been abandoned with their dead inside (ahem, quite possibly undead, by now) or emptied and the second sort of catacomb used: networks of narrow passages and burial niches within the thick walls of the largest, grandest buildings. There are only about a dozen of these networks known to still exist inside Tantras. Above-ground crypts (“little stone houses for the dead”) were popular in the early days of the city’s expansion, but all were soon overtaken by the growing city and eventually destroyed, with the remains moved well outside the walls to, yes (as you surmised) a cemetery - - or rather, three burial-grounds: one, a little south of due northeast, is Rosestones, a tiny ‘village’ of stone crypts (now shunned and overgrown as a haunted place, but grand stonework under all the brambles and briars) where the wealthiest families interred their dead; another (a little south of due east from Tantras, and closest to the city of the three cemeteries), Raindance Hill, is a windswept hill on a sheep farm where paupers were buried in simple, unmarked graves; and the third, Auntar’s Rest (“Auntar” is pronounced “AWN-tar”), is a drystone-walled, rambling field of vine-choked trees and many, many leaning headstones, still in popular use today, where the bulk of dead folk of Tantras lie. The Rest has grown to take over six farms agood way southeast of Tantras, and will probably swallow more soon. Most temples in Tantras inter priests under the floors and within the walls of their ‘holy stones’ (building walls); the temple of Torm is large and grand enough to have alcove-like side-chapels whose walls are entirely given over to filing-cabinet-drawer-like (all stone) burial niches filled with stone coffins. Lesser shrines may inter the bones of priests in stone coffins sunk into the shrine floor, but send their lay worshippers and staff for burial in the aforementioned public burial-grounds.
So if you’ve been envisaging a huge network of dungeon-like sewers linking every corner of Tantras underground: no. Not unless you’re a really small snail or amphibian. Flooded attempts at establishing such a large system, now: yes.
he coopers, cabinetmakers, turners, and carpenters centered in Tantras remain there because of its good harbour (hence easy shipping of goods to elsewhere) and generations of skilled woodworkers (hence ready training, streets and docks suited to crating and moving furniture, controlling and guarding against fires, etc.). They were established there in the first place, centuries back, because of the quality and quantity of the forests of the Vast (which lacked the fierce elven defenders of the similarly good woodlands on the other side of the Dragonreach). Many of these forests have now been cut down and used up, though the rolling farms of the Vast sport many woodlots, and its many creeks are cloaked in continuous runs of bankside trees: a visitor looking at the Vast will see a landscape of gently-rolling hills, and many trees (the forest studded with farms, not open farmland adorned with one or two trees).
Woodcutters are busily at work logging the eastern Vast even today -- and by "eastern Vast" I mean the slopes of the mountains that form the eastern barrier of the Vast. Although orcs do cut down timbers for their own use and do start fires from time to time (especially when making war), it would be wrong to see the orcs of the Vast as tree-hating clearers-of-the-landscape. Looking at it this way: if orcs want to eat humans or dwarves (the two dominant intelligen sources of meat in the Vast), they have to fight for their meals. Nowadays, they can also raid livestock kept on human ranches, or moving along roads as beasts of burden. However, the chief source of ready food in Vastar and in the Vast today has always been woodland animals (deer, rabbits, squirrels, bears, and everything else). The only way to keep such game abundant is to leave the forests standing: denude a stretch of land and you starve yourself (deer will certainly graze in grasslands, but you have to wait until your cleared forest floor grows consistent crops of grass, and orc bellies complain as loudly as anyone else's if they have to wait from season to season. So the trees are still there, in all those narrow, monster-haunted, orc-prowled valleys between the mountains. Getting them has just become more dangerous and time-consuming (and hence more expensive).
There's a tangle of wreckage in the 'deep hole' at the center of the harbor (a small shaft or pit that plunges about sixty feet deeper than the surrounding harbor bottom) that's full of the tangled wreckage of two merchant ships who unintentionally rammed each other one stormy night. There are the usual rumors of valuable cargo and even more valuable contraband sunken and presumably there for the taking -- but there's also DEFINITELY something unfriendly down there, that causes creatures who explore the 'deep hole' to simply vanish. The harbor bottom is clay, and swirling mud obscures all vision near it (including the entire 'deep hole').
The favored drink in Tantras is a 'red and blue.' This potent tipple is made by mixing the "blue wine" made locally (a thin, sour wine whose only claim to respectability is its glorious, almost glowing 'royal blue' color, derived from the sour local wild grapes) with the best 'red brandies' concocted in Saerloon and Selgaunt. Drinking two red and blues in rapid succession leaves most people reeling drunk and causes others to pass out, but it has one useful documented effect: in humans and demi-humans, it deadens ALL pain and nausea for about 3 rounds (useful when performing amputations and other 'brutal surgery'). Repeated exposure to this beverage causes individuals to soon loose this benefit (at different rates for each being). A red and blue has a rich sweet-and-sour taste that some folk swear by -- and a few swear at.
A 'baeranth' is the most popular everyday evening meal dish for Tantrans. The word means other things elsewhere, but in the City of Torm it refers to a meat pie or tart baked golden-brown and with a peppery gravy inside. The smoked meat of beef, goat, and hogs are minced in a 3-1-1 proportion to make a 'real' baeranth, but there are the inevitable tales of dogs and even humans going missing and winding up in baeranths.
"Sarkul" or smoked fish are also popular in Tantras (caught in the Reach, beheaded, immersed in honey and seasonings, and then hung and smoked for several days in closed sheds, but fish are NEVER put in a baeranth (in Tantras, for some unknown reason, the very idea of fish pies is considered sick and revolting).
Baeranths vary in price from 1 sp for six to 2 cp each, depending on size, reputation of the shop, and freshness, and are always sold hot. They can be bought from about highsun (midday) to dusk, from dozens of serving-shutter-on-the-street-wall shops with names like Karvin's and Thurnan's Oven and The Meltmouth.
Tantras has many taverns, but few dining-halls or anything approaching what we would call a restaurant. Its inns typically serve warm mulled cider and cold ale, plus buttered bread (a very dark, rich nutbread akin to our real-world pumpernickel), up to the rooms of guests, and lack dining rooms or taprooms. The taverns of Tantras serve the usual drinks and 'hot buns' covered with melted cheese (some taverns putting sliced olives or slices of sausage on the cheese so they'll stick, to make their buns distinctive and popular), but little other food.
Tantras does have lots of fresh fish and eel shops and stands, and its streets often reek of cooking fish in early evening.
Tantras is known for having good ropemakers and netmakers. A typical shop is owned by a master or masters, who employ six to eight skilled workers and a handful of apprentices, to 'weave' the ropes or nets by hand. A small array of fairly standard wares (40-foot-coil of waxed line, 1 gp; 26-foot-coil of light cord, 4 sp; 50-foot-coil of rope, 1 gp; 50-foot-coil of heavy rope, 4 gp; 75-foot-coil of rope, 5 gp; 100-foot-coil of rope, 12 gp; 100-foot ship's hawser/mooring cable, 150 gp [overpriced because these items, of which at least 2 will always be available, will only be bought from 'ready stock' in an emergency) will be hanging and ready for sale, and everything else will have to be ordered, with a tenday or longer wait.
There are also a few skilled brass founders (casters) in Tantras, who make small, simple household wares (bells, lantern cages, candlestick bases, handles, catches, simple bowls and trays, pouring spouts/funnels, hooks, and the like). The best is probably Teth Rundlelor of Bauntaman Lane, but Adluth's Fine Hooks and Castings on Varmor Street and the cavernous secondhand warehouse Oddlings on Roardragon Way are also good sources.
The wildest festhall in Tantras, Warm Wondra's, is also on Roardragon Way (the main street running along the southern edge of the docks), and it truly is a festhall: nightly shows are held there from dusk until dawn, beginning with contortionists, comedians, jugglers, and players who perform short bawdy works, and progressing through minstrels who put on rousing sequences of drinking and 'slay the dragon' songs, to a farce play involving maidens who get disrobed by monsters or villains (the audience is encouraged to boo, hiss, cheer, and even help deliver lines if they buy drinks for the actors), and finally to out-and-out exotic dancing and sex-for-coin activity (all of which is legal; the masked, cudgel-wielding Watch of Tantras are there -- just as they are on their frequent street, dockside, and tavern patrols -- to keep order, arresting persons who draw steel, wound others, or start fires, and ejecting the unruly onto the street).
And that should be enough to get you going. There's something niggling in the back of my mind about someone who was walled up in the city walls and is now trapped there, undead and able only to clutch and whisper, but the notes for that are [gulp] in my basement and will have to wait until May or even later (post-Waterdeep, post-taxes, and perhaps post-publicity tour).
We Knights hit Tantras only once: at night, in a SOAKING rain. We waded along (some of the streets become streams emptying down into the harbor during a real cloudburst, and this was an all-night real cloudburst :}) , wet to our knees, and were challenged by an equally soggy Watch patrol. Jhessail sourly told them she was the Queen of Waterdeep, and they then tried to arrest her, and Florin started picking them up and tossing them into the harbor. One managed to ring his alarm-gong (oh, yes, they use gongs and not horns in Tantras, and bloody noisy three-rattling-cup affairs they are, too) and summon another patrol, so Florin sent them swimming, too -- whereupon the madam of a nearby festhall offered us shelter if we'd just stop throwing her best clients to possible deaths by drowning, please!
So we spent a cozy night in a festhall, trading stories [and NOTHING ELSE] with the working girls -- and left the next morning hidden under their dirty laundry, on the cart that took 'the dirties' out of the city to the stinking laundry just south of it. From there, we went on our way. I don't THINK any of the Watch drowned, but we never went back to check.