Calaunt was a city-state in the Vast, and formerly the village of Vespermouth. It sat on the mouth of of the River Vesper on the eastern side of the Dragon Reach, at the end of Blaern's Trail from Thindilar and at the end of the Hlintar Ride from Hlintar.
- 1 Language
- 2 History
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Government & Politics
- 5 Relations
- 6 Law & Order
- 7 Defenses
- 8 Economy & Trade
- 9 Culture & Society
- 10 Description
- 11 Organizations
- 12 Legends & Rumors
- 13 Appendix
The city's people spoke the Easting language, which was related to the Damaran language. People and things from here were called "Calauntan". The terms "Calauntian" and "Calaunan" were both incorrect.
The Time of Glorious Fools
Originally, this was the site of the village of Vespermouth, named for its location on the mouth of the River Vesper.
During the Vast's so-called Time of Glorious Fools (from 649 DR onwards), Calaunt was among those harbors that served as landing spots for immigrants and as rest stops for pirates. These harbors were developed as trade ports for the trading vessels came from Aglarond, Impiltur, Sembia, and Westgate. From its beginnings, Calaunt was a free city, but equally free for criminals and a haven for the lawless.
The Time of Troubles
During the Time of Troubles, in the Year of Shadows, 1358 DR, refugees from Hlintar and other chaos-stricken areas fled to Calaunt, as well as Ravens Bluff, and Tantras. However, Calaunt suffered great strife of its own, producing its own displaced peoples. Looting mobs of refugees from Calaunt, together with those from Tantras and Mulmaster, wandered the Vast. Meanwhile, in the southern Vast, many wealthy merchants of Procampur and Tsurlagol fled to their country houses in the town of Maerstar. However, they were harassed by the mobs, who'd also come through Maerstar, and some were killed.
In Mirtul of the Year of the Shield, 1367 DR, drow were spotted lurking on the streets at night. Some thought they slaughtered the Ladies of the Green Shield near Calaunt. Meanwhile, unidentified ships—claimed to be pirates by some Dragon Reach merchants—docked at secure locations in the city, apparently uninhabited by day but becoming very busy at nights.
Around this time, a mysterious group appeared in Calaunt and tried to set up a thieves' guild to rival the Shadowcloaks. They stole weapons, tools, and magical items; intimidated independent thieves by demanding they "join or die"; and brutally murdered those who resisted or got too close, leaving mangled bodies seemingly blinded by poison. For a few months, a one-sided gangland war was waged on the streets of Calaunt after dark. The Shadowcloaks themselves tried to keep their people out of it and to watch and wait. Eventually, someone—a merchant, a threatened thief, or a captain of the Calauntan guard—would hire adventurers to investigate.
By 1370 DR, Calaunt's aggressive competition and campaign of intimidation and assassination against the neighboring town of Ylraphon helped ensure that its rival was unable to compete. Ylraphon was left struggling and in decline.
In the Year of the Tankard, 1370 DR, a band of adventurers hired to defend the property of Tantran merchants in Calaunt came under attack from the mysterious "Calaunt gargoyles". The creatures ignored Calauntans, and gave rise to rumors of a connection to the Merchant Dukes.
According to the tax rolls of 1358 DR, the city had a population of 86,012 people. This could rise to ~88,600 in the summer. This made it was the third-largest city of the Vast, after Ravens Bluff and Tantras. The mostly human population was of largely Chondathan and Damaran heritage. The resident population included some 6200 half-elves and around 3000 dwarves. In 1372 DR, Calaunt was listed with a population of 38,706, making it the largest city in the Vast.[note 1]
In 1479 DR, Calaunt had a population of around 32,000.
Government & Politics
In the mid–14th century DR, Calaunt was ruled by the self-styled Supreme Scepter Bellas Thanatar and the Merchant Dukes, named Pirithin Alagost, Iritar the Dark, Saleska Mintharl, Halabankh Ormsarr, Haldyn Stormkin, and Alascartha Vyperwood. They were all former adventurers of Bellas's Band, and each of them grew increasingly wealthy and powerful by following him and supporting his rule. In all decisions on major policies, each duke had one vote while Bellas had two. Nevertheless, the Dukes wielded significant power. Under them were two barons, Uthorn and Wenszrin.
Their regime was evil, oppressive, and kleptocratic. The Scepter and his Dukes often confiscated property and magic from visitors, allegedly "for the benefit of the city", but mostly used it only for personal gain and use, to increase their power. They acquired a large collection of magical items this way, and still sought more. In particular, Duke Iritar slew and robbed any wizard of even middling power who stayed long in Calaunt, to secure the dukes' rule.
Merchant Dukes still ruled Calaunt in 1479 DR.
Calaunt was an independent city-state, one of the five so-called "sister cities" of the Vast, together with Procampur, Ravens Bluff, Tantras, and Tsurlagol. It grew from being the third largest in the Vast in the 1350s and 60s DR to being the largest and most influential among them by 1372 DR, and wealthier and more powerful than Ravens Bluff. Calaunt feared and despised Ravens Bluff, and Ravenians of any stripe were not welcome there.
Calaunt competed aggressively with the neighboring town of Ylraphon. Its agents employed intimidation tactics and a few careful murders to make certain that Ylraphon could not grow to compete with Calaunt or take its trade. The town was left struggling and in decline by 1370 DR.
Law & Order
The authorities of Calaunt were ruthless with pirates and smugglers, punishing them swiftly and without mercy—unless, of course, they'd made a deal with the local thieves' guild, the Shadowcloaks. The Shadowcloaks had a tight control on all fencing and smuggling through Calaunt, and had their own lethal punishments for those who engaged in such in their territory without sanction or tithe. For these reasons, pirates rarely docked at Calaunt, let alone raided it. Those pirates who were accepted, however, traded freely with the Shadowcloaks. Pirates were more welcome in Calaunt than any other port on the Dragon Reach, and city defenders didn't care about pirates simply passing along the river. Nevertheless, some in the guard wouldn't be pleased to have killers at large in the streets, and could hire adventurers as "special agents" to investigate difficult issues.
However, by 1479 DR, Calaunt had grown watchful of pirates and raiders, as it controlled trade on the River Vesper. Travelers to the city required a Writ of Trade, a legal document issued by the Merchant Dukes or by the Golden Lords of Tantras, in order to pass without interference. Regardless, corruption remained rife, and money, influence, and blackmail could see dodgy deeds go unhindered.
The city maintained a standing army named "The Teeth of Calaunt". They numbered six-thousand soldiers, twenty battle-mages, and twenty warcaptains. Each battle-mage was an illusionist and an apprentice of Duke Halabankh Ormsarr. One battle-mage served each warcaptain, who each served Barons Uthorn and Wenszrin. The Teeth were poorly trained brawlers, their captains little better, though they were well equipped. They occasionally indulged in piracy in the Dragon Reach and hunting for orcs on land.
Calaunt's authorities always hired mercenary armies, known as "lances", to support the Teeth in times of war or orc assault. The barons commanded these units directly. The mercenaries did most of the actual fighting, while the Teeth conducted raids and ambushes and only entered the final stages of a battle to steal the victory.
It also kept a small navy of six vessels, each with a crew of seventy-three. Their purpose was mainly to guard against pirates who wished to raid Calaunt, though pirates who did not were tolerated. In fact, some pirate vessels accepted by the Shadowcloaks sometimes served as an impromptu navy, usually against rival pirates. [note 2]
Calaunt was ringed by city walls, topped with guard towers. The gates were additionally guarded by a force of six stone golems, commanded by the dukes. The docks, meanwhile, were barely defended and there were no fortifications of note by the mouth of the river, as the city trusted to its deals with pirates.
Economy & Trade
Calaunt was one of the wealthiest cities in the Vast, wealthier than Ravens Bluff and second only to Procampur. It earned this position thanks to its monopoly on all legal trade in and out of the River Vesper; the Shadowcloaks' iron grip on fencing, piracy, and smuggling in the city; and ruthless competition with Ylraphon. Nevertheless, it remained a place of squalor and poverty.
The city's major industry was tanning, with several large tanneries located there. Its primary products were leather and vellum, as well as wool and preserved meats, all produced from livestock taken from the surrounding farmlands.
It had its greatest trade activity in the summer months, with less in winter.
Culture & Society
Calaunt was a free city, but a haven for criminals, outcasts, and all things forgotten and forbidden. Under the oppressive rule of the Merchant Dukes, crime and corruption were rampant, and intrigue and rumor flowed. The nights were often rent by screams and battles, with bodies found on the streets come morning. The social structure at all levels was in a state of decay, and the whole city was described as evil, corrupt, tainted, and a septic wound.
Folk regarded Calaunt as being thick with magic, but far from the wonders of other magical cities, its magic was of a cruel and oppressive, dark and strange kind. On the one hand were the stockpiles of magical items stolen by the Merchant Dukes, and on the other was the magic used to guard the city and intimidate the people, such as the stone golems that guarded the gates. Furthermore, an undefined taint of unpleasant magic seemed to hang over the city. According to folk around the Dragon Reach, Calaunt was always a fey place, and tales held that evil magic was buried there, dormant but far from dead.
The aura of corruption, decay, and fey magic infected the Calauntan mages too. They had a deep understanding of deceptive and corrupting magic, perhaps the best in the Realms. Their illusion and phantasm spells were harder to resist or disbelieve, especially if cast by an illusionist. But this taint could be felt by others. Domestic animals grew skittish at the approach of a Calauntan wizard, and finally cried out in alarm: dogs would bark or howl, horses would snort or whinny, and so on. Even some human and humanoid races could feel uneasy in the presence of a Calauntan mage, and this grew more likely with the power of the mage. However, no mages of significant power operated openly in Calaunt, as it was feared that Duke Iritar the Dark robbed and murdered any who stayed there long. Among the rest, it was fashionable to advertise what little power they had, with glowing gems and similar jewelry.
To survive the dark streets, crime, and urban decay of their city, even Calauntan warriors had a knack for moving stealthily and lurking in the shadows. However, they carried the notoriety of Calaunt with them, and outsiders thought less of them for it.
Few people from outside Calaunt actually liked the city, though many had to visit on some business matter. Visitors were wise to be careful and avoid flashing around money or magic. This was largely due to the Supreme Scepter and the Merchant Dukes' habit of confiscating magic for their own use. Most country folk of the Vast thought of Calaunt as outright evil, filled with thieves and ruled by arrogant fools. They had sayings for anyone behaving arrogantly, foolishly, recklessly, calling them a "Calaunt-head" or telling them to "go back to Calaunt".
Calaunt was a medium-sized city, lying on both sides of the wide mouth of the River Vesper. The river delta was fertile ground, but in high summer it was a stinking and hazardous field of mud. Calauntan children played here, while clam-diggers and worm-catchers went to work.
It was a squalid and miserable city, the most wretched around the Dragon Reach. The buildings were largely built of grey stone, unremarkable in appearance and mostly dilapidated. They huddled close together, with no parks or trees or other greenery and few landmarks of note to disrupt the monotony. Between these buildings were winding back streets and rotting slums. The streets were cobbled and filthy with mud, refuse, and waste dumped from the windows; an inch of sewage could run through the streets in a good rain. The harbor water was polluted with waste from the tanneries, and the air was thick with the stink of them. The smell of Calaunt's tanneries could be detected for miles around, and, in the heat of summer, the foul reek swamped all other smells. Sailors of the Inner Sea claimed they could find the city by smell alone in even the thickest fog.
Housing and slums made up much of the center of the city and the western parts by the docks, and were given over to the working class and the impoverished. The few manor houses lined the inside of the city wall, with merchants and successful adventurers around the south, and the wealthy and upper-class types around the north and east.
The greatest structure in the city was the Fortress of the Five Vultures, known locally as "the Sevensroost". This big old castle served as the headquarters of the Supreme Scepter and the Merchant Dukes, as well as a barracks and jail. The fortress was joined by a flying stone bridge to the Keep of the Scepter, where Bellas Thanatar lived. The dukes lived in palatial houses close to the fortress.
The next biggest structure was actually Calaunt's largest tannery, which lay in the north of the city, where the city wall met the coast. Calauntans joked that they didn't need a guard tower there, as its very stench guarded their backs.
Daily Calauntan life was dominated by two very different temples: Moonsilver House, the temple of Selûne, the Moonmaiden; and the House of Scarlet Hooks, the temple of Loviatar, the Maiden of Pain. The double-spired House of Scarlet Hooks was one of the few notable landmarks in the city, as were its muffled screams. There was also a temple to Tymora, Lady Luck, The city had shrines to Auril, the Frostmaiden; Malar, the Beastlord; Talos, the Storm Lord; Tempus, Lord of Battles; and Waukeen, the Merchant's Friend, though this last changed to Lliira the Joybringer after her disappearance. There was also an altar to Cyric, Prince of Lies, which was notoriously graffitied with the word "HERETIC" in permanent black letters by a priest of Xvim.
There were many inns and other establishments that offered accommodation to travelers. However, for security, most had plenty of rules, such as the forfeiting of weaponry, hefty deposits in case of damage, and restricted hours, which adventurers tended to find rather limiting. They were also not particularly welcoming to adventurers. More hospitable to adventuring patrons were the Dracolisk's Head, Mocking Maiden, Redfires Inn, and Weeping Unicorn.
- Official buildings
- Fortress of the Five Vultures
- Shops & Businesses
- Halbar's Bookshop • Tanshiver's Corner
- Inns & Taverns
- Dracolisk's Head • Redfires Inn • Mocking Maiden • Weeping Unicorn
- House of Scarlet Hooks • Moonsilver House
- Roads & Streets
- Turncobble Street
Calaunt was dominated by the Shadowcloaks, a vast and mysterious thieves guild known for the baggy gray cloaks they wore, and led by the unidentified Night Hood. They had a ruthlessly enforced monopoly on all fencing, piracy, and smuggling in the city, and many Calauntans believed they worked closely with the ruling Merchant Dukes, either working for them directly or in alliance.
Legends & Rumors
Tales from around the Dragon Reach claimed that evil magic slept in Calaunt, and that it slept only lightly, making the city a strange, fell place.
Local urban legends told of monstrous creatures lurking in the city, either in the sewers or in the River Vesper. One legend went that someone in the city kept captive a gigantic, flesh-eating lizard, larger than two bulls, hiding it in a cellar or cesspool by day and releasing it on dark nights to wander the streets and devour all it caught. Proponents of the legend pointed to the surprisingly low number of beggars in the city, as well as the huge bite-marks on the severed forelegs of horses found in the gutters some mornings, and occasional sightings of shark-like or bulette-like fins plowing through the river muck.
Meanwhile, according to the Inner Sea pirates, creatures that lurked in the Vesper could curse a sailor who crossed them with bad luck.
The city was also apparently home to the mysterious "Calaunt gargoyles". These creatures resembled gargoyles with fangs and wings, but were bigger, faster, smarter, even more dangerous, and had the ability to teleport from here to there as they pleased. These creatures attacked adventurers guarding Tantran merchants' property in 1370 DR, but avoided Calauntans. This suggested that the Merchant Dukes either controlled the creatures or had some deal with them.
Another explanation for the low beggar population was the slavers rumored to raid the city in the dark of night. It was said that the slavers dealt with the Merchant Dukes, and that those kidnapped disappeared into crowded slave ships were carried over the Inner Sea to Westgate or the Vilhon Reach.
Finally, legend had it that in forgotten locations in the city were valuable dwarven treasures. These supposedly dated back to the time of the dwarf kingdom of Roldilar, but remained undiscovered by 1358 DR.
- The 3rd-edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting saw widespread significant population reductions, though it is not clear why. The larger figure of 86,012 may refer to the population of the surrounding land that Calaunt controls, while 38,706 may only be those people within the city itself.
- Despite Forgotten Realms Adventures, the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting: A Grand Tour of the Realms (2nd edition, revised), and The City of Ravens Bluff all mentioning Calaunt's six-ship navy, Pirates of the Fallen Stars says that Calaunt has no navy. It may be that these six ships are actually pirate vessels.
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