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Ravens Bluff was a port city, in the nation of Vesperin,[2] located on the Fire River on the eastern shores of the Dragon Reach, in the northern region known as the Vast. Home to great many adventurers and merchants, the citizens of Raven's Bluff came from all across Faerûn and represented just about every race from civilized lands. As diverse as its populace, the interests of the city wavered between the mercantile Sembia to the south, Mulmaster in the north and was shaped by power groups such as the Zhentarim the Red Wizards of Thay and the Lords of Westgate.[6]

During the late 14th century DR, Ravens Bluff was a rapidly-growing, young city, rife with opportunities for adventure to be had and gold to be made. A beacon of civilization in an uncivilized land, it appealed to nobles of the court just as much as to frontiers folk looking for a new start or a new life.[5] This reputation carried on into the 15th century, as Ravens Bluff eclipsed Calaunt both in size and attraction for those venturing through the Realms. Throughout its existence, Living City has always been an adventurer's dream.[2]

SocietyEdit

Reputation, fame and prestige were driving forces in the city of Ravens Bluff.[7]

RecreationEdit

Locally favorite recreations in the Bluff included spectating, and gambling on, dog, horse and even river boat racing. If the weather were inclement, or someone just preferred the indoors, games of dice, cards and chess could be found in any local tavern. Ravenians could see a local production at the playhouse, or, if they were so cultured, take in a performance at the opera house. Although for the aristocratic Ravenians, the ultimate leisure activity were the almost-nightly revels hosted by the city's noble families, during "the season" surrounding Midsummer. To be invited to a revel thrown by a noble family on even one occasion signified that someone had socially "arrived" among the wealthy and noble.[8]

Regardless of class, the most celebrated joy within the city was traveling circus locally-known as "Mooney's Menagerie". They were the pride of the city, and called it home during the winter months, when not touring the Heartlands.[8]

Outside the city, hunting and riding were popular pastimes among the Ravenians who could afford at least some time off from work and obligations of life. A favorite mounted hide-and-seek game, "Riding down the maiden", involved a few mounted riders seeking out a lady on horseback, who had been given a head start. The search and chase would end around nightfall in a celebratory revel.[8]

Game of Masks

The Game of Masks was a continuous, ongoing treasure hunt, administered by anonymous members of the local churches of Tempus and Tymora, consisting of several intertwined story threads linked together by both real-life and "hosted" events throughout the city. Players would uncover clues, such as riddles or puzzles, at certain locations throughout the city, such as a revel thrown by one of the local noble houses, and follow leads through a series of challenges, mysteries, mock battles and crimes, onto the next challenge. When someone overcame a challenge, they would collect oversized, decorated paying cards, called "masks", as proof of their accomplishment.[9]

Art and cultureEdit

As the city of Ravens Bluff was quite wealthy, its more affluent citizens often had enough leisure time to pursue creative outlets such as painting, smithing or sculpting. There were few artists within the city who were skilled enough to attract the patronage required to earn a living by their creations. While there were a number of nobles that purchased artistic works regularly, they were typically created on commission by their favorite artists.[10] The public gallery of Ambrose Pislewaite was located at the Arts Haven building, within the Temple District, along with Brond Carlow's music store and the "Poet's Corner" of Bartleby Quilling.[11]

The city had a several venues where Ravenians could enjoy public performances. The playhouse, which was run by the Fellowship of Bards, brought in performers from all across Faerûn. Thanks to their more affordable seats, the playhouse was extremely popular among the citizenry, even the less well off and poor. For the more cultured citizens, the opera house offered seasonal showings and abstract musical concerts, though they were significantly less popular.[10]

A vast personal library was the ultimate sign of stature and class in Ravens Bluff.[10]

EducationEdit

The level of education varied greatly amongst the citizens of Ravens Bluff. Very few of the poorer Ravenians were literate, their children received nothing in the way of a real education, and were offered few opportunities, except to learn the family trade or craft. On some rare occasions, families of little means could save, and pool their meager earnings together to see one fortunate child off to apprentice under a merchant or artisan. More commonly however, these children would eventually seek the adventuring life to improve their lot in the world.[10]

Families of some means would being educate their children's education at the age of eight years, either at home by means of personal tutors at home, or by instructors at the family's local temple of their faith (an opportunity afforded to them by the city's Clerical Cirle). Subjects of learning included reading, writing, arithmetic, history, geography, and the fundamentals of the Faerûnian pantheon. After the age of twelve, young men and women would begin their apprenticeships in trades related to the family business, or those of close allies. To those affluent Ravenian youth who demonstrated an aptitude for the arcane arts, the wizards guild was open to apprentices whose families could afford the tuition.[10]

MagicEdit

Arcane magic was a almost a part of daily life in the Bluff,[6] as, for seemingly unknown reasons, it attracted a great many travelers who were sensitive to magical energies. During the late 14th century, some spellcasters born in the city began to demonstrate a magnificent ability to release blasts of arcane energy during times of great stress. This feat, which bathed them in a green and white, flame-like aura, came to be known as wildfire by the local guild wizards.[12] Some believed this phenomenon to an effect of the mythal created around a drow stronghold, built under the mouth of the Fire River, thousands of years before the dwarves of Sarbreen.[citation needed]

ReligionEdit

Ravens Bluff was open and welcoming of most faiths found throughout Faerûn so long as their devotees didn't break the law, or interfere with commerce. Citizens were expected to honor the deities of the "civic religion" of Ravens Bluff, those powers that would ensure continued health and prosperity within the city, in addition to their personal or family's beliefs.[13] These deities of the civic religion included Chauntea,[14] Gond, Helm,[15] Lathander, Mystra, Selûne,[16] Tempus, Tymora,[17] Tyr and Waukeen.[18] The city government sponsored civic temples to these gods, and offered their local churches tax exemption and exorbitant gifts to demonstrate their divine devotion.[13]

The city had a number of holy houses dedicated to faiths outside of the civic religion, such as the True Temple of the Dead, a temple of Kelemvor in the city's graveyard, or the House of Darkness, a merchant house operated exclusively by worshipers of Sharess.[19]

Clerical Circle

The Clerical Circle, a council comprised of a representative from each of the 10 civic temples, acted to keep a balanced and peaceful balance between the faiths of the collective civic religion. They advocated for their collective faiths, administered punishment to criminal clergy members[13] (by means of the Ecclesiastical Court)[14] and oversaw construction of temples within the city, as well as those erected within a days travel outside its walls. Meetings of the circle were led by the Chief Prelate, who were elected from among circle representatives, whose appointment fell to each individual civic church.[13]

InhabitantsEdit

The demographics of Ravens bluff varied greatly. While the poor lived in rundown buildings, tents or even alleys in the Crow's End Disctrict[5][20] on the shores of the Fire River, merchants and craftspeople tended to live in the south side of the city, while the wealthy Lords and nobles enjoyed vast mansions and sprawling estates uptown.[5]

More so than the city's nobles, or its merchant class, adventurers were the most profound population group in Ravens Bluff. Popular opinion regarding those who undertook the adventuring profession ranged from foolhardy explorers to outright dangerous liabilities.[6]

PopulationEdit

Ravens bluff was populated in large part by travelers, wanderers and vagabonds. In the year 1350 DR, the population was around 17,000 with about 3,000 of them being adventurers. The city exploded in growth over the next two decades. By 1370 DR, the year-round population of Ravenian citizens was around 30,000, with another 10,000 if all the foreign passers-by were taken into account. Almost 2,500 of them took up the adventuring life.[5]

MerchantsEdit

The success and rapid growth of wealth in Ravens Bluff during the mid-14th century DR was due in large part to the city's merchant class. Despite their long-standing contributions to the Ravenian economy, the merchant clans have had a murky history in the Bluff. Merchant collectives in years prior would emerge overnight, argue amongst themselves an with representatives of the city, and perpetuated volatile trading environments. These conflicts often led to tension with the entrenched power structures within the city, such as the guilds and civic employees, and even led to open violence in the streets.[21]

As laws regarding mercantilism were entered into the city codex under Mayor O'Kane, the collectives evolved into government-sanctioned "merchant houses". With an oversight committee in the Merchants Council, and accompanying representation on the authoritative Council of Lords, these trade groups began conducting themselves in a manner more befitting a well-recognized economic power of Ravens Bluff. As an organization of consequence, the united merchant houses earned the love and admiration of the Ravenian citizenry with generous donations of food, clothing and raw materials, particularly during the war of 1370 DR.[21]

While they may have continued old disagreements, especially those surrounding taxes and tariffs, they maintained lines of communication, a feat that was not always so easily accomplished.[21]

NobilityEdit

The nobility of Ravens Bluff were the pinnacle of society and class. Members of long-standing noble families were granted a certain type of respect that even the most celebrated adventurer, or newly-rich merchant prince, could never attain. There were five titles of nobility, in ascending order they were:[7]

Titles

Knight/Ladyknight - addressed as "Sir" or "Maer"
Calagard/Calagarth - addressed as "High Sir" or "High Maer"
Baron/Baroness - addressed as "Urgave" or "Urgrava"
Exalted - addressed as "Saer" or "Saeress"
Lord/Lady - addressed as the same

LordsEdit

Lords of Ravens Bluff were entitled to a seat on the city's Advisory Council and received a number of other perks in accordance with their title. Among these were:[7]

  • Rights at first bid for certain civic appointments
  • 10% reduction in annual property taxes
  • The right to raise a personal guard of up to 20 men-at-arms, who were required to identify themselves with the house livery and/or coat-of-arms
  • "First immunity" to crimes of which they were convicted
Life Lords

These titles of lordship were bestowed upon those who performed a significant service to the city, and were considered non-hereditary. However, Life Lords could "improve" their title with a significant payment to the city (upwards of 2,000,000 gp), following approval of the Council of Lords, Advisory Council and Council of Merchants.[22]

In 1370 DR, in the aftermath of the war, 15 adventurers were ennobled as Life Lords. These so-called "Fort Lords" were given opportunity to purchase keeps and outposts that had been built as part of the war effort. They retained their titles and authority over their holds, so long as they maintained the surrounding lands, kept their vassals safe and paid their tax to the Ravenian government.[22]

EconomyEdit

Unlike many cities of Faerun that primarily gathered or produced goods to sell, such as the timber and farming hamlets in the Dalelands,[23][24] or gem and iron-mining fortresses in the Sword Coast North,[25] Ravens bluff had a thriving, serviced-based economy.[8] Almost everyone that lived in the city was able to find work, of one kind or another. Individual laborers, craftspeople and shopkeepers held a great number of small businesses, linked together by the city's numerous guilds.[5]

The great number of adventurers and travelers that passed through the city could spend their hard-earned coin by hiring scribes, couriers, guards, escorts, messengers or any other skilled individual. Failing something so productive, there were a great number of hucksters, peddlers and courtesans, in the city's many taverns, festhalls and curios ships, eager to whisk their money away.[8]

TradeEdit

All factors considered, Ravens Bluff owed a large part of its success and wealth to trade outside the city.[22] Large trading groups, the 16 Merchant Houses, managed the laborious task of managing goods in and out of the city, which long served as the basis for the Ravenian economy.[5]

These houses grew from small consortiums, which were often dysfunctional and constantly argued amongst themselves. During the late 14th century, the houses formed the Merchants Council, a regulatory and advisory body that held significant power in the city's economy.[21]

Farming, fishing and huntingEdit

Outside the walls of Ravens Bluff were vast farmlands stretching out eastward. While they may not have been as well-off as Ravenians within the city's walls, they were well-enough taken care of to stay content, and produce enough low-cost food for their city-folk brethren. Although much of the farmlands were ravaged in the war of 1370 DR, a large influx of halfling settlers from the south prevented the collapse of local agriculture.[8]

SlaveryEdit

While the keeping or sale of slaves was illegal within the city, some unscrupulous Sembian merchants and pirates found ways to circumvent the law. They would sell exotic pets, such as albino peacocks and tailless sundcats, to Ravenian lords or wealthy merchants, along with "a keeper" who was in fact a slave. This practice was forcefully put to a stop by Mayor O'Kane in the first years of his tenure, with strict enforcement of anti-slavery laws by the city's paladins of Tyr and an official decree that anyone considered a slave would be granted indentured servitude in accordance with the house they served, and credited for the time they had already spent in bondage.[26]

GovernmentEdit

As part of the nation of Vesperin, Raven's Bluff was under the authority of the nation's Golden Lords, whose seat of power was in the capital city of Calaunt.[2]

For decades the city of Ravens Bluff has had a decentralized government, with civic offices that were filled by appointees of the noble houses. The various Lord Protectors and Lord Treasurers were less interested in efficient governance but rather sought to please their benefactors from among the city's aristocracy.[27]

This dynamic changed in 1341 DR, a time of tremendous bad fortune for Ravens Bluff, when Lady DeVillars reached out her freinds and contemporaries among the city's nobility, and collectively sponsored the Championship Games. The winner of this martial tournament, Charles Oliver O'Kane, was given the title of Lord Mayor of Ravens Bluff and given the authority, and responsibility, to act as a governor for the city-state.[28] The position allowed executive decisions of the city to fall under a single authority, acting in harmony with long-standing legislative body, the Council of Lords.[27]

The city of Ravens Bluff was constantly on the lookout for capable people for government posts. Although city officials took bids, and auctioned off most lower-tier positions, they still had to face approval by the Deputy Mayor. While the applicants they sought were very often qualified individuals, dedicated to service in the city they had to ensure their job was secure, and contested with the competition of incoming applicants looking to unseat them.[29]

Lord MayorEdit

Under the inaugural term of Mayor O'Kane, the office of Lord Mayor was defined in relation to the city's civic offices. The mayor of Ravens Bluff soon become the face of the city, as he was its most visible and active representative. As one of his first actions was to call a meeting of the Council of Lords, the position quickly became responsible for presenting policy options to the city legislators. Among the other duties of the mayor were daily declarations and decrees regarding city operations, the organization of its defenses and the establishment and promotion of its foreign policies with other nations. To limit their power, the Lord Mayor had no control over who kept a seat on the Lords' Council.[27]

The Lord Mayor was supported by an appointed Deputy Mayor, who managed their superior's schedule, condensed and presented them with reports from throughout the city and, if it was needed, filled in as acting-mayor in their absence.[27]

Council of LordsEdit

One of the oldest government bodies within the city of Ravens Bluff, the Council of Lords was responsible for legislation and policy-making. The Council was comprised of leaders from among the city's lordships families (who were guaranteed a seat), select other noble houses, as well as various civic officers including the Lord Chancellor, Lord Magistrate, Lord Marshal, the Lord Speaker of the Advisory Council, and lastly the Chief Prelate and First Seat from the Ministry of Art. They were led by a Lord Speaker, who was elected from among their ranks.[30]

City CourtsEdit

The judicial system of Ravens Bluff consisted of six district courts, each led by a local magistrate, as well as the High Court located in City Hall, which was presided over by the four High Magistrates and the highest authority, the Lord Magistrate. The lesser courts provided "low justice" for crimes committed within their respective districts, such as killing an transient or criminal. "High justice" was dealt to offenders who committed crimes that attracted attention from the city's more esteemed citizens, such as stealing from a noble or city official. Other high crimes included those that were particularly heinous, or directed against the city of Ravens Bluff itself, such as piracy, rape, high murder or treason.[31]

The High Court had the authority to pull cases away from the district courts, while the Lord Magistrate would only hear the most consequential cases.[31]

Other CouncilsEdit

Advisory Council
This group of advisers were comprised of 20-30 retired officials, nobles, council members or government appointees, who regularly met to debate issues that arose in the city and offer their advice to the Council of Lords, Merchants Council or Lord Mayor. Although they held no official power, they were held in high regard and carried much prestige within the city. Their Lord Speaker, who was elected from among their numbers, held a seat on the Lords Council.[29]
Merchants Council

The Merchants Council was formed in direct response to the self-formed merchant collectives, groups of allied merchants that increased their collective economic sway within the city, by whose dealings devolved into shady back-room deals and even violent assaults in the city streets. Three particularly unscrupulous traders were ousted from Ravens Bluff after these eruptions, and the city recognized certain collectives as official "merchant houses", and decided upon a set of rules and regulations, by which the merchants would conduct themselves.[21]

There were sixteen seats on the council, each of which was filled by a specific members from each merchant house of the city.[21]

Ministry of Art
Similar to how the Clerical Circle handled all matters related to faith, religious groups and divine magic within Ravens Bluff, the Ministry would offer their recommendations and opinions to the Lord Mayor and Lords Council on everything arcane within and throughout the city. Though they were primarily a group that offered guidance and wisdom, they were known to take matters into their own hands when so required. There were 14 seats on the council, one for each of the eight schools of magic, one for each of the four elements, one to represent practitioners of wild magic and a last post for generalist mages, unaligned with a specific school or field of study.[29]

Civic officesEdit

Lord Magistrate
This crucial post, whose responsibilities demanded full-time dedication, was in charge of the city's justice system including its courts and prisons.[29]
Lord Marshal
Empowered with the full authority of the Ravenian armed forces, the Lord Marshal defended the city of Ravens Bluff from all threats, domestic and foreign. They were the highest authority of command for the city's army and navy, its specialty forces (such as the Nightwatch), and its knightly orders, when they so needed to be rallied. The Lord was supported by a Field Marshal, who led the military on the field of battle and the city's Chief Constable, who handled the daily operations of the City Watch.[29]
Lord Chancellor
This office was implemented in the mid—14th century DR, at the behest of Mayor O'Kane to stabilize the city's fluctuating economy.[28] In addition to managing the economic departments of the city, the harbor, customs, treasury and guilds, they were responsible for handling foreign policy,[32] under the Lord Mayor.[27]

Under the Chancellery were several Regents, who ran the day-to-day operations of these departments.[33]

  • Regent of City Works: This post lacked the glamour of other appointed offices within Ravens Bluff, though it was equally as important. They were in charge of the city's sanitation, water supply, building inspection, cemetery, the heraldry office (doubling as the city's "Ravencoat") as well as maintaining its municipal records (including births, indentured services, purchases, financial loans, tenancy contracts, mortgages and property deeds).[33]
  • Regent of the Exchequer: Supported by a small army of clerks and tax collectors, this officer was charged with the daily economic function of Ravens Bluff. They oversaw the security of the treasury and city vaults, regulated and minted currency (including the amount of precious metals included therein), prevented and the stamped out counterfeiting efforts, issued licenses to bank and moneylenders and collected taxes from the Ravenian citizenry.[33]
  • Regent of the Harbor: The Regent of the Harbor oversaw all dock operations which had been approved by the Council. These duties included operating the city's lighthouse on Ladyrock Island, inspecting, handling and potentially disposing of (hazardous) cargo from incoming vessels, patrolling the harbor and fighting off any attempts to engage in piracy or smuggling.[33]
  • Regent of Guilds: One of the busiest, most difficult posts within Ravens Bluff, this civic officer acted as an intermediary between the government and the multitude of guilds located throughout the city.[33]

Law and orderEdit

Main article: Codex of Ravens Bluff

The laws of Ravens Bluff, along with their interpretation and execution, were originally under the authority of the Council of Lords. They were based on long-standing customs from within the city, and became more and more complex as the Lords' continuous decisions, set additional precedent. Eventually, this set of convoluted and complex regulations became too unwieldy for the judges and clerks of the city courts and sweeping reform was made, under Lord Mayor O'Kane and Lord Magistrate Tordon Sureblade. These new laws, written in unambiguous terms with explicitly defined parameters and punishments were codified in a series of volumes that came to be known as "Tordon's Law".[33]

If someone was found guilty in the courts and sentenced by either a local magistrates or the High Magistrates, they would face punishment. Most offenders would face heavy fines or imprisonment[34] at the Compter.[35] Those convicted of more heinous crimes, such as highwaymen, arsonists, rapists and low murderers would sentenced the Golden Ball. This moored galleon that doubled as a prison for the dredges who would live their sentences out clearing the harbor at the mouth of the Fire River. Just offshore was Ill-Water, a stone prison with no cells or guards. Only the most reviled criminals were condemned to end their lives in that place of woe.[36]

CrimeEdit

Smuggling and thievery, particularly burglary, were the most common crimes that troubled the Ravens Bluff. Though the thieves guild, known as the Four Ravens was largely put down in the mid-1300's, there were a fair number of independent, if largely unorganized, night-prowling thieves.[8]

The ownership and sale of slaves was always illegal in Ravens, though strict enforcement of the laws only began around the year 1340 DR.[26]

DefenseEdit

Security of Ravens Bluff and its outlying lands, both internally and externally, fell under the authority of the Lord Marshal. The defensive forces of the city included a non-standing army (comprised of the personal armies of Ravenian noble houses), its naval forces, a number of knightly orders (who could be rallied in times of war or crisis),[29] and the City Watch, which acted as a domestic law enforcement.[37]

City WatchEdit

Under the direction of the Lord Marshal, the Chief Constable ran the daily operations of the City Watch. The Watch was comprised of nine branches, each with distinct responsibilities, authority and tactics. Among them were:[37]

City Guard

Officers who kept patrol in the city's various neighborhoods[37] from their respective district barracks.[31]

Nightwatch

A specialized patrol that kept patrol and maintained peace during the times of the year when the veil passed over Dragons Reach.[37]

MilitaryEdit

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OrganizationsEdit

GuildsEdit

For the sake of shared success and protection, the numerous businesses and skilled craftspeople of Ravens Bluff were organized into a number of guilds. Founded upon a charter, following approval of the Council of Lords, these groups enjoyed special privileges under the city's authority for 20 years, so long as they followed the its rules and ordinances regarding guild operations. They were overseen by the Regent of Guilds under the Lord Chancellor, though could temporarily lose their license if the Lord Magister if they had flagrantly broken any laws.[38]

There were a number of different types of guilds in Ravens bluffs. The most common were craft guilds, which were centered around a common production trade, professional guilds, whose members provided skilled services to Ravenian citizens, and collectives, as evidenced by the Merchants Guild. Each guild was led by a guildmaster, who acted as a voice for their associates before the city's councilors.[39]

Knightly OrdersEdit

Knighthoods were fairly common among the warriors and champions of Ravens Bluff, with titles being granted by the Knights Council for a variety of reasons. Historically, they were bestowed upon nobles as a means to help regulate the city's adventurers, and prevent them from becoming a military force unto themselves. They were also a sign of honor, given to show respect for nobles who had just about everything they could want in life. The orders existed in a hierarchy of five tiers, with the Raven Nights in the top tier, followed by the religious orders, secular orders, initiate order and the knights of individual noble houses.[40]

Lords Knights
A collective of "civilian orders" of knights, who served the various noble houses of Ravens Bluff.[41]
Knights of the Golden Rooster
This order of initiate knights drew its members from the nobles and adventurers of the city who were deserving of some recognition for their deeds.[40]
Secular orders
  • Knights of the Dove: More diplomatic than the other secular orders of Ravens Bluff, these knights focused their efforts on information-gathering and uplifting city morale during peaceful times and served as combat healers when conflicts arose.[42]
  • Knights of the Hawk: An order of vigilant and discreet protectors who would rally to the city's defense in a moment's notice.[43]
  • Knights of the Griffon: This martially-focused fraternity served as stalwart defenders of Ravens Bluff and were assigned to the city's military during times of war.[44]
Religious Orders
Raven Knights
This order of knights served as the city's ultimate protectors, commanding the Ravenian military and making decisions that would shape the future of the city-state.[40]

OthersEdit

Cult of the Raven
A group of predominantly young noblewomen who venerated the spirit of "the Raven", a lifeforce they believed drew its power from the magic-rich region of the city.[45]
Four Ravens
This "thieves guild" never acted, or even existed, with enough tangibility to be known throughout the city as more than a myth, or legend from decades past. It may or may not exist, or have ever existed.[46]
Mark of the Wolf
Despite their malevolent origins, this secret group of former killers-for-hire acted as a sort of vigilante group that eased relations between merchants and adventurers, provided ancillary support to local law enforcement and contributed to the lack of growth of local thieves gands.[46]
Silver Sheaf
This secret, self-regulating fraternity of merchants maintained an assurance amongst its members that they could freely lend and borrow money from one another, without cheating or fear of non-payment. Their catchphrase was "Confidently and in-confidence".[46]
Veteran Guild
The veteran guild was a society composed of around 500 members. They employed infantry, cavalry and others, including bards to boost morale of their troops. The guild usually set out to defeat pirates.[47]
Viper Ring
Although it was founded with nearly oppositely-oriented goals, this secret intelligence-gathering cabal of outlander merchants sought to break into the entrenched economic holdings of Ravens Bluff. They were rumored to have been infiltrated by Yuan-ti, disguised as humans, some time around the year 1370 DR.[48]

HistoryEdit

The settlement that would come to be known as Ravens Bluff began in 1222 DR, as a small collective of mercenaries and homesteader families from Murann, the Vilhon Reach and the Sea of Fallen Stars sought a fertile land that was free from dangers like orcs and barbarians. They settled at the mouth of the Fire River, and set up well-defended farms and homesteads that survived long enough to attract other colonists. By 1226 DR over a dozen families had joined the DeVillar and Moorland clans in the community, and the inn called Luker's Ravensgate was built as the fledgling town's centerpiece.[3]

Ravens Bluff grew in size and population over the next half-century and, by the late 13th century, began to attract the wrath of pirates from the Sea of Fallen Stars. In 1293 DR, the farmers around the Bluff demanded protection from the city's self-appointed lords. Together, along with an influx of merchants from the south, the Ravenaar brought in bands of mercenaries and trained their citizens to take up arms in defense. In 1304 DR, a city-wide initiative of construction and investment in infrastructure was undertaken. The ruins of Sarbreen were converted into a city-wide sewer system and massive walls were erected around the warehouses and grand estate houses built along the coast.[3]

Although the city continued to thrive, monster attacks surged in frequency and intensity over the next few decades, to the point where sea-trade began to be affected. Foreign traders looked to the cities of Tantras and Procampur over Ravens Bluff and the city's lords and merchants saw their income of gold starkly decline. In 1341 DR, as a response to the city's growing perils, Lady Lauren DeVillars proposed the nobles host the Champion Games, and offer mayorship of the city to the tournament's victor.[28]

New leadershipEdit

The winner of the games was a charismatic warrior by the name of Charles Oliver O'Kane. As the newly appointed leader of Ravens Bluff, Mayor O'Kane convinced the Lords of the city to invest their wealth back into the city and establish a guild structure for the Ravenian craftsmen and tradespeople. The citizens threw their support in for the mayor, the city's fortunes turned and it discovered new prosperity. Alliances were established, such as that which was struck with Lord Lashan Aumersair of Scardale, the reaches of the government was expanded and the lords of the Ravenian noble families were brought together in an alliance of mutual security and increased wealth.[28] The newly-appointed Lord Marshal rallied the city's forces in defense against the monstrous and humanoid raiders from the rest of The Vast.[49]

WarEdit

In 1370 DR, Ravens Bluff suffered a devastating surprise naval assault by the pirates of the of Inner Sea, costing the city most of its naval forces. As the harbor lay vulnerable to the pirate rates, the outlying of Ravens Bluff were besieged by a magically shrouded army of humanoid mercenaries, orcs, giant-kin and even tanar'ri, led by the warlord, Myrkyssa Jelan. Mayor O'Kane was captured in a fiendish swoop during the early hostilities, and a number of city officials were accused of, and even arrested for, conspiracy to aide the invaders.[49]

The war raged on for half a year. Noble estates, even entire villages, outside the city were razed to the ground and the wealth and fortunes of a number of families were completely lost to war. As the city came to the verge of being completely sacked, Ravenians of all class and station united together, under the leadership of Lord Blacktree, to turn the monstrous horde away. Their efforts culminated in the Six-Day Battle,[49] a continuous skirmish fought from Elmond's Field to the walls of Ravens Bluff along the Fire River. On the sixth day of combat, just as Warlord Jelan's oni mages seemed to gain the advantage over Ravenian cavalry, they were ravaged by a black dragon that struck from their rear.[50]

AftermathEdit

The years following the war were a time of healing and growth for the city. Lord Mayor O Kane had been captured for nine months and tortured to the brink of near madness and his deputy was found to be a traitor, convicted of treason and left to rot in the prison of Ill-Water. The heads of a number of powerful groups, like Rupert Hangman of the Clerical Circle had died in the conflict and the city was without strong central leadership.[51]

As consternation surrounding the growing conflicts grew around the city, the first joint meeting of the Council of Lords and newly-created Merchants Council was held. Opposing factions formed around each group, denouncing the others' authority, and negotiations rapidly broke down. Council members were cajoled, bribed or otherwise enticed to remain in talks but only two major points were agreed upon at the meeting. First, a new election was needed to establish a single leader among the city's myriad of councils and interest groups. Second, Ravens Bluff was in desperate need of funds to rebuild the damage throughout the city and beyond.[51]

The rather unconventional election was be determined, by the amount of gold each candidate could raise from various institutions throughout the city. The victor was decided; with significant support from the increasingly-influential merchant houses, Lady Mayor Amber Lynn Thoden became the next executive authority within Ravens Bluff.[51] She made few changes within her first few months of offie.[27]

Sometime during the late 1300's or early/mid 1400's, the cities of Raven's Bluff, Calaunt and Tantras allied their interests and formed the commerce-driven nation of Vesperin. Following this alliance, the city continued to thrive, growing larger and even more influential than the new nation's capital.[2]

15th centuryEdit

As Sembia was taken over by Netheril during the 1400's, many of its merchants fled for the nation of Vesperin and found Ravens Bluff to be a perfect new home.[2]

GeographyEdit

Ravens Bluff was located on the western coast of the Vast, where the mouth of the Fire River opened up to the Dragon Reach, the northern waters of the Sea of Fallen Stars.[52] While the western portion of the city faced the Reach the eastern border opened up to farmlands and country holdings.[53]

The city had a number of subterranean passages that went underneath Sarbreen, deep into the Underdark.[2]

FeaturesEdit

Clearwater Harbor
Located on the northern end of the Fire River, this body of water seperated the Anvil and Burnt Gables neighborhoods within the Crow's End District.[54]
Fire River
Dividing the northern and southern portions of the city, this snaking river continued inland to the High Country, passing by small villages like Dragon Falls.[52]

Notable locationsEdit

Foreign DistrcitEdit

Also known as "Outlander Town", or "Outlander District", this clean, quiet and almost lifeless walled-off section of the city housed embassies of foreign nations, as well as handful of residences.[55]

Harbor DistrictEdit

The Harbor District contained a majority of the city's docks, and stretched from the west coast of the peninsula along the shores of the Dragon Reach, to the northern bank of the Fire Fire[56] and Ladyrock island.[57]

Seaglimpse
This neighborhood within the Harbor District had few attractions to those outside of shipping, dockwork or nautical navigation.[53]
Silverscales
Located outside the city's seawalls, the dockside alleys of this dark and foreboding neighborhood were rife with opportunities for danger. As many of the streets and businesses were without names, the activities found within were a mystery, but as the local saying went: "Docksiders know".[58]
Bitterstone
Considered the heart of the harbor, this neighborhood housed most of the successful, and reputable, nautical-themed businesses and shops.[60]
Ladyrock
A favored stomping grounds of sailors coming into the city, this island on the Fire River contained an old lighthouse that served as home to the city's Regent of the Harbor.[57]

Temple DistrictEdit

The Temple District was a bustling, prosperous district, in the center of the city,[20] and contained many of its important locations and more grandiose buildings.[57]

Altarside
While this neighborhood did not flourish as well as the other three regions within the Temple District, this neighborhood was home to a number of important businesses, guildhalls and holy houses.[57]
  • Ravendark Castle: The barracks of the Ravenian army.[57]
  • Hall of the Raven: A magnificent building that handled the affairs and records of the numerous knightly orders within the city.[57]
  • Horthlaer's: A fortress-like counting house that was alive with constant scurying of clerks, dock-workers and sailors.[11][62]
Holyhouses
The most striking area of the Temple District featured many luxurious noble villas, and dramatically designed temples. The skyline above these striking buildings was perhaps the most distinguished of the eastern Dragon Reach.[63]
Swordspoint
Even if it wasn't as grand as the Holyhouses or Gowntown neighborhoods, Swordspoint was one of the most popular destinations in the city. It featured a number of shops, impressive residences and the city's most magnificently landscaped city park, DeVillars Park.[64]
Gowntown
One of the most lavish, and indeed safest neighborhoods in all of Ravens Bluff.[68]

Market DistrctEdit

A neighborhood onto itself, the market of Ravens Bluff never slept. It was full of all sorts of dingy stalls and warehouses lined with vendors open until all hours. It featured the city's old water tower.[70]

Uptown DistrictEdit

A district of divesity and contrast, Uptown contained both the gorgeous estates of the richest Ravenian families[71] as well as the drab, bleak row-houses of its working class.[72]

Torchtown
The only neighborhood, outside the Market District, that was sanctioned by the city to be open to vendors during night hours. It lacked the striking landmarks that were so readily found within other parts of Ravens Bluff.[73]
Sixstar
Along with Tentowers, this neighborhood house the sprawling, luxurious city-mansions to which the Ravenian nobility had become to accustomed. Its most noticeable feature was the prominent Lake Christina.[74]
Tentowers
Easily the richest neighborhood in all of Ravens Bluff. The manors and estates of at least a dozen of the city's wealthiest noble families were located among the streets in this neighborhood.[71][77]
Mortonbrace
Located in the shadow of Tentowers, Mortonbrace was locally referrted to as the neighborhood, "where the coliseum is". By the 15th century DR, it had fallen to disrepair.[62]
Skymbles
Although the citizens of this neighborhood weren't exactly destitute, or even poor, their surroundings reflected the drudgery of their daily routine. It had many small homes and apartments, with few noteworthy landmarks.[72]
  • Shrine of Honest Toil: The city's workhouse, where debtors could work off the loans which could previously have paid off.[79]

Crow's End DistrictEdit

An important and diverse district that skewed on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum. What it lacked in wealth and prestige, it more than made up for with Ravenian-favored establishments and the passion and work ethic displayed by its citizens looking to better their lot in life,[80][81]

Anvil
Constantly active with merchant business and round-the-clock shipping, this neighborhood was the unpleasant, exciting and dangerous, heart of Ravens Bluff.[80]
Burnt Gables
A clean, quiet particularly boring locale[82] on the northern banks of Clearwater Harbor.[83]
  • Bandaged Wound: This infirmary was open to anyone in the city who sought aide, though they primarily tended to dock workers, local drunks and members of the City Guard.[83]
  • Downunda Patisserie: An absolute favorite destination among this locals, this bakery was full of customers from open to close.[81]
Shadystreets
The city blocks along the northern banks of the Fire River were among the poorest within Ravens Bluff. It was a filthy, forgotten corner of the city with few surprises amongst the squalor.[81]
Shutters
Compared to the rest of Crow's End, this neighborhood was fairly devoid of life and activity. The streets south of the river were mainly lined with warehouses,[84] highlighted by the occasional dockside business.[85]

Southside DistrictEdit

Many business, shops and stately manors[84] filled the blocks of this southernmost region of Ravens Bluff.[20] It was home to the city's elven quarter.[86]

Pumpside
This neighborhood had a unique combination of prosperous and shady establishments. Its residents ranged from the poor and desperate to the fairly wealthy.[84]
Tlasbras
Quite popular among the elves and half-elves, this region of Ravens Bluff contained several noble mansions as well as the Ministry of Art building.[86]
Stormrime
This neighborhood was battered by icy winds coming off the Dragon Reach more so than any other within the city. It house a fair number of stores and vendors, as well as some select manors and mansions.[87]
  • Ye Who Dares: This workshop, and accompanying storefront, was owned and operated by the skilled armorsmith, Johan Branding.[87]
  • Quill and Scribe: The office of a business that served all the needs of Ravens Bluff's with regards to the written word, including translation, drafting and inscription of all sorts of official documents.[87]

Other locationsEdit

AppendixEdit

GalleryEdit

AppearancesEdit

Novels
Magazines

Further readingEdit

ReferencesEdit

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