Considered a Small City: Non-standard (Clan structure); AL CN (N); 15,000 gp limit; Assets 2,625,500 gp; Population 3’500; Mixed (Human 2800, Dwarf 280, Halfling 175, Elf 105, Gnome 70, half-elf 35, Half-orc 35.
Authority Figures: Kjirg Grefstov (LN human male Expert/Aristocrat L10/L5), Master of Dullstrand; Chirney Retnev (Chirney the Blue) (CN human male Expert L10), Master of Dullstrand; Deliah Natenberg (N human female Expert L10) Guildmaster Merchants’ Guild, Christann Annden (CN human male Expert L3) harbor steward; Marquann Verstov (N human male Expert L7) market steward.
Important Figures: Olain Wynn (LN human male Cleric of Zilchus L12); Helen Divolia (N human female Cleric of Xerbo L10); Lucas Kantermann (LG human male Cleric of Rao L6); Nodren Jinsain (N human male Expert L7) Assistant Guildmaster Merchants’ Guild.
In the great library of the history of the Flanaess, the Dullstrand coast is usually a short, unremembered paragraph. The Dullstrand coast is more properly called “the Dullstrand” or “the Dull Strand,” as “strand” actually means “shoreline,” but popular usage since the founding of the only important town here has changed the old name for the coast into the name of the town alone.
The Dullstrand coast is a subtropical area of approximately 2,000 square miles in size that lies on the southwestern coast of the Flanaess. The coast is isolated from the rest of the Flanaess by the largely barren Hestmark Highlands along its western and north sides, facing the warm Aerdi Sea in all other directions. The land slopes upward to the west a few hundred feet to where it meets the Hestmark Highlands; the slope is gradual, and the area within a few miles of the coast is quite flat except for occasional hills (such as the artificial hills around Dullstrand).
This coast has served a peculiar function for many centuries because of its isolation, which is to offer refuge to those fleeing persecution in neighboring realms. The blessing of refuge, however, has considerable drawbacks. The mix of peoples, alignments, religions, and beliefs here leads to great social strain once population pressures build up, as living resources are limited. Sporadic outbreaks of fighting between long-established residents and new immigrants are quite common. However, this region’s people have for centuries been surrounded by hostile neighbors of great power. With so many common enemies, immigrants old and new on the Dullstrand coast quickly settle into a tense neutrality, almost as unloving of each other as they are of the outside world. They must coexist or perish. The situation has been compared to that of an overcrowded lifeboat that never reaches shore, but continually picks up survivors from periodic shipwrecks.
The Free and Independent City of Dullstrand is a large town built in the crater of an extinct volcano in the Hestmark Highlands on the southeastern coast of the continent. It is one of the few ports capable of receiving large ships anywhere along the coast in the Azure Sea, and the largest settlement for miles in any direction. Dullstrand is fairly unique in its appearance and this sense of ‘uniqueness’ has affected its citizens to some extent.
Dullstrand is built on what appears to be the ruins of an ancient, pyramid style city. The top portion of Dullstrand comprising of a dark, igneous rock found virtually no-where else on Oerth. At the center of the town is a dark rock monolith known as the Citadel, which seems to be the top of the pyramid, from which the ‘Masters of Dullstrand’ run the town. Four identical concourses run out from the Citadel, dividing the town into four quarters.
Apart from the Citadel, the rest of the original pyramid is buried into the surrounding land, but this has produced a strange consequence in that most of the town is below the level of the adjacent hills and dunes. Over the years these hills have been built up to hide Dullstrand from being spotted from the sea and today. As well as that, there is the large reef, shallow waters and other maritime hazards that exist in front of the inlet and so if you are not from the area, it is necessary to hire a pilot to enter the City.
To keep to this confidentiality for many years it was against the law to build more than one story high and so a lot of cellar-like structures exist below ground, but in their majority these are only accessible to residents of Dullstrand and off limits to out-of-towners. A few two-story buildings now exist, but these must have all their top floor windows blacked out at all times, something that is strictly enforced by the Dullstrand Watch (and no amount of bribes will change this). No lights are allowed to shine at night that can be seen from the sea. Dullstrand itself can barely be discerned in the daytime from offshore, unless one actually enters the inlet (Dullstrand Bay) to see around the artificial hills and carefully planted brush and trees, built up over many decades by the local people.
Non-humans are looked on with suspicion, though this is starting to change, but halflings, especially, are still treated as ‘second-class’ citizens, with a lot of them still in indentured service to various merchants of the town.
It is a fairly busy town for the most parts, though Dullstrand was heavily affected by the Greyhawk Wars and is now struggling to recover its past prosperity. There are a lot of merchants in Dullstrand, many of them working on the wrong side of the law, although they are careful not to break any of the town laws.
No formal charter of laws govern the town, though a few straightforward, common-sense rules for the handling of land ownership, the settling of disputes, and public conduct have been written down and are generally enforced. The town has no official jail; severe violations are punished by death and minor violations by beatings or, more often fines or some might say bribes. One-handed weapons and light armor are permitted within the City boundaries, anything larger or heavier will be confiscated by the Watch unless an ‘agreement’ can be reached. Bows must be unstrung and a trigger guard placed on Crossbows. Peace bonds and seals can be placed on non-authorized weapons for transport purposes.
The government is authoritarian but tolerably corrupt, keeping its hands off all business in the town as long as it receives the proper “fees” (bribery in Dullstrand City is a long established tradition, not a crime). This does raise the cost of doing business in the city, but the wide-open atmosphere and lack of concern about using the town for smuggling or piracy operations encourages the business turnover.
The Masters use their clan soldiers as a private militia protecting their interests but very rarely interfering in the day to day running of the City except when they are displeased with the turn of events. The City Watch is a fairly ‘neutral’ force, paid for and run by the merchants’ guild, which sees to keeping the law in the City, the law as interpreted by the merchants of course. Again the Masters are happy with this situation as long as the appropriate “fees” are regularly received. To further cause problems, local citizens of all races have formed their own militia to protect themselves, and anyone who can contribute, from criminals and quite often the Watch and the Masters’ militia. This has led to immense friction and, quite often, open conflict between the Watch and the Concerned Citizens’ Militia (as they like to be known) being refereed by the Masters’ Militia. At the moment an uneasy truce hangs over the City, with the Watch seemingly having the upper hand.
Smugglers and buccaneers (pirates) are considered to be honorable vocations in the Dullstrand and many turned to these careers during the Greyhawk Wars making a tremendous profit by transferring light goods and personnel through the various blockades or preying on the various ships that transported supplies or refugees. This has led to a large merchant fleet and highly experienced sailors. Some say it is because of this that Dullstrand has managed to remain free and independent.
Zilchus is the main god worshipped in the City for some strange reason, with Procan and Xerbo also having large followings. There is a large temple to Rao in the City, but the number of worshippers has fallen over the years. Amongst the Halfling indentured servants, the worship of Arvoreen is on the rise. Most commoners in The Dullstrand only speak Flan or Suloise, but merchants and inhabitants of Dullstrand City also speak Common.
The Clans of the Dullstrand
There are 13 recognized human clans in The Dullstrand, each having their own lands and militia. The clans are of Flan, Suloise or mixed extraction; this depends on the age of the clan, their circumstances or their location. The clans have taxation and mineral rights in all the lands they control. There are other families who are vying to be elevated to clan status, but in doing so they would replace another of the clans who would be demoted to family status and lose all clan rights.
The Clans form their own factions and compete against one another, be it faction-to-faction or clan-to-clan, inside or outside of the factions. There are also opposing factions within each clan who are always seeking to change the course of a clan. Whatever a clan does, it is always motivated by what is best for the clan and the clansmen, no matter who is steering the course of the actions.
Each clan member will show their clan allegiance by wearing their clan colors on their right upper arm. Quite often this is accompanied by wearing a shoulder patch with their clan emblem.
The Kaamrev Clan: The Kaamrev are one of the most influential clans in The Dullstrand despite their small number, this is because they are one of the three clans who control Dullstrand City (the other two being the Grevstov and Retnev clans). They are a pure Sueloise clan, though they have been known to accept half-Sueloise humans into the clan to avoid inbreeding, though only pure Suel can accede to clan leader positions.
At the moment the clan is in slight turmoil as the Kaamrev (Erdan Kaamrev) was murdered in 591 CY and has not been replaced. For the moment, a council of five clan elders runs the clan and most clan members are satisfied with the status quo. The only problem is that the other two Masters of Dullstrand (Kjirg Grefstov and Chirney Retnev) refuse to allow the council to represent the clan, insisting on a single man. The five clan elders are reluctant to relinquish their power and so the Kaamrev has yet to be replaced.
The Kaamrev own the fishing rights to one of the most bountiful fishing areas off the coast of the Dullstrand and most of their wealth comes from the negotiation of those rights, though many members of the clan are master merchants in their own right. The Kaamrev colors are green and white with their emblem being crossed fishes.
The Svetlow Clan: The smallest of all the Dullstrand Clans, this Suloise clan now only numbers two score or so. The Svetlow is being forced to re-consider his position as the next Clan Meet in 595 CY will probably demote the clan back to family status, their place being taken by one of the more dynamic families. The Svetlow clan lands are located to the southwest of the Dullstrand, at the foot of the Hestmark Highlands. The Svetlow clan are desperate for new clan members, and are willing to examine all solutions, including that of adopting outsiders and even non-humans.
They are excellent vintners, their primary export being fine wines and fortified spirits, but the Svetlow is concerned that this knowledge might be lost forever if the clan loses its status. The Svetlow colors are black and white with their emblem being a rampant bear.
The Gatts Clan: The Gatts are a wild bunch, even by the mores of the Dullstrand. A Flan tribe given to manners not much different to orcs, the Gatts are trouble, with a habit of drinking too much and enjoying a fight too readily. The Gatts steading in Dullstrand City is always watched closely by the Watch whenever there are clan members present. The clan lands are to be found in the northwest foothills of the Hestmark Highlands.
The Gatts and the Induchine clans are fond of ganging up and having a fistfight royal every time there is another of them to wreck stuff. Funnily enough, the only barbarians in Dullstrand are Gatts. For all their bad manners, the Gatts are known to be excellent loggers, with an uncanny ability to treat wood and bark in almost magical ways. Seeing the lack of wood resources in the other clan lands, most of the Clans are content to endure their anti-social ways than risk alienating them. The Gatt’s colors are blue and yellow with their emblem being a rampant mountain goat.
The Induchine Clan: The Induchine are a northern clan, found up on the north-east coast. Unlike most of the other clans, the Induchine are not readily identifiable by looks as they have been seeking fresh blood, swelling their numbers by marriages with the many refugees that have arrived from the north over the years. This has also led to them being the largest of the clans. The Induchine are mostly herders and fishermen, maintaining a large fishing fleet based along the coastline and having large tracts of grazing lands inland. They also control the largest single lake of fresh water in the Dullstrand, which gives them a constant yearly water supply.
At the moment, the clan is currently being swamped by the number of refugees in Hard Beach and are hampered by the rise in disease and crime in the town. The Induchine are currently considered the most progressive of the Clans and would like to set up Hard Beach as a northern capital. This is being hampered by the poor port facilities, finances and the general attitude of the inhabitants. The clan maintains a steading within Dullstrand City and have a very interesting relationship with the Gatts, going from allies to enemies and back. The Induchine colours are green and yellow with their emblem being a red tower.
History: As noted above, the Dullstrand coast has long been a haven for those fleeing the turbulent crises that have afflicted the southeastern Flanaess. Indeed, it may have served this function for over a millennium. Gray stone monoliths, much defaced by the elements, mark the locations of ancient Flan settlements along the shoreline in dozens of places. (The man-sized monoliths were apparently religious shrines.) The Flannae here were little more than fishers, goat herders, and gatherers, leaving nothing else of their presence behind; they were less advanced in many ways than Flan settlements elsewhere in the Flanaess. Several Aerdy explorers in the Great Kingdom’s early days thought the Flan monuments were actually tomb markers, perhaps for great Ur-Flannae wizards or chieftains, but excavations revealed nothing of interest. These people faded from existence many centuries before the Invoked Devastation and Rain of Colorless Fire drove survivors of those western calamities into the Flanaess. Interestingly, it has been speculated that these original inhabitants might have fled to the coast here to escape domination and mistreatment by Ur-Flannae necromancers known to have lived farther north, where the Great Kingdom was later founded. Their lack of technical and magical advancement indicates they may have been transient refugees.
Eight or nine centuries ago, several malign Suloise clans passed through this region on their way south to Hepmonaland and the Tilvanot Peninsula. These clans were reduced to near-barbarism by their constant flight from the vengeful and more powerful Oeridians, who were outraged at the practices of the Suloise and desired no competitors for the fertile lands of this region. Some Suloise hid from pursuit in the Dullstrand region, where perhaps a thousand purebloods survive to this day on small, isolated farms scattered up and down the coast. All of these farmers are suspicious of outsiders, close-mouthed, and keep to themselves.
As the Great Kingdom grew in power, smugglers began to use the coast here to ship goods from the sea upland into the Hestmark Highlands to the County of Sunndi, evading the Overking’s import taxes. Bandits and pirates often hid out in the vast expanses of tall seagrass, the small ships of the latter hidden by spells from Medegian patrols. In 199 C.Y., the government of Medegia laid claim to the coast here in hopes of gaining taxes from the local farmers and controlling local piracy, but found the inhabitants poverty-stricken and hateful, the land unsuitable for settlement, and the daring but brutal pirates more difficult to be rid of than previously thought. Despite Medegia’s claim over the coast, the Censor was unwilling to spend large sums of gold enforcing his rule here. Except for naval patrols and a few mercenary actions, Medegia ceased to exert any influence here after 245 C.Y.
A widely copied Rauxes map dating from 211 C.Y. gave this region the unassuming title of “The Dull Strand.” The map was drawn by a cartographer noted for his dry humor; perhaps he knew of the region’s unsavory reputation, despite its unremarkable look, and gave it the “dull” title as a private joke. One particular inlet here became a permanent base for pirates and smugglers alike about the year 250 C.Y., as the smugglers could follow a minor watercourse entering the inlet up to a little-known pass through the Hestmarks into Sunndi. The settlement at this inlet grew and soon took on the name of the coast itself: Dullstrand. From this point onward, the coast was effectively independent, though no formal declaration of this has ever been made.
The town of Dullstrand quickly developed a cosmopolitan character unlike that of the surrounding farmlands. No humanoids were tolerated, as many immigrants well remembered the atrocities committed by the orc armies that drove the immigrants here. However, Dullstrand’s Oeridian and mixed-blood humans and demihumans (a handful of high elves and gnomes) developed a grim spirit of cooperation in resisting intrusions into “their” land. The constant presence of disguised Aerdy spies, assassins, and bounty hunters, all seeking fugitives from northern justice, led to the custom of never asking a visitor questions about his or her past to avoid public identification. Most conversation is indirect, limited to minor events of the current day or the weather, and lacking in emotional tone. Townsfolk greet visitors with blank stares, turning back to their business as soon as possible—with careful and suspicious looks back, of course.
The three men left in charge of the original pirate base became known as the Masters of Dullstrand, voting democratically on actions they needed to take to keep their colony growing. The three chose their own replacements, usually from their own immediate families. Subsequent Masters soon became related to one another, as did almost everyone else in the town except for immediate immigrants (who were quickly married into the mess), giving the town something of the character of a huge, dysfunctional, but close-knit family. The authoritarian but tolerably corrupt government continues to the present day, keeping its hands off all business in the town so long as it receives the proper “fees.” (Bribery in Dullstrand is a long-established tradition, not a crime. It does raise the cost of doing business here, but the wide-open atmosphere and lack of concern about using the town for smuggling or piracy operations encourages.)
No formal charter of laws governs the town, though a few straightforward, common-sense rules for the handling of land ownership, the settling of disputes, and public conduct have been written down and are generally enforced. The town has no jail; severe violations are punished by death (drowning is preferred), and minor violations by beatings or fines.