Harbotha Settlement in Ulskandar | World Anvil


If you come across anyone that has visited the nation of Zhisbon, then 99.99% of the time they will have only visited the city of Harbotha. Lying right at the edge of the secretive Dragonborn nation, Harbotha is the only city where non-Dragonborns are allowed to set foot on Zhis soil, and the city is heavily guarded to ensure that no one is able to move further into the country than the city’s Northern Wall.   This means that Harbotha is Zhisbon’s point of regular contact with the rest of the world. In this city all of the trade that comes into or out of the nation is transacted here, which means that merchants from across Turoza flock to Harbotha to try to trade their goods for the magical weapons, potions, scrolls and other miscellaneous arcane items that are produced by the Dragonborn for export. Equally, Harbotha’s Academy of Arcanology draws many young hopefuls from across the continent with a flair for magic, who wish to be admitted and learn the practice and application of magic from its Dragonborn scholars. As the only permanent school of magic in Turoza, that admits non-Dragonborns, being admitted to the Academy is a huge honour, and very difficult to achieve.   Additionally, Harbotha is as far as any diplomatic mission is allowed to advance into the nation, and is the only place that their petitions and offers to Zhisbon may be heard. This means that all of Turoza’s nations, including Korinthos, have been allowed to establish a permanent embassy in the city, so that their diplomats and officials can await the often very long, drawn out process of hearing what decision the Elder’s Council have come to.   For other visitors to the city, access is highly regulated. In order to gain entry in the first place, one must prove that you have a viable reason for wishing to enter Harbotha, and failure to prove this will result in you being denied entry. If access is permitted, then a visitor is only allowed to reside in Harbotha for a maximum of a month, after which time they will be forced to leave, regardless of whether they have been able to complete their business or not. In order to remain for longer, one must undertake a rigorous legal process to apply for permanent residency in the city, which even if granted, involves regular checks and administrative hoops to jump through to ensure that a non-Dragonborn resident is not up to any mischief.   Despite its somewhat frosty reception to visitors, Harbotha continues to have a huge draw on the merchants and would-be entrants to its Academy of Arcanology, who all expect that their time amongst the Dragonborn will be the start of a new and prosperous life.


Because the Zhis authorities so meticulously manage Harbotha there is almost no class discrepancy amongst the permanent residents of the city. All of the non-Dragonborn population that reside in the city are there to facilitate the trade of goods from the secretive nation, or are there to try their hand at gaining entry to the Academy, both of which require significant personal financial reserves, or the financial backing of another party. Visitors to the city equally tend to come from a comfortable background. This is mostly due to the fact that in order to enter the city a prospective visitor has to have a viable reason to be allowed admittance, otherwise they will be turned away by the Zhis guards on the border. As a result, there is little or no influx of lower income bracket citizens attempting to try their luck in a new place or find work, though there is a small community of beggars and down-and-outs in the city who have fallen on hard times after admittance to the city, and have managed to evade the authorities.   From a racial standpoint, Harbotha is a true melting pot of civilisation, with representatives from all races present in the streets, taverns and trading establishments of the city. Naturally, as a city in Zhisbon, there are far more Dragonborn present than any visitor will have ever seen in a single place, and they make up all of the armed forces and administrators that work and live in the city. In addition, there is a significant community of Kobolds, who are employed to carry out more menial task that Dragonborn do not wish to carry out themselves, such as cleaning the streets and sewers and maintaining the material fabric of the city.


Harbotha is defended to the east and west by the flanks of the Astrak Mountains, but the southern side that looks out onto the Sonsuz Desert is defended by a large, stout curtain wall and gate, simply named the Southern Wall. At the end of the valley the city sits in, a sister wall of the same type and construction has been erected, known as the Northern Wall. The gate in the Northern Wall has been further defended by the addition of a large keep, and it is through this keep that the only gateway into the Zhis Badlands passes. The keep not only acts as a defensive bastion to keep all but the authorised from entering Zhisbon proper, but is also the base of the Zhis armed forces garrisoned in the city.   Both of these defensive structures are incredibly heavily defended by the Dragonborn troops of Zhisbon, and they are designed with keeping the non-Dragonborn residents and visitors of Harbotha in, as they are to keep enemies out.


There is a single main road that passes through the city that leads right from the gate in the Southern Wall directly to the gate and keep of the Northern Wall. Numerous straight roads branch off at a 90-degree angle from this main thoroughfare, each of which has been given an official number, and occasionally a name by the people that live there. The highly regulated street plan is part of policy of regulating visitors to Harbotha, as each permanent resident admitted to the city is given a street number and building number, sometimes even a room number that they are registered to, and that must be quoted in any official dealings with the city authorities. Visitors to the city must immediately quote the street number, building number and room number of where they find lodgings as soon as they purchase a bed for the night. The only exception to the rigorous street plan is Harbotha’s Academy, which sprawls in a much more disorganised fashion across the northwest corner of the city.   The area immediately around the Southern Gate has been laid out and designed as a huge semi-circular space that is used as an enormous market to facilitate the import and export of goods into Zhisbon. Not all mercantile transactions take place in this space, as there are a number of merchants who sell very valuable or dangerous goods that are manufactured in Zhisbon from secure shops further into the city.


The city is built in the mouth of and in the only known valley that cuts through the Astrak Mountains and into the Zhis Badlands. This means that the city has spread like an irregular rectangle down the valley terminating where the Northern wall has been erected, marking the limit that non-Dragonborns are allowed to go into Zhisbon. The slopes of the Astrak Mountains on either side of the city have been meticulously manipulated through magical means to make them as smooth and sheer as possible, so that no one from the city can enter Zhisbon, save through the single gate and castle in the Northern Wall.
Alternative Name(s)
The Dragon's Keep
Large town
Location under
Included Locations
Owning Organization

Cover image: by Chris Pyrah


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