- Harrowhame -
like much of the feywild, harrowhame is home to a stratified, feudal society. however, the governance of harrowhame is far more exploitative and mercantilist than the traditional lord-vassal-peasant system that is common in fey surface societies. this is reflected in the city’s social structures and indeed, even in it architecture and general design.
sha’lai is a massive oval-shaped cavern, roughly two-miles long by one-mile wide and one-half-mile high. it slopes gently from north to south, so that the northern (upper) structures look down upon the southern (lower) ones. fort his reason, status is generally determined by how far north and how high up one’s house is located.
sha’lai cavern is dominated by five major landmark terrain features: the moonstone, castle harrowhame, the platform, the tears of life, and the rift.
the moonstone is, as its name implies, a very large moonstone. set into the north-center of the cavern, this massive gem is perfectly round and roughly one hundred meters in diameter. it is magically ensorcelled to reflect the phases and presence or absence of the moon in both appearance and luminance. when the moon is up in the surface world, the moonstone glows, reflecting the moon’s current shape and radiance. when the moon is up and full, the moonstone lights sha’lai cavern with enough light so that even those without low-light vision can function reasonably well. when the moon is new or on the far side of feywin, sha’lai is plunged into utter darkness, so that even low-light vision will not avail those without at least some minimal source of illumination lighting their way. however, the phases and appearance of the moon do not correspond well to the regular day/night cycle of the surface world’s days, which often has the effect of making a surfacer’s initial stay in harrowhame quite disorienting.
castle harrowhame is an earthmote that floats at the extreme north end of sha’lai cavern. it is the home of king bronnor and his house and the source of the tears of life. atop the earthmote, there stands a large black-iron keep, but the earthmote itself must be home to some tunnels and living space as well because there are portal-like windows all across the underside of the earthmote’s superstructure, and on many a night, one can see lights emanating from within the structure itself.
below the earthmote lies the platform, a massive plateau that rises some hundred feet above the common level of the city. the platform is home to most of the nobility of harrowhame as well as to the spider, the city’s temple of lloth. indeed, the spider is located directly beneath castle harrowhame. this is king bronner’s crude attempt at symbolism—and a constant reminder to the city’s drow of who is really in charge in the city.
sha’lai’s major water source is a river called the tears of life. its headwater is bronner pond, located at the north end of castle harrowhame’s earthmote. from bronner pond, the river flows south and over the upper falls, falling down to feed harrow lake up on the platform. from there, the tears trickle south, over the lower falls, and down into the city proper. the tears then wind through the northeastern third of the city until they reach a canyon by the east gate called the rapids. the rapids eventually give way to a bottomless rift, where the tears fall away into the endless depths of the center of the feydark.
the last of sha’lai’s major landmarks is the chasm. the chasm is another bottomless rift that runs from the extreme south of the cavern, all the way up to the city’s center. at its widest, the rift is roughly three hundred meters across. to the east of the chasm, one finds a large section of freeholder farms along with the city’s lower market, both of which end at a cliff overlooking the chasm. the cliff is dangerous, but most sentient beings know to stay well away from the edge, and actual falls are rare. the west side of the chasm is a different story, however. on that side, the ground slopes gently at first but as one progresses down the slope, the slope increases, creating a vast area of treacherous and uncertain footing. many of the city’s poorest residents live in shanty-town favelas built onto these increasingly treacherous slopes. mishaps are common there, especially minor building accidents given the shoddy construction techniques common to shanty-towns. entire families have been known to disappear after rockslides or even when a heavy family member rolls unexpectedly out of bed.