Chronicles of Toril
The City of Sails often conjures romantic images of a magnificent port metropolis, majestic merchant galleons with bright sails, and dashing swashbucklers who greet their enemies with a playful wink and a tip of the hat.
In reality, Luskan is anything but that. It’s a dirty dive with filthy streets, squat buildings, ramshackle docks, creaky old longships, and crass pirates thinly disguised as sea traders. Rising above the fog and the stench is the Hosttower of the Arcane, home of a league of greedy, power-hungry wizards called the Arcane Brotherhood. Their ghastly tower branches into multiple thinner spires at the top. From a distance, the Hosttower might be mistaken for a giant, leafless tree. To those who have the misfortune of seeing it up close, it looks like a clawed hand bursting out of the ground, each of its fingers a tower with many peering windows.
Five High Captains rule the city. Each one is a glorified pirate lord who controls a fleet of longships. The five fleets serve many purposes: they defend Luskan against seafaring barbarians and other enemies, they conduct legitimate sea trade up and down the Sword Coast, and they raid and plunder the island kingdoms to the west (and the occasional settlement on the Sword Coast). The High Captains have no influence over the actions of the Arcane Brotherhood, nor is it apparent that the wizards have any allegiance to Luskan.
As of 1370 DR, the city was split into northern and southern halves by the River Mirar, and these were connected by the bridges Dalath’s Span, Harbor Cross, and the Upstream Span.8 Other than the Host Tower of the Arcane, the city was dominated by two- and three-story buildings.2
Two inhabited islands sat in the mouth of the river: the island upon which lay the Host Tower of the Arcane (connected to both sides of the river by bridges) and Closeguard Island,9 which housed Ship Kurth (connected to the southern bank by a bridge).2
The northern section was walled and was almost entirely made up of warehouses. The Mirabar District (also known as the Mirabar Shield) was a fortified compound operated by the merchants of Mirabar, and it contained the Throat, the city’s heavily guarded main water tower, which was situated in a grazing area for sheep.8 The Red Dragon Trading Post, Luskan’s most successful overland trading company as of 1370 DR (but no longer in operation in 1483 DR10), was situated on the northern bank, as was the North Gate, the portal between the northern and southern banks.11
The docks on the northern bank were on the sea coast (western part of the city) and consisted of Whitesails Harbor, used exclusively for the Luskan navy, and the unprotected Open Shore, which was situated outside the city walls and was the only place foreign shipping could dock.11
As of 1370 DR, the southern bank consisted of a heavily fortified inner section surrounded by caravan compounds.8 This area was home to the majority of residents and shops. The southern wall was semicircular, with over a dozen towers. The two towers flanking the South Gate were named the Twin Teeth.12 The southern bank also housed stables, the Captains’ and High Captains’ Courts, the Market and the Prisoners’ Carnival, and the town’s original harbor, Dragon Beach, a lawless place where even soldiers feared to tread213