Over the course of ten thousand years, the city by the Dagger River has risen and fallen time and again. The many scars of history can be seen everywhere— each representing a score of dangers to threaten the present-day inhabitants.
Thousands of years before humans came to Khorvaire, the land belonged to the hobgoblins. One of the greatest cities of the Dhakaani Empire was the hobgoblin metropolis of Ja’shaarat (“Bright Blade”), nestled by the edge of the Dagger River. The early Dhakaani architects carved their city into the stone instead of raising towers above the ground, and the halls of Ja’shaarat extended beneath the surface of the land. The goblin miners pushed into Khyber, discovering a vast lake of fire that burned with a supernatural heat. The blades and armor of the greatest Dhakaani warriors were forged here, and tempered in khaar draguus, the blood of the dragon.
Later, they raised great monolithic buildings that covered each of the plateaus and would later serve as the foundation for the City of Towers. When the alignment of the planes brought the daelkyr and their armies of horrors to Eberron, the Dhakaani empire fell before them, and Ja’shaarat was devastated. The empire never recovered from the conflict and the great city was never restored. The goblin tribes that hid in the ruins renamed their home Duur’shaarat, “Blade of Sorrows.”
In time, the humans of Sarlona began to explore across the ocean. A wave of humans followed the famed explorer Lhazaar to Khorvaire’s eastern shores. The humans didn’t stop there, however. They pushed inland and explored the northern and southern coasts seeking land to settle and kingdoms to erect. As a result, Malleon the Reaver discovered the inlet of the Dagger River twenty-five years after Lhazaar’s historic undertaking. Malleon enslaved the goblins and built a fortress within the ruins on the bluff above the river. Malleon, a superstitious man, hoped to make peace with whatever spirits remained in the ruins. He sealed off the deeper levels of the goblin-made mountain-monoliths that had been home to the majority of the hobgoblins, and he named the city Shaarat, deriving the name from the stories told by his goblin slaves.
Over the next six hundred years, Shaarat grew into a powerful and wealthy city. Breggor, first ruler of the nation that would eventually bear the name of Breland, demanded that Shaarat bow to his authority. Malleon’s descendants refused. A long siege followed, ending when Breggor ordered his wizards to rain destruction on Shaarat.
SHARN AND THE WAR OF THE MARK
Breggor wanted the city on the Dagger River for his own, and he didn’t allow the place to remain ruined for long. Within a decade of the siege of Shaarat, Breggor renamed the city Sharn. For the next eight hundred years, the towers began to rise and the city flourished along with the Five Nations. It was during this time that the dragonmarked houses began to grow and prosper. Between the pure marks, the mixed marks, and the frequently appearing aberrant marks, the more powerful houses saw a threat to their growing wealth and economic power. The houses began to argue, and soon strong and angry words led to full-scale battle. War had come to the dragonmarked houses.
The War of the Mark, a terrible and bloody conflict, changed the face of Khorvaire, firmly establishing the dragonmarked families that hold power to this day. The pure families and their allies outnumbered those possessing aberrant and mixed dragonmarks, but the aberrant marks held considerable destructivepower. At first it was a simple purge, as the aberrants were hunted down one by one. But in the third year of this inquisition, Lord Halas Tarkanan gathered his aberrant kindred. Tarkanan, a brilliant tactician, used his military skills and the power of the aberrant dragonmarks to turn the tide of battle. Tarkanan and his queen seized control of Sharn, turning it into a bastion for the aberrant marks.
In the end, Tarkanan simply didn’t have the numbers to overcome his enemies. The battle continued for another four years, but Tarkanan and his forces were slowly beaten back to Sharn. As House Cannith, House Deneith, and the armies of pre- Breland closed in, Tarkanan and the Lady of the Plague called upon the full power of their aberrant dragonmarks and released horrific magical forces.
Terrible quakes caused parts of the city to collapse, and rivers of lava flowed up from the fiery lake deep below. Those who escaped the flames were devoured by swarms of vermin or stricken down by deadly plagues. The War of the Mark was over—but Sharn had suffered greatly and was abandoned. For over five hundred years, superstitious folk shunned the ruined city, muttering about the curses of the aberrant lords. Despite the superstitions, the location had considerable strategic and economic value.
When Galifar I took control of the Five Nations, he sent a force to rebuild the ruined city. House Cannith played a critical role in the reconstruction, and to this day House Cannith remains one of the most influential forces in Sharn. Dwarf engineers were brought in from the Mror Holds, and a few of the Brelish nobles invested a great deal of gold in the city. Chief among these was the ir’Tain family. The ir’Tains are known as the slumlords of Sharn, and over the centuries the family has made a fortune from its many tenement properties. Today, the ir’Tains are one of the most powerful noble families in Breland; Lord Hass ir’Tain is an influential member of the Breland Parliament, and his mother Celyria is the unquestioned leader of high society in Sharn. Other powerful families and merchants flocked to the new city, and Sharn prospered and grew.
When work began, only a few towers remained standing above the ancient goblin foundations and human ruins. It was believed that the curse of the Lady of the Plague still lingered in the darkness, and the remnants of the old cities were quickly sealed away. In time they were forgotten, lost in the shadows of the new towers that stretched toward the sky. Occasionally treasure-hunters venture down into the haunted levels that lie between the Lower-City and the Cogs, but the vast majority of the citizens know little or nothing of the ruins that lie in the Depths.
Today, Sharn stands as a center for trade, diplomacy, and intrigue, a city with an important role to play in the future of Khorvaire. When dealing with Sharn, remember that the city has an ancient and rich history, and that as you descend you are effectively traveling through time. The lowest levels of the oldest towers are over ten thousand years old, and the buildings within them have gone through many changes. What is now an apartment complex might once have been a cathedral. A tavern might have been a hobgoblin armory. This sense of history and change can add a great deal of color to an otherwise simple location.