Sharn consists of a number of common elements that take on amazing proportions within the city’s dizzying heights. These features are described below.
The towers of Sharn range in height from about 100 feet to nearly a mile tall, but their basic construction resembles that of a traditional castle or other stone building. Extensive magic goes into their construction, from the spells used to lift blocks of stone to such enormous heights to the magic that strengthens and supports the towers, allowing them to stand despite all probability. Even with such magic in place, the towers are generally broad at the bottom and narrow at the top, many of them peaking in elegant spires or domes, while others are crowned with fl at platforms that hold parks, pools, or small estates.
The streets of the ancient city have been swallowed up as towers were built upward and lower walls thickened, to the point that now the towers tend to merge at ground level into a solid maze of walls, jumbled together with no discernable pattern.
Most towers are roughly 800 to 2,500 feet in diameter at the bottom, narrowing to about 200 to 600 feet in diameter at the top. Some have narrower spires extending farther upward. Every tower is built of magically reinforced stone, with hardness 16 and AC 3. Climbing a tower wall requires a DC 22 Climb check. A typical Lower- City exterior wall is 15 feet thick, with 2,340 hp per 10-foot section. In the Middle-City, exterior walls are 10 feet thick, with 1,440 hp per 10-foot section. In the Upper-City, exterior walls are only 5 feet thick, with 900 hp per 10-foot section. Interior walls also consist of stone construction. Some serve important structural functions and are as thick as exterior walls, but most are only 1 foot thick, with 90 hp per 10-foot section.
In general, a tower has one story per 10–12 feet of height. Ceilings tend to be lower (and stories packed more closely together) at lower levels and higher toward the top levels, but there are certainly exceptions (warehouse towers, for example, usually have high ceilings).
Stories might also be sub divided: a popular residential design features an open central plaza, 20 feet or more
in height, surrounded by two-story homes built as if hanging off the wall of the tower. A minor variation on this design has even higher ceilings and three-story units surrounding the plaza, with the bottom story of each unit housing a business. Most towers are studded with balconies, riddled with windows, and connected to neighboring towers with bridges.
Balconies range from simple ledges with protective railings where a homeowner can step outside to enjoy the sunset, to large platforms where skycars can land to discharge passengers. Most towers have at least one balcony per story; many towers have many more balconies, at least at certain levels. Since flying is so prevalent in the city, any balcony is a potential entry point to a tower. Balconies opening into businesses or residences can be secured by some
means, ranging from a simple door or portcullis to magical means such as a wall of force or an alarm spell. A great number of balconies, particularly the larger ones, open into public space.
Streets run through the towers of Sharn, allowing horses, mules, and wagons to travel in a fairly normal fashion within the city. Unlike the streets of a typical city, most of these streets are broad thoroughfares rather than twisting alleyways, either suspended high above the ground, arcing around towers, or constructed through the center of a tower or other building. As described in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, these streets are 25 feet wide with 5-foot-wide
walkways on either side.
Because the streets of Sharn are almost entirely indoors, most are artificially lit with everbright lanterns or everburning torches. In general, the upper levels have the best lighting, while torches in the Cogs are spaced so far apart as to leave large spaces of darkness.
Most bridges connect the streets running through the towers, allowing wagons and pedestrians to cross from one spire to the next. As such, they are generally as wide as the streets. Low walls along the edges of a bridge prevent people from falling accidentally. Major bridges can be as wide as 50 feet across, and actually have structures built along the edges, crowding the roadway down to a width of 10 feet or so. Such bridges are popular sites for street fairs and open markets. A great number of narrower bridges span the gulfs between towers as well, not designed for carrying wagons but for facilitating pedestrian traffic. These bridges are five to ten feet wide and almost always have low walls or railings.
One of the most important uses of magic in Sharn is in the creation of magic lifts to facilitate vertical travel between the levels of towers. Particularly at lower levels, ramps wind around the inside or outside of large towers to get wagons from level to level, but at higher levels special levitation devices carry passengers and even cargo up and down within the towers.
Falling from potentially deadly heights presents a constant danger in the City of Towers. Whether a character is bull-rushed over the side of a bridge, knocked from a soarsled, or thrown off a balcony, the sudden stop far below can have deadly consequences. Fortunately, Sharn has precautions in place to reduce the number of deaths that result from falls. The city offers a standard reward of 25 gp to a spellcaster who casts feather fall on a falling person. The reward is large enough, and the risk of falling real enough, that spellcasters who can cast feather fall almost always keep one prepared on a daily basis. Watch patrols usually carry a wand of feather fall, but few members have sufficient ranks in Use Magic Device to activate it.
Bridges in the Upper-City and Middle-City are also warded with permanent feather fall effects to protect those using them from falling bodies and other large objects. Such wards are triggered automatically when an object approaches within 30 feet of the top or sides of a bridge. This is effectively a magic trap that resets automatically and immediately.
A popular magic item among those that can afford one, a feather fall talisman is a single-use item containing a feather fall spell. The trick to using this item is timing. Because it works only once and lasts for a single round, it must be activated within 60 feet of the ground in order to protect its wearer from falling damage. Since falls in Sharn can involve heights of a mile or more, this is not always easy to accomplish.
A DC 10 Wisdom check can be used to determine if a character successfully times activation.