Built along shallow coastal waters the city of Whitesands never lived up to the vision that it’s founders had hoped for. Originally it was planned that the city would become a secondary hub of trade and merchant goods for the Ravenmarch however, due to the shifting sandbars that lay just below the surface of the water most large ships find it impossible to navigate the shoals without running aground. Thus it is that Whitesands became a fishing port rather than a bustling trade city.
Named after the brilliant white sand found along it’s beaches the city itself boasts few roads. Rather the majority of travel within the city is done using wide yet shallow canals filled with flat bottom barges and other small boats. Near the docks are large warehouses for the storage of salted and preserved fish as well as several large factories that employ an incredible number of workers to clean, gut and salt the fish as they come in off the boats. The docks have an overpowering fishy smell to them all year round with the summer being almost unbearable for those who are not accustom to the odor.
Most of the land the town sits on including the docks and fish packing factories are owned by the Silverthorne family. This has not always been the case and it has taken the Silverthornes several generations to slowly acquire the large amount of property that they own. Unfortunately this hasn’t generated the best situation for the fishermen who use these docks. Since the docks as well as the warehouses and factories are all privately owned by the Silverthornes they can charge inflated prices to those who use their services. Often a fisherman will pay as much as 60% of their earnings just to dock their boat and process their catch. This makes it difficult for anyone other than the largest fishing operations to survive.
Since Whitesands is the primary source of all fishing and seafood for the Ravenmarch many of the ship captains have attempted on several occasions to petition the Council of Five in order to force Silverthorne to lower his prices. Unfortunately Otto Silverthorne is a member of the Council of Five making this a very difficult struggle. Rumor has it that several of the larger fishing companies also bribe Silverthorne to enforce more strict fees and regulations on smaller companies in order to force them out of business. Of course none of this has ever been proven but many believe it to be true.
Beyond the docks and warehouses the city spreads out for nearly a mile. Once away from the smell of dead fish the business and market districts along the canals do a handsome business. Here again most of the buildings are owned by the Silverthorne family and shop owners pay high rent to maintain their storefronts.
Further inland the canals give way to conventional roads and cobblestone paths. Here you find the humble homes of those who work on the docks and even many of the fishermen who brave the shallow waters off the coast of Whitesands. In the Northern Quarter is the wealthy merchant housing and estates of those who own and operate the businesses around Whitesands.
Points of Interest
The Silk Quarter – Like any port city there is bound to be an area for sailors and their ilk to cut loose after long hours of work. The Silk Quarter is a collection of taverns, inns, pleasure houses and more than a few illegal Nightshade Dens. The Silk Quarter isn’t for everyone and even the most well seasoned visitor to such areas are often in danger of a pick pocket or some other unfortunate occurrence.
Sunset Harbor – North of the fishing docks and far enough away to avoid the smell is a large keep built on the side of a small cliff. Sunset Harbor is a favorite retreat for the wealthy of Whitesands and even the well to do from other parts of the Ravenmarch. Owned by the Silverthorne family the elegant lodgings boast steam rooms, spa’s and other luxuries not found anywhere else in the March. Those who can afford to stay there are often treated to exotic foods and entertainment from around the world and are waited on hand and foot by the staff.
The Warrens – In the back alleys an less frequented buildings along the docks is an area known as The Warrens. Nothing denotes this part of the city and most of the city guard won’t even admit that it exists at all. Here the dark and sinister underbelly of society apply their trade. It is said that for the right price one can find anything they are looking for in the Warrens. Slavery and sometimes much worse are just a few of the reasons coins change hands in the Warrens. Some say that Otto Silverthorne is well aware of what happens there and turns a handsome profit by looking the other way. Only when someone fails to pay will the guards be called in to make an arrest.