Sharn is known as The City of Towers, but has also been called many other names, including The City of Knives, The City of Lost Souls, The City of a Thousand Eyes, the Gateway to Xen’drik, and The Gateway to Perdition.
Sharn looms atop the cliffs overlooking the Hilt, a bay at the mouth of the Dagger River in southern Breland. The city sits upon the foundation of an ancient hobgoblin city. Below that, a rumored lake of molten lava rests, but its presence can be felt only in the lowest parts of Sharn: the Cogs.
The inhospitable outcropping that Sharn sits on allows the city to grow only vertically. This might have been a problem for other cities, but Sharn happens to be located within a manifest zone linked to the plane of Syrania, the Azure Sky. This manifest zone enhances flight and levitation magic, which allows Sharn to boast things like towers that rise nearly a mile in height, transportational flight, and even a section of the city that floats above the highest towers.
Sharn is a vertical city. It is divided up into five distinct plateaus, as well as a district built into the sides of the cliff near the Dagger River. The five plateaus are known as Central Plateau, Menthis Plateau, Northedge, Dura, and Tavick’s Landing while the neighborhood perched on the side of the cliff is called Cliffside. While each plateau divides the city into districts, the city is also stratified vertically and divided into several sections. The lowest wards of the city are called The Cogs, which are subterranean yet not so far down as to enter Khyber. From there, if you were to walk to the heights of Sharn, you would pass through The Depths, the Lower City, Middle City, Upper City, and then finally you would need to find some method of flying to the highest section, which is called Skyway. Generally, the higher up you are in Sharn, the wealthier the citizens are.
It was discovered that the spells that create and reinforce the buildings, are stronger if they build off the towers already created. So when a new tower is built, it is designed to anchor off of two or more of the towers below it because the power needed for the spells used to maintain it is significantly less. This “pile on” effect allows Skyway to exist as its levitation spells borrow from ALL of the towers below it. Such spells maintain the structural integrity of load bearing walls all the way to the ground. As may be imagined, this leads to some interesting architecture.
Every tower tries to anchor off of two or three or four of the towers below it, so the lowest structures are dim at best, since direct light is blocked by the of the towers above it. Like a series of blocks piled haphazardly on each other, the city looks more like a trunk of a banyan tree than a series of bamboo shoots.
Sharn boasts a warm, wet climate and beautiful tropical foliage will grow on every surface of the city if allowed. However, the structure of the city comes into play here too: the Upper Duras are full of light and air and vines and flowers. Middle Duras, however, is shaded by the towers above, so they only get indirect light and less wind. That makes for dim places of pale vines, shade loving plants and mild breezes. The lower Duras, in contrast, are dark, dank places. The numerous structures above them block both light and wind, so nothing grows there and the air is humid and stagnant.