The city of Talos is a port city in my current Dungeons and Dragons campaign. It’s located in the northern part of the world and serves as one of the largest launching points for ocean expeditions and the like. It’s also by far the densest city north of the nation Ironstone, its Dwarven neighbor.
Being a port city makes Talos a unique and important player in the rest of the world. The nation of Elsbeth to the east of Talos docks the greatest number of ships and acts as a central hub of advancement and exploration. Talos however takes in just over half as many ships as Elsbeth’s ports combined. This is in part because Talos exports its nation’s grain, crops, and some lumber to its most distant allies and imports supplies from the rest of the known world.
The other reason Talos docks so many ships is because of its island Hitochi just north of its shores. One of the only stationary and explored islands in the world, Hitochi’s position serves as a measuring stick for safe travel. If a ship sails too far past the perimeter of the island, it will never return.
Hitochi is significant because of the nature of other islands in the world. If an adventurer is anywhere else besides Talos, then islands or distant land masses can only be spotted from land if it’s the clearest day and the viewer looks through an eyeglass on the highest shores. These masses can’t be mapped because they move along the horizon, coming and going much like stars do in the sky. Any ship or expedition that sets out to sail to these distant continents never returns.
Consequently, Talos is considered one of the safest cities for sailers but not for its citizens. Because of the city’s importance in the trade industry, power is up for grabs. Rebels, unhappy with the nation’s distant ruler, seek control of Talos as a strategic location; nobles, in way over their heads, view Talos as a means to further their political reach; and an underworld, organized and deadly, conspires with the Underdark to maintain the docks and twist trade to their advantage. In short, there’s a whole mess of trouble that adventurers can tangle themselves up in. Or, if politics and power isn’t on their to-do lists, the sea always awaits their exploration.