Sails & Sabres
Sandwatch is a strange clash of two very different cultures. At its heart is the original city, a colossal structure of stone. What makes it unique is perfectly seamless construction, as if the entire structure were made of a single stone, carved from an ancient mountain perhaps. Rumors abound, but the majority of historians believe the city was originally a Mage-king’s fortress in some ancient time. The city center is weathered with age, but exceptionally strong. Around a century ago, the consolidation of Benin under Sultan Maled sparked a boom in trade between Osil and the desert kingdom, which led to a rapid expansion of Sandwatch.
At present, a sprawling labyrinth of traditional nomadic tents, simple adobe structures, and the occasional wood-constructed building spread out from the base of the old city. Sandmaze, as it’s known to locals, provides a buffer zone one mile thick or more all around Sandwatch proper. A light, wooden sand-wall surrounds the current limits of the city, doing little more than keeping out the blowing sands and harassing winds of the desert flats.
The lord of the city and territory is Duke Evett Sterlin, and his lordship is centered in Sandwatch proper. The Lord and his city infrastructure have struggled severely with this sudden increase in population, despite the decades, and as a result civil services have fallen by the wayside when it comes to dealing with the sandmaze population. Most of the people moving to Sandwatch are merchants, diplomats, and entrepreneurs all looking to expand their wealth into the Eastern markets. Some are descendents of those displaced with the unification of the tribes of Benin, trying to build a new life in Sandwatch, usually as a stepping stone to the East.
With the optimistic immigrants and the general increase in population, coupled with the already strained civic establishment, crime has run rampant and rooted itself in the sandmaze. The West Watchers, as the city guard is known, do have a presence in the sandmaze but it is a hopeless battle given their numbers. As a result, one of the more powerful syndicates of Sandwatch proper, The Sandmen, made a deal years ago with Lord Corger VIII, the Duke at the time, to assist in keeping the peace in the sandmaze in exchange for more relaxed prosecution towards the Sandmen.
They kept-up their part of the bargain, preventing large scale gang wars from erupting and keeping major threats off the streets. Of course, their methods differed significantly to those of the Watch, resulting in rampant petty thievery, cons, and a very healthy black market rife with foreign and domestic contraband. Slave trade has been a difficult problem to eliminate, with activity fluctuating radically over the years. With attention focused on Kardam, it’s currently on the upswing.
The greatest, and most predictable, effect of this agreement is that the Sandmen have become exceedingly powerful, throwing off the city underworld’s balance of power. The Sandmen have largely exploited their legal freedoms to keep the other syndicates in check and to expand their influence inside Sandwatch proper as well as maintain themselves as the dominant power and policing force in the sandmaze. There have been several unsuccessful attempts by the other syndicates to dethrone the Sandmen, but by now most of them have found ways to work around the powerhouse criminal organization.
Water Barons, Whisperwinds, Scorpions, Venom Fangs, the Wise Men.
Current Alliances: Water Barons and Scorpions, Wisemen and Whisperwinds. Venom Fangs are allied with Water Barons and Wisemen but not Whisperwinds or Scorpions.
Syndicate Dajis: Whisperwind.: Semih; Water Barons: Andris; Scorpions: Tang Faynar; Venom Fangs: Ishan; Wise Men: Binyamin. The Dajis are the syndicate chieftains, respected and feared by their underlings. The Venom Fangs and Scorpions are relatively new and originated in the sandmaze before the Sandmen could secure their dominance. The Whisperwinds, Wisemen, and Water Barons are all longer standing groups that have seen generations of leaders pass and are now in the hands of the heirs chosen by each Daji upon their deathbeds.
Most of the syndicates have networks expanding well beyond Sandwatch, some reaching as far as Port of Isles, and in the case of the Wisemen and Scorpions, all the way to Ezrepellian. The Venom Fangs have a strong foothold in Dalda, preventing the others from establishing themselves there. The Whisperwinds have long been rumored to have connections to a dragon, but this is far from substantiated and unlikely given their relative weakness compared to the others.