Backgrounder 002: Durpar (pt2)
Speculation and Bringing it Up to Date
So, Durpar. We covered the old information in the last part of this giant post, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s a good place to start this.  This is much more challenging than the Gnolls were, but here I go.
Durpar is Halruua’s challenger to being the dominant nation in the Shining South, in the post-Second Sundering world. The Spellplague struck the area hard, drowning Var, and severely disrupted trade in the Great Sea region, but Durpar came through largely unscathed, at least initially. A single merchant chaka, the Datharathi, turned their backs on Adama for the most part, and initiated a civil war to wrest control of the nation for themselves. After the Merchant War ended (the civil war between Adama following and rejecting merchant houses), Durpar found itself contending with the return of their ancient masters, the Imaskar, the demands of trade from the arid lands of Zakhara to the southeast, and the mounting monster threats that turned their lands from tamed to frontiers.
Cruel and heartless, the Datharathi chaka made bold moves to reconfigure the remains of Durpar. With the Chultan Peninsula gone and the Mhair Archipelago offering no trade, and with only ruins remaining in Halruua, trade was refocused on Zakhara and with Kara-tur. Goblinoids, once the enemies of the Durpari, were brought into the new standing military and used to keep the peace and defend the holdings that remained in addition to enforcing the will of the Datharathi. This was all funded through punishing taxes that kept the other chakas weak.
For two decades, the Datharathi chaka funded explorations and salvage work in the blasted remains of Halruua, accruing high casualties for even the most minimal of finds. Their efforts were not in vain however, and in 1415 DR, they recovered a partially constructed Halruuan airship, and a trove of documents on their construction and operation. By 1452 DR, the first Durpar flagged airship lifted from the Bay of the Golden Waters. Within a decade, over a dozen vessels were built, and a new age of trade was ushered in, as they connected with the beleaguered Gold Dwarves of the Hazur mountains, and reached deeper into the mountains that separated them from Kara-tur by land. In 1487 DR, when Halruua returned to Toril, they were shocked to discover they were no longer the lords of the air that they once were, and that Durpar, once a minor trade rival, was now a trade equal. More horrifyingly, the Durpari were building ships for sale (to “safe” customers only, of course)!
Durpar maintains cordial relations with high Imaskar (what’s left of it), and dominates trade in the Great Sea region by air and by water. Its major trading partners are Halruua (an ongoing sore point in Halruua), Sepentes, Thindol, Tashalar, and Zakhara. Trade with Kara-tur is steady but pales in comparison to the trade westwards. Durparian airships, crewed by humans, hobgoblins, and goblins, are increasingly penetrating deeper into the formidable mountains that separate Kara-tur from Faerûn, and are mapping out settlements in them to trade with and establishing safe passages.
Life in Durpar:
For the non-merchants, life in Durpar is still hard, and for the non-Datharathi chaka or non-Datharathi chaka aligned merchant chakas, life is less than ideal. Durpar is, technically, in a period of unprecedented trade and success, but the method in which the Datharathi chaka rules them has created great levels of inequity. They rule with a hard, cruel hand, using goblinoid troops to quell any possible uprising against them. As a result, Durpar does not resemble the vacation spot for the wealthy it once did.
There are four effective castes in Durpar, created by and enforced by the Datharathi in an effort to control the population, however these are not permanent assignments and there is both upwards and downwards mobility. The lowest caste are the labourers, followed by trades and warriors, then merchants, and above them are the Datharathi chaka. The latter has become its own defacto ruling class unto itself, and forms the upper crust of society. Notably, one can ascend into the Datharathi chaka caste (generally by marriage), but none descend below it. The Datharathi chaka slay any who would lessen their status in society, using their non-Adama following goblinoid troops.
While Adama has been broken, it has not been destroyed, and still acts to guide the average people of Durpar and a few of the merchant chakas. This means the average citizen is still honest, hard working, averse to theft, and tries to avoid killing other beings. Adama remains a rough guiding principle and still carries great cultural weight, such that even the Datharathi chaka still at least pay lip service to it in public.
Meanwhile, the returned Halruaa is actively plotting against Durpar. Despite the circumstances, they consider the loss of airship magic and technology to outsiders as unacceptable, but the magic used by the Durpari is enough to prevent them from taking the easy way to solve the problem. The two powers ban each other’s vessels from their respective airspaces, and are lobbying their mutual trade partners to ban the other.
Peoples of Durpar:
The largest population in Durpar are the Durpari, who are dark skinned, dark haired humans of medium size and build. They comprise 80% of the population. The next largest population are Halflings, many originally from nearby Luirian, at 12% of the population. Goblinoids, the goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears employed as soldiers in the regular army, make up the remainder of the significant population groups. For the most part, the populations of Durpar get along with one another; but there is still a resentment, hatred, and fear in many quarters for the goblinoids. On the fringes of Durpar are significantly sized Lizardfolk settlements, mostly in the remains of Var.
Why be from Durpar:
Durpar offers a lot of options to a player when designing a character and their background.
- Deep history with Imaskar and recent history with High Imaskar.
- A unique religion and take on theology.
- An inherently cosmopolitan exposure to ideas because of the geophysical location and powerful trade forces of Durpar.
- Access to special technologies, like airships.
- A unique mix of playable races with a unique culture around them.
- Strong background reasons to leave home and adventure, and equally strong ones to come back after adventuring.
Reclaiming Var: Var was devastated during the Spellplague, and is, in effect a giant swamp area now. However, Durpar seeks to re-establish it as the greatest grain producer in the south. Unfortunately, the place is infested with monsters. Some are tentatively friendly, like the Lizardfolk, while others, like the sizable Bullywug population, are hostile to humans (and everything else). Adding to the challenge are ruins filled with strange undead.
- Good intro level adventuring, simple quests with clear outcomes.
- Fight bullywugs, befriend Lizardfolk, dodge quicksand, battle undead.
Sky Pirates: The Datharathi were not as good as the Halruuans at keeping the secrets to airships concealed, and someone has financed a privateer to prey against their shipping specifically. They want to know who is funding these sky raiders, and they want the raiders killed and their vessel captured.
- Have the minor merchant chakas clubbed together, or is Halruua looking to get back in the saddle as the dominant trade power in the skies?
- Good mid to high level adventures, depending on how it gets taken. Potential for high mountain adventures.
Yakmen and Yuan-ti: The Lotus Empire of the Yak-fok has expanded greatly in the absence of humans to halt them, and are thought to be infiltrating the lowlands. Yuan-ti, pushing south from Okoth, seek to create a new Hlondeth in Vaelan. Both sides aim to take over the Datharathi chaka to forward their plans.
- Lots of intrigue and adventures in Vaelan and Durpar itself.
- Good for any levels, depending on how deep things start.
Rebellion!: The player characters become embroiled in a plot to overthrow the cruel Datharathi. Who do they support? Will they restore the old order or something new?
- This is the big time, and may see external powers like Haltuaa get involved.
- Good for mid to high level characters.
Pingback: Backgrounder 002: Durpar (Pt.1) | POCGamer