In case you haven’t guessed it this city has multiple former names. There are reasons provided in the lore for this, but it ends up making it a bit confusing when you are looking it up in some of the older books.
It should not be confused with the Ithmong of Lapaliiya.
Review of Sources
Lands of Intrigue remains I think the best source for setting any adventure in Darromar. It even includes a map of the city (in its back cover).
The 4th Edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide briefly discusses the city as well, but I’m not sure you’ll get much more out of it than what I’ve already covered here.
Empire of the Sands also has material about the city. However, its material covers the city when it was called Ithmong. The city would have changed quite a bit since then, and a lot of what it says about the city is no longer relevant (for instance, the city having a town council instead of a lord mayor).
Darromar is the current capital of Tethyr and the largest city (though only slightly). The city has seen significant change since the end of the civil war about 130 years ago (the foremost being that it has taken over as being the capital from Zazesspur).
The city is somewhat of a shadow of its former self. Back when it was known as Ithmong the city had a population of around 220,000 (in 1357 DR). It’s declined since then to around 125,000 people as of 1479 DR.
What Makes it Unique Compared to Other Cities?
It’s Controlled By a Monarch
I can’t think of any cities on the Sword Coast that are actually still directly controlled by a monarch. In this case, Queen Anaisr typically leaves decision making for the city in the hands of a lord mayor she appoints every three years. The lord mayor administers the needs of the city, deals with city guilds, and commands the Darromar Watch. This is still a unique relationship compared to the rest of the cities in Tethyr (who tend to be controlled by a mayor appointed by a duke or duchess).
It’s Built On Old Dwarven Tunnels
Along with Zazesspur, it’s a city that was built over top of old dwarven ruins. These ancient tunnels, though sealed, have connections to places in the Underdark like Old Shanatar. They may also lead to sources for ancient dwarven wealth (as well as the usual contraptions, constructions, and traps that await any adventurer that would delve into such a place).
What are the City’s Issues?
The Centre Of An Unstable Nation
According to the 4th Edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, Tethyr, in particular, has had a problem with defending anywhere east of Darromar. It simply doesn’t have the manpower to protect this vast territory. As a result, raiders have been attacking cities like Saradush with virtual impunity. Moreover, much closer areas east of Darromar may see other threats because of this.
Beyond this, many of the heirs to the throne were killed in 1469 (about 23 years prior to the present time of 5th edition). The queen may not have many heirs for her throne now.
The growing influence of the Shadow Thieves
During the civil war, the influence of the Shadow Thieves significantly waned. By 1479 DR however they had become a noticeable presence in the city. This would pose a threat to the control over the monarchy.
How Can I Use It in My Campaign?
If I were running a campaign using Darromar, I would portray it as a city that is at the heart of not only the culture of Tethyr but the politics of the nation as well. This is a city with monuments everywhere dedicated to the current family of monarchs and with other monuments showing great battles and the victory of the monarchy in the civil war.
It would be a city where having access to the royal court is of paramount importance if you wish to have any influence. Members of the royal court scheme against each other for the queen’s ear, while the queen herself views the city as a reflection of the health of her kingdom and of the dynasty that she has been left to protect.
In other words, this is very much a city that is appropriate in an adventure that involves lots of political scheming (and the odd assassination here and there).