- "In Dunwall, things are always tangled up like a bag of snakes."
- — Daud
Dunwall, the capital of Gristol and seat of the Imperial government of the Isles, is an industrial whaling city that serves as the central setting for Dishonored. Whaling trawlers pack its harbor, bringing in a constant stream of the whale oil that powers its industrial revolution.
History and Geography
The present site that Dunwall occupies was once home to an ancient civilization that collapsed for unknown reasons. Having existed approximately 1000 years before the events of Dishonored, its people worshiped the Outsider and inscribed whale bones with his mark. The ruins were discovered only recently, deep under present-day Dunwall. Many trinkets and artifacts still wash up along Dunwall's shores in the present day.
Originally a small whaling town, Dunwall experienced an industrial boom with the discovery of whale oil's potential as a fuel source by natural philosopher Esmond Roseburrow. This discovery led to the emergence of various technological marvels, from mechanized whaling trawlers to electric lighting and security devices, many created by the inventor Anton Sokolov.
Dunwall is divided in two by the Wrenhaven, a vast river that serves as the main thoroughfare for whaling trawlers and other commercial traffic. Kingsparrow Island, located where the river meets the sea, is the only island known to exist off Dunwall. Dunwall is also dominated by rocky outcroppings and numerous cliffs, which are in turn topped by multiple factories and manors.
The Rat Plague
The rat plague, a virulent and deadly disease originally from the distant Pandyssian Continent, emerged in Dunwall's poorest districts and decimated the city's population. Following a plea for aid from Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, the other nations of the Empire blockaded Dunwall to prevent the disease from spreading outside the city. Although the Empress rejected early efforts to establish quarantines and martial law to combat the plague, her assassination allowed Lord Regent Hiram Burrows to enforce aggressive policies, including using military technology to enforce social control. Desperation within the city led to riots and chaos as Dunwall's government became increasingly oppressive and obtrusive.
Walls of light control the flow of movement within the city, and the City Watch patrols the streets with a strict curfew imposed from dusk to dawn. An ever-increasing wealth gap secures health for those fortunate to have enough money, as the upper classes and their retinues hoard the elixirs that stave off the plague. Gang activity has become rampant, strengthened by lax law enforcement and the collapse of industry within the city. Amid the chaos, corruption thrives.
Dunwall is known for extreme class division and xenophobia. The poor form the lowest stratum of society, and are the target of biological warfare aimed at eradicating poverty by decimating the underclass. During plague time, Survivors represent those who have survived the plague but are downtrodden and oppressed. They are encouraged to join the Navy or, in the case of children, the Abbey in return for protection from the plague.
The aristocracy continues to thrive even during the prevalence of the plague, many of them belonging to influential families such as the Carmines, Inchmouths, Boyles and Pendletons. Individuals from other nations within the Empire are not highly regarded, and are not often seen among the privileged classes; Corvo Attano and Anton Sokolov are the only known exceptions, both of whom experience degradation due to their nationality. Further, it is common belief that marriage between members of Gristol's aristocracy and people of other nations "dirties the blood."
Adherence to the Abbey of the Everyman is widespread, yet cultists of the Outsider prevail in the city's many dark corners. Cuisine is also divided - for the downtrodden, there are cheap canned goods and rations, and for Dunwall's upper classes, expensive foods, whiskeys and ciders are imported from across the Isles.
Law and Order
The Dunwall City Watch is the primary law enforcement agency for the entire city, with three different tiers: the Lower Watch, the Guards, the Officers and a specialized rank, the Tallboys. The Wrenhaven River Patrol enforces Dunwall's laws across the River and its tributaries. The Soldiers of the Combined Armies of the Empire work with the Watch. During the reign of Hiram Burrows, the Abbey of the Everyman's Warfare Overseers work alongside the Watch, given all the powers of a civil police, though they largely deal with crimes of heresy. Regardless, criminal organizations such as the Dead Eels, the Hatters, and the Bottle Street Gang, continue to thrive.
Much of Dunwall's architecture is influenced by a mixture of real-world architectural influences: Dunwall Tower exhibits Gothic architecture, the Golden Cat resembles Art Noveau, and the Boyle Mansion is heavily Victorian. The majority of housing is influenced by Victorian (primarily Jacobean revival) style and is comprised of a handful different designs repeated throughout the city. Industrial influences are also present, such as in the expansion of Dunwall Tower, Kaldwin's Bridge, and quarantine barriers, while Coldridge Prison and the Office of the High Overseer take heavily after Nazi architecture.
Predictably, areas of affluence such as the Estate District exhibit the city's most elaborate architectural influences, which poorer districts are comprised of simpler, more utilitarian structures. The latter also experience the heaviest deterioration during the plague, due to lack of civil maintenance; the Rudshore Financial District and Drapers Ward act as major exceptions following the breaking of the river barriers and the rise of gang warfare, respectively.
Technology and Transportation
Dunwall, being one of the most industrialized cities of the Isles, possesses numerous advanced technologies from the mundane to the sophisticated. Electric lighting and heaters are common in almost every home, while for security purposes, walls of light and arc pylons are utilized to control movement. The most infamous of these technologies is the Tallboy, a heavily armored soldier armed with explosive arrows, walking on motorized stilts. Almost all of these technologies are powered by whale oil.
Due to Dunwall's port environment, boats from small motor boats to massive, hulking whaling trawlers form the bulk of transportation in and out of Dunwall. On the ground, railway tracks provide transport for the City Watch and smaller rail cars are used by the aristocracy as a means of personal transport. Elevated rail lines provide fast and easy transport for people, cargo and even corpses.
- Wrenhaven River: The main river flowing through Dunwall. Used mainly by whaling trawlers to access the slaughterhouses alongside the river.
- Dunwall Sewers: The city's waterworks used to evacuate wastewater directly into the Wrenhaven. They cover most of Dunwall's underground.
- Distillery District: A district named after the old Dunwall Whiskey Distillery, which is located there. Disputed between the City Watch and the Bottle Street gang.
- Holger Square: Location of the Office of the High Overseer. It serves as headquarters for the Overseers of the Abbey of the Everyman in Dunwall.
- Estate District: A wealthy, upper class district housing the estates of Dunwall's most prestigious families, such as the Boyles and the Morays.
- Flooded District: Previously the thriving Rudshore Financial District, flooded during the plague crisis due to poor maintenance work of the water walls. Now used to round up plague victims, both dead and alive.
- Old Port District: A quarantined area emptied by plague. It houses the Hound Pits Pub, headquarters of the Loyalist Conspiracy.
- Slaughterhouse Row: An industrial whaling district with the most active slaughterhouses in Dunwall, including the Rothwild Slaughterhouse.
- Legal District: Home to several major law offices in Dunwall, such as the estate of the City Barrister Arnold Timsh.
- Drapers Ward: A major textile production area reconverted into a high-class clothing center. After its decline, control of the district was violently disputed between the Hatters and the Dead Eels.
- Mutcherhaven District: An area outside Dunwall's quarantine blockades. Home to several large estates, such as the abandoned Brigmore Manor.
- Civil Services District: An unseen district where emergency grain rationing has been set to help Dunwall's citizens survive through the plague crisis.
- Tailors' District: An unseen district where a protest for more food, elixir rations and better treatment was severely repressed by the City Watch.
- Dunwall Water District: An unseen district mentioned only on a sign near a door leading into the Dunwall Sewers.
Monuments And Other Important Landmarks
- Dunwall Tower: Central seat of the Empire's rulers. It has been heavily fortified with new technologies under the regency of Hiram Burrows.
- Coldridge Prison: Main prison in Gristol holding Dunwall's criminals. Reinforced with new security measures following the escape of Corvo Attano. It is accessible from Dunwall Tower only.
- The Golden Cat: An upscale bathhouse, also known as Dunwall's most famous brothel. It recently reopened after a plague outbreak.
- Kaldwin's Bridge: A large bridge spanning across the Wrenhaven. It holds several warehouses, apartments and estates, such as Anton Sokolov's Safehouse.
- Kingsparrow Island: A small island off the coast of Dunwall. It serves as a military fortress, utilizing the latest Sokolov technologies, and holds a luxury penthouse atop the monumental lighthouse.
- The Academy of Natural Philosophy: Home to the intellectual elite of Dunwall and the chief authority of science across the Empire.
- Clocktower: A mechanical clock towering the Estate District and the rest of Dunwall.
- Gristol Parliament: The seat of Dunwall's government, where Gristol's aristocracy gathers to vote on issues and make decisions regarding the island.
- Dunwall is strongly inspired by London and Edinburgh, as well as British and American whaling towns as they existed in the 19th century.
- "Dun" is Old English for gray or drab, and is also a Scottish/Irish Gaelic term for "fort". Both of these definitions hint at aspects of the city.
- The collectible item Medicinal Herbs (valued 20 coins) are Nettle Seeds made in Dunwall.
- The population of Dunwall is 202,900. The city spans an area of 19.65 sq mi, and it sits at an elevation of 125 ft.
- ↑ Outsider Shrines Speeches § The Royal Physician
- ↑ Official Dishonored website: Discover Dunwall - Energy
- ↑ The Lord Regent’s Confession
- ↑ "Citizens displaced by quarantine measures are reminded that the Dunwall Navy has bunks, food and salary, and in some cases, legal amnesty available for qualified applicants. Report to a recruiter to learn more about the opportunities in service to the Lord Regent."
- ↑ "Attention Dunwall Citizens: You are urged to consider presenting children between the ages of seven and ten to the Abbey to be tested. As Overseers, they will be provided for, and serve the wellbeing [sic] of the community and the city."
- ↑ The Royal Protector
- ↑ "Yes, Sokolov's a foreigner - with the looks and manner of a Tyvian Swineherd. But he is also a great genius."
- ↑ Loudspeaker Announcement: "...in this continuing crisis, the Overseers of the Abbey of the Everyman remain in service of the state, and are empowered to enforce whenever and wherever necessary..."
- ↑ Interview with Havey Smith after the 2016 Bethesda E3 Showcase
- ↑ Dishonored: The Dunwall Archives
World in the Dishonored series