War of the Burning Sky 4e
Gate Pass lies in a rocky mountain pass running east to west between Ragesia and Shahalesti. Sheer cliffs mark its northern and southern borders, and fortifications built over centuries have made the city highly defensible, making it difficult to be annexed by either nation that surrounds it. These same fortifications, likewise, make it equally difficult for anyone to leave without going through any of the numerous gates that give the city its name.
Though the city’s borders to north and south are tightly limited, less than a mile wide at the widest point, the mountain pass is nearly twenty miles long, giving the city a lot of room to grow eastward and westward. The older districts of the city lie in the center of the pass, with different eras of development sprawling out gradually in both directions. Additionally, various small farms and ranches dot the mountains around the city proper, though these people are generally hostile to foreigners and relatively well-armed. Gate Pass has only been conquered once, and its citizens managed to drive out the invaders and regain their freedom, so many of the farmers and ranchers view themselves as the first line of defense for their city.
The city’s architecture tends to multistory buildings with bridges between roofs, creating thousands of “gateways” along roads and alleys. Even in poorer districts, buildings are usually at least two stories tall. Many merchants, made wealthy from the traffic that passes through the city, own vast ranges of adjacent buildings, all of them connected with high bridges. An expression of the city — “a coin for every gate” — both refers to the wealth of the city, and serves as a warning to visitors to avoid poorer areas where buildings lie unconnected.
A broad, twenty-foot wide thoroughfare called the Emelk Way runs the length of the city, interrupted only by the district walls every half mile or so. The city’s natural landscape rises in the center to a broad hill called Summer’s Bluff. In addition to being home to dozens of gated estates for the city’s politicians and rich merchants, Summer’s Bluff is the site of the city’s grand square, where various annual holidays are celebrated. The grand square can easily hold several thousand people, and it is dotted with dozens of small groves, statues, and ornamental gate arches, with staircases people can climb to get a better view. In the center of the grand square is a high stone dais, its surface carved in a massive relief that depicts several local legends.
The rest of the city consists of various districts of skilled workers, common housing, warehouses and businesses, and slums. Each district has representation in the city government. By city ordinance, every fourth district must contain a park at least a quarter mile to a side, though entrance to these typically requires payment of a few coppers.
The city grew outward from its central districts, with a new district and new outer wall springing up every decade or so. Because of this, it is possible to see the changing styles of construction and defense over the centuries of the city’s existence, like reading the rings
of a tree. In older districts, built before the development of the city’s underground sewer system, countless reservoirs and aqueducts rise above the rooftops, designed to catch rainwater and direct sewage to dumps outside the city. The current sewers flow into an underground river before being swept into endless, uncharted caves.
In the past few decades, clerics have blessed the gates of new districts in expensive rituals, and a tradition has developed for respected citizens to be buried in the sanctified ground near the gate of their district. Most graveyards, however, lie outside the city, either fenced in atop hills, or in gated crypts.
Gate Pass has the distinction of being the only city to successfully drive out occupation by the Ragesian Empire. Forty years ago, Emperor Coaltongue defeated the city’s army, set up a military government, and erected a 90-foot-tall statue of himself in the grand square on Summer’s Bluff before moving on to his next conquest. For two years, citizens waged an insurgency against the occupying army, until finally Coaltongue decided the city wasn’t worth the loss of men.
17,000; another 2,000 or so live on the countryside and upper mountain slopes within a few miles of the main gates. The citizens of Gate Pass are mostly human. A sizeable orc and half-orc population represents about 20% of the city. A small elven refugee population is the only other significant group, with half-elves, dwarves, and gnomes filling out the rest.
A half-orc individual named Merrick Hurt is the city’s governor. He presides over a city council represented by individuals from each ward and district in the city. The council is responsible for managing the military, commerce, and public projects. According to most of the populace, the council is largely ineffectual and is easily swayed by citizen groups, wealthy merchants, religious concerns, and military groups.
Myths and Traditions
It is the middle of winter. The city is preparing to ring in the new year as the heroes are called to a special meeting. The streets are snow covered. In the day time, foot and cart traffic causes the snow to melt and refreeze, making the main streets slick, while side streets and corners are often drifted with the blowing snow.
This winter already has the feel of a winter that will never end. The skies seem always gloomy with thick grey clouds, and the snow is sullen and slightly grey. The cold seeps into even the warmest clothing, and people are feeling far more miserable than normal for this time of year.
Warm clothing will be necessary for any travel beyond a few blocks.
Inns and Taverns
Dassen Arms (5 stars, the best)
Griffon Suites (4 stars)
Harrigan’s Inn (1 star, the worst)
Flaming Forest Alehouse (5 stars)
Seaquen’s Spirits (3 stars)
One-to-Go tavern (1 star)
More information will be moved if/when we leave