The World of Dragonsgate
The town of Dragonsgate is the central nexus on The Dragon’s Road, the main trade thoroughfare to and from the town, which straddles the Truin River. The Truin comes down from the mountains and is a major trade river, wide and busy, plied by halfling river-folk and shipping barges as well as pleasure craft and fishermen. All who would travel past Dragonsgate must pay a toll to pass the Dragonsgate Bridge, which was crafted by dwarves in the shape of an immense dragon striding across the river with its tail curling on one side and one front paw reaching the far shore. A nature check (DC 15) can determine that the dragon’s specific species is Green. The dragon’s legs form three great arches – a tall arch in the center and smaller ones to either side through which boats and barges can pass. Each arch can be closed with heavy double gates to prevent passage. In the area around the bridge the river has been artificially widened over the years to contain docks and quays where boats may pause to have their contents examined and taxes assessed. The town of Dragonsgate grew up around this toll bridge as settlers came to claim a piece of the wealth.
Despite its success Dragonsgate is a relatively young town, only a few a centuries old. The bridge was crafted by dwarves of the Rustfell Clan who settled there after being driven out of their mountain homes. The Rustfell dwarves tell the history of their town simply – their leader Torrald had a vision of a great bridge that was also a work of art, and his belief was so strong that his clan supported him in building the bridge, despite it being in the middle of nowhere. At first traders along the river rebelled against the dwarves and their attempt to charge a toll, but despite attacks by several mercenary bands and other offended parties, the dwarves stood firm and held their claim. Their wealth grew quickly, enabling them to treat with nearby communities for supplies and necessary labor, and soon worthy folk from all over the countryside traveled to Dragonsgate to support the toll bridge and earn a share of the profits through trading, crafting, farming the cleared land around the bridge, or even joining the town’s growing militia, The Watch.
Some tell a more exciting tale, claiming that Torrald’s clan ran afoul of an actual dragon shortly after attempting to settle on the river, but were able to slay the beast, and built its bones into the bridge that took its namesake. The dwarves who live in Dragonsgate scoff at this tale, but that doesn’t put an end to the rumors that Dragonsgate was built on dragon bones, or that the dragon was merely driven off and still circles Greencleft Mountain plotting its revenge. Occasional claims of dragon sightings give these rumors strength, but over the decades the elusive dragon has been treated more like a mascot by the townsfolk than an object of fear.
Torrald’s son, Tormhald, is the mayor of Dragonsgate, a brawny and grayed dwarf whose mind is still keen and whose fist is still tight. Now that bandits have begun haunting the King’s Road to the far west, the Truin is the safest, swiftest trade route connecting the northern reaches of the kingdom with the southern sea, and Dragonsgate’s profits only grow. As the Town expands so does development of the lands around it – the foothills across the river have become verdant pasture-lands, and the watchtower perched on the side of Greencleft Mountain, abandoned for centuries, has become the opulent retreat of the elusive Lord Caes.
- The Dragon’s Pint- A large and bustling tavern whose light and laughter spills out over the waterfront, its tile displays a green dragon rampant and its ale is reported to be the best on the river. Hops and barley are grown locally, flavored with local honey and fruit. The back half of the Dragon’s Pint is a brewery and hops-house. This tavern does not let rooms, but it does flavor the air with the scent of fermenting beer which, from a dwarven perspective, makes it a community landmark. A fine mead is also produced from local honey crops, and the brewer’s family has taken the name ‘Greensgold’ and imparted it as a brand to their wares.
- The Market Square – Traders, craftsmen, and farmers who don’t maintain a permanent store front in Dragonsgate set up stalls in the market square. There’s plenty to buy on weekdays, but on weekends and festival days the market truly bustles. A large fountain, fed by an underground well, sits in the center. Right now it’s a simple, three-tiered design but plans have been put into motion to add a metalwork statue to be unveiled at the Harvest Festival. Most sundry goods can be found in the market square, nothing magical or masterwork. For that, visitors must try the more established shops surrounding the market square. Here, dwarven smiths ply their hammers to create arms and armor. The Watch are their best customers but they often sell to those guarding shipments up and down the river. Some minor magical items crafted by adepts can also be had. The main road through the market square passes up over the Dragon’s Gate and to the other side of the river to the east. The Dragon’s Road bisects the market square north-south. A smattering of temples mark the border between the markets and residences; here temples and shrines to Avandra, Morradin, Erathis, and other gods of the common people hold sway. Conspicuously absent are shrines to the gods of death, as Dragonsgate has a tradition of surrendering its dead to the river. As such, the town also has no graveyard.
- The Watch Tower – Dragonsgate doesn’t have protective walls, so the title of ‘Watch Tower’ is just a name. The Watch Tower is a simple four-story building across from the Town Hall, on the same block as the Mayoral Estate and the white limestone edifice of the Guild Bank. The Watch patrols Dragonsgate. Its bulk is usually concentrated on the bridge to keep the peace and prevent smuggling (unless the smugglers have paid hefty bribes of course) but it also patrols the streets to keep the peace. Minor offenses aren’t taken too seriously in Dragonsgate – drunken sots earn a cell to sleep it off in and a small fine for the privilege, bar fights are treated much the same. Fines and sanctions are imposed for most monetary offenses, such as selling substandard wares, cheating a buyer, or violating town ordinance. Lashes, stockades, and other public shaming are common for other offenses, but for truly heinous crimes, perpetrators may disappear entirely from the town’s jails, their ledgers marked simply with, ‘given over for summary judgement’. Whatever fate they face, it is not public, but the residents have come to understand that ‘given over for summary judgment’ means the criminal will not return to plague them again, and most repeat the words with dark satisfaction.
- Belgol’s Bed Rest – A sprawling, three-story building with the mismatched look of one that has been expanded upon multiple times by different architects, Belgol’s Bed Rest is the biggest inn in Dragonsgate. It has three wings and enough customers to fill them on busy nights. First-floor common rooms hold the riff-raff in straw-filled bunks which, at least, are relatively free of fleas. Rooms on the second floor are slightly better quality but usually multiple beds, for groups of traders or bodyguards. The third floor holds single rooms for those who can afford them. Between the wings are communal bathing areas, but the higher rooms can get private baths and hot water for their comfort. Communal meals are also availiable, simple fare, but finer food and room service can be had for extra coin. Belgol is an aging dwarfwoman who tolerates no mischeif from her lodgers or employees and is loathe to part with even the smallest coin.
- The Guild Bank – A branch of the Banker’s Guild, which is owned and run primarily by dwarves, the Guild Bank also owns several warehouses along the riverside. Its vaults and warehouses are kept safe by well-trained contracted guardsmen, allowing the wealthy to secure their valuables in peace. The Guild Bank has branches in major settlements throughout the kingdom and is capable of issuing promisory notes that will be honored at any of its branches, providing a safer way of transporting money, since a promisory note can only be cashed by the individual to whom it is issued. Identity is secured by signature and right thumbprint for most, though wealthier clients may have their notes secured with magical means. The bank gives loans for personal use, construction, and major purchases at a fair interest rate, but doesn’t hesitate to send out its swords to collect on an overdue debt. Notary scribes who know multiple languages and can cast spells to ascertain the validity of certain documents can be employed for public use, and the Guild Bank processes and records the taxes collected by the town for a small fee. Those ledgers can be viewed by those with sufficient rank.