Tales from the Sword Coast
his port city is both shelter and lifeline for the folk of the Coast. It is the only place to buy many luxury goods and offers the discerning shopper the widest selection of goods anywhere in the Sword Coast region – though usually at prices higher than those in Waterdeep or coastal Amn.
Baldur’s Gate is a tolerant but wellpoliced city of merchants, and quiet business as usual is the general order of each day. Baldur’s Gate, Berdusk, Neverwinter, and Silverymoon are probably the safest settlements in all western Faerun. In Baldur’s Gate, the watch wears distinctive black helms with a vertical red stripe on either side, if you have problems. Not only are the members of the watch vigilant, enthusiastic, wise, and observant, but the Flaming Fist Mercenary Company, over a thousand strong, is based in the city. Every tenth person or so is a member or a watch agent (well, spy) of the Fist, skilled in battle and within a breath or two of numerous armed allies. The visitor can freely stroll and shop. If you can’t carry all you buy, or need help to find your way, guides and porters can be hired at most street corners. These husky youths are known as lamp boys or lamp lasses because they carry lanterns at night to light the way for their patrons.
Baldur’s Gate curves like a great hand or crescent moon around its harbor. Crescent moon is the term used by its resident minstrels, who tend to be brassy-voiced tenors and delightfully smoky altos, depending on their gender, but hand describes it better. The fingers of the hand are the many docks and wharves that jut out into the harbor. A bridge from the western shore links the mainland with a rocky islet on which perches the old, massive Seatower of Balduran, which is used as a barracks, naval base, dungeon, and fortress. It has a full armory and catapults to battle hostile ships, and a massive chain can be stretched from it to the outermost wharf on the east side to bar the harbor to invaders.
The harbor boasts no less than four dry-dock slips for boat building and repair, complete with ox-driven pumps. The shipping facilities, I.m told, are among the best in all Faerûn. They feature modern warehouses, movable lamps and cranes, and tight security.
Around the harbor rises a crowded, but clean and prosperous, city. Everything is of stone and is usually wet with either rain, sleet, or fog, depending on the time of day and season.
This makes the streets slippery, makes the musk and mushrooms Baldurians grow in their cellars flourish, keeps the flowers and plants that are grown in hanging baskets everywhere green.and makes mildew and mold a constant problem. If it afflicts you, see Halbazzer Drin on Stormshore Street. He’s a gruff old wizard who has made his fortune with a spell that banishes mildew (12 gp per casting), and another that drives all moisture from things without harming them (10 gp per glamer). Despite fantastic offers of gold, gems, and magic from Calishite, Amnian, and other interests, he does not sell scrolls of these spells or reveal the incantations to others.
Buildings in Baldur’s Gate tend to be tall and narrow, with slit windows located high up and covered with shutters to block winter winds and nesting seabirds alike. Tall among them rises the grandly spired ducal palace of the four ruling Grand Dukes, known as the High Hall. A place for feasts, court hearings, and administrative business, it boasts a dozen meeting rooms that all citizens can wander in and use to conduct business.unless someone else is already using them. To discourage the miserly from using these as permanent places of business, there’s a rule forbidding anyone who entered one of the rooms today from using it tomorrow. Not far from the palace stands the High House of Wonders, consecrated to Gond. It is the largest of the Gate’s three temples. It is a perilous place for the curious; it has been the site of many an explosion and violent self-disassembly of sacred artifacts (which the faithful call apparati). Its spreading eastern wings face the Hall of Wonders, also on Windspell Street, where the more successful of Gond’s inventions are displayed to the public.
The wrist of the gigantic hand that is Baldur’s Gate is marked by the Black Dragon Gate, or Landward Gate, and its surrounding sprawl of slums, paddocks, cut-rate inns, and stockyards, all of which lie outside the city walls. Not far from the Hall of Wonders, near the Black Dragon Gate, and so near the wrist of Baldur’s Gate, is the Wide.
This huge open space is the Gate’s market. It bustles by day and night, and is usually open spacewise only in the sense that there are no buildings. Temporary stalls, bins, sale tables, and the shoppers thronging to them usually crowd shoulder to shoulder. Deliveries here are often made by tall, strong folk striding through the crowds with tall poles strapped to their chests or backs at the top of which, over an adult human’s height aloft, are cribs and crates full of goods. Prices are lower here than elsewhere in the Gate, but business is apt to be sharper. Among the more common vendors of silks, scarves, tobacco, and spices from the farthest reaches of the Shining South are masters of tattooing and disguise, and several minor wizards who specialize in spells that temporarily arrange a client’s hair into intricate patterns, cause areas of the body to glow or to adhere to certain scraps of garment or pieces of jewelry, alter skin and hair hue, and even cause scents to wax, wane, or move around the body’sometimes accompanied by radiances. These artisans come and go with the seasons .and, I.m told, the approach of creditors or bounty hunters acting for far-off authorities. Among the more permanent of these artisans are Lonthalin Mintar and Talessyr Tranth.
Outside the Wide, Baldur’s Gate lacks colorful landmarks. The everpresent damp discourages the use of banners, open shops, and the like. Windowboxes support trailing flowers of all sorts. Strolling minstrels, consisting usually of a singer playing a lute or hand harp accompanied by a flutist who also carries a hand drum and occasionally joins in on a chorus, provide another source of color. The Gate has few formal festivals. The largest is the Breaking, commemorating the last passage of ice from the harbor approaches every spring. The Gate does, however, have a custom of holding quiet street chatter sessions known as cobble parties in particular spots. They are named after the cobblestones that surface most of the streets.
These parties are always marked by the use of rose-red torches.which can be bought in several city shops, notably Felogyr’s Fireworks (run by Felogyr Sonshal) on Bindle Street. set in wall brackets along the street where the party is held. Baldurians frown on the drunken and debauched. These open-air fests tend to be tale-telling sessions, marked by a clutter of barrels, crates, and stools dragged into the street for folk to sit on while they talk.
Those wishing to overindulge in drink and in the company of the opposite sex are directed to the Undercellar, a little-known, damp, dark warren of linked cellars entered just off the Wide, with exits to 10 alleyways or more, and to the Low Lantern, a ship that cruises the harbor at night while festivities are going on both above and below decks. Daring citizens like to celebrate their marriage nights in the rigging of this vessel while perched precariously aloft or hanging over the night-dark waves from various ropes and sail booms. I.ve haven’t rated the Undercellar or the Lantern because I haven’t tried them. The Undercellar is said to be reasonably priced but rather squalid and shady Many folk like to go masked when enjoying themselves there. The Lantern is said to be noisy, fun, and expensive, with drinks dearer than in some of Waterdeep’s haughtiest establishments.
Baldur’s Gate is otherwise a pleasant but unremarkable city to stroll about in. Cats are everywhere. raised to keep down the shipborne vermin.but there’s nary a dog to be seen. Livestock and mounts are kept outside the city in order to ensure maximum cleanliness.