The City of Baerstun
In the Kingdom of Galena, the roads from Southgate and Anvilglow meet near the frontier in a walled city called Baerstun. The city is divided into quarters: the Royal Quarter, the Artisans’ Quarter, the Ocean Quarter, and the Stone Quarter. Each quarter occupies one fourth of the city’s circular wall, with the exception of the Ocean Quarter, which sprawls onto the cliffs overlooking Baerstun Bay. A packed stone ramp leads down the cliff-face and doubles back, opening out onto the harbor. Dwarves have settled into the cliff-face where they live side by side with itinerant sailors. Inside the walls, the quarters have segregated the population: the upper classes, scholars, bankers, wealthiest merchants, and upper classes live in the Royal Quarter. The artisans, craftsmen, shipwrights, and anyone with enough clout in their guild can secure a place in the Artisans’ Quarter. The Ocean Quarter is home to sailors, dockworkers, apprentices with enough money to rent a small apartment, and anyone else who is just passing through. Anyone who doesn’t have two coppers to rub together or wants to stay out of sight could try their luck finding housing in the Stone Quarter – until recently.
The troubles in the Stone Quarter include press-gangs, vicious roaming undead, and a plague of rats. The well-known Upper Catacombs and the far older Lower Catacombs seem to be the source of some of the problems. Can the brave adventurers figure out what force is behind the recent turn of events? Can they stop it before it overwhelms the city? Can anyone?
Baerstun (from “Barrow stone”) is a port city in the kingdom of Galena, about four days’ journey south of the dwarven mountainhome of Anvilglow and six days’ journey west-north-west of Southgate, if you follow the coastline of Baerstun Bay. The city is surrounded by a massive circular wall, and is divided into four wards that quarter the circle. Each of the straight walls that forms the boundary between two quarters is fitted with a wide gate. Market Street runs from the Royal Quarter through Artisans’ Quarter and to the Ocean Quarter, with Royal Market at one end and Ocean Market at the other. Each internal gate is staffed by one or two guards who have the authority to open and close it, but the internal gates almost always remain open. The outer gates are guarded by the city guard, but in case of attack these guards are also members of the King’s Infantry and have the authority to send for the militia or call up the standing infantry reserves who are quartered in Baerstun.
The Stone Quarter is dominated by a gargantuan circular stone. The only entrance to the stone quarter from the royal quarter is to a statue garden in which stands a single ancient statue. It is the fourth marble statue to stand in its place. From the ruins of the first statue a heart was carved and set into the chest of the second; from the second, the heart was retrieved and two eyes were set into the third; from the third a new eye was carved, and so the fourth statue has the heart of the first and the eyes of the second and third statues. From the Ocean Quarter one can wander into the slums of the Stone Quarter but masonry retaining walls with low-hanging beams hold back rubble in most places and the slums are tightly-packed. The prison and dungeons of Baerstun Keep are tunneled into the settled, hard-packed rock of the Barrows but can only be accessed from the Keep, which grew over time and now spans the Royal Quarter and part of the Stone Quarter.
The Ocean Quarter is the south-facing quarter; almost all of the commodity trade that goes on in the city takes place on the docks, at Ocean Market, or in the nearby warehouses. The port sits at the foot of a fifty-foot sheer cliff face bolstered by granite masonry slabs to form a retaining wall, with a dwarf-wrought stone ramp and piers for docking ships. There are wooden and stone buildings abutting the cliffs for trade, but most dwarves choose to live in the apartments carved into the cliff face here. The city’s largest temple to Moradin is in the cliffside halls. The taverns are run-down and not particularly clean, the inns inexpensive, and the company swarthy. The Flying Firkin has strong and occasionally tasty dwarven ale, and serves fish and potatoes both fried to a crisp in oil and served on the same plate. For those of less discriminating tastes, hammocks and pallets are available in the Salty Hammer.
Baerstun Keep, the Armory, and the most expensive inns and taverns are in the Royal Quarter. The inherited title of Lord Wossname goes to the Duke of Baerstun Province, who makes his home here. Temples in the Royal Quarter host Baerstun’s high priests or bishops. The Royal Market trades in luxury and magical goods, and the raised platforms there host auctions and occasionally public trials. There are only two inns in the Royal Quarter, each with a very upscale tavern on the ground floor: the Horse and Hound Inn, and the Bear’s Crown Inn.
Once a training and parade ground for soldiers, the Artisans’ Quarter gradually became a place where soldiers could spend their money after long hours of drilling. The Artisans’ Quarter is characterized by beautiful architecture, trade schools, libraries, artisans and their apprentices, and picturesque residences owned by the wealthiest merchants. The largest library in the city is here, and is renowned for having original copies of the Seven Great Works of Binding. Artisans’ Market sells dwarf-wrought goods, armor, clothing, farm equipment, travelers’ needs, and anything else made by hand in the city. You can commission well-made mundane items here but you’ll need to pick from the dross if you’re looking for a magical item. The taverns are middle of the road and the inns clean and well-kept. The Golden Goose Tavern serves aged wines from their extensive cellars, and venison in a dark sauce made from local vegetables.