Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Village of Baalgad

THE GOAL: The goal is to find a town that will best represent Winterhaven, the site of the Keep on Shadowfell adventure. I could make up such a place easily enough, but one of the advantages of using the ancient world as my campaign setting is that thousands of years of history has done a lot of my job for me. Why create geography, trade routes and conflict when the good folks of 2,000 BC have already done the heavy lifting?

THE TOWN: Baalgad (or Baal-gad), meaning troops of Baal, is an ancient town that is thought to now be called Hasbaya. It has a rich history, most of which I want to use well beyond Phoenician times. It features:

  • The Seat of the All High. The town sits at the foot of Baal-Hermon a mountain that all religions in the area hold sacred. It's a local Mount Olympus.
  • Fertile Valley. A long fertile valley runs to the west of the mountain with Baalgad it's local town. People grow olives primarily, but also produce honey, pears, grapes, figs and pine nuts.
  • The Citadel. There's an ancient keep. Nobody knows who built it and when. Nobody even knows how many rooms are in it (really, no kidding). It's got a large dungeon of at least three floors, used for keeping prisoners, entombing the dead, storing goods, you name it.

  • Religion. Although multiple religions find the mountain to be holy, the town and the citadel are clearly dedicated to Baal, or as we call him, Pelor, god of light. Baal is important but remember that Malqart is the god of Zor, so there's no religious support from the powerful city-state.
  • The Citadel. I rather like the historical reality that the citadel is family owned and maintained. This family in our campaign will be the keepers of the citadel. The citadel in the campaign, like the real one, gets no government support and is in a shambles. The purpose of our citadel is to guard against the nearby shadowfell. Zor has more pressing matters at hand, so Baalgad is on its own.
  • Trade Routes? Not really. It's well protected and isn't on a particular route, thus the citadel's only purpose is to guard against the Shadowfell.

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