D&D4E Geography and Civilization

Written by MBabiash 


Our story begins in a sizeable city-state known as Bulwark Point. Named after the near impenetrable castle which was most likely the beginning of the settlement, its influence and protection reaches beyond the city walls for several miles, incorporating numerous smaller towns and villages. The city covers a small peninsula on the shores of the Great Sea, with the outer wall spanning from bank to bank. A large artificial moat, spanned by a permanent bridge, effectively turns the peninsula into an island.

Judging by the surrounding lands, the peninsula of Bulwark Point was once probably heavily forested, with rather small to rather large grassy fields scattered throughout. Civilization has now made its mark on the land, and all that’s left of the peninsula’s forests are a few maintained city parks. The forest of the surrounding region becomes sparser as one travels inland until open grassland and rolling hills becomes the dominant terrain with small forests scattered here and there. Except for a mile long stretch along the southern beginning to the peninsula, home to the Port of Bulwark Point, the land continues to rise as one heads west, forming cliffs along the water’s edge on all sides.

The city’s influence spreads from the peninsula and western shore, out east about ten miles to a great river. Slow and navigable the river known as the Azure Highway flows south by southwest, entering from the north beyond the region of Bulwark Point, and flowing straight through. It is due east on the western edged of the river that one can find the region’s second largest town, though pale in comparison to Bulwark Point, Riverford. Other even smaller towns and villages are sprinkled throughout the rest of the region, in a general arch five to ten miles wide, around Bulwark Point.

The Bulwark Point is a larger city, spanning the peninsula, roughly five miles north to south, and another five miles out into the sea. The city’s outer wall protects its eastern edged, reaching the waters of the port to the south, and curving west at the north end, following the shore a short ways until the cliffs take over. At the center of the wall is a large gatehouse, sporting a pair of portcullises which are almost never closed, which serves as the only entrance and exit by land. An improved and well maintained stone road begins at the Gates of Bulwark Point, crossing the permanent bridge spanning the moat, and winds eastward straight to the Port of Riverford.

The market district is the first thing one encounter at the entrance to Bulwark Point. Here merchants and craftsmen ply their wares to visitors and citizens alike, from their stalls and shops. Though few and far between, other random artisans and professionals can be found throughout the city. To the south of the market district are the docks and warehouses of the Port of Bulwark Point. Several inns and taverns can also be found in this district, offering entertainment and lodging to travelers headed north or south along the coast. To the north of the market is a large grass drill field, well groomed to military standards, and an arrow’s shot in both length and width. At its north, built at the edge of the cliff, is a small keep which serves as headquarters to both the militia and town guard.

Heading from the Gates along Main Street, straight through the market district, one will pass through a few neighborhoods before reaching the heart of the city. At the center is a large open amphitheater. With a large arc of stone seating, all oriented towards a central stage, the amphitheater is capable of seating a thousand people, maybe more. Its size and location make it the idea spot for all sorts of entertainment and public meetings. To the north and south a short ways are equally impressive and important structures.

A great university lies to the north, a center of learning for all with such aspirations. All manner of people from children to adults attend lessons here, ranging from art to warfare and everything between. Though their secrets are largely guarded, it is known that a guild of wizards resides in and largely maintains the university, taking on students who display the potential for the arcane. There are several dormitory buildings on the grounds. The two largest are for permanent students, one of which is for the wizarding students, and the other for the children sent here to study. There is also a smaller one for those who stay temporarily to utilize the high-quality library and laboratories.

And to the south is an equally majestic abbey. Home to monks and priests of all sorts, it provides grounds to worship and study theology. With no bias toward any gods, there is a chapel and priory for each of the good and neutral aligned deities. A high abbot oversees the entire abbey, with an abbot representing each priory to advise him or her.

More neighborhoods are found to the west a ways, Main Street continuing to weave through them, until the ground becomes too rocky and steep for construction. It is here that one can see the castle which gave the region its name. Visible from miles outside the city, it sits on top of a large rise at the edge of the peninsula. The only access to anyone short of a dedicated mountain climber with gear is a winding cobblestone roadway barely wide enough for two carriages to pass each other. It climbs up for a hundred paces before reaching the large gatehouse at the top. Stone ramparts line the roadway, preventing unfortunate travelers from slipping off the edge to the ground below.

The gatehouse obscures view of all but the highest spires of the castle to one who approaches it up the roadway. Ramparts and arrow slits are well placed to stop even the most determined assaults. A pair of portcullises makes for the ideal trap as one passes through the gatehouse, with more arrow slits and murder holes aimed at those stuck between them. The keep itself lies beyond the courtyard, with two spires on either side, one only a story taller than the rest of the keep, and the other rising towards the heavens. The keep is built right to the edge of the cliffs so that even if one were to scale them, they would be faced with another twenty paces of smooth wall to overcome. The cliffs plummet down hundreds of paces to where the sea crashes against the rocks below.