Baldur’s Gate and all the rest of the city as well
Baldur’s Gate was originally a small, seaside town until Balduran, the legendary seafarer, invested a large sum of money in the building up of the town and its fortifications. Balduran was never seen again in the town, but it grew from that investment into a thriving city and was renamed Baldur’s Gate after its major investor.
As a seaside city, much of Baldur’s Gate’s wealth is derived from seafaring business whether it’s trade up and down the Sword Coast or even from other continents, piracy or even smuggling Baldur’s Gate plays host to the honest and dutiful as well as the deceitful and downright evil. It’s home to a multicultural population in the tens of thousands and one of the major city nations of the Sword Coast.
Baldur’s Gate is also the setting of much media published by Wizards of the Coast including the decades old video games that made it famous (Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn and their expansions), a 5e campaign called “Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus” and the upcoming video game, Baldur’s Gate 3 being developed by Larian Studios. A trilogy of books known as the Baldur’s Gate trilogy was also written by authors Phillip Athans and Drew Karpyshyn and is based on the Bhaalspawn storyline featured in the video games.
Baldur’s Gate is located along the Sword along the banks of the river Chionthar, 40 miles east of the Sea of Swords. It is found south of the city state of Waterdeep and North of man along the Coast Way road. The city forms a crescent shape around the water, the lower city having been built on steep land that overlooks the harbour while the upper city is raised, built on flat land.
Baldur’s Gate is ruled by the Council of Four; 4 Grand Dukes, elected by the people to serve until they die or retire. The 4 grand dukes are members of the Lord’s Alliance, an inter-state alliance of nobles that would collaborate including leaders of Waterdeep and Silverymoon among other places.
Beneath the grand dukes are the Parliament of Peers, an elected body of 50 government officials that represent the people and deal with legislative matters and make recommendations to the Council of Four.
5 deputies serve as city officers, supporting the Council of Four with their particular areas of responsibility, these include:
- Harbourmaster – Managing all imports, exports, tariffs and records of incomings and outgoings from the city via the harbour
- High Constable and Master of Walls – Oversees all matters of protection both from external and internal threats
- Master of Drains and Underways – Maintains the city’s drains, sewers and other waterways including their upkeep and maintenance
- Master of Cobbles – Oversees all construction and upkeep of roads and buildings
- Purse Master – The treasurer of the city who oversees taxes, invests funds in the city and payment of city officials
Baldur’s Gate maintains a strong military presence both internally and externally known as the Flaming Fist; a 1,700 strong standing unit of highly trained soldiers that could be relied upon to protect the city. They also acted as a standing police force, protecting the city from internal threats. The Flaming Fist were also able to hire themselves out for external conflicts (as long as this did not place them in opposition to the city itself).
While the Flaming Fist maintained the peace of the masses, a separate group, known as the Watch, polices the noble classes.
Beyond the Flaming Fist, the Grand Dukes also command a navy of 6 ships with crews of 40+ each.
Baldur’s Gate is an easily defensible city based in a natural inlet and with strong fortifications, however, it’s likely Baldur’s Gate’s political neutrality that has primarily enabled it to remain safe from other conflicts that have arisen.
In Baldur’s Gate, most religions are tolerated, including those of notably evil deities such as Bane and Bhaal. This means that many religions are represented in the diverse city. However, 3 deities appear to be more heavily worshipped than others in Baldur’s Gate. Umberlee’s worship likely derives from the vast number of sea-faring inhabitants of the city seeking good favour on their voyages. As a wealthy merchant city, people would often seek the good fortune of Tymora in their endeavours for greater wealth and prosperity, particularly by merchants and gamblers. Lastly, the people of Baldur’s Gate enjoy technological advancement more than many other states making worship of Gond particularly widespread.
The Bhaalspawn Saga
Baldur’s Gate is the primary location of the Bhaalspawn saga and the games and books detailing this story are named after the city. The God of Murder, Bhaal, knowing of his eventual death, sowed his seed among the inhabitants of Faerun in the hope that they would sow murder and destruction in their path allowing Bhaal to be reborn.
In the first game, players travel a large portion of the Sword Coast, looking to solve the iron shortage that is creating tensions between nations as well as resolving problems with bandits and an attempted coup on Baldur’s Gate. Baldur’s Gate II deals with the Bhaalspawn’s capture by an elven traitor known as Jon Irenicus who has taken the Bhaalspawn to Amn, a city with whom Baldur’s Gate has an uneasy relationship. Jon Irenicus takes the Bhaalspawn’s soul in an attempt to bring back the half life he had lost as punishment.
The expansion, Throne of Bhaal, details a widespread conflict that arises as some of the most powerful Bhaalspawn attempt to wipe out the other Bhaalspawn to allow them to ascend into Bhaal’s position as Lord of Murder. The player must defeat these aggressors and choose if they themselves wish to ascend to this throne, or leave the legacy of Bhaal behind.