Exploring the Halls of Arden Vul: Gosterwick
The closest safe haven for adventurers exploring the Halls of Arden Vul is the small town of Gosterwick, which has rapidly grown up at the foot of an ancient fortress, the Azure Keep. Lying only a few miles west of the Long Falls, Gosterwick and the Azure Keep occupy an advantageous site around and atop a semi-circular, granite ridge. Until recently, the Keep was a ruin, and the site of Gosterwick was inhabited only by a handful of husbandmen and their families. Twenty-five years ago, however, the mysterious Green Lady arrived at the Azure Keep with her companions, a sept of the Knights of the Azure Shield. Lady Alexia Basileon and the knights claimed the tower as their own and began to restore it, swiftly making it their base of operations in Burdock’s Valley.
Now known as the Azure Keep, it takes its name partly from the name of the knights’ order, and partly from the azure-blue tiles that define the Keep’s roof. In addition to the keep proper, the Knights sponsored the restoration of other buildings in two baileys located atop the ridgeline, including a grand fortified residence for the Green Lady, stables, dwellings for craftsmen, a well, and stout walls. Only a few years later came the news that Lady Alexia was building a new town at the foot of the keep; this town, formally named Vetucaster in Archontean, but known to most by its Thorcin name of Gosterwick, also profited from an ambitious, and swift, building program.
Currently some 2,200 souls dwell in Gosterwick, including representatives of several of the Factors, a local chapter of the Benevolent Brotherhood, and numerous traders and craftspeople. The Green Lady is actively recruiting merchants, factors, workers, and retired adventurers to her thriving community.
Gosterwick has 2,211 inhabitants, of whom 40% are Archontean, 40% are Thorcin, 15% are Wiskin, and 5% are demi-human (primarily halflings and imperial goblins).
Unlike Newmarket, a free town whose elites elect their own mayor, Gosterwick is governed by a thesmothete appointed by Lady Alexia. Currently, the thesmothete is Eusebia Phokas. As Eusebia’s jurisdiction extends only over the town proper, the Azure Keep is governed separately, by Sept Commander Horatius Gesellion. Of course, true authority over both town and keep lies with Lady Alexia Basileon, who dwells in the Residence lying on the ridge just north of the Keep.
- The Thesmothete: Eusebia Phokas holds the executive power in Gosterwick, as she supervises the other imperial agencies from her town house. She is aided in her bureaucratic work by three proedroi, and seven chartoularii. Eusebia is a capable and experienced administrator, and only kicks decisions up to Lady Alexia when they concern unusual problems.
- Imperial Bureaucracy: As an imperial town, albeit one started quasi-illegally by a renegade aristocrat, Gosterwick possesses the three familiar agencies of all imperial communities, namely the House of Sight, the House of Coins, and the Private House. In a brazen break with authority, the Green Lady has simply appointed her own candidates to run the three bureaucratic offices, granting each of them the title of logothete regardless of their previous postings or experience.
- The House of Coins, responsible for general taxation and public expenditures, is the largest of the three in Gosterwick; the Green Lady has conferred its administration to an old friend, Theron Glesteon.
- The Private House, which traditionally administers the estates and possessions of the imperial family in a given jurisdiction, is significantly smaller than usual in Gosterwick, since as of yet the emperor has claimed no territory here for his own. Its logothete is Aedelwine the Fair.
- The House of Sight, responsible for postal service, diplomacy, and imperial intelligence-gathering, is also small in Gosterwick; indeed, its logothete, Audun Yellow-Eyes, has not yet been recognized in his office by his alleged superiors in Narsileon.
The Wardens of Vetucaster
Lady Alexia has initiated a new program designed to attract well-to-do merchants and adventurers to Gosterwick. She calls it the ‘wardens’ program, for anyone who takes up the offer is given an impressive diploma naming them as a ‘Warden of Vetucaster’. Wardens are granted the rights of citizenship and the opportunity to buy land within the town at a 50% discount; in addition, for every prosperous merchant or craftsman that a Warden convinces to settle in Gosterwick, she pays a 750 gp bounty to the Warden. In return, the Warden must commit to remaining in residence at Gosterwick for at least 80 days per year (20 days per season), must contribute to the town defense, and must obey the lawful orders of the thesmothete or the knight commander. The Green Lady is explicitly targeting mid- and high- level adventurers who might be interested in retirement, but who are still active and useful.
The inhabitants of Gosterwick informally divide the town into five districts. These districts are in addition to the Keep and Residence, which form their own micro-communities.
- The first district is the Upper Market, which occupies the southern bailey of the Azure Keep. It is known for expensive shops and snobby citizens.
- The Under Keep district comprises the structures at the eastern end of the town, between the two lobes of the ridge; its main street is Keep Row. This district is relatively poor and seedy, with mostly wooden houses and structures.
- The Market District comprises the structures around the Central Market (AK-22) and is marked by larger buildings and more general prosperity.
- The Incense District (so named from the incense produced by the temples on the neighboring hill) is the northernmost district and has a divided identity. The areas of the Incense District around the Golden Road are wealthy and prestigious, with free-standing town homes of the wealthier burgesses; the areas to the east, however, by Totey Lake and the Water Gate, are poorer, with smaller, multi-family structures.
- The fifth district is known as the Outs and is used contemptuously to describe the multitude of cheap, quickly-built structures on the west side of town.
The Walls to Come
As yet, only the hill and ridge where the Azure Keep, the Residence, and the Upper Market are located have been fortified. The bulk of the town currently lacks walls. Yet the Green Lady’s ambitions are quite grand, and she hopes to enclose the town with impressive walls that will allow plenty of population growth. To this end she has had her men dig a small ditch and mound (only 3’ tall) to indicate the course of the walls to come. It is transparent to all who view the mound that it will take many years and much treasure to build the projected walls.
The Three City Gates
The Green Lady envisions three mighty gates to her fully-developed town. All three have been built, even though only one currently serves any function. To the east, by the lake, is the Water Gate. A gatehouse anchored by two 15’-diameter stone towers blocks the narrow strand between the ridge and the lake. This is the only gate that is currently incorporated into the actual structure of the town. The Imperial Gate, which naturally lies at the foot of Imperial Row, stands proudly amid empty meadows. The towers of its gatehouse are 20’ in diameter; as of yet it lacks a door. The Stone Gate lies to the west, at the foot of Stone Street. This is the least developed of the gates; as yet it is only a wooden structure, without grandeur or defensive value.
Gosterwick and the Keep abut a tributary of the Swift River that locals call The Long Run. The Long Run runs along the foothills west of Arden Vul before forming a small lake just north of the town. The lake has been called Totey Lake by the local Thorcinga for centuries. It's fairly shallow, except in its center; it is home to numerous species of edible fish.
- AK-1 The Azure Keep
- AK-2 The Residence
- AK-3 Kaelo's Bathhouse
- AK-4 The Bailiff's Truncheon - tough, seedy bar
- AK-5 The Benevolent Brotherhood public chapter house
- AK-6 The House of the Gods
- AK-7 Temple of Mitra
- AK-8 Temple of Heschius Ban
- AK-9 Temple of Demma
- AK-10 Temple of Lucreon
- AK-11 Residence of Chairduster the Metallurgist
- AK-12 The Stunned Acolyte Inn - wealthier clientele
- AK-13 The House of Sight
- AK-14 Torunn the Smith
- AK-15 The Private House
- AK-16 The Old Well Tavern - middle/upper class
- AK-17 The Rarities Factor
- AK-18 The Grain Hall
- AK-19 The House of Coins
- AK-20 The Silent Factor
- AK-21 The Yellow Cloak Inn
- AK-22 The Central Market
- AK-23 House of the Thesmothete
- AK-24 The Prosperity Factor
- AK-25 Creon's Curios and Pawnshop
- AK-26 The Muddy Puddle - tough tavern
- AK-27 Jeremias the Money Changer
- AK-28 Chairduster's Fine Metallurgy
- AK-29 Astableon the Scribe and Bookseller
- AK-30 The Arcane Practitioners' Club
- AK-31 Livestock and Horse Market
- AK-32 The Kettles (x2)