Campaign of the Month: March 2016
Ptolus, City by the Spire
The Five Gates
Five gates lead into the city: three in the south wall and two in the north wall. Two of these are major gates and three are minor.
The major gates are set into sections of the city wall measuring about twenty-five feet thick. At each one stand twin sets of massive iron-bound, iron-hinged wooden portals twenty feet wide, with metal knobs to deter axes. A twenty-foot-square space lies in between each set of doors.
From a small gatehouse here, guards control an iron-bound, wooden portcullis, which they can lower in between the valves. Murder holes here allow defenders to drop down burning oil or fire crossbows. Both major gates are flanked by towers. Unlike other towers in the city wall, these are actually used as offices, storage, and off-duty areas for guards assigned to gate duty. The major gates are simply called the North Gate (in the North Market) and the South Gate (in the South Market).
The two minor gates in the south wall are more recent additions for the sake of convenience, thus they do not offer much in the way of defense. They consist of iron-bound wooden double doors each about ten feet wide. There is no gatehouse (and no portcullis or murder holes), although each minor gate stands next to a tower that is used as those flanking a main gate. These are called the Market Gate (to the west of the South Gate) and the Guilder Gate (to the east of the South Gate). The minor gate in the north wall is the Old City Gate in the western part of town. One can approach it only by taking the high King’s River Bridge across the King’s River Gorge into Oldtown. This gate is a single door fifteen feet wide; it has no gatehouse.
Each gate is guarded, but the guards almost never close the gates. Most of the five, in fact, are so old and have not been closed in so long, the hinges have rusted in place. Typically, four guards from the Watch are stationed at a given gate at any time, although, should any trouble arise, up to a dozen more guards from the nearest Watchhouse will appear within just a few minutes in an emergency.
The guards at each gate demand to see Imperial Identification Papers from anyone wishing to enter the city. They record each person’s name, reason for entering, and point of origin. They also demand a 2 cp toll per person, plus an additional 1 cp for a horse or other sizable animal (such as livestock) and 3 cp for a wagon. This is a daily toll, so someone entering, leaving, and returning in the same day pays only once. The guards do not stop people leaving the city unless ordered otherwise. This happens from time to time, usually when there is a search for a criminal who might be looking to leave.
On all goods brought into the city to be sold merchants must pay a levy: 5 percent of their accessed worth. Merchants without a gate receipt showing they’ve paid the taxes on goods for sale can face fines of 10 gp or more plus have all the goods confiscated.
On most days, a long line forms at each gate, particularly in the mornings as people wait to be allowed access to the city. Around each gate outside the walls, vendors sell goods to those entering the city—and to those stuck waiting in line. These goods include food, water, ale, and maps of the city (with varying degrees of accuracy).