Imagine the scene, four riders halt outside the massive wooden gate of the city of Calast. 'Open your gate! We come from the King!' shouts one of the riders. The gate opens its cyclopean yellow-golden eye and the mounted messengers stagger back dumbfounded. A sound like a grating mechanism growls and echoes around the walls: 'What is your business?'. The rider replies hesitantly: 'We have ridden all day from Undthar to reach here with grave news of the war.' The gate grunts and the eye closes lethargically. After a brief pause the gargantuan structure starts to creak back on its hinges, and gives the riders access to the city's streets...
Indeed the war has not been going well, and the enemy host approaches even now. Needless to say the poor fools bear battering rams...
As they smash the sharpened trunk headlong into the gate, its eye snaps angrily open, blinks a few times. A chthonic roar reverberates around the skulls of the attacking army as the gate opens its vast maw, chomping down on the ram, crushing it into splinters, taking a few arms and heads with it. The sound of crunching wood rings out amidst the screams of the retreating army...
The year is 452. The first siege of Calast is about to come to its conclusion. The King and his Paladins have given up all hope of saving the city. The sickening crunch of the battering ram resounds over the whole city and the despairing King has only the last resort of prayer to the Paladin gods. He dismounts and kneels, bows his head and his knights follow suit. The battering ram is not heard again. The next sound is the noise of the ram being eaten by the newly awakened gate. The King and his Knights arise and watch in wonderment from the battlements...
Two hundred years of service later the people of Calast are fleeing an entirely different kind of evil. Those who can, leave the city in the face of a horrendous plague. The Great Gate is left alone for more than a century to guard the infested skeleton of a city as the bodies decompose and the infection dies away. It is shunned as a place of evil and death...
The PCs arrive to find the Gate withered and dying from more than a century of neglect and loneliness. It is ashamed of not having guarded the city, for it is now overrun with goblins who have made the crumbling relic their home. Its eye is sad and filmy, its timbers warped and greying. There are gaps around the frame where the wood has deformed. How can the PCs help this venerable magical creature?
See last paragraph.
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? Responses (23)-26
Wow! This is truly a creature of high fantasy! I love it.
Perhaps the gate is merely the way the city communicates with mortals. The whole city could be a living entity and it's health dependant on the condition of the lands inside it's walls. With out city gaurds to prevent the goblins from scaling the walls, the goblins would soon see that trying to breech the wall would lead to their doom, but a grappling hook or makeshift ladder could provide access easily.
To restore the gate to a healthy life, they would need to clean the city of the filth, unclog the aquaducts, and maybe shore up some buildings. Convincing the goblins to do it would be an interesting solution, but it's more likely that the pc's will throw the squatters out.
Both these ideas can be combined to create the health of the once mighty door. The movement of men and equipment through the door could help boost the power as well as the general upkeep of the city.
Perhaps the doors condition reflects the value of the city too. Since there is little of value in the city there is little use for the gate to be strong. Fixing up the place and/or bringing in actual valuables gives the door a reason for being stronger. Place tons of gold in there and perhaps it can be almost indestructable. Could be something all the great cities have, a gate like this. People can immediately access the value of the city by the condition of the gate. This gate idea is pretty cool!
Helping the gate is SO easy. Just kill all the goblins, convince enough people that the talk of decay etc. is not true, and move them inside, to re-create the city.
Or move the absurdly heavy gate to another city and install it there. It might be even theirs mission, why should they else approach the cursed city? There is also the moral thing about moving an intelligent creature somewhere it does not necessarily want to. Yeah, you took the gold, but you didn't know it talks...
What about its powers? Does it feel the truth, or just hostile intents of some visitors? Or can it be fooled in some way? Perhaps it does regenerate, for every battering ram eaten. :-)
Legends of 'Living Cities' could date back to ancient times, and the Gate of Calast is but one of them. As living creatures, they can make mistakes, be misled, and if they have enough intelligence and free will, even decide to be evil.
Imagine a Gate being told to destroy all red carriages because a neighboring country that betrayed the city only has access to redwood for it's construction. Centuries pass, the neighboring country fall to ruin and it's works lost to revolution and destruction. The border moves back from the city with the Gate and again has peace and prosperity. The new prince comes to visit and his favorite color is red. Chomp, Chomp, Chrunchy, Shreek.
A Gate with free will may want to become more powerful and threaten and blackmail merchants and nobility for passage. 'Bring more commerce to this city or you will not enter.' Or worse yet, not let them out. If the Gate is aware of their political connections, it may tell them to send messengers to accomplish it's needs, and untill they are done, the person(s) are it's hostages. Could be quite awkward if an assembly of nobles was in town for a celebration.
Perhaps there is a standing order that there are no weapons allowed or no magical items allowed in the city.
Could be a perfect place for a 'safe' meeting since it is guaranteed nobody can enter armed. Maybe the gate idea can be scaled down to be a regular door as well using all the same type ideas.
Maybe the gate can be scaled up to be the locks and seawall of a coastal port. Yikes!
I like it. Perhaps the original Gate of Calast could be healed with the repairing of the old Paladin church?
I love this idea-I wish I had thought of it myself.Maybe I'll use the idea of a living gate/door in a story of mine.
One of the first things I read on Strolen and still one of my favourites: this was posted up here a year or two before most of us (inc. me) currently posting arrived and deserves to be remembered!
This what fantasy is about.
Could be actually the mouthpiece of the city's spirit - that can be only healed along with the whole city.
Good posts never die, they just used to get lost in the data base. So now we can find them again, and begin to build upon them.
And now I get a chance to vote on it again. :moon: Paws up! :moon:
Oh, I never noticed this in the previous incarnation of Strolen's. Good one ephe! Needless to say the eye is a good idea. Very high fantasy and very good.
One of the best things on this site.
I had not seen this one before now! A great old post that should see light once more.
I could imagine that there would be a bit of flavor by changing some elements as well.
Perhaps the city is once again inhabited by populous, but due to the years of neglect and the lack of prayers, the gate has lost its ability to talk, and lost its anthropomorphic features. Perhaps it has a feebler mind now. But it still functions, and thinks. The town does not know it is intelligent.
The gate kills someone or attempts to due to rules given to it from a earlier age, and the unaware city now is on a witch hunt for the 'culprit' who closed the gate on an important figure. After several of these events happening within a short time, it becomes more apparent there is no individual at the controls.
Kind of a mystery. Although I don't know how players would go about finding the correct conclusion, or even proving it to the town, since many prayers may be necessary to restore the gate to its previous appearance and intelligence.
Well, all depends on how well they'll research the history of the gate... after the first dozen of legends they should start to have their suspicions. :)
I wish I could say something that hasn't been said already. A very good submission I think. I like the big golden eye - I can't help but think of big, bronze clockwork gears turning the inside the gate as numerous locks open and deadbolts slide away to swing wide the doors. Perhaps it's just me, but I feel almost attached to the poor thing, it's almost humanized by it's failure and depression. I can only imagine what a good source of information such a gate might be to the PCs, as it sees everyone who enters the city.
After reading through the sub and it's comments I can see why it has been rated so highly.
Have a HoH!
Wow, I just love this idea. The humanizing of the gate is really cool. I'd love to use this someday.