the Town of Helgate

The Town of Helgate
a mini-accessory
copyright © October 1999 by Thomas Miller
  1. Introduction
  2. Geography & Weather
  3. Town History
  4. Town Layout
  5. Law and Order
  6. Economy
  7. Map & Map Key
  8. Individuals of Note
  9. Adventure Ideas

  1. Introduction

  2. Helgate is a small, secluded mountain town that just happens to lie along a well-used mountain path. It has begun to see more traffic and gain more residents due to two factors: the recent discovery of silver in the northern mines, and the rising tensions between kingdoms all over the world. Were war to erupt, Helgate would certainly become an important strategic site in the conflict between nations.
    The purpose of this accessory is to give DMs a small, out-of- the-way town for their characters to visit and perhaps have adventures in. The final section of this work contains some ideas and plot hooks for such adventures.
    For reasons of practicality, assume that the following data is current to around 580 C.Y. Since Helgate is a growing and ever-changing place within the Adventurers stories, the best course of action is to present a snapshot of the town at one given period.
    To readers of "The Adventurers" who may be wondering: this accessory wasn't based on any maps or notes I had - it came totally from my imagination based on what I could remember offhand from my writings.

  3. Geography & Weather

  4. Helgate is located in the World of Greyhawk, amidst the Yatil and Clatspur Mountains, within hex L5/89 on the Greyhawk map. A fairly well-known and -used route winds from Molvar (in Ket) straight north into the mercenary kingdom of Perrenland. This path consists of more than thirty leagues of cold, barren mountain passes and trails; despite the traffic it sees, it is still a dangerous place. The town of Helgate lies two leagues due west of the approximate center of this route, in one of the deepest parts of the mountain range. A horse moving at a rapid pace can leave the main trail and be in Helgate within an hour.
    Due to its latitude and the surrounding terrain, Helgate is a cold place. Even at the height of summer, the town is far from warm; in the middle of winter, cold and wind combine to make it positively frigid. Typical temperatures range from 65 degrees in midsummer down to 5 in the depths of winter. Snow flurries are common in the fall and winter, though the town seldom gets snowed in. Rain is far more common, turning to sleet when the air is cold enough.
    A unique attribute of Helgate is its ever-present fog. No matter what the season, the town tends to be cloaked in thick mists which seep down from the mountains. Though sinister in appearance, these mists have proven to be utterly harmless despite the stories some mothers whisper to their unruly children.

  5. Town History

  6. Helgate is a relatively young town, founded in 525 C.Y. by a group of miners who saw the potential in the area. Their hunch paid off, as silver was discovered; for a time, the place was prosperous, growing in size and population. A few key figures became rich, but the mines eventually dried up, and the boom town became just another small town. For some reason, many people didn't leave when the money did, choosing instead to stay and continue their lives in Helgate.
    In 570 C.Y. the last of the rich mining magnates still in town was deposed, slain by a bandit chief and his gang who were looking for a place to hole up when the need arose. This man, Dagron Larthos, then seized power in Helgate and began a long and mostly unpleasant tenure as the town's leader. However, in 575 C.Y. Dagron was usurped and his entire band slain when a powerful adventurer rode into town. This individual, the elf Belphanior, took over and still rules to this day.

  7. Town Layout

  8. In the last year, Helgate's population has jumped from its previous four hundred or so to about six hundred. Still, it is a small town with a relatively simple layout. A central street, running from south to north, bisects the place. The southern end of this avenue is the point where the road west from the main mountain pass terminates; it is this entrance that visitors to Helgate enter through. The northern end of the town's main street takes one to the mines, and looming on the northern mountainside, overseeing all, rests the dark castle of Belphanior. To reach this grim place, one must use the side road which branches from the main one right before the mines; the path to the castle is a long, winding track up a deeply-forested slope.
    Oddly enough, neither this main road nor any of the side avenues that cross it have any formal names. The place is just too small to need them.
    On all sides of Helgate loom heavily-forested mountainsides which, together with its remote location, isolate the town from the outside world.

  9. Law and Order

  10. The most important thing to know in Helgate is this: the word of Belphanior is law. This is more a result of his raw power and often-harsh attitude than anything else. Yet, the residents of Helgate have by and large chosen to stay there. The reason is simple: Belphanior prefers a loose, common- sense sort of law. In his opinion, no one should have to tell you that theft or murder or rape is wrong - and if you do it, you deserve and get punishment, swiftly and without appeal. Those who have remained in Helgate understand this simple tenet and are willing to live by it.
    Belphanior has a number of town marshals whose word is for all intents and purposes as good as his own. One of these, the dwarf Otto, is Belphanior's second-hand man and tends to run things when the elf is busy. The other marshals typically number between four and eight. The current marshals (all of whom are detailed later) are: Otto, Aja, Jutokai, Neko, Razor Charlie, Skektek, Ys, and Zhao.
    The marshals exist primarily to strengthen the town guard when it comes to dealing with the uncommon, such as wizards or large groups of hostiles. Normally, the town guard can and does handle the day-to-day affairs of the town. The guard has three eight-hour shifts per day, and each shift consists of four guardsmen, with two having the day off. Thus, there are a total of eighteen town guards when all is running smoothly and normally. These guards are all warriors of 2nd to 4th level and typically fight with a sword of choice and a medium shield, though their individual preferences can vary. Most of them are also skilled in the use of either the longbow or crossbow. A few of them possess magical weapons.

  11. Economy

  12. The second silver boom in Helgate's history has begun to wane, but it had three significant effects. First, it bolstered the town's economy. Second, it brought in outsiders, many of whom now make their home in the town. Third, it brought in miners, who still plumb the depths of the mines in search of new veins of ore. It is quite possible that more silver, or perhaps some other resource, lie in wait for the pickaxe and shovel.
    Helgate does not mint its own coins, but rather accepts those of any other region, as long as the precious metal is real. Belphanior levies only small taxes on the residents, enough to pay necessary salaries and allow nominal upkeep of the town. Since he is independently wealthy, he has no real need to keep any of this money for himself. In fact, he pays the marshals' salaries out of his own pocket.
    Helgate has no thieves' guild, because Belphanior sees that life in the tiny town is simpler that way.

  13. Map & Map Key
  14. MAP KEY - places of note:
    • 1: town entrance This area is really nothing more than the point where the side pass (from the east) takes a northward turn and puts travelers at the southern end of Helgate. There is no sign announcing the town's name or population. Mist-shrouded, forested mountains loom on all sides.
    • 2: the Witches' Tit (house of ill repute) This is Helgate's largest and oldest such establishment, dating back almost to the town's beginnings. Its current owner/mistress is Lupe, a black-haired prostitute in her early forties. Lupe ascended to this position after the previous owner, Candice, was murdered five years ago. Rates here vary from a few coppers (for the truly skanky women) to a gold piece or more (for the young, sleek women.) Lupe does a good job of housing, feeding, and generally taking care of her girls, and this is the cleanest and most easygoing such establishment in the city.
    • 3: the Nailed Sole (cobbler) This shop offers the best selection of boots, shoes, and repair of such in the town. In fact, it offers the only selection of such. The shop is owned and run by Jamaine, an older man who still does all the work himself despite being in his sixties. Jamaine is a rather temerarious old fellow, and is not afraid to voice his opinion or back it up. This is not surprising given his generally unknown past: he spent ten years as a soldier in Nyrond, in his youth. Jamaine has been known to be on Belphanior and Otto's good side.
      • Jamaine: retired 4th level fighter, ac 8 (6 with leather armor), hp 28, Align N, 5'11", 185 lbs, 63 years old
    • 4: Desmond's House of Rest (leech) Desmond is the town leech (doctor) which is unusual because he has no clerical training whatsoever. Nevertheless, this skinny middle-aged man knows an awful lot about illnesses, injuries, herbal potions, and the like. Thanks to the frequent brawls in Helgate, Desmond gets plenty of business.
    • 5: Scoundrel's Den (tavern) This place is decent, but not decent enough. In practical terms, that means that scum and villainy tend to congregate here. The current owner, Felix, inherited the place from his father and has slowly let it run into the ground. Nevertheless, the tavern's good location near the entrance to town ensure a steady supply of paying customers. The Scoundrel's Den (that's how it appears on the sign; Felix is not an especially bright man) seems to attract more than its share of barfights.
    • 6: Ganzer's forge (blacksmith/metalworker) Helgate's blacksmith is the dwarf Ganzer. From this fairly spacious shop, he fills orders for weapons and armor, as well as miscellaneous items and metalwork. Ganzer is assisted by two apprentices, one of whom has been stealing bits of metal from him and trying to sell them (unsuccessfully) on the street. Next to the metalworking area, within the same building, is a showroom displaying some of the shop's finer work. The dwarf lives upstairs, above his shop. Ganzer has been asked by Belphanior to keep the latter informed of any high-volume weapons or armor orders that come his way, and the dwarf complies, happy with business and the current balance of power in town.
    • 7: town guardhouse Formerly the Thieves' Guild, this three-story building now serves as the barracks and quarters for all town guards on duty. At any given time, it contains between two and eight guardsmen (2nd to 4th level fighters, 20% chance that they carry a +1 weapon.) This building also contains a small armory, consisting of three dozen swords of various types and equal numbers of shields, crossbows, and leather armor. Belphanior is in the process of having the town blacksmith construct some chain mail, but this is a long and tedious process.
    • 8: Town Market This area is where those who sell foodstuffs and drinks gather to buy, sell, and trade. Due to the effort involved in setting up and breaking down booths, the market tends to only be lively on weekends.
    • 9: Sword & Cup (tavern) This is the classiest tavern in Helgate, which isn't saying much. Still, its owner and proprietor, Rexxus, keeps the food and drink good and the prices reasonable, and the customers come. Several years ago, the tavern had to be rebuilt after a terrible fire that destroyed most of it. Belphanior's second-in-command, Otto, has grown fond of Claudia, one of the barmaids here.
    • 10: Marshals' barracks This fairly new building is the quarters for those town marshals currently on duty. Actually, it has private rooms for all of them, plus a small armory and a stash of food, drink, and useful equipment. At any given time, one to four of the marshals (detailed in a subsequent section) will be found here.
    • 11: Fine Leathers (leatherworker) Albion, a tall, thin fellow in his thirties, is the town's tanner and leather expert. He is a master at his craft, and many in town wear his fine and comfortable clothing.
    • 12: Bread and Circuses (bakery) This is the shop of the sole baker in town, Stefano. Stefano and his wife Hildegaard bake the only bread and pastries in town; fortunately, both are very good at what they do. Belphanior pays Stefano to have one of his sons deliver a weekly ration of bread to the castle, via the carriage of Incus. While Stefano is terrified of the castle, the money is good and comes regularly, and the son in question is a bit dim, so all is well.
    • 13: Glass, Glass, and more Glass (glassblower/shaper) This shop belongs to Miles the glass-maker. Miles and his business neighbor Albion are currently engaged in a heated debate over land boundaries, and Miles also happens to be cheating on his wife, usually at the Witches' Tit. It's only a matter of time before he gets caught.
    • 14: butcher's shop This building, and the cozy pens beside it, house most of Helgate's livestock. The butcher, a bear of a man called Fritz, is quick-tempered and aggressive. Like Stefano the baker, Fritz has a weekly-supply deal for Belphanior's castle (in fact, he piggybacks his meats onto the bread order, letting Stefano's idiot son do the work for both parties.)
    • 15: Vergis' workshop (stonemason) The town's stonemason, Vergis, works and lives here with his family. Vergis' business is doing all right, but he's not too happy about a recent plan of Belphanior and Aja's that would have forced him to give up his land and building. Happily for Vergis, this didn't happen, but he's still upset about it and dislikes Belphanior.
    • 16: Grog Shoppe (brewery) For cheap booze in vast quantities, this place can't be beaten. Its owner and proprietor is a large, overweight half-orc who calls himself Grog (undoubtedly not his real name.) He typically brews anywhere from two to a dozen types of low-quality beer and ale. It is rumored that some of the lower-class taverns in town secretly get their booze from Grog, but nobody's talking.
      • Grog: 2nd level fighter, ac 9 (5 with chain mail), hp 17, Align CN, 6'1", 260 lbs, 37 years old
    • 17: cemetery This forsaken place, on the western outskirts of town, holds countless graves and bodies. Everyone shuns it except the death priestess Aja (see description below) who can use it as a natural power base. The elderly caretaker/custodian of the place, Oswald, may or may not be aware of the priestess' designs on the dead of Helgate. A foul-smelling bog just to the north ensures that people only approach this place using the main road.
    • 18: Balthaas' office (tax commissioner) Balthaas is one of the few people carried over from the previous administration to Belphanior's. This is because he knows the town and knows his job, and because he hasn't gotten in Belphanior's way yet. Balthaas doesn't patricularly like the elf or his rise to power, but he is smart enough to keep his mouth shut and do his job.
    • 19: Tomlinson's office (land commissioner) Tomlinson was recently hired to handle the slowly-but-surely expanding town's land claims and deeds. He doesn't like Balthaas but gets along with him.
    • 20: Marius Tobok's house (residence) In this small house live a carpenter, Marius Tobok, and his little dog Zorvo. Tobok has a secret, though: seven years ago, he fled Aerdy to escape execution for treason. Nobody here knows anything of his past (his current name isn't his real one) and he'd prefer to keep it that way. He's also become quite a good carpenter.
    • 21: Travis' house This small building is the home of young Travis, recently promoted to the rank of captain of the town guards. Unlike his predecessor, the departed Herbert, Travis has no family and is thus pretty well-focused on his work.
      • Travis: 5th level fighter, ac 3 (chain mail +1), hp 33, Align LN, 6'0", 180 lbs, 24 years old
    • 22: Norman's office (banker) Norman the gnome handles all of Helgate's financial records. He was appointed to this office directly, from outside the town, by Belphanior but has taken to his job pretty well.
    • 23: construction area Formerly the house of Dagron Larthos, this building is being renovated to serve as Aja's temple to Wee Jas. Not all of the neighbors are pleased with this development.
    • 24: Raven's Nest Inn (inn) The Raven's Nest is Helgate's oldest, largest, and nicest inn. A grand old building, it has been run by the same family for fifty years. The proprietor, Perkins, works hard to make sure that guests enjoy their stay, whether they're around for a night or a month. The inn was the site of the climactic final battle between Belphanior and the mercenary Torin the Crusader, years ago.
    • 25: river & small lake This river flows out of the mountain to the north of Helgate, winds around the western side of town, and continues on into the nearby mountains. In one particular area, it widens into a small lake before turning sharply downhill toward the bogs. The townspeople come to this tiny lake to gather water for themselves and their animals.
    • 26: farming area While it is extremely difficult to grow crops of any quality or quantity in Helgate, it is not impossible, as evidenced by this single tract of land that has proven farmable. In the warmer months, these lands yield various crops depending on what their owners tried to plant and what actually sprouted up.
    • 27: miners' homes These buildings are small and closely-packed, as miners don't tend to make a lot of money. The grizzled old miner Quincy also lives here; he is in charge of filing and tracking mining claims, and has been working these mines longer than anyone can remember. The other miners look up to Quincy as a father figure and representative to Belphanior.
    • 28: mines The mines gave birth to Helgate, and still supply it with ore, which means money, which means business. There are dozens of shafts, tunneling north and downward into the mountainside. The lucky miners find silver, while the unlucky ones go broke. The really unlucky ones find monsters, but Belphanior and Otto took care of that problem years ago.
    • 29: road uphill to Belphanior's castle This road goes up for about a league, winding about until it brings the traveler to the foot of Belphanior's castle. When the need arises, the ghostly Incus and his carriage come rattling down from the castle above to ferry visitors back and forth.
  15. Individuals of Note
  16. Belphanior

    adventurer, ruler of Helgate

    A tall, lean elf, Belphanior is a warrior, mage, and thief. Originally from the Wild Coast, he adventured across the world for a number of years before settling down in Helgate. Once a bit on the reckless side, he has calmed down considerably and is now an even more dangerous foe. He fights with both blade and magic, and tends to surround himself with loyal, capable assistants.


    ex-mercenary, adventurer, head marshal of Helgate

    A stocky dwarf who wears sideburns and goatee instead of a full beard, Otto is Belphanior's second-in-command and a long-time adventuring companion. Hailing from Perrenland, Otto has also spent time in the Fortress of Greyspire under Lord Marcus. He is a warrior and thief who is a master with both crossbow and shortsword. He also uses poisons whenever possible, and tends to be ruthlessly efficient.


    wanderer, consort of Belphanior

    A tall, slim, pale-skinned woman, Victoria is originally from the Urnst area. Though she appears to be in her early twenties, she is actually much older than that...for Victoria is a vampiress. Her frequent close contact with Belphanior is made possible by a magical amulet possessed by the latter. In addition to her fearsome undead powers and abilities, Victoria is a skilled swordswoman who can hold her own in any fight. She satisfies her need for blood by making nocturnal trips to neighboring towns and being discreet about what she does there.


    iron golem, guardian of Belphanior's castle

    Angus is an iron golem who usually resides in the castle. He has been instructed to obey Otto and Victoria as well, though his true master is Belphanior. Angus has no iron weapons built into his hands; he fights with fists alone.


    former street urchin taken in by Belphanior

    He doesn't look like much, but Eduardo is streetwise and savvy beyond his years. This makes him the perfect on-the-street spy and scout for Belphanior, a role which he is quite good at. Eduardo knows Helgate's layout, people, and history like the back of his hand.


    priestess of Wee Jas (goddess of death & magic)

    A tall, attractive woman from the Theocracy of the Pale, Aja is a powerful priestess who deals primarily in death magic. She has settled into a comfortable role amongst Belphanior's team, and is currently sleeping with one of them, the archer Jutokai. Nevertheless, she is also building a power base, unbeknownst to anyone else, within the town's graveyard.

    Daphne & Phoebe

    servant girls

    These two teenage sisters work in the castle, cleaning and serving thanks to Victoria's desire for such servants. It might sound like an unfair arrangement, but they are paid well and treated fairly. Victoria displayed a soft spot for them during an attack on the castle, ensuring that they were hidden and safe.



    This pale, gaunt, silent fellow drives the carriage that takes people back and forth from the castle of Belphanior. He is somewhat of an oddity in that he always appears when his services are needed, but has never been seen at any other time. Such are the mysteries of Helgate, one must suppose.



    An expert bowman from the western land of Ket, Jutokai originally came to Helgate with his friend Kinichi. Recently, the latter was slain during an adventure, which has left Jutokai somewhat despondent. He may not be with the Helgate group for much longer, though only time will tell.


    female thief and marshal

    Neko is one of the newest of Helgate's marshals, and is still learning the ropes. A slim young bandit, she has displayed amazing agility and decent sword skills.

    Razor Charlie

    knife-throwing mercenary

    Tall, muscular, and scarred, the man known only as Razor Charlie possesses the deadliest knife-throwing skills in the land. Originally a member of Dagron Larthos' forces, Razor Charlie later changed allegiances - making him perhaps the only person to directly fight Belphanior and live (and certainly the only person to directly fight him and become an ally afterwards). In any case, he has proven his worth time and again, and his gruff manner and mumbled dialogue make him even more unique among the Helgate marshals.



    A tempermental rogue Aerdian wizard who specializes in flamboyant, destructive magic, Skektek augments Belphanior when it comes to providing real magical power in Helgate. Although he tends to be argumentative and hard to get along with, he is a vital part of the group.


    heavy-duty warrior

    Standing eight and a half feet tall, the massive grey-skinned reptilian humanoid called Ys is an imposing figure. His appearance belies his keen mind and surprisingly articulate speech, however. Hailing from parts unknown, Ys has made quite an impact in Belphanior's group, playing a key role in almost every conflict and adventure since his arrival. That's not difficult when your weapon of choice is a forty-pound two-handed sword and you can swing it with enough power to fell trees. In his spare time, Ys enjoys eating and drinking vast amounts of victuals.


    dual-sword dancing warrior from the far West

    Poetry in motion: that's Zhao, with his whirling, leaping fighting style and twin blades. Little else is known about him at this point.

  17. Adventure Ideas
    1. The characters must take shelter in Helgate during a bad winter storm.
    2. Belphanior has some task he requires done and is willing to pay someone to do it (note: the nature of the task may not be pleasant...)
    3. Someone else has paid the characters to find and arrest/slay Belphanior for something he did in the past.
    4. A merchant from Ket or Perrenland hires the characters to pick up/deliver a shipment of silver from/to Helgate.
    5. The characters have been hired to protect a caravan using the main pass; it is attacked and the bandits' trail leads to Helgate, where they must find and apprehend the bandits without drawing the ire of the town's masters.
    6. A caravan of silver from Helgate to some other place is disrupted/destroyed, and those who were supposed to receive it hire characters to go to Helgate and claim what they are rightfully owed.