Oldport Keep

Map of a four-level tower with a cellar and a tunnel to hidden sea caves.

The first structure erected where Oldport Keep now stands has been almost completely lost to time. The original inhabitants of the peninsula under the shadow of the Hook were primitive and superstitious. They worshipped long-forgotten gods of the sun, moon, and stars. The rocky promontory to the west of the Hook, which overlooks the Shattered Coast on the west side and the sheltered Oldport Harbor on the east, was a sacred site for their monolithic circle of standing stones. For many years, they worshipped and performed rituals on the cliffside overlooking the Sea of Storms.

Lorgo the Lame, as he was known, was a shaman-chief of the seafaring people from north of the sea who came to settle the peninsula many years later. Their first settlement was on the shores of Cavaghar’s Cove, the harbor known today as Oldport. Their culture was based on the concept that strength and prowess in battle determined leadership and dominance, and Lorgo was constantly in fear of being challenged as chief of his tribe. He’d been born with a deformity that made it difficult to walk, much less fight. Only his prowess with primitve magic elevated him to and kept him in a position of power. At the height of his paranoia, he ordered tower built on the stony rise above the harbor, well away from the village, where he would feel safe and could watch for any trouble coming his way. The original sun-worshippers had already moved on, and the standing stones became raw materials for the first stone-walled structure on the site of Oldport Keep: Lorgo’s Fear.

Lorgo’s people weren’t builders; their structures were usually wood-and-sod affairs, low long houses covered in sod and held together with straw and mud. His castle, then, was barely a single story high and riddled with holes. A small cupola on the roof allowed him to spy on the land when he felt moved do so, and though he called it a “tower”, his followers took to calling it his “fear” as it slowly became his prison. Lorgo remained safe, it was true, but his people just moved on. At first they kept him fed, and paid lip service to his edicts issued from the darkness of his cell. Eventually, however, they tired of the charade and simply ignored Lorgo entirely. Lorgo’s Fear ended up being his downfall. He became too self-absorbed and paranoid to leave its meager walls. He wasted away, never to be heard from again. His former tribe never felt it was worth the effort to climb to the top of that hill and check on him. They took to telling their children to behave, or Lorgo the Lame would come down from his Fear and take them.

Generations later, the village had become a town, and grew into a city. The site of Lorgo’s Fear was approached once again, as it provided an ideal vantage point for spotting incoming enemies from both the sea and the primeval forest to the south. Thus the third structure was built on the site of the ancient standing stones. The same raw material that once made Lorgo’s Fear became part of the foundation of Oldport Keep, the first tower to bear that name.

Not much more than a lookout tower, Oldport Keep never housed any significant fighting force. Its mere presence served to deter incursions of goblins and orcs from the forest, and it pulled double-duty as a lighthouse protecting ships coming into the growing harbor. The city of Oldport began to thrive under its watchful eye, poised to become a major population center in the region. Sadly, they also attracted the attention of a hobgoblin warlord that marched in along the Shattered Coast and thoroughly sacked the city, burning the entire site to the ground, including their tower on the hill.

Years later, the third tower—the same one still standing there today—was built as Hookspire continued to expand across the peninsula from its origin at the river’s mouth, and subsumed Oldport Harbor as a secondary port. They built a wall around the harbor, and rebuilt Oldport Keep to watch over the western end of the new city. Eventually even this keep lost its significance, as the Sea of Storms became increasingly difficult to navigate, and many fewer ships were coming from that direction. While it remained standing, Oldport Keep became disused and uninhabited in any official capacity. Ostensibly it’s locked up and remains under the purview of the Hookspire Guard, but nobody pays much attention to it anymore. Which, of course, makes it the perfect spot for smugglers to find purchase, especially once they built a secret tunnel to the sea caves below…

I came up with the idea for Oldport Keep as I was first working out the map for Hookspire. It was also my first attempt to try and add some constructed history to my fantasy city. How does it work for you? Drop me a line or hit me up on Twitter to give me your thoughts. Follow me on Instagram for more like this, and occasional previews of upcoming work. A high-res (3600px x 2700px) version of this map is available to my patrons.

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