Smuggler’s Cave at Oldport Keep

Map of a sea cave connected through a tunnel to Oldport Keep.

While Oldport Keep itself is mostly out of use in current times, the sea caves below continue to be active. Sometime in the last century—the exact time is unknown—an enterprising band of smugglers and pirates led by the enigmatic Sessario Sangamar selected one cave in particular to use as a hidden landing. Over a period of years, they extended the chamber off of the natural subterranean beach and created a clandestine storeroom for their ill-gotten goods in transit. In the years following, others decided it would be worth the effort to connect the cave with an entrance on the surface. In particular, they chose the nearly-abandonded basement of Oldport Keep.

It wasn’t easy. At first none of them knew what they were doing, and quickly lost their way chipping through the dirt and rock beneath the keep without any clue how to reach the cave or even the ocean. After several false starts, someone had the idea to enlist the help of a dwarven miner that had gotten over a barrel on gambling debts. Within a season, he’d set them straight and a direct tunnel was completed. All the false starts and turns were, reportedly, filled in and closed off, but nobody knows for sure.

If one were to poke around the basement of Oldport Keep, behind a pile of seemingly ancient debris one would eventually find a cleverly hidden door on well-oiled hinges. Behind that door is a long, dark, mostly straight tunnel barely wider than a barrel. Sloping down at a relatively steep angle, it leads directly to the hidden cave once frequented by Sessario and his crew. The initial chamber is squared off, but the floor remains the sandy stone of the natural cavern beyond. Here and there are bits and bobs of detritus from years of smuggler activity: scraps of rope, broken planks, rusted barrel hoops, and more.

The natural cavern has a gently-sloping sandy floor that leads into a hidden cove. Small launches, rowboats, and dedicated swimmers can easily put in here and offload goods to be stored temporarily or transported up the tunnel to the keep. In addition, a mostly-unexplored (in modern times, anyway), water-filled tunnel branches off to hidden dry areas to the south, where undiscovered secrets could be waiting. Captain Sessario wasn’t buried with his treasure, after all…

I came up with the idea for Oldport Keep and the caves below as I was working out the map for Hookspire. It was also my first attempt to try and add some 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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