Beyond the Sword Coast: Westgate

Posted on January 20, 2022 by



In this new series titled Beyond the Sword Coast, we’ll take a quick look at different locales throughout Faerun that campaigns can launch from or visit, outside of the all too familiar Sword Coast. We’ll start with the City of Westgate, one of my favorites in the setting, and how it can make for a fun place to set your urban D&D adventures.

Westgate, far from the Sword Coast, on the south shore of the Sea of Fallen Stars (which can lead to further pirating adventures), is a true den of scum and villainy where the only thing that counts is money. And if there’d one thing adventurers like, it’s money. 

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The city made a first appearance in issue 74 of Dragon Magazine back in 1983… it was just a passing mention in article named Seven Swords: Blades of the Realms, by Ed Greenwood. It would take four years before Westgate got described, in the original old grey box, The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting released in 1987.

But The Gateway to the West, as it’s known, wouldn’t really come to life until the release of Cloak and Dagger, a 2e supplement from late in that edition’s life, written by Eric L Boyd, Sean K Reynolds, and Steven Schend. The book detailed different organizations and NPCs in Faerun, and includes a whole chapter dedicated to the city.

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Now since the Forgotten Realms timeline moves along whenever a new edition is released, Cloak and Dagger doesn’t quite line up with the current era of the Realms, but the great thing is that it doesn’t matter, since no product exists that directly contradicts it anyway. It’s a great location to set up an urban campaign filled with intrigue and adventure in a location of Faerun that 5e has mostly ignored. 

So Westgate is publicly ruled by a nobility, but secretly a council of oligarchs indifferent to the  bribes, corruption, and deceit that plague the city run the place. Coin is all that matters, and the ends justify the means when it comes to acquiring it. It’s a dense urban area where all are welcome, and while the right price can get you what you need, a wrong look can get you stuck in the business end of an assassin’s dagger. 

So why are they in Westgate? Well, the PCs could be here working as sell swords protecting a merchant caravan that just rolled into town, or maybe they are here earning coin as combatants in the gladiatorial arena. The city also does not have a standing army, and depends on mercenaries for protection. Any of those make great reasons to be there. 

Here are three great things about Westgate to help you launch a campaign there right now. A location, NPCs, and a faction.

For  a location I’ll go with the city’s sewers and catacombs. They are RIPE with adventure. The Westgate sewers are home to a giant water creature called a quelzarn, a sea serpent not yet found in 5e. It’s said to snatch sailors off the deck of ships on the harbor and drag them into its lair. Let’s add it to 5e. We can reskin a Behir. Just take away the climb speed and give it a swim speed instead. Boom…a Quelzarn. We just invented a 5e monster. 

And down In the city’s miles of catacombs you can find temples, shrines, undead including plenty of liches, and tombs filled with magical items waiting to be plundered. There’s a lot of adventure to be had under Westgate. 

I love tropes, and I love the wild eyed wizard trope. It’s why I love Doc Brown. There’s an NPC in Westgate named Mintassan the Magnificent. He’s a plane traveling wizard who collects magical curious and lives in a townhouse protected by hundred of wards. He also owns an inn in the city with planar gates in it that caters to those traveling the multiverse, which might be a fun and useful locale at higher levels. 

Shalush Myrkeer is an Amnian immigrant, the rare successful merchant not affiliated with any noble house. His greatest ambition is to found his own house and become a Lord, but so far his efforts have not yielded results. He’d pay trusted employees well to help manipulate things within the nobility and help elevate his status. 

For a faction to stand in the PCs way you can’t go wrong with the Night Masks, the largest thieves guild in the city, who secretly control some members of the council, and have been able to cement their rule of the city’s underbelly. Their calling card is a domino mask, always left at the scene of every crime, and you can also see it used in graffiti on buildings under their protection. 

Orbakh, the leader of the Night Masks, is a clone of Manshoon infected with vampirism while in stasis.

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed this quick intro to Beyond the Sword Coast: Westgate. 

Support the blog! Here are a couple of affiliate links to products you can use if you plan to make Westgate your campaign’s starting point:

Clock and Dagger (DMs Guild)

Westgate Stock Map

Pirates of the Fallen Stars – takes the campaign to the Sea of Fallen Stars and its pirates. It’s a mix of flavor and mechanics for 2e. 

Map art by Mike Schley

“Cloak and Dagger” cover art by Jeff Easly

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Posted in: 5e D&D, Gaming