Hellgate Keep


Hellgate Keep stands on the westernmost of the three rivers that join to form the Delimbyir. The westernmost stream was once known as the Ascal Stream, but it’s now called Skull Creek. This infamous city was the Maw of the Nine Hells, the most evil and dangerous place in all the North.

It was once known as Ascalhorn, because it was built on the slopes of a jutting natural peak known as Ascal’s Horn. The Keep’s soaring stone walls and towers were built by elves long ago. They were intended to guard Turnstone Pass and the northern reaches of the elves’ realm from the periodic attacks of orc hordes.

The elves who built it made one mistake. They didn’t want the distasteful task of fighting the orcs themselves, so they turned their newly built fortress over to human refugees from fallen Netheril.

The humans of Ascalhorn were proud, and strong in magic. They strove to recapture the glory of fallen Myth Drannor, even as Silverymoon does today. However, they over- reached themselves. One ambitious mage, Wulgreth, created a secret gate to the Nine Hells in order to summon aid for his strivings against rivals in the city. Baatezu slowly infiltrated the city, at first only as quiet, quick servitors wearing shapes as like people as possible. Then they grew bolder, scheming and manipulating, acting as go-betweens for the powerful mages of the city, encouraging rivalries, misunderstandings, and fears.

They led many of Ascalhorn’s powerful wizards to embrace lichdom in a way that gave the baatezu magical control over them.

When they felt bold enough, baatezu ruled openly, torturing and devouring the human citizens at will. In desperation, many women and men of Ascalhorn turned to dusty grimoires. They summoned tanar’ri to fight the baatezu. It was a strategy that worked too well.

A horde of tanar’ri poured into the city, slaughtering humans, liches, and baatezu alike. Those who could fled in terror, and frightened folk across the North rechristened Ascalhorn with the name Hellgate Keep from a minstrel’s ballad describing the fall of its pride and might.

In 1369, the Year of the Gauntlet, adventurers managed to destroy Hellgate Keep by activating some form of Artifact. It was a suicide mission, but it worked, and the Keep has been utterly destroyed, although a large force of the tanar’ri were on the war path elsewhere at the time, so survived the artifacts effects. These tanar’ri and other fiends have since been almost completely destroyed by other forces. Treants now guard the ruins to prevent any evil being re-awakened.

Hellgate Keep

Rise of the Fallen God alvonwald alvonwald