Many a wary traveller through Baldur’s Gate has asked themselves “what doth live beneath this fair city?” and “Where doth it’s sewers go?” The even more enlightened have questioned “who built and maintains these sewers?” Today I provide answers to these burning questions (while not covering my overuse and misuse of the word doth) as part of another round of providing an examination of something nobody asked for.
What doth live beneath the City of Baldur’s Gate?
While the sourcebooks on this topic are rather light, the Baldur’s Gate video game suggests that they are inhabited by kobolds, oozes, carrion crawlers, and maybe the occasional ogre mage. In Dark Alliance there are even a few bugbears that have found a home in them.
Outside of these games however it’s reasonable to suspect that like many sewers there are also spiders, bats, and various forms of rats. Even myconid and other fungi creatures, as well as rot grub and stirges may live in them.
According to Volo (in his Guide to the Sword Coast) there is a lime pit in the sewers that is used occasionally to store bodies. So seeing zombies and other form of undead may also not be unheard of.
Finally, it’s safe to say in a city as large as Baldur’s Gate, and with the games confirming that there is not a toilet to be found in the city, that there is an abundance of sewage created throughout the city and not a very refined means of removing it. No doubt this provides an ample opportunity in the city for otyugh (and other creatures that favour making their home in the soothing warmth of regularly deposited manure) to thrive.
Where doth the sewers go?
Some who are extremely familiar with the Baldur’s Gate video game will know that the sewer exits do not in any way line up with how the entrances to the sewers are configured above ground. This suggests that what the player sees is merely a small portion of a wider puzzle. Something akin to Escher’s relativity print, with entrances and exists scraped together with elaborate, perhaps even logic defying, tunnels and stairs connecting them.
Volo perhaps hints at the level of confusion that exists around them, suggesting that there may be hidden passages between the harbour and the Blushing Mermaid (an inn in the northern part of the city) amongst the Mermaid’s four levels of cellars. One would think the smell alone would give such a passage away. Yet the location of these passageways remain a mystery.
We see these strange connections in Baldur’s Gate 1 as well, with the sewer having connections to the ducal palace (where the grand dukes meet) and the undercellar (a seedy place for those looking to have a good time). In Siege of Dragonspear this is expanded to the sewers even having connections to the Flaming Fist’s headquarters and a secret passageway out of the city.
As well, in the most recent Descent into Avernus adventure the sewers are said to even be connected to a dungeon featuring cultists that worship the dead three
Likewise, Heroes in Baldur’s Gate By James Ohlen from DMSGuild also has a chart showcasing all the different places the sewers go across the city (and has very general encounters related to them spread out over 13 pages).
Who built them and who maintains them?
It’s not known who built them, though going by Baldur’s Gate 1 the presence of pipes and valves would suggest a level of knowledge in its builders that surpasses that of a kobold. There is a small chance that they were designed by humans and perhaps even dug out by kobolds. Alternatively, gnomes have been known to design and build sewers as well.
As for their maintenance, this is the responsibility of the Master of Drains and Underways. The person currently holding that position is Thalamra Vanthampur. She is one of the more ruthless dukes on the council of four (and is introduced in descent into avernus).
So what to take away from all of this?
As with my last post of this nature I didn’t intend for you to gleam much of anything from this (other than that I have too much time on my hands to write about the poop problems of Baldur’s Gate).
Still, having put some thought into this I hope that when considering your next urban adventure you’ll take heed of this post and make it one involving sewers. If so, then consider wading through the pristine (if a bit confusing) sewers of Baldur’s Gate!