Arriving at the Gate
Those travelling by river into Bergsburg will enter between the towers of the Kettenschranke, the point in the walls where the Drakwasser flows out of the city. The river narrows here, and the waters are deeper and more swift-flowing than further downstream. Nevertheless, the Drakwasser is not a large river, and only boats of medium size or less may enter. All boatmen on the Talabec and in Hochland are aware of this fact, and will point it out to those sailing to the city in a larger vessel.
Kettenschranke is primarily a functional portal, and is not intended to impress visitors to the city. The two towers are round and are made from the same stone as the surrounding walls. At the top of the walls, a narrow walkway circumnavigates the circumference of each tower, and a further storey rises to crenellations. A row of arrow slits look out from the southern sides. The stone is well dressed but unornamented. The tower of the left is topped with a flagpole which flies the colours of the city. A family of magpies has made its home in the eastern tower - encouraged by the indulgence of the guards who believe that they bring luck
Aside from a defensive role, the Kettenschranke is used to collect entrance taxes from boats entering the city. Below the water there are two heavy chains which give the gate its name. When the gate is 'closed', the chains are drawn taut beneath the surface by means of heavy cranks housed within each tower - preventing the passage of any boat into or out of the city. To 'open' the gate, the chains are released which allows them to sink to the bottom of the Drakwasser, well below the keel of most small-medium boats.
When the walls of the city were expanded in 2214, the site of the river gate moved south from what is now St. Skulda's Bridge to the Kettenschranke. It was built at the same time as the walls over a period of two years by skilled masons, and has needed no substantial repair work since.
Entering the Gate
Entry to the city by boat is permitted between the hours of 6 a.m. and half an hour before darkness (determined by the position of the northern flagpole's shadow). The chains will be closed before the arrival of a boat, and a sentry posted on the western tower will send the signal of an approaching vessel. Two guards will then paddle a small rowing boat to collect taxes before entry. Taxes vary depending on cargoes and the size of a vessel, but rates are reasonable - between 2-6 GCs in most cases. The rates in the city's quays are far more prohibitive!
The soldiers at the gate are members of the external guard, with special responsibility for the security of the river. At any one time there will be 5 guards on duty within the two towers, and 5 more within hailing distance on the walls. The guards may search individuals and boats entering the city, although they are notoriously lax about this - obvious prohibited weapons will be confiscated, but otherwise most items will be left alone.
GMs introducing riverbound players to the city may want to read the following as they pass through the gate:
"As your boat sails slowly towards the walls, you can see the city sloping upwards from the river. Atop the cliffs on the north of Bergsburg is the Baronial Palace, while below sits the white dome of the Temple of Shallya's Falls. The air seems thinner here - Hochland is well named after all.
The guards paddle away from the boat and give the signal to the towers of the Kettenschranke. You hear the slow grinding of the chains in the water being slackened, and the sentry on the western tower signals for you to advance through the towers. As the boat slides slowly into the city, you realise that the south of the city is less salubrious than you expected - even a city famed for its Shallyan temple can have poverty and desperation it seems. To your left is a steep hill rising from the surrounding tenements, on top of which sits what appears to be a ruined barracks. The quays of Helmsberg on your left bustle with activity, both legal and less so.
You sail upriver towards the city's quays beyond St. Skulda's bridge, having finally arrived in Bergsburg."
There is little of note immediately through the river gates, and almost all boats sail straight to one of the quays north of St. Skulda's Bridge. The riverside buildings of Sudentor and Helmsberg hang precariously over the banks - players may catch a glimpse of a robbery going on down an alley in Helmsberg, or a carouser falling drunkenly into the river from an inn in Sudentor. There are some boats moored in poorly maintained wharfs, and several clustered around a ramshackle inn on the western bank - the String O' Pearls, a notorious hang-out for smugglers. This sits by the Kaistrasse, which is the road running alongside the river on the Helmsberg side.