Aster Baal is the sole city on the The Rock of Ba'al and is one of the greatest merchant space ports in the entirety of Echospace. The city resides on the upper side of The Rock, with the underside reserved for agriculture and government property. The city is divided into three sections: The High City; The Middle City; The Low City. The High City was found on the trailing end of the asteroid, and housed the castle of the Prince. It is separated from the rest of the city by a great wall and Lake Ba'al. On the opposite end of the asteroid, on its leading edge, are Low City and the space docks where most of the Spelljammers would arrive for trade. The Middle City is found between the two.
The city is run by Prince Andru who has the power to levy taxes, regulate trade, judge laws, and declare war. Typically, he appoints bodies to enforce any changes that he made. The city generally operates a system of lawlessness, with the people policing themselves in the absence of any kind of city watch, but serious crimes are referred to one of three magistrates who each preside over one of the city's districts. While there is no kind of police force, members of the Magistrate's Watch are dispatched to investigate and take offenders into custody, if necessary
Rising above the rest of Aster Baal on the trailing edge of the asteroid, the High City is a green, spacious expanse that holds Prince Andru’s palace, called Starhaven, and various noble estates. The financial and mercantile center of Bral, the Middle City is home to thousands of Bralians who can afford to live outside the Low City but don’t have the privilege or means to dwell behind the walls of the High City. The beating heart of the Rock lies in the warren of streets and crowded markets of the Low City. It buzzes with activity at all hours, its streets choked with boisterous peddlers, clamorous beggars, and sneaky thieves. The Low City has a preponderance of taverns, inns, alehouses, shops, and crafting establishments and an equally staggering number of vacant buildings.
The Rock as it is today traces its roots back to roughly 170 years ago, when the eponymous Captain Ba'al established a pirate refuge here. The asteroid became a haven for thieves and cutthroats, and among them a few merchants and entrepreneurs set up shop. Even in a climate of lawlessness, the place evolved into something resembling a settlement of citizens. After Captain Ba'al’s death, the burgeoning city became known as Aster Baal, in his honor, and its location as the Rock of Ba'al. For the next several decades, various pirate captains held sway in the city, but none of them demonstrated an interest in trying to take over sole leadership of the city. Eventually, the merchants and tavernkeepers who made their livings on the Rock became as numerous as the pirates and brigands who sought refuge there. One of the pirate captains, Cozar, sensed that times were changing on the Rock—that the days of lawlessness were coming to an end. Through a series of strategic alliances and shrewd business deals, he consolidated his political power and dubbed himself Prince Cozar, the Rock’s first overlord. Under Prince Cozar’s long reign, the city evolved from a pirate hideout into a major city, attracting profit-seekers, adventurers, and other more respectable types. Upon Cozar’s death, the rule of Aster Baal passed to Frun, his son and heir. Frun was far from an able politician. Rather, he was a hedonist whose overindulgences compromised his authority. Business leaders and other influential types grabbed power where they could, and by the end of his reign, Frun was little more than a figurehead. His only notable accomplishments were the renovation of the royal palace and the construction of the arena that bears his name. Frun was succeeded by his son, Calabar, whose bearing and tastes resembled those of his father but whose time as the overlord lasted only days. Calabar disappeared under mysterious circumstances shortly after taking the throne; a body was never within the the rock's air bubble. A maze of political intrigue followed, eventually resulting in the succession of Calabar's younger brother, Prince Andru, who had a group of malcontents arrested and executed for the disappearance of his brother within days of his accession. Though his place on the throne is secure for now, Prince Andru is merely one player a network of powerful players. He has a host of agents and forces loyal to him, but he must act with consideration, since he has opponents who would rather see Aster Baal ruled by a more ineffectual leader or by a council that could more easily be influenced. Andru maintains his strong base of support because he is a serious and intelligent person—often likened to his grandfather, Prince Cozar, in this regard—and he isn’t easily intimidated.