After the last stronghold, I feel need to expunge the shame of it being a gully dwarf stronghold and make a proper dwarven one. For this, it will be a mix of rolls and choosing options, a perfectly valid option given in the book.
The stronghold name will contain three prefixes to go with the suffix. Our rolls net us Far, Nal and Nor. For the suffix we get Gak. Mixing them up we get Norfarnalgak. It sounds decent but I want a little more, so I make some miror changes to get Norzarngak.
Rather than roll on the subrace table, I am going to choose – in this case mixed subraces. There are more than one type of dwarf present in this stronghold. I will still roll to see which is dominant, and how many, and what type, of other subraces are present.
We roll 58 on 1d100, which gives us Hill Dwarves as the dominant subrace. A 4 on 1d4 means 4 other subraces are also present, so a very cosmopolitan dwarf stronghold.
Hill dwarves have 3d100+100 adult males present. The roll for that gives us 188, for 288 adult males. That will also give us 144 adult females and 72 children in the fortress.
When other subraces are present, you are meant to modify the dominant race to reduce their numbers – in the case of 4 others, we are meant to reduce it by 75%, but I keep the old numbers. I want a big stronghold. Well, as big as a dwarf stronghold can be.
To find out who else lives in the stronghold, and how many of them, we roll on the Hill Dwarf Subrace Table. The first roll gives us 3d6 mountain dwarves, the second gives us 4d10 gully dwarves (we just cant seem to escape them), the third 2d8 duergar and the fourth 1d12 deep dwarves. We roll 12 mountain dwarves, 31 gully dwarves, 7 duergar and 10 deep dwarves. These are the adult males, so there will be more women and children.
If we had reduced the size of the dominate subrace as suggested, we would have 216 less adult male hill dwarves but only 60 adult males from other subraces, which would make a huge population drop. That is why I ignored it – there are few enough dwarves in a stronghold already to justify that.
An 8 on 2d6 for the alignment of the stronghold gets us Lawful Good – very much typical of the LG Hill Dwarves. That isn’t to say that everyone in the Stronghold is LG, but the overall outlook of it. Besides LG dwarves, there would also be Chaotic Good, Neutral Good and Lawful Neutral ones in smaller numbers. Other alignments might be present, but they would be very rare and would keep their alignment hidden.
As discussed in the next part, the other subraces have their own enclaves in Norzarngak, and these may have differing attitudes and ways of life than the rest of the stronghold. Rolling for them, the deep dwarves are overall Neutral and the mountain dwarves are Lawful Good. The duergar turn out to be Lawful Neutral, discarding the Lawful Evil ways of their subrace. The gully dwarves are also Neutral, being less chaotic than the rest of their kind. It seems the hill dwarves of Norzarngak have had a positive influences on their duergar and gully dwarf cousins.
Type of Stronghold
What is the size and importance of Norzarngak? One option we have is to have a primary stronghold for the hill dwarves, and have smaller, secondary ones for the subraces, as trading enclaves or family strongholds. These may end up wildly different to the main stronghold itself, which could make for some interesting adventure hooks.
For Norzarngak itself, we roll a 2 on a 1d100, which means this is a major stronghold, a capital city which may rule over other, lesser strongholds. It also means that the population is doubled – in this case 576 adult male hill dwarves, 24 mountain dwarves, 62 gully dwarves, 14 duergar and 20 deep dwarves. These are just the adult males, for a total of 696 adult males.
For the others, I decide that the mountain dwarves belong to a trade enclave, linking Norzarngak and their home civilisation. The duergar belong to a family stronghold, a single family of 14 males, 7 females and 3 children living in their own part of the stronghold.
For the deep dwarves, I let the dice decide and it comes out as an outpost – outposts have a 35% chance to be mines, and I roll an 01, so this is one of those. The deep dwarves (20 males, 10 females, 5 children) live in the deepest parts of the stronghold and control the local mine, which certainly gives them some power in the stronghold. The question is, what type of mine is it. An early chapter in the Complete Book of Dwarves allows you to roll up mines and see how rich they are. A 1d100 gives us 90 on the Mining Products Table – a silver mine. To see the quality of it, we roll a 1d10 on the Ore Quality Table and get 10, as good as it gets. A 10 allows us to roll again, and on a second 10 it is a pure vein, otherwise it requires smelting. Our second roll is only a 9. Close, but not quite. This mine produces smelted ore equal to 2000 silver coins each week per miner. This, then, is the main source of Norzarngak’s wealth.
The gully dwarves I don’t roll for. They live in the general populace, and I have a few ideas for them to expand on.
The Age of the Stronghold
A major stronghold has been around 2d10 generations. In Norzarngak’s case that is 12 generations, each of 350 years, or 4,200 years. Norzarngak is old, and well established. The deep dwarves mine has been around 1d6-1 generations, or 4 generations – 1,520 years. The mountain dwarf trade enclave has been around 1d4-2 generations, or 2 generations – 800 years. The duergar family stronghold has been around 1d6-1 generations. I decide they have been here 4 generations as well, or 1600 years. They arrived around the same time as the deep dwarves.
On a 1d100, we get a 81 for government type. Checking the government table, that results in an oligarchy, an elite group of dwarves elected or selected on the basis of their wealth to rule. These could be drawn from nobles, guilds or merchants, the only requirement being wealth. As such, I can see some representation from the deep dwarves, on the account of their mines, and possibly mountain dwarves as well, in addition to the hill dwarves who remain the majority of the oligarchic council.
For the other enclaves, the mountain dwarves are a theocracy. A priest runs their trade enclave, obviously a dwarven god of trade. The deep dwarves are feudal. A deep dwarf noble is in charge of the mine and all its workers. Meanwhile the duergar are a guild. A guild master runs their small family stronghold, which means the family are all likely part of the same guild. Thinking it over, and trying to integrate them into Norzarngak, I decide that they are the Guild of Silversmiths. They turn the silver mined by the deep dwarves into works of value and intricate design. While each enclave is ruled in its own way, they all full under the jurisdiction of the oligarchic council of the stronghold. The gully dwarves are, as mentioned, just part of the general stronghold.
Now to see how this rich, oligarchic stronghold interacts with the world beyond. Our first 1d20 roll gives us 15, isolationist, but our previous stronghold was one of those, so we are going to try again. Especially given we know that it trades with other dwarves at the least. A second roll is a 9 – friendly. Well, as friendly as dwarves get. They will most likely have more dealings with other races. Only 50% of the adult population is part of the militia, but given the size of the stronghold, that is still more than 500 basic members of the militia.
I decide that the enclaves may also have their own attitudes as well, which might make for a more interesting story for the stronghold. The mountain dwarves are expansionist, with 100% of the adults in the militia. Expansionists societies want to grow and move into new areas, even if it means going to war. It certainly adds an interesting new dynamic to the stronghold – the small religious trader enclave of mountain dwarves agitating for a more aggressive foreign policy to the friendly and more numerous hill dwarwves.
The deep dwarves are dispossessed – they lost their ancestral lands and, though few in number, still wish to reclaim. We need to roll on the war table to find out who drove them from their homes into exile. We actually roll 100 on 1d100, which means three races were involved. They turn out to be ogres, trolls and drow, though whether they were working together or separate we can work our later. Lastly, I decide that the duergar were also dispossessed – they arrived at around the same time as the deep dwarves, so it makes sense that some great war 15 or 16 centuries before in the deeper parts of the world drove the remnants of their civilisation to seek refuge elsewhere. Both the deep dwarves and duergar have 50-100% of their adult population in the militia. Given their background, and desire to reclaim their ancestral lands, 100% sounds appropriate.
Norzarngak is large and powerful, and probably wealthy. To see how wealthy we roll a 1d20 and add 2 for being primarily hill dwarves and 3 for being a major stronghold. The result is 24 – rich. There is great wealth there and even the lowest dwarf is exceedingly well off. Starting dwarf characters get a bonus +1d10x10 gp. A starting fighter normally gets 50-200 gp to start with, but one from Norzarngak gets another 10-100 on top of that.
I don’t roll for the enclaves in this case. The wealth of the stronghold is shared around between all, even the gully dwarves.
Relationship with other Player Character Races
As a friendly stronghold of lawful good alignment and with a lawful good race, Norzarngak rolls 1d20-9 to figure out its relationships with the other player character races nearby. They turn out to be friendly with humans, gnomes and halflings, meaning members of those races visit regularly, trade is brisk and some may even live among them. For the elves, they roll cautious but I downgrade that to merely indifferent. I’d rather steer away from the more antagonistic attitude between elves and dwarves that is often portrayed. In this case they are neutral and businesslike. Trade is done, and maybe a few elven merchants live in Norzarngak, but few other elves come to visit all that much.
The other enclaves have their own attitudes towards the other races. For the mountain dwarves, they roll a 1d20+1, due to their expansionist attitude, though their lawful good nature tones that down. They turn out to be indifferent towards gnomes and halflings, no doubt seeing little threat from them, but cautious towards humans and elves. While gnomes and halflings may visit the trade enclave, humans and elves generally aren’t allowed without close supervision.
The deep dwarves down in the mines roll an unmodified 1d20 due to their neutrality and attitude. They are friendly towards the gnomes, indifferent towards halflings and cautious about elves and humans. They welcome gnomes and their may even be some living down in the mines. If a halfling actually wanted to venture down in the mines, they would be allowed to but humans and elves would be frowned upon, though not actively barred.
The lawful neutral nature of Norzarngak’s duergar gives them a 1d20-1 roll. In something of a surprise, they turn out to be friendly to humans, indifferent to halflings and gnomes, but cautious to elves. None of the enclaves seem to be big fans of the elves.
The gully dwarves, once again, follow the attitudes of the general stronghold.
War and Peace with other Races
Just because the stronghold has a general friendly outlook doesn’t mean their can’t be war. Normally they roll a 1d20-5 on the War/Peace table, meaning they may be in an uneasy peace that may erupt into war, but additional factors have to be taken into account. The disposed deep dwarves and duergar would roll a 1d20+10 and the expansionist mountain dwarves would roll a 1d20+5, making peace all but impossible and war likely. However, having the enclaves be involved in wars but not the stronghold itself would make little sense. The more aggressive nature of the enclaves pushed the the roll back to a straight 1d20 for the overall stronghold I decide. The result comes up as 11 – an uneasy peace. Now to find out who the uneasy peace is – a roll of 1d100 comes up as a 17 which reveals the enemy as drow. That should have been a fairly obvious choice from the history of the deep dwarves and duergar. We also need to find out how long the peace has held. That is a 1d8 roll on the peace table, which is normally a 1d10 roll, meaning always have been at peace is out of the question. The roll comes up with 3d10 years – as recently as 11 years before there had been conflict between Norzarngak and the drow. A few more rolls finds out that war had gone on for 5 generations, or around 1750 years before comings to its end, a steady war of border skirmishers and raids during which time the homes of the deep dwarves and duergar were overrun.
Having problems with just one race doesn’t seem enough through. We need a bit more for the purposes of adventures, so I will roll up two more enemy races and find out what trouble has happened with them.
The first are beholders, always troublesome neighbors. Currently there is a peace with them as well, the conflict having ended 31 years prior after a 6 year long invasion.
Lastly are hobgoblins, and it turns out there is an active war going on with them, it having been going on 34 years currently. It started just after the war with the beholders began, so there may be a link there. Now the other wars have ended, the dwarves have more resources available and the war is escalating in nature.
There is a war going on and so we need to know what Norzarngak has to fight it with. While a friendly stronghold with only 50% of the adult hill dwarf population in the militia, there are still 864 adults (576 male, 288 female) in the stronghold. Half of that is 432 milita.
Hill dwarves have elite (13) morale and are normally equipment with chain mail and shields, but because Norzarngak is rich, they are able to outfit all of them in plate mail. For weapons, it is a mix, with each dwarf having two weapons. A fixed percentage of the militia is equipped with each combo, so for instance 25% of them have axes and hammers, and 10% have axes and heavy crossbows.
Hill dwarf leaders are equipped with full plate armour and shields, and there are the following ones; 10 2nd-6th level warriors, 2 4th level warriors, 2 6th level warriors, 2 3rd-6th/4th-7th warrior/priests, 1 8th level warrior, 1 7th level warrior, 1 6/7th level warrior/priest and 1 4/4th level warrior/priest. In total they have 432 militia and 20 leaders.
The enclaves have their own small forces of militia as well, ready to back up the main force.
There are 36 adult mountain dwarves (24 male, 12 female), all of who are in their militia. Given they are expansionist, they get +2 morale, increasing theirs to 15. They only get 1 leader, a 2nd-6th level warrior. The militia also have plate mail and shields, with the leader having full plate. In total they have 36 militia and 1 leader.
There are 21 adult duergar (14 male, 7 female), all of who are in their militia, all equipped with plate mail and shields, with elite (13) morale. For whatever reason, duergar and gully dwarf militias get a lot more leaders than the other subraces. This duergar militia has 5 2nd level warriors and 2 4th level warriors in full plate. In total they have 21 militia and 7 leaders.
There are 30 adult deep dwarves (20 male, 10 female), all of who are in their militia, all equipped with plate mail and shields, with elite (13) morale. In theory they aren’t meant to get any leaders until they have 40 members of the militia but we will give them 1 3rd level warrior in full plate. In total they have 30 militia and 1 leader.
A stronghold can have special types of forces, basically the kits described in the books such as Battleragers and Hearth Guards, totaling 10-20% of the total number of male dwarves in the stronghold, which are in addition to the regular members of the militia.
Norzarngak has 346 adult males in the militia and I am giving them the full 20% they can have. Given how large and wealthy the stronghold is, they can afford it, and the current war also would obviously also mean more would be needed and available.
That gives them 69 special units, which can come from any subrace. I am not going to split them up as normally I would assign them from the pool as needed, but each subraces would have certain kits they would favour other others, as follows.
The Hill Dwarves favour warrior kits, like the Animal Master, Hearth Guard (a female warrior kit), Highborn (nobles and rulers), and Sharpshooters. There are also some Diplomats (thief kit) given their relations with other races, and the occasional warrior/thief kit like Traders and Vermin Slayers.
The only gully dwarves that serve in the militia are actually a few individuals who are actual special units, and they favour thief and warrior/thief kits like the Pest Controller and Vermin Slayer.
Given the religious nature of their trade enclave, the mountain dwarves favour priests and warrior/priest kits. I have allocated two members of the speical units to them – a Ritual Priest who rules the enclave and a Trader who oversees the trading done by it.
The duergar, being a bit more stealthy than others dwarves, like thief and warrior/thief kits, especially Wayfinders, warrior/thieves who specialise in exploring in an effort to find ways back down to their lost homes.
Like the hill dwarves, the deep dwarves favour warrior kits, and also have one assigned special unit – a Highborn, the feudal ruler of the mine enclave and the Uncrowned King of their lost stronghold who yearns to reclaim his birthright.
With a bit more than 500 members of the militia, Norzarngak gets to roll 10 times on the war machines table, resulting in 9 war machines. We give them 2 grinders, pedal powered machines equipped with a number of huge rotating blades designed to roll down tunnel and chop up enemies, 2 heavy ballista and 5 light ballista.
In addition to regular dwarves, Norzarngak is also defender by brown bears, with 2d4 bears forming part of its defence per Animal Master in the stronghold.
There you have Norzarngak in all its glory, a wealthy, large and fairly open city full of many dwarves of different kinds. There are 576 adult male hill dwarves, 288 adult female hill dwarves, 144 hill dwarf children, 20 adult hill dwarf militia leaders, 24 adult male mountain dwarves, 12 adult female mountain dwarves, 6 mountain dwarf children, 1 adult mountain dwarf militia leader, 14 adult male duergar, 7 adult female duergar, 3 duergar children, 7 adult duergar militia leaders, 20 adult male deep dwarves, 10 adult female deep dwarves, 5 deep dwarf children, 1 deep dwarf militia leader, 62 adult male gully dwarves, 31 adult female gully dwarves, 15 gully dwarf children and 69 special units of various subraces. And some brown bears. That gives a total population of 1,315 dwarves in one of the largest, grandest strongholds in the world. Yeah, numbers in the book may be a little on the low side for cities, but you go with what you’ve got.
In addition to those dwarves, and bears, you’re likely to see a few small pockets of humans, gnomes and halflings living in Norzarngak, maybe a two or three dozen of each, just to give the city a bit of extra flavour. And if you are lucky, or unlucky, depending on how you few it, maybe a couple of elf merchants as well.
When the first hill dwarves struck the earth more than 4000 years ago and established Norzarngak in the Norzarn Caverns in the Silver Hills, they had little idea what their legacy would become. From the first days, Norzarngak grew, and from it spread out the Sons of Norzarn through the hills, founding colonies along its length.
Some three thousand years ago, the first primitive strangers began to appear on the plains below; humans, halflings, gnomes and even elves. It provoked interest in the dwarves of Nozarngak, and they went among the strangers and taught them, and from it friendship grew with most, though the elves held themselves apart and soon trade began to blossom and flourish between the dwarves of the Silver Hills and the growing cities on the plains.
And while there was peace for almost two and a half thousand years since the time of the founding of Norzarngak, it was not to last. Drow began to appear in the deep places , and war was kindled, not just with the hill dwarves but other dwarves too that lived beneath the earth. 150 years after it had begun came the first great tragedy of the war, for the drow brought together a force of trolls and ogres to aid them, and they overran the strongholds of the duergar. Those few that survived fled and threw themselves on the mercy of the hill dwarves of Norzarngak. While the hill dwarves did not fully trust their grey dwarf kin, yet when they saw the pitiful remnant before them, they took pity upon them and took them in, aiding them.
It was not to the be the last tragedy either, for a mere 80 years later the deep dwarves were destroyed by the drow and their allies, and the remnants of their people, lead by their last king, came to Norzarngak and there took refuge, but they were not alone.
With them came another band of dwarves, ones the deep dwarves had rescued from the hands of the drow, a people broken by torture and magic. Of what origins they were none could say, only that they had been reduced to a sorry state. Gully dwarves they were to be called, and ever fear of the drow lurked in them.
Shortly there after the alliance between the drow, trolls and ogres ended until only the drow remained and so a reprieve was granted upon Norzanrgak though the war yet went on, in raids and skirmishes through out the caverns and the depths. It was uncertain who turned on who first, but the three races all turned on each other, with the drow emerging triumphant.
During this period, the refugees settled into their new life with the hill dwarves. The deep dwarves, under their Uncrowned King, began to explore the depths below Norzarngak, seeking hidden routes to their old home, during which time they discovered silver in the hills and began to mine it. A change came upon the duergar, for a mix of loss, gratitude and the examples displayed by the hill dwarves saw them slowly drift from their darker ways, resulting in a small but respected enclave within the stronghold, devoted to the silvercraft and to the law. While the occasional black sheep cropped up still, the duergar were quick to deal with it least they loose the respect of the wider community, as they see it, though the broader stronghold would perhaps not be so quick to judge.
For the gully dwarves, the hill dwarves sought to rehabilitate their fallen kin, to mend the damage done to them. It was a hard task, with little success, but still the hill dwarves work at it, while the gully dwarves live among them, generally working as servants and in other simple tasks. Yet from time to time one emerges among the gully dwarves who show glimmers of their past selves, the most famous being ‘Chomper’ Dorin, one of the most dangerous battleragers to ever walk the deep caverns beneath Norzarngak.
For seven hundred more years the war went on, with neither side able to gain the upperhand. Then, from the distant Thunderpeak Mountains, from Holy Belnorkak, came envoys and traders from the mountain dwarves. Led by a priest, the religious mountain dwarves establish a trade enclave in Norzarngak, lending aid to the hill dwavres in their struggles with the drow, for to them it was a religious struggle.
Even for the long lived drow and dwarves, the war went on for a long time, for 17 centuries, and would, no doubt have continued further, but for an unexpected change. Into the caverns and the well worn battle fields came a new foe, hobgoblins, a disciplined and numerous foe, and they began to attack both drow and dwarf. Even so, the ancient enmity could not be so easily shaken.
Yet that was just a foretaste of what was to come, for a mere 3 years later came the beholders, seeking to dominate and enslave and they washed over the caverns in a full on invasion. Dire were the battles fought at the very walls of Norzarngak, and only through above ground routes was the way kept open. It was during this war that ‘Chomper’ Dorin came to fame, and while he helped break the invasion, he fell before the end came.
Both drow and dwarf were shaken by this invasion, and the still ongoing clashes with the hobgoblins, and so, a mere 14 years after the beholders were defeated, the war between them came to an end, though neither side particularly trusted the other.
11 years has passed since then, and the war against the hobgoblins is escalating, with all sides seeing out allies to aid them in the growing battles. The fate of Norzarngak, and indeed all of the lands around, both above and below, now hangs in the balance.