Dwarven Strongholds in the Black Mountains

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Carillion
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Dwarven Strongholds in the Black Mountains

Post by Carillion » Sat Sep 22, 2018 2:55 pm

I was recently looking at the Poor Wizard's Almanac 2, when I noticed a reference to a "few beleaguered dwarven strongholds" (see page 34) which are located in the black mountains. I must confess to being surprised at this confirmation, as these strongholds were never placed on any canon map of the black mountains, and module X5 confirms that demi-humans are very rare in neighboring Hule. From this, it can be reasonably surmised that these strongholds have very little contact with the outside world, and are therefore likely to be located underground.

The description also seems to imply that the dwarves once had a greater control of this area, and that their influence has now been reduced due to humanoid incursions. This reminded me of the computer game "Dragon Age", where a once great dwarven civilization had been reduced to a few settlements due to a darkspawn (read humanoid) invasion of the underground roads, caves, towns and tunnels where the dwarves had lived. If so, there could be numerous underground dwarven ruins in the Black Mountains, now inhabited by humanoids and monsters. These ruins would also most likely hold dwarven treasures.

So, my questions relating to this are these:
Could there actually be a large network of abandoned dwarven tunnels under the Black Mountains, waiting to be explored by brave adventurers?
Are these dwarves in any way related to those living in Rockhome (I must confess that Mystaran Dwarven history isn't one of my strong points)?

Any comments welcome!

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Re: Dwarven Strongholds in the Black Mountains

Post by Robin » Sat Sep 22, 2018 3:14 pm

this seems logical indeed...where would you think they are placed then?
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Re: Dwarven Strongholds in the Black Mountains

Post by pauldupuis » Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:49 pm

You are right on the money. It was our intent to effectively "borrow" from Tolkien and have a declining Dwarven population deep underground with only tiny visible presences (like the entrance to the mines of Moria). One of the more abandon strongholds may provide a dangerous passage between the Great Waste and Hule if one knows of it and is brave enough. The very few still populated could have served as an adventure seed for PCs from the east who convey to the struggling Dwarves tales of Rockhome and even helping them migrate to the east or to communicate for Dwarven reinforcements from Rockhome to aid them. If PCs were on a mission to Hule, the Dwaves might offer knowledge of safe passage under the mountains to them. And so on. You get the idea.

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Re: Dwarven Strongholds in the Black Mountains

Post by Sturm » Mon Sep 24, 2018 8:19 am

In Savage Coast material, dwarves arrived in 450 BC. A number of them could have settled the Black Mountains too. Or they could even be older dwarves, not related to Rockhome, or a mix of both.
Interesting idea anyway Paul, never noticed it before!

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Re: Dwarven Strongholds in the Black Mountains

Post by Mike » Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:41 pm

I like the idea of them being more northwest, since there is less going on up there. Also more remote, so fewer neighbors to call upon for aid. It could have been a different group of goblinoids invading from the north, not the same group as the ethengar horde.

I think it makes sense that the tunnels are away from the great pass, since there is no evidence of dwarves or intersecting tunnels in x5. Also no dwarves appear as encounters or wandering monsters, and even traditional dwarf enemies like goblins seen absent. The lack of evidence suggests that the drama, whatever it was, did not occur there.

Southwest is a possibility, but there are other city states in the region and it is less remote. It seems there would be rumours of dwarves there, maybe even a dwarf road crossing the black mountains. But again no evidence.

I suggest the dwarves began in the northeast and slowly expanded west among the mountain chain, establishing outposts and colonies. The major strongholds are northwest of the great pass. There maybe was a colony southwest but it didn't last long or never became known. The goblins invaded from the north and halted expansion, ultimately driving the dwarves deep underground.

Deep dwarves could have subterranean contact with graakhalia. Maybe the elves, dwarves, and gnolls are united into a strong enough alliance to withstand further attrition, and also to trade scarce resources.

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Re: Dwarven Strongholds in the Black Mountains

Post by BotWizo » Mon Sep 24, 2018 8:04 pm

Interesting topic.

I just placed old dwarven strongholds in the Northeastern black mountains, near the lake. Just west of the desert.
this was a spot to kick off the temple of Elemental Evil in Mystara, which will be near that lake as well. I do not know the official lake name at this time but can update at a later time.
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Carillion
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Re: Dwarven Strongholds in the Black Mountains

Post by Carillion » Mon Sep 24, 2018 10:50 pm

Many thanks for the comments so far, and especially to pauldupuis for the clarification regarding what the intent was for these dwarves. I think this location gives a good opportunity to introduce a 'Mines of Moria' (or Dragon Age's 'Deep Roads') setting. Rockhome is too civilized to pull this off effectively in my opinion, but this location is ideal.

I had always wondered where all the humanoids in these mountains lived (which are confirmed in canon resources), given that module X4 states these mountains are mostly inhospitable. It would appear the answer is that they live under these mountains, in the various abandoned dwarven tunnels and settlements that can be found there.

I also agree with both Mike and Botwizo on the location of the Dwarven strongholds and tunnels. Here's a map of the area for reference:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1WEBq ... sp=sharing

Looking at the map, the place that as far as I can see best fits Pauldupuis' description would be north-east of the great pass, and also north-west of Lake Halli. The tunnel complex would begin in the eastern side of the mountains (about two hexes north east from Lake Halli), and finish on the Western side in the mountain hills (for a total distance of about 72 miles (3 hexes). Here, one would be able to slowly descend the mountain hills until you reach the borders of Hule near the northern most tributary of River Rostin. One would then be able to travel into Hule itself.

Does this location look reasonable, or are there any other more suitable choices?
Deep dwarves could have subterranean contact with graakhalia. Maybe the elves, dwarves, and gnolls are united into a strong enough alliance to withstand further attrition, and also to trade scarce resources.
This is an interesting suggestion! Champions of Mystara confirms that the caves of Graakhalia extend all the way to the black mountains in places, so these groups could all potentially meet up and join forces to repel the humanoids in the region. Admitedly, dwarves don't like either elves or gnolls, but if it were a matter of survival, an alliance is entirely plausible.

Finally, I've had a look at the Dwarves of Rockhome gazetteer and it confirms that numerous expeditions and distant colonies were set up by the dwarves many centuries ago. Therefore, it is entirely plausible that the dwarves of the black mountains are related to those in Rockhome, as might be those in the Savage Coast (as Sturm refers to above). So it appears that the answer to this question is for the individual Dungeon Master to decide.

Regards,

Carillion

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