Dwarven Stronghold


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  1. #1
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    Dwarven Stronghold

    I'm brainstorming ideas for a Dwarven Stronghold spread over three mountain peaks (and yes, in this world the Dwarves live ON, not IN, the mountain).

    I'm picturing three fortresses, connected by well-fortified trails - after all, Dwarves live a long time, and they've been here a long time so they've had a lot of time to tailor the area how they want it. In terms of inside the fortresses, what sort of areas should be there, and what sort of interesting areas could I add?

    The Lord of the Three Peaks is a high level Loremaster / Archmage, if that's the sort of detail that might spark some ideas.

    I know, obviously, they need living areas, forges, a library and a temple area (maybe one fortress is the religious one?) and probably a barracks / training area - but what else?

    Please help me spark some ideas to make this a nicely unique location!
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    • Hot springs with an awesome view.
    • Very, very long stairways that are part of a spiritual pilgrimage.
    • Halls of mourning with a roof hundreds of feet high and light holes that send down shafts of light that stand like pillars for an hour and then fade away only to reappear from a different light hole.
    • Galleries, ie. paths dug into the mountain side like small tunnels. For fights that encourage the use of cover and flying.
    • A waterfall between two of the peaks with a pond and lots of huge crystals that gather and reflect the light. A spiritual place.
    • An old underground fortress that was abandoned long ago. It stands in a huge cavern and looks like a real fortress built to the back of the wall. It features huge old cannons with a muzzle several feet across. Nobody knows what force could have held the cannons together, and what the old masters were firing at. Some underground race fighting another, or maybe the fortress was built on a mountain top. Either the current mountain top fell from the heavens or the old fortress started to sink into the depths of the mountain.
    • A great round hole many dozen feet accross with a great stair running along its circumference. Always down into the darkness. At the bottom lies...
    • Fortified bridges arching over deep valleys.
    • Mining carts that you can use to rollercoaster into the Underdark.
    • The three peaks are mirrored in the underworld by a fortified hanging city built into incredible stalagtites. As if many hundreds of years ago the three mountains had just rotated, the old peaks turning into the stalagtites and the old stalagtites turning into the new peaks.

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    That's some very interesting stuff there... thanks!

    I was also considering whether the dwarves would have any beasts of burden. The idea of flying Dwarves doesn't really appeal - unless, of course, they are using Big Honking Airships. Hmmm. A zeppelin landing pad - that sounds like a fun idea. Not sure if it fits in with the rest.

    Something that does occour to me, though - in a game where you have zeppelins the God of Lightning suddenly gets a lot more worshippers.

    Halls of mourning with a roof hundreds of feet high and light holes that send down shafts of light that stand like pillars for an hour and then fade away only to reappear from a different light hole.
    I love this - this is definitely in. It's exactly the sort of thing that Dwarves would have the engineering skill and time to accomplish. The beams of light would also hit the different dwarven monuments at different times of day - and with the change of seasons the Dwarves could venerate different ancient heroes.

    A waterfall between two of the peaks with a pond and lots of huge crystals that gather and reflect the light. A spiritual place.
    In the Fionavar Tapestry, the Dwarves have a great affinity with crystals. I may yoink this idea and mix it up with yours.
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    If these are really fortresses, they're going to need water supply. An underground spring or two would not be amiss. Hot springs are also an interesting idea. But that implies volcanism in the area, so maybe some ancient lava tunnels (these are straight tunnels that run down the mountain just under the surface of the cooled lava-that-was).

    Escape tunnels or doors - castles almost always have a small secret side door for sorties and escapes.

    Storage space. Lots of it. For lumber - to put the hordings (sp?) on the walls during the siege - for food to survive the siege, and for the other materials needed for everyday life that would be brought to such a place in bulk.

    There would be rooms where the folk of the castle did the every-day necessary tasks - weaving, spinning and sewing, cooking, preserving and brewing. There would be an infirmary - perhaps part of the temple and perhaps not. There would be guest-housing - some of it for important/wealthy guests and some for random travelers. A guest lodge might be apart from the castles as a whole to keep them out of private business.

    That's all I can come up with right now. Hope it helps...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilladian
    castles almost always have a small secret side door for sorties and escapes.
    Uh, name one. (And a postern door is hardly secret)




    Good with iron work and machinery? Steam powered cable cars conecting the mountains.

    Vast aquaducts taking snow melt from a nearby peak onto the higher fort and from there to other peaks.

    Lighthouses with large shutters to flash messages between the peaks.

    Huge statues of previous kings carved into the cliff face above their tombs, their eyes openings which can be reached from the inside where bonfires are lit when the dwalfs go to war giveing the efigies firery eyes and vengeful demenor.

    Observitories to view the heavens so dwalf clerics can study the work of their god, the creator of all.

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    Allrighty. Are your dwarves somewhat steampunky? Maybe they have factories of a sorts and produce golems as guardians? They may also have skyships under this premise.

    The three different peaks may once have belonged to three different clans. Although united now (maybe for several centuries already), each still has very different architecture. On top, one was spiritual (now the site of the main temple), one was militaristic (now still the site of the main barracks and training sites), one more magical (still the site of the wizards guild).

    Besides the main citadels, there should be many outposts / smaller castles covering the main passes to the tops.

    Maybe the tops are situated in a triangle of sorts. In the middle is a higland plateau where the farms, grazing grounds etc. are. This area is more difficult to defend and is littered with escape tunnels, traps etc. to provide the farmers and herders time and opportunity to escape should this prove necessary.

    Maybe the dwarves do not ride animals into the sky themselves, but have an understanding with flying creatures for mutual defense / support. Maybe a group of dragons or wyverns or somesuch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilladian
    If these are really fortresses, they're going to need water supply. An underground spring or two would not be amiss. Hot springs are also an interesting idea. But that implies volcanism in the area, so maybe some ancient lava tunnels (these are straight tunnels that run down the mountain just under the surface of the cooled lava-that-was).

    Escape tunnels or doors - castles almost always have a small secret side door for sorties and escapes.

    Storage space. Lots of it. For lumber - to put the hordings (sp?) on the walls during the siege - for food to survive the siege, and for the other materials needed for everyday life that would be brought to such a place in bulk.

    There would be rooms where the folk of the castle did the every-day necessary tasks - weaving, spinning and sewing, cooking, preserving and brewing. There would be an infirmary - perhaps part of the temple and perhaps not. There would be guest-housing - some of it for important/wealthy guests and some for random travelers. A guest lodge might be apart from the castles as a whole to keep them out of private business.

    That's all I can come up with right now. Hope it helps...
    Thank you also - this is also sparking off some more interesting ideas.

    I'm getting the feel now that the Three Peaks are divided by use - whilst they are all complete fortresses in their own right with their own support systems, they have very different day-to-day activities going on.

    I think one is going to be the Temple Fortress - where young Dwarves are trained in the ways of the religion, learning to become Priests, Clerics and Paladins (and possible the very rare Dwarven Druid of the Mountains). Secondary activities for this area is the hospital.

    The second one would be the Diplomatic Fortress (I'll come up with a snazzier name later...) This area houses guests, the talkers of the Dwarven race, and would possibly also contain the housing of the Lore and the Law. The Loremaster would reside here, and probably run the administrative duties.

    That means the third one could be themed on a more military side - whilst also holding the areas related to ruling. This stronghold would be the most fortified, and would be the one the Dwarves would retreat to if a large enemy force arrived.

    I love the idea of the lava tubes - might mix that up with the escape tunnels.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whisper72
    Allrighty. Are your dwarves somewhat steampunky? Maybe they have factories of a sorts and produce golems as guardians? They may also have skyships under this premise.

    The three different peaks may once have belonged to three different clans. Although united now (maybe for several centuries already), each still has very different architecture. On top, one was spiritual (now the site of the main temple), one was militaristic (now still the site of the main barracks and training sites), one more magical (still the site of the wizards guild).

    Besides the main citadels, there should be many outposts / smaller castles covering the main passes to the tops.

    Maybe the tops are situated in a triangle of sorts. In the middle is a higland plateau where the farms, grazing grounds etc. are. This area is more difficult to defend and is littered with escape tunnels, traps etc. to provide the farmers and herders time and opportunity to escape should this prove necessary.

    Maybe the dwarves do not ride animals into the sky themselves, but have an understanding with flying creatures for mutual defense / support. Maybe a group of dragons or wyverns or somesuch.
    I'm trying to avoid steampunkiness, much though I like the idea. It doesn't quite fit in with my ideas of the wider world - although that may change.

    Liking the idea of three different clans - allows me to bring in more elements of old rivalries between them and give some more life to some NPC's - maybe the Elder Dwarven Cleric doesn't like this 'young upstart magic-using Loremaster' that claims kingship.

    And a few smaller outposts in the nearby area where some of the minor nobles (or nobles in exile) might live - I like that too. Allows for status to be shown by where you live.
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  • #9
    An approach with a huge gatehouse (with no gates). It should be at least 300-500 feet wide and at least 8 stories high. The entrance, however, is only 40' wide.

    As you enter there are narrow (10x10) passages (sealed by heavy oaken doorways) off to either side. Beyond the passages, all you have are smooth walls for ~40 feet. Then, more passages. Do this two or three times.

    The gates, as it turns out, are immense (40'x40'x40') cubes of solid granite. There are at least three of them. When it's time to seal the fortress, the gates are gently lowered to the ground. In an emergency, the gates can be dropped.

    The passages are nothing more than an emergency escape system, in the event that the gates fail. They're a twisting maze-like warren of deadly traps which can be deactivated from the fortress side of each gate.

    Anyone marching an army into the fortress will find their army crushed by the gates. Also, if the invaders try to make their way through the escape tunnels, they'll be bent, folded, spindled, and mutilated. Add concealed murder-holes to the ceilings of the escape tunnels to give the dwarves something to do while the invading army is slaughtered.

    Perhaps there is an order or devoted dwarven knights, whose sole duty is to protect the gates. In the event of an invasion, they gather in the spaces between the gates to hold off the invaders. When it becomes clear that they cannot hold a section, 10 of them take the task of holding the escape passages while their brethren retreat. They do so with the full knowledge that when their brethren exit a section of the escape maze, they'll reactivate the traps, likely killing those who were left behind.

    Death in this fashion should be the short route to the "good" dwarven afterlife.

    --G

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    Well, as to status shown by where you live, the closer to the center of the citadel, the more important you are.

    Also, having your own homes in more then one citadel could constitute power and prestige.

    What is the basis for livelyhood for the enclave? Are they self-sufficient? Maybe they need to grow all manner of food (like mushrooms and special animals used to the dark) in underground tunnels and caverns. Maybe there us a huge underground lake underneath the mountain.

    Maybe they live by trade and need to import foodstuff from the lower and more fertile areas of the world. What then are their main products. Weapons and armour? Mined metals? Silver, gold or gemstones? Worked jewellery?

    Maybe the dwarves' main export product is themselves in the form of either masons etc. or in the form of mercenary armies (think Switzerland). Maybe their defensive fighting ability is such that many kingdoms have dwarven forces guarding their own palaces as politically neutral guard armies. This provides a lot of indirect political power for the dwarven clans themselves. Maybe payment is in the form of product (i.e. food) rather than money, especially if the mountains hold mines.

    You could also grab a bite from Eberron and have the well defended stronghold act as a sort of bank. Maybe not so much for money, but for all manner of magical artifacts which are better left out of the hands of evil wanna be world-rulers/destroyers. The kingdoms of the world pay the dwarves to remain vigilant guardians of these relics.

    Just some random thoughts and ideas...

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