5E Adventures in Dwarven Mountain (now with sketches!)

Dwarves, hangover, and philosophy...

I'm putting together an adventure for a new campaign that involves Dwarven Mountain, the realm of the dwarven gods Vergadain, Dugmaren Brightmantle, and Dumathoin in the Outlands (Concordant Opposition). The adventure sees the PCs enter Vergadain's divine realm in Dwarven Mountain, Strongale Hall. I am picturing it as a dwarven Casa Blanca meets interplanar Casino Royale, with wealth positively oozing out of the gold-plated walls. You'll find the first part of Dwarven Mountain - Strongale Hall - described in great depth here.

Concept Sketches
http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?356873-Adventures-in-Dwarven-Mountain-(now-with-sketches!)&p=6351079&viewfull=1#post6351079

Random Tables
Encounter Table
Hangover Table

Map of Strongale Hall (v0.1)
http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?356873-Adventures-in-Dwarven-Mountain-(now-with-sketches!)/page2&p=6352256&viewfull=1#post6352256

Sites in Dwarven Mountain's Strongale Hall
  1. Esplanade of the Divine Alewives
  2. Great Distillery of Everflowing Ale
  3. Gambler's Paradise
  4. The Golden Temple
  5. Viaduct of the Merchant Princes
  6. Vergadain's Treasury
  7. Dwarven Mint
  8. Gilded Palm Thieves' Guild
  9. The Songhearth
  10. Drunken Guttar Inn & Stables
  11. Odzak's Emporium
  12. The Wishing Well
  13. Clan Silverhelm Trading House
  14. Rilkkaz Chasm
  15. Ironridge Gate
  16. The Wanderer's Gate
 
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After reviewing information about Dwarven Mountain (PSCS), Vergadain (On Hallowed Ground & FR Demihuman Deities), and reading up on some discussions about dwarves (particularly here: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?356021-Dwarven-kingdoms/page3), I started designing Vergadain's Strongale Hall as an adventure site.

Some ideas I've had so far...

1. Song-riddles: Songs sung by the dwarven dead hide riddles to treasures and secrets about the inter-planar event the PCs are investigating.

2. Merchant feud: PCs need info/help from either a trader or a buyer, but they're locked in a vicious feud which must be resolved before they can help the PCs. Buyer claims the trader glammered rusty weapons to appear masterwork, while trader claims buyer switched goods after purchase. Both claim "I did no such thing!" A cleric of Vergadain casts zone of truth, but declares both are telling the truth! Of course, trader and buyer don't trust the cleric after this...after all, how can both be telling the truth?

3. Dwarven scams: Various dwarves might try to pull the wool over the PCs' eyes. One scam involves a chest enchanted with flighty chest (or a tamed mimic?) which a PC is challenged to open to gain admittance to thieves' guild of the Gilded Palm. When they get near chest it sprouts legs and runs off.

...those are the sorts of encounters I'm looking for. :)

Anyone have other encounter ideas for the divine realm of Vergadain, dwarven god of wealth, commerce, non-evil thieves, cunning, and fortune?
 
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I've been sketching out map ideas for Strongale Hall based on themes (gambling, drinking, trading, song/poetry), various dwarf architecture art, and this Diterlizzi image:



So far my list of sites for Strongale Hall includes:
  1. Esplanade of the Divine Alewives (trading & microbreweries)
  2. Great Distillery of Everflowing Ale
  3. Gambler's Paradise
  4. The Golden Temple (doubles as a bank)
  5. Viaduct of the Merchant Princes
  6. Vergadain's Treasury
  7. Dwarven Mint
  8. Gilded Palm Thieves' Guild
  9. The Songhearth
  10. Drunken Guttar Inn & Stables
  11. Odzak's Emporium (trinkets and misc magic)
  12. The Wishing Well
  13. Clan Silverhelm Trading House (portal to Sigil)
  14. Rilkkaz Chasm (leads to Soot Hall)
  15. The Wanderer's Gate
  16. Ironridge Gate

EDIT: I've also put together a list of potential creatures to encounter: dwarven petitioners (priests, merchants, scoundrels, "celebrants", einheriar), leprechauns, arcane, translators, messenger snakes, copper automatons, plumarch rilmani, foo dogs (as heavenly brak twan, dwarven tunnel hounds), lock lurkers, luck eater, aurumvorax, and copper dragon.
 
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Encounter Table

I've made lots of headway on detailing the adventure sites, but also wanted a random encounter table to handle the PCs wandering around or exploring unexpected areas. How should I fill the last entry on the encounter table?

STRONGALE HALL ENCOUNTER TABLE (d12)
  1. Animated Statue (a caryatid column "Divine Alewife", a stone face "Merchant Prince", or a smiling golden Vergadain shrine statue)
  2. Arcane and Guards (blue skinned magic-trading giant seeks a particular magic item dwarves possess)
  3. Dragon (in human form with attendants with a specific goal; choose from: brass, copper, crystal, or steel)
  4. Dwarven Celebrants (drunken dwarves searching for misplaced McGuffin, opportunity for small stakes gambling and carousing for information...at the risk of a hangover situation)
  5. Dwarven Einheriar (warrior spirits being rowdy, a risk for PCs who snuck, tricked, or forced their way into the Mountain, opportunity for those permitted in the Mountain to drink hearty with einheriar to gain information...and risk hangover situation)
  6. Dwarven Hurndor (meet Vergadain's "priests who trade", but what's the conflict?)
  7. Dwarven Merchant Feud (resolve a seemingly paradoxical conflict between merchants to gain aid or supplies)
  8. Dwarven Proxy (choose one of the 4 dwarven proxies Vergadain has)
  9. Dwarven Scoundrels (get marked by dwarven cons/rogues, with chance to turn the tables)
  10. Haywire Translator (silver spheres usually act as Vergadain's messengers, but one affected by the Rift has gone haywire)
  11. Ironridge Refugees (normally this would be a meeting with other planar travelers, but with the Rift this signals conflict between Ironridgr refugees and dwarves who don't want them)
  12. Leprechauns (leprechauns playing mischief on the PCs, with chance to corner one into granting wishes)
 
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TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
How should I fill the last entry on the encounter table?
What other creatures love wealth to the point of obsession?

[sblock]DRAGONS!

Perhaps in their humanoid form for convenience. They might have an entourage of lieutenants and minions in tow as well.[/SBLOCK]
 
What other creatures love wealth to the point of obsession?
Yes, true enough!

The dragons I've identified as being good matches for Dwarven Mountain are:

Copper Dragons CG
I have an ancient copper dragon named Yrzgemil as a bound guardian of Vergadain's treasury and rumored to be his lover. She became a bound guardian by losing a riddle match to Vergadain, so the story goes, and she is obsessed with learning new riddles. If a visitor to the Mountain entertains her, she might consent to a riddle game to let them examine one of Vergadain's treasures up close. She enjoys appearing as a dwarven women then transforming for maximum shock value, a trick she never tires of.

Brass Dragons CG/CN
As egotistical conversationalists, a brass dragon might come to the gambling tables just for the company and the opportunity to study diverse languages. Its meandering discourse could bore other gamblers to tears, sleep, or forfeit.

Steel Dragons LN
Fascinated by dwarven culture, history, art, and politics, a steel dragon might traverse the various layers of Dwarven Mountain in the guise of a dwarven scholar.

Song Dragons CG/CN
A Faerunian dragon that covertly adopts the guide of a mortal woman to live among the dwarves, and is gifted with beautiful singing voice, tongues, and true seeing.
 
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Hangover Situations table

Taking a break from the serious adventure writing, I wanted to share a little tidbit of humor from the adventure that perhaps you can employ in your own games. Because its set partly in Dwarven Mountain's Strongale Hall, it only makes sense that PCs have opportunities to become piss drunk and awake in Hangover the movie type situations...

Hangover in Strongale Hall (d12)
  1. A naked smarmy leprechaun named Dougal is in the PC's bed, waggling his bushy brows.
  2. A messenger snake reports to the groggy PC: Salutations! Goldrüg the Crusher has accepted your challenge to wrestle and awaits you at the Drunken Guttar Inn to test your honor.
  3. A golden cat (luck eater) with splotchy blue paint on its fur licks at the PC's face.
  4. The PC's non-essential belongings are missing. Instead they have a dwarf's shorn beard, a candelabrum that is bent and acts as a club, and a trinket of Dwarven Mountain (another table, or roll on trinket table from Basic D&D PDF).
  5. Silver dwarven wedding band is around the PC's finger.
  6. Thirteen hungover dwarven merchant petitioners are stashed around wherever the PC is staying, stumbling out of closets or rolling out from under the bed at comical moments.
  7. Two coins are placed over the PC's eyes and they awaken in an open tomb not far from the rest of their party.
  8. A tattoo has been placed on the PC somewhere prominent. It depicts (roll 1d3): (1) a halfling pissing into a dwarven mug, (2) a bearded dwarven lady, or (3) a gnome working a dwarven forge.
  9. The PC's cot was tied to a Guttar (cave ox) and they've been dragged thru the hall in their undergarments,
  10. A baby dwarf in a fine wooden cradle giggles at the PC and gnaws on an empty tankard.
  11. The PC has foggy memories of gambling away something precious, yet they have all their gear... Was it their ability to tell a joke? The capacity for pessimism? Something more elusive?
  12. A tankard is suctioned over the PC's mouth and can't be removed until an hour passes, a delicate procedure, or magic is used to un-suction it.
 
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Concept sketches

I did some simple concept sketching to get a feel for Dwarven Mountain's Strongale Hall. I should sketch my D&D stuf more, I really enjoy it :) There are 3 halls in Dwarven Mountain, each a layer in the Mountain that is the size of a town. Strongale Hall is just the one highest up and the one that PCs are most likely to access.



Next step: Making a map! Going to be challenging with the rock-carved buildings, viaducts and various levels! Probably will need to be isometric :)
 
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Adventure background

Q: The Tiefling wanted access to a treasure kept in Vergadain's Treasury. What was that treasure? And how did she tamper with it (or why did she want access to it without stealing it)?

Adventure Background
While I am designing Strongale Hall as an adventure site - meaning it can be used and reused by various DMs - it has a context in my own adventure. The PCs are in the midst of this disastrous planar Rift, and soon realize that the dwarves knew something about the Rift in advance because they've pulled back into the Mountain and tripled the gate guard. This background answers the question the players will be asking themselves: How did Vergadain (and by extension the dwarves) know about the Rift in advance? What did he know? And why didn't he warn the town?

Before the PCs showed up, a tiefling gambler with no name came to the high-stakes tables in Strongale Hall, and she was cleaning up against the best of the best. Everyone was sure she cheated, but no one could catch her cheating. Her goal appeared to be a treasure (?) from Vergadain's Treasury. Indeed, she was leading so much that the dwarves brought the treasure (?) out from the vaults for her to inspect.

However, the Tiefling bet it all and her fortunes reversed at the last moment, causing her to lose 25,000 gold pieces and several amazing items she had won. In a desperate bid to gain back what she'd lost, or so it appeared at the time, the tiefling bet a secret which would determine the course of Dwarven Mountain for centuries to come. It seemed a ruse, but the dwarven gamblers humored her, promptly winning again making the Tiefling bow out. Her secret was this: In three days a storm would come to Ironridge what would ruin the town's fortunes, but if the dwarves were ready would dramatically improve their own. Strangely, divinations seemed to confirm the tiefling's words.

Suspecting the Tiefling to be up to no good, the proxies of Vergadain conspired so she could not leave Dwarven Mountain thru a variety of "circumstances." They never could have expected the massive treasure that the tiefling brought with her would turn out to be creeping coins! The most that any dwarf had ever seen! Distracted by dealing with the vicious little fake coins, the Tiefling used intelligence provided by a traitor within Dwarven Mountain to escape thru a portal to Sigil. Needless to say, the tiefling has earned the ire of the dwarves.

In fact, the spectacle of the gambling match was all to get temporary access to the treasure (?) so the tiefling could do something to it. Her "friendly" warning was a careful manipulation to get the dwarves to close down the Mountain so that another agent in the Mountain - the dwarven cleric of Abatthor named Geleg Cragsveld - could undertake his own mission without interference or eyes from the outside. Both the Tiefling and Geleg belong to or are allied with a planes-spanning thieves' guild called the Arcane Eye.
 
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Ways into Dwarven Mountain

Accessing Dwarven Mountain isn't as simple as knocking. This is especially true with my own adventure using the setting. The dwarves are clannish and don't like outsiders unless they're established dwarf-friends or traders bringing good business or gamblers with too much gold than they know what to do with.

So, this begs the question: How do the PCs get into Dwarven Mountain?

There are 5 ways it turns out.

  • Challenge: The two gates, Ironridge Gate and Wanderer's Gate, are guarded by dwarven einheriar and an intelligent stone golem, respectively. If they think a supplicant for entry might be worthy, they can issue a challenge in three parts, and of the supplicant proves him or herself at all three, then they are granted entry. What are these 3 challenges?
  • Force: Foolish or brazen PCs with great force of arms (or overwhelming numbers) might defeat the gate guardians and force their way in. However this will draw a large force of 60 einheriar to repel the interlopers and demand to know what they want, not to mention getting cursed by a streak of bad luck within the Mountain. Usually a divine realm couldnt be accessed by force, but Vergadain is a notoriously laid back deity fond of adventurers and not likely to harshly judge evil as the more good-aligned among the dwarven pantheon might.
  • Negotiation: Dwarven Mountain is not an intensely lawful realm, and so the rules are more guidelines here, and negotiating entry to the Mountain is possible in a couple ways:
    (a) Paying an "honor price" which may be as simple as being a Dwarf with something to trade, to as complex as the guardian assessing a "soul worth" of the PC in thousands of gold.
    (b) Perform a quest for the guardian, such as rescuing a dwarven petitioner trapped in Ironridge or retrieving a missing/stolen Key of Vergadain.
    (c) Weave a very compelling argument appealing to the virtues of Vergadain and the other dwarven deities.
  • Stealth: The orichalcum mines near Ironridge have a secret tunnel leading to a fissure in Rilkazz Chasm which the PCs can exploit to bypass the gates altogether. However the orichalcum mines have their own hazards.
  • Trickery: PCs can use a decoy and/or disguise to distract the gate guardians, steal their Key of Vergadain, and use it to open the gate and slip within.
 

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
You should put this adventure up for sale--when you're done running it, of course. It sounds very interesting and fun.
 
You should put this adventure up for sale--when you're done running it, of course. It sounds very interesting and fun.
Thanks, that's flattering! I definitely would be open to it, except that Planescape is trademark Wizards of the Coast, and unless their policies change on 3rd party publishers that leaves me with no way to sell it.

It is something I'm contemplating in the back of my head, and would love to get thoughts and opinions on how to respectfully and legally get the adventure out there.

Also, if it did turn out I was able to sell it, I would still provide a free version here (so long as no contract prevented me from doing so) because...well...I <3 ENWorld :eek: And because I'm no Ari Marmell or Todd Stewart, who have earned their name recognition. While I've been told I write a mean adventure, I've only dipped my toe in the freelancing waters so far, so I'm mostly an unknown.
 
2nd sketch - a rough map

Here is a rough sketch of the layout for Strongale Hall; not happy with it, but it at least gives a feel of the sort of architecture/environment I'm going for and gets all the Adventure Sites on the map.



[sblock=Adventure Sites in Strongale Hall]
  1. Esplanade of the Divine Alewives (trading & microbreweries)
  2. Great Distillery of Everflowing Ale
  3. Gambler's Paradise
  4. The Golden Temple (doubles as a bank)
  5. Viaduct of the Merchant Princes
  6. Vergadain's Treasury
  7. Dwarven Mint
  8. Gilded Palm Thieves' Guild
  9. The Songhearth
  10. Drunken Guttar Inn & Stables
  11. Odzak's Emporium (trinkets and misc magic)
  12. The Wishing Well
  13. Clan Silverhelm Trading House (portal to Sigil)
  14. Rilkkaz Chasm (leads to Soot Hall)
  15. The Wanderer's Gate
  16. Ironridge Gate
[/sblock]
 
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Strongale Hall: Adventure Site & My Adventure

In describing Strongale Hall, I've kept in mind that in addition to my own use of it for my adventure, I want to design it as something other DMs could use (or I could reuse) for different adventures.

Strongale Hall: as an adventure site
[sblock]There are several design elements I've been working on to make Strongale Hall usable (and reuseable) however a DM wants. These elements include:
  • Site descriptions & Map, with special challenges/encounters baked right in
  • NPC descriptions, with a Sayings of Vergadain Table for extra flavor
  • Random Encounter Table, with entries slightly modified to account for the Rift adventure called out as such, and suggestions for what to replace them with if you're not using my Rift adventure
  • Hangover Situation Table, for the hilarity
  • Riddles of Vergadain Table, for handling riddling matches with dragons or dwarven guardians
[/sblock]

Strongale Hall: as my adventure uses it
[sblock]Layered on top of the site are particulars to my adventure, including:
  • Adventure Background which explains current conflict with Rift and Ironridge, as well as the fallout of the scheming of the Tiefling Atanishan and the sabotaged treasure.
  • 3 Villains (Greedy Dwarf, Shadow Fiend, Violent Minder) unique to my adventure and what their goals and plans of attack are.
  • Clues scattered in eight areas that reveal how (and what exaclty) Vergadain knew of the Rift in advance, as well as a lead about who in Sigil would know more.
[/sblock]


I'm going to describe each area of Strongale Hall in some detail over the next several posts. As always, any critique, feedback, or crazy ideas are welcomed :)

NPC Notation
I use a similar notation to the way Planescape NPCs were succinctly described in 2e:

Name (Pe, Pr, Pl, or Px/ gender race / class level or HD/ alignment/ faction if any)

Pe = petitioner
Pr = prime
Pl = planar
Px = proxy
 
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Area 1: Esplanade of the Divine Alewives

Esplanade of the Divine Alewives
Running like a vast indoor market from Ironridge Gate to the Wanderer's Gate, the Esplanade of the Divine Alewives has no equal in the planes. Dwarven ales, brewed by individual family recipes passed down since time immemorial, are offered from market stalls under colored canopies extending from rockcut households and breweries. Impromptu beer gardens spring up in every nook and cranny, alongside merchants trading in superb dwarven arm & armor, gemstones the size of a halfling's head, and stranger goods. Dice and card games, tavern tricks, and skulduggery are common here, though mostly for low stakes.

Lining the bounds of the esplanade are astoundingly detailed marble statues of dwarven alewives, supposedly the most devout of dwarven hostesses who unwittingly served Vergadain-in-disguise well receiving this honor as their eternal reward. Under rare circumstances, one of these divine alewives may come to life as a caryatid column to share some wisdom, welcome a relative who has joined the ranks of Vergadain's petitioners, or defend dwarves from intruders.

[sblock=art inspiration]

[/sblock]

Besides the sea of dwarves, a traveler may notice dusky metallic-skinned men and women with ridges along their foreheads (rilmani plumarch) trading, pale blue skinned giants haggling over magic items (arcane), human gamblers obsessively rolling dice, or silvery spheres engraved with the vague likeness of a dwarven face zipping thru the air above (translators).

All common equipment listed in the Basic D&D rules can be purchased here, as can rarer dwarven goods like the Urgosh or Dwarven Plate. Rarely, a magic item may be offered for trade, such as a Belt of Dwarvenkind or a Flagon of Everflowing Ale, but the prices for such things always transcend gold alone. Ale can be found in copious varieties here, as eveyr family seems to have their own still, nd it's common practice for a visitor to bring a personal tankard to sample the splendid varieties. Dwarven rogues wait on either end of the esplanade to steal from the bubbled up fools after their drinking leaves them easy targets. Among the more well-known brews are:

  • Mossbeard's Ale - A cheap and potent ale looked down upon as a poor dwarf's drink, it is brewed of moss in a family tradition. Recently, however, a bad batch of moss was slipped into the recipe, and this moss was obliviax (memory moss) which causes those who imbibe it to alternately lose memories or gain memories that aren't their own. Degsa Mossbeard is held captive by the psychic power of the moss monster dwelling in her home now, compelling her its secret and to keep brewing.
  • Eye of the Beholder Stout - Rumored to be distilled from the pressed juice of a beholder's eye, this stout is bitter and dark. Sometimes it bestows the ability to detect magic upon the imbiber, though half the time it has an unpredictable effect, like causing temporary blindness, stripping away Darkvision, or granting a disorienting form of all-around vision. Brewmaster Hürm Stoutmace won't tell his secret, but he does pay well for adventurers to brave Gzemnid's Realm and bring back dead beholders.
  • Gemstone Porter Reserve - On Prime worlds, gem-distilled ale is mythical and if ever found is reserved for only Merchant Prines and Dwarven Lords. This bold ale is made from gems which are eroded with enchanted water over decades, and thus it is exceedingly costly and usually reserved for dwarven proxies and other high-ups, special celebrations, or those with coffers as deep as the Abyss. Only dwarves have any real tolerance for this stuff, other races becoming inebriated with a single pint, and it seems to duplicate the effects of a friends spell, making the imbiber more charismatic and affable. The Brewmasters who make the gemstone porter do so under pseudonyms to protect their identities and their secret.

Alewives' Song-Riddle: Dispersed throughout Strongale Hall are three song-riddles which Vergadain disseminated to warn the dwarves of the coming dangers (and opportunities) of the Rift. One of these song-riddles is held by Divine Alewife Ingrimar, known by the dwarves for her singing voice on those rare times she awakens, though getting her to recite it will require figuring out how to awaken the caryatid column.

Ingrimar's song?
 
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2: Great Distillery of Everflowing Ale

Great Distillery of Everflowing Ale

[sblock=art inspiration]

[/sblock]

Carved in polished geometries from the rock, the Great Distillery rises six floor from floor to ceiling, all gleaming with brass and copper machinery, echoing with the calls and laughter of dwarven workers, bustling with the coming of grains and going of barreled ale. Unlike the family ales crafted in the Espalanade of the Divine Alewives, the Everflowing Ale manufactured in the Great Distillery is an industrialized process that relies on magic as much as it does alchemy. It is the most common ale in Dwarven Mountain and is traded to other planes where dwarven pantheons dwell. A dwarf tasting the ale is said to find a taste perfectly suited to his or her palate, so long as the dwarf has upheld dwarven values...or perhaps the type of dwarven values upheld by the dwarf determine the taste; to non-dwarves it just tastes like fine dwarven ale. Legends say that the taps of the Great Distillery can extend to any tap in the multiverse, and that should Vergadain so wish, the worthy who drink of ale from his distillery may be affected as per a potion of Vergadain's choosing (e.g. potion of heroism or potion of luck).

A marvel of engineering, the Great Distillery has several stream/gas elevators used to bring grain up to the sixth floor where it is stored, milled, and scaled. On the fifth floor, a series of malt houses and yeast cookers vent off fumes as they prepare the crucial ingredients for the ale. Down on the fourth floor are the massive fermenters of gleaming brass visible from outside the Great Distillery. On the third floor are the enchanted stills of crystal and glass, bubbling as the ale is purified with the golden energy of raw luck and prosperity; dozens of dwarves tinker with alembics and fine controls here. On the second floor are digestors which utilize gases and waste produced by the process for energy to power the elevators and other workings of the distillery; here also is an extensive barreling operation. On the ground floor is where the barrels of ale are stored and bottled; here a body might come for a taste of the new year's batch, access the ale logs dating back centuries and countless prime worlds, or engage in a bit of underhanded smuggling.

Fruhard Frothbeard (Px/male dwarf/wizard [transmuter] 8/N), Master Distiller, oversees the operations and knows more about ale than almost any being in the multiverse. As a proxy of Vergadain, Fruhard has the power to identify any ale, when it was made and who made it, by taste; he was once an adventurer of Faerun but when he found the secret to immortality he traveled the planes and eventually made his home in Strongale Halls. Legions of dwarven petitioners follow Fruhard's directions to keep the Great Distillery tiptop, but he also has a small number of copper automatons to handle hazardous jobs or to fill in when some of his crew are drunk the next morning. Leprechauns too can be found in the Great Distillery, usually trying to trick the dwarves so that the leprechauns can get a taste of the ale; and sometimes a drunken leprechaun is found swimming in one of the barrels. Trusted adventurers might find work clearing out leprechauns (non-violently of course) with Fruhard. The Master Distiller knows how to fashion Flagons of Everflowing Ale using the magic of the Great Distillery, and may reward those who serve him well with such a Flagon.
 
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3: Gambler's Paradise

Gambler's Paradise

[sblock=art inspiration]

[/sblock]

A vast pavilion supported by massive pillars and great arches of stone, the Gambler's Paradise is where all the high-stakes games take place. Anything can be wagered here, including abstract things that a person shouldn't be able to part with; there is even an animated suit of armor that obsessively gambles, all that remains of a fool who gambled away his own body. Four entrances lead into the pavilion, each decorated in vast gilded arches; the main entrance that opens off the Esplanade of Divine Alewives is considered to be unlucky by dwarven gamblers due to the arch somewhat resembling a dragon's mouth and the pair of heavenly brak twan ("dwarven tunnel hounds", as foo dogs) that stand watch over all who come and go. Indeed, gamblers may be the most superstitious folks in the multiverse, and their superstitions have caused a brisk trade in lucky charms to spring up around each of these gilded arches. Most of these trinkets are purely psychosomatic - meaning it's all in the gambler's head - but who is to say that if gamblers believe in a charm enough that it won't actually become lucky? Such is the way of the planes.

Entering the Gambler's Paradise requires putting down a minimum of 1,000 gold in a bet; while smaller gaming is common throughout Strongale Hall, here the dwarves take their gaming very seriously. Once inside, a prospective gambler will behold marvels. The ceiling is one huge pendentive dome (like the Hagia Sophia) inlaid with brightly colored gemstone murals depicting scenes of Vergadain's adventures thru the cosmos, some of them rather bawdy and others quite humorous. Down on the gambling floor are numerous tables illuminated by magic lanterns of varying hues of orange, yellow, and blue. Games range from runestone matching games resembling dominos or mah jhong to chess, with groups of dwarves clustered tightly to watch legendary players work on games that have been going on for months or even years. High-stakes dwarven card games and dice poker are played in smoky lounges where other races lose obscene amounts of money trying to best the stoic dwarven master card players. At the center of the pavilion is a racetrack for hounds, a cockatrice fighting pit, and a boxing and wrestling ring; dwarves eagerly bet on their favored contenders. A few more jovial games are played as well for those who are thoroughly liquored up, including Spin-the-Gnnome and Pin-the-tail-on-the-Gorgon. The proxy Lzuli Clearfacet (Px/ male dwarven einheriar/ 15 HD/ N) and small groups of einheriar make sure that everything stays honest. Lzuli can sense cheaters from across the hall, and such folk are dealt with mighty harshly.

There is a persistent rumor that two artifacts circulate thru Vergadain's realm, exchanging hands at his gambling tables every couple centuries. These are the Coin of Jisan the Bountiful and the Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty. The first, the Coin, is a magical gold piece from the lands of Zakhara which bestows good fortune upon all of its owner's enterprises, provided they do not succumb to using its power out of greed. Those who do are cursed with insatiable hunger until they give the coin away. As it is not immediately recognizable as an artifact, the coin may make its way to the stall of a dwarven charm-seller. The second, the Jacinth, appears as a beautiful crystalline flower, and may very well have been fashioned by the first dwarven craftsman with the patronage of Vergadain, though the god isn't telling. It's arrival in the Hall makes it the focus of gambling rivalries for the history books, and the victor gains great charisma but is cursed to become increasingly paranoid over losing the Jacinth. Vergadain's proxy Lzuil Clearfacet would like to see the Jacinth destroyed or at least locked away in Vergadain's vaults.

Renowned / Notorious Gamblers of the Hall:
  • Hauberk (Pl/ male? animated armor/ 6 HD/ N) was on a man but he bet everything at the gambling tables, his shadow, his memory, his name, everything expat the clothes on his back - a chain shirt (from which he got his name), a mail coif, leather gloves, pants, and boots. Desperate to get back what he'd lost, Hauberk alternates between compulsively gambling or trying to raise enough money to meet the minimum bet after he is thrown out. Some of Vergadain's proxies or Hurndor, if asked about Hauberk, might hint that as tortured as his existence is today, perhaps it is better than who he was before; in this sense even in the cruelty of ill luck there is Vergadain's wisdom.
  • The Wight Dwarves (Pr/ male dwarven wight/ 6 HD/ N) stumbled into Dwarven Mountain after finding a portal in a collapsed mine. Consummate entrepreneurs (and utter addlecoved), the three brothers Dambain, Dumvrain, and Dimdain tried to master the gambling tables with less-than-legal tricks like card counting. When they were caught, rather than be punished in the usual way (loss of a hand or a throw down Rilkkaz Chasm), Vergadain took pity on the three brothers, sparing them but forbidding them to leave until they learned why they had come to Dwarven Mountain in the first place. Truth is, the three brothers died in mine collapse, and the tripled power of their denial has made them linger as undead. Vergadain was hoping that they would stumble to the truth on their own, but perhaps a stronger hand is needed and some adventurers could help the brothers move on. Getting them to realize which level of the Mountain they each should be on may be a good start.
  • Shianee Eluchir (Pl/ female firre eladrin/ 8 HD/ CG) arrived at the hall under the auspices of studying dwarven song and poetry, adopting the habits of the dwarves - drinking and gambling - as if it were a simply joy. In fact, Shianee seeks the lost singing voice of her sister which was lost in a rigged bet to one of the high-up dwarven gamblers. Shianee slowly closes in on the culprit, and once she finds him she will break every rule of the hall to get her sister's Von back. Adventurers with a more neutral and delicate touch who can get her what she wants without an incident would be rewarded with a kiss bestowing profiency in some artistic task or knowledge of a bardic spell for spellcasters.
  • Ozymandias (Pl/ ? arcane / 11 HD/ LN) is a shrewd dice and card player, able to give the best dwarven players a run for their money. Over the years "he" has acquired several priceless dwarven heirlooms the dwarves would love to get back at the gaming tables or otherwise. Betting siege engines, small kingdoms, mercenary-slave soldiers, and massive diamonds as if they were trinkets, Ozymandias concerns himself only with the acquisition of magical items; and to win one of those no bet is too risky for the arcane. Knowing the dwarves would love to steal back their goods from him, Ozymandias is always looking to hire an extra sword arm or six.
 
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4: The Golden Temple

The Golden Temple

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A grand double entrance framed with gold runic designs opens into the holiest of places in Vergadain's realm, the Golden Temple. An organic catenary vault soars some forty feet overhead, coins of all types dangling from it like floating fish scales glinting off the light of braziers below. When dwarves are not worshipping here in guttural chants, the temple is unusually quiet, a deep sense of prescience pervading the space. Golden statues of Vergadain laughing, smiling, or thinking are inset in the numerous alcoves throughout the temple, goblets of jewels are near each entrance for offerings made outside normal worship times, and gleaming brass braziers hanging from chains throughout the temple. A massive altar dominates the center, elevated slightly by three steps, with three disconnected rectangular stone "cauldrons" to receive offerings. 

Above each "cauldron" hangs a huge golden coin some 5 feet in diameter bearing Vergadain's likeness; these are anators which guard against items being taken from the Temple and can only be bypassed by a priest of Vergadain or a Neutrally-aligned creature who knows the anator's password (a secret closely guarded by Vergadain's clergy). All others attempting to steal will meet a trio of lightning bolts (Dex save DC 17) and/or magic missiles (at 3rd level with 5 missiles) cast by the anators. Rumors are that those who are drowning in debt to the Temple, yet remain faithful to Vergadain, may be granted debt forgiveness if they agree to become an anator upon death.

Vergadain's Hurndor (lit. "Those Who Trade"), also called Gilded Merchants, serve as his clerics, and are easily recognized by their fine purple and gold robes trimmed in furs, copious amounts of jewelry, and ceremonial golden chainmail. They lead worshipped in prayer, the whole congregation slowly circumambulating the altar in a ritualistic dance-like movement, intoning chants of trade maxims and praises to Vergadain, each worshipper coming to place a sacrificial offering into the braziers. When Vergadain is particularly pleased by a sacrifice, he leaves behind a token in the dimming flames, a map, clue, scroll, potion, or a key to a strongbox or vault (e.g. one containing dwarven wealth that Vergadain wishes returned to the dwarves). When the flames flare upwards then die down, it signals the end of the ritual, after which the Hurndor begin a more informal time of making deals and talking trade. It is during this time that loans are offered to dwarven merchants or friendly non-dwarves, albeit at interest, making the Golden Temple double as a bank. As this time of trades concludes, the highest-ranking Hurndor passes his hand thru the flame as a sign that worship is over. When a dwarf's dealings in the temple are done, they kiss a gold coin as a sign of respect to Vergadain before departing.

CREDIT: This entry derives from Vergadain's writeup in Demihuman Deities by Eric L. Boyd; TSR/Wizards of the Coast, 1998.
 
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5: Viaduct of the Merchant Princes

Viaduct of the Merchant Princes

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Only once one has begun exploring Strongale Hall, do they come to realize that many of the gilded arches they've passed under are actually carved thru a massive viaduct expanding above like a spiderweb. The Viaduct of the Merchant Princes is so named for the greatest of Vergadain's clerics who amassed trade empires in life; each Merchant Prince who died and was absorbed into the realm is remembered with a massive carved stone face guarding over the viaduct. When beseeched by a dwarf with a truly enterprising spirit or when consulted by the unworthy, these stone faces may animate to offer cryptic advice or warn of impending misfortune. In addition, the stone faces keep an eternal vigil over the Hall, and may animate to ask testing questions or riddles of suspicious passersby to ensure they belong in Dwarven Mountain. Those who fail to answer correctly will be assaulted by a thunderwave spell (Con save DC 17) emanating from the stone face of the Merchant Prince which also serves to alert dwarven einheriar of the intruders.

Most dwarves and visitors, however, simply use the viaduct as a means for getting about the Hall when they don't want to wade thru crowds of drunken dwarves and pushy merchants. All stairs leaving up to the viaduct are watched over by dwarven hurndor who charge 10 gold pieces per head wishing to use the viaduct; this fee is assessed each and every time one traverses the viaduct, allegedly to keep it well maintained. Thus, thieves are rare on the viaduct, making it one of the safer areas for belt pouches visiting the Hall. Unfortunately, the viaduct only covers a third of the Hall, and beasts of burden are strictly forbidden; thus, merchants seeking to move bulk goods or travelers exploring the further reaches of the Hall can't rely on the viaduct to help them.

While thieves may be rare, bards (and rhetoricians) are not. What the viaduct lacks in merchants pandering their wares and thieves pick pocketing the unwary, it makes up for in the sheer intensity of those public speakers and criers who engage in debate here. A common theme is for visitors of other planes to debate with the dwarves on the nature of trade; the Bytopians and Gehennans, when they visit the Hall, are among the most vociferous. Dwarven bards also announce major news, including upcoming Coin Festivals, and may be hired to sing panygerics or satires by patrons who can afford their fees. Messenger snakes are a common sight perched on the stone railings of the viaduct, listening enraptured to the wordsmiths, though half the time they are so well camouflaged against the stone a visitor will think he only imagined seeing one; visitors who have made offerings to Vergadain at the Golden Temple that day may send messages via the snakes as desired.
 
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6: Vergadain's Treasury

Vergadain's Treasury

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Accessed only from a large arch leading from the Golden Temple, this resplendent chamber makes the opulecence of the rest of Strongale Hall pale in comparison. Coins of every metal and mint are arranged in mounds about large pillars supporting a cavernous ceiling that resembles the inside of a pearlescent oyster shell. The light given off by numerous magic objects reflects off this ceiling, providing the dim ambient light that floods the chamber. Here the treasures Vergadain discovered over the course of his many adventures are stored, along with gifts from allied deities and his most devout followers. Branching off from the enormous chamber are three metal vault doors, each with a unique multi-variabel combination. The Cold Iron Door leads to a vault of forbidden magic and artifacts that Vergadain keeps from running amok in the multiverse. The Mithril Door leads to Vergadain's most treasured artifacts, item which bear a personal significance to the dwarven god. The Adamantine Door leads to those treasures which Vergadain wishes to keep secret, most probably because they were stolen from other mighty beings.

Coiled amidst the treasure is the dragon Yrzgemil (Pr/ female elder copper dragon/ 22 HD/ CG), a creature of terrible power whose scales seem to blend in with the treasure which she guards. Vergadain encountered Yrzgemil during his adventures on the prime world Oerth, and the story goes that he both saved her life and bested her in a riddling contest, securing her oath to guard his treasury for the remainder of her days. Though begrudging of her servitude, Yrzgemil enjoys the company of the dwarves greatly, and takes care of the treasury as if it were her own hoard. However, she does have an obsessive interest in riddles, and may allow visitors to view or interact with a single treasure in the main chamber if they can best her in a riddling contest; Yrzgemil hopes to learn a riddle with which she can finally stump Vergadain and win her freedom. Despite what would seem an adversarial relationship between dragon and god, there are persistent rumors that in her auburn-haired dwarven matron form, Yrzgemil is secretly Vergadain's lover and the two enjoy playing songs on his lyre for one another.

The three vaults remain off limits without the expressed permission of Vergadain, usually speaking thru his proxy Alia Horfinch (Px/ female dwarf/ rogue 8/ N) who maintains thorough logs cataloging every item in the treasury. Gifted with the ability to appraise the true value of any item, Alia can track a coin that has passed thru Dwarven Mountain just about anywhere on the planes. Mostly she works out of her office in the Dwarven Mint, save for weekly riddling visits with Yrzgemil or on rare occasions she retrieves an item from one of the vaults.
 
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