It’s Midgard Monday! Each week, we’ll visit a corner of the wide world of Midgard. Look for standalone content every Monday that you can drop into your own campaign—whether it’s in Midgard or your own homebrew. Find new inspiration for your game, each Midgard Monday!
The Kobold Press Tome of Heroes is a setting-neutral book, full of player options for any 5E D&D game. However, several subraces in the book have sidebars describing their habitats and societies in Midgard.
One subrace that does not have a description is fireforge dwarves. These dwarves live near, or even inside of, volcanoes. They are so closely affiliated with fire elementals that they speak Ignan, and live by the light of magma so they don’t have darkvision.
They’ve never appeared in any Midgard product . . . but where could you find fireforge dwarves if you wanted them in your Midgard game?
Fireforge Dwarves in Midgard
The Midgard Worldbook mentions a few volcanoes. Here are two options based on what you can find there.
Kokkinithous: Fortress under the Smoking Mountain
Rising above the land claimed by the Theocracy of Kammae Straboli, the Smoking Mountain is home to many fearsome creatures. It’s even said to be the lair of a dragon.
Salamanders, fire elementals, and kobolds are there in numbers, alongside a settlement of fireforge dwarves.
Kokkinithous (roughly translated as “Redhall” in Common), is a small, thriving fortress near the magma reservoir beneath the smoldering peak. The dwarves of Kokkinithous come from three clans—Dzurnark, Firinmak, and Visiverk—and are ruled by a triumvirate of elders from each clan.
The clan elders have agreed to sell their weapons and armor exclusively to Kammae Straboli. This provides the city-state with superior arms for its elite troops. The very best weapons are enchanted by priestesses and bestowed upon their generals. In return, the fireforge dwarves receive a steady influx of food, necessary resources, and luxury items. The clan elders can also access to the city’s oracles as needed, or ask Kammae to provide mercenaries (including adventuring PCs) in times of need.
Despite the tales, no dragon lives in the volcano. However, the dwarves’ best engineers built a clockwork dragon (see Creature Codex) for the defense of Redhall. Its existence is a secret and the dwarves never refute stories of a real dragon in Hesppuco. They would be as surprised as anyone if a dragon actually took up lairing there.
The fortress has a rotating contingent of azer that come through a naturally occurring portal to the Plane of Fire. The portal is kept open by a ley line that runs through the volcano. These azer allies help the fireforge dwarves maintain their autonomy, eager to slay any salamanders inclined to assault Redhall.
An upcoming planar disjunction means that the azers won’t be coming through for a few weeks. The elders are meeting about what to do in their absence. So are the black-scaled kobolds who lurk in the vents, listening to worried elders whisper.
Borgstadr: Volcanic Island Fortress of the North
North of Stannisgard, in the Northlands, stands Rekyrbrand, a lone volcano surrounded by warm, snowless lands. This bastion of the Jotun giants is also home of a fireforge dwarf fortress.
Deep within the volcano is a cavern with a lake of magma. In the middle of it is an island, on which the dwarves have carved a fortress from the living rock. Known as Borgstadr, the fortress is home to three fireforge clans: Firefall, Hamarfall, and Smokebeard.
Duties of the settlement are divided by clan. The Firefalls are the main martial force. They produce warriors to defend Borgstadr against the Jotun giants and other enemies. The Hamarfall are the smiths, producing weapons, the tools, and the wondrous goods they trade for most of their necessities. Finally, the Smokebeards are the engineers, crafting engines of destruction and cunning traps that make even the mighty Jotun think twice before assaulting Borgstadr.
Borgstadr is on constant alert, surrounded as they are by enemies. While Queen Sinmara of the Jotun is content to leave the dwarves alone, the fire giants that serve her take insult at their presence, and frequently start skirmishes. Eventually the Queen intervenes, and tokens of peace are exchanged. The dwarves politely accept Sinmara’s often generous terms, but stay ready for the next round.
Four causeways stretch from the edges of the magma lake to the island fortress. Each causeway is a series of metal platforms supported on a high-tension cable. Due to their proximity to the magma, the causeways are scorching hot, burning the feet of any creatures without fire resistance that attempt to cross them. The platforms are also carefully balanced on the cables. Too much weight on one side of a platform causes it to tilt, causing anything close to the edge to slide off into the magma. The gates at the end of each causeway are defended by the war engines of the Smokebeard clan, including gas-powered cannons that fire projectiles of razor-sharp, volcanic glass at opponents. Those that miss targets shatter on the metal causeways, strewing the path with boot-shredding shards to impede attackers.
A magical gate exists in the fortress connecting to one of the provincial capitals in Dornig. This lifeline provides immediate access to essentials and trade, skipping travel through giant-controlled territory. The elves receive the finest weapons, armor, and tools from their dwarven trade partners in exchange for a steady supply of critical supplies.
Dwarven reavers sometimes make the long journey to Borgstadr in search of “blood steel.” The fireforge dwarves often recruit them as mercenaries to help defend the fortress. These mercenaries are paid in weapons and armor crafted by the finest Hamarfall artisans. Carrying blood steel on a raid is a mark of prestige among reavers.
Get into Midgard with the Midgard Worldbook! This acclaimed campaign setting is rich and deep, with a decade of support from Kobold Press. A more focused start is the Zobeck Clockwork City Collector’s Edition! This detailed sourcebook gives plenty of room for your players to run, and includes a set of adventures all set within the Clockwork City itself!