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Warlock’s Apprentice: Dwarves at War

Warlock’s Apprentice: Dwarves at War

The news from the Ironcrag Cantons is always of interest to lowland humans, given how often the followers of Mavros hire dwarves to serve as mercenaries in the Seven Cities or to help the Magdar Kingdom hold the line against the Mharoti in the east. In recent years though, many small dwarven companies are forming up to go west to the Wastes or north to the Wolfmark and the free city at Johzt. Some of this is driven by piety and some of it by greed; we’ll address each in turn here.

The Word of the Forge

Many young dwarven warriors are convinced that the opportunities to find ancient vaults in the Wastes are better now than in prior times, largely because of the Forge Prophecy proclaimed by Toveli Rogest, priest of Volund and master of the Templeforge halls. His oracular pronouncement claims that cantonal dwarves are poised to seize new lands, rather than defending human kingdoms, if only they can accomplish two things: 1) find the Horn of Verrante from the treasure vaults of the west and 2) drive back the vampires and ghouls and establish the righteous rule of the living in Morgau, Doresh, and Krakovar. It is, frankly, a call to religious action both by followers of Thor-Perun and by all dwarves of good heart. As part of this prophecy, a new battle chant has spread among the faithful, giving strength to their arms and axes and victory against dust goblins and ghouls alike. Older, more traditional spells such as hedgehog dozen, march of death, and storm of axes have also found new favor.

News from the Dwarfmoot

The Dwarfmoot has been lively and not just because of Toveli’s prophecy and the restlessness of a young generation of reavers. Other interests have been proclaimed loudly, in particular the wish of Jaro Whitebeard, Commander of the Black Fortress and leader of the Grisal Canton, to form a standing body of troops to push hard against Morgau and the ghouls of Krakovar. All dwarves at the moot are in favor of this in principle, though the matter is more fraught when the question of pay arises. Grisal is not a wealthy canton, and the folk of Bundeshausen and Gunnacks are happy to fund some of this Great Cantonal Levy and claim much of the glory. However, they both insist that one of their generals leads it. The discussion continues whether Grisal troops will fight for a “soft canton” leader, and meanwhile, Toveli Rogest strives to gather axe-dwarves and others to the new “Great Canton” banner with promises of plunder from Krakovar.

The dwarves of Grisal did not wait for the decision; some are going to attend Queen Dorytta’s Queensmeet to ask for her promise of pay in exchange for this Great Levy and to call a few of the more experienced knights to bring their cavalry north against Morgau. Whether this will come to anything is open to debate; already other cantons accuse Grisal of “speaking for other cantons” and attempting to lead the Ironcrags into a larger engagement than already exists. The dour dwarves of Grisal point to their own losses and the dangers of the undead and insist that other cantons not rely on Grisal as “both sword and shield and strength of arms” against the undead. They feel they have carried too much of the burden for too long.

The Dwarfmoot has thus been a cauldron of varying opinions, many spilling out into sharp insults, muddy fistfights, and even a few instances of beard pulling or beard cutting (both punishable offenses: the first by a fine, the second by expulsion from the Dwarfmoot).

For a general list of events that might enliven a Dwarfmoot, consult the “Events at the Dwarfmoot” table.

Events at the Dwarfmoot

d20 Result
1 A bitter feud has erupted between dwarves of two clan holdings. Several scathing songs have been composed, declaiming the faults of one or another clan, and both sides have seen scuffles and insults hurled during otherwise festive meetings.
2–3 A case of ownership of a particular gold claim is to be settled at the moot. Roll additional d6: 1 = the judge has gone missing, 2–3 = one side has taken a hostage unless the case is dropped, 4 = the gold claim seems to have been mined in stealth since the first complaint and the gold is gone, 5 = both sides have pledged the funds to the defense of Grisal, 6 = a new and human claimant has muddied the case.
4–5 A group of female dwarves from Alpentor is at the Dwarfmoot, rousing much curiosity. They all wear bandannas and heavy clothes, and they claim to wish to take up arms in the spring as shieldmaidens, quite against Alpentor custom. They call themselves the “Veiled Sisters” and seem quite competent with weapons and divine magic.
6 A famous elderly dwarven smith, Jan “Copperbeard” Desmeldin, seeks an apprentice. He is asking candidates to show their best work; competition is quite keen.
7–8 An ax-throwing contest is announced with the prize of a golden axe head to the winner (400 gp value).
9 One of the ravenfolk is attending the Dwarfmoot and seems to be consulting various sages, rune shapers, and ring mages about some arcane matter.
10 Three dwarves have taken seriously ill; poisoning of some food or drink is suspected but cannot be proven.
11–12 A crossbow contest is announced with a prize of a mithral crossbow bolt to the winner (400 gp value).
13 A young dwarf claims to be an orphan and attempts to ingratiate himself with a dwarven PC, seeking a mentor (and meals). He is far too young to be on his own and may be a runaway apprentice.
14 A high price is offered for strong, hardworking thralls brought to the Dwarfmoot and sold for work in the mines. Indeed, mines are shorthanded everywhere.
15 A griffon egg is offered for auction. Bidding begins at just 100 gp, but the priests of Templeforge will pay as much as 500 for it.
16 A muleskinner and an entire mule train of ale, cider, and provisions from Gunnacks has gone missing on the way to the Dwarfmoot. No one is sure what happened to Eclara “Bootleather” Gunnacks, the tough leader of the mule train, but the gathering is uneasy about this and sends out search parties.
17 The stones and law tablets of the Dwarfmoot have been defaced with blood during the night. Agents of Morgau are suspected, though some say it is just a foolish prank.
18 A strange priestess of Ninkash visited the Dwarfmoot this year, offering wine and praising Baccolon and speaking Elvish. Some believe she has been possessed by an elvish ghost or banshee.
19  Three wild rocs have taken up residence in the foothills near the western wastes, stealing several mounts and mules from dwarves in the western cantons. So far, no one has been able to chase them off.
20 Rumors swirl that Volund has possessed a famously pious follower who is watching the Dwarfmoot and speaking blessings in an archaic language. Each item she touches is blessed…


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