Sunday, February 27, 2022

[Dwarf-Land] A New Campaign set in Dwarf-Land

Some years back, Scott Driver of the long lost and lamented blog, Huge Ruined Pile, created the campaign setting of Dwarf-Land for an OD&D campaign. Scott even had the amazing artist Russ Nicholson make a beautiful map of Dwarf-Land for him, which he shared with the world at large.

At some point he mentioned that he had originally drawn the map on a sheet of Judges Guild hex paper. I inquired if an electronic copy of the map was available, and Scott actually sent me his original hand-drawn map! He mailed it to me five years ago this month. He told me I could do whatever I wanted with it, as long as I did not charge for anything developed therefrom. 

Sadly, I did not realize that this was indicative of his once again disappearing from the Internet, which he did shortly thereafter. He is definitely missed.

Other things intervened, life went on, and the map remained ensconced in its envelope, wedged among my Old School books on my gaming shelves.

A short time ago, I recalled the map, and that I had scanned it some years ago. Having completed the Isle of Eldisor, I soon began itching to draw another map in Hexographer. I went through my Campaign Files, and discovered a file named "Dwarfland." Therein I found the scan I had made of the map five years ago.

Here is the Dwarf-Land map that I created from the original scan. I cannot extend further rights, as my agreement did not include that, but use it and the campaign material below for your own campaigns howsoever you might desire. 

The campaign material is developed from a file I found with the map in the folder; I hope it was all materials from Scott; I know others contributed to the work before it all disappeared from the Internet. I took it and ran with it, changed it and altered it to fit the needs of an upcoming Labyrinth Lord campaign.


Dwarf-Land Map
Click to Embiggen


On a crag in the shadow of the Eldritch Alps lies enchanted Castle Blitzendrang, the glimmering fortress of King Flim IV, King of All Dwarrowkin, High-King of Dwarf-Land. The castle and its surrounding cottages, fields, furrows, and groves are the haunts of the Dwarrowkin – Dwarves and Gnomes – who see to their business and industry in shadowed fairy-taverns and misty lamplit streets untrod by Men, braving the perilous environs of the surrounding valleys and highlands seeking to reclaim ancient delvings, mines of gold and jewels, and the lost Donnerhammer of the Old Kings.

Dwarf-Land is the homeland, as one might surmise, of the namesake Dwarves and their close cousins the Gnomes, collectively known as the Dwarrowkin, those unearthly folk perhaps closest to Men in earthly sensibilities. There are enclaves of wilder, more distant kin in the region. Alfkin – Elves and Halflings – lurk in a few fairy-fortresses in the northwest, the border-lords of Elf-Land. Faeries of goodly and unkind sort haunt glittering vales and dark meadows. Goblins have raided and settled from Goblin-Land to the west, and Orcs have invaded and settled from Orc-Land to the north. And of course, any played-out mine, ruined settlement, or abandoned stronghold quickly becomes the province of malign Kobolds, Gnolls, Ogres, Trolls, Dragons, or even Giants!

Here is what every inhabitant of Dwarf-Land knows about the peoples and places of the realm, even if they are the rudest of rubes or hickest of hayseeds:

1. The Dwarrowkin rule Dwarf-Land, as the name implies, though their numbers have greatly decreased since even before the coming of Men. Many of their delvings have been abandoned or reduced to ruins, and now most of the Dwarves have retreated to Dwarf-Town or the northern hold of Plugh. Their cousins, the Gnomes, are not much better off; the largest contingent of Gnomes is now found in Gnome Knolls. Dwarves and Gnomes are also found in the settlements of the Valefolk, especially in Cormorant and the towns of the Gnildavales. The High-King of Dwarf-Land is King Flim IV, King of All Dwarrowkin, wearer of the Adamantine Crown. The High-King’s wife is the Elf-Queen Auturne, who he married after the death of his first wife many years ago. The High-King has two heirs, Crown Prince Flam, his son from his first marriage, and Gnome-Prince Xerxy, his son by Auturne. Xerxy is styled “the Black Prince” a name that many say reflects his machinations, desires, and soul.

2. The Alfkin dwell mostly in Elf-Land, to the northwest. The rulers, leaders, and artisans are Alfar-Elves – willowy and attractive in an eldritch sort of way. They can be foppish and pleasure seeking, though often truculent and savage when roused to anger. Another type of Elf, the Petty Elf (i.e., Halflings) constitute the merchants, yeomanry, and peasantry of Elf-Land and are generally sensible, fond of pipeweed, fine ales, gardening, and baking. The only major settlements of the Alfkin in Dwarf-Land are Elf-Town and the towers of Drasmeth and Hexid in the Joyful Forest. Wandering bands of Elves can be found in the forests of Dwarf-Land, while many Halflings have settled among the Valefolk. The Alf-Earl Gandalf rules the Joyful Forest; he holds it in fief from the High-King of Elf-Land, Elbegast, King of All Alfkin, and pays tribute to the High-King of Dwarf-Land, King Flim IV.

3. Men are generally of three types – the savage Pechs, the honorable Valefolk, and the decadent and depraved Zorgs.

The Elder Race of Men remains bestial and live among the animals and monsters of forest and marsh. The Pechs as they are known to the Dwarrowkin, or Picts as they are called by Men, are a brutish, savage people who are mostly found in the Ever-Glooms, the Hoobmuck, and the Woods of the Great God Pan, though they can be found in just about any wild wasteland. The atavistic Picts live in tribes and clans, settled in small mud-hut villages and hamlets surrounded by wooden palisades, and guarded by their pet animals and monsters. They work only with wood, bone, and stone, but sometimes use looted weapons and armor. They are short and squat; have slate-gray to bark-brown skin; black hair; and brown eyes under thick brows. Their tongue is as the screeching and cackling of beasts. They cover themselves in paint when hunting, at war, or seeking revenge. They are led by an order of wicked Druids who summon their monstrous allies to feast upon living sacrifices for their bestial gods – Jhebbal-Sag the Lord of Beasts and his servants, Dagon of the Waters, Hanuman the Ape, Tsathoggua the Toad, Yezud the Spider, Yhoundeh the Elk-Goddess, and Yog the Bat, among others. They are head-hunters, and their faith requires cannibalism.

The Middle Race of Men, the Sons of Lif and Daughters of Lifthrasir, more simply known as the Valefolk, originated in and mostly dwell in the Kudzu Forest and the towns and villages of the Gnildavales. Allies and subjects of the Dwarves, they are held in respect as they honor the Old Ways, and produce a disproportionate number of virtuous rustics, shining knights, kindly wizards, and grinning rogues. They are of average height and build; have pale to ruddy skin; brown, blonde, or auburn hair; and blue or green eyes. Each town of Valefolk sort has its own primary pantheon of Gods – Mitra of Cormorant, the Aesir of Darkdurdle, the Ennead of Sawbleed, the Olympians of Orlock, and the Tuatha of Rursliv. Cormorant is their largest and most cosmopolitan town; Cormorant is, in fact, the largest and most cosmopolitan town of all of Dwarf-Land. Many of the Woodsfolk of Kudzu (taller and more muscular, with dark brown hair and ruddy red skin) are of Druidical sort, of a kindlier branch of that faith, though they have their darker gods as well, such as the warrior-god, Crom of the Mountain. A tribe of Woodsfolk has settled in the Drudwas Wood, centered on the Tower of Gludif.

The Younger Race of Men are the Men of Zorg. They are a newer arrival, first arriving from Across the Dreadful Deeps some centuries ago. A decadent and depraved people, their strongholds dot the wilder places of the land, especially in the south. The Zorgs are notorious demon-worshippers, necromancers, and black magicians. Their bloodlines are tainted by otherworldly dalliances with abyssal patrons and the dead; centuries of such congress have produced a race of languid sybarites capable of any abomination or outrage, from ritual cannibalism to obscenities further beyond the pale. They are tall and thin; have pale, almost albino skin; hair in bright colors (blue, green, purple, red, yellow, etc.); and their eyes are orange, pink, or red. However, some say that this appearance is merely a fiendish glamour for many, especially nobles and sorcerers, and their true appearance is far more demonic. They are tattooed and/or ritually scarred and wear many piercings. In battle, the Zorgs are formidable; their sorcerers are fearsome. Their knights ride black chargers and wear black lacquered armor; their necromancers are accompanied by ranks of undead. Their major settlements include Malifer, Isp, Glumen, Nilmerg, Pletra, Threen, Undrac, and Ulv, and their environs; they are found in minorities in Flonkerton and Cormorant; and are also found in smaller numbers in the Gnildavales.

A fourth Mannish “race” is that of the Amazons, the She-Devils of the Smaragdines. Founded centuries ago, by a strange alliance of Valefolk and Zorgish women who sought to live apart from men, i.e., the males of their type, for they had had enough of the rule of patriarchs. Founded by the Deified Warrior-Priestess Termagant, the Amazons numbers quickly grew as word of the freedoms they offered members of their sisterhood spread. A great battle was fought – the Battle of Shackles & Keys – the only time Valefolk ever allied with the Zorgs, much to their shame. The Amazons prevailed and won their freedom. Today they live in small villages and hamlets in the Smaragdine Mountains, Harridan Hills, and Glistening Glades, though they can be found settled elsewhere in the wilds. They worship a trinity of goddesses – Termagant, their Warrior-Queen (at Termagant); Hecate, the Witch-Queen (at the Fearful Fane); and Freya, the Matriarch-Queen (at the Peerless Pagoda). Amazons are often found in the wider world, as they form mercenary companies and help men and others fight their wars – provided they never have to fight other Amazons and get to kill plenty of men. It is while they are out “on patrol” with their company that they seek prospective mates. They return home to bear their children; girl children are kept, while male children are given over to others or sometimes exposed to the elements. Amazons are tall and athletic; have tan or bronzed skin; blonde, red, or brunette hair; and green, blue, or purple eyes. Contrary to popular myths Amazons do not eschew heavy armor, though most are light warriors (leather or chain); and some play the part of the myths and legends when they have strong magical protections.

4. The Orcs of Orc-Land to the north are said to be descended from corrupted Elves; they are as foul in their own way as the Elves are fair, and their tongue, though vile upon the ear, is certainly related to Elvish. They are divided into many different Orc Tribes – the Black Hands, White Skulls, Burning Eyes, Red Claws, Blue Blades, etc., and the different tribes hate each other as much as they hate all other peoples (though they save their worst hatred for Elves). Most leaders of the tribes in the region are Half-Orcs, or Uruks, descended in a long line from old alliances with the early Zorg settlers. They worship strange and terrible demons. Three major Orc domains are found in the region – the Black Hand Boar-Rider Orcs of Nacht-Mog, who ride giant boars and rule the Plain of Beastly Bones; the White Skull Sea-Orcs of Tarka, whose black-sailed pirates raid the Zorg traders and coasts; and the Burning Eye High-Orcs of Xyzzy, steeped in the ancient sorcerous power native to the Cabal Mountains. Many other lesser tribes, clans, and bands can be found throughout Dwarf-Land.

5. The Goblins of Goblin-Land to the west are said to be descended from corrupted Dwarves; they take the form of scrawny Dwarves with disproportionate and bestial features; strange and unnatural skin, hair, and eye colors; and can never, ever grow a true beard. They are found in three sizes – small Goblins, man-sized Hobgoblins (of Orcish blood), and large Bugbears (descended from less discriminatory couplings with larger beasts). They are divided into many different Goblin Hordes, each ruled by a Goblin-King. They hate all other peoples but reserve their greatest hatred for Dwarrowkin. Most leaders of the tribes in the region are Goblin-Men, descended in a long line from old alliances with Pechs. They worship wicked spirits, and it is said that some follow Jhebbal-Sag. Goblins infest the western wilds of Dwarf-Land – they practically rule the Smaragdine Mountains (save for the lands held by the Amazons), the Peaks of Peril, Phalkwood, and all points west. Their major settlements are Blix, hold of the Catoblepas Horde under the rule of Goblin-King Vipertongue; Gorlab, hold of the Axebeak Horde under the rule of Goblin-King Toadsquat; Castle Deathcap, hold of the Hag-Son Horde under the rule of Goblin-Queen One-Eye Olga; and the Free Village of Flonkerton on Limpet Lake, where they live in relative peace with a wide mix of races. Many other lesser hordes, clans, and bands can be found throughout Dwarf-Land.