The ancient capital city of the dwarven nation of Delzoun, Gauntlgrym was discovered and liberated by Bruenor Battlehammer and his allies in the mid-1480s. He was made the king of Gauntlgrym, and has spent the last half-decade clearing it and returning it to splendor it has not known for centuries. It is now a well-fortified dwarven citadel and its great foundries burn day and night once more.
The people of Gauntlgrym are mostly dwarves, although it has a sizable population of humans, rock gnomes, and other folk as well. With King Bruenor's call to the dwarves of the North to re-settle, many of the dwarves who once dwelt in Mirabar, Sundabar, or in other locations moved here, as did many who'd settled in places like Neverwinter and Waterdeep. A few of the noble clans have answered the call as well, each swearing fealty to the king as they do so, although rumors that Bruenor intends to declare himself king of all shield dwarves and build a new Delzoun – forcing other dwarven nobles to bend the knee to him – have caused some hesitation in other clans doing the same.
Likewise, many of the humans here once came from Neverwinter, although there is now at least one generation of humankind who were born and raised in Gauntlgrym, and consider themselves just as much Grymfolk as any dwarf here. There are also representatives of major trading costers and other large interests, as well as representatives from different governments of note.
The city of Gauntlgrym is governed by King Bruenor Battlehammer, former King of Mithril Hall. He was part of the heroes who discovered and liberated Gauntlgrym in years past, driving out all manner of dangers from its hallowed halls, and has led the charge in returning it to a city worthy of old Delzoun's glory.
King Bruenor has been approached by the Lords' Alliance, asking him to join, but he has put them off thus far.
The city's first line of defense is simply its vast structure and limited means of access. An enemy is unlikely to breach the Gates of Gauntlgrym even with a prolonged siege. In the past, enemies have almost always accessed the city from the Underdark or other similar places, or by means of magical transportation. To this end, the city incorporates many "locks" that can be sealed to lock the city down into discreet sections, trapping enemies in them until they can be dealt with.
The Hammers of Gauntlgrym are an elite dwarven fighting force, an order of dwarven knights sworn directly to King Bruenor and the city. The Vault of the Kings and the pathways that lead into it are defended by members of the Hammers, who are renowned even among dwarves for humorlessness and dour adherence to their mandate. New candidates for the Hammers are usually taken from the fighters fielded by the clans who show a great deal of promise. Hammers are not expected to throw over their loyalty to clan, but they are sworn to put crown and city first.
The main body of military force in the city is that maintained by the various noble dwarven clans. By law, a clan must provide three soldiers to the city for every one they retain for their own defense, ensuring that the clans make a point of providing ample forces to Gauntlgrym's protection. Members of the Hammers are always put into commanding positions of these forces, with a preference for Hammers who come from that clan in that position.
Places of Interest
The Great Cavern
Both the Neverwinter and Crags Underways open into the massive "foyer cavern," a natural unshaped chamber with stalactites and stalagmites, and a fresh-water lake at its center.
- The Gates of Gauntlgrym: This cavern also features the massive dwarf-gates wrought of iron, adamantine, and mithral, and enchanted so that they cannot be sealed or unsealed save by a dwarf of noble blood with the authority to do so. The gates remain open and under guard, allowing travelers and caravans to come and go into Gauntlgrym at all hours of the day.
The Iron Tabernacle
Just inside the Gates of Gauntlgrym is the Iron Tabernacle, the grand plaza in a chamber hundreds of feet high, supported by pillars as big around as any redwood. All around the plaza, grand entrances lead into individual temples of the various deities of the Morndinsamman. Opposite the Gates stands the archway easily fifty feet in height and width which leads to the Passageways.
- The Dais of Moradin: In the center of the Iron Tabernacle's plaza stands a stepped dais about a story high. Upon this dais is a stone statue of Moradin, hammer and tongs crossed protectively in front of him, facing the entryway into Gauntlgrym, and flanked by two immense braziers in which fires burn eternally. In two sections of the dais, there are doors that lead to a spiralling ramp down to the Track Nexus in the Miners District far beneath the Tabernacle.
The Passageways are a vast open cavern. The broad promenade that opens from the Iron Tabernacle provides a vantage that both rises and descends many hundreds of feet both up and down. Interlocking balconies spiral around the open air of the vast chamber, with occasional bridges that span the chamber to allow carts access to the varying levels of Gauntlgrym. In the center of this space is the Riseworks, a marvel of dwarven engineering.
Foot-accessible staircases are dug into the stone walls of the Passageways, allowing quick access up and down to those who aren't trying to transport wheeled vehicles or animals. A few of the openings in the walls instead lead to taverns, eateries, stables, and supply shops, all the sorts of places that serve those who are coming and going from a major city.
- The Riseworks: Riding up the center of the space are a series of industrial-quality mechanical lifts, with great gated platforms that can be caused to rise or descend to any level the Passageways connect to, its intricate machine-works powered by a small portion of the Burning Heart's channeled energy.
- The Kingspath: At the far end of the cavern is a finely-wrought stone ramp-way guarded by an honor guard of the Hammers of Gauntlgrym. Only those with business with King Bruenor are permitted to use this path, which rises to a set of doors that enter directly into the Vault of Kings above it. Those who do not have a summons token, ambassador's credentials, or noble clan signet are accompanied by a guard to ensure they are not up to mischief.
The Upper City
The very topmost portion of the Passageways is a cavern referred to as the Upper City. Though there are vast balconied openings throughout the Upper City that peer down into the bustle of the Passageways beneath it, the Upper City is largely a place of wide, well-it broadways, interspersed with large, expensive buildings. These are all rich businesses, guildhalls, and city administrative buildings, as well as dwelling-places for those who are wealthy enough to afford them. The walls of the Upper City proper have grand entrances to dwarven estate-complexes built deep into the structure, which are the property of the noble dwarven clans. Though not all of the clans are represented here, those that are
- The Vault of Kings: At the far end of the Upper City, across a guarded stone bridge that spans a wide "moat" of open air with a drop down to the Passageways below, is the Vault of Kings. There is a large plaza that is open to the public, and from which the king's pronouncements are often heard. A set of twenty-foot high doors is on the other end of the bridge, with a balcony in the wall above them where King Bruenor can see and address the city. The interior of the Vault is made up of public gathering places and the sorts of offices that allow governments to function, on all sides of
The Lower City
The floor of the Passageworks chamber opens up into a much larger, carved cavern: the Lower City. Though nowhere near as tall as some of the other chambers in Gauntlgrym, the Lower City is broad and vast in width. Its expanse is broken up by broad platforms. Businesses are built into these platforms, while dwelling-places are constructed atop them, with footpaths that connect the homes into a small "neighborhood" atop that platform, with footbridges that connect to nearby platforms. In effect, this creates two kinds of roads in the Lower City: the footpaths atop the platforms, winding between houses there, and the roads between and around platforms, with businesses facing out from them. Folk here commonly use the footpaths to get around, taking small lifts or staircase-towers at the edge of platforms to get down to whatever shops they need to visit. This leaves the broader roads open for carts and other business conveyances.
The Lower City is home to less-expensive housing, made up of small individual structures in close proximity to one's neighbors. Those without the coin to live in the Upper City make their homes here. The reality of the situation, though, is that Gauntlgrym does not house enough folk to fill the Lower City, leaving some sections of it dark and unoccupied. The crown has placed small wooden barriers across the roads and bridges that lead to such sections, declaring them closed until they are needed for a larger populace. In truth, though, such places serve as the meeting areas for shady figures. There are even rumors of "wandering taverns" that set up in a building discreetly, inviting revelers and criminals to gather there outside of the eye of the law, and then vanishing once the night is over, only to re-appear a few days later somewhere else.
- The Waterworks: At its center of the Lower City a great pool of fresh water, beneath which is the impressive mechanisms of Gauntlgrym's waterworks which pump fresh water into the city, push it through pipes to every home and building within its halls, and then carry away all wastewater to far-off Underdark cess-caverns.
The Miners District
Found deeper within the earth than (although not directly beneath) the Lower City, the Miners District is a site of major industry. The district itself is a nexus of criss-crossing cart-tracks with magical carts that seem to drive themselves zipping along them. Warehouses and offices are scattered among the tracklines; every dwarven clan and business venture that works the mines of Gauntlgrym has an office and storage facility among these buildings. Tunnels branch out in every direction from here, leading to various mines. Groups of miners, all wearing the symbols of their employers or clan, stand in groups waiting for the next dwarf-cart to carry them to the mine they are working that day.
The mines are not divided up as territory: King Bruenor has set up a system whereby Gauntlgrym owns the mines themselves, but anyone who wishes to field workers to mine them may purchase a seasonal license to work a given mine-type from the city (the richer the ore in the mine, the more expensive the license) and pay a daily tax that is charged per-head sent into the mines. Whatever a given company brings in is theirs to keep, so long as those fees are paid, a system that works well for everyone involved.
There are a few exceptions to this, though – individual dwarven clans who have discovered new veins nearby may petition the crown to grant them sole access, but that clan is responsible for the mine's infrastructure and safety, as well as other development. In return, though, that clan receives sole access to the wealth of that mine.
- The Track Nexus: A wide, circular column in the center of the district which rises up into the ceiling of the area, the Track Nexus is the hub whereby the magical dwarf-carts (both ore- and dwarf-carriers) are controlled by a collection of engineer-priests. Each such controller sits in a specialized chair, with his back to a great enchanted pillar of mithral and adamantine, "syncing" their awareness to the carts. Each user is able to jump from an "overview" of the network that allows them to focus in on any particular area to "jumping into" a cart in order to see what is going on around it and control the cart individually.
- The Trueforger Mines: One of the private clan mines, the Trueforgers are somewhat locally notorious for a failure to properly shore up the silver and tin mine they claimed shortly after the re-settlement of Gauntlgrym. When a cave-in occurred, injuring and killing many, the city's administrators found the safety work insufficient, and the Trueforgers suddenly found themselves without the means to mine it. The mines are now up and running once more, although easily three-quarters of their workers are humans who've been brought in from outside the city – a damning imprecation in the eyes of most the city's dwarves.
The Great Forge
A vast dwarven foundry of old, the Great Forge is not entirely working again yet - not for lack of ability or resources to repair it, but because the city's current population of craftsfolk has no need of the complex, which supported the great dwarven empire of Delzoun of old. A central foundryworks forms the core of the Forge, with smelters and individual furnaces and smithshoppes that radiate outward from it.
- The Burning Heart: In the lowest part of the Great Forge, directly beneath the central foundryworks is a ziggurat wrought of pure adamantine and set with dwarf-runes, which channels the pure power of Maegera (who slumbers in the Fiery Pit directly beneath the Burning Heart).
The Fiery Pit
A deep magma-filled chasm deep beneath Gauntlgrym in which the primordial Maegera is kept in a semi-conscious slumber. A channel in the ceiling, inscribed with dwarven runes in plates of adamantine, channel their power into the Burning Heart in the Great Forge.
Roads & Trails
- The Neverwinter Underways: The main way into Gauntlgrym starts at the newly-founded Embassy of Gauntlgrym in Neverwinter, a compound consisting of a set of buildings and wall build around a great dwarf-gate large enough for four caravan wagons side-by-side to enter into the passages that lead to Neverwinter. The path has been smoothed and leveled extensively, and the tunnel is routinely patrolled, with passages and break-throughs into the rest of the Underdark bricked up and sealed to increase the safety of the Underways.
- The Crag Underways: A set of narrow tunnels that lead to a guardian-gate that opens into the edges of the Crags. They are mostly used by merchants coming to and from other places in the North. The traffic here has picked up in recent years as folk become aware of the re-settlement of Gauntlgrym, and the tunnels will need widening and shoring up soon to account for the increase in their use.
- The Crimson River: Not a river of water, but of molten rock, this winding pathway of magma wends its way to the heart of Mount Hotenow. Though there is no practical traffic upon this pathway, Gauntlgrym does maintain four enchanted boats of old dwarven make capable of being rowed along this river. Arcanists and others occasionally have cause to venture to Mount Hotenow, and may petition the crown for use of one of these boats.