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by Giampaolo Agosta and John Calvin from Threshold Magazine issue 16


Darmouk, long lost refuge of the dwarves, and rumored to be carved from living stone deep beneath Rockhome and the Northern Reaches, is waiting to be rediscovered and explored! Crafted by dwarven artisans and engineers during the height of Blackmoor, Darmouk has lain beneath the earth for ages, though not always forgotten. It has been a refuge for Shadowdeep denizens fleeing persecution, as well as a stronghold for dark powers.

Throughout the ages this once great metropolis has seen a myriad of uses, being discovered and abandoned on multiple occasions. Now it is primed to be discovered once again, but will those who stumble upon its greatness survive to tell their tale?


The caverns and city of Darmouk have survived in various states throughout the ages, from the time of Blackmoor to the present day.


During the golden age of technology on Mystara, the dwarves of Blackmoor achieved the peak of their abilities. Designing colossal eldritch machinery and combining the art of magecraft with super science, the prowess of the dwarves was matched by none on the planet, however their achievements were not without cost. The eldritch machines of the dwarves required vast amounts of power, power which began to run scarce as Blackmoor entered into the Beastman Crusades, becoming greedy and paranoid with their own resources.

So the dwarves turned to once again to engineering, and exploration, discovering a site of immense potential deep beneath the mountains on the western continent of Brun. There they bore beneath the surface and carved out a vast cavern network, with Darmouk at the center, and began extracting a new element only recently discovered by their sages… a crystallized energy source they called “hraden”.

[Sidebar: What is Hraden?]

Within a decade, the entire cavern complex of Darmouk was constructed, all with the intent and purpose of extracting immense quantities of hraden from the region. As the dwarves began their massive undertaking, and tapped into the richest vein of hraden beneath Darmouk, disaster struck. On the surface the age of Blackmoor was ending amidst a massive rain of technomagical fire.

Fire and Collapse

When the Great Rain of Fire shook the surface world, Darmouk did not remain unscathed. Portions of the cavern collapsed, killing thousands beneath the weight of crushing stone, and sealing for a time all access to the surface world. The dwarven population of Darmouk quickly descended into chaos and death.

Desperate to preserve themselves, and their way of life, a small group of dwarves turned to the only source of power still available to them, hraden. Using the energies of the technomantic crystals, they began to transform their bodies into undying vessels and the first necronaught dwarves were born.

The rest of the dwarves were not as lucky. Desperation and anarchy quickly led to infighting, and soon all laws and codes of honor were abandoned. Over the ensuing decades and centuries, and spurred on by the corrupted power leaking from the hraden mines of the necronaughts, most of the remaining dwarves were slowly transformed into the pravum little more than packs of ravenous beasts.

Coming of the Dark Elves

For centuries Darmouk remained hidden deep beneath the Makkres Mountains, and the corrupted dwarves roaming its halls carried on as they had been since the Great Rain of Fire. Their routine was not to last however, as the power of the hraden drew new factions to Darmouk, even from across the void of space.

Thus the Dark Elves came, Dark Pyrondians who had fled their homeland and come to Mystara to create their own dark empire. Though at first they lived on the surface, the Dark Elves soon found themselves embroiled in conflicts on multiple fronts. Retreating to the subterranean realms beneath the Northern Lands, they soon stumbled upon passages leading to Darmouk, and the immense power sources that lay hidden there.

From their new citadel in Darmouk, the Dark Elves struck out at their former enemies, plaguing the Antalians on the surface with constant bloodshed. Like all things, this reign of terror was not to last. When the Antalians finally discovered where the stronghold of their enemies lay, they gathered their forces and journeyed into the Shadowdeep. Though the Antalian forces were hard pressed, they lay siege to the Dark Elf fortress in Darmouk and shattered their foes.

Reign of Kardyer

Again the halls of Darmouk lay untouched by surface dwellers for centuries, but rumors of is existence persisted. The great red dragon Kardyer discovered its location nearly 500 years after defying the Parliament of Dragons and attempting to establish his own kingdom. With Darmouk, he found a base for his forces of dragon vassals and humanoid hordes.

For decades, Kardyer’s minions attacked the surface, using ancient Blackmoorian and Dark Elf artifacts to supplement their armories giving them an advantage over their enemies. When Kardyer was confronted and defeated at the hands of Thelvyn Foxeyes in 500 AC, the red dragon’s control was broken, and his minions scattered.


BC 3500-BC 3000 (circa): Darmouk is carved from the earth by dwarves in the age of Blackmoor.

BC 3000: The Great Rain of Fire. Blackmoor is destroyed and most of the world is thrust into fire and chaos. Darmouk survives deep underground, although two regions within the cavern collapse causing massive destruction.

[Image: The Great Rain of Fire]

BC 2999: The ancient dwarven civilization of Darmouk begins to falter. With their machines and technomagic in a shambles, the dwarves cannot produce the resources they need in order to survive this far underground.

BC 2950: In the wake of the disaster, many dwarves perish and the population of the city plummets dramatically. A handful of noble families turn to necromancy to sustain themselves, while the rest of the survivors are forced to rummage through the streets, fighting one another for whatever meager resources remain.

BC 2500: Dwarves and gnomes move into the region of "Rockhome" and the "Northern Reaches" from the north.

BC 2473: The Shimmering Lands1 is founded by Dranwyrf Korrskill.

BC 1800: This Shimmering Lands collapses amidst civil war, plagues, and external conflicts. Kagyar takes his faithful and remakes them into modern dwarves.

BC 1500: Modest Bronze Age human cultures in eastern lowlands. Sophisticated gnomish2 and dwarven cultures co-exist with primitive giantish clans in western uplands.

BC 500: A group of Dark Pyrondians flee their homeland of Damocles and colonize Mystara (in the region of the "Northern Reaches").3

BC 490: Kobold clans driven into uplands from the west4. Kobolds overrun and exterminate gnomes, and occupy their subterranean kingdoms in the Falun caves.

AC 0: The red dragon Kardyer goes mad and breaks away from the Parliament of Dragons. He gathers 26 other dragons as his vassals, and gathers a horde of orcs and goblins to his cause. [Kardyer actually sat on the Parliament of Dragons (the text says "in his long life"), so he has to be old even at this point in time. Conservatively we could say 500 years old in AC 0 - might even be older]

AC 1: The Dark Pyrondians, now living deep underground in a fortified section of Darmouk, encounter the Mordrigswerg. The begin to call themselves the Dark Elves (of Mordrigswerg legends) to establish a false history for themselves on Mystara.

AC 100: The Dark Elves under King Heltharm, make war upon the Antalians in the Northern Reaches.

AC 140: The Dark Pyrondian sorcerer, Pheazar, comes to Mystara.

AC 150: An Antalian army storms the fortress of the Dark Elves in Darmouk, destroying it. The attack is successful only because of the help of the Modrigswerg, Brokk and Sindri, who take advantage of the turmoil to sacrifice Pheazar, Heltharm, and seven other Dark Elven sages to create their masterwork, the Ring of the Nine Svartalfen. The Dark Elves are decimated, and though Pheazar is killed5 on Mystara, his clone activates back on Damocles.

AC 150-AC 500 (circa): Darmouk lay abandoned and forgotten (by outside forces6) for centuries.

AC 470: Darmouk rediscovered by the ancient red dragon Kardyer. [At this point Kardyer would be at least 1000+ years old. Presumably at least some of the 26 vassal dragons still follow him, and possibly still orc and goblin followers.]

AC 500: Era of the Dragonlord Chronicles book 2 ("Dragonking of Mystara").

AC 1000: The current era.


[Sidebar: The Location of Darmouk]

[Image: Map of Darmouk]


The entrance to Darmouk lies in the center of a pine laden valley deep in the Makkres Mountains, where a cluster of still, oily, lakes surrounds a saw-toothed ridge of dark stone on the valley floor. Above the treeline, the mountains are barren and stark. Situated in the eastern Makkres Mountains of Rockhome, the valley itself is difficult to access, with giants and tribes of kobolds to the north, and bands of gnolls and yet more giants claiming territory to the south and east.

Forlorn Forest

Dense and twisted, there are few traversable paths through the pine trees of the Forlorn Forest. Cool mists often roll up the valley walls from the lakes below, leaving the trees drenched with water and causing their branches to droop under their own weight. Nothing in the forest stays dry for long, and what little light breaks through is drear and drabby.

[Image: The Forlorn Forest]


Numerous small lakes dot the valley floor around Dragoncrest Ridge. Though calm, the waters are dark and murky, and seem to all display the same oily sheen across their surface. Bubbles from the depths occasionally break the calm, sending ripples across the water’s surface and bringing the stench of sulfur and tar.

Dragoncrest Ridge

This ridge of jagged dark stones is nearly five miles long and resembles the plates of a dragon’s crest. It lies amidst the lakes in the center of the valley. Though not specifically hidden, the entrance to the underground realm is tucked away between two of the ridges near the center of the feature. While neither covered nor protected, it is still difficult to find amongst the crumbling landscape and countless small surface crags and caves.

Intermediary Tunnels

There are several intermediary tunnels between the surface and the main chamber of the city.

Spiral Passage

A long passage spirals into the depths of the Shadowdeep, in places worked stone, and in others little more than living rock. Though once regularly traversed by the ancient dwarven race that fashioned it from the earth, over the eons the passage has become more and more treacherous. Shifting rock and stone have opened fissures along the passage, sometimes leading to dark, foreboding caverns that can wind up meandering through the Shadowdeep for days.

Occasionally travelers may stumble upon one of the ancient waystations along the route, small taverns built to accommodate those passing from the surface to the city below. Many have been damaged, collapsing in on themselves from the tectonic pressures of the area. Others are dangerous, inhabited by creatures of the lightless world that best remain forgotten.

Large Chambers

Several large chambers must be crossed before entering Darmouk. In ancient times these chambers were manned by the dwarves and served as the last line of defense for the city against invasion. Each chamber is wedge shaped, with battlements carved into the stone of its two longest sides, funneling travelers into a single great gate leading to the next chamber. While extremely effective when they were built, the chambers have suffered damage and disrepair from tremors and shifting earth over the ages.

Still Lake: The first chamber is nearly half flooded by an immense lake. Water gushes in from a fissure in the ceiling and rushes out through some hidden river deep below the lake’s surface. While the lake appears calm on the surface, the eddies and currents can catch the unwary off guard, pulling many to their deaths beneath the waters. In addition to the natural hazards in the chamber, a large aquatic abomination has taken up residence at the bottom of the lake. Most of its time is spent sleeping, but undue commotion in the chamber will surely wake it.

Chamber of the Ancients: The walls in this chamber are lined with alcoves of statues, all dwarven heroes of ages past. Though many are broken and crumbling, a few still look as if they had just been carved. These are living statues, set to guard this chamber, and the entrance to Darmouk, from all intruders. Should anyone enter, unaccompanied by a dwarf, the statues will animate and attack. If a dwarf is present, the statues will remain at their posts.

Crumbling Chamber: This chamber is wracked with fissures and chasms, and chunks of the cavern ceiling appear to be one earthquake away from crashing to the ground. Traversing the cavern is difficult given its uneven terrain, though makeshift rope bridges have been strung across many of the larger chasms. This is the main layer of the Kardyer-Ghul horde which has taken over the main battlements in this chamber, and many of the outlying connecting tunnels.

Main Chamber

Darmouk’s main chamber is a large and artificial cavern carved from the earth. It is perfectly oval in shape, measuring 5 miles in length and 2 miles wide. From the bottom of the cavern rises a series of terraced floors, with arches of white stone reaching upward from the edges to support the curved dome of the ceiling which rises an additional 400 feet from the top of the highest terrace.

When the Great Rain of Fire struck the surface, not even Darmouk was safe from its effects. Two of the stone arches failed, allowing portions of the ceiling to collapse and smash into the city far below. Now the northeastern corner of the city is covered in a gigantic landslide of stone and boulders, while the southern center has collapsed into a colossal sinkhole amidst the lower two terraced floors.

Northern Landslide

The collapse of the northern ceiling, along with portions of the northeastern wall, created a massive landslide of stone over nearly a quarter of the northern cavern. Though the terraced floor did not collapsed under the weight, very little of it is still accessible through the detritus.

Fissures in the walls lead to adjacent tunnels stretching out to other locations in the Shadowdeep including the Falun Caverns (though none lead directly to the surface). It is from here that both the Falun gnomes and the kobolds that pursued them, discovered and entered Darmouk.

Great Sinkhole

A faint green glow emanates from the Great Sinkhole in the southern half of Darmouk. During the catastrophe caused by the Great Rain of Fire, a large chunk of the ceiling broke away, crashing through the floor and creating a vast pit that led all the way down to the hraden mines. Though still dangerous, this section of the cavern has been worked over by the necronaughts and their constructs for centuries. They have done their best to clear the region of rubble and reinforce the integrity of the cavern.

[Image: Hraden Mines]

Kagyar’s Palace

The structure known as Kagyar’s Palace sits atop the center terrace of the city, the steps leading up to it guarded by a series of giant dwarven statues in the image of Kagyar. Truly massive, the palace has been occupied by several different forces since the fall of Darmouk, including the Dark Elves, and the dragon Kardyer.

Since the dragon’s defeat in 500 AC, many have tried to reclaim the palace, but to no avail. The defenses left inside to guard Kardyer’s treasures, and his secrets, still remain intact.

Nearby Regions

Two nearby realms, each ruled by the offspring of one of Kardyer’s dragon vassals, vie for control of the valley leading down to Darmouk.


Ruled over by the white dragon Druuwor, the fortress of Druuwmet may be even more ancient than Darmouk. Located in the Makkres Mountains 24 miles south of Rhoona, Druuwmet is a dark and dismal fortress that slowly drives all those inside it insane.

Druuwor has at his disposal several tribes of frost giants who live within the confines of his fortress, as well as a menagerie of other cold loving creatures in the area who are terrified of the dragon and will do his will. Though Druuwor covets the Three Volcano Lands, and the passageway leading to Darmouk, he refuses to leave his lair himself in order to procure it.

[Image: Three Volcano Lands]


The “Kingdom” of Jargnara covers a swath of land from the eastern Makkres Mountains and westward over the Great Marsh in Soderfjord, and is ruled over by the black dragon Jargnir. She includes among her subjects, trolls, lizardfolk, and all manor of slimy things that live within the marsh.

While Jargnir dreams of controlling Darmouk one day, she is more obsessed with destroying her competitor Druuwor. The two dragons have a long and dark history of violence between them. On occasion Jargnir will send some of her trolls to woo the Kardyer-Ghul clan to her cause, but this most often results in disaster when the trolls attempt to eat their hosts.

Falun Caverns

Once the domain of a great gnomish realm, the Falun Caverns were overrun by kobolds in 490 BC and most of the gnomes were slaughtered. In their place the kobolds built a kingdom in the dark of their own, and their reach extends far into the Shadowdeep.

The Falun kobolds still maintain relations with their kin in Darmouk. They see the Darmouk kobolds as a colony of their own kingdom, demanding tribute from them in the form of any ancient artifacts that can be found in the old dwarven city.


While Darmouk is lost to the outside world, several groups dwell in its depths. This section provides an overview of their origins, goals, and powers.

[Table: Denizens of Darmouk]

Necronaught Dwarves

Descended from the cavern’s original dwarven settlers, the necronaught dwarves chose an existence of technomantic undeath when faced with their culture’s certain demise after the Great Rain of Fire. Their current state of being makes them resistant to the powers that created the pravum, and while they have been able to maintain much of their cultural heritage the necronaughts are a stagnant race, and their numbers ever dwindling.

Necronaught dwarves appear as decayed dwarves, with greyish, leathery skins and dried beards and hair. All of them appear as wearing at least piecemeal plate armor, but very little clothing, usually no more than rags. A closer observation shows that the armor is actually part of the dwarf. Furthermore, cables and tubes connect various parts of the dwarves’ bodies, carrying mysterious fluids and energies. A necronaught armor typically has special slots where hraden rocks can be secured. The hraden rocks provide the necessary energy to power the necronaught dwarves’ unlife.

Necronaught dwarves spend extensive time in a low-power mode of operation, which is necessary to perform maintenance tasks as well as to reduce their consumption of hraden. They do not otherwise sleep, and they can switch almost instantly from low-power to active mode. However, if separated from their hraden source, their technomantic components only have 1d4 hours of autonomy before being forced into low-power mode.

Necronaught dwarves are built using standard rules for dwarf NPCs, except that there are no necronaught clerics. Necronaughts also have standard undead and construct immunities: they are not affected by charm and sleep spells, and immune to poisons and death magic. However, their technomantic components are more vulnerable to cold, electricity and fire, taking +1 damage from all such magics, and suffering a -2 ST penalty. Their eyes have decayed long ago, but they employ technomantic senses providing excellent sight even in utter darkness, as well as radar-like life detection.

Furthermore, necronaughts are considered as always wearing plate mail armor. They are also armed with a variety of body-mounted weapons, including energy projectors (equivalent to Blackmoorian hand blasters), missile throwers (base damage 1d10+4), retractable arm blades (equivalent to short sword) and armored fists (double unarmed damage). Advanced technomancy allows their armor and weapons magical bonuses ranging from +1 to +3.

All necronaughts are ancient beings, having survived since the times of the Great Rain of Fire. As such, they are all highly experienced dwarves (level 12, possibly with high attack class). However, their numbers are very low: there are only 27 surviving necronaughts, and of those, only three to five are active at any time. Each of them is an expert in one or more highly specialized technomantic tasks (having spent enough General Skill slots to bring their technomantic specialization skill to a rating of 18), but they need to cooperate to maintain the systems of their own bodies, as well as the many guardian and utility golems they employ.

The necronaughts build technomantic golems to serve as guards and servants. Typically, their guardian golems are vaguely humanoid, heavily armored constructs armed with missile projectors on both arms. They have the same statistics as a Living Statue, Rock. The utility golems are usually employed to search and extract hraden rocks. They are tough, stout constructs shaped like an armadillo, and armed with a drill on their tapered heads.

The Pravum

Descended from the cavern’s original dwarven settlers, the pravum are degenerate reflections of their once great ancestors. Twisted and feral, these creatures dominate the lower sections of the cavern and are a bane to most other inhabitants. It is unclear if their actions are being directed by a more powerful creature, or if their behavior is driven purely by instinct.

While the pravum usually look distinctly dwarven, with short, stocky bodies and long beards, the resemblance ends here. Exposed to the radiations of hraden for ages, the dwarves, unprotected as they were before Kagyar saved the species, have mutated heavily, so that now they are more like beastmen than dwarves7. Furthermore, most of the pravum have little more than animal intelligence (2-5). Only exceptional pravum reach dwarf-like levels of intelligence, but most of them are driven out of the pravum packs -- they either die at the hands of other threats, or survive as furtive outcasts. A very few, typically those that are also endowed with greater physical strength, manage to take control of their pack.

A group of four intelligent pravum pack leaders, who call themselves the Scions of Darmouk, has even managed to find an agreement to form an alliance, hoping to conquer the entire cave system of Darmouk. They have understood from studying the surviving dwarven art that they are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the city. They consider the other factions as usurpers, and plan to reclaim all of Darmouk. Also, they have learned from captured modrigswerg that the necronaughts are more ancient than other inhabitants, and have tried contacting them, only to be violently rebuffed by the technomantic undead. The Scions consider therefore the necronaughts as some kind of fallen gods or demons -- incredibly powerful, but evil. They believe they are destined to confront and overcome the necronaught. The Scions control a group of two hundred pravum, and are trying to further increase the number of their followers. They also cultivate relations with outcast pravum, who serve as spies in the hope to be allowed to join the Scions’ pack.


The moulder dwarves are found as individuals or small groups across the Northern Reaches. While these dwarves enjoy the resistance to poisons and magic that Kagyar instilled in the dwarven race after the Great Rain of Fire, they are not followers of that Immortal. Much in keeping with the ancient dwarves of the Shimmering Lands, Modrigswerg are individualists, putting their personal researches and agenda before the collectively. Thus, they are radically at odds with the Denwarf dwarves. There is therefore no larger organization, and each Modrigswerg travels or settles according to his own needs. At most, small family groups may stick together, but sons and daughters often leave the family when their personal goals diverge from those of the family head. Several Modrigswerg are aware of Darmouk, and the existence of the place has been known to the Modrigswerg for centuries. Modrigswerg found in Darmouk include the following.

Oinn Draekvitur (Dwarf 8, C), a sage specializing in dragon lore, believes that an entropic Immortal of northern origin, Idris, is the mysterious patron of the Kardyer-Gul shamans. He would like to confirm his hypothesis, but the shamans are unusually secretive in their practices. Oinn has taken residence in Darmouk with his bodyguard, Bodo (Troll 2, C) six months ago, but has made limited progress in his research and is growing restless. He may be willing to negotiate for help in uncovering the Kardyer-Gul shamans’ secrets.

Durnir Galarwarf (Dwarf 11, C) and his sons and apprentices Galar and Fjalar (both Dwarf 6, C) are establishing an outpost to study the hraden. These Modrigswerg are craftsmen, and have been provided with significant resources by a mysterious patron to carry out their work. They have secured as guards a group of 6 Magen (2 Caldron, 2 Demos and 2 Galvan) through this patron. Like all Modrigswerg, they are secretive to the point of paranoia, and believe that Oinn’s researches are actually a front for spying their work.

The Modrigswergs going under the name of the Idhnadhar Consortium are a group of traders who exploit their knowledge of safer routes from Soderfjord’s hills to Darmouk to carry out a small scale caravan operation. They trade only high-demand goods that fetch high prices, thus being able to afford sufficient mobility and stealth to avoid being followed by would-be competitors. They are paranoid in their deals, and especially wary of any surface dweller.

Dark Elves

The mythical “Dark Elves” of the Northern Reaches lore still survive in the depths of Darmouk. They are not actually related to the surface or shadow elves, although they bear a superficial resemblance to the elven races, with lanky physiques and pointed ears. They are actually from the planet Damocles, and are more closely related to the Emerondians of Davania than to any Mystaran race. They usually have dark, rubbery skin and reddish eyes, with pale, greenish hair. Compared to the Dark Pyrondians on Damocles, this colony has lost much knowledge of the life-shaping arts, in part due to the Antalian wars which annihilated most of their numbers. They fled to Darmouk, which they had discovered around BC 500, after the last Antalian war circa AC 150, and have not been able to leave since that time.

The Dark Elves are limited in numbers, but can rely on many servants, mostly descendants of their original life-shaped servitors. They also have a number of still active life-shaped devices which resemble rings made of some kind of hard, bark-like material. The device, when worn, bonds with the wearer and injects stimulants in their body, which provide one extra hit point per hit die. However, they also act as Rings of Servitude8, allowing the attuned Dark Elf to direct the wearer as through a charm spell. Thus, the Dark Elves also control a menagerie of assorted servants of higher intelligence.

Since the creation of the Ring of Nine Svartalfen, the Dark Elves have been very leery of the Modrigswerg dwarves, but still need these evil tinkerers and merchants, as they are their only contact with the outside world. The Modrigswerg keep their routes secret, and have a number of tricks up their sleeves to avoid being followed by the Dark Elves or their servants. The Dark Elves, in turn, are willing to ally with about anyone who can provide them a way to track the Modrigswerg back to the surface.

Falun Gnomes

The last remnants of the Falun gnomes have found refuge in Darmouk. Formerly a peaceful folk, they are now wary of all the other dwellers, who are more aggressive and powerful than they are. The Falun gnomes have therefore developed their skills towards stealth. Contrary to other gnomes, they rarely wear metal armor, and have hiding abilities identical to those of halflings. The Falun gnomes’ hiding ability, however, only works in underground environments. The gnomes call themselves the Sydhwar, the silent ones.

The Sydhwar cannot last much longer. As good as their hiding abilities are, the escalating conflicts in Darmouk are unlikely to leave them unscathed, and most other factions would destroy or enslave them as soon as they become fully aware of the Sydhwar’s existence. Thus, the gnomes need to escape the city, but the roads they know are blocked by the Kardyer-Gul goblinoids, and by the kobolds. The Sydhwar elders are growing desperate, but are too fearful to take any step on their own. Saving the Sydhwar may be a complex task, however, as it requires not only finding a safe escape route, but also persuading the scared Sydhwar to use it. This would go against the wishes of the chief elder, Maklhyr (Gnome 7, C). This twisted gnome has grown accustomed to using fear to impose his will on the community, and would cast any would-be saviour as an enemy wishing to draw the gnomes out of their safe hideout -- better to lose one or two gnomes once in a while, he says, then to die all in the unknown tunnels. However, such a task would attract the attention of the Immortal Garal Glitterlode, the creator of the gnome race, who will follow the career of any hero who is up to this task, and may show up later as a patron on the path to immortality.

The Kardyer-Gul Horde

Dwelling in the upper caverns of Darmouk, the orc and goblin descendants of Kardyer’s original warband control the access to the lower levels from the surface, as well as several other tunnels delving deeper, towards the original lair of the dragon Kardyer. Three hordes make up the tribe: the Dragon Claws (Ashdar-mak), the Red Tooth (Kzel Tish), and the Winged Death (Kanat Olum). The Dragon Claws are an orcish tribe. They specialize in fighting with two weapons, usually daggers or short swords. The Red Tooth are a goblin tribe. They dye their teeth bright red, using the kzel tet berries. Typical of goblins, they have many wolf-riders. Finally, the Winged Death are a mixed orc and goblin tribe. They favor skinwing mounts, which they raise in the larger caverns.

The shamans of all three tribes are dedicated to Kardyer himself, and have a long tradition of prophecies and legends telling of the return of the red dragon. They incessantly push the warriors towards conquering the caverns and especially the lair of Kardyer, which they regard as a holy site. Lairs of former vassals of Kardyer are often the site of shamanic vision quests.
In truth, Kardyer is dead, and the unknown Immortal that powers his shamans has an agenda that includes the return of the traitorous dragon as one of the undead.

[Sidebar: Resurrecting Kardyer]

The Kardyer-Gul are attempting to bring the Falun kobolds into their fold, but for now their proselytizers have met little success with the kobolds. The pravum, necronaughts and Dark Elves all sit in the Kardyer-Gul’s path towards the lair of Kardyer, and the orcish shamans covet the magical lore of the last two, as well as that of the Modrigswerg. They believe a ritual is needed to bring about the return of the dragon, and have received part of it, but need more knowledge and materials to create a special vessel, which currently exceeds their capabilities. Should they succeed, Kardyer will return as an undead dragon.


These kobolds came in from the Falun caves. Their ancestors decimated the gnomes that lived in them. When the Sydhwar fled to Darmouk, some kobold hunters followed them. The modern Darmouk kobolds are still vicious hunters, specializing in deadly traps. Their creativity in such endeavours is much appreciated by their patron, the Shining One, who also craves the power of the hraden stones.

The kobolds are scavengers, plundering the depths of Darmouk for bits of technomantic equipment discarded by the Necronaughts, which their tinkers then combine to create new tools and weapons. The typical kobold warrior carries a couple of special trinkets, which are useful as one-use weapons, or are the equivalent of potions, although they typically look like metallic or glass objects kept together by ropes, twigs, and other makeshift contraptions. Typical effects include the equivalent of a Web, Light or Magic Missile spell, and more rarely Fireball or Lightning Bolt grenades, as well as potions of Heroism and Invisibility.

The Darmouk kobolds eat almost any other lifeform -- they favor gnomes, of course, but will eat the Kardyer-Gul or a straggling Modrigswerg as well.

[Sidebar: Resurrecting Kardyer]

Appendix: Sidebars

[Sidebar: What is Hraden?]

Hraden, or “green stone” as the dwarves of Darmouk named it, is a condensed form of magical energy that has been solidified in a crystallized form. Other materials on Mystara may share many of its properties, foremost among them the soul crystals of the Shadow Elves. In fact, the hraden beneath Darmouk may only be an intensely concentrated form of the soul crystals that can be found throughout the Shadowdeep.

As its name implies, hraden is a dimply green glowing crystal which is slightly warm to the touch. It is a naturally occurring radiance receptacle that is found in the mines beneath Darmouk. Necronaught legends seem to indicate that Darmouk itself was built as a gigantic amplifier, a city sized mystical engine designed to siphon radiance from the hraden below and store it deep in the vaults of Kagyar’s Palace. With the city damaged in the Great Rain of Fire, the mystical engine ceased to function, but raw hraden could be mined in order to extract its power more directly.

Hraden can be used as a physical component of any radiance spell9 and can at the DM’s discretion provide the holder with a bonus for casting. Such power comes at a cost however, as failed attempts may leave the wielder’s body horribly disfigured10.

[Sidebar: The Location of Darmouk]

Darmouk’s actual location in eastern Brun is never definitively given, however there are several official sources that may give us clues for placing it. The Dragonlord Chronicles trilogy gives us the best description of Darmouk, and the valley on the surface from which it can be accessed. According to the Dragonlord Chronicles, Darmouk can be accessed via

...a high pass in the eastern mountains of Rockhome, just above the cool, wet lowlands of the Northern Reaches…”

This passage tells us that the surface valley is located in eastern Rockhome in the Makkres Mountains, probably at the same latitude as the Great Marsh in the Northern Reaches.

The Dragonlord Chronicles also tell us that at one time the red dragon Kardyer made his lair somewhere inside of Darmouk. His forces used the city as a base to raid their neighbors from.

Moreover, he had gathered a small army of orcs and goblins to serve him, raiding westward into Rockhome, south into the Emirates and east into the Northern Reaches to enrich his treasures.”

From the above text we can assume that the location of Darmouk must be near Rockhome, the Northern Reaches, and Ylaruam. Based on this knowledge, and the assumption that Kardyer’s offspring, or the offspring of some of his vassals, may still be in the area, we can use Bruce Heard’s article, Who’s Who Among Dragons [] to garner more clues about the ancient stronghold.

Of particular interest from that article are the entries for the dragon ‘kingdoms’ of Druuwmet and Jargnara. The white dragon Druuwor rules over Druuwmet, which “ located 24 miles south of the town of Rhoona. It is an ancient fortress built millennia ago by a forgotten civilisation, before the Makkres became high mountains.” The black dragon Jargnir rules of over Jargnara which includes “the Great Marsh in Soderfjord, the hills to the south between the Great Marsh and the Hardanger Mountain Range, and part of western Rockhome. Jargnir's lair is in the western part of the marsh, below the muck.”

While Druuwmet itself might be a candidate for the location of Darmouk, there are enough differences in its description to suggest otherwise. Druuwmet is described as a fortress on the surface of the mountains, while Darmouk is clearly a subterranean location. Druuwmet may in fact also be much older than Darmouk, having been built “before the Makkres became high mountains.” Even more telling however is a subsequent passage from Jargnara’s entry which states the two dragons, Druuwor and Jargnir are battling over territory.

“Druuwor and Jargnir have been longtime foes, separated by their mutual claims over the Three Volcano Lands in western11 Rockhome.”

If the two dragons are descended from Kardyer’s vassals, it is not unreasonable to assume that they could be competing over his legacy… the ancient lair full of Blackmoorian artifacts deep within Darmouk. This may suggest that Darmouk’s valley is within, or nearby, the Three Volcano Lands.

[Image: Map - Darmouk’s Location]

There are issues with this assumption as well, foremost among them that the original description of Darmouk’s valley does not mention any nearby volcanoes. As that description was given circa AC 500, one possibility is that the appearance of the volcanoes is relatively new (possibly triggered by activity within Darmouk itself). The oily appearance of nearby lakes could suggest geological processes occurring under the valley which might be tied to the appearance of the three volcanoes. Of course the other possibility is that Darmouk is located somewhere else (there are other nearby valleys in the Makkres Mountains where it could be located), but for the purposes of this article, we will assume that Darmouk’s valley is within the region of the Three Volcano Lands.

[Sidebar: Resurrecting Kardyer]

The Kardyer-Gul shamans rightly believe they have been given a ritual to resurrect Kardyer’s physical form. However, they are not aware that their patron is not Kardyer’s spirit, but rather the mysterious Immortal Idris, and the ritual is going to bring Kardyer back as an undead dragon, powered by the hraden stones. This is a plot by Idris to take control of the hraden mines, as well as a stronghold from which to launch an attack against the elves of Alfheim.

Appendix: Tables

[Table: Denizens of Darmouk]





Necronaught Dwarves

Technomantic Undead Dwarves

Preserve their existence, secure hraden sources

React to interlopers, but not out to get any of the others, except when hraden is involved


Feral Mutant Dwarves

Conquer Darmouk, defeat the Necronaughts

Hate all intruders, conflicted relationship with Necronaught “ancestors”


Scheming Cursed Dwarves


Attempt to trade and exploit about everyone else

Dark Elves

Mysterious Alien Mindbenders

Escape to the surface, restore their civilization

Need but hate the Modrigswerg, attempt to dominate Pravum, Gnomes and Goblinoids

Falun Gnomes

Fearful Gnomish Survivors


Hate Kobolds, fear everybody else

Kardyer’s Goblinoids

Goblinoid Dragon Worshippers

Restore Kardyer as an Undead Dragon

Want to conscript the Kobolds, need Modrigswerg and Necronaught magic, hate the Dark Elves


Tribal Gnome Hunters

Eat Falun Gnomes

Eat Falun Gnomes, tentative alliance with Kardyer’s Goblinoids

Appendix: Images

[Image: Map - Darmouk’s Location]

[Image: Map - Darmouk’s Location - Non-Hex]

Original map by G. Agosta, used by permission of the author. Made in GIMP.

[Image: Map of Darmouk]

[Image: Three Volcano Lands]

Jules Tavernier, Halema'uma'u Crater, Kilauea Volcano, 1887. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.,_Kilauea_Volcano%27,_1887,_Isaacs_Art_Center.JPG

[Image: The Forlorn Forest]

Fritz von Wille, Waldbach im Harz, before 1941. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

[Image: Hraden Mines]

Édouard Riou, An illustration from the novel "Journey to the Center of the Earth" by Jules Verne, 1864. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

[Image: The Great Rain of Fire]

Karl Brullov, The Last Day of Pompei, 1833. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

1See GazBC1 The Shimmering Lands [] by John Calvin for more details.

2See Gaz7 The Northern Reaches. The gnomes could possibly be the ancestors of the Falun Cavern gnomes.

3See the article on Damocles by Giampaolo Agosta in Threshold Issue #15 []

4The kobolds may have been minions of the Dark Pyrondians, or they could have simply been driven by competing humanoid tribes in the area.

5Although Pheazar’s body is destroyed, his clone awakens on Damocles, intent on finding out what happened to his original form on Mystara.

6Many of Darmouk’s previous inhabitants survive the Antalian assault, and continue living in the cavern system.

7Use Beastman statistics from the Hollow Word, but roll 1d10 for height, and use the same roll at +4 for weight. Pravum use the Dwarf ST table instead of the Fighter table. Normal NPC pravum roll 1d4+1 for Intelligence, but exceptional pravum roll as standard Beastmen.

8See X11 Saga of the Shadowlord for details on these cursed rings.

9See GAZ 3, GAZ 13, and articles on The Vaults of Pandius including 3.5E Radiance magic [] by Rodger Burns, and The Radiance Revisited [] by John Calvin (among others) for more information on the radiance and spells and magic associated with it.

10See GAZ 3 The Principalities of Glantri, page 77 “Dangers of the Radiance”.

11Based on the map (see the TM1 & TM2 compilation [] by Throfinn Tait at the Vaults of Pandius, it is clear that the Three Volcano Lands (the only region with three volcanoes in close proximity) is actually in eastern Rockhome, and not western Rockhome.