Atlas   Rules   Resources   Adventures   Stories       FAQ   Search   Links

The Kingdom of Highforge

by Francesco Defferrari from Threshold Magazine issue 16 A mini Gazetteer of the Kingdom and the City of gnomes and dwarves in Karameikos.

I made my first map of Highforge something like 26 years ago, as it was the starting point of my first campaign in Mystara back in 1991. Now I am playing a Play by Post in The Piazza forum that purely by accident ended up being set mostly in the region of Highforge. That is why I developed the city even more, and eventually I decided to produce the maps below. Along with the maps I am adding more details on the City and the surrounding region, partially developed by me and partially created by other people, referenced below.

[Image: Gnomes in the forest]

The City of Highforge (Eveskyr)

We go along with dwarves, sure, we consider them our cousins but still, we are a bit different. We live well under the earth just as they do and we can dig, mine and build as well as any dwarf, but hard work and reliability is not enough for us. We need novelties, we need freedom, we are inventors! We also need the trees, the sun and the sky. We may look a bit like dwarves and we work well with them. I believe they need our inventiveness as we need their accuracy. We make a good team, together, but do not forget we gnomes are a different people!
Lasa Dwaleftesh, gnome bard and librarian in Eveskyr.

As neither canon products nor fan material ever mentioned the gnomish and dwarvish name of Highforge, I decided it should be Eveskyr, which translates to Highforge according to the brief dwarvish vocabulary on pages 28 and 29 of Gazetteer 6, The Dwarves of Rockhome1. In canon Mystara products I do not think the gnomish language is ever detailed or discussed, but as dwarves and gnomes often live together and are related2, we can assume their languages too are related. For simplicity’s sake I assumed they are basically the same language.
According to Gazetteer 1, The Grand Duchy of Karameikos, Highforge has 7,500 inhabitants, of which 1,000 are dwarves. This seems to refer to the city, not the whole Kingdom of Highforge. We know Highforge is a Kingdom because its ruler, Dorfus Hilltopper, is indeed mentioned as a King. The Grand Duchy and later the Kingdom of Karameikos seems to consider Highforge a part of its territory, and it seems the gnomes and dwarves allow the humans to maintain this facade, provided that they never attempt to exert any real authority over the nation. The gnomes and dwarves probably find it convenient to have a bigger nation surrounding them which could work as a buffer in case of outside aggressions.
Karameikos Kingdom of Adventure confirms the above population and says that, “Highforge swears fealty to the crown of Karameikos, but for the most part follows its own course and customs”. I would assume that the gnomes and dwarves are willing to come to the aid of Karameikos in case of need, but certainly they consider themselves allies, and not subjects.
Simone Neri in his Demography of Karameikos3 estimates the total population of the Kingdom of Highforge at about 20,000, while I, in my recent Unknown World Trail map part 14, estimated about 35,000 inhabitants in the Kingdom of Highforge, mostly gnomes and dwarves with some minorities of elves and humans.
I estimate the population of the city at about 10,000 or slightly less, of which about half lives in the Uppercity and half in the Undercity.

Brief history of Eveskyr

0 AC: Gnomes arrive in the area of present day Highforge, some say travelling underground. The hills are inhabited only by some dark haired humans, who are willing to ally with the gnomes. The Kingdom of Eveskyr is founded and an alliance is established with the King of Traladara, Stephan of the Ivanov dynasty5.
5 AC: A clan of kobolds, the Brokenshields, arrive in Traladara following their enemies the gnomes. They attack Eveskyr but are defeated and settle the mountains to the west.
200 AC: Dwarves of the Torwyn clan settle in Highforge.
313 AC: The murder of Sergej Ivanov and the end of his dynasty brings great instability to Traladara with increasing humanoid attacks and destruction of communities in the area, but Eveskyr remains a bastion of civilization in the north.
410 AC: From this year and throughout the next century, Traladara is plagued by religious wars, invasion attempts from the Kingdom of Darokin, lycanthropy and vampirism. Many Eveskyr heroes have to fight against such menaces.
457 AC: A bugbear dominion briefly rules over eastern Traladara until it is destroyed by combined attacks by humans, gnomes and elves and revolts of its goblin and kobold subjects.
653 AC: Another wave of vampirism hits Traladara, bringing instability and war. Entropic cults also rise in the countryside. Eveskyr allies with the wizard Gygar of Lugsid (Threshold) to maintain order in the region.
720-8 AC: The necromancer Morphail Gorevitch-Woszlany, called the “Black Count of the Moor” starts a war but is defeated in the end. The help of Eveskyr is instrumental in his defeat and exile.
882 AC: The poisoning of Pieter Sergej Matrescu, the so called Last King of Traladara, plunges the nation into utter chaos, and Eveskyr has to defend its borders from humanoids and brigands.
900 AC: Thyatis invades Traladara. Eveskyr accepts the conquest because it brings order in the nation, but maintains its de facto independence.
922 AC: Bedlam’s Hammer is forged6 by famous smith Onyx Ironhand (Kurden Radrutar in dwarvish) for his son Cronak.
942 AC: Cronak Radrutrar is killed by gnolls at the Three Axe Ford in the Black Mountains.
955 AC: Oddwaddle’s Centipede is built to transport silver from the Black Peaks to Highforge.
960 AC: Belfin Elf-friend of the Wyrwarf clan of Dengar (Rockhome) marries Gilia Hywskyr (Songsmith) of the Tordal clan of Eveskyr7.
970 AC: Dorfus Hilltopper, 21st King of the Hilltopper line, establishes an alliance with Duke Stephan Karameikos8. Basically, the gnomes agree to be part of the Grand Duchy in name only and continue to rule themselves as they did before. Trade agreements however are signed, quite advantageous for Stephan and his new country.
973 AC: King Dorfus dies in a mechanical accident while testing a flying contraption, and is succeeded by his son Dorfin, 22nd of the Hilltopper line.
975 AC: The increasing settlements in Kelvin, Threshold and Penhaligon and the slow building of new roads bring more stability to the region, to the ultimate benefit of Eveskyr. Still, Traladaran refugees escaping from Thyatians are also accepted in the Kingdom.
979 AC: A Thyatian thief creates panic in Eveskyr with a series of unaccountable robberies which lead to the building of Fleabottom’s Bric Mac and the creation of several hidden vaults around the city, until he is apprehended9.
983 AC: Brokenshield kobolds10 are once again very active in central Traladara, until defeated by Karameikan, Callarii and Eveskyr troops in the Battle of the Elven guard south of Rifflian.
989 AC: Dorfin Hilltopper 22nd is killed by Dymrak goblins attacking the annual gnomish caravan. His son Dorfus becomes king as 23rd of the Hilltopper line.

[Image: Gnome sage teaching humans]
Caption: Gnome sage speaking to humans

The Uppercity of Highforge

Outsiders (i.e.non-citizens of the Kingdom of Highforge) do not know the Undercity exists, or believe there are just some tunnels. The truth is the Uppercity is the area of Highforge for contact with the outside world, while the Undercity is the true home of the gnomes and dwarves. Still there is a relevant number of inhabitants of Highforge that live mainly in the Uppercity and visit the Undercity only occasionally. The Uppercity appears as a walled town on the top of a steep hill. The hill was a volcano in the distant past, but it has been mostly inactive for many centuries. Highforge was founded about a thousand years ago and the spot was chosen for the presence of the Forge, which is a volcanic chimney reaching up to the surface.
The Uppercity is a walled square11 of about 1000x1000 meters (1,094 yards or 3,281 feet on each side) and the first thing human visitors will notice is how much space there is and how many trees there are. Highforge is not as crowded as human cities typically are and its houses are on average much bigger. Even in the south west Human Quarter, where houses are relatively smaller, the buildings are normally 20x25 meters and all have some garden and space for domestic animals. The city has no paved roads, only clay trails, but the less travelled areas are kept as lawns and Highforge is noticeably more clean than any human city.
With higher wages and an abundance of housing in Highforge, even for travelling peddlers and laborers, the kind of poverty which can be found in the largest human cities is unheard of.
Even if the city of gnomes and dwarves welcomes visitors, local rules can be a bit restrictive. To rent a house in the city and stay, a non-citizen of Highforge must be approved by the Council, the King or one of the Guilds, and have a job or another good reason to stay. Anyone else will be politely accompanied to the border of the Kingdom. However, it is well known that the King and the Elders have granted leave to stay to groups of human refugees in the past, the most recent occasions being Traladarans menaced by Iron Ring slavers. Such refugees can be accommodated in the city itself or in one of the other towns of the Kingdom.
Crime is almost unknown in Highforge, but thefts happen sometimes and brawls, while quite uncommon, may occur in some of the more shady taprooms.

[Sidebar: Gnomish (and Dwarven) inventions]

[Image: Map of Highforge’s Uppercity]

The South Gate and the Barracks: This is the main entrance to Highforge. The gate is decorated with images of a smoldering mountain on a field of orange (the banner of Highforge), hammer and chisel (symbol of Kagyar) and multi-faceted crystals (symbol of Garal). The walls are high and partially built on the side of the natural crater which contains Highforge. Just beyond the gate there are the Barracks of the guards, where normally at least 15 guards are always present. The standing army of Highforge is about 100 gnomes and dwarves, with some members of other races. Half of them are professionals, while the other half is composed of guards and soldiers on temporary duty, the length of which is calculated through a complex system most humans cannot understand. In case of need, Highforge can summon trained reservists, males and females, up to 2,000 people, to defend the city.
The Barracks are also the only prison in Eveskyr. The ground level cells are normally for drunkards and troublemakers who will be locked up for a few days and then expelled, as they are typically foreigners. The dungeon is instead for true dangerous criminals or unknown monsters. The gnomes and the dwarves are loath to lock down anyone, or anything, unless it is absolutely necessary. Eveskyr citizens who have committed crimes will be usually exiled or forced to atone through service to the community. Foreigners will be expelled or fined, or conscripted for some difficult and unpleasant job. Sentences are passed by the Tribunal or rarely by the King in the Upper Palace (see below).
Thoric12 Torwyr (Stronghollow), D12, is the old general of Eveskyr, still capable of standing his ground with any opponent. His lieutenants are Brunna Tordal13 (Strongvalley, an offshoot of the main clan, see the Dwarven Quarter below) and Karto Torwyr, D10, son of a cousin of Thoric.

The Human Quarter: This area of the city is mostly inhabited by humans, with a minority of halflings and gnomes. Many are temporary residents, laborers, adventurers, travellers or peddlers, but some are humans who have gained the right to live in Highforge and are raising their families here. Due to its nature, this neighbourhood is the shadier part of the city, but it is in no way comparable to places such as the Nest in Specularum and looks like a fine residential area compared to the poorest quarters of the human cities. Georgios Kamateros, son of a Thyatian family of landed knights which has estates west of Highforge, is the informal representative of the Karameikos government in the city. Leandrus Karios, a wool merchant, has an important shop in the area and is also the main commercial agent for the Vorloi family in Highforge. Catrina Torenescu, a distant cousin of the main family, is instead the main commercial agent of the Torenescu. Leandrus and Catrina compete in a friendly manner for trade agreements, but get along. Their respective families live in the city too; Leandrus has a wife and 2 male children, Catrina has a husband who normally acts as caravan leader, a male and a female child. There are other human children in the neighbourhood, often playing in the streets with gnomish children.

The Church of Traladara:
This building in ancient Traladaran style is more than five centuries old. Abbot Misha Gerimov (P7) and 4 acolytes live here and are willing to help travellers and sell healing potions for a fair price. They have good relations with the Highforge Council and have been able to persuade the gnomes to take in groups of Traladaran refugees in the past. Among these there are also true rebels against the Thyatian establishment. Misha knows this and tries to protect them, up to a certain point. He would have serious moral doubts should he discover that a fugitive has committed murder (not in self defense). He has good relations with Nerus of the Church of Karameikos, and is not aware that the Thyatian cleric is a spy of Grand Duchess Olivia.

Elves and Hin Quarter: This neighbourhood is inhabited mostly by elves and hin. Most of the elves are Callarii and most of the hin are from the Shires, but Vyalia and Alfheimer elves or hin from far away places are possible too. As it happens in the human quarter, some of them are travellers but many have chosen the city as their residence. This area is full of trees and vegetation and some elven homes are built on the trees. Some hin homes instead are dug into the earth as per halfling tradition. Savillia, (E9) a female elf, is the informal mayor of this quarter, along with a mature halfling adventurer, Pillo, (H8) who loves to smoke and tell stories.

The Menagerie: This is the main area of the city where domestic animals are kept. This means not only cats and dogs for company and classic farm animals such as chickens, ducks, goats, donkeys, ponies, pigs and cows, but also several others which the gnomes train for companionship or guarding duties. Normal and giant bats, ferrets, moles, rats, shrews, skunks, porcupines, weasels, ravens and owls are trained here, as are beetles, snails, toads and lizards. The Keepers of the Menagerie also heal and take care of wounded and immature animals. Some of these animals are used as guards, spies, companions or in mining operations. The Keepers will not sell a trained animal to foreigners unless they have proved to be friends of Highforge. The gnomish female Karis Buhrdwal (G9), always surrounded by animals, is the Head Keeper.

[Image: Gnome observing a captured giant frog]
Caption: Gnome observing a captured giant frog.

The Ranger House: In this building live and are trained the wilderness guards of Highforge. Most are gnomes, but halflings, humans and elves are also part of the group. Adventurers may find employment in the Ranger House and even join it if they prove to be trustworthy. The House has bedrooms, a dining room and a common room for its members. The gnome Bonth Dwaleftesh (G8) (Hilltopper, same clan as the King) is the commander of the rangers. The halfling couple Milo and Talla (H7) are his most trusted companions. The House is also the meeting place of six guilds: Explorers, Carpenters, Keepers, Farmers, Hunters and Fishers.
When they are in town Hammell Radrutar (Ironhand) Torwyn (D8) and the Chaotic Crusaders of the Cruth Mountains, a group of dwarves, gnomes and hin adventurers, are often here. Hammell is the current wielder of his famous family heirloom, Bedlam’s Hammer (see History above).

The Herbalists Gardens: These are the grounds of the Herbalists Guild and the place where Highforge medicinal plants are cultivated. The area is also a favorite meeting place for clerics and wizards. Bifto Buhrdwal, (GW914) an old gnome of great experience, is the Master Herbalist of the city, also willing to help members of the Guild and common visitors.

The Illusionists House: This is one of the most important Magic Guilds of Eveskyr, led by Hyalia Purklist (GW10), who is really interested in all types of magic15. Likewise teachers and resources here are not exclusive to Illusionism, even if other branches of magic, such as the creation of constructs, belong more to other guilds, like the Artificers. The Guild has an extensive library and travelling wizards, gnomes, elves, humans or otherwise, are always welcomed here.

The Music House: This is the main hall for musicians and bards in Eveskyr. This includes elves, gnomes, humans and also dwarves. The Guildmaster is indeed Faris Hywskyr Tordal (D9), sister of Gilia who married the Wyrwarf Clanmaster of Dengar (see History). As her sister, she too studied bardcraft among the Callarii elves. Lasa Dwaleftesh (G8) a middle aged gnome bard and Librarian of the house, is Faris’ right arm here.

The Highforge Hostelry: The Highforge Hostelry16 is owned by a Thyatian named Bern Galasso. Mr. Galasso's establishment caters primarily to middle-class merchants and traders. Whilst not a luxurious inn, The Highforge Hostelry maintains impeccable standards of tidiness and the accommodations are comfortable if not extravagant. The food and drink, however, are above-average. Room rates are average, ranging from 8cp for a standard room to 1gp for a 1st class room. Vacancies are more common during the winter months. The Hostelry is also used as a meeting point by many in the human community of the city.

The Bank office: The upper office of the famous Bank of Highforge17, is where the main banker Zurik Hurgwer (G5) is often present to speak to anyone who may have business with the Bank. The institution has been targeted by thefts in the past, particularly during the panic of 979 AC, but it is considered quite safe now. The Uppercity branch however has very little cash, and is mostly occupied by offices and the Animated Money Changing Machine18 which works most of the time, changing Karameikan currency (the gold Royal, silver Crona, bronze Dinar19 and copper Kopec) into Eveskyr one (10 gp Sun, 10 sp Moon, the Bronze and the copper Stone, similar to Dengar currency), bars of precious metals and gems. Changing money is not really necessary in Eveskyr as gnomish and dwarven shopkeepers normally accept Karameikan, Thyatian and all the other neighbouring countries currencies without problem. They may have objections however about Glantrian or Alphatian money (suspecting illusory magic or similar tricks) or strange and unknown currencies. The Bank office here however will change almost everything into Eveskyr money, after the due tests of authenticity are performed. During the years some bold coiners have tried to cheat the Bank, but none has succeeded, except maybe only one, some years ago, or so the rumour goes.

The Church of Karameikos: This is the temple of the Church of Karameikos in Eveskyr, visited mostly by Thyatians of the resident community or travelling merchants. The cleric Nerus Keries (C8 of Kagyar) has 3 apprentices and good relations with the other clerics of the city, including the Traladarans. He is secretly a spy for the Grand Duchess Olivia Karameikos, but he is quite a forgiving person so before accusing someone of any wrongdoings he would make sure to have plenty of proof. He knows there are Traladaran rebels hiding in Eveskyr, but he has neither discovered nor decided yet if they are really dangerous, or who they are exactly. Should he manage to find proof against Misha Gerimov of the Church of Traladara, he would have serious doubts about reporting him, as he considers the man a sort of friend.
As a cleric of Kagyar, Nerus has great relations with the local dwarves.

The Iron Axe Inn: The Iron Axe20 is run by a dwarf by the name of Konar. Konar's establishment caters mainly to adventure-types and has somewhat of a rough reputation. Humans and hin are welcome but elves are rare. The tavern is frequently patronised by locals, so a visitor can often get a real sense of the 'local flavour' by staying here. Accommodations are adequate whilst the food and drink are quite satisfactory, if not altogether unique to the region; Konar's own Orc-Cleaver ale is highly regarded in the community. Room rates are quite reasonable ranging from 5cp for the common room to 5sp for a private room. Vacancy trends are inconsistent at best. The inn is not a particularly rough place, but occasionally unruly human visitors do provoke small brawls.

The Artificers House: This is a powerful Guildhouse where all kinds of constructs are made and is another important Magic Guild in Highforge. Clerics are common here also, cooperating with wizards in the building of constructs and other animated objects. The Guild also sell to the public certain common items, such as objects enchanted with eternal light or darkness, animated tools and golem house servants. Mish Hurgwer (Gnome Cleric and Wizard 9), an old and eccentric gnome, is the Master here, in amicable competition with Wictar Oddwaddle of the Inventor’s Guild (see the Undercity).

The Alchemy House: Along with the Illusionists and the Artificers House, this is the other important Magic Guild of Highforge, specializing in Alchemy. Explosives are common here and firearms have been developed, but they cannot be sold to outsiders, unless special permission is given by the King and the Council. No such permission has ever been granted to non gnomes or dwarves, and only once to some visiting gnomes from a far away land. The Guild however, led by Sallia Tordal (Dwarf and Wizard 921) is willing to sell all kinds of other concoctions, from healing potions to flaming bottles to all kinds of strange potions known in the world.

[Image: Gnome wizard harvesting components]
Caption: Gnome wizard harvesting components.

The Great Forge: A volcanic chimney from the depths of the earth reaches the surface in this area, where the Great Forge stands. The legend says that the fire can forge anything and that items forged here have particular magical properties (treat as a +1 incantation or durability). Military equipment takes precedence here, but individual gnomes and dwarves can apply to work here with Durmor Torwyn, (D10) the gruff Master of the Forge. Durmor is not however the Keeper of the Torwyn clan, as the Forge of Power of the Clan is in the Undercity. This is also the main city square, where the notorious Oddwaddle’s Centipede22 is on display.

The Upper Guilds Halls: These are the aboveground offices of the Guilds, also called Corporations23 in Eveskyr. The original dwarven guilds were Security, Mining, Invention, Engineering, Culture, Commercial, and Crafts, while gnomes had Army, Explorers, Invention, Knowledge, Trade, Magic and Nature. Now the divisions are different as the Magic Guild has long been divided in Illusionism, Artificers and Alchemy. The Culture and Knowledge guild once included the departments of religion, entertainment, artwork and constructs, but now is divided in the individual churches, the Music House, the School and the Library. Several corporations which exist now were once only departments of a larger corporation, but now act as independent guilds. The corporations/guilds of Highforge now are the Alchemists, Army, Armourers, Artificers, Bakers, Bankers, Brewers, Builders, Carpenters, Clerics, Crafters, Engineers, Farmers, Fishers, Gemcutters, Herbalists, Hunters, Illusionists, Inventors, (Animal) Keepers, Librarians, Miners, Musicians, Rangers, Smiths, Tailors, Traders, and Teachers, for a total of 28. Some, having their own buildings elsewhere, keep only a minimal office here. Even if gnomes and dwarves bicker a lot less than humans, the politics and rivalries of the guilds are one of the main features of Highforge’s life, as the Council of the Elders is formed by representatives of the guilds. Sig Rumbottle24 Torwyn, legendary dwarven craftsman, is more or less the informal patriarch of the Upper Guild Halls.

Highforge West: This is the main gnomish quarter of the city and also the seat of the richest and most famous gnomish estates, such as Skenresh’s Inventions of Gilsh Skenresh (G7) or Fleabottom’s Toys25 of Flavion Fleabottom Buhrdwal (G8). In the area there is also The End of Journey Tavern, with the remains of Oddwaddle’s Centipede still embedded into it from 956 AC26. The Tavern is the place where all the important gnomes meet.
Most of the quarter is equipped with running water in the houses and fire quenchers in the streets. Such devices work smoothly most of the time, but it has happened that they have caused small floodings, or released water elementals into the streets. Running water is present also in several other buildings and inns of the city.

The Church of Garal: This is the biggest temple in the Uppercity and appears as a very high church with several turrets. Felsh Buhrdwal (GC8) is a young and enthusiastic cleric of Garal who maintains the building with two other clerics, four apprentices and some other personnel. Healing is always available for people in need, but a contribution may be expected for particularly difficult spells.

The Upper Palace: Residence of the King in the Uppercity, the Upper Palace is used only to host parties for foreign dignitaries and receive ambassadors. It also houses the famous Royal Collection of Historical Goods, which contains famous gnomish inventions such as Fleabottom’s Brick Mac. Dorfus Dwaleftesh (Hilltopper) 23rd, (G7) son of Dorfin son of Dorfus inherited the throne in 989 AC, when his father was slain by goblin raiders while accompanying the annual Gnome Caravan. While his father and grandfather had sympathy for humans, Dorfus does not like them much and avoids any interaction with them if possible. Therefore he stays in the Lower Palace most of the time. The Upper Palace is also the most important seat of the city bureaucracy and justice system. The head of the first division is Shalla Dwaleftesh (G5), the aunt of the king, and her job is mostly to manage the supply of water and food, the disposal of waste and the coordination of the many tasks which in the city are performed by the guilds (for example, healing by the Churches, entertainment by the Music House and the Library, repairs by the Builders, education by the School and so on). It is a ungrateful and hard job, but Shalla somehow manages to perform it with incredible efficiency and a smile. The Head of the second division is Turm Torwyn (D7), the Head Justice, a scary dwarf and veteran of old battles, with a big scar. His glares intimidate the indicted a lot, and Turm enjoys this fact greatly, but he is really a forgiving dwarf, who always tries to rehabilitate culprits rather than punish them, even the worst ones, in accordance with the spirit of gnomish laws. Still, he can be relentless in searching for the people responsible for crimes, even minor ones, as he strongly believes justice must be served. And in the rare cases of suspected crimes against children, Turm has a serious weakness and could be single minded in pursuing the suspect and inflexible in punishing him.

The Church of Kagyar: The other important church in Upper Eveskyr, this one is mostly attended by local dwarves, but humans are not unknown and the resident priest Wurf Torwyn (DC9) is willing to welcome them, and a personal friend with Nerus of the local Church of Karameikos.

The Dwarven Quarter: The houses here are quite orderly and austere and there are much less strange machines around, but the neighbourhood would still look strange and eccentric to any traditionalist Dengarian dwarf. Most members of the more progressist branch of the Stronghollow clan, the Tordal, live here, working as artisans, shopkeepers or farmers. Nala Tordal (DC7), also a priest of Kagyar and second after Wurf in the temple (see above) is the informal leader of the area, normally the first person to whom someone goes if they have a problem. Durla the ceramist (D6) an old and wise female dwarf, is also another important figure here.

The Gnarves: Gnomes and Dwarves are related and can mate, producing fertile offspring27. This fact is not discussed much by gnomes and dwarves themselves and rarely publicized among other races. The dwarves of Eveskyr are on average not very traditional, but for the more traditionalist Dengar dwarves, even if such pairings are not forbidden, they are considered a bit eccentric. It is also more or less expected in Dengar that the partners choose to which race they truly belong, and raise their children accordingly. Gnomes are more open minded, in general, but for this very reason many of them consider marrying a dwarf a bit dangerous, as a traditional steadfast dwarf may not be able to endure for years or even centuries the more explosive character of a gnome. In Eveskyr however the situation is different. In the last few centuries a recognizable community of half-breeds have risen, proud to be what they are. The physical outlook of a gnarf is however hardly distinguishable by other races, who would simply consider her or him a stocky gnome, or a lean dwarf. But their character is often a blend of the two races, so gnarves are patient, but inventive, welcoming, but reserved, and in general they display the behaviour one could expect from a particularly serious gnome, or a particularly jolly dwarf. These qualities make them great engineers, herbalists, adventurers and artificers.

[Image: Gnarves extended family]
Caption: Gnarves extended family.

The Undercity of Highforge

Non-citizens are forbidden entry in the Undercity unless they have lived in Highforge and worked in the city for at least a month or more, depending on circumstances (mostly how much the gnomes and dwarves think a particular foreigner can be trusted).
There is a railway in the Undercity from the Main Station to several other stations, and a big fungus farm. Houses in the Undercity are on average even bigger than in the Uppercity. The streets are clean and covered by solid grey brownish rock, as the city was dug in the mountain over the centuries. Most of the buildings are built with stone, but some fungus wood is used too. Crime in the Undercity is almost unknown, but daring thefts may happen from time to time. The mines connect the Undercity to the Shadowdeep, therefore rogue underground monsters and creatures can wander the streets occasionally. It had also happened rarely in the past that fire creatures of various kinds could come up from the volcanic chimney of the Forge.

[Image: Map of Highforge’s Undercity]

The Under Palace: Gnomes consider this the most beautiful palace of Eveskyr, as it is covered in statues representing famous gnomes of the past. Most of the statues are mechanical or magical constructs which move, performing small actions during the day, and so marking the time. The gnomes and dwarves of the Undercity often refer to the statues to indicate a particular moment in time, such as saying “when Kosh the astronomer points his telescope to the sky” and so on.
King Dorfus is present here most of the time managing the city and the kingdom, but obtaining an audience with him, if you are not a gnome or a dwarf, could be extremely difficult, and long process.

The Council Hall: Right in front of the Palace, the Council Hall is mostly decorated with unanimated bas-reliefs, but has a big clock from which statues representing the guilds come out at different hours, making it a tourist attraction for visitors.
The Council typically meets once a week to discuss daily matters of the city, and is composed of an Elder of the each Guild. It can be summoned by the King or anyone of its members for pressing reasons, and usually gathers spontaneously in case of known emergencies. The Speaker of the Council is one of the Guild representatives, each at a turn. The Elder is elected by each guild and may not actually be the eldest member of the guild, even if often he or she is. Hruw Torwyn (D6) a gruff, old dwarf, is the custodian of the building, particularly keen on keeping away young gnomes intent on some practical joke near the Hall.

The Under Forge: This is the forge of the Undercity, which appears as a gigantic closed pillar from floor to ceiling of the cave. Only the King, the Clanmasters, the Keepers and the High Blacksmiths can enter the Forge passing through the solid rock.
The Forge of Power of the Torwyn clan is also here, hidden in a side chamber, guarded by the Keeper Nartor Torwyn (DK10) and his apprentices (DC5-9). Several magical items, the Dwarven lens, the Oil of Darkness and three Rockships28 are also stored here in secret chambers, guarded by traps, magic and constructs, and by at least one cleric.

Clan Houses: Originally Eveskyr had only two clans, the gnome Dwaleftesh (Hilltopper) and the dwarven Torwyr (Stronghollow) but now it has seven major clans, five gnomish (Dwaleftesh-Hilltopper, Skenresh-Shortsword, Hurgwer-Tunneltrotter, Buhrdwal-Goldhill and Purklist-Flashinghammer) and two dwarven (Torwyn-Stronghollow and Tordal-Strongvalley).
The Tordal Forge of Power is hidden here in the basement of the Tordal Clan House. As the Tordals are less traditionalists than the Torwyn, they have made two Rockguardians (20HD as Bronze golems, but inflict cold damage), sort of powerful golems, with their Oil of Darkness, instead of the traditional Rockships. The Rockguardians will be used only for very special mission outside the city (they can travel through solid rock too) or to defend Eveskyr if needed.
The relics of the gnomish clans29 are great machineries hidden in the respective clan houses, able to produce working machines of great power. The Hilltopper Machine has created the Train which connects the Undercity and the Underground territories (see below). The Shortsword Machine has created the Armored Wagon, a powerful war machine which is not publicly known and shown in Eveskyr. The Tunneltrotter Machine has created the Digger, an excavator used by the gnomes to open new paths in the Shadowdeep. The Goldhill Machine is currently building a Goldshaker, modelled after the Earthshakers of the gnomes of faraway lands. The Flashinghammer Machine is building the Flying Platform, which the gnomes plan to use to establish reliable communications with Serraine.
The Keepers are known among the gnomes as First Engineers.

The Guildhalls: Each of the 28 guilds, Alchemists, Army, Armourers, Artificers, Bakers, Bankers, Brewers, Builders, Carpenters, Clerics, Crafters, Engineers, Farmers, Fishers, Gemcutters, Herbalists, Hunters, Illusionists, Inventors, (Animal) Keepers, Librarians, Miners, Musicians, Rangers, Smiths, Tailors, Traders, and Teachers, have a representative office here, but actually only the Armourers, Brewers, Builders, Crafters and Engineers have their most important offices here, as the others have their own buildings or operate mostly in the Uppercity. Gareth30 Radrutar Tordal (D5) is the leader of the Guild of Armourers and a bit of a local legend, as he survived enslavement by humanoids.

[Image: Coat of the Smiths Corporation]
Caption: Coat of the Smiths Corporation.

The Army Halls: This is the headquarters of the army of Eveskyr. Duwur Torwyn (D9), a famous Armourer, and Elesa Skenresh (G10) are the two leading Eveskyr generals. Traditionally a gnome and a dwarf both occupy this position. The army is typically organized with heavy infantry, crossbowmen and special troops. The latter, which includes constructs, machines, mounted troops, clerics and wizards, even if they still answer to the generals in times of war are in normal times stationed at the Alchemists, Artificers, Illusionists, Inventors, Ranger and Menagerie guilds and answer to the appropriate guildmaster.

The Armory: This heavily guarded building is not only the place where most of the city’s supply of weapons and armor is stored, but also the vault containing the most lethal magical objects, constructs and machines Eveskyr have to defend the kingdom. Yshil Purklist (G10) is a very competent gnome inventor, head of the guards of the armory and the person responsible for the many traps and surveillance systems in place. Yshil uses either magic, dwarven traps or gnomish tech; what matters to him is the result. No one so far has been able to steal anything from the Armory.

The First Bank: The Undercity office of the First Bank contains also, in the basement, the most secure vault of Eveskyr, which has never been breached, not even during the panic of 979 AC. Head Accountant and Manager Flish Buhrdwal (G7) is the true master of the place, checking everything and everyone. The Bank has an impressive collection of safety systems and checks to counter armed robberies, physical breaches, magic, doppelgangers, mind reading, and teleporting, among other things, so it’s almost impossible to overcome its security without an extremely clever plan, or very powerful magic, or probably both. From time to time some thief tries to rob the bank as a test of skills, and inevitably fails.

The Church of Garal: This building is decorated with moving slates, and so it can change colour and (partially) shape in the course of a day, but usually this happens very slowly to celebrate festivities such as the gnomish/dwarvish New Year (Thaumont 1st) or Caravan day (Thaumont 14th), Arrangements day (Flaurmont 7th), Kagyar day (Yarthmont 21st), Garal day (Yarthmont 27th), Weddings day (Klarmont 7th), Battle day (Felmont 16th), Showing day (Ambyrmont 3rd) and the day of Winter (Eirmont 11th), which marks the gnomish and dwarvish year. The Church of Garal has a big part of the total clerical population of the city (about 300 people), so more than 100 clerics live here in the Lower Temple, including acolytes which often comprise almost half of them. The clerics are helped by 50 more secular workers, from maids to cooks, usually followers of the Immortals or relatives of the clerics. It’s not unusual for a cleric to have a residence in the temple and her family (husband, children) living with her even if he has a completely unrelated job, so the temple is a sort of small village as well. This building is indeed one of the most important temples of Garal in Mystara. Its secret level contains at least three powerful artifacts, closely guarded and available to the clerics only for the most important missions, or the most dire needs. Her Eminence Hyla Dwaleftesh (GC10), another aunt of the current King, is the leader here and probably one of the most powerful clerics of Garal in the whole world.

The Church of Kagyar: This severe and massive temple hosts more than 50 dwarven clerics and, like the temple of Garal, has in its basement a treasure trove of magical objects and, the rumors say, even a powerful artifact. Todro Torwyn (DC10) is the leader of the church in Eveskyr and a personal friend of Hyla Dwaleftesh of the temple of Garal. The same festivities celebrated by the other church are important occasions for the church of Kagyar too.

The School: This building is the center of Eveskyr’s well developed education system. Young gnomes and dwarves are expected to attend school for 15 years at least, from the age of 10 to the age of 25. After that, the young gnome or dwarf should search for an apprenticeship in one of the guilds of the city, for five more years. The basic school has three main cycles: the first one is for pupils of age 10 to 15, and the youngsters learn not only basic literature, math, geometry, geography, alchemy but also mining, farming and animal handling. The middle cycle, for 15 to 20 years old, becomes more practical with frequent visits to the guilds, which also test the pupils to understand if one has a particular affinity to a certain profession. The final cycle, for 20 to 25 years oild, is normally focused on experimenting with practical professions, from building objects to engineering. It is common among gnomes and dwarves to follow the footsteps of fathers and mothers, choosing the same profession as one of the parents. Despite this in Eveskyr the young have much more possibilities than human children in human communities, where the division in classes and guilds is often very rigid, and the vast majority of children has no access to education other than the one their parents or relatives can impart to them. Members of other races living in Highforge can apply to the school too, if they want to. Many elves and humans usually prefer to educate their children themselves, but the school does have a small number of human, elf and halfling students. They should theoretically follow the three cycles of 15 years too, but they may also follow only 5 or 10 years, depending on their parents’ choice. Miva Hurgwer (G6) is the Head Director of the School, a friendly old gnome lady who tries to look after all her students.

The Library: Another important institution of Eveskyr, this tall and elegant building has one of the greatest collections of books in the Known World. Most of them are books written by gnomes or dwarves, annals of Eveskyr, projects and blueprints of any kind, and maps, but there are also books of elves, humans and other races that the Head Librarian in charge has acquired over the years. Any citizen of Eveskyr can spend as much time in the library as they like, and also request a book to be copied (by an automatic machine) to be taken away. In fact, the books in the library cannot be rented. Even though the Alchemy, Artificiers and Illusionists Houses have their own libraries, as do the churches, the Library also contains many magical books, which are kept in a secluded section. Some of them may require special permission from the corresponding guild to be consulted or copied. The High Librarian is Pyen Dwaleftesh (GW9) a middle aged gnome who looks harmless and a bit bookish but is in truth an expert wizard and adventurer, who has led several successful searches for lost and powerful books.

The Inventors Hall: Wictar Oddwaddle31 Hurgwer (G9) is a notable gnomish inventor (famous for the Oddwaddle Centipede) and the headmaster of the Guild of the Inventors. The building is packed with strange machines and normally closed to the general public, as the testing areas can become quite dangerous from time to time. Wictar is a very busy man but normally he manages to find some time for young and enthusiastic gnomish or dwarven inventors (or even humans, should one ever appear).

[Image: Gnome inventor in a Thyatian book]
Caption: Gnome inventor in a Thyatian book.

The Mines: Here is the headquarters of the mining operations in Highforge, and also the main seat of the Miners Corporation. Kreeg Talawain32 Torwyn (D10) is the historical foreman of the mines and Clanmaster of the Torwyn dwarven clan. He is more often here than anywhere else and always willing to chat to miners and prospectors, or simply entertain visitors about the many incredible sights of the Shadowdeep.

The Warehouses: These four buildings contain everything a city like Eveskyr could need or trade. From metals to stones to vegetables to textiles, all goods produced in the city or imported into it are stored here at some point. Therefore the warehouses could be a target for thieves, and so the area is always guarded by at least 15 guards with 5 trained dogs, 5 trained giant ferrets and 5 animated constructs of various types. The warehouses are locked and have magical alarms inside, and cats to keep mice away from food. Gurm Purklist (G7) is the Head Custodian of the Warehouses, overseeing the coming and going of goods with a team of haulers, including both gnomes with machines and golems. During the night, at least one custodian is randomly inside one of the four main warehouses.

The Main station and the train: The pride of the Undercity, the train connects the four major neighbourhoods of Lower Eveskyr, the mines, the fungus farms, the gnomish quarter in the northwest and the dwarven area. This city rail however is more of an attraction and a toy than a true necessity. The true, important railway system of Eveskyr is the one going under the earth, connecting the hidden gnomish cities and hopefully one day all the way to Dengar and to other dwarven and gnomish communities (see also The Underground territories below).

The Fungus Farm: This quite large area is maintained by the Farmers Corporation and hosts intensive cultivations of edible and useful mushrooms (the non edible ones can be used to make textiles, potions, fertilizers or wood) which partially help sustain the population of the city in case of siege. This is however more a testing area, as the gnomes have much bigger fungus cultivations in the Shadowdeep.

The Dwarven Area: This is the Dwarven quarter of Eveskyr, the area of the city where the most traditionalist dwarves of the Torwyn clan live, many of them members of the clergy, the military, smiths or miners. They are still much less isolationist and distrustful of foreigners than the more closed minded Dengarians, as everyone of them is more or less used to seeing members of other races around the city.

The Kingdom of Highforge

The territory of the Kingdom of Highforge extends for about 35 miles from the bank of the Wufwolde to the northern hills and is from 12 miles wide in the south to 30 miles wide in the north, for a total area of almost 800 square miles. The population of this region is about 35,000 people, mostly gnomes and dwarves, with some relevant minorities of elves, humans, halfling and lupins. Besides them there are also other intelligent inhabitants who do not consider themselves subjects of the King of Highforge: harpies, fairies, gremlins, kobolds, troglodytes, stone giants, were-creatures and undead. Some of these creatures hide below the ground making it impossible to estimate their number, which probably amounts to some thousands. Some of them are in good relations with the gnomes, while others are hostile.
Even if the territory of the Kingdom is fairly civilized if compared to the rest of Karameikos, there are still dangers among the woods and the hills. Gnomish communities in fact tend to be concentrated in some areas, and the territory is rugged, full of steep hills, impassable woods, crevices, caves and small deep valleys where anything could hide.
Normal animals of the Kingdom include goats, boars, deer, giant ferrets, moles, rats, shrews, skunks, porcupines, weasels, ravens and owls, wolves, bears, lynxes and mountain cats. More dangerous creatures which can be occasionally encountered are dire wolves, giant spiders, rhagodessas, giant beetles, giant centipedes, carrion crawlers, robber flies, stirges, griffons, wyverns, manticores, feywings and owlbears. The hills also have some dangerous vegetation, such as sirenflowers, vampire roses and whipweeds. Rocs, hippogriffs and dragons are rare, but not unknown either.
The map of the Kingdom33 shows the more important communities and geographical features, described below. The roads in black are paved, but still slow if compared to the Duke’s road, because they cross a territory made entirely of steep hills, so they are full of curves, small bridges, ascents and descents. Brigands are extremely rare in the territory of Highforge, but can occasionally be present on the roads nearest to the borders. The Eveskyr army uses lookouts dug into the earth to check the roads, and patrols are relatively common, at least in the more travelled months (from spring to autumn).

The roads and the communities: The Eveskyr roads are quite safe and dotted with inhabited communities. The “homestead” symbol indicates villages of 100-400 inhabitants, while the “village” symbol indicates towns of 500-1000 inhabitants. Along the roads, farms are also common, usually built as 2 to 5 houses connected together and partially underground, with cultivated fields and animal pens around them. Each one of these farms has normally 10 to 50 inhabitants. The different regions of the Kingdom are described below, starting with its capital.

[Image: Map of the Kingdom of Highforge]

Eveskyr: The city has about 10,000 inhabitants, almost one third of the Kingdom, and for one mile around it and along the eastern, western and southern road there are several farms, mostly inhabited by gnomes. To the north, however, the farms extend less than one mile, due to the presence of the Burrows.

The Burrows: North of Eveskyr and covering an area of at least 15 square miles, the burrows are ancient tombs built by some human culture long before the gnomes came to live here. This area is full of dungeons, but has a reputation of a very dangerous place and is commonly avoided by the gnomes, and so is thick with wild animals and monsters. Occasionally patrols or adventures are dispatched here to put down some particularly dangerous monster, and from time to time some adventurous gnome finances an expedition in search of some long lost treasure or artifact.

Denbol and the Stone Giants: A large region of about 10x10 miles northeast of Eveskyr is inhabited not only by gnomes but also by stone giants34, which are also common in the Wufwolde hills north of Eveskyr and east of Threshold. These giants work mostly in the local quarries and at stone working and are well integrated in the gnomish society. Denbol has about 500 inhabitants, including nearly 50 giants, and is the most important community of the area.

Hrakon valley and plain: This town is inhabited mostly by gnomes, with a relevant minority of humans of Traladaran descent, who mostly came after the Thyatian invasion of 900 AC. The humans now consider themselves subjects of Eveskyr and do not care much about Karameikos. Hrakon has also a small ferry over the Shutturga to reach the Duke’s road. The area is relatively safe but humanoid and brigand attacks from the northern border may happen from time to time.

Dendwal and the Ben Dalen valley: Dendwal is an important town of almost 1,000 inhabitants, mostly gnomes and dwarves. The other settlements toward Ben Dalen mountain are inhabited by many miners as the mountain is crisscrossed by mines, even beyond Eveskyr’s northern and western border. Dendwal is also a center of trade with Threshold. Eveskyr signed a deal with Baron Halaran several years ago, after he settled the area. The gnomes and dwarves can mine under Threshold’s territory, provided they sell what they mine at a favorable price. Therefore Dendwal is often visited by Threshold’s traders. Nightstalker goblins are not uncommon in the town either. The most powerful tribe of the Wufwolde has a history of peaceful coexistence with the gnomes. The same cannot be said for clans of other humanoids and kobolds coming mostly from the north, which occasionally attack the region of Dendwal or the rich caravans moving metals and gems from the Ben Dalen mines to the towns. For this reason human brigands are not uncommon either, but the gnomes and the dwarves have many patrols in the area, and many would-be thieves are swiftly punished for their daring raids.

[Image: Gnomish fortress built in the stone]
Caption: Gnomish fortress built in the stone.

The Kobold hills and the Hurfil valley: The Kobold hills are a wild area in the north west of Eveskyr, where kobold clans often dwell, mostly from the region west of Threshold. Kobolds and gnomes have frequent clashes here but this has become such a habit that now most of these fights are less bloody than they once were. In Eveskyr there is also a faction advocating peace with the kobolds and their integration into the kingdom’s society. Such an idea is vehemently opposed by another faction. Heated arguments and even fist fights are not uncommon over this topic. The town of Hurfil and its valley going down to the Wufwolde river are rarely the target of kobold raids, some say because the locals pay the kobolds to leave them in peace. Such rumors however have never been proven. Hurfil and the valley are inhabited mostly by gnomes with a relevant number of humans of Traladaran origin, mostly refugees from 970 AC. Some of them are not really willing to let it go and carry on covert actions against the Grand Duke’s government in Karameikan territory.

Motahur and its valley: This valley north west of Eveskyr is almost 20 miles long and inhabited by many humans, most of them of dark hair and eyes. These humans claim to be the original inhabitants of Karameikos, before the gnomes and even before the Traladarans. Still they speak a form of Traladaran, even if many Traladarans find it quite difficult to understand their dialect, but their dress is much darker and somber and they have their own customs and holidays. They call themselves the Tahls and some say they also have a secret religion. They are, however, loyal to the Kingdom of Eveskyr and in good relations with local gnomes and dwarves. The truth that no one knows in Eveskyr or Karameikos is that the Tahls are indeed descendants of the original Taymoran population35 of Karameikos. They are followers of Nyx, but prefer to keep this a secret, even from their gnome and dwarf allies. The Church of Nyx has secret underground temples along the valley, where supposedly “the ancestors” are preserved for eternal life.

From Eveskyr to Mirdal: The road connecting Eveskyr to Rifflian is quite a wild area, but not particularly dangerous. It is inhabited mostly by gnomes and several elves, and has an high density of wild animals. The local gnomes and elves domesticate a lot of local animals for companionship or practical purposes, from giant ferrets to snails to crows, and more.
The road is more than 26 miles long with very few inns, but the communities, farms and towns along it are willing to help and host travellers.

The Lost Forest and the Harpies wood: The southern central area of Eveskyr is a big and deep forest mostly inhabited by elves, fairies, some gnomes, harpies and other creatures such as wood imps and gremlins. Big animals and monsters are common and, even if local inhabitants know well how to avoid them, visitors may not be able to. There are few trails in this region and the only road is the one from Mirdal to the Eastern Gnome’s Ferry.

Dwallar, the Gnomes’ Ferry and Styrdul: Bordering Kelvin and the Duke’s road, this region of Eveskyr is quite densely inhabited by gnomes, with some elves, humans and dwarves. Dwallar and Styrdul are big towns of about 1,000 inhabitants, often visited by traders, and have their own ferries, even if the most famous is the namesake one between the two towns, mostly because it has a big inn for caravans and is the nearest to the Duke’s road.

The Underground territories

Deep down under Eveskyr and far beyond the territory covered by the Kingdom on the surface extend the underground territories of the gnomes. A thousand years ago, the gnomes reached the area travelling through the Shadowdeep, and they have always maintained more than a foothold on it. The territory controlled by gnomes and dwarves is more or less a system of caverns leading from Lower Eveskyr (Highforge) to Lower Dengar (Rockhome). The map36 below in eight miles per hex shows the main gnomish and dwarven settlements and the route connecting them, which has railway lines or pneumatic lines in some points. The dream of the gnomes (and the dwarves) is someday to be able to have a secure and fast underground connection between Highforge, Rockhome and also Buhrohur, the dwarven barony in Thyatis.
The existence of so many gnomish and dwarvish cities with relevant populations is a secret to the outside world, humans in particular, as gnomes and dwarves fear that human countries and empires could covet the richness and strategic importance of such locations. Therefore they do not speak much about them, or dismiss their existence as myths. Visiting human adventurers may still be welcomed if they have dwarves or gnomes among them, or if they have performed some service for Highforge, Rockhome or other dwarven and gnomish communities. They will however be asked to keep to themselves the knowledge about the existence of the cities. Parties which the gnomes and dwarves may have reason to distrust will be asked to leave, sent away by force or even hunted down or killed, depending on the circumstances.

[Image: Map of the Underground territories]

Lower Eveskyr: The underground gnomish city has already been described above. Around it there is a big system of connected caves at least 20 miles wide and more than 100 miles long. The region in the immediate vicinity of Lower Eveskyr is relatively dry and arid, but the gnomes have managed to plant several fungus farms in the area. Patrols are common and therefore monsters are relatively rare up to ten miles around the city. A railway line goes south to the fortress of Dorsumple and another one, still under construction, goes north to the underground city of Bel Dalen. The region north of Eveskyr, which lies directly under the Burrows described above, could be infested by undead from time to time. This too is a region less inhabited by gnomes and so common creatures of the Shadowdeep, like bats, black puddings, blast spores, carrion crawlers, cave toads, centipedes, chokers, feywings, fungoids, gelatinous cubes, hypnosnakes, giant beetles and other insects, giant leeches, giant lizards, giant slugs, ochre jellies and other oozes, rats, rhagodessas, ropers, rust monsters, scorpions, spiders, sporacles, stirges, white apes, worms and yellow mould may be more common.

Dorsumple and the South: This gnomish fortress keeps an eye on the many menaces which may come from the southern part of this layer of the Shadowdeep and the many layers below37, in particular the undead which dwell under the region of Koriszegy keep and under Krakatos. Hivebrood, wererats and werebats are also not uncommon. To the southeast, under Kelvin and the Moor, there is instead a humid complex of caves which is mainly inhabited by brutemen, so much less dangerous, but rumors abound about the presence of dragons in the area. Under the Dymrak woods indeed goblins, lizardmen and dragons dominate the cave systems.

Bel Dalen: This gnomish city of 5,000 actually is located several miles to the northeast of the surface mountain from which its name derived, but it has many connections to the surface mines. It is a centre of mining and metal-working, and also of trade between Eveskyr and Dengar. To the south the territory is rugged, but to the north there are many fungus farms and forests. Other inhabitants of this region include brutemen, geonids and stone giants, with whom the local gnomes and dwarves normally have cordial relations.

Fort Nikto and the Western Mines: This region is rich with minerals and gems, and so the gnomes and dwarves are always opening new mines and searching for new veins. If the local brutemen are friendly, other populations to the north and south are less so and often raid gnomish communities and mines. Kobolds are numerous in the caves to the north, while orcs, troglodytes and ogres live to the south. The soldiers of Fort Nikto do their best to keep these menaces at bay.

Bel Lue: Another important gnomish city with more than 3,500 inhabitants, it has many fungus farms nearby, as well as some mines. The region is inhabited by stone giants and lizardmen mainly, which are willing to trade with the gnomes and dwarves. Occasionally however there are attacks from humanoids and troglodytes coming from other places or the level below, or some infestation of monsters and underground creatures. A very long railway and pneumatic line is under construction to the far away city of Bel Nebh, but the work is slow due to the presence of hostile humanoids, fire creatures, minotaurs and troglodytes.

Bel Nebh: Another area rich in minerals and metals and a city with about 7,000 inhabitants, it is sometimes menaced by orcs, troglodytes and minotaurs coming from the southern caverns, or by fire creatures coming from the nearby Ater volcano. Their eastern neighbours, the stone giants living under the Altan Tepes mountains in Thyatis, are much more friendly and willing to trade with the local gnomes and dwarves. The line to Bel Meldh is almost completed.

[Image: Gnomish steam locomotive]
Caption: Gnomish steam locomotive.

Bel Meldh: This city of about 5,000 dwarves and gnomes has worked and fought hard to clean the big cavern from goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears, which live numerous under the Orclands to the west, kobolds, which live under Darokin, and imps, gremlins and spiders which live under Alfheim. These efforts have been only partially successful so far, as goblins try to claim the region as their own quite often. The area of Smeug volcano is also inhabited by hostile fire creatures and efreets.

Southern Dengar: The southern region of Rockhome is inhabited by goblins both on the surface and under it. The dwarves’ attempts to claim it had a long series of successes and setbacks over the centuries. Now the dwarves control the fortress of Darak, right under the exit of the Darokin tunnel, and the fortress of Wedpule, which keeps an eye on the lizardmen and other creatures which came from the region under Ylaruam38. There is also a well travelled path to Lower Dengar. The dwarves are now trying to rebuild the ancient abandoned underground city of Dulgar as midpoint between Bel Meldh and Lower Dengar.

[Sidebar: Gnomish (and Dwarven) inventions]

Gnomes (and dwarves too) love to build machineries of various kinds. While dwarves prefer to build practical and reliable machines and will avoid using anything which is not fully tested and safe, gnomes are much more adventurous and willing to experiment (and risk). Several canon Mystara supplements contain gnomish inventions, in particular AC 11 The Book of Wondrous Inventions, CM4 Earthshaker!, Gazetteer 6 The Dwarves of Rockhome and PC2 Top Ballista, which include flying machines, automatons, war machines, a lot of contraptions to transport people or merchandise and to travel or dig underground, water pumps, systems for long distance communication, and much more. Here is a (probably not exhaustive) list of gnomish and dwarven inventions mentioned in canon products:
(CM 4) Earthshaker, (AC 11) Golem muscle machine, Pedal transmission mover, Spring loaded machine, Steam machine, Wind cycle water pump, Wind cycle elevator, Dorfin’s organ, Dorfin’s throwing stones pipes, Hammer basher, Hunting ballista, Net thrower, Pedal crossbow, Wheel of flails, Watershoes, Firepack, Halting device, Express delivery network, Cloaking device, Dorfin’s giant mower, Relentless spy, Falling softener, Secure sighting system, Ever glowing beam, Gnomobile, Hopping ornothopter, Dorfin’s lepidopter, Motor night wings, Paddler-wheeler, Fleabottom’s Brick Mac, Oddwaddle Centipede, The Fiendish Exercise Machine, The Dreadnought, The Thaumaturgical printing press, The Barber’s aid, The Money changing machine, (GAZ6), The Proto Zeppelin, The Steam powered Dimension launcher, The Drill-nose mole digger, (PC2) Airplanes, Bumber-chutes, Cloud clippers, Skychairs, Hot water, Lamps, Garbage disposal, Steam washing, drying and ironing clothes machine.
For simplicity’s sake, the DM could just assume that every gnomish house or public building, or any street in the city, may contain 1d3 odd inventions which are simply the gnomish versions of machine common in modern or futuristic settings. These machines could malfunction or broke with a 10% chance per day.
Some inventions however have been tested and used so much they are now quite reliable, in particular public illumination in the Lower and Upper City (even if the gnomes always try to “improve” it), the aqueduct reaching almost every house (but hot water is random and occasionally dangerous) and drainage system (which may explode rarely, so many dwarves prefer to use the common bucket and many gnomes have house toilets with sealed iron covers). The train in the Lower City, being of the utmost importance to gnomes and dwarves, works quite fine and breaks very rarely, usually without too many disastrous outcomes. In AC11, page 34, appears The Train of the Dwarven Thane, a steam train which uses a red dragon to heat the boiler. The Eveskyr train should look similar, but has a “normal” steam engine to heat the boiler. See also in the Vaults the work done by Robin about the original train in AC11

Appendix: Images

[Image: Gnomes in the forest]
Hunting Procession of Dwarves by Meno Mühlig, via Wikimedia commons


[Image: Gnome sage teaching humans]
Ilustracja z książki PL publikacja Wydawnictwo M. Arcta Warszawa 1909, via Wikimedia commons


[Image: Map of Highforge’s Uppercity]
Original cartography by Francesco Defferrari using gimp brushes developed by istarlome:

[Image: Gnome observing a captured giant frog]
Gnome with newspaper and tobacco pipe by Heinrich Schlitt via Wikimedia commons


[Image: Gnome wizard harvesting components]
Ilustracja z książki PL publikacja Wydawnictwo M. Arcta Warszawa 1909, via Wikimedia commons


[Image: Gnarves extended family]
But how do I get into the mountain, the gnome boy asked, by John Bauer via Wikimedia commons


[Image: Map of Highforge’s Undercity]
Original cartography by Francesco Defferrari using gimp brushes developed by istarlome:

[Image: Coat of the Smiths Corporation]
Theodore H. Friedgut p. cm. 1 // Iuzovka and Revolution: Life and Work in Russia's Donbass, 1869-1924 via Wikimedia commons


[Image: Gnome inventor in a Thyatian book]
Steam or hot air turbine powering stamps, via Wikimedia commons


[Image: Map of the Kingdom of Highforge]
Original cartography by Francesco Defferrari using John Calvin’s 1 mph map of Threshold region:

[Image: Gnomish fortress built in the stone]
Castello della Pietra presso Vobbia, Liguria, Italy, photo by Davide Papalini via Wikimedia commons


[Image: Map of the Underground territories]
Original cartography by Francesco Defferrari using Sean Meaney’s 8 mph map of Bel Lendh Monandry:

[Image: Gnomish steam locomotive]
Early steam locomotive, the first built by Robert Stephenson at Robert Stephenson and Company, via Wikimedia commons


1Also expanded by Robin here in the Vaults of Pandius:

2In Wrath of the Immortals boxed set, it is said that “Garl created the Gnomes in emulation to his patron's dwarves", and in the Hollow World boxed set he is said to appear as a dwarf. For more about the topic, see also The (Not so) Young Races, A Guide to Dwarves and Gnomes of Eastern Brun by Giulio Caroletti on Threshold issue #14 In my article Past Ages of the Known World in Threshold issue #12 I assumed dwarves and gnomes are old races which exist since thousands of years, and probably more. See also the Dwarf evolutionary line by Robin in the Vaults of Pandius:

3See here in Threshold magazine #1 and here in the Vaults in html

4See Threshold magazine issue #13

5Some of these events come from my History of Traladara in the Vaults, while others are inspired by the History of Karameikos by Simone Neri here: and in Threshold #1, by Giampaolo Agosta’s Traldaran Timeline:

6Card in the DM’s Survival Kit.

7See Gazetteer 6 The Dwarves of Rockhome, page 67.

8This event, the death of Dorfus and his son Dorfin were deduced from Karameikos Kingdom of Adventure boxed set, which mentions Dorfus’ grandfather and father, saying that the latter was killed by goblins “20 years ago”, so this could happen in 993 AC or earlier.

9Event inspired by game accessory AC11: “The Book of Wondrous Inventions”, page 47.

10See also Goblinoid Tribes of Karameikos by Giampaolo Agosta in the Vaults of Pandius:

11In Karameikos Kingdom of Adventure Boxed set there is a image of Highforge, on page 23, with a caption saying the Undercity is in the hills behind the outer city, but here I chose to depict the city a bit differently, as I would rather use that image for a smaller community, such as Dwallar (see the Kingdom of Highforge section below).

12Indicated as a common dwarven name in Highforge by Joaquin Menchaca in Stronghollow Dwarves, see also

13Tordal (Strong valley) is the name Giulio Caroletti chose in his Annals of the Denwarf Dwarves but the word “empty” exists in the vocabulary of Gazetteer 7 (“wyr”), so I will assume Tordal is a subdivision of the main clan.

14Gnome wizard, see PC2 Top Ballista, page 31 of the DMs Booklet.

15Gnomes are not really related to Illusionism magic in BECMI D&D and previous editions, but they are in AD&D and later editions, so I considered it appropriate to name one of their most important Magic Guilds.

16Created by Damon Brown in The Corliss Guide to Northern Karameikos

17Created by Beau Yarbrough here

18As in AC11: “The Book of Wondrous Inventions” page 4, but this is not a fraud.

19The bronze coin was created by me in my PbP because I think it makes the classic D&D system more realistic, see also this post on The Piazza:

20Also from Damon Brown’s The Corliss Guide to Northern Karameikos

21Not present in BECMI D&D, so if the DM does not wish to allow them, Sallia could be a Priest instead.

22See AC11 page 71 and The Inventors Hall description in the Undercity below.

23Name and divisions also inspired by Joaquin Menchaca, see note 3.

24From AC11: “The Book of Wondrous Inventions”, page 71.

25From AC11: “The Book of Wondrous Inventions”, page 47.

26See AC11 page 71 and The Inventors Hall description in the Undercity below.

27As far as I know in canon Mystara or in other D&D sources this topic is surprisingly absent, considering the physical similarity between the two races. I have decided interbreeding is possible. Giampaolo Agosta in his PC Races for Mystara from a Newbie Point of View also mentions they are cross-fertile. And indeed in Gaz 6, page 65, it is written that the Syrklist clan leader is rumoured (but the rumour may be false) to be the son of a dwarf and his gnome mistress.

28See Rules Cyclopedia, page 146 for the Dwarven Relic.

29About the Gnomish Relics see A Treatise on the Nature of the Demihumans' Relics and Multifunctional Gear Relic of Garal by Marco Dalmonte, inspired by the module CM4 Earthshakers!

30Gareth Ironhand appears as a dwarven prisoner of bugbear in B5 Horror on the Hill

31From AC11: “The Book of Wondrous Inventions”, page 71.

32From AC11: “The Book of Wondrous Inventions”, page 71.

33This map was mostly created by me but uses partially a previous work by John Calvin linked in his adventure path Kill Bargle! here: and partially inspired by a previous map, Detail of the Threshold Region by Simone Neri:

34Mentioned on page 60 of Gazetteer 1, The Grand Duchy of Karameikos

35Check Threshold #12 for more about the past of the Known World.

36This map is a modification done by me of an original by Sean Meaney which can be found here in the Vaults: with some later notes: Many names in the map are the ones invented by Sean, even if his underground territories are less extensive than mine.

37Check Threshold issue #14 for a detailed description of Mystara’s Shadowdeep!

38A region controlled by the wizard Barimoor, as explained in GAZ2 -, The Emirates of Ylaruam. If Cynidicea, the city featured in module B4: “The Lost City”, is eventually freed from its evil, the dwarves and gnomes could establish a trade route leading to it, putting them in direct conflict with Barimoor.