A mountainous territory broken up with forests of tall pine tress, Svartalheim is a cold, claustrophobic country home to the stoic and prideful dwarves.
Lore of Svartalheim
There have been dwarves in Svartalheim as long as history has been able to record it. The dwarven people have always had a strong connection to their mountains and hills, and they believed themselves to have been chiseled from the mountainside by their god, the Great Maker, Moradin. In the early days, Svatalheim had a contingent of giants who also stalked the hillsides, but the dwarves routed them and all but destroyed their lineage, and after a time their lineage, the half-giants, were given the northern territories to live in.
Svartalheim’s mountains are rich in gems and both precious and practical metals, which might be the reason that the dwarves are voracious miners. Many dwarves have the ability to seemingly speak to the ground and have it divulge its secrets, shaping it and opening entrances wherever they need to. This has led to them being the leading exporter in metals and jewels, and because of this many countries have found it beneficial to be at peace with the dwarves, so as to keep a steady supply of minerals flowing into their countries.
Settlements and Features
Ironfall is a massive city built into the side of a mountain. Its base goes on for a depth unknown beneath the ground and its highest towers are seated over 700’ high on the mountainside. It was built where the first Emperor of the Svartalfar Empire, Svartal the Strong, was said to have been born to a gigantress and a stoneman. During the Svartalfar Empire, Ironfall was home to the vast majority of the military might of the Empire, as well as the royal family. Now, a figurehead emperor dwindles away on the Throne of the Mountain, while a council of 12 dwarves, each representing a different merchant guild or political group, rules the country.
Plots and Adventure Sites
The countryside of Svartalheim is covered in mountains, hills, and forests, not all of which have divulged all their secrets. Many dwarven fortresses have been built across their empire, but the highest concentration can be found in Svartalheim. Many of them have been put to use, but others have been abandoned since the empire cracked 800 years ago.
Dwarves have a tendency to dig until they have reached the bottom. Sometimes this means they dig a mine until there is nothing left to get, and then abandon it, but other times it means they dig until they find something; something that lurks in the dark and is none too happy to be disturbed. These too are abandoned, but the seals are old, and for those brave enough to delve into the deeps, they can be rich with reward.
The Great Svartalfar Empire
Over two thousand years ago, Svartieg the Strong set out to unite the hill tribes and mountain clans and strike out beyond their borders to see what the giants left in their wake. The dwarven army quickly swarmed over the land, easily defeating those they encountered, for the dwarves learned early on how to bend metal, and their weapons and armor were far superior to anything the other peoples had. It was not long before almost the entire continent of Avalla was theirs, as well as parts of northern Sahelia, the Undren ithsmus, and the entire continent of Montos. Their empire grew large and powerful, and for one thousand years they prospered, but trouble erupted.
In the Undren ithsmus, dwarven delvers dug too deep and unleashed a Doom. After the empire crumbled, the exact nature of the Doom was expunged from their records. Others talk, however, and what they say is that the dwarves found the Arch-Devil Asmodeus, who had been locked away beneath the crust of the earth by his enemies thousands of years before dwarves walked the hillsides. Asmodeus offered his rescuers a reward in the form of a gift of his power. This gift of infernal magic soon seized the dwarves occupying the Undren ithsmus, and it soon warped them, mind and body, into a darker, more sinister dwarf. The emperor disliked this growing power in the east, and further disliked that the dwarves of the ithsmus stopped worshipping Moradin and began worshipping Asmodeus. A civil war ensued between the two factions, and in the end their empire could not handle it. The Arkhosians, sensing this weakness, chose this time to expand their borders as well, and in the end the mighty dwarven empire was forced to recede. Today, only Svartalheim and a few outposts remain of the once-mighty empire.