March Of The Phantom Brigade
History walks the streets of Hammerfast in the form of the dead, the dwarves and orcs who died in this place more than a century ago. They are now ghosts consigned to wander Hammerfast’s streets until the end of days. Hammerfast was once a necropolis, a collection of tombs where the dwarflords interred their people. As the dwarves’ wealth grew, their burial chambers changed from simple stone sepulchers to lavish treasure vaults filled with the material wealth garnered over a lifetime.
Hammerfast transformed from a graveyard into a storehouse for treasure, and thus it became a target. A hundred years ago, the Bloodspear orc tribe conquered the necropolis but gained little from it. The orcs killed the priests and warriors tasked with guarding Hammerfast and started to loot the place, but the dwarves’ burial chambers yielded their treasures only grudgingly. The necropolis held street after street of unmarked tombs, some riddled with traps, many empty, and only a few containing great treasure. The orcs suffered great losses to the defenses of Hammerfast and, after butchering its guards and capturing a few of its treasures, they turned their attention to easier targets in other locations.
In time, the dwarves returned to Hammerfast. Due to the fall of the Nerathi Empire, the citadels of the dwarves were broken, famine and plague grew thick across the land, and monsters and raiders prowled freely. In the face of such chaos, the dwarves made a fateful decision. Why waste fortifications on the dead? They had no use for it. Thus, Hammerfast was transformed into a town of the living. It has since grown into the largest and richest settlement in the eastern portion of the Nentir Vale.
Yet although Hammerfast has changed, its past lingers on. The remaining sealed tombs stand untouched on pain of death by decree of the Town Council. Ghosts still walk the streets, some of them orc warriors slain in the Bloodspears’ attack, others priests of Moradin or the necropolis’s doomed guardians, and even a few of them dwarves laid to rest here long ago. Such creatures enjoy full citizenship in Hammerfast, as long as they observe its laws. In a sacred compact struck with Moradin and Gruumsh, the town’s founders agreed to respect the dead and defend their resting places in return for the right to settle here.
Population: 12,000, mostly dwarves.
Government: The town’s three guilds – the Trade Guild, the Lore Guild, and the Craft Guild – govern Hammerfast. Each guild elects three members to the Town Council. The Council then elects a High Master, currently Marsinda Goldspinner, head of the Trade Guild. The High Master serves as the town’s executive, overseeing daily functions and managing affairs with other settlements in the Nentir Vale.
Defense: A full time force of about 200 warriors defends the city, manning thick, stone walls and a number of towers equipped with catapults and ballistae. In addition, outsiders are allowed only in the Gate Ward. The rest of the city is accessible only with permission from the guard.
Taverns: The Foundation Stone is the most popular tavern for travellers in town. It offers cheap food and drink, along with entertainment such as knife throwing tournaments and a popular local game called giant’s feet.
Supplies: An open air market in Hammerfast’s Gate Ward offers a wide variety of goods, though it is difficult to predict which caravans are in town at any given time. [[Boltac’s Goods]] is a more reliable source of adventuring gear, but its owner is reknowned for his greed.
Temples: The Temple of Moradin, with the pool of fire that burns before it, is an important centre of faith in the Nentir Vale. Hammerfast also has temples to Ioun and Pelor. However all three temples are in the city’s inner wards, rather than the open Gate Ward.