Legends of the Nentir Vale
Hammerfast is a busy place, as merchants and travelers from the Nentir Vale and beyond congregate here. In the early spring after the snows melt and in the fall after the harvest, the streets are choked with caravan wagons, pack mules, and travelers. A band of a hundred mercenary warriors en route to a paymaster might clog the streets one day, and a winding caravan of priceless treasures from the unknown east could bring traffic to a halt the next.
Some of the tombs remain sealed. Their treasures are a powerful lure for adventurers, but raiding such a tomb is punishable by death. In some of the inhabited tombs, secret doors to forgotten passages and chambers await discovery.
The dwarves must endure the presence of orcs. As part of the divine compact that created the town, Gruumsh demanded that his dead be honored, too, by a temple devoted to his power.
Hammerfast is divided into four wards. Three of the wards are home to the major guilds in town, and the fourth, the Gate Ward, serves as a gateway between Hammerfast and the rest of the world.
Houses of the Dead
Although some of the tombs in Hammerfast were reduced to rubble by the attacking orcs, most were simply picked clean of their contents. The orcs smashed open coffins, pounded sarcophagi into rubble, and scattered remains across the necropolis.
The dwarves rebuilt Hammerfast, keeping as much of the necropolis intact as possible. Most homes and businesses use the same thick-walled, stone structures that once housed the dead. The interiors have been cleaned and reorganized. In some buildings, the original sarcophagi, murals, and other decorations remain.
In the summertime, some of the structures become unbearably hot. For this reason, structures in Hammerfast were built downward, not upward. Most families use the first floor of their homes as workshops or for storage, with the basement level set aside for sleeping. Most structures in Hammerfast house several families, each living within a subset of the chambers found in a typical tomb.
The tombs that remain intact are off limits. The town guard patrols the necropolis, and anyone caught looting existing tombs faces a death sentence. That doesn't stop some thieves, and rumors abound of tombs that were looted by thieves despite the vigilance of the town guard.
Many folk suspect that even the tombs now used as homes and businesses still hide ancient treasure chambers, hidden passages, and other secrets. Although looting intact tombs is against the law, tombs that have already been opened are fair game. Thus, adventure might be as close as the secret door beneath one's bed.
Visitors to Hammerfast arrive at the Gate Ward, a small, walled off section of the town that once served as the living quarters and garrison for the necropolis’s living inhabitants. Today, the Gate Ward is Hammerfast's doorstep, a place where visitors and residents mingle to conduct business. A bustling market unites traders from the Nentir Vale with those from beyond the Dawnforge Mountains. The Hall of Justice reminds the folk of Hammerfast and all its visitors that the dwarves lack any tolerance for troublemakers and criminals, yet this neighborhood is also a haven for smugglers, thieves, and rowdies.
To many travelers, the Gate Ward is Hammerfast. They have no need, and probably lack permission, to enter the other wards. The rowdiest and most chaotic of the wards, the Gate Ward is the ideal place to go if you’re an adventurer seeking a job, a thief in need of a fence, or a hothead in search of a brawl. The town elders accept that some level of illegal activity is inevitable in any settlement. They just hope to keep it confined to the Gate Ward.
1. West Gate
Two massive towers flanked by steel doors reinforced by a portcullis control the ebb and flow of traffic through the West Gate. A squad of four guards watches this gate at all times. Visitors to Hammerfast are directed to the Revenue Hall, where they must register their goods and pay any appropriate fees for conducting business in the town.
2. Revenue Hall
This plain stone building houses Hammerfast's tax collectors. Charged with assessing a 1 percent fee on all trade goods and treasure brought into Hammerfast, the bookish dwarves who work here have the tenacity of bulldogs and the manner of prosecuting attorneys. In their eyes, every traveler hides taxable goods until proven otherwise. They keep careful records, and have a reputation for honesty despite their demeanour.
Tathik Glodreddi is Hammerfast's head tax collector. This surly, bitter dwarf is an ex-adventurer who lost his comrades in an encounter with trolls near Summerdown Valley years ago. His brother, Boltac Glodreddi runs Boltac's Goods.
3. Hammerfast Guard Tower
A number of guard towers dot the walls of Hammerfast. Each tower is 30 feet tall, with three stories and a cellar, and each has a squad of six guards on duty at all times. The cellar holds supplies, such as dried food, water, and ammunition. The first floor features a kitchen, mess hall and lounge, the second floor holds living quarters, and the third floor and roof are used for observation. Each tower has either a catapult or a ballista atop it.
4. Hammerfast Empty Towers
Hammerfast was once much more heavily defended, as the long ago dwarf halls of distant lands supplied warriors, weapons, material, and money to defend the burial grounds. Today, the town lacks the resources to staff each tower. The empty towers also each have either a catapult or a ballista atop them, but they have no guards assigned to them unless the town faces an attack. The town guard is supposed to patrol the empty towers, but unless a high level of alert has been issued, only the most dedicated guards walk through them on a regular basis.
5. Gate Market
A number of colorful tents and stalls stand in this open area from early spring to late fall. Only in the winter, when snow chokes the Trade Road, does this place fall quiet. Merchants from across the Nentir Vale, dwarves from Hammerfast, and visitors to the town crowd this location, seeking exotic goods and unmatched bargains. If it’s produced anywhere in the region, it’s for sale here in the market. Tarras, an eladrin bard, performs nightly at Rondal’s Inn, as well as in the Gate Market and at the Foundation Stone.
6. Hammerfast Warehouse
This warehouse holds the goods of merchants who stay in town for a short time. Merchants park their carts or stack their crates, barrels, and sacks in these warehouses for storage. A squad of at least five guards watches this place day and night. Local traders or traders staying for an extended period of time keep their goods in the Trade Ward to the north.
7. Hammerfast Stables
This long, low building holds the horses and beasts of burden that belong to merchants visiting Hammerfast. One of the stalls houses a white mare left here almost a decade ago by an eladrin paladin. The eladrin has long since disappeared, but he left behind enough cash to keep his mount in food and water for another twenty years.
8. Gate Barracks
Town guards not assigned to a specific tower are garrisoned here. The barracks is a two-story building. The first floor features a mess hall, chambers for officers, and a kitchen. The second floor consists of a large dormitory. The cellar is filled with weapons, armor, and other supplies.
9. Hall of Justice
This imposing stone building has a broad flight of stairs leading to its double doors. Statues of Moradin – one depicting him as a smith, the other showing him garbed for war – flank the entrance. This two-story building has a court, holding cells for prisoners, and a hall of records for the town. Tax disputes, along with criminal cases, are tried here by the town's justice of the peace, a young dwarf named Beldrin Longbeard.
10. The Arcane Star Inn
This wooden, two-story building is painted a bright blue. The glowing symbol of a star hangs above the door. The Arcane Star has eight large rooms, six upstairs and two on the first floor, which cater to upscale travelers. The Star’s rates are 2 gp per night. Therai the tiefling and his wife Nemeia own this place.
11. Boltac's Goods
The dwarf Boltac Glodreddi, brother of the tax collector Tathik Glodreddi, sells adventuring gear such as rope, everburning torches, and ammunition in this shop. Boltac can also arrange for the purchase of common magical items. He expects half the listed price for an item up front, up to two weeks to acquire the item, and the second half of the price on delivery.
12. Rondal's Inn
This austere building houses a cheaper alternative to the Arcane Star. Rondal, a dour human who makes a point of keeping his nose out of his guests' business, caters to merchants, travelers, and others who stop in Hammerfast for a short time. He offers 18 small rooms, each with two bunk beds, for a rate of 5 sp per night. Tarras, an eladrin bard, performs nightly at Rondal's Inn, as well as in the Gate Market and at the Foundation Stone.
13. The Foundation Stone
The most popular tavern in Hammerfast for adventurers and other ne’er-do-wells, the Foundation Stone plays host to mercenaries, explorers, and roughnecks. Anyone who needs to hire adventurers for a job heads to the Foundation Stone.