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.
High Master Marinda Goldspinner – The High Master of Hammerfast and the leader of the Trade Guild is a tough, elderly dwarf who refuses to suffer fools. She speaks ina rapid-fire, direct manner, and she believes in action over words. In Marsinda’s eyes, a good plan executed today is far better than a perfect plan implemented tomorrow. Marsinda is popular among the common folk of Hammerfast and with many of the important movers and shakers in town. The dwarves appreciate her candor and aggressive bearing, and the non-dwarves see her as a patron of sorts. Marsinda cares little for petty grievances. She would let an army of trolls camp in town if it was in the town’s best interest. Marsinda’s hair is snow white, and she dresses in regal purple and sports a small fortune of jewelry. Her many admirers refer to her as the Lady of Gold; her enemies refer to her as the Queen.
Lord Commander Tenkar Stoneshield – The leader of Hammerfast’s town guard has earned respect, but the extended period of peace has proven toxic to his competence. Tenkar led several successful expeditions against goblins early in his career and earned his position based on skill as a battlefield commander. During times of peace, however, he grows bored with his duties.
Loremaster Geld Seekingstone – The head of the Lore Guild long ago gave up on the research and study in favor of politics. Geld is Marsinda’s greatest rival, and he constantly seeks ways to undermine the High Master’s authority. Geld, an opportunist, takes a great interest in hiring adventurers. One of the wealthiest people in town, he sponsors mercenaries to undertake expeditions against monsters. Any victories his hirelings achieve help him establish him as a benefactor of the town, especially if he can avenge a looted caravan or track down notorious criminals.
Master Artisan Frelda Blackshield – The head of the Craft Guild was a compromise candidate, and it shows in her actions. Frelda hates politics and accepted the position only when it became apparent that the factions within the guild could agree on no one else. Her tendency to spend more time in her workshop forging weapons and armor than in her office negotiating with the Trade Guild has not helped her standing of the Craft Guild in Hammerfast’s politics.
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.