For this week's faction, I want to start with a stereotype, then push past it.

Moralim leads a hardy tribe of dwarves who mine the crystal shafts near the coastal city of Blackcrag. Several dozen male and female dwarves work the mine each day, while their children (about twice as many in number) live in a cave complex they've hollowed out just off the main shaft. Every two weeks, a small caravan arrives from Blackcrag with supplies and leaves with the crystals mined since the last delivery.

Moralim, a gruff middle-aged dwarf with a salt-and-pepper beard, directs the miners' efforts and troubleshoots problems, doing so with alacrity thanks to his many decades of experience in mining this mountain chain. The work's roughly split between two teams, one led by Moralim's son Burrin and the other by his ex-wife Glazabyrn.

Burrin's no genius, but his work ethic outstrips that of any other dwarf in the company, and he can overcome a lot of problems by just pushing through them, one way or another. Galazbyrn, on the contrary, is quick-witted and always looking for a challenge. That's why she left Moralim, in fact; she was discontent with his steady, unexciting miner's pay. A few decades later, when she heard about the crystal mine, she investigated, and was only too happy to work with her former husband on this difficult project. While their relationship remains...complex, her team has no problems working under her clever direction.

Crystal Cave

Moralim's in this situation because he happened to be in the right place at the wrong time. He was part of a caravan sending precious metals to Blackcrag that came under attack by orcs. Without combat experience, Moralim ran and hid in a small cave entrance just large enough to fit him. After the orcs slaughtered his companions and stole the caravan, his keen dwarven senses pulled him further into the cave. After some investigation, he discovered a shaft into the crystal caverns.

He then made his way to Blackcrag and reported on the mine, careful to insist that he knew a crew that would mine it. As Blackcrag had very little in the way of miners, he managed to strike a deal for exclusive rights to mine the crystal caves, sending the crystals back to town in return for fat fees.

Click here for a nice mine map.

As a friendly faction, Moralim's Mining Cooperative needs regular help with both the magically infused crystal monsters that they intermittently encounter in the mines, as well as occasional raids by goblins and deep gnomes. The mines are still a relatively new venture, and lack defenses. The dwarves can fight off the occasional raiding party, but such threats need to be dealt with at the source, and Moralim can pay handsomely.

As a foe faction, the crystals have greatly increased the wealth of many in Blackcrag, and Moralim knows it. He's begun insisting on increasingly large payments and holding onto some of the better gems for a "personal collection" that's grown extensive. Further, some of the crystals have magical properties, and Moralim's retained the services of a mysterious wizard to investigate ways of sorting the magical crystals and selling them himself (since, as he sees it, the contract with Blackcrag was written under the assumption that the mine's crystals were mundane).

A rift grows between Moralim and the administrators at Blackcrag, who would love to see the mine fall to either Burrin (who would be easy to negotiate with) or Galazbyrn (who's at least less stubborn).

Plot hooks:

  • (Friendly) A deep gnome raiding party has attacked Moralim's Cooperative three times in the past two weeks, and equipment left in the mines has gone missing. The dwarves since found an opening in a rarely-used mine shaft where the gnomes are likely getting in, and have temporarily sealed it, but the gnomes are sure to find another entrance. Moralim's sent word back with the latest caravan that he needs an adventuring party who will descend into the opening and destroy the deep gnome threat.
  • (Foe) Eleol Emberstrike, the gnome steward of Blackcrag, hires the PCs to follow the bi-weekly caravan to the crystal caves and fake an injury, allowing them to stay an extra day or two and investigate the administration of the mine. They are there to find out if Moralim does indeed have a personal stash of crystals and the exact job of this mysterious wizard who's begun living there.

_View the art for this faction here._

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