By Jeff Quick
network of portals facilitates quick military response or civilian
evacuation to both edges of the Great Rift. This defense system dates
back to the last massive drow attack several hundred years ago, when the
drow killed hundreds of dwarf children and noncombatants after breaking
through the dwarves' anti-teleportation defenses. The dwarves originally
envisioned the portals as purely defensive, but after applying
dwarven ingenuity, developed a secondary, offensive use for them as well.
every half mile in populated tunnels of the Rift, a thick, red line of
words is inscribed into a blank section of wall. In Dwarven, the words
say, "When Sirens Sound Run Through Here" and either "East
Edge" or "West Edge" followed by a number. These words
outline a system of one-way portals to the surface, designed only
to allow dwarves out -- never outsiders in. Those who step through appear
at a specific location on the edge of the Rift, depending on the portal
chosen. The portals have two separate keys for their two purposes:
evacuation in case of underground attack and rapid troop deployment in
case of surface assault.
of underground attack, should attackers penetrate the thick dwarven defenses
through to residential areas, dwarves from all over the Rift stream to
these portals to escape above ground. This is considered by everyone
as a truly last ditch effort, and many Rift dwarves swear they will never
use the Warriorgate portals, preferring to die in their homes rather
than flee. Less stubborn dwarves (what few there are) prefer to live and
fight another day if they can
to activating portals in these times is the defense warning sirens
found throughout the tunnels. When these huge, distinct-sounding horns
sound off, their call echoes throughout the halls and chambers of most
of the Great Rift complex. Ever paranoid about having their defenses used
against them, the dwarves have created the key so that only one siren
will not activate it. Instead the portal requires a two-toned,
echoing blend of multiple sirens to open it so that infiltrators cannot
use the portals to escape after setting off a single siren.
use is to get troops to the surface in case of attack from above. An elite
branch of the gold dwarf army, known as "Irontoes" (for the
shiny iron toes on their boots), specializes in surface combat and defense
against aerial assault. They have proven themselves in more than one attack
on the Rift, and a number of squad members adorn their helmets with teeth
from dragons they have slain in defense of the Rift.
troops wear more than iron on their boots. The iron bears an insignia:
a hammer erupting from the ground. The second key to activating the Warriorgates
portals is this symbol. When the Irontoes need to reach the surface,
they simply have to step into the portal and are teleported in
brag that the portals open only for them because they know the
secret rituals and war cries that allow them passage. As they enter the
portals, Irontoe soldiers usually shout a war cry to throw the
occasional curious onlooker off track. In truth, no rituals or passwords
are necessary; the insignia on any piece of iron activates the gates.
If they must take someone with them who is not of their company, they
haul the visitor out on a palanquin, carrying him or her as cargo between
two Irontoe soldiers.
old, the portals are rarely used. They are activated occasionally
by Irontoe soldiers, both in drill and in combat. Since their construction,
though, they have never been used as an evacuation tool. Few dwarves pay
the portals much attention, and in some cases, the entries are
covered by some project in mid-stage. How the civilian dwarves will react
in emergency -- if they will even remember to use the Warriorgates --
remains to be seen.
to Incorporate the Warriorgates Portal Into Your Campaign:
- When attacked,
many dwarves would rather not leave their defense to outsiders. However,
they might leave trusted outsiders to care for their noncombatants,
seeing them to safety. After all, the dwarves might know how to get
out, but they don't necessarily have a plan once they've reached the
- Some dwarf children
might like to see what happens when the portals are triggered.
They develop a bold plan to set off two sirens and watch what happens.
When the PCs overhear seditious talk of "creating an emergency"
by two scurrying dwarf children, will they brush it off or follow up
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