By Jeff Quick
the Rift was an active quarry, traveling from the top to the bottom quickly
was a valuable commodity for quarrymasters. Lifts anchored to the rock
usually expedited travel to the top, and the system was used to ferry
huge stone blocks up to the edge where horses or wizards would spirit
them away to the sites of future palaces and castles. For Quarrymaster
Durgen Graymantle, the speed of lifts was never fast enough.
was an impatient dwarf and an unforgiving taskmaster. He was not merely
greedy, but grasping. He oversaw his workers with a whip, and he would
hire anyone to work at low wages: dwarf, human, or half-orc, not caring
if they had stonecunning or training, as long as the workers were strong
and able. He tried to control as much of his operation as possible in
person and always wanted work done faster.
it came to his attention that one could pay to have a spellcaster create
a magical portal that would instantly move people and cargo to
a given destination, Durgen began hunting for someone who could make one
for him. It was hard for him to part with the gold to pay the exorbitant
price that portal construction cost, but he had calculated that
the time savings would earn his money back and more in just a few years.
years, the gold dwarves had much more distrust of magic than they possess
today, and they eyed the elven sorcerer brought in to do the work with
distrust and disdain. However, the sorcerer did his job and left with
no trouble, and the portal worked perfectly after that. For those
who would use it.
workers, especially the dwarven ones, were loathe to stop using a system
they had built with their own hands in favor of a nonmechanical transport
they neither built nor understood. The workers blamed accidents on "charms"
that the odd elven sorcerer left behind, and they constantly associated
the portal with bad luck. Further, Durgen quickly found that while
the portal effortlessly and instantly transported people up and
down, it would not carry more than a few hundred pounds of stone. He still
had to rely on the block and tackle lifts to raise the heavy stones to
the edge of the Rift.
portal's favor, customers often appreciated the instant, comfortable
transportation to the Rift floor when they came to visit the site and
negotiate a deal. Durgen himself used it to oversee both quarrying on
the floor as well as storage and loading on the edge, hopping back and
forth, in an ever faster attempt to control all aspects of the operation.
He ruled his company with the same granite fist until the day he died.
In fact, while on his deathbed, he griped that the cleric of Moradin would
not work fast enough to save him from an early grave.
his death, Durgen's son, Kurdun, continued to run the business. He had
as little love for the portal as the workers did. Business returned
to the traditional ways, and the portal fell into disuse, becoming
known as "Durgen's Folly."
the portal is more of a tourist destination than a useful part
of anyone's life. Few gold dwarves have business on either the floor or
edge of the Rift. Those who want to travel to one are rarely close enough
to the other for a detour to the portal to be worth it. As before,
lifts remain ready to ferry dwarves up and down long distances, and as
before, some superstitious types still believe that the sorcerer hexed
the portal so that accidents happen nearby. The portals
are now marked with signs, and the portal of the Rift edge is watched
by guards as any entrance to the Rift would be. It remains a curiosity
and a reminder to many that magic does not solve every problem, especially
the common dwarven problems of perspective and greed.
to Incorporate the Durgen's Folly Portal Into Your Campaign:
- Maybe the elven
sorcerer really did set charms on the portal to cause accidents.
Elves are long-lived and perhaps the sorcerer is still alive somewhere,
with a plan in mind to use the portal for some evil purpose.
- Some gold dwarves
see Durgen's Folly as a nuisance, an embarrassment, and a potential
safety hazard. They want it removed. Others see it as a landmark, a
reminder, and a legacy of dwarven history. They want it preserved. Once
the PCs have performed a service for the gold dwarves and gained some
notoriety, one or both sides comes to them asking for support for their
political cause. The PCs must either take sides or do some delicate
negotiations to keep their heroic reputations intact.
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