Dagger's Delve

There's nothing up there but old structures and mine tunnels which stopped giving up anything. I'd say the only thing you'd find up there worth finding is death - either the restless ghosts of the dead, or your own death trying to delve mines which nobody's kept safe for who knows how long. If your heart's set on investigating, I won't stop you. But I hope you're prepared for what you may find up there. Masali Sember be with you on your journey
— Corten, Seven Roads Trader

  During the early years of the Rhyliss Empire, Dagger's Delve was a prosperous mining town which dug deep for iron and silver in the western Heartland Province. When it was believed the veins had been tapped out, the mining group which ran the settlement abandoned it swiftly and left the residents to fend for themselves. Many who had no means to leave found ways to fend for themselves, and the town also attracted attention from those who were seeking to disappear. As the years passed, the "abandoned" town was believed to have been empty by Imperial officials and was never looked into. According to official reports filed by the mining overseer, the mines were no longer showing any signs of potential and thus were collapsed and sealed off. The town itself was abandoned, and it is expected only bandit groups use it anymore - though no signs of habitation have been noted for generations.

In reality, the residents have retreated into the mines, converting many of the more stable tunnels into living areas and managing to dig alternative exits to pastures where livestock were raised. Small farmsteads in the area are quietly supported by people from Dagger's Delve, providing vegetables and grain in exchange for 'protection'. Those who have a reason to need a safe haven on the other side of the law might find themselves invited to the mines - by way of being captured and made unable to know the exact location until they are known to be trustworthy.  


Dagger's Delve is a fairly non-standard town, being scattered through tunnels and caverns which once were dug in pursuit of iron and silver. Most of the population are human, but there are dwarves and halflings amidst the residents. Furthermore, almost all of the town's residents are more comfortable living outside the protection of law than inside of it. The town does its best to sustain its own population from the mines and hidden pastures, and bartering with nearby farming villages for what they can't produce themselves.

Since the town has decided to seek this self-sufficient lifestyle, most of Dagger's Delve have begun with or acquired some form of experience doing manual labor, either before or after their arrival and integration into the town. The mines were not entirely cleaned out of ore, which means there are miners still at work in the lower reaches of the mines providing metal to help replace things which wear out or break. Nobody in the town is considered particularly wealthy, and almost all money earned is put back into keeping the settlement going or paying for silence.  


The Delvers have eschewed traditional methods of government, having a somewhat anarchist color to their way of running things. The residents who have been there the longest are often those approached when matters need to be handled and the involved parties cannot agree on an outcome. Furthermore, there are priests of Masali Sember who willingly assist with keeping detailed records which are also tended by their acolytes. Any judgment or agreement which needs a third-party arbitration usually goes through the priesthood, and they are quick to remind offenders of how the Unseen tends to treat oathbreakers.

There are three rules which people operate by, without ever actively stating them to be "laws".
  • Always protect the secrecy of the Delve. It is expected the residents do not talk about where they are from, and if directly questioned they are to lie or tell just enough truth to avoid bringing attention to a town which is supposed to be dead. Those caught spilling the secret are usually forbidden from leaving, or given incentives not to fail again.
  • Do not profit from your neighbor. With the nature of the Delve to be self-sufficient, it defeats the whole purpose to be selfish or prosper at the cost of others. Offenders of this rule often find themselves unable to share in the benefits from others at best, and at worst are treated to a "forced redistribution" of their belongings.
  • Do not murder in the Delve. Aside from being a practical matter of avoiding two parties simply deciding to solve matters "the old fashioned way", the ability to use magic to communicate with the dead means it is possible to break the first rule as well as the second. Furthermore, there are ample ways to ensure someone does not return from the mountains the Delve is located under, and it is expected Delvers be... creative... in solutions normally ending in murder.

  • "Honor Among Thieves"

    Even gatherings of outlaws and thieves have stories to tell which stretch back many years, and like much things concerning Dagger's Delve it is hard to substantiate without poking around too deeply for comfort. According to this legend, the Delvers were once harried by those in service of a young dragon trying to claim the region for itself. The Imperial Guard were not yet aware of the situation, and since the Delvers had gone through great pains to evade scrutiny they were left on their own. The villages nearby were visited by warriors devoted to "the great dragon Glaumndyir" who issued an ultimatum to fall in line or be destroyed. A contingent of Delvers were present, and saw there was trouble coming to the people who they had given the promise of protection. Surely, none had ever anticipated needing to send a dragon away, but a promise not kept meant no other promises could be trusted. And so the Delvers of that time decided to agree and offered them a toast of wine which was spiked with a powerful sleeping draught, mindful of the third rule. The fine, skilled warriors woke up a day's ride from the mine and were stripped of their equipment. When they returned to the dragon, they were punished for their ineptitude and Glaumndyir decided to take matters into his own claws.

    It was not hard for the dragon's aerial sight to determine the mine was not as abandoned as was thought, and he landed outside one of the upper exits to demand the presence of the Delvers' leader. A priest of Masali Sember stepped out to negotiate, stating he had not intended to offend the dragon with the actions in the village. However, since the dragon felt insulted then restitution must be made. He offered Glaumndyir a choice, however, which was too good to pass up. He would play a game of chance with the dragon, and if the Delvers won then the dragon would leave and not return. If the dragon won, however, they would yield up whatever riches were hidden inside the mines. When the dragon scoffed at a potentially meager offer, the priest calmly upended a pouch at his waist onto the ground to display a number of gemstones which were still uncut and in their raw state. At this, the dragon settled in and agreed to learn the game modern Imperials know as "Dragon's Hoard". After some time of the game swaying back and forth, with the priest subtly influencing the results to keep the game going rather than outright winning, Glaumndyir became frustrated enough to demand a change to the stakes.

    Infamously, the dragon chose to bend the rules as explained to him: "I will bet my claim I can roll higher than you on the dice, little human." The priest tried to argue such a choice was in favor of the Delvers, but was ignored. The dragon rolled the dice to show two fives, and was about to boast his victory when the priest quietly scooped the dice and began to roll: one six, and one four. As the dice were tied, each rolled again... and again... and again as they continued matching the same value of the dice rolls. Thoroughly frustrated, Glaumndyir roared and spat flame on the side of the mountain before he departed.

    Twenty years later, the priest had passed away during a collapse of old tunnels, and Glaumndyir returned to renew his claim. After all, the human which had struck the bargain was dead and therefore it was no longer an issue. A disciple of the old priest knew this day would be coming eventually, and had prepared. While the dragon continued his grandstanding and demands, two poisoned crossbow bolts were fired into his eyes. As he thrashed in agony, the disciple ran underneath the dragon and drove a fatally poisoned spear into the spot where a foreleg met the body. Glaumndyir died, but so did the disciple as there was no chance to hide from a dragon who had just been stabbed at a close range.

    Nevertheless, Dagger's Delve remained free of the dragon and by the time the Imperial Guard saw fit to investigate the matter the dragon's followers had disbanded and fled before Glaumndyir's enemies could seek vengeance. The slayer of the dragon, who acted without regard for his own safety to protect the Delve, was believed to have become a Saint of Masali Sember: Saint Edwyn Blackveil, the Bane of Eyes. A small shrine is kept above-ground where the entrance had been, created after the tunnels had been altered so none could reach the Delve proper from the shrine through the obvious entrance. The Shrine of Thieves' Honor is a popular place for devotees of the Unseen Master to travel to and leave a significant offering: two crossbow bolts and a broken spear, each with a green ribbon tied just behind the heads.
    Alternative Name(s)
    The Lost Mines
    Inhabitant Demonym


    Please Login in order to comment!
    2 Jan, 2022 19:10

    I don't know if this is a world for TTRPGs or novels or whatever, but I can immediately tell that this town has SO much potential for adventures just inherently in it. It's the kind of place I would LOVE to send my D&D parties into.

    2 Jan, 2022 19:26

    It's a little of both.   The work on this world as a whole is me taking the pages of haphazard notes I take while my mind wanders and converting them into something useful. But its origin is from a Fourth Edition D&D game my brother asked me to run, I said "get me a group, and we'll do it".   So a slice of the "modern" events have the group's hand in things, and specifically much of the detail about "Pendelholm" was that group wanting to get a stronghold and me winging it to keep it happening as a secondary thread to the campaign.   These days I'm mostly building the world with an eye towards what I might do in a future game if I get a group together. (Or decide to get over my hesitation to GM again.)

    2 Jan, 2022 20:17

    You should absolutely do it! It's so clear you've got a lot to offer!

    2 Jan, 2022 20:41

    Yes, but I'm not Matt, Matt, or Matt... :)