The Embassy to the Dwarven King

L’Ambassade auprès du Roi Nain (3A 1640)

During the time of King Bain, the royal court of Khazad-dûm is a hotbed of poli­ti­cal intrigue, both from within and without. It is a period of rela­tive peace and pros­pe­rity for Durin’s folk, and the people have grown com­placent. Their wealth stea­dily increases with no sign of aba­ting, and they have grown fat upon their for­tune.

Le Roi Bain

The facade of sere­nity is just that, howe­ver, it does not run deep. The Khazad are ripe for a change of some sort, and Bain’s court is rife with plots within plots. Forces from within his own ranks conspire to unseat the Dwarf-king or, at the very least, usurp his power. Meanw­hile, other peoples are sear­ching for an oppor­tu­nity to exploit this dis­cord.

Meanw­hile, Bain sits on his throne, content with the notion that he has clone well with all that his lineage has bequea­thed to him. Plea­sed that he has slowly, and stea­dily-impro­ved his people’s lot, he guesses not that his gree­dier bre­thren have become impa­tient with his stolid, metho­di­cal ways. While they accu­mu­late vast wealth, they hunger for even more riches.

Like an unra­ve­ling rope, then, it’s only a matter of time before the weight of Khazad-dûm’s troubles brings true danger to the First House.

Adventure summary

Party Requi­re­ments: A small, wily, racially-mixed party of repre­sen­ta­tives sent to ascer­tain the sound­ness of Bain’s rule. These ambas­sa­dors are to dis­co­ver any and all means of influen­cing the Dwarf-king or, bar­ring that, of over­thro­wing him.

Aids: Inside infor­ma­tion on who wields poli­ti­cal and mili­tary power in the Dwar­ven stron­ghold. Without esta­bli­shing some sort of contact within Khazad-dûm’s halls, the PCs will be at a loss as to how to pro­ceed and will likely find them­selves sto­ne­wal­led at nearly every turn. Concei­va­bly, one member of the party could b e a Dwarf from Moria with ques­tio­nable loyal­ties. Other­wise, the adven­tu­rers must rely on the less-than-trust­wor­thy Falin.

Rewards: The adven­tu­rers are not concer­ned with per­so­nal gain. They are trying to advance the cause of their people. The only reward they can expect is the undying gra­ti­tude of their res­pec­tive lieges when they return home. Greedy PCs may find some ways to gain a more per­so­nal profit while exe­cu­ting their duties.

The Tale

King Bain is rumo­red to have gown com­placent in his Rile. Some say the reins of power in the halls of Khazad-dm no longer rest tightly within his gasp. They state that the blood of Durin runs thin in his great-grandson’s veins—that Bain is weak and could not hold the Man­sions in the face of a real threat.

True, no such threat has arisen for cen­tu­ries. Much of the talk is spur­red by the fact that Bain’s rule has never been tested in war or other crises. It could be that this is so because of Bain’s abi­lity to work cun­nin­gly behind the scenes of Dwar­ven poli­tics. But many believe the truth is that the King is simply res­ting upon the lau­rels of his fore­bears.

For the first time since the foun­ding of Moria, the secu­rity of the Dwar­ven stron­ghold is in some doubt. Howe­ver small that actual doubt may be, it is the most serious to date. Com­pli­ca­ting mat­ters, ene­mies of Durin’s folk are curious about the vera­city of these rumors. Ambi­tious foes of the royal family seek to dis­co­ver if the time to strike against the crown has finally arri­ved.

The Elves and the few Men of Ere­gion (along with more sinis­ter forces) would like to deve­lop some influence over the stub­born, xeno­pho­bic Khazad. They seek to calm their war­like neigh­bors. In doing so, they might pre­serve the peace that reigns over much of Middle-earth, or pos­si­bly even lay claim to some of the phe­no­me­nal Dwar­ven trea­sures. Unfor­tu­na­tely, few Nau­grim hold any inter­est in out­si­ders and their schemes.

None­the­less, a few note­wor­thy Khazad have a price. Given enough wealth, even these mostly loyal souls can be bought (or at least rented). Their relia­bi­lity, of course, is always in ques­tion. Adven­tu­rers might do well to heed the words of the old Man­nish joke about see­king help from the Nau­grim :

« The first rule is : « Bribe a Dwarf.  » This is not so dif­fi­cult to accom­plish. All Dwarves love money, and some of them love it above all else. A sweet word can go a long way when accom­pa­nied by a hag of gold. The second rule is : « Bribe a Dwarf you can trust.  » If you are not a Dwarf your­self, there is little chance of accom­pli­shing this. Dwarves are noto­riously loyal, but their code of honor often does not apply to out­si­ders such as Elves or Men. Thus, we come to the third rule : « You cannot trust a Dwarf you have bribed.  »

A young Dwarf named Falin, a proud nephew of the Dwarf-king, has sent dis­creet word to others that he, not Bain, controls the Dwar­ven war-host. He claims this mas­tery is based on mutual res­pect, and attri­bu­table to his great suc­cess as a young war­rior. Under­lying this strain among the Nau­grim, is a false rumor that Bain’s bloo­dline is some­how in ques­tion.

Greedy and short-sigh­ted, Falin has visions of sei­zing the throne for him­self The you­th­ful war-lord will lend aid to any scheme that will embar­rass or under­mine the autho­rity of the King. He will even be willing to fund such an attempt per­so­nally, although he has gone to great lengths to point out to the PCs’ lieges that, should he assume the throne, his gra­ti­tude would be worth more than any trea­sure.

The adven­tu­rers’ employers have taken note of this fact. Thus, they have ini­tia­ted a plan desi­gned to bring Falin to power. They have given the PCs spe­ci­fic ins­truc­tions regar­ding the situa­tion as they know it in Khazad-dûm. Their intel­li­gence, though, des­pite Falin’s assu­rances, is woe­fully inade­quate. Put simply, they do not trust the Dwarf and are sen­ding the adven­tu­rers to ascer­tain the truth of his claims.

The PCs’ main contact within Khazad-dûm is Grolin, a court jester of sorts who has fallen out favor with the King. Appa­rently, he insul­ted the King’s wife, Bris, implying that she looked uncan­nily like Bain. In fact, his assess­ment was all too accu­rate, but the Queen found no humor in this remark and per­sua­ded her hus­band to ban Grolin from the court.

Cer­tain other cour­tiers have also pled­ged to side with Falin, should the issue pro­gress so far. Indeed, if the lime seems ripe, Falin may use the adven­tu­rers to help him over­throw the King or, bar­ring that, under­cut his power base so com­ple­tely that he would remain little more than a puppet. Then, Falin’s fin­gers will control the strings.

The characters


The King Under the Moun­tain is a wise and lear­ned Dwarf. He wears his long, gray beard forked and brai­ded and tucked into his wide lea­ther belt. He likes to smile, and hap­pi­ness seems to be his constant com­pa­nion. This belies the deep wrinkles that crease his face and brow, fur­rows etched by long days and nights of concern for his people. Still, this is a side that the King rarely shows. To most, he is simply a gra­cious sove­reign.

Consi­de­ring the war­like nature of his people and bloo­dline, he is remar­ka­bly kind, always tem­pe­ring his jus­tice with mercy. He is firm in his belief that only in peace may his people truly pros­per. Bain holds that the life of each of his sub­jects is a sacred trust, and he has been char­ged with its care. In his king­dom, none go hungry or unclo­thed. All hands are busy, and in the respite from the constant wars that seem to plague the stub­born Khazad, the arts have truly flou­ri­shed.

While the halls of Khazad-dûm have grown more beau­ti­ful under Bain’s gui­ding hand, the sta­ture of the mili­tary has dwind­led in the eyes of some. This is true only inso­far as it has not been exces­si­vely prized by the Dwarf-king, who is lavish with his praises when pre­sen­ted with the beau­ti­ful works of his people.

Bain saw enough of war in his youth, and the thought of thou­sands of Khazad mar­ching off to their doom sickens hint Were the need to present itself, he would take up Durin’s Axe and lead his people in defense of their hearth and home, but he has worked long and hard to ensure that such a thing shall not come to pass.

Some take this as a sign of the King’s weak­ness, but it makes him an excellent ruler, one who always puts the wel­fare of his people before all else. He is well loved by the gene­ral popu­lace.

Unfor­tu­na­tely, some of the noble fami­lies fail to share this love. They ques­tion Bain’s status as the right­ful heir of Durin’s spirit. Among the youn­ger sons, there is a fee­ling that, by refu­sing to lead them to war, Bain has robbed them of the oppor­tu­nity to win honor for them­selves and their lines. What bards will sing of their deeds if their lives are spent at home, shar­pe­ning their axes on whets­tones rather than on the skulls of Yrch ?

Bain gene­rally ignores the whi­ning of such fools. Under his hand, the Khazad have flou­ri­shed. The halls of Moria ring with the sound of Dwar­ven ham­mers, and with Dwar­ven voices raised in hearty song. He is happy with his wife, whom he loves very much, and he is plea­sed with his chil­dren and their pro­gress.


Falin is a rela­ti­vely young Dwarf He wears his golden hair long, and he stuffs the end of his beard in a single, intri­cate braid inter­wo­ven with strands of pure Mithril) into his belt. As a rule, he wears blue, a color he asso­ciates with the legen­dary Dwar­ven heroes of the past.

Falin is consi­de­red hand­some, and nearly any female Khazad would consi­der him quite a catch. Although he has yet too many, he has many pros­pects. The you­th­ful war­rior abso­lu­tely refuses to settle down until he has mana­ged to meet his goal of lea­ding the Dwar­ven army into battle against some worthy foe.

To this end, Falin qui­ckly worked his way up through the ranks, until he was named a gene­ral of the Khazad army. Bain appoin­ted him as one of Hadhodrond’s three Unit-lords — una­ware of Falin’s true pur­pose. As it is, the Dwarf-king remains bliss­fully una­ware of the « asp he holds in his pocket ».

Once confir­med as a Dwar­ven war-lord, Falin set about bree­ding dissent with the King. Soon, he had most of the youn­ger lea­ders dis­sa­tis­fied with their lot in life. They became resent­ful of the fact that Bain had never given them a chance to prove their mettle as war­riors. Falin used this dis­content to encou­rage over a dozen of Khazad-dûm twenty-one Attack-lords to swear fealty to him ins­tead of the King Under the Moun­tain.

Buil­ding up his power base has been a slow and one­rous task, but Falin has taken to it well. He has been care­ful never to broach the sub­ject of a revo­lu­tion with someone that has not actually sworn to follow him. The num­bers of his fol­lo­wers are gro­wing, and his popu­la­rity among the youn­ger sol­diers has soared over the past few years. Still, he is not yet ready to strike.

Although hungry for power and the glory of battle, Falin is not willing to let his ambi­tion blind him to rea­lity. The other two Unit-lords and the older Attack-lords are uns­wer­vin­gly loyal to Bain. Should he make a move against his liege, Falin cannot gua­ran­tee that the Dwarf-levy will take arms on his behalf. After all, he is asking Dwarf to raise hand against Dwarf and, while such bat­tles are not unheard of ; they are hardly under­ta­ken lightly.

Falm is a cha­ris­ma­tic Dwarf, not dour and dis­tant like many of his older bre­thren. He is given to laugh­ter and song, and he buries deep his broo­ding need for power. It is hard not to like him, and there are many who think that he would make a good ruler. Falin, of course, has little legi­ti­mate claim to the throne, but with the power of Khazad-cum’s army behind him, there are few who could gain­say him effec­ti­vely should he manage to over­throw Bain.


Grolin is a young, vain Dwarf with a chip on his shoul­der. Son of a minor noble family, he has long enjoyed the good life, his by birth-right, and his fall from the King’s favor has badly brui­sed his sub­stan­tial ego. He now bears a grudge against Bain.

A hand­some Dwarf, Grolin makes no pre­tense of being a war­rior, or even much of a worker, and he wears his auburn beard long and free in open defiance of style and good sense. He brags that the tip of his beard has never met the inside of his belt. A number of young Dwarves emu­late this style, but even they tuck their beards into their belts when wor­king. Fashion can only be taken so far,

For many years, the hand­some young­ster was a favo­rite of the King. Always quick with a witty word to set the royal court lau­ghing, he was the toast of almost every social event of any import. He was constantly in the com­pany of the most power­ful mem­bers of Moria’s society, and a number of extre­mely eli­gible young Dwar­ven women pined after him.

If Grolin has a weak­ness, it is that he thinks even better of him­self than do those that wor­ship him from afar. His ego is quite swol­len and, although he is unu­sually thick-skin­ned, when someone does punc­ture his pride, Grolin becomes quite ven­ge­ful. That, along with his taste for ale, was the cause of his undoing. His lite of fame and luxury ended sud­denly one night, after Grolin had enjoyed one mug too many. While atten­ding a great dinner, he stood up and reci­ted a witty poem to the royal couple—a lime­rick he conju­red on the spot. Unfor­tu­na­tely, drink clou­ded his judg­ment, and stuck for a rhyme, he inser­ted a cou­plet insi­nua­ting that the King and Queen looked enough alike to be twins.

While the King viewed this slip of the tongue good-natu­redly, the Queen took ins­tant offense. She deman­ded an apo­logy from Grolin. Taken aback for a moment, Grolin pro­tes­ted that he had clone nothing wrong and attemp­ted to extri­cate him­self from his pre­di­ca­ment with wag­gish depre­ca­tion. Bris grew even more incen­sed at the fact that Grolin would try to make her look the fool in front of the assem­bled guests. At her behest, the King bani­shed Grolin from the royal court.

The King accor­ded Grolin the oppor­tu­nity to return to the court’s good stan­ding by making an ear­nest and public apo­logy to the Queen. Unable to swal­low his hubris, Grolin refu­sed. And so his wrath at being (at least from his point of view) unjustly barred from the court has fes­te­red and grown.

King Bain

Grolin is see­thing with a need to revenge him­self on Bris, a woman he sees as enti­rely lacking in a sense of humor (an accu­rate assess­ment, at least when it comes to her looks). To do this, he is willing to bring down the line of Durin. To this end, he has allied him­self with Falin.

Grolin knows every Dwar­ven noble by name, and many of them consi­der him a friend. He feels cer­tain that, given the ques­tions about Bain’s bir­thright, he could bring a number of them over to Falin’s side should open rebel­lion befall the king­dom. In truth, most of these folk agree that the King hand­led the situa­tion pro­perly and that Grolin should simply apo­lo­gize. Few share this opi­nion with Grolin, and those who do so have earned his undying enmity.


Although born in an excellent line, Bris’ ascen­sion to the throne was some­thing of a sur­prise. Hardly a beauty, even by Dwar­ven stan­dards, as a girl she des­pai­red of ever fin­ding a hus­band, much less one des­ti­ned to become the King Under the Moun­tain. Her story gives hope to Dwarf-maids all across Middle-earth,

Having resi­gned her­self to a life free of matri­mo­nial bliss, Bris turned to the healer’s voca­tion. Unap­proa­ched as she was by male Dwarves see­king a mate, she was able to concen­trate enti­rely on her stu­dies. She proved an excellent student, always atop her class. Once she fini­shed her appren­ti­ce­ship, she labo­red at research of her own and won renown far and wide as the grea­test of living Dwar­ven hea­lers.

So it was that when Bain was struck down by an Orcish arrow in a battle of his youth, he was brought to her by his father, Durin DI. Bain lay close to death for many days, but Bris labo­red day and night until he emer­ged of danger. As the arrow had been poi­so­ned, Bain spent many weeks conva­les­cing from his wounds. Bris cared for him throu­ghout the tra­vail, and it was she who reins­ta­ted him to full health. The two spent many hours toge­ther, Bain spin­ning tales of his family’s past and Bris brin­ging him news of the hap­pe­nings throu­ghout his father’s king­dom. In time, they wove a strong friend­ship, and this sen­ti­ment even­tually blos­so­med into love.

When Bain announ­ced his betro­thal to Bris, he broke the heart of many a Dwar­ven lass who had desi­gns of their own on the Crown Prince. Still, his choice met with strong appro­val from his family. Although lacking in phy­si­cal beauty, no one ques­tio­ned the good­ness of Bris’ heart, and the royal family wel­co­med her into their fold with open arms.

The years, howe­ver, have not been kind to Bris. What little come­li­ness she ever enjoyed faded long ago. While gene­rally as sweet and enga­ging as ever—possessed of a sharp wit and a keen eye—Bris is increa­sin­gly sen­si­tive. It may seem hard to get on her bad side, but it can be done in two ways. The first is to insult her hus­band. The second is to dis­pa­rage her plain look.

Grolin is not the first Dwarf banned from the court for incur­ring Bris’ wrath. Never­the­less, it has been a long time since anyone has dis­played such poor judg­ment as to insult either member of the royal couple in the Queen’s pre­sence, even in jest. All of the others have long since apo­lo­gi­zed and been reins­ta­ted to their posi­tions within the court. Only Grolin is too stub­born to admit the error of his ways.

While it deeply bothers Bris that she could be the cause of another’s pain, she is not pre­pa­red to reca­pi­tu­late. She will have an apo­logy from Grolin, or his banish­ment will conti­nue inde­fi­ni­tely. She has no idea of the inten­sity of the young Dwarfs anger and to what it may drive him ; and even if she did, it likely would not change her mind.

The setting

Loca­tions used in this adven­ture include the East-gate (cf. #9), Falin’s home (near the Nor­theast Hold (cf. #26)), the Throne Room (cf. #54a), and the West Gathe­ring Hall (cf. #6). As game­mas­ter, you need to be as fami­liar as pos­sible with these places. Their pla­ce­ment within the halls of Moria will dic­tate the flow of action.

The task

The adven­tu­rers are to enter Moria as ambas­sa­dors from their res­pec­tive peoples. They must gain an audience with the King and size him up as a foe or a patsy. They will need to talk also with Grolin, who will intro­duce them to Falin. The chal­lenge is to main­tain good rela­tions with all until it is time to choose sides and act, of course, to stay alive until then.

The encounters

The fol­lo­wing encoun­ters out­line how Falin’s plot to become the next King was hat­ched and begins to unfold before the PCs. Its up to them to decide with whom they should side in this civil war. The only way they can lose is by choo­sing to oppose the win­ning fac­tion. In that case, their punish­ment will be hor­rible indeed. If they make the right choice, howe­ver, they will have earned a strong foo­thold within Khazad-dûm for their peoples.

Entering Khazad-Dum

When the adven­tu­rers finally reach the East-gate after riding or mar­ching through Dim­rill Dale, they are gree­ted by a unit of well-armed, elite Dwar­ven guards. Unless the PCs took spe­cial pre­cau­tions, the Dwar­ven loo­kouts spot­ted them long ago, and the guards are wai­ting for them. The war­ders chal­lenge the PCs, inqui­ring what busi­ness they might have in Moria.

If the PCs tell the truth—that they are ambas­sa­dors from dis­tant lands—the leader of the guards inform them that the Khazad are already in receipt of their liege’s mis­sives. The Dwarves have been expec­ting them for some time, and King Bain is eager to speak to them after they have had a chance to reco­ver from their long jour­ney.

The Attack-lord in Aza­nul­bi­zar is an older, battle-scar­red Dwarf whose name is Bwalin. He per­so­nally leads the adven­tu­rers to their quar­ters nearby in the First Level (See Al on the Route Map.) They lie close to the nor­thern pas­sage to the Second Level (cf. #12). This keeps the visi­tors close to the gates. Should trouble start, the Nau­grim will hardly want stran­gers invol­ved ; and out on the fringe of the city, they are less likely to be able to do any mischief. Also, by Falin’s they are nearly directly beneath the Nor­theast Hold (cf. #26) and the dis­loyal Unit-lord’s cham­bers. This will make it easier for him to com­mu­ni­cate with them later.

The visitor’s quar­ters are large by Dwar­ven stan­dards, but most non-Dwarves will find them barely suf­fi­cient. Anyone with claus­tro­pho­bia may harbor some dis­com­fort. Still, these quar­ters are larger than those that most of Moria’s citi­zenry enjoy.

Once the PCs have been ens­con­ced in their rooms, Bwalin informs them that they are not to wander Khazad-dûm without an escort. If they do so, they may be mis­ta­ken for inva­ders or spies and killed by an over­zea­lous Dwarf-guard before they can manage to pro­test their inno­cence. He gives them a brass gong to ring if they need any­thing and invites them to make them­selves at home. Meals will be brought to their room, and the King will see them on the morrow.

Should the PCs object to this arran­ge­ment, their pro­tes­ta­tions fall on deaf ears. Bwalin is not happy about their pre­sence within Moria and is not concer­ned with kee­ping his sen­ti­ments hidden. He posts two guards at the door to their cham­bers. He tells the adven­tu­rers : « They arc here for your own pro­tec­tion. » The guards are stolid and uncom­mu­ni­ca­tive, and they are relie­ved in two-hour shifts.

Making contact with Grolin

The first thing the adven­tu­rers need to do is contact Grolin. If they can manage it them­selves, so much the better. Grolin and Falin will be impres­sed at their resour­ce­ful­ness. Other­wise, Grolin even­tually will ini­tiate contact him­self.

That night, after the adven­tu­rers have eaten their eve­ning meal, Grolin comes cal­ling to their door. The guards reco­gnize him and give him leave to enter. He closes the door solidly behind him­self and greets the PCs with a wide smile.

He then fills them in on the situa­tion as it stands, noting that Falin feels that he has suf­fi­cient sup­port to make an actual bid for the throne. All he needs is some sort of cata­lyst to force the Dwar­ven people into action. Until then, nothing will happen. Grolin remarks that he is glad to see that they made the trip safety. Of course, he knows that wha­te­ver dan­gers they may have encoun­te­red on the road will pale by com­pa­ri­son to the coming revolt. Should the halls of Khazad-dûm ring with the noise of a war pit­ting Dwarf against Dwarf, no one—especially the PCs—will be safe.

« No birth is without blood and pain, » says Grolin. « If the king­dom is to be reborn, there will be much of both. »

Grolin tells the PCs that he is to be their liai­son with Falin. If they wish, he will bring them to see the rebel­lious war-lord that very eve­ning. Smart PCs may rea­lize that to be seen spea­king with Falin will likely imply, at least to onloo­kers, their sup­port of his fac­tion. They may wish to guard against this impres­sion. If so, they may decide to defer the mee­ting. In such case, Grolin will tell them that Falin will not be happy about the denial of his request. He reminds the adven­tu­rers that, if they are not care­ful, they will find them­selves in the « new government’s dis­fa­vor. »

Meeting Faun

If the adven­tu­rers decide to meet Falin right away, Grolin takes them up to the Nor­theast Hold (A2). The guards ques­tion him as the party leaves their quar­ters, but he will remind them that, although he has been banned from the court, he is also a noble. He is well within his rights to escort these guests of the king­dom through the halls of Khazad-dûm Reluc­tantly, the guards relent.

When the adven­tu­rers reach the Nor­theast Hold, they notice that eve­ryone is sta­ring at them. Out­si­ders are somew­hat rare in Moria, and the elite Dwar­ven war­riors that call this area home are more than a bit trou­bled about hos­ting emis­sa­ries from powers with whom they may some­day be at war. One and all, they poin­tedly refrain from gree­ting the new­co­mers. They are not, howe­ver, openly hos­tile.

Moments after the adven­tu­rers arrive in the Hold, Falin walks into the room and greets them loudly and hap­pily, sta­ting that he hopes that they can advance the cause of peace and friend­ship bet­ween their peoples. He is hoping to impress upon those wat­ching them that he has the power of the PCs’ peoples behind him, and he suc­ceeds fairly well. He then ushers the adven­tu­rers out of the main cham­ber and into his nearby cham­bers.

The­rein, Falin shows his guests to some com­for­table chairs and draws each of them a flagon of ale. Once they are com­for­table, he broaches the sub­ject of for­ming an alliance with him against the King.

If the adven­tu­rers pro­test that they have yet to make up their mind who to sup­port, Falin cau­tions them against wai­ting too long to decide. Events are in motion that cannot be slowed or stop­ped to accom­mo­date their inde­ci­sion.

If they ask him why they should throw in with him and not Bain, Falin spouts a long tirade about recap­tu­ring the faded glory of the Dwar­ven people. Even­tually he sees that he is boring his guests, and he stops, beg­ging their pardon for his long-win­ded­ness. He informs them that Bain may not be King much longer. If they pro­mise him their sup­port now, he will not forget it in the days to come.

After a while, Falin notices that it is late. Since the PCs have an audience with Bain in the mor­ning, Grolin escorts them back to their quar­ters. He tells them that he will arrange to meet with them again before too long and bids them a good night.

Meeting the King

The next mor­ning, after the adven­tu­rers have break­fas­ted, Bwalin arrives at their door. He then accom­pa­nies them to the Throne Room, where Bain is awai­ting their pre­sence. The old Attack-lord makes no com­ment about the PCs’ mee­ting with Falin, although news of it has already spread throu­ghout the moun­tain. He simply does his job.

He leads them down to the Seventh Deep and into the Throne Room (cf. #54a). Bain and Bris are there, seated on the dais in the center of the room. They are dea­ling with a matter of two Dwar­ven bro­thers caught braw­ling in the West Gathe­ring Hall (cf. #6). The two appa­rently were trying to decide which of them had the right to court a young Dwar­ven lass, and the dis­cus­sion, helped along by the copious amounts of mead they had consu­med, turned to blows. Bris whis­pers some­thing into the King’s ear, and he nods appre­cia­ti­vely. He then informs the two that nei­ther of them is to approach the young woman again unless she should come to them first. By that they should know the choice bet­ween the two of them was not theirs, but hers.

When this matter is conclu­ded, the royal couple rises and greets their guests with all the pomp and cir­cum­stance due the ambas­sa­dors of friendly foreign powers. Bain informs them that Bris has sche­du­led for a feast that eve­ning in their honor. He tells them that he hopes this is the start of a long, pea­ce­ful and pros­pe­rous rela­tion­ship bet­ween their peoples, and he hopes that they can be friends, as large friend­ships bet­ween nations are foun­ded on smal­ler friend­ships among their citi­zens.

Bain is a cour­teous and gra­cious host. He ans­wers any ques­tions the PCs have (within reason, of course) in as straight­for­ward a manner as pos­sible. The Dwarf-king invites them to tour the halls of Khazad-dûm during their visit, and he assi­gns Bwalin to them as a per­ma­nent liai­son. Stran­gely, this new assi­gn­ment does nothing for the dour veteran’s demea­nor. Bain then dis­misses them until the eve­ning ban­quet.

If the PCs wish to talk pri­va­tely with the King, he bids them speak openly, for there is nothing he would not share with his people. If they men­tion Falin’s words of trea­chery, he tells them that while he was aware of the young Dwarfs ambi­tion, this sort of trou­ble­ma­king is inex­cu­sable. He will deal with the war­rior tonight, fol­lo­wing the feast, which he does not want to spoil with inter­nal squabbles.

The Atrocity

The feast is held in the West Gathe­ring Hall (cf. #6), and it is some­thing the likes of which the PCs have never seen. The food and drink are the finest the king­dom has to offer, and deli­ca­cies of all sorts aplenty. As the meal finishes, Bain rises to offer a toast to his wel­come guests.

Before Bain com­pletes his thought, a mes­sen­ger from the gates darts into the hall with hor­ri­fying news. A cart-train of Dwar­ven tra­ders has been mas­sa­cred in the dis­tant foo­thills of Ere­gion. They were retur­ning to Moria, loaded with essen­tial goods, when they were ambu­shed. Ama­zin­gly, the arrows found pier­cing the vic­tims’ bodies are of Elven make. (Feel free to choose ano­ther people at fault, if one of the PCs hails from a nearby Elven com­mu­nity.)

At this news, Falin leaps to his feet and imme­dia­tely volun­teers to take a force to hunt down the killers and bring them to jus­tice. He vows to cap­ture some Eldar in retri­bu­tion for this atro­city.

Bain refuses to permit Falin to carry out his plan. Ins­tead he coun­sels cau­tion. By the light of day, the matter may be more clear. An expe­di­tion will leave the next mor­ning to inves­ti­gate.

Falin walks out of the hall in dis­gust. Other Dwarves follow him. The affair resumes, but its fes­ti­vity has been greatly dimmed. It breaks up early with the King’s regrets, and the PCs are escor­ted back to their rooms.

That night, Grolin comes to the PCs quar­ters to warn them that time is run­ning short. They had better make their choice, for the revo­lu­tion will begin soon.

The morning after

The point of deci­sion is at hand. If the PCs wish, they may go and inves­ti­gate the mas­sacre site them­selves, with Bwalin as an escort. When they arrive, the bodies have already been carted back to Khazad-dum, to be placed in their res­pec­tive family crypts. The char­red frames of the small, sturdy wagons are still there, but they offer few clues. Arrows litter the ground, and they appear to be of Elven make. Any Elf, though, should be able to spot that they are actually excellent fakes. (Note the PCs’ flet­ching skills.)

In truth, a party of Dwarves armed with bows ambu­shed the cara­van, killing eve­ryone in the cart-train. This sordid ope­ra­tion was exe­cu­ted under Falin’s orders. He sup­plied the incri­mi­na­ting arrows, and he fomen­ted the intra-tribal feud that resul­ted in the Dwarf-slaying. The crime was desi­gned to force the people to per­ceive the King as too weak to rule, as Falin believes. The trai­to­rous war-lord knows the King will be hesi­tant to commit his people to a new war with the Elves. Falin plans to take advan­tage of Bain’s calm policy to whip the people into an unrea­so­ned frenzy, one he hopes will carry him all the way to the throne.

The PCs must now decide which side to sup­port. Will they back Falin in his bid to be King ? If they do, they will cer­tainly win their peoples a friend, but can they depend on one who will so easily resort to such base trea­chery ? Or will they reveal Falin’s plot to King Bain ? While this will cer­tainly erode Falin’s power base, it will not stop him from making a last, des­pe­rate effort to over­throw the Dwarf-king. At this point, he is far too com­mit­ted to turn back. He knows that to capi­tu­late now would mean death with dis­ho­nor. Falin pre­fers to go down figh­ting.


That eve­ning, as the halls of Khazad-dûm grow quiet for the night, Falin launches his coup no matter what the PCs have deci­ded. The events that follow are lar­gely up to you, the GM, and what sort of cam­paign you are run­ning.

Do you want a new King Under the Moun­tain, one that will even­tually wage war against his neigh­bors for the sheer glory of it ? Or do you prefer to stick with the more subtle poli­ti­cal machi­na­tions that take place in a time of peace, as Bain’s rule will pro­vide ?

Either way, the direc­tion the adven­tu­rers take will have a great impact upon the out­come. This is not so much due to the PCs’ per­so­nal power as it is to the powers they represent. After all, if they fall in with Falin, many Dwarves will take this as a sign that Bain’s time has passed.

Of course, if they reveal Falin’s trea­chery, or even if they simply side against him, the PCs will deeply under­cut the power-mad Dwarfs sup­port. Nearly all the rebel Nau­grim will aban­don their plans to sup­port Falin and take up arms to defend their King.

This does not mean that whi­che­ver side the PCs join will auto­ma­ti­cally pre­vail. Should the adven­tu­rers ally with Falin, you can be sure that Bain will not go down easily. And even if they reveal Falin’s plot, many Dwarves will remain reluc­tant take the word of a bunch of forei­gners over that of one of their own Unit-lords.

It is even pos­sible that the revolt will evolve into a cli­mac­tic battle bet­ween Bain and Falin on the floor of the Throne Room. The PCs can play a more deci­sive role in deci­ding the battle by figh­ting for their choice.


Once the dis­pute is resol­ved, the fate of the PCs will lar­gely depend on whe­ther the fac­tion they sup­por­ted won or lost. If they chose wisely, they will have earned a great and power­ful friend for their peoples. They will be feted and hono­red above all other out­si­ders for their ser­vice to the Dwar­ven crown. When they return home, they will be regar­ded as folk of great renown, and hono­red by their own peoples.

If they chose poorly, their peoples will have theD­warves’ undying enmity. The PCs will be lucky to escape with their lives. Even if they do, they will be hunted all the way home. Then, they might even find them­selves unwel­come there.


If the PCs happen to be a party com­po­sed enti­rely of Dwarves or indi­vi­duals proven friendly to the Khazad, they may ins­tead attempt to shore up the weak spots in Bain’s rule. They could work as double agents under the Kings orders to fen-et out any and all forces hos­tile to his rule. This could obviously mean Falin, but it might also involve dea­ling with a party very much like the one for which this adven­ture was writ­ten.

When the end­game begins, the PCs will have most of Hadho­drond on their side. None­the­less, they should avoid revea­ling their true alle­giance until after they have unco­ve­red incon­tro­ver­tible proof of a conspi­racy against the King. Other­wise, their effort may likely be for naught. If the accu­sed are out­si­ders, the PCs’ word will be taken over theirs, of course ; but if they denounce Falin without solid evi­dence, the noble will be able to wield his influence to escape per­se­cu­tion. In that case, the PCs will be use­less the­reaf­ter as spies.

Whe­ther they suc­ceed or fail in pres­sing their charges, once they reveal them­selves as spies, the PCs will have gained some power­ful ene­mies. They had better have gathe­red enough evi­dence against the per­pe­tra­tors to ensure that these folk will be dealt with har­shly, lest the adven­tu­rers find the full force of their foes’ wrath focu­sed on them.


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