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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 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.
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. »
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 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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