Barak Varr

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“Labouring hard with a shovel in Situs Slot Online Terpercaya the darkness, stoking a massive boiler and bathing in the heat. Life on board an Ironclad, eh? Just like being at home.”—‘One-eye’ Morgim, Sea Engineer aboard the Legend of Grimnir

Barak Varr, which means the Gate to the Sea in Khazalid, is unique amongst the Dwarf strongholds for being the only Hold built to be a massive harbor. Approaching from the land there is no indication at all of the busy port that lies ahead. In fact, even standing on the cliff edge it seems to the unsuspecting eye that the ships are destined to smash themselves into the cliff face. However, the powerful tides of the Black Gulf have carved out a deep cave system into the tall white rock, and here in these vast sea caverns the Dwarfs harbour their trading fleet.[1a]Overview

The Hold of Barak Varr is small in comparison to the strongholds that tunnel deep into the Worlds Edge Mountains, but the Dwarfs of the Hold enjoy a relatively cosmopolitan lifestyle, and are less dour and introverted than other Dwarfs. Not only is it one of the few strongholds that has remained open to traders from other nations, but the Dwarfs of Barak Varr are renowned for their hospitality. It is said that a Dwarf breakfast is a feast large enough to fill the belly of even the plumpest Halfling.[1a]

Dwarfs have a strong dislike of water and the Dwarfs at Barak Varr are unusual in that many of them become sailors. Even so, they still do not relish setting foot on the flimsy wooden ships used by men and Elves. Instead they put their faith in huge iron vessels driven by paddles and powered by steam boilers located deep within heavily armoured hulls, the arcane secrets of which are kept by the Sea Engineers Guild.[1a]

When traders of every realm, from Araby to Lustria, gather together at Barak Varr, they know that they can expect the legendary hospitality of the Dwarfs to refresh them on their arrival. Within the Hold there are many highly regarded establishments providing fare as diverse and impressive as any city in the Old World. It is a major trading centre, where bargains are made between merchants from many lands. This is reflected in the market area of the Hold where a visitor can buy anything, from fine Araby silks to exotic Lustrian statues, and from Halfling-mixed spices to fertility charms from the Southlands.[1b]

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Tunnelled into the cliffs, the stronghold is almost impervious to attack by land. More than one nation has tried to assault Barak Varr by sea in the past, but the immense firepower of the Dwarf fleet has always driven away enemy armadas. Combined with the many cannons whose barrels bristle from revetments along the cliff face, an enemy fleet has to be very brave to approach the stronghold. Although it is strictly located in the lands of the Border Princes, this is diplomatically ignored by the Dukes and Barons who hold sway over the area, as the Hold protects them from invasion. This generosity they favour the Dwarfs with also extends to the Dwarfs’ free passage along the many trade routes that lead through the Border Princes. If truth be Slot Online Terpercaya known, the Dwarfs inhabited the Border Princes long before any other race laid claim to the land and probably constructed the roads themselves. It is in fact the Dwarfs who put up with the presence of men in their ancestral realm purely because there is very little mineral wealth to be mined there.[1b]

The current King of Barak Varr is Byrrnoth Grundadrakk. He is known for maintaining traditional Dwarf values in the face of an ever-changing world and during his reign he has done his best to maintain strong links with the Holds in the Worlds Edge Mountains.[1b]Population

Like other Dwarfholds, the population of Barak Varr reached 150,000 during the Golden Age. Although it has declined to about a third of its former size, this decline is proportionally less than those experienced in the other Dwarfholds of Karaz Ankor. Barak Varr has provided shelter for many thousands of refugees from the Goblin Wars, and more recently it has become a staging point for expeditions into the Dragonback Mountains to recover lost treasure. Compared to the dangerous Badlands and volatile Border Princes surrounding it, Barak Varr is an island of stability and order.[1b]The Voyagers of Barak-Varr

Barak Varr is home to a part of the Engineers Guild known as the Sea Engineers. This organisation specialises in building the great ironclad ships for which Barak Varr is famous. There is something about such vast machines that fascinates the more megalomanical engineers and there is nowhere else in the Karaz Ankor where such engineering feats are possible or required.[1d]

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Dwarfs are not generally fond of the sea; it is, after all, a very different environment to their mountain holds. Many regard it as being the domain of the Elves and as such no place for proper, right-thinking Dwarfs. There is certainly no record of Dwarfs taking to sea in vessels powered by oar and sail as they have no natural talent as mariners.[1d]

The creation of steam engines large enough to power iron vessels changed all that however. By making iron float and by directing their vessels without dependence on tide or wind the Dwarfs feel they have conquered the sea and proven the dominance of earth over water. Moreover they have, to their own satisfaction, proven that anything the Elves can do, they can do better.[1d]

There are relatively few Ironclad vessels in existence and those that there are can be divided into broad categories. The typical Ironclad is the equivalent of other races’ galleys and ships of the line in size. It is a broad category, however, and every ship is a unique creation that is testament to the skill of the engineer that built it. Monitors are smaller than Ironclads and are well-suited to patrolling rivers and inland lakes as well as oceans. They carry less fuel than Ironclads so cannot steam so far without refuelling. Monitors are rarely seen outside the Black Gulf and the Tilean Sea, whereas Ironclads can reach Lustria when fully provisioned. Dreadnoughts are even larger than Ironclads and each is a veritable floating fortress, complete with massive turreted cannon, far larger than anything seen on land.[1d]

There have been very few engineers skilled enough to build a Dreadnought and the sheer cost precludes them being built in numbers. The greatest Kings of Barak Varr have marked their reigns by commissioning a Dreadnought and each one is a mechanical marvel unparalleled in the world. The credit for designing the first Dreadnought belongs to the legendary Engineer Hengist Cragbrow and every one built since has owed something to his vision. Equally rare is the Nautilus. This is a ship actually capable of travelling beneath the waves. The first Nautilus was built by Cragbrow’s one-time apprentice, Mungrun Steelhammer. Steelhammer was determined to make a name for himself and, unable to match the scale of his Master’s creations, built something completely different instead. Other Nautiluses have since been built but in many ways it was an invention that was ahead of its time then and is still ahead of its time now.[1d]

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Steam-powered vessels opened the world’s oceans to Dwarf trade and ensured that wherever you go in the Old World and beyond there is a good chance you will find Dwarfs, curious to hear news from the Worlds Edge Mountains and eager to taste thick, Dwarfish ale again.[1d]

Ironically the Dwarfs’ ability to traverse the world’s oceans owes much to the Elves. No Dwarf would admit this, but without accurate charts it does not matter how powerful one’s ship is. Within Barak Varr the Dwarfs maintain their Book of Charts. Whilst it might originally have been a single tome it is now more of a library. Many of the charts therein have been bought from Tilean merchants quite properly but the earliest maps, the ones that made seafaring possible, are believed to have been looted from the Elves during the War of Vengeance. These charts have spared Dwarfs the irksome task of exploring; instead they have always known where they are going.[1d]

An example of this is the aforementioned Mungrun Steelhammer. His last ill-fated voyage was made in concert with Estalian privateers. Mungrun accompanied one of their expeditions to Lustria in his Nautilus. Together they hoped to explore and loot the fabled sunken city of Chupayotl. The Estalians had searched for the city for generations without success, but found it with Mungrun’s help. Clearly Mungrun had access to charts that showed the course to the city. The tragedy of Steelhammer’s last voyage is that only one of his crew ever returned to Barak Varr.[1d]

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