Ironvald Empire (Nordarin)

by Gerrin

Capital: Hollowvasser
Population: 170,000 (Nordar 93%, Hartdar 2%, Human 2%, Sundar 1%, Other 2%)
Government: Totalitarianism
Religions: major – Moli (Zeboim), minor – Reorx, Ki Ulit (Kiri-Jolith), Tonol (Mishakal), Slinoter (Shinare)
Languages: Dwarven, Hammer-talk, Common
Trade: Mercenaries, Gems, Steel, Metal Goods, Ships
Legions: Imperial Fleet, Imperial Marines
Alignment: NG, CG, LE, NE, CE

The Ironvald Empire is a collection of island nations which were located in the Shattered Sea and Sea of Tears. This empire exists primarily on the non-submerged lands of the former Hammervald Empire. The nation settled in many of the former settlements of the Hammervald Empire and has tried to retake former lands of the Hammervald back into their empire. Hollowvasser and Ironvasser are connected by two different ways, one is shipping lines and the other is a massive underground tunnel that reaches both cities.

Life and Society

The life in the empire was very disciplined and controlled by the emperor. Most of the citizens that lived in the empire found their lives filled with hundreds of laws and military discipline. There are two seasons in the empire; winter and raiding. During winter most dwarves live in their homes and prepare for the upcoming raiding season. At this time dwarves repair or build ships, forge new weapons, train new crews, and prepare for their future raids.

All raiders of the empire must pay a special tax to obtain a permit to be a legal raider. These raiders are called the Lord Protector’s Fleet and are free to carry out raids in any part of Adlatum. The raiders that do not obtain a license are considered outlaws and can be hunted down by the Imperial Fleet.

The military of the Ironvald Empire consisted of the Imperial Fleet and Imperial Marines. These two groups provided the safety of the realm and were spread throughout the empire. The fleet consisted of 100 ships and 15,000 sailors and the marines consisted of 20,000 dwarven fighters. These two groups specialized working together.

The legal system of the empire is dictated by the emperor and his laws are posted throughout all cities and towns in the empire. Lawbreakers were treated harshly and were often jailed without a trail. The Imperial Courts often gave judicial control to local watches.

The office of the Emperor of the Iron Islands was the highest office in the land followed by the position of Lord Protector. The emperor had control over all parts of the empire but often delegate’s tasks to the Lord Protector. Following the death of the Lord Protector Brigg Giantbattler, the title was considered unworthy of being used for a ruler and Argent Giantbattler declared that the title of Emperor of the Iron Islands would be used as the official title. The office of Lord Protector became an advisory position to the Emperor who could act with the authority of the Emperor.


There was no formal religion recognized, but most dwarves worship Moli (Zeboim) and offer her sacrifices even following the gods departure. Also the Nordar recognize four other gods as helpers to Moli and they were Reorx, Ki Ulit (Kiri-Jolith), Slinoter (Shinare), and Tonol (Mishakal). Since the departure of the gods, most of the minor god’s churches have been abandoned but the worship of Moli continues.


The government of the Ironvald Empire is totalitarianism and allows for little freedom. The Emperor controls all of the power and may divide it in whatever manner the emperor wanted to use. The office of emperor is a hereditary position inherited by the oldest son or male relation to the emperor.

The Emperor is advised by the Lord Protector whose position carries similar powers to the emperor. The Lord Protector oversees many of the day-to-day issues of the government and can delegate work to other individuals. The military is under the direct control of the Lord Protector and the emperor. They are led by a Fleet Admiral and Marine General.


The Hammervald Empire’s military is divided by two units, the Imperial Fleet and Imperial Marines. These two groups often work together and the marines often serve on board the fleet’s ship. The fleet contained 100 ships and 15,000 soldiers and the marines had 20,000 dwarven warriors.

The fleet is under the control of the Fleet Admiral and is based in Hollowvasser. Although it is one unit the fleet is placed throughout the empire at several key resource or strategic areas. The marines are controlled by the Marine General and provide security aboard ships, key resource, and strategic areas. The overall structure of the marines is stylized after the Hammervald legions.

The Lord Protector’s Fleet is a military raiding fleet of the empire. These raiders are legalized through the acquiring of a raiding license. The raiders operate the heaviest in the summer and fall months preying on ships all over Adlatum. In the late fall these ships return back to the empire. These ships may also be used in offensive and defensive campaigns by the empire.

Magic and Mysticism

Magic in the empire was almost unheard of and was rarely seen in public. Prior to the attack by Chaos few dwarves could use the earth magic that the Adlar dwarves possessed. Many of the dwarves that could use magic keep their talent in hiding fearing that they would be treated differently by other dwarves. Following the Chaos War there was no accounts of dwarven sorcery in the empire.

The dwarves of Ironvald Empire have discovered mysticism and use it as a tool. Not viewing it as a religion they have outlawed the teachings of mercy that many of the original healers preached. The healers of the Ironvald Empire are often outsiders who are employed by the empire in the military. The few mystics that are discovered in the Ironvald Empire are pressed into military or civil service.

Major Geographical Features and Locations

Iron Islands: These islands are the land that was left above sea level following the Drowning. The Ironvald Empire considers any island that was once part of the Hammervald Empire to be part of the Iron Islands. Notable islands in the Iron Islands are the Emperor’s Island and the Lord Protector’s Island.

Nolas Mountains: This is the chain of mountains that the Hammervald Empire once lived in. Even though most of the chain was destroyed during the Drowning there are still two parts left above the water. The Eastern Nolas Mountains are where the city of Hollowvasser is built into and contains the peak Mt. Anneghis. The Western Nolas Mountains are where the city of Ironvasser was built into and contained the peak Mt. Phenoli.

Great Tunnel: The Great Tunnel was an immense underground tunnel that connected Hollowvasser to Ironvasser.

Citadel of Gold: This citadel was the entrance for the gold mines on the Western Nolas Mountains. The Lord Protector Brigg Giantbattler had the massive citadel constructed to secure the mines and prevent outsiders from raiding the precious material.

Brigg Shipyards: This shipyard is located near the city of Hollowvasser and is the chief shipyards of the empire. The shipyards are located in the only natural harbor found on the Emperor’s Island and was built as the first line of defense for the island.

Regional History

The Hartdar removed much of the military forces from the Hammervald Empire to use against the minotaurs during the closing years of the Canon War. They believed that one last battle would break the Minotaur Empire, and they exhausted their resources. In 4 PD, the Hartdar’s High Warden Tildon Copperforge left Hollowvasser to lead the troops on the front line while instructing his son Ren Copperforge to travel with the Ice Legion.

This act left no ruling force in the city, but Tildon decided to create the position of Lord Protector to rule in his stead until he could return. He chose General Alon Fateender to become the Lord Protector and left him one legion to command. Fateender ruled from the Warden’s Palace with the authority of the High Warden, waiting for his leader to return.

The wait for a final victory was long, and years later they learned was that both sides were still preparing for the coming battle. Times were good for the dwarves living in the Hammervald Empire as production demands were high. Lord Protector Fateender had an easy time ruling the empire as many dwarves were happy with his relaxed laws.

This period did not last long, for the dwarves of Hollowvasser barely survived the Drowning. They were shocked to see the destruction inflicted upon their network system, linking other cities to the capital. What was once joined mainland became a scattering of islands. The Lord Protector sent out search parties to learn what happened and make contact with the rest of the empire. When they returned they brought grim news of the entire Hammervald Empire destruction. All that was left of their civilization was the island they lived on. Fateender told the dwarves that there were still Hartdar alive in the world and that they would seek them out shortly. After the initial shock of the Drowning wore off, hope began again as many dwarves heeded Fateender’s words. They believed they would be rescued.

The months turn into years as no help came from the outside, and hope turned to anger.

The dwarves of Hollowvasser began to call themselves Nordar, reef dwarves, to represent their current status. They forsook their citizenship status as Hartdar and began to demand that Fateender do something to end their suffering. A struggle for power broke out, and Fateender was killed when the Warden’s Palace was burned to the ground in 9 AD.

The Nordar began to struggle to survive living in their city, underground on an isolated island. Many dwarves perished during this time since there was no Lord Protector to ration out the supplies. Factions developed in the clans, and they began to act in their own interests to ensure survival.

In 27 AD, Tib Battleheart organized the various leaders of the city into a council to vote on issues. Many of the dwarves heeded his call, and order resumed in the city. Most dwarves knew a way off the island would be needed to ensure the Nordar survival.

In 39 AD, a dragon turtle approached the Nordar Council and offered them a chance to escape the island. The turtle would remove their fear of the sea if the dwarves began to worship the creature’s mistress, the goddess Moli. The Nordar agreed, and they began to construct ships to travel to the mainland of Adlatum.

They found the continent much changed and that many of the human nations of the Midlands refused to trade with them based on credit. The dwarves turned to piracy to get the things they needed. The Nordar Council agreed with the idea and issued a proclamation promoting the idea of “take what you need” to ensure survival.

In 56 AD, the dwarves began to travel the various islands around them to look for other survivors or possible areas to colonize. They located several survivors and relocated them to Hollowvasser. The Nordar found the surviving city of Ironvasser on a nearby island, and the small population there welcomed the arrival of the Nordar.

Later that same year, the dwarves made contact with the human nation of Teusten. The two nations went to war, and the dwarves were forced to give up many of their islands for they did not have the army or navy large enough to secure those isles. The Nordar carried a grudge from the war and vowed vengeance someday against the Teusten.

In the late 60’s, many dwarves came to feel that piracy was wrong, and they voiced their complaints against the practice. Among these dwarves was Tib Battleheart, who took the issue to the council. The issue was debated and voted on, and the final vote outlawed piracy. But the Nordar people ignored the vote, calling those who voted for it soft and forgetful of the old ways. Among those who were the chief supporter of piracy was Yilan Copperforge, a distance relative to the former High Warden Tildon Copperforge.

In the mid-70s, pirate attacks against Corinesti vessels sparked a minor war with the trade guilds of the local sea elves. This propagated Tib Battleheart to take action.

From 75 to 76 AD, Battleheart secretly shipped dwarves out of Hollowvasser, moving them to settle on the mainland coast. He was betrayed by a young ship captain, who hoped to win the support of Copperforge. Battleheart and the remainder of his supporters fled to the mainland coast to construct the city of Sundarton in the cliffs for protection.

Now calling themselves cliff dwarves, the Sundar and the Nordar began to raid each other’s settlements, each believing the other was at fault for the schism. The Nordar also believed that because the Sundar’s departure they lost the war against the sea elves, and the Sundar believed that they were entitled to the resources on the Nordar controlled islands.

The War of the Reefs was primarily raids on the each others colonies along the Shattered Sea and the mainland coast. The Nordar in 78 AD landed an army near Sundarton and attempted to destroy the Sundar capital city. The Sundar met the Nordar in the Valley of the Eagle and fought one of the largest battles in the war. The Sundar leader Tib Battleheart was killed as was the Nordar General Yilan Copperforge. The Sundar routed the Nordar forces and burned their ships on the beach with a daring raid led by Tib’s son Uloc Battleheart.

In 80 AD, the Sundar commenced the last major battle of the war as they conducted a raid on Mt. Anneghis. This attack eliminated any chance of the two clans reuniting and forced the Nordar to sign a peace treaty, recognizing the Sundar lands of Sundarin as a free and independent nation.

With the death of many of the major leaders during the War of the Reefs, many minor nobles began to fight for the title of Lord Protector. These dwarves were unable to ever hold the title for long, and the city of Hollowvasser was divided into many territories. The council of Nordar continued to meet, attempting to stop the war. But it was to no avail. The warlords continued to fight, destroying large portions of the city. Even when a Hartdar delegation arrived in 146 AD, the Nordar took little notice of their cousins. They believed that the Hartdar had come back to claim dominance over them, and the council ordered the Hartdar to leave, claiming that Hollowvasser was an independent nation on the Iron Islands.

A small element of the Hartdar spoke of the riches of Hollowvasser and its sister cities. The cause slowly gained support over the years as the Hartdar mines began to decline, and many dwarves were forced out of work because of a lack of materials. This caused many dwarves to believe that the riches and wealth of the former Hammervald Empire still lay in the city and that they were controlled by unworthy dwarves.

The dwarves formed a small army that convinced Sundar merchant of their crusade to reclaim past riches. As they waited to board ships many Sundar joined them to travel to Hollowvasser to reclaim the lost wealth. They journeyed to the former dwarven capital and prepared to take what they wanted. The crusaders were led by Brigg Giantbattler, a cruel and jealous dwarf who desired a kingdom of his own.

As they arrived on the island that held the city they were met by a force of Nordar and defeated them in battle. Once in the city, they discovered the horrors of continual war had created on the Nordar. The city once the jewel of the Hammervald Empire had been for the most part laid to waste as various warlords tried to seize the title of Lord Protector.

Many of the dwarves grew angry when they learned there were no fabulous riches in the city or in any of the mines. They instead decided to create their own empire to make themselves rich. They enslaved many of the rival clans in the city and created a military government, declaring Giantbattler as Lord Protector of the Nordar.

Giantbattler created many changes in the Ironvald capital, Hollowvasser. He first ended the continuous fighting and initiated reconstruction on many parts of the city. The dwarves also began to delve an underwater route to Ironvasser. Also the Nordar began to battle the sea elves in order to control certain areas of the sea. The battles were light, and no actual war was ever declared. The dwarves ended the attacks after they were driven back several times in 289 AD. They declared an uneasy truce and secretly vowed that the sea elves would pay for their acts of violence.

For most of his reign, Giantbattler sought to enlarge the empire, but he was unable to do so and was defeated at every attempt. He did manage to create several new mines and opened trade with some of the Midland nations. Even so, most dwarves living in Nordarin survived on piracy, continuing harassment of merchant ships around Adlatum.

The Days of Darkness has some impact upon the dwarves living in the Ironvald Empire. The crabmen that harassed Sundarin also attacked Nordarin, but not in as great of numbers. The Nordar managed to kill them without suffering many casualties. Two years later, the Nordar learned of the Chaos’ destruction inflicted upon Sundarin, and they planned to overrun their cousins in revenge for the War of the Reefs. A large force sailed from Hollowvasser and met a much smaller Sundarin navy. The Nordar made a temporary alliance with Teusten in the hope that the two nations would destroy and sack the Sundar cities. Although the Teusten did not make any formal agreements with the Nordar, many Teusten ships agreed to come along in hopes of getting into a fight.

The Sundarin navy met the combined forces of the Teusten and the Nordar near the Sundar city of Portswind. The Sundar used fireships to turn back both fleets. Upon hearing the news of his navy’s defeat, Giantbattler suffered a stroke, dying a few months later. The Teusten survivors meanwhile returned home with their own exaggerated tales of excitement.

Brigg Giantbattler was succeeded as Lord Protector by his son, Argent Giantbattler. Argent has slowly rebuilt the Nordar force and is seeking to expand his empire to the northern islands by forcing the Teusten people off of them. He has created the idea that the humans have invaded the ancestral lands of the dwarves and that they must be driven off.

Current Events

    • Raiders are searching for the entrance into the legendary dwarven city of Forgevasser. According to legend there were two volumes in the city when it was destroyed. Also there is said to be fabulous treasure and great secrets left in the city.
    • The Empire has recently discovered one of their settlements in the northern Iron Islands was recently destroyed. There were no survivors but clues left behind make many dwarves believe the Teusten are behind the attack.
  • The Emperor has declared that raiders in the coming seasons must harass the Sundalin shipping lines to prevent that nation from obtaining more wealth. He also wants an accurate report of the status of their navy.

Major Settlements

Local cities and settlements are under the control of Imperial officers or governors who are appointed by the emperor.

Hollowvasser (Megalopolis 102,000): The capital of the Ironvald Empire is an ancient city built centuries before the Drowning and now located on the Emperor’s Island. The city originally had 22 levels and was large enough to hold over half a million dwarves. In the years following the Drowning most of the city was abandoned after frequent internal conflicts killed much of the city’s population. Currently only levels 7-12 are in use and have a mixture of residential, commercial, and industry zones spread throughout the levels. The Emperor rules the city and the current emperor is Argent Giantbattler (LE male Nordar noble 4/fighter 6/mariner 2).

Ironvasser (Small City 15,300): This was the second largest city in the empire. It was discovered by Nordar explorers in 56 AD and welcomed the Nordar explorers as most of the population had died during the Drowning and its aftermath. The city contains only two levels as the rest of the city was destroyed in the Drowning. The city is found on the Lord Protector’s Island and is a mixture of residential, commercial and industry. Governor Thom Stormsight (LE male Nordar noble 2/fighter 7/mariner 5), powerful and iron-fisted, rules the city with the intent of someday ruling the empire.

About Trampas "Dragonhelm" Whiteman

Trampas “Dragonhelm” Whiteman is best known for co-creating and administering the Dragonlance Nexus fan site. He is co-author of three Dragonlance books – Holy Orders of the Stars, Knightly Orders of Ansalon, and Races of Ansalon. When not evangelizing Dragonlance and other settings, Trampas is a husband, father, podcaster, and web designer. Trampas also enjoys reading comics, reading fantasy and scifi novels, and playing D&D.
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