Baphil

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By stonemal
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Population: 665 Hill Dwarves and 260 Rock Gnomes.

Baphil is a small dwarven mining town, unusual in many ways. It is enclosed by strong, thick walls which are battlemented, with round towers at its single gate and spaced evenly around its expanse. The walls are fifteen feet high, the towers twenty feet, and guards with crossbows patrol the walls and watch from the towers.

The gate, called the Cutpass Confine is kept open during daylight hours, attended by City Rangers with their mastiffs. Farms are built up close to the town walls and the gate, where crops like lettuce, spinach, radishes, potatoes and carrots are grown in the warmest months. Cattle and chickens are kept, the cattle have large horns and thick, shaggy pelts to protect them from the bitter winters. Farmers are regularly in and out of the town.

The town is built upon four hills in the Umber Hills range, each hill named for one of the prospectors who discovered the copper mine at its heart, they are: Kharzhunwold and Ilhunwold (after the brothers Kharzun and Ilhun), Agharwold and Ulfwold. The Umber Hills are the foothills of the Carven Mountains where the King of the Deephammer Clan dwarves holds court within the mighty fastness of the underground city of Axefall.

Every building in Baphil is made of stone. Stone paves the four primary roads which meet at city center, and are carved into the hillsides, running through stone buttressed passages, or climbing in stone stairways up and down hillsides, and in one case running under a hill through a carven tunnel. Each has a name: Riddlewarren, Cleftrise, Rivenhill and Undermine streets. Smaller roads climb the hillsides of Baphil; staircases and porticos wind among the circular, domed homes and shops which cling to the sides of Baphil’s hills. Where cliff sides have been sheared to ease the building of roads and porches, businesses and homes have been built into the rock of the hills, windows allow in the light these strange dwarves so revere. In places these crabbed paths cross the main streets on stone bridges onto neighboring hillocks.

Baphil’s buildings are rounded to keep the routine snow fall this extreme southern climate produces from piling atop them. Nearly all of the stonework in Baphil is carved, either with the geometric patterns that the dwarves of this particular outpost of the Deephammer Clan so favor, or with the forms of dwarves at work, play or war. The structures with the most influence sit highest atop the hills; buildings like the temple to the Sun God, where all the people of the town gather to worship, and the City Hall, where the Sheriff of the town makes his office. The City Hall and the Temple are the largest buildings in Baphil, each has a dome of copper, and copper-plated doors.

The Sun Worship that goes on in Baphil does not extend to other Deephammer dwarves outside of the town. The regional worship of Pelor, a deity more consistently linked to human worship, is an anomaly. It came in with the town’s founding, with the appearance of a human priest from the east. There was no spiritual leader in Baphil then, and the miners began to listen to the stranger, then some converted, and some became priests, and the faith grew, then became foundational. King Craghewn permits it, but dwarven gods dominate among the Clan faithful, including the King.

Dunwolven copper mine sits at the town’s heart, a great bore with stairs circling down to the mines. Gnomish contrivances; hoists, pulleys, and lifts raise men, equipment, and raw ore and stone into and out of the depths. Stone warehouses and guild headquarters for miners, stonemasons, and metal workers are built near the mine. The mine is the literal and figurative heart of Baphil. Once, great loads of copper ore and malachite were harvested from its branching arteries. These days there is barely enough ore to warrant the workforce gathered here.

The people of Baphil are a mixed population of hill dwarves and rock gnomes. When a vein of copper ore was found in the Umber Hills by prospectors of the Deephammer Clan dwarves five hundred years ago, then King Thetik Craghewn sent soldiers,architects, and miners to the spot, and a colony was established. Gnomes who had lived in the surrounding hills found themselves welcomed in Baphil, invited to come and live, to help with all the work of establishing a town. The dwarves and gnomes found that they liked each other and have dwelled here together ever since, now the people of King Thotus Craghewn.

The dwarven population tends toward dark brown skin and red or blonde hair, the current fashion being shaven heads with braided moustaches and beards. Heavy tattooing exists among the population, blue and black geometric patterns all over their bodies. In spite of this, there are some here with few or none. They are a hard working people, miners and stone workers mostly, but it is work they love. In the evening they drink and they fight. Musicians gather at Balfundhun Plaza, a column walled, domed gathering place which serves as a farmer’s market by day, and a boxing arena by night. Here citizens who wish it may fight for wagers or bragging rights, it is rarely less than packed. Strong drink is served here, provided by The Copper Pot Inn, and priests from the temple of Pelor patch up the wounded.

The gnomes have woody brown skin tones, bright blue eyes, and tend toward pale blonde to white hair. They have fewer instances of tattooing among them, though the blending of the cultures has created some crossover. They do the same tasks in the town as the dwarves do mostly, though there are more engineers among their ranks. They are not the brawlers that the dwarves are as a whole, but they mix freely with them, and serve as town guards, even among the city Rangers.

Water is supplied to the town by means of two great stone fountains, located northwest and southeast of the copper mine, in carved out plazas on hillsides, each on Riddlewarren Street. The road climbs to each plaza by way of stone stairs, then parts and rises to encircle each plaza in climbing paths, merging again fifteen feet above each. Great stone basins catch water which sluices from the mouths of carven dwarf faces on the back wall of each court. These places are called Folfhardhun and Fundhun Plazas.

Baphil is a lawful good town primarily, the vast majority of its citizens follow this path. The city has a codified set of laws and most of its citizens willingly obey them. Baphil’s gnome population leans toward neutral good, but they do not seem to find the dwarven strictures stifling. Indeed there seems to be a brotherhood among these people that some have linked to their shared faith. The Rangers keep order in the town when it is needed. They patrol its streets, mounted upon the backs of the enormous Umber Hills Mastiffs bred specifically for this purpose, by these dwarves. They patrol among the farms outside the town’s walls, and in the hills and plains surrounding it, watchful for trouble.

The standard of Baphil is a rising sun over a dwarvish warhammer, yellow on a field of red. The standard of the Kingdom, and the Deephammer Clan is crossed warhammers, yellow on red.

In the evenings, on holidays and occasions, white fireworks are shot off over the town, creations of the town’s most renowned inventor Gozer Kovfefe.

Influential priests of Moradin, in the capitol city of Axefall have spread the belief that Baphil’s mine is drying up because its people have strayed from the worship of dwarven gods. This idea has spread among the people of Axefall, though there are some who see through it, including King Craghewn. Emmisaries from Axefall often bring this attitude with them when they visit Baphil, much to the frustration of Sheriff Slabhammer.
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