In the Northwest area of the Adri forest is a place of mystery. A great rift in the forest that has been an engima and a vague fear for many years. Now the history of the Goldchasm has been revealed! Brave or foolhardy adventurers can venture into the depths of this strange canyon to discover the lost treasures of a forgotten people. Yet, they must beware, for all is not as it appears at first glance. Subtle forces are at work in the Goldchasm to protect the secrets that are hidden there....
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When the Oeridians first crossed over the Harp River and came through the margins of the Adri, they found there the Goldchasm, and the long established homes of two friendly demi-human clans: the Stonehammer Dwarves and the Oakleaf Woodelves. The mighty weapons and battle prowess of the dwarves combined with the magics and cunning of the elves kept evil things at bay in those days. The Oeridians were allowed unmolested passage through the wood and on into the lands that would become their home. In those days, there was free traffic and trade between Stonehammer Mountain (rather generously named) in the Flinty Hills and Oakholm, the woods around the Goldchasm that was home to the elves. The Goldchasm itself was a stable and profitable rift in the forest maintained by friendly svirfneblin from the Underdark. Sadly, centuries of friendship would be ruined by the passage of the warlike humans from the west, although the cause for this disruption would not be fully understood until years later.
The Aerdi spread abroad the tale of friendship and profit that they saw in the Northwestern region of the Adri. Even though they had no desire to share in the wealth of the Goldchasm, gold fever would burn in the hearts of others who heard the tales. Soon rival dwarfish and gnomish clans would arrive in the Flinty Hills and Blemu Hills. Greed and distrust began to taint the relationship between dwarf and elf. In spite of genuine promises of friendship from the Stonehammers, Oakholm was closed to outsiders in 499 CY. The year 500 CY would see the first of many long years of bloodshed as skirmishes broke out between the dwarf factions and the elves.
At first, the Stonehammers fought alongside their elven allies against the incursions of the other dwarves, but over time, distrust began to build between the two clans, often sown by the very enemies they fought. Though few at the time marked the event, and none can now remember exactly when it happened, the svirfneblin disappeared during the early stages of this turmoil, and sealed the passages of the Underdark behind them. The deep gnomes were disturbed by how easily hostility could be cultivated in their surface dwelling friends. Disheartened and sad, the svirfneblin returned to the deep places under the Oerth, but determined that no one would get the wealth of the Goldchasm. They hoped that if the rift became unprofitable, the fighting would end. In 503 CY the Goldchasm became unpredictable and dangerous. The Stonehammers suspected that Dao, summoned by the svirfneblin, were at work. Unwilling to give up the riches in the Goldchasm, the determined dwarves began to feverishly invent new mining equipment and methods that would allow them to continue working in the chasm. They also began to send armed guards with their mining parties. Instead of ending the hostilities, the departure of the svirfneblin only heightened the fighting.
At this time also, evil things began to creep into the forest making overland transport unprofitable. Ettins appeared in the western edges of the forest. Orcs, gnolls, and other humanoids began to prowl the southern Flinty Hills. The Stonehammers were forced to look to the Harp River for transportation. This they did reluctantly, for they hated mucking around with barges and boats, and longed for the old days when they could trust to their legs and backs to carry their goods to their mountain home.
Years passed, slowly building racial biases and quiet hostilities until in 580 CY, open war broke out between the Stonehammers and the xenophobic Oakleaves. Only the remnant of the Stonehammer Clan remembers now the cause of this terrible war that completely annihilated the woodelf clan and forced the dwarves to forever leave their home in the Flinty Hills. Foul deeds unbecoming the Elder Races are whispered at times among the Adri foresters, but few people ever wish to dwell long on such events. The other dwarven clans, shocked by the slaughter, and weary of the dangers of the Goldchasm, left the Flinty Hills to seek easier living places. Only gnomes and evil humanoids now inhabit the Flinty Hills.
As for the Goldchasm, it has become a place of mystery and vague fear. Evil creatures live in the woods where once powerful elves dwelt. The svirfneblin are gone, never to return, and have left their Dao minions to forever guard the riches of the Goldchasm. Yet, the intrepid (or foolhardy) adventurer may still find the remains of Stonehammer technology in the rift which would fetch a great price from many mining communities in the area. A great store of wealth is still to be had from the Goldchasm, and it is said that in spite of the dangers, the Stonehammers were actually making progress in stabilizing the rift, undoing the damage that was caused by the svirfneblin.
The chief danger in the chasm is from the earth elementals that call the Goldchasm home. Creatures entering the chasm have the disquieting feeling of being watched. A successful Spot check (opposed by the Dao’s Hide Skill) will reveal a pair of earth-colored eyes peering out from the walls of the cavern. These eyes quickly disappear, seeming to sink into the very stone. The Dao do not openly attack creatures who explore the rift without direct provocation. Instead, they work very subtly, using their natural and spell-like abilities to collapse tunnels, shift passageways, and cause other mischief.
A great deal of information about the Goldchasm is within the memory of many members of the Stonehammer Clan. They are also the only people who know how to operate the strange tools and machinery that was abandoned in the rift after the terrible war. Unfortunately, they have migrated to the southern lands now claimed by United Ahlissa, and there other great tragedies have befallen them. But that is another tale…