“Assault on persons living or dead without just cause is grounds for prosecution.” —Warning posted at the Trade Gate, Hammerfast
History walks the streets of Hammerfast in the form of the dead, the dwarves and orcs who died in this place over a century ago. They are now ghosts consigned to wander Hammerfast’s streets until the end of days. Hammerfast was once a necropolis, a city of tombs where the dwarf lords interred their people. As the dwarves’ wealth grew, so too did their burial chambers change from simple, stone sepulchers to lavish treasure houses filled the material wealth garnered over a lifetime.
Hammerfast transformed from a graveyard, to a treasure house, to a target. A century ago the great Bloodspear orc tribe conquered the necropolis, but at a heavy price. The orcs killed the priests and warriors tasked with guarding it and set to loot the place, but learned that the dwarves’ burial chambers yielded their treasures only grudgingly. The necropolis held street after street of unmarked tombs, some riddled with traps, many empty, and only a few containing great treasure. The orcs grew weary of their losses and left Hammerfast, content to have butchered its guards and captured a few of its treasures.
In time, the dwarves returned to Hammerfast. The orcs had smashed their citadels, famine and plague grew thick across the land, and horrid monsters and raiders followed in the Bloodspears’ wake. In the face of such chaos, the dwarves made a fateful decision. Hammerfast had fallen only because its garrison was too small to hold back a great army. Why waste such fine fortifications on the dead? They had no use for it, as the orcs had already carried off many of their treasures. The ever practical dwarves transformed Hammerfast from a city of the dead to a city of the living.
Yet while Hammerfast has changed, its past lingers on. The remaining, sealed tombs stand untouched on pain of death by decree of the ruling council. Ghosts, some of orc warriors slain in the Bloodspear attack on the city, some of priests of Moradin and the necropolis’s doomed guardians, and even a few of the dwarves laid to rest here long ago, still walk the streets. Such creatures are full citizens of Hammerfast as long as they observe the rule of law. In a sacred compact struck with Moradin and Gruumsh, the town’s founders agreed to respect the dead and defend their resting places in return for the right to settle here.