Walls of mighty construction, thick squat towers overlooking a vale of steaming putrid ichor, skies torn with lightning and billowing blackness, the sound of bellows and the pounding of hammers echoing from the ghosts of another time.
- Tavder Godsmiter, "Black Forge"
Black Forge Keep is a haunted dwarven keep sited in the Gelugon Range. The keep is caught in a mystical rift between two worlds, an anomaly called an Intra-System Shift. Infrequently, the keep shifts between the planets Oerth and Bal-Kriav. When it is on Bal-Kriav, it appears in the northwestern corner of a war-torn valley called Sorrow Pass. After some period of time, an interval that cannot be predicted, the ancient dwarven keep disappears, shifting across vast distances of land, seas, skies, and into the deep blackness of the Void, reappearing on the planet Oerth.
Located in the courtyard of Black Forge Keep is a Prisms of Worlds. During the periods when Black Forge Keep is on Bal-Kriav, Sorrow Pass becomes a very dangerous place to travel. The area is frequented with undead, goblyn raids, and more sinister terrors from the bowels of this haunted keep.
Explorers of the keep have witnessed spectacles of ghostly apparitions of dwarves moving about the battlements and carrying on the activities that they once did in life. Some groups have penetrated deep into the interior of the place, only to find that on returning to the place, all the slain creatures have been restored to their former states.
The adventuring band League of Ten were the first people to come to Bal-Kriav from Oerth. They came to Black Forge Keep by way of a Prism of Worlds.
In the Year 1500, a group of undead priests and warriors got into this place. The group was part of a special branch of the Pharêthôn. This guild, under the guidance of Dax Jagg, sought information on this strange area and its keep called Black Forge. Dax knew the history of the place and sought to learn of its secrets and its possible use for large-scale raids or even conquering the weak and simple peoples said to dwell on Oerth.
The Grim Fathers came upon many corpses, some animal, others beasts, and a few humans and humanoids. The death priests pried the secrets of Black Forge Keep, or at least some before they themselves became holders of secrets. The priests learned of a powerful dracolich named Memmourn laired in a large grotto, a powerful shade named Breezull wielding spell energies of the likes of an master arcanist, a mummy-lord named Threllkell which hurls bolts of lightning like the furious strokes from Mjolnir, and perhaps the most feared of all, an undead dwarven king named Grunger Wirebeard, who moves through stone like an earth elemental, carries the touch of death, and wields an impossibly sharp, double-headed mithril axe named Adle Slin.
The attempts to conquer the keep by the forces of Dax proved disastrously draining to the armies of the Black Tide. At the time of this search, the Black Tide was hotly engaged with the forces of the Farinteen Alliance. The Black Tide could ill-afford the heavy casualties that were occurring at Black Forge, all under the auspices of Dax, again proving his secret motives, as Rax would say, for greater power. The leaders of the Black Tide of Thasmudyan summarily forced Dax to quit his assaults on Black Forge and return to the unholy war with the goodly peoples of the Lands of Purity.
When the war had ended, and our armies walk upon the roads of skulls, and swimming in their rivers of blood, I shall return to this Black Forge, and take this place or myself join the holders of secrets."
When the forces of the Black Tide were consolidating their rule of the Lands of Purity, the Surticon severed the communication lines between the Black Tide forces in Hells Womb and those in the Lands of Purity (c.f. Artery War). The conflict that ensued led to Dax coming to this area once again, only to be drawn away again to defend the capital city of Ugidreth.
Perhaps the greatest mystery of Black Forge Keep is a rune stone inside the keep, which tells of the fall of the Wirebeard Clan. The work was penned by their king, Gunger Wirebeard:
Deep in the rock we dug, finding rich veins of gold, silver, and gems. But it was the traces of mithril that spurred us on to deeper mining. The proud clan encountered strange creatures, marauding bands of Mîmêk, and trolls with skin of stone.
We came across a cavern filled with water. The veins of mithril led into the depths of this subterranean sea. We made boats to transport the skilled miners and the riches across this vast cold sea. Magnificent mines interlaced the vast cavern like a great honeycomb.
Miners in sector Badger came upon a thick vein of mithril. They followed it and came upon a water-filled cavern resting above the sea. The engineers broke an ancient stone dam that kept the dark ichor from leaking into the cold sea below. A thundering tide of black stagnant water cascaded into the depths of the Green Nebulous.
At the bed of the dry pool was a beautiful purple crystal 50 dwarves high. We searched and smashed it for months not finding a way into the hollow crystal. A light within beckoned us to come and see its beauty.
Then sleepless one night, I was thinking of what riches might lay within this purple shard. I journeyed down their full with mead, lone I was, and found an opening where 300 prying Wirebeards could not find. I entered to find not riches, not a beautiful light, not even guardian fiends, oh it was hollow alright- a writhing river of emptiness from nowhere came through it, from this it dripped it's essence into a pool of pitch and cruel darkness- I left that place bringing others with me in my wake, though my faith was strong with Naraz-Nâru, it could not support the feeling of emptiness that beset me.
I became some abomination, strength greater than even the strongest dim-witted human, I mingled with stone like the xorn, I drank the life essence of those dear to me, I became a walker of death with a group of followers that were harder than even the hardiest of dwarves - but even they fell against the goblin hordes - bands of giants, orcs, gnolls, trolls and bugbears that united against Clan Wirebeard, bah! These bands hated each other- something far more sinister produced this pact of evil.
Now I drift about these ruins and deep caverns. The Pool of Emptiness grew weak in time, the last vestiges of life in the place were gone. But it will grow strong again, and spread it's hatred. While I grow more darker and stronger, still it's servant, these are my last sane thoughts...
- King Grunger Wirebeard, dwarf vampire - "Purple Shard of Green Nebulous"