Caer Goldhelm

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Goldhelm is in the eastern range, and is something of a strange place by the standards of the Vale: only half of its buildings and population lie within the mountain. Goldhelm is an amalgamation place, half dwarf and half human, half within the mountain and half outside of it, spilling out of the mountains into two fertile valleys. It is also quite prosperous, home to a gold mine. The dwarves of Goldhelm are almost exclusively hill dwarves. Caer Goldhelm is an old dwarven citadel; like Hammer Peak, historians don't really know just how old it may be. It sits as the eastern terminus of the Underroad, and was for many generations the breadbasket of the Starfrost citadels, before the coming of men and halflings and the settling of the Vale.


Unlike Hammer Peak, Caer Goldhelm is worked into a single level, made up of multiple concentric circles, its heart the ancient tower known as the Clanhold. Dwellings in Caer Goldhelm are all hewed into the living rock, rather than individual structures erected in the empty spaces as with so much of Hammer Peak. By and large, these structures are shops and other public buildings on the ground floors, with alleys between them that grant access to staircases that lead up to the apartments above them.

The Clanhold

Its center is the old Clanhold, a towering edifice of dwarven craftswork that once gave over dwelling space to any of the Great Clans that wanted the space and intended to aid in the support of Caer Goldhelm. Today, the Clanhold is the local headquarters for the Guilds. The grounds around the Clanhold have long been open, a parade ground for pride dwarven soldiery in the days before the Guildsrule. In the time since, it has been used for festivals, markets, and other similar gatherings.

Once, the circle directly around the Clanhold were allocated to city bureaucracy and business of various sorts, but in the years since the establishment of the Guildsrule, the Great Clans – ousted from the Clanhold – have bought up the buildings around it. Today, it is divided into eight distinct clanholds (all four of the Hill Dwarf Clans, plus Clans Bronzemask, Gempeak, Ramspur, and Thunderwall). From here they glare at the Clanhold, muttering publicly at every misstep and scandal that befalls the Guilds.

The Guildsround

The next circle outward retains its name from the days when the various guilds were founded here, in this great circle of craftsfolks' shops. Today, all of the buildings are owned by the Guilds rather than individuals, and Guildsfolk are given first chance to renting the shops and living spaces here. Incredible statues and fountains are interspersed at intervals along the thirty foot wide corridor-avenue, and all shops are expected to maintain a high standard of presentability.

The Folksround

A massive circular corridor, the Folksround is so large that it has evolved distinct neighborhoods within it. These are referred to as "arcs" because they usually take up a portion of the circular round itself.

  • Brightlamp Arc: The Brightlamp is well-named, for the establishments here are baroque and gaudy, brightly lit and fetchingly presented. Brightlamp is a destination for those who seek something more wondrous than what Finecoin has to offer, and the theaters and bardhalls seek to offer it here in abundance.
  • Stenchwater Arc: Furthest away from the pumps that keep water flowing in Caer Goldhelm, the Stenchwater frequently has insufficient water flow, leading to issues of stagnancy in the pipes or in the streets. As a result, it is considered the least-desirable place to live in Caer Goldhelm, and has become a haven of the desperate and impoverished. It also has a significant criminal presence.
  • Finecoin Arc: The Finecoin is the newest of the Folksround Arcs. Seventy years ago, some innovator founded the Finecoin Society, a private club that specialized in presenting entertainment, fine dining, music and even accomodations for those who paid a membership fee to the Finecoin's club. This quickly caught on in the neighborhood, and within a few years there were between two and three dozen Societies operating in and near the Finecoin. Eventually the Finecoin itself went out of business as its owner retired, quite wealthy, but the trend for specialized clubhouses that offer a night's enjoyment has not shown any sign of losing steam yet. Societies require members pay an annual membership fee, but members are permitted access to the Society house (or houses in a few examples), where their entertainment and socialization are the number one priority.
  • Garden Arc: When the alchemists of the Guildsround first developed the sunlamp formula, no one was sure what to do with it. There are two parts to it: the first is a jelly-like substance that is placed within a glass bowl and lit on fire. It burns with a gentle flame, with less heat than normal fires somehow (it takes a moment or two of holding one's hand in it to cause a burn, and is easily extinguished). The second part is the mixture that is added to water and used to water plants with. Though it cannot cause plants to sprout and grow to full size, plants that are already full size can be transplanted into dark conditions, fed this alchemical substance and receive nourishment from the sunlamp as though it were the sun, for the purposes of keeping a plant alive. As a proof of concept, the Guild of Alchemists paid for the establishment of this garden, an oasis of green amid floating sunlamp globes. Many humans and halfings in particular live in this neighborhood.

The Shieldsround

The largest of the rings, the Shieldsround is the defensive perimeter for the city. Invaders have a long stretch of curving corridor to get through, and hefty defensive gates along the way. The Shieldsround also houses the city's military defenses, barracks, armories, and similar places. It also has in-place artillerty positions built into its walls.

The Goldhelm Mines

Deep beneath the Rounds lies the ancient Goldhelm mines, a source of gold originally shared by the Great Clans, and still a source of much of their remaining wealth. Now the Guilds allow folk to purchase shares in the wealth pulled from these mines, although the main investors are basically still the Great Clans, with a nearly equal share purchased by the Guilds.

Though it's famed as a gold mine, the Goldhelm Mines produce tons of copper yearly, a great deal more of it than of gold. Still, it is still a source of notable wealth, and many merchant shipments out of the Vale bound for other lands (mostly the Sea Domains) go bound with ingots of copper.