The Tarpennine Mountains (Dominaria Supplement)
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The Tarpennine Mountains are a chain of rough granite peaks that stretch from the Lucarni Highlands in the north to the Caprillian Greenway in the south, curving around the Maw as it cuts across the landscape. Though small by continental standards, these mountains have dominated life in the Horn of Beldron for Ages. The narrow defiles, steep cliffs, and thick forests of the mountains prevent trade and have defied every attempt at road-building. The mountains provide a break for the weather coming off of the ocean from the south and as such are covered in vegetation up to the tree line. Rivers of spring water or snow runoff have formed river valleys that are the center of life in the mountains and flow out into the farms, orchards, and vineyards of Visserene and Caprille.
Beldroni humans have only the smallest toehold in these wild mountains. Beldron's history is too full of fragmented rule and the wars of city-states for any one force to have pacified and exploited the mountains. Much like the Lucarni Lowlands and the Sword Coast, the Tarpennine Mountains are the antithesis of civilization: rugged and wild. Because of this, the Tarpennine Mountains have been the birthplace of many existential threats to human civilization on Beldron. The Red King in the latest of these. XXX
The soaring cataracts of Archangel Falls and the caverns the water has cut from the rock faces are one of the wonders of the Dominaria. The waterfall, fed from an aquifer deep in the mountains, falls uninterrupted for a quarter mile before collecting in the Princeps Aqua. The Princeps Aqua is the last remaining piece of a 2nd Age Temple to X, Lord of the Seas. From the crumbling semicircular dais that wraps out over open space, one can hear the thundering of the water into the pool behind and very nearly see to the ocean some 100 miles away. Water then falls past the crumbling ruins to either side of the dais for more than a half mile over a series of cataracts and slopes from which it runs through Archangel Valley and south to Visserene.
Two now abandoned setlements sit in the shadow of the rent the falls carved in the mountain face. Both were inhabited well into the 4th Age, but the Red King's recent muster and march have sent the inhabitants of small mountain towns like these fleeing south in terror. The first town along the river is the village of Rain. The small town of mountain stone and stout timber was built around farming, logging, and a temple to X, Protector of Flocks. Depending on the winds, the town could be lightly misted, cool, and sunny for days on end and is a pleasant place to live. The temple is the most impressive building in the town. It is a recent 3rd Age rebuild of another ancient structure. Its unsupported dome and stout columns are of a make completely unparalleled for leagues. The crypts beneath house generations of valley dwellers and contain storehouses in case of emergency.
The second settlement in the valley is barely a village. It is more monastery than anything else, but the men and women who work there aren't clerics or monks. The Dovinian Observatory sits on a rock shelf 1,000 feet above the valley floor and is surrounded by the dormitories and support buildings that the local Order of the Navigators and Signum Occulus mages need. This strange alliance of necessity finished the observatory after the fall of the Sipani Hegemony and now uses its unique position to study the cosmos. The rock shelf is cleverly shielded from the wind and rain, and never receives direct moonlight. One visible path cuts its way back and forth across the rock to reach the Observatory, and guild farms crowd the rock face around the bottom. A low wall runs the length of the shelf's face for safety, and rises to a low wall along the path. A two-tone gate, showing the sigils of each order, bars the way. The observatory's secluded location make it unknown to all but the most informed on Beldron, and since the locals don't care to investigate or leave the valley, wider knowledge is unlikely.
In ages past, the dwarves of the southern Golden Kingdom told a legend of a smoking mountain across the sea. They said that once, in the yet deeper past, this volcano had erupted and spewed Moradin's fury across the skies for a whole moon. The smoke and falling ash were so thick that their greatest general, Dagram Banshagar led an expedition across the sea on foot. The expedition walked across ash baked solid with the water and heat and fought monsters from a new land. Dagram was never seen again. Two hundred years later though, dwarven barques from a strange shore brought goods from a foreign land and tales of a new kingdom... A new kingdom ruled from Dagram's Hold. The mighty general had cut his way through the monsters of fabled Beldron and had bade his mages tame the mountain. Out of the bowels of the barely contained volcano a city was carved. The city and her expanding kingdom grew wealthy off the riches of the mountain and the heat of her natural forges. The Minotaur King was slain, the elves brought to treaty, and two Dragons slain by Dagram's line.
By the time of King Dagram V, in the mid 100s of the First Age, the Kingdom ruled from Dagram's Hold stretched north into what is now the Lucarni Highlands and south to the site of present day Visserini Marches. The line of Dagrams was at their absolute zenith, and then King Dagram V was killed. Deep dwarven legends still blame the humans of the budding Beldroni city-states, third or fourth generation Sartaan settlers expanding like the plague across Beldron. But the truth has almost certainly been lost to history unless some record remains in one of Beldron's small, hidden Dwarven enclaves or either of Beldron's last true Grey Elf Mith'clades. The surviving truth of the matter is that Dagram's Hold was sacked twice during the 3rd war in Ospria's early dynastic struggle to unite Beldron. Though minor rebuilding and consolidating occurred after the first sack, and the city attempted to defend itself yet again during the second, Dagram's Hold could not sustain the loss of life and destruction that the back to back human assaults meted out.
The human's victory celebrations would be short lived however. For once the powerful geomancy of the dwarves faded, Thundår Mountain came to life. The heart of the mountain, long held at bay, violently erupted forth. Deep rents in the earth appeared inside the vast caverns of Dagram's hold and lava spewed from the mountain's peak and shot out of its caves for the last time. The mountain's fury flowed rapidly south, engulfing those who could not flee before it. Half of the human warcamp and several towns and cities simply disappeared under the inexorable advance of molten rock. The eruption is today remembered as the event that cut short Ostria's march to the western sea. It would be a full generation before the drums of war beat again.
Since that day, for nearly three millennia, Thundår Mountain has stood silent vigil over a wide treeless plain. Taller than the mountains around it despite its cavernous caldera, the mountain is easily identifiable from Visserene's northern holdings. The forests of the Tarpennine's foothills give way suddenly to a grassy expanse cut through with patches of rock and at the far end, on the western side of a valley mouth, stands the shattered peak. Thundår Mountain is a shapely peak that cuts stark lines on the horizon. Trees encroached on her faces long ago, and a lake surrounded by grassy slopes now fills the caldera. The lake is fed by underground aquifers, heated by the fires that still linger in the earth and filtered by the tons of rock through which it flows.
Of the ancient dwarven city much remains within the bowels of the mountain, but it was heavily damaged by the eruption and the benign neglect of time. As centuries pass, the long roll of visitors and inhabitants increases and the vast spaces the dwarves cut are now rife with creatures prowling the forgotten treasures of Dagram's Hold. Legend also tells of a Cavernmouth brood, terrifying Wyrms from the depths of the earth, that cut their way into the sun-baked mid slopes of the mountains. Strangely circular tunnels cut into the face of the mountain seem to support this...