Golodh was the King of the dwarven fortress of Euraneuad. This great mine was known and renowned for it's goldsmiths and their gold crafting. The great hall grew an equally great city on the slopes of the mountain above it, and was known as Kultavarenta, the land of the golden forge. But every kingdom rises, flourishes, and eventually falls. Euraneuad rose to great prominence, and it was repeatedly laid siege to by dragons, trolls, ogres, goblins, orcs, and humans. It withstood these assaults, and they produced great dwarven companies like the Aurmourth company, the Golden Hammers, or the Gvaffwarg, the Spears of Dawn company. They marched in gold leaf armor with gold plated weapons. This was their immense pride, their great strength, and their honor.
The Fall of Euraneuad, and the Death of Golodh LXXIX
The fall of Euraneuad came from underneath. The seemingly bottomless veins of gold ore ran dry. Where gold was once smelted by the ton, the yields became pounds, and in the last days, ounces. The decadence of the Kings of Euraneuad was not to be resisted, dinnerware was still made of gold, and the hunters were still armed with gold arrows, gold armor, and the king's lavish spending continued unabated.
He had been consumed by what they dwarves of Euraneuad called aurchvant, gold fever. Golodh was so consumed by this that not only did he refused to touch anything not made of gold, he demanded golden clothing, and that gold be used in the preparation of his meals. As the mines dwindled, his madness progressed. Golodh became convinced that as the mines failed, so too was his health failing. There was an ancient missive, that the King and the Mines were one, and as one grew strong, so would the other, and if one faltered, so too would the other. Were he not the king of mighty Euraneuad, lord of Kultavarenta, his madness would have been treated as such, but he was the lord and king, and he was loved greatly by his people. His charisma convinced others that his belief was true, that the mines were failing because he was sickly, and a poor excuse for a dwarf. He embraced the ancient ways, and he sought to sustain himself with naught but bread made with gold dust and wine likewise imbued with gold.
His health did fade, even as he shat and pissed gold. This called for further measures and Golodh commanded for Euraneuad to be closed to the outside world, and for no more Dwarven gold be passed to the unworthy humans. That the Laws of the Mountain would again be called upon and the dwarves would live again as they had thousands of years ago, with their golden face masks, and a golden ax on every belt. Dwarven men without beards would be beheaded. Dwarven women without children would be cast into a forge of molten gold. Sacrifices were to be made, blood would be spilled, and in the end, gold would be spilled.
On his deathbed, Golodh ordered his loyal goldsmiths to prepare a funeral crucible, and that they were to cover him, from head to toe, in molten gold. They were reluctant but so loved their deranged King that they did as he commanded, and they killed him by pouring molten gold on him, starting at his feet and ending at his head. And thus died the King, consumed finally, by gold.
Euraneuad ended not long after. The zealotry of those who remained with the King saw those who were weak throw themselves into their own forges, or into the great crucible so that they too would die from molten gold. Those who were not so weak stood as the last guardians of the Golden Halls until their time passed, and they perished from age, or from the folly of those who wished to break open the Halls to loot them.
The Breaking of Euraneuad
The Golden Hall did not stand long after the last guardian died. While most of the world forgot the great hall and the trade city shrank to a shanty town, those dwarves who fled during the madness did not forget. After what was deemed a respectful amount of time went by, they returned to the hall. The mines were played out and the madness of Golodh had burned out, so there was no reason to reopen the Golden Halls, so they were simply emptied. The remaining gold was taken. The tools and forges were taken as well, so that there was eventually nothing left but the empty halls, the crypts, and the great crucible. To prevent the Hall from being taken by greenskins or dragons, the dwarves cut the columns and collapsed most of the structure, and used it to become more fill above the crypt.
The only thing that was considered off limits was the corpse of Golodh himself, and it had reduced down to a skeleton covered in gold nodules and slag. But a foolish person decided to steal the king's skull and all the gold poured around it. Thus, Golodh's Skull became a cursed and wandering relic.
Powers of the Skull
The Skull of Golodh is a focal point of madness/chaos energy, and can be used as a potent fetish in chaos magic. It is also a powerful dwarven relic and hundreds of dwarves died for Golodh and their spirits and still bound to their King. In the hands of a skilled sorcerer the skull can be used to summon and command the ghosts of those dead dwarves. It can also be used to cause people to be overcome by avarice and greed, or to instill gold fever.
The Corfdynion - the deadmen
The ghosts of Euraneuad appear as dour and gaunt dwarves, stone gray, with glowing white eyes. All of their gear is dull iron gray. They exist for one purpose and that is to see the Skull returned to it's rightful place, so they are resentful of anyone who holds it, but they cannot harm the holder, they cannot bring arms against their king, or anyone who holds his relic. This dour company of the dead can be used as a terrifying force in battle, having the strength and arms of Dwarven warriors, and the tireless invulnerability of the Dead. The drawback is that any and all dwarves will be hostile to anyone holding the skull, and dwarf will not fight dwarf. Should the skull bearer be killed, the skull will fall to the ground and the Corfdynion will vanish. If a dwarf holds the skull, they will be compelled to return it to the crypt of Euraneud.
Greater Powers of the Skull of Golodh
And why the skull is never returned to it's rightful resting place
The Skull and the Staff
There is a powerful synergy between the Skull of Golodh and the Aurumic Staff. A person who possesses both of these relics will be able to create a tremendous amount of gold almost at will. With the skull, when the dice are rolled to see how much gold is created, the user rolls twice and picks the better of the two rolls for their outcome. They will also be super popular among people who are willing to kill them to take both of these relics. Demigods and dragons will get involved.
The Skull and the Palace
If the Skull were ever taking into the Palace of Profits both the magic of the Skull and the curse on the Palace would be broken, turning the skull into a large morbid hunk of gold with old bone inside it, and the Palace into a treasure trove ripe for the taking. In theory. Or it might cause one to fail and not the other. If the skull fails, all the gold tied to it becomes part of the Palace and subject to it's curse. This could decimate the economy across the continent because not even the gods no how far the gold of Euraneuad has spread across the centuries, and untold numbers of people will be killed by the curse. If the power of the Palace fails, the power of the skull marks all of the gold there are part of Golodh's domain and it will be coveted by all and cause Gold Fever in those who lay hands on it. There is really nothing good that comes from these two meeting. All the more reason for an evil necromancer, deranged noble, or someone looking to just mess things up to do it.
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? Responses (3)
Little subtly here. Very good backstory for an item which can drastically impact a campaign.
Gold - er good stuff! :)
I feel sorry for that unfortunate Dwarf.
That was great. Worthy of the Dwarven Guild!! The backstory was fantastic and all the loose ends nicely tied. The skull and reason for it are fantastic and easy to picture.
Pretty depressing too having all the dwarves go crazy after his death. I would imagine there might be a lot of golden dwarven heads with their own curses. Likely doomed relics floating all over this land which would be its own kind of cursed magic system!