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Highhelm

From PathfinderWiki
Highhelm
(City)
Titles King's Crown
Nation Five Kings Mountains
Size Metropolis
Population 39,917
Demographics Mainly dwarves
Government Monarchy
Ruler High King Borogrim the Hale

Source: Castles of the Inner Sea, pg(s). 34ff.

Highhelm is among the ancient and expansive dwarven settlements recognized as a Sky Citadel. Constructed during the Age of Darkness[1][2] within and beneath lofty Emperor's Peak in the Five Kings Range, it has remained the center of dwarven culture on Avistan for millennia.[3]

History

The history of Highhelm is almost synonymous with the history of the dwarves of Avistan. Highhelm was the crown jewel of the dwarven empire of Tar Taargadth in the late years of the Age of Destiny and retained this honor for centuries before the empire collapsed beneath the waves of orc hordes in 1551 AR. After the fall of Tar Taargadth, the baron-mayor of Highhelm, Torheim Gardrick I, founded the Mighty Kingdom of Gardadth in 1557 AR, one of the five dwarven kingdoms in the area, alongside Saggorak, Doggadth, Grakodan, and Taggoret.[citation needed]

In 2332 AR, the peace treaty known as the Kerse Accord was signed at Highhelm's Council Building and ended the 700-year-long civil war (the 19th Five Kings Wars) between the five kingdoms.[4][5][6][7]

The five kingdoms eventually fell to the orc hordes in 2497 AR, though Highhelm endured because of its impenetrable defenses. When Khadon the Mighty reclaimed the Five Kings Mountains for the dwarves and founded the kingdom of Tar Khadurrm in 3279 AR, the importance of Highhelm decreased for several centuries. After the eruption of Torag's Crag in 3980 AR that caused the destruction of Jernashall and the fall of Tar Khadurrm, the capital moved back to Highhelm. In the 250 years since the fall of Droskar's Kingdom, in 4466 AR (known as the Collapsed Era), the metropolis of Highhelm has played a central role in maintaining what remains of the dwarves' once great legacy.[5][8][4]

Description

Highhelm rises above ancient dwarven holdings in the Darklands. As the dwarves burrowed their way to the surface during their Quest for Sky, they built massive structures within Emperor's Peak, which gradually formed the city of Highhelm. The ancient foundation of the metropolis winds through the entire mountain before its tunnels finally enter the fortress-city most people refer to when they speak of Highhelm. This fortress-city is the most populous and is also known as the King's Crown. It consists of the Inner City within the mountain and the Outer City. The Inner City is carved into a colossal cavern with 100-foot-tall ceilings supported by huge pillars and arches. A low siege wall, known as the Second Wall, encircles the cavern and is connected to the main siege wall, the Plummet Wall, which rests at the end of the Outer City. The Outer City, known also as the Ledge, is built out of the cavern on a broad plane several hundred feet wide that the dwarves cut around the cavern of the Inner City.[4]

The majority of Highhelm's population lives in the Inner City. Neatly planned streets connect rows of private dwellings, shops, and alehouses. A number of long staircases climb the great stone hill known as King's Motte from these streets. Tiers cut into its sharp incline support a half-dozen impressive stone keeps, including the Council Building, the Scepter Building, the Trade Consulate Building, and the Stonehall, the carved palace from which the High King reigns. In the east wall of Inner City's cavern, a large hole known as the dawnhole allows sunlight to enter from dawn to noon, while a similarly carved hole, known as the duskhole, in the west wall allows light to enter in the latter part of the day. At the time of the day when the sunlight pierces neither hole, the cavern goes almost completely dark, and is called blacknoon.[4]

Beneath the King's Crown, tunnels weave through earth and stone connecting thousands of halls and chambers. These lower levels are known as the Depths and attract goblins, orcs and other enemies. Groups of skyseekers are sent into the Depths to map unknown sections, recover artifacts, and keep the area secure.[4]

City districts

Inner City districts

  • Helmskeep district: the most influential families, claiming direct ancestry to the Darklands dwarves who founded the city, have established their grand estates in Helmskeep district.[4]
  • New Stonewrought district: New Stonewrought is located along the wall of the eastern part of Inner City. It is a small district of merchants and day workers.[4]
  • The Hollow district: the Hollow district of the Inner City is the workplace and home of communities of artisans working in small collectives on large projects.[4]
  • Helmsborough district: Helmsborough is a district where a lot of smiths, innkeepers, and ex-soldiers own homes and businesses. It hosts half a dozen public drinking halls called communals. Mercenaries and merchants often convene in these communals to drink but also settle deals and sign contracts.[4]
  • Deeplock is a huge stone castle that sits atop a gaping hole that descends into the Depths.[4]

Outer City districts

  • West Face district: the West Face district of the Outer City is located in front of the West Gate Passage, which is one of the primary entrances into Inner City. Battlements flanked by huge stone towers separate the district into sectors and lead caravans toward the immense, hundred-foot-high West Gate. The residents of the district are mostly merchants, mercenaries, artisans, guides and muleskinners.[4]
  • South Face district: the South Face district of the Outer City is located between the walls of the West Gate Passage and the walls of East End. South Face rarely attracts visitors. Two important structures in the district are the Old Keep, which is the garrison of the famous Order of the Mantle, and the Broch which is a large tower converted into a prison.[4]
  • East End district: East End is the most desirable district in Outer City as it receives the most sunlight and offers a magnificent view of nearby Mount Kla and the Verduran Forest.[4]
  • Gatebreach district: Gatebreach district, lying just out of the East Gate of the Inner City, provides excellent business opportunities for city merchants, purveyors, artisans, tradespeople and common folk, targeting all those who enter and exit the city.[4]

Government

Despite the fact that today each of the city-states of the Five Kings Mountains functions as a free city with its own monarchy, and while the Gathering Council is loosely defined, Highhelm serves as the region's capital out of tradition and honor for its status as one of the four surviving Sky Citadels in the world. Dwarves throughout Golarion regard Highhelm as the center of their culture due to its historical significance and they would march to its aid if it were ever under attack.[9]

Trade

Northeast of Highhelm, dwarves control the Five Kings Mountains with unquestioned authority, and passage among the many high peaks remains relatively safe from living dangers. Dwarven caravans from Highhelm seldom travel to nearby Darkmoon Vale, however, and most head west into Isger or Molthune. Roughly two or three times a decade, a group of Highhelm merchants gathers together and sends a caravan along the treacherous scree-covered trails that wind perilously through the mountains. The dwarves prefer to hire dozens of mercenaries to augment their tough dwarven guards and to act as arrow-fodder and spear-catchers during the inevitable attacks on these wealthy caravans.[10]

References

Paizo published a significant article about Highhelm in Castles of the Inner Sea.