Gondra Forgeburn

Gondra grew up among the Forgeburn clan in an old waystation on an obscure road in the mountains. Dwarven settlments in the mountains often are set around old centers of travel and trade and their general richness and quality is directly related to how major a route they were located on.

Dwarven cities that are long major lightning rail routes have the sophistication and complexity and size of the largest cities, and tend to be clean, large, relatively cosmopolitan even with mostly dwarves living there, and open to trade with almost anyone. As one gets onto smaller lightning rail routes, the cities become large towns, and as one sees ones on actual roads, they tend to resemble villages in various states of prosperity. On the most obscure roads that were not even major in the hayday of the campaign setting, the comparison between dwarven settlements is as the 3rd world to a modern pristine city when you compare a settlement on an obscure road with a main lightning rail settlement. Dwarves become more insular and xenophobic in these remote communities as well but not usually openly unfriendly.

The relative complexity also changes depending on placement of the settlement, Gondra’s small village is very clannish and communally raises children, while dwarven cities are far less primitive and are far more individualistic.

Gondra’s own village of Sandfurt is one of the more obscure settlements on a relatively obscure road. In this settlement, although genealogy is strictly observed to prevent inbreeding or other problems, the settlement is communal, with all child-rearing being shared by the community as a whole, most laboring and commerce in the small village is done in the same way. Most of the village is a repurposed old waystation that no longer serves a role as an inn or trade center and it has been carved into several small apartments that families live in and also contains the few communal buildings. The apartments are cavern-like and the waystation is dilapidated enough for the building to look like a large square sandstone boulder rather than the carved stone building it actually is. Although the village is in bad shape in terms of relative repair, it is clean and most of the inhabitants seem relatively happy. It could definitely be worse.

The center of most small dwarven communities is the temple as dwarves are highly religious (common in most D&D settings, not created spontaneously on my part) and in most small communities, there is one temple dedicated to several, if not all of the dwarven gods, with Moradin and Barunor truesilver being the primary ones, though most other dwarven gods have a place here, especially ones that are especially important for the community in question, for example communities that mine especially are likely to have places in their temples to Dumatheun or Abathar, while communities that engage in frequent conflicts with their neighbors are likely to have special places for Klangethen or Gorme. Most members of the community offer some sort of service to the temple and most community celebrations happen on holy days.

Gondra, a rusty-haired dwarven woman of 40 was born into the Forgeburn clan and despite living in squallid poverty (along with everyone else in her village) she has had a relatively happy childhood and was one of the more popular children in the village. Around the age of 25 she began to manifest her sorcerous power which meant she was almost commanded to join the service of the local temple.

Fortunately, although she is a sorceress, Gondra is a favored soul, which gives her a special position in dwarven society. Dwarves do not trust arcane magic, though they stop short of actually harming most arcane spellcasters, other than obvious warlocks. They also have a soft spot for skald bards (college of valor). However, dwarves are very religious and the powers wielded by clerics and paladins do not worry them and in fact pursuit of such power is often encouraged. Favored souls (divine soul sorcerers) are considered to get their powers from the gods (true) and thus their power is considered to be divine magic rather than arcane (half-true) and thus a favored soul is seen as a sort of born priest. And their use of magic is permitted.

Gondra therefore served at the temple for 15 years though she found that simply performing rituals, particularly for Martha Maduen (goddess of roads and travel) wasn’t doing any good. She dreamt of times when the roads could again be used, whether the lightning rail could or not and vowed to travel the roads, ridding them of threats such as evil monsters that had set up roadblocks and demanded tolls or bandits. And this is how she set out.

Gondra was raised communally and thus she considers dwarves older than herself in her clan all as parents, though she does consider Klegoran, a stone-mason who stays near Sandfurt and repairs old stone buildings both in the village and nearby her only sibling. Klegoran is more of a traditionalist than Gondra and thus only tacitly approves of her handson approach cleaning up the roads. He is lawful good (as most non-duergar dwarves are.) while Gondra is chaotic good. Even so they are on very good terms with one another and Klegoran is doing well for himself in his sister’s absence. Klegoran is also leery of her resolve as Gondra is only 40, which is basically the dwarven equivalent of 15, though she has the physical maturity of an adult dwarf.

Gondra idolizes a dwarven saint named Kasijo who existed in the times of the dragon war. Kasijo was a dwarven worker who knew how to run the Lightning Rail at the time of the war and was running a train across a large desert region of the northwest known As Azure Town because of the large number of Blue Dragons that had laid claim to it. She was leading a group of refugees away from the front lines and suddenly the rails lost power. Looking ahead, She saw Thunderhead, an ancient blue who not only had the immunity to electricity that all blues had but was as much a living thunderstorm as a blue had perched upon the rails and had absorbed the massive power of the rails. The train, now unable to alter its speed was rushing towards the creature, but St. Kasijo with her mastery of Martha Maduen’s magic knew she could stop the dragon before the train would get to the wyrm and be torn to pieces and the refugees inside either being enslaved or killed.

The woman climbed to the top of the train and invoked the blessing of her goddess, also beginning a gods-isnpired spell to draw the dragon’s elemental power away from it. The effect reduced the dragon to a withered husk, but the electricity proved to much for Kasijo’s mortal form and her body was destroyed. However, Kasijo herself became a living storm and she was able to draw the train along. The storm she became also did a number of good deeds over several years after this, all of these events Gondra knows and enthuses over. Constantly.

It is uncertain whether the blue dragon known as Thunderhead still lives, and if it does, what sort of creature it is, whether a weakened blue, a full ancient blue, or perhaps having clambered back to the sort of elemental being she once was.

Gondra sees everything through a religious lens and tries to attach religious significance to things that happen around her, often interpreting good luck as approval from her gods and misfortune as punishment of mistakes she or her allies have made or divine interference from evil gods, even when there is no evidence of divine interposition.

Gondra despite seeing signs everywhere of what the gods are thinking and doing, however, she is a firm believer that the gods help those who help themselves, her key reason for leaving Sandfurt was because she sees an idea of the roads becoming safe without people actually making them safe through dangerous work and effort as ridiculous.

Gondra grew up knowing the value of friendship and in a society where most things were shared. She has no aristocratic beliefs, even with her special divine favor in her sorcerious powers, she values everyone, especially those who can’t afford to lose much. Because of this, she works hard for the common folk of the land.

Gondra is distressed by how little she sees being done in securing the roads or finding ways to manage or reinvigorate the lightning rails and sees the problems it is causing, particularly in out-of-the-way dwarven communities, many of which are worse off than her own. Because of this and also because of her religious furvor, she pursues this goal and both works too hard on achieving it and also has unrealistic beliefs of what she is able to accomplish. Her idolization of St. Kasijo leads her to try to accomplish too much and to work herself to hard. It is also noteworthy that Kasijo was real and she did do many great things, but some of her legend has grown since her time and the dwarven stories now are exaggerated.