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DWARF RPG ironbreaker-look-02

Dwarf Ironbreaker wearing a suit of gromril armour (concept art for Warhammer: Age of Reckoning).

Gromril, also known as meteoric iron[1a][7a][11b], star metal[11b], silverstone[8e][11b], silversteel[8i] or hammernought armour[8e][11b], is the toughest and sturdiest metal in the world[8e] and is forged into the best and hardest swords, axes and armour.[1b][1c][7a] No weapons made by mundane means last forever, except for perhaps gromril weapons.[11d] It is the favoured metal of any Dwarf Runesmith, and in its purest form, it holds runes better than any substance in the world.[8k] As only Dwarf Runesmiths have the secret knowledge and skill to work this ore, gromril armour and arms are quite rare.[10b][11d]

Mining

In the ancient past a meteor crashed from the sky to pound a huge gaping crater out of the rock of the Worlds Edge Mountains, which filled with the melt-water of the surrounding mountains becoming the vast lake known as Varn Drazh or Black Water. All around the shores are to be found valuable metal ores, including the much prized meteoric iron known as gromril, from which the hardest blades and armour are forged. Strongholds were founded by the Dwarfs around Varn Drazh to mine the meteoric metals.[1c][7a] Karak Varn was hewn out of the cliffs overlooking Black Water[1b][8d], and the gromril mined there used to be smelted in Zhufbar.[1a][7a]

Worlds Edge Mountains Map

Map of the Worlds Edge Mountains, with Black Water just south of Sylvania.

Karak Varn became a great city and mining complex overlooking the Black Water, being the richest source that the Dwarfs had yet found of the highly coveted gromril. They had been mining for over a thousand years, in some instances still following the original vein, when the great earthquake of the Time of Woes struck in -1499 IC[8b]. So great were the upheavals that the waters of the lake began pouring into the lower levels through wide fissures in the rock. Many thousands of Dwarfs perished immediately, and a hoard of treasure, including many runic artefacts of great power, was washed away. Then with no warning, the Skaven attacked Karak Varn from below and Orcs assailed the outer defences. Trapped between these two merciless foes, the Dwarfs had little chance. Despite mounting a tenacious defence, within a year of the initial onslaught, Karak Varn had fallen.[8a]

Dwarf prospectors are lured back to the ruined stronghold by the promise of gromril. Expeditions frequently brave the terror of the dark to penetrate the deepest tunnels in search of the precious metal. Over the years, the Dwarfs have made many expeditions back; a few times, their throngs have even won control of large portions of the ruins.[8d] Three hundred years after its fall, a small expedition from Zhufbar led by Runesmith Kadrin Redmane[8b] returned to Karak Varn, drove the Skaven into the deeps and began to mine what little gromril remained above the floodwaters. However, this venture was short-lived, attracting the attention of both Orcs and Skaven.[10a] In -1136, Orcs ambushed and killed Kadrin Redmane on the shores of Black Water, and within a decade the Dwarfs were forced out of Karak Varn once more.[8b] Since then, the hold has remained uninhabited except by Trolls and other monsters, although there have been recent reports of increased Skaven activity in the area.[10a]

Desperate to recover lost riches and irreplaceable artefacts, the Dwarfs have devised ingenious diving machines for exploring the deepest and richest workings which are permanently flooded[1b] and to search the Black Water itself, for whole treasuries were washed into its depths by the floods[8d]. Needless to say, this is done in the face of the most vicious opposition from the Skaven and other vile creatures which now dwell in the depths of Crag Mere.[1b][8d]

In 657 IC Thori Gundrikson discovered gromril in the caves west of Black Water. The Dwarfs excavated tunnels and extracted great quantities of the ore over the following years until the mines were found and destroyed by Skaven intruders.[8c] No further large-scale mining operations have been heard of, which explains the current scarcity and value of gromril.

Uses

Gromril Armour

A Dwarf gromril armour.

Gromril is the hardest metal in the known world, and one of the rarest. It is found deep under the earth, at depths that only Dwarf mines can reach[10b]. Of all the races in the Old World, only Dwarf Runesmiths[11d] have learned the art of forging gromril ore into plate armour[10b][11a]. Many times more precious than gold, gromril is used to make armour and weapons for the Dwarf nobility (such as the Magnificent Armour of Borek Beetlebrow - no-one knows what runes were struck upon it or what alloys were smelted into its silversteel, yet the armour was proof against Giants' blows[8i]), and for elite military units such as the Ironbreakers who guard the gates to the Underway. Because of its rarity, the Dwarfs do not trade items made of gromril with other races.[10b]

Nearly impenetrable and of unsurpassed beauty, this armour is priceless and never for sale. Dwarfs alone have the techniques and skill necessary to fashion complete suits, and so this armour, if found at all in other lands, is by component only and then likely taken from corpses on battlefields or stolen from a wealthy knight’s armoury. So valuable is gromril armour, wars have been fought for the mere possession of a full suit.[11a] It is impervious to weapons wrought from lesser ore, and though heavy, no one doubts its sturdiness when forged into armour.[11b] Armour forged of pure gromril is highly coveted for its protective value and such suits are treasured heirlooms, many of which date back to the Golden Age.[8e]

Gromril armour is always made in plates; only Grungni himself, it is said, possessed the skill and magical power to work gromril into chain mail. Gromril armour is always made to be worn by Dwarfs, and does not fit members of other races. In theory, gromril armour might be made for a Dwarf-friend in recognition of some truly exceptional service to the Dwarf race.[10b]

The most skilled Dwarf weaponsmiths make axes and hammers from gromril. Gromril weapons are normally inscribed with runes. A gromril weapon has the same characteristics as its steel counterpart, except that it can never be broken by normal means.[10c]

Runelord Anvil of Doom Dwarf B&W Illustration 6th Edition

A Runelord smites his gromril Anvil of Doom.

Gromril plays a key part in Dwarf rune magic - it holds runes better than any substance in the world[8k], armour runes can only be inscribed on gromril armour[8j], and for instance a small amount of pure gromril is the most important element used when inscribing the Master Rune of Gromril - if the sample is even slightly flawed, the rune will not work.[4c][7c] Also, Kurgaz, the most skilled of the old Runelords, melted gromril to forge the Anvils of Doom in the bowels of Thunder Mountain.[1d][4a]

Dwarfs have made many great weapons and armours out of gromril, such as many of the heavy, but perfectly balanced, great hammers that Dwarf Lords give to their Hammerers as a symbol of their bond[8f], but by far the most iconic items are the full suits of plate armour worn by Ironbreakers. All manner of fell creatures lurk below and the Ironbreakers guard the deep abandoned tunnels from those that would otherwise invade the hold. They spend much of their time below ground in the deepest, least visited parts of the stronghold. In these dark places, ambush and rockfall are commonplace hazards and survival is often dependent on wearing the right armour. Accordingly, Ironbreakers wear fine suits of gromril armour, crafted by the smiths of the hold and worn as a badge of honour by this select band of warriors.[4b][7b][8g] Irondrakes use an even stronger version, as when first used, even the gromril armour of the Ironbreakers struggled to protect against the intense heat generated by the fiery blasts of their Drakeguns. With the aid of Runesmiths, new armoured suits were developed for the Irondrakes, bearing runes of protection first designed to safeguard those who work in the high temperatures of the massive forges.[8h]

Empire Marius Leitdorf a caballo

Marius Leitdorf, the Mad Count of Averland, wielding his Runefang in battle.

Dwarf Runesmiths have crafted several gromril items for their human allies of the Empire, of which the most famous are the twelve Runefangs made by Alaric the Mad from solid nuggets of the magic metal, worked under the light of the full moon, fired by the breath of the dragon Snarkul the Red, and cooled in Daemon blood.[2a] Other examples include Emperor Karl Franz's armour, which was adapted by Dabran Fellhammer from pieces of Magnus the Pious' own armour and black gromril[11b], and the Armour of Meteoric Iron - a suit of armour forged by the Dwarf smiths of Zhufbar long ago, which is held in the Imperial armoury at Altdorf[5a] and can withstand sword strikes, arrows and even cannonballs.[9a]

Some examples have even reached Bretonnia, such as the Beast Mace of Bastonne wielded by Duke Bohemond Beastslayer[3a] and the Gromril Great Helm, an ornate helm gifted by High King Grundbar Irongut after a group of Questing Knights broke a Greenskin siege of Karaz-a-Karak, which bears a potent rune of protection and in its long history has never been so much as tarnished.[6a]

Nevertheless, Dwarfs have also been known to craft gromril into more mundane objects, such as lance points[11c], anvils[11e], and candelabra.[11f]

Sources

  • 1 Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (4th Edition)
    • 1a pg. 10
    • 1b pg. 14
    • 1c pg. 15
    • 1d pg. 68
  • 2 Warhammer Armies: The Empire (4th Edition)
    • 2a pg. 17
  • 3 Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (5th Edition)
    • 3a pg. 75
  • 4 Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (6th Edition)
  • 5 Warhammer Armies: The Empire (6th Edition)
    • 5a pg. 21
  • 6 Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (6th Edition)
    • 6a pg. 61
  • 7 Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (7th Edition)
    • 7a pg. 24
    • 7b pg. 37
    • 7c pg. 45
  • 8 Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (8th Edition)
    • 8a pg. 13
    • 8b pg. 20
    • 8c pg. 21
    • 8d pg. 26
    • 8e pg. 33
    • 8f pg. 41
    • 8g pg. 42
    • 8h pg. 43
    • 8i pg. 58
    • 8j pg. 59
    • 8k pg. 62
  • 9 Warhammer Armies: The Empire (8th Edition)
    • 9a pg. 62
  • 10 Warhammer RPG 1st Edition: Dwarfs - Stone and Steel
  • 11 Warhammer RPG 2nd Edition: Old World's Armoury

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