Among adventurers, there are few dungeons as famous or as dreaded as the Black Sanctum of Sorrows. For hundreds of years it has been the ultimate goal of many dungeon delvers to enter the Sanctum and survive, to come out richer and more powerful than they could ever imagine. Few ever enter it, and even less survive, and none without the help of the Iron Truth Adventurer’s Guild.
Of course, while the Black Sanctum of Sorrows is aptly named, it isn’t quite as dangerous as all that. The Iron Truth have been delving the dungeon for at least a century now, and they have the first few levels of the place more or less under control. They use these levels to train and test those who would join the guild or delve lower on their own, though they certainly prefer the former to the latter.
The guild takes a cut of all the treasure that comes out of the dungeon; less of a cut if it’s brought up by members. In return they provide supplies and, most importantly, information. Until the Iron Truth came along, the biggest threat of the dungeon was getting lost, which almost inevitably lead to being eaten. Or worse. But the Iron Truth have made it their mission to map the entire place out, though they’re still working on that, and they find new passages and secrets even on the first three levels.
The Iron Truth takes a methodical approach to the process, sending in teams to explore and map the dungeon and bring up anything worthwhile that they find. The most dedicated of those teams are dispatched specifically to find the way down to lower levels, while other teams follow in their wake, mapping those levels. To date, the guild has discovered ten levels, though scholars expect there are more. Only the first three are completely explored, while the rest have maps of the areas directly around and between the stairs, ladders, and elevators leading between levels. Level ten has been claiming teams for nearly thirty years now.
The Iron Truth has always been run by a dwarf named Delvar Battlebeard, the daughter of a famous dungeon explorer. It was her father who first brought her to the Black Sanctum, but Delvar who saw the potential the dungeon offered. She knew the place could be delved for generations before it gave up its last secrets, and took it upon herself to see that the process was started. She enlisted the help of her fellow dwarves to build a castle outside the dungeon’s entrance, initially to protect from monsters that might come to the surface, but which now serves to keep the foolish from entering the dungeon in the first place.
Since then farms protected by the guild have sprung up around Castle Oritz, and a bustling trade in gear and treasure brings adventurers and merchants from all parts. Delvar now spends almost as much time administering this territory as she does running her adventuring guild.
Artwork: “Tools of the Trade,” by Gustave Brion, from Les misérables, by Victor Hugo, 1867.