The Emberhold is a duergar stronghold within the Underdark.

Emberhold was designed and constructed by the duergar to be capable of resisting assaults from all directions. Very heavily manned and nearly impossible to penetrate without being seen, it has been conquered in the past by the beholder, K'Varn. The central part of the city was also nearly destroyed by lava when Vox Machina stormed the fortress located within the Emberhold.

Landscape and Architecture of Emberhold Edit

Emberhold resides in a cavern about a mile and a half in length which appears to have been created by seismic activity. Towards the back, the cavern feeds into a naturally downward curving tunnel. It is lit by a few dozen lava falls that pour down the sides of the cavern. There are also small pockets of redstone throughout the cavern that provide some light. Despite this, the cavern is very dark. There are hundreds of stalactites hanging from the ceiling as well as stalagmites and other rock formations coming up from the ground that make a very rough landscape surrounding the stronghold. Black obsidian spikes also dot the landscape. It is described by Matthew Mercer as "very unwelcoming", and there is a strong smell of sulfur in the air which is potentially toxic in some areas. The landscape is very open, making it easy for the duergar within the city to notice invaders. Large group of duergar patrol the landscape surrounding their city.


Fan art of the Emberhold, by Son of Joxer.[art 1]

There are about 25 buildings on the outside of the stronghold, which are similar to the duergar barracks Vox Machina raided. There are also several redstone lamps within the cavern to provide very limited light.

Punctuated throughout the city are seven black obsidian spires that act as watchtowers. They are smooth, with rigid design, and have jagged lips on the outside for each level of the towers. The spires themselves are outfitted with ballista and heavily manned.

In the center of the city is a gargantuan, ebony fortress, which is built against one of the walls of the cavern. The top of the walls are marked with serrated stonework, and more ballista are mounted on parapets. There is a massive magma fall that descends from a hole in the ceiling which pours down onto the roof of the fortress. This magma is then forked by channels in the stonework to flow down each side, buttressing the fortress as an additional defense mechanism. Over time, stone has been replaced in sections where the lava has worn away the rock. The entire outside of the fortress is heavily manned.

On the left side of the fortress, right outside the walls of the stronghold are two streams of molten lava which pour down from the stream over the fortress and cavern wall, which is diverted down the tunnel. Underneath the smaller of those two streams is a secret door meant to open from the inside, no doubt as a means of escape for soldiers and royalty.[1]

Additional Defenses Edit

The duergar of Emberhold train basilisks mostly for defense. The area around Emberhold occasionally also holds statues of past beings that got too close and were petrified by a basilisk's stare.

Notable Duergar Edit

  • King Murghol: King of Emberhold and a formidable fighter, he was decapitated by Scanlan in combat.
  • Queen Ulara: Queen of Emberhold and a magic user, she was psychically killed by K'Varn.

K'Varn's Subjugation of and Plans for the Duergar of Emberhold Edit

K'Varns first conquest after entering the Material Plane was capturing Emberhold. Whether he did this by persuading a large population of duergar to his side or through his mind controlling abilities is unknown. But war broke out within the stronghold.

Later, a group of duergar managed to capture an illithid that had come too close to the stronghold. After K'Varn interrogated the creature, he sent a large army down into Yug'Voril, the illithid's home. Using the army as a distraction, he was able to infiltrate the temple within the city and gain control over the Elderbrain. More than likely after this point he either placed or returned King Murghol and his wife, Queen Ulara their power within Emberhold as his representatives.[2]

Once K'Varn had control over both duergar and illithid, he began to plan for an invasion on the surface world. He had the duergar from Emberhold build up their armies and travel to a cave system higher up and begin construction of a war camp in preparation for a full scale attack.

Prior to Vox Machina journeying to Emberhold, one of K'Varn's creations had been terrorizing the duergar. Brutally slaughtering entire patrols outside of the stronghold. Whether he did this intentionally to scare the duergar into submission or by accident is unknown. The creature would later be killed by Vox Machina while traveling through the fields of Glass and Bone deeper in the Underdark.

Vox Machina in Emberhold Edit

See Chapter 1: Beneath the Mines of Kraghammer.

Breaching the Emberhold Edit

See "Breaching the Emberhold" (1x06).

While Vox Machina attempted to open the trap door on the side of the fortress, Scanlan used his dimension door to teleport him and Pike up to the roof and knock the duergar sentries off of the roof. However, during the surprise attack the group alerted the whole of Emberhold to their presence. The group managed to open the trap door and made their way through the lower floors of the stronghold until they broke into the dungeons. During this time they found and rescued Lady Kima.

The Throne Room Edit

See "The Throne Room" (1x07).

Proceeding through the Emberhold to break the backbone of the duergar assault on the surface, the group eventually made their way to the throne room. After a long fight, during which both Tiberius and Kima were turned to stone by basilisks, Murghol was eventually killed when Scanlan decapitated him. However, Ulara was able to gain control over Grog and teleport away from the fight after she successfully broke the ceiling, causing the entire keep to fill up completely with lava that horribly burned Vax's foot as the party escaped.

Aftermath Edit

See "Glass and Bone" (1x08).

Vox Machina was able to escape the Emberhold after it overflowed with lava. The fortress itself was encased on the inside with lava, many duergar were burned alive inside the fortress, and many others were forced to evacuate the Emberhold and fall back to the buildings and plains around the city. Vox Machina pursued Ulara deeper into the Underdark in an attempt to rescue Grog.

References Edit

  1. Stronghold description.  See "Breaching the Emberhold" (1x06) from 33:46 through 36:54.
  2. Clarota's description of K'Varn's take over of Emberhold.  See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) from 29:59 through 32:47.


  1. Fan art of the Emberhold, by Son of Joxer (source).  Used with permission.

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