The three Peaks of Gundabad


Cross section of Gundabad

Mount Gundabad (Kh."Royal Hewing" - Gunduzbad) faced the peak Ugtilai across the Den Loke, the gap between the Hithaeglir and the Ered Mithrin. It was the place of the Awakening of the Longbeards until Skorg the dread conquered the city and founded the Orc-realm under the mountain,having approached the Dragon Gap from the north and having driven his band through howling blizzards in the Forodwaith.


First Age

Year Event(s)
520 After the defeat of his last remaining enemy kingdom (Gondolin), Morgoth turns his thoughts on securing a stronghold for the future destruction of all other enemies of his domination. He deems Gundabad a prime candidate, which opens a road from the Northwest into Rhovanion and beyond. He entrusts his most capable underlings with the mission.
527 After seven years of preparation his forces are ready and march against the dwarven citadel. As a means of securing the place after its capture, the Evil One’s general has with him the Ulûkai, an evil artefact crafted by Morgoth and possessing some of his foul spirit.
529 In the second year of the campaign, the Dwarves are decisively defeated and Mount Gundabad is taken. The

Naugrim however are able to conceal and seal their sacred halls before the orcs breach the defences. Soon after

the capture, construction of the dungeon complex with the Chamber of the Ulûkai begins.

541 The orcish chieftain Mukarg is made ruler of Mount Gundabad when the majority of the forces are withdrawn to Thangorodrim to halt the invasion of the Host of Valinor in Beleriand. With skill he is able to ward off any dwarven attempts to re-conquer the city.

Second Age

Year Event(s)
ca. 40 Knowledge of the Ulûkai is lost with the violent death of Mukarg and his orcs when the Dwarves re-take their city. It does however act as a subtle attractor for evil creatures. Consequently, trouble with them never really ceases for the Dwarves of Mount Gundabad in the future.
ca. 10 - 250 The Dwarves have to fight great numbers of fleeing orcs from the remnants of Morgoth’s armies. Hereby they make alliance with local mannish groups. The ferocity and persistence of the orcish attacks upon this region is partially caused by the influence of the Ulûkai. After the defeat of the Orcs the region is safe again but the power of the Ulûkai is an underlying menace waiting for its reactivation at the right moment.
ca. 250 -


The alliance of Durin’s Folk and their Northman allies flourish. The Hithaeglir south to Lorinand, the Ered Mithrin, Erebor and Emyn Engrin are Dwarf-territory, whereas all adjacent lands (Vales of the Anduin, lands

south of the Ered Mithrin and west of the Emyn Engrin) are considered lands of their mannish allies. The Men provide foodstuffs, husbandry, animals and mounted warriors while the Dwarves contribute their marvellous works of craftsmanship, finished products and the finest heavy infantry. The relationship sometimes even grows into friendship between the two people.

1693 The War of Sauron and the Elves begins and Sauron dispatches a considerable force of orcs to secure the northern routes over the Misty Mountains. Leader of this host is the brilliant orcish general Skorg.

The skill of Skorg combined with a few sorcerers dispatched from Sauron soon give him complete control of his forces and forms the mass of goblins into a quite capable and effective fighting machine. The relative vicinity of Sauron wearing the One Ring further motivates the Orcs to an unheard-of discipline.

Seeing the strength of the Northman cavalry Skorg is also given the service of a sizable force of mannish cavalry from territories under Sauron’s control. Prepared in this manner he marches to battle with the Dwarf-Northman alliance. The latter have mustered their forces as well and meet their foes in the field rather than waiting for them to come and forsaking the initiative.

1964 The first year of the campaign sees only a few minor clashes while both sides try to outmanoeuvre the other. The only major engagement is inconclusive and doesn’t change the overall situation.
1965 Sauron invades Eregion. Gil-galad sends Elrond to Eregion. In the North the war becomes a stalemate.

Sauron’s forces, headquartered in the eastern Emyn Engrin wait for their chance to crush the well-organized defence.

1969 Skorg recognizes the importance of better intelligence and sends out scouts to prepare for the great assault he knows will come. The whole year passes with the preparations.
1967 Finally Sauron is able to decisively breach the elven defence in Eriador. Eregion is laid to waste. Celebrimbor slain. Elronds army is caught by Sauron’s forces and in danger of being overwhelmed. Just in this moment a

dwarven army from Khazad-dûm accompanied by Elves from Lorinand fall upon Sauron’s rear. Elrond perceives his chance and is able to extricate his forces from Sauron’s encirclement (although with heavy

losses). Furious, Sauron turns towards the Dwarves and defeats them in a few minor engagements. Their host is able to retreat to Khazad-dûm in good order with only minimal losses. The gates of Moria are shut.

Elrond retreats with remnants of the Noldor and founds the refuge of Imladris.

To enable this attack upon Sauron’s army Durin III of Khazad-dûm is forced to thin out his forces in the North. Skorg perceives his chance and attacks with great strength. Because of his thorough planning, treachery and sheer numbers he is able to overwhelm the defenders in a great battle at the Narrows between Greenwood and the Ered Mithrin. The remaining Dwarves retreat to the main citadel at Mount Gundabad with the remnants of their allies’ forces while the remaining Northmen (mostly the old, women and children) are scattered throughout the land. The siege of Gundabad is begun.

1699 In the west Sauron overruns Eriador. At Mount Gundabad Skorg is able to gain access into the city by means

of a secret passage revealed by a traitor (the name of this Dwarf is cursed among the Naugrim and not known to other races). The valiant defenders are slain to the man. The holy halls of the Naugrim are so well protected by enchantments and clever craftsmanship that the orcs are unable to enter them. These protective measures were undertaken for just this worst case when the war began. Skorg appoints himself as Ruler of the North. The Ered Mithrin and Hithaeglir are secured by the founding of Orc-strongholds along

all strategic locations. The most prominent of these new orc settlements is Goblin-gate at the High Pass above Imladris.

1700 Tar-Minastir sends a great navy from Númenor to Lindon. Sauron is defeated at the Lune and then again at Sarn Ford and Tharbad.
1701 Sauron is driven out of Eriador: The Westlands have peace for a long while. The orcs still rule in Mount Gundabad however. Skorg is able to ward off all dwarven counterattacks. The reason behind this is simple:

Mount Gundabad being the only major conquest not lost after Sauron’s defeat in Eriador is strengthened by the Dark Lord with what forces are left at his disposal. The ancient dwarven alliance with the Northmen is gone beyond revival with the destruction of most mannish settlements and the killing of their inhabitants.

This situation keeps the Dwarves constantly plotting for revenge against the goblins. They start

reconnaissance missions instead of fruitless assaults. Eventually the Dwarves are able to establish communication with slaves of the Goblin King. This gives them good intelligence of the situation in Mount Gundabad.

1750 In order to show his power Skorg orders the building of a new gate as the main entrance into Mount Gundabad. This is later known as the Drake Gate. The old dwarven entrance is abandoned.
1930 Skorg dies. He is the only orcish ruler of Mount Gundabad to die non-violently. After his death he is entombed in a hidden dungeon complex (by chance near to that of the still lost Ulûkai). Constant power struggles over his succession weaken the Orcs’ strength.
1932 Perceiving their chance, Durin’s tribe assembles his forces and an army from Khazad-dûm marches northward, surprises the Orcs and is able to breach the defences by the intelligence gathered about the orcish installations in the past and aided by a revolt of the orcs’ slaves.

The remnants of the Orcish population retreat to the surviving orc-holds in the Ered Mithrin and wait for a chance to re-claim Mount Gundabad. The Crypt of Skorg remains undetected however.

Once again the site of Awakening of the Longbeards is in dwarven hands. The orcish infestation of the Hithaeglir and Ered Mithrin cannot be removed completely though. And there is a price to this victory: As we are told in the Silmarillion the Seven Rings of the Dwarves have a malevolent influence on their wearers

(though not according to Sauron’s original intentions). This is also true for Durin’s Ring. The power and wealth of Khazad-dûm reaches unheard-of heights in this time but the Naugrim become more jealous and reclusive.

Additionally their number begins to dwindle. Slowly at first but it is felt nonetheless. From that time onward Mount Gundabad is still revered as a sacred site but the number of its inhabitants remains relatively small because of the King’s decision to use his resources primarily otherwise (clearly an effect of Durin’s ring). They remain vigilant however and are able to repulse any attacks the orcs make.

The new orcish installations (like the Drake Gate) are sealed and/or demolished as far as possible to reestablish the original dwarven character of the place.

The rest of the Second Age Mount Gundabad remains in dwarven hands though the influence of Durin’s Ring in Moria and the Ulûkai in Gundabad slowly erodes the Naugrim’s strength in Gundabad over the years and enables the orcs to hold other settlements (e.g. like Goblin-gate). There are still meetings of delegations of all the dwarven tribes in Gundabad, though less frequently than in past times.

3429 - 3441 The War of the Last Alliance weakens the orcish strength in the northern mountains seriously. Their remaining elite warriors are killed at the disaster of the Gladden Fields. The northern lands are free from the orc menace for long years although they cannot be evicted totally from the Mountains. The power of Durin’s House is also weakened through the losses of war (even though they did not participate with their full force).

Third Age

Year Event(s)
1-1200 With the power of Arnor stagnating (and even waning after the split of the kingdom), Gondor being focused on the sea and its own empire and the Dwarves’ numbers dwindling, Durin’s House becomes ever more centred at Moria. Mount Gundabad is still revered however and attracts constant stream of pilgrims but ever fewer Dwarves are willing to live there (certainly because of the underlying evil influences already mentioned).
since ca.


Due to the waning of the people there, most of the outer structures in Gundabad are sealed to compensate for the lessening numbers of warders available. The rising power of Goblin-gate makes communication with Moria much more dangerous for the inhabitants of Mount Gundabad.
since ca.


Orcs begin to multiply again and attack the Meisawi settlements in the North.


A capable Goblin-king in the person of Balcog emerges in the Ered Mithrin, comparable even to Skorg.

Having amassed a great number of orcish warriors (and supported by the Nazgûl-lord on his quest to found the realm of Angmar) he attacks Mount Gundabad in force during the summer but is unable to take it immediately. He succeeds though in preventing any message from Gundabad to reach Moria, thereby cutting of any potential relief from the dwarven metropolis. Being aware of their hopeless situation, the Naugrim begin to fortify and hide the sacred places with all the skill their best craftsmen can muster to prevent them from being defiled by the orcs once Gundabad falls.



The few remaining defenders are hopelessly outnumbered and know it is only a question of days now before the ancient dwarven city will fall, any relief being out of reach. After the final installation of the seals they prepare for the last battle and die to a man in the defence of their sacred citadel.
1268 When news of the fall of Mount Gundabad reach Khazad-dûm (the head of the dwarven commander is sent to Moria with an insulting message to the king), desperation grips the Naugrim. The king decides that he lacks the strength to muster a full-scale assault on a well-prepared orcish fortress (probably a misjudgement due to Durin’s Ring mixed with the realization of the emerging Witch-king’s strength in the North) and so he contends himself with an oath to hunt orcs forever. He also places an obligation on his descendants to re-claim Gundabad should they ever have the strength to do so. From this time onward

Mount Gundabad is held by the orcs. The orcish installations of the Second Age (e.g. the Drake Gate) are repaired or re-constructed and expanded.

The seals of the Dwarves in Gundabad are so effective that the Orcs are unable to breach them for a very long time (finally they are able to open a few of them; each GM should take his pick according to his campaign). The most sacred sites are so cunningly hidden that they remain undetected throughout the whole orcish occupation.

1268 - 1280 Having secured the northern pass over the Misty Mountains, the Nazgûl-lord is able to array his forces for the final stroke against any opposition in his realm-to-be. The dwarven fortress of Barazbizar (Carn Dûm) is taken 1274. Secretly, the orcish king at Mount Gundabad is made an ally of Angmar with the establishment of that realm. Officially however, Angmar contains the orcs in the mountains and none are tolerated within Angmar.

Until 1280 all the remaining opposition (mainly in form of Meisawi lords not satisfied with the

cooperation with the promised new realm) is crushed and the realm of Angmar secured.

1268 - 1974 Mount Gundabad serves as the principal orcish citadel in the Hithaeglir. The strong position there makes it impossible to evict the goblins from their fortress. Gundabad’s strength is used extensively by the Witchking in his wars against the successor realms of Arnor. At first this is done covertly, but beginning in the mid-19th century, also more openly.
ca. 1300 Orcs increase in the Misty Mountains and attack the Dwarves. Their great success at Gundabad emboldens the goblins. For all the Free Peoples, the Misty Mountains (and especially the northern ranges) are again dangerous to travel from this time on. The strong positions of the orcs in Goblin-gate and Gundabad, backed by Angmar (initially hidden and only later open) shatter any hope of the Naugrim of reclaiming their ancient halls.
1976 - 2790 Even after the fall of Angmar the orcish citadel is strong enough to remain unconquered and poses a threat to all Free Peoples in the North: All orcs who were able to flee from the battlefields of Eriador found refuge in Gundabad; strengthening this greatest stronghold of the Shadow in the North.
2740 - 2748 Gundabad participates in the invasions into Eriador, though the Goblin King does not allow himself to send his full force to these (for him) secondary targets. His vassal in Mount Gram leads these campaigns.
2794-2795 At the onset of the War of the Dwarves and Orcs Mount Gundabad is besieged by the combined host of Durin’s tribe and detachments of all the other dwarven houses. After a one and a half year siege the Dwarves force their way in and slay every orc they can find. Much of the treasure as well as the majority of the females and imps is secured through secret passages though. Durin’s tribe leaves a garrison behind,

intent on holding their ancient city after one and half millennia of orcish occupation. Immediately measures are undertaken to repair the damage to the old dwarven installations. The intact seals of those locations still known to the Longbeards are not re-opened because of the war and its yet inconclusive outcome.

2799 After the battle of Nanduhirion, the detachments of the other dwarven houses return home. Thráin realizes that the weakened strength of Durin’s House alone is insufficient to hold Mount Gundabad after the heavy losses of war. Due to the greater rate of reproduction of the orcs they will replace their losses much quicker than the Dwarves, future orcish attacks are only a question of time. Since these were goblins who lived and built in Gundabad for centuries and built dozens of secret passages still unknown to the Dwarves, holding the site with diminished power is considered hopeless. Thráin contends himself with

repairing all the broken dwarven seals, checking on the integrity of the unbroken ones and destroying as much as possible what might be of value for the orcs once they re-occupy the site.

2805 Thráin and his son Thorin leave Gundabad together with the dwarven garrison and make for their homes in Dunland – and after some years the Ered Luin. They block every entrance they know of as best as possible. Feeling ashamed at the loss of Gundabad the king’s thoughts wander to Erebor and the treasures lost there; he has lost the ancient citadel of Gundabad but the “minor” halls at Erebor should be

reclaimed during his reign for sure! This gnaws at him for many years.

2842 The dwarven measures are so effective that the orcs are only able to decisively breach them after more than thirty years. Gundabad is once more an orcish stronghold. When news of the re-occupation reach Thráin, he finally decides to start a quest to re-capture Erebor from Smaug. His attempt ends with the dwarven king’s capture by Sauron in TA 2845 and the loss of the last of the Seven Rings to the Dark Lord.
2941 Bolg leads the host of Gundabad to near victory in the Battle of Five Armies, but is ultimately defeated.

Gundabad is severely weakened, precipitating its secondary role in the War of the Ring.

Fourth Age

After Sauron’s fall and the general decline of evil influences, the permanent re-capture of Gundabad by the Dwarves becomes possible. It is up to each GM to decide if and when this happens.

The Fourth Age information in The Heirs of Elessar and the Forth Age in Other Minds, Issue 91 might be a good starting point for such a scenario. The following information is compatible withthat article.

Year Event(s)
70 Capture of Gundabad by a great alliance of Men and Dwarves. The Wizard Radagast plays a pivotal role in detecting an underlying evil influence here. Elladan and Elrohir are instrumental in locating and removing the Ulûkai from its ancient resting place.
325 - 329 In the Second War of the Dwarves with the Orcs, Gundabad is an important staging and supply point for the Naugrim’s forces. It ends with the final re-capturing of Moria.
925 With the emergence of Durin VII a final era of glory begins both for Gundabad as well as for Durin’s House in general. Within the next 10 years, the last remnants of orcish pockets are cleaned from both the Hithaeglir and most of the Grey Mountains.
1399 Warriors of Gundabad take place in the storming of the last orc strongholds in the eastern Ered Mithrin. In the following centuries, the Dwarves take less and less part in the affairs of men. The time has finally come for the Naugrim to make place for the Secondborn.
ca. 2150 Last known contact with the Dwarves; presumably in the Gundabad area.

Mount Gundabad in TA 1650

  • Political Organization: Subject state (of Angmar), Autocracy (Dictatorship).
  • Rulers: Zalg, The Ashdurbuk,High Chief of Gundabad.Hurog, Warlord of the Cloven Spire.Bralg, Warlord of the Twisted Spire.
  • Administrative Organization: Brutal repression keeps the Orcs (and their slaves) in line. The High Chieftaincy usually goes to the strongest of the descendants of the Seed of Skorg. Raw favoritism determines the recipients of the most lucrative offices. The High Chief claims all property as his own, but hoarding is very common among the Orcs.
  • Population: 12.600 Orcs, 39 Trolls. 2.400 Slaves.
  • Military: 5,800 Orcish Warriors.220 Uruks.20 Trolls.500 Wargs.
  • Products: Iron, nickel, slaves.
  • Symbol: The Triple Peaks of Gundabad on a Red Field.

Where the chain of the Misty Mountainsabuts the heights of the Grey Mountains, the Goblinrace makesits capital. In the First Age, Orcish refugees from the destruction of Angband made the triple peaked mountain their base from which they would carry out the legacy of Morgoth's hatred of the [[Free Peoples]], and it has been a gruesome model of Orcish society ever since. Orcish politics are as primitive as the rest of their society. Few tribal chieftain outside of the Mountain acknowledge the Ashdurbuk as their overlord without a blade at their throat. Any tribute collected by the Lord of Gundabad comes to him through the brute force of his collectors and not through his authority as the lord of all Orcs. However, no Orc-lord is greater than he, and he maintains order within his realm better than any lesser chieftain, so it is understandable that Gundabad be considered the center of Orcish power. In fact, while Mount Gundabad is the focus for Orcish authority, it in turn is but a fief of Angmar's empire. Though the Witch-king allows the Lord of Gundabad freedom during peace time, he expects the Orcs of the Mountain to follow his every command when he makes his final assault on Arthedain. Though the Ashdurbuk understands his role, relations between Carn Dûm and Gundabad are nonetheless strained, and many an unfortunate messenger between the two realms lies dead. To add to the current Ashdurbuk's worries, both of his sons, warlords in their own rights, hope to claim their father's throne. The Ashdurbuk is careful to show no signs of weakness, lest his sons usurp the right to rule. Life within the Mountain is nasty, brutish, and short, factions among the Orcs fight with one another, vying for power in Gundabads' violent hierarchy. By Orcish standards, weak individuals deserve death, and victors deserve authority. The system is crude, but it works well enough for the Ashdurbuk to organize mining and smithing efforts into viable industries. Slave labor forms the basis for the Orcs' economy, which requires the constant supervision of Orcish overseers. Gundabad exports enough ores and finished metal products to Angmar to exchange for food that cannot be grown in the depths. However, the Orcs simply rake most of the items they desire, either from other Orc tribes or from the Northmen foolhardy or unfortunate enough to live in Gundabads shadow.

Places of Note:

The Deeps:

Dúrin's Womb:

Dwarven City Ruins:

  • Central Residences
  • Entrance Hall
  • Northwestern Forge
  • Main Gate
  • Marketplace
  • Northern Residences
  • Southeastern Residences
  • Southern Residences
  • Southwestern Residences

Entrace Hall:

Crypt of Skorg

Drake Gate

Rulers of Gundabad:

Dwarven Kings:

  • Dúrin I -Awoke at Gundabad after Y.T. 1050, later moved his tribe to Khazad-dûm
  • Thulur - King of Gundabad in F.A. 529, defeated by Mukarg
  • Dúrin V - reconquered Gundabad at the end of the Second and beginning of the Third Age
  • Rugi - Dwarven King who ruled Gundabad until 1267 he and the Dragon Ichashu killing each other.



Orcs: Akargin Akargun Azog the Defiler Balcog Baltog Bolg the Strong Bolg the Younger Bralg the insane Fimbul Ghardak Gorduf Gorkil Gorzul Grachuk Hurog Karagat Lagbug Lughorn Lunul Mauthak Mukarg Obad Saviga Skorg Uglag Urzog Yazneg Zalg Zarbag

Dwarves: Dirn

Men: Barlof Fylaric Voisiol

Trolls: Thob




  • Other Minds Magazine, issue 21, August 2019, article: The history of Mount Gundabad - revision for MERP: Mount Gundabad
  • MERP: Mount Gundabad

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