|Greyhawk magic item|
|Whelm, wielded by the vampire Ctenmiir.|
|First appearance||White Plume Mountain (1979).|
Whelm is a legendary warhammer of dwarven make.
Whelm is plain and unadorned, with a steel head and a haft made from the golden wood of a gingko tree. When it's wielded, Whelm glows with a soft, silver-black light.
Whelm has bonuses to attack and damage, and is said to be more powerful in the hands of a dwarf. It magically returns to its wielder when thrown. It can detect evil, secret doors, objects, goblinoids, giants, and precious gems and metals. It has the unfortunate tendency to inspire agoraphobia in its wielders, however. It is sentient and can communicate with its wielder. It constantly desires to hunt giants and goblinoids, telling its wielder this in terse phrases.
Whelm is desperately unhappy with its current wielder, Ctenmiir, because the vampire is unable to hunt due to his servitude.
Whelm was created long ago by a dwarven woman named Dagnal Mightyhammer of clan Dankil, a weaponsmith of some reknown. She created the warhammer in order to aid her clan against a group of marauding trolls that had already claimed many of their number. Putting all her love for her husband Traubon, her devotion to her clan, and her reverence for her god Moradin into the weapon, she gave it to her husband to use in battle. Traubon and the other dwarven warriors were victorious, and Whelm became much praised.
The times of woe were followed by years of prosperity, and Dagnal improved on Whelm, enhancing it with the ability to detect gems, gold, and other riches. Many years later, the clan was threatened by a horde of goblins and bugbears, and once again Dagnal improved upon Whelm. Her now-aged husband insisted on leading the counter-assault, but though he was once again victorious, this time the elderly dwarf suffered a mortal wound and died. Overcome by grief, Dagnal threw herself on her husband's corpse, her own life giving out at that moment. The two dwarves and their weapon were interred in a single grave, and it is said that Dagnal and Traubon invested so much of their spirits into the hammer during their lives that it became more than mere steel and wood.
The hammer, which now was imbued with sentience and a constant craving to hunt giants and goblinoids, did not remain buried forever. Eventually it fell into the hands of the gnomes, and it was a group of gnomish servants of Keraptis who gifted it to their master, approximately one thousand years before the beginning of the Common Year calendar (-1000 CY). Keraptis took it with him on his travels, bringing at last to White Plume Mountain. There, in approximately 91 CY, Whelm was one of four legendary objects (the others being Blackrazor, Frostrazor, and Wave) used by Keraptis to open a gate into a distant, shadowy realm, departing the Prime Material Plane on a quest for immortality from which he may never return.
In about 491 CY, a band of adventurers known as the Brotherhood of the Tome raided White Plume Mountain, taking Whelm with them among other spoils. In about 550 CY, the warhammer had found its way into the hands of a fearsome hunter of ogres called Ctenmiir. When Ctenmiir fell prey to (or willingly gave himself to) a vampire, his adventuring companions recovered Whelm from him, bringing it to the City of Greyhawk to sell to a collector there. In Greyhawk, the weapon remained for around two decades before it was stolen by gnomes serving a wizard claiming to be Keraptis and given to the now-vampiric Ctenmiir the Cursed to guard. Though it was recovered, the weapon eventually found its way back to White Plume Mountain and Ctenmiir.
Whelm was first described in White Plume Mountain, and received updated statistics in Return to White Plume Mountain and the Arms and Equipment Guide (2003). In the revised White Plume Mountain (2005) it was described as a "weapon of legacy," with abilities that only became available to its user after certain criteria were met. In Open Grave, it was detailed as an artifact for 4th edition.
Whelm received little background in the original White Plume Mountain, except that it was a magic item stolen by Keraptis from the Free City of Greyhawk. Return to White Plume Mountain mentioned that Keraptis had been given it by one of his gnomish servants, and that it was one of the four legendary items Keraptis used in his bid for immortality. The majority of the weapon's background, including the story of Dagnal and the pre-vampire days of Ctenmiir, appeared in the revised White Plume Mountain.
- Cagle, Eric, Jesse Decker, Jeff Quick, and James Wyatt. Arms and Equipment Guide. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2003.
- Cordell, Bruce, et al. Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2009. excerpts
- Shick, Lawrence, Andy Collins, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, and James Wyatt. White Plume Mountain (Revised). Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2005. Available online: