The Known World
The Known World
“Dwarves? We don’t serve that scum here! They’re a bunch of troublemakers. Sure, they are good warriors, and they make strong axes and sharp swords – not that they would part with them for a fair price, though. Too many will just go around drinking and bashing heads and destroying fine establishments…” Ingjald the Stubborn, landlord in Norrvik, The Kingdom of Vestland
Mountains and lakes are the major features of the land of the Rockhome Dwarves. The three chains of Altan Tepes, to the west, Makkres, to the east and Denwarf’s Spur, at the centre of the nation, are interleaved by two large lakes, Stahl and Klintest.
The mountains, while not exceedingly tall, are rugged and often impassable, and only a handful of well-guarded passes give access to Rockhome. At the centre of the nation, built both on the surface and in the caverns of Rockhome’s tallest mountain, is the city of Dengar, the heart of the dwarven kingdom, rivalling in size and surpassing in strength the cities of humankind. Three other major cities exist in Rockhome: Stahl, Evemur and Smaggeft, each crowded with busy dwarven craftsmen and engineers.
Rockhome and the dwarves have been around for longer than historians can remember. When the first Emperor was crowned in The Thyatian Empire, the Dwarf Kings of Rockhome were already well established. In the following centuries the dwarven merchants and wandering tinkers started an age of exploration of the lands of humankind, creating colonies in mountainous regions and opening political and trade relations with their neighbours.
In hindsight, this policy explains why the dwarves are either more welcome than other foreigners or hated enemies in many countries, depending on whether the dwarven colonisation attempts resulted in peaceful cooperation with the local populations, as in The Kingdom of Vestland, The Emirates of Ylaruam and The Ethengar Khanates, or in armed clashes, persecutions and war, as was the case of The Principalities of Glantri and the Five Shires.
Nowadays, dwarves still enjoy friendly relations with the Ylari, Ethengarians, and Northmen, while they are feared and often hated by the Hin. Glantrians and dwarves hate each other, and dwarves often take part in Ethengarian raids in Glantri, while the wizards of The Principalities of Glantri try to kidnap dwarves to further their studies on the dwarven resistance to magic.
Rockhome is the nation of the dwarves, and most Known World dwarves can trace their heritage back to one of the seven clans of Rockhome. Each clan is composed of a large number of families, each numbering scores, if not hundreds, of individual members, and is centred around a stronghold, built in the depths of one of the four cities. Each clan is mostly known for one trade or career that is often pursued by its members and that defines the spirit and nature of the clan, but individual dwarves are free to choose their own profession.
Clan Everast, one of the oldest clans, includes most bureaucrats, diplomats and the current royal family. Clan Buhrodar supports the Everast kings, but its theocratic philosophy sometimes clashes with the Everast’s ideas of aristocratic rule. Clan Torkrest, a large militaristic clan, completes the strongest power bloc of Rockhome. Opposed to Clan Torkrest is Clan Wyrwarf whose make-up includes many lower class, non-conformist dwarves and farmers. Clan Clan Hurwarf is another smaller clan, whose isolationist, xenophobic ideas clash hard with the two remaining clans, Clan Skarrad and Clan Syrklist. The latter is a large clan of traders, bent on expanding trade between Rockhome and the foreign nations, while the former strives to accelerate the development of technology, and supports trade as a way to promote the growth of technological knowledge.
Other than dwarves, few people live in Rockhome, mostly diplomats from the neighbouring lands, traders and a handful of non-Glantrian wizards-for-hire. Almost all of them remain within the walls of Upper Dengar. Goblinoids roam the unsettled border regions, both above and below ground, while frost giants live in the eastern Makkres Mountains.
The Dwarf King, Everast XV, rules Rockhome. Theoretically, all powers belong to the king, and the title passes to the king’s heir after his demise. In practice, each law passed by the king is then voted by the Senate, a body composed by the heads of large families. When at least two thirds of the Senators vote against a law proposal, the king usually retires it, rather than risk being ousted and replaced. The Senate also devises and submits new laws to the king, who finds it impossible to turn down proposals supported by two thirds of the Senators.
Within the Senate, the clan leaders control the votes of their faction, and a refusal to conform to the clan leader’s vote is usually considered a challenge, which ends with one of the two (usually the lesser Senator, but sometimes the clan leader) replaced.
Dwarves don’t like to speak about their myths or beliefs, therefore little is known of the dwarves’ religious practices. Nevertheless, it can be safely assumed that most dwarves revere the Immortal Kagyar, patron of crafts and artisans, as the creator of their race. Whether they worship him as humans do their Immortal patrons or not cannot be said for certain.
(from the Mystara Newbie Guide)