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Fields of Challenge / Re: Citadel Epub / Excursions 5 New Topic
« Last post by Scrasamax on Today at 05:25:44 PM »
I like Angels and Demons, or the Dead/Undead
Fields of Challenge / Citadel Epub / Excursions 5 New Topic
« Last post by Mageek on Today at 04:09:58 PM »
    Hey Strolenites!
    The Citadel's very own anthology - Excursions from the Citadel
http://www.exftc.com/ - will be kicking off the development cycle for its fifth issue very soon.  Past issues have been on Eldritch Voices, Shifts in Shape, Wizards, and Steeds. We need a fresh, new, hot-off-the-press theme for the next one.

Please list your suggestions!

    - angels & demons
    - betrayal
    - choice
    - dead and undead
    - elemental
Rp area / Re: The Lost Caves Of Stolenites
« Last post by BeatDropGaming on Today at 10:39:45 AM »
lets get some people together and make an adventure out of this shall we
Rp area / Re: The Lost Caves Of Stolenites
« Last post by Woofer295 on Yesterday at 08:03:17 PM »
In which case, we must seek it out!
Setting Forge / Re: Sanctum - A World Beyond its Fate
« Last post by EchoMirage on Yesterday at 11:28:10 AM »
The Arcadese Empire, The Overflowing Grace, The Brightlands, Accra Teindë ("Scorched Earth", Elven, derisive)
Spanning vast expanses of rocky badlands, sun-beaten plains and prairies of blue-green grass, Arcadizar is a deterring land at first sight, yet bountiful if you can wrest its riches from its grasp. It is inhabited by daring and smart people, just the sort it takes to make a good living there. Under their care have cornfields, lush groves and white cities sprung forth amidst the endless expanses of grass in this land where you can ride from dusk until dawn without meeting anyone but the songbirds and wild dogs that howl deep into the night.

*Thoktu Masif
While the empress resides in ..., the city of Thoktu Masif is the seat of religious power.

*Form of Family: small families are the norm in Arcadizar, the adults living together with their children. The elders are taken care of by the community by being given jobs that require little physical labor, like teacher, judge, administrator, bookkeeper or librarian.
*Marriage and Divorce: when a woman wishes to marry a man or vice versa, they will have their parents or eldest relatives gather and discuss the whole matter. Facts like education, wealth, behavior and deeds are taken into consideration, and then the gathering decides whether they give the bond their blessing – the marriage can take place whether the blessing is given or not, but it is considered being born under an unfortunate star if the parents disagree. The pair will take some rations and water, mount their lizards and ride off into the plains, not to return for a week. In that time, they, their parents and any children they might already have, as well as their property, is considered sacred, not to be harmed or manipulated in any way if possible at all.
Divorce is possible yet not welcome – divorced people have a much harder time finding a new partner, with neither the parents of the chosen one nor the chosen one placing much trust into the bond. Nonetheless, this obstacle can be overcome if one tries hard enough.
*Women as adventurers: are possible and common in Arcadizar.
*Government and Structure: the land is ruled by an emperor or empress of the royal family, supported by a host of administrators, advisors and bureaucrats too numerous to count. The structure is decentralized, with the low-ranking clerks, officials and civil servants handling most matters of lesser importance, and only decisions of greatest importance having to be decided by the ruler. High-ranking officials, such as district directors, high judges and police commanders are appointed by the ruler in person, while the lesser bureaucracy is employed by the high official. The next ruler is also chosen by the emperor from amongst his children, but should none of those meet the standards, the ruler may designate any of his relatives as the emperor to be – considering the right of the emperor to adopt a child or even adult, anyone could be the next ruler.
*Social Order: The social order is headed by the emperor. Others of the noble family are held in high esteem as well, but not near as much as the emperor – most of their status must still be earned by serving in a prestigious position such as priest, guildmaster or judge. The status of anyone outside the royal family depends on his profession, education and skill – high-ranking officials, expert craftsmen or skilled doctors are held in high esteem, as are successful military generals or great artist. Honest craftsmen and soldiers are given the respect they are due. Slaves receive far better treatment than anywhere else, as the laws regard harming slaves the same way they regard inflicting harm upon a citizen, and it is actually possible for a slave to rise in status if he serves a respected person well or is an expert in his field – a slave of proven ability can occupy a high position within society the same way a citizen can, the slave being a “servant of the people” instead of belonging to a specific person.
It is possible to climb the social ladder in Arcadizar if one tries hard enough – public schools offer free education for any child or youth, and the universities are more than willing to claim an able student as their own. Orphanages and charity care for the unfortunate, while many public services provide comfort and a feeling of safety to the citizens – there are hospitals, libraries and thermals accessible to everyone; other than these, organized groups of firefighters, militia and social workers are on the imperial payroll, and up to date, Arcadizar is the only country to have an organized post service.
To finance all these services, taxes are heavier than elsewhere, and to be paid regularly – tax collectors are on duty all day long.
The only exceptions to the care the throne takes of the average citizen are the barbaric nomads living in the wilder regions of the country who are considered outlaws, and non-humans – every dwarf, elf, goblin etc. is obliged to carry documents on him, and will be checked upon regularly. It is his duty to announce himself to the local authorities when entering or leaving a city, and will find himself generally unwelcome.
*Slavery: about a quarter of the population are slaves. They can be found on all sorts of assignments, and are generally treated well – treating a slave badly is a sign of bad manners, and illegal to boot. Slaves receive a small percentage of their true wages, and can be able to buy themselves free after time. As well as that, an owner can free one of his slaves anytime and continue employing him as a citizen. The demand for new slaves is high and the land wealthy – Arcadizar makes an ideal market for well-behaved and civilized slaves.
*Cosmology and Pantheon: the central figure of Arcadese worship is Tacontar, the lord of light – he is thought to reside in the sky above the globe (the cosmology sees the world as a sphere), watching it with his radiant eyes that are the suns. He stands for truth and enlightment, thus science, knowledge and law are sacred to him. His servants are the Alintar, beings of light and righteousness that bring knowledge and inspiration to the worthy. The world is thought to have been created out of the primordial fire that still glows within humanity and gives them life. Non-humans are though to have sprung from shadow and darkness, and thus are considered cursed and unholy.
Tacontar is the patron of schools and universities, as well as teachers and scientist – his influence is noticeable in his aid to the resourceful as well as on the holy ground where illusion and black magic fail and creatures of shadow suffer.
The priests of the religion are wise men who often serve as teachers and judges, or spiritual leaders in times of war. They often display the gifts of healing, a mighty voice or resistance to magic and supernatural deception – only the most skilled evildoers can fool one of the chosen.
The faith aids its members in many ways – founding and maintaining hospitals, libraries and wandering amongst the people and offering advice on many a field.
The relations of Arcadese belief with other faiths are icy at best – the deities worshipped elsewhere are classified as demons and malevolent shades to be opposed in every way possible. Temples of other religions are outlawed in Arcadizar, and many missionaries are sent to other lands to preach the truth.
*Liturgical Form: every day the faithful are called to prayer – in the morning, at noon and at sunset. They face the sun and sing prayers, accompanied by a preacher on a tall tower that forms the center of every temple. All the faithful stand for a moment with outstretched arms facing the suns, the children being held up high to be able to revel in their glory. Every ten days, a ceremony is held at all the temples where the people are blessed using sun-warmed water and sacred oil. At the height of summer, depth of winter and both equinoxes, great feasts are held to celebrate the never-ending voyage of the suns.
*Magic: Arcadizar is a normal mana area, and thus mages are not uncommon. Most of them are detected at a young age and inscribed in one of the academies to be taught properly and kept away from dangerous knowledge such as necromancy or similar magic – while the arcane arts are held in high esteem, those sorts of magic are strictly forbidden. Mind control and illusion magic is also not commonly taught, and when, then in only to be able to ward against it.
*Funerary custom: the dead are buried in standing tombs in upright position with their arms to their sides. A constantly burning fire and a vigil held in front of the tomb are required for the soul to pass into the afterlife. To ease the voyage that follows the demise, the corpse is given two sun disks made of gold as well as several beautiful jugs and a tome with prayers, maxims and wise sayings. The ground upon which cemeteries lie is considered taboo and nobody is allowed there after sunset except priests and those holding a vigil.
*Graphic art and sculpture: many artists choose to donate one of their works to a temple, or a temple pays the services of a skilled artisan to add a work of art. Temples are demonstratively decorated with statues of scholars, priests and heroes, as well as depictions of great events. The homes of the people are adorned with mural paintings and carved pillars depicting great events in history, and small statues similar to those in the temples. Besides these the art of harnessing water finds many practitioners here – a steam or spring is made to flow in different watercourses, forming a beautiful pattern of currents, sprinkles and gushes from the multitude of pipes, vents and fountains. One art is unique to Arcadizar – the light sculptures consisting of crystals, lenses and mirrors that are ablaze with liquid fire from dawn to dusk.
*Music and song: Arcadese musicians are true masters of the organ, much like the artisans creating these complex instruments. Beautiful und awe-inspiring organs form a centerpiece of many public places like courts or temples, their mighty sound waking the cities and wishing them goodnight.
Except these, the musicians use wind instruments of all sorts. The use of music is frequent both on religious and secular opportunities.
As much as they like to play music the people like to sing – there are songs intended for work, wandering or war – the armies march to war with the sound of battle hymns and heroic epics.
Given this fondness of music, it comes as a surprise but the people of Arcadizar do not dance – the closes thing they do is ritualized combat mounted or on foot that follows a certain pattern and is part of the spring equinox rites.
*Sports and games: races and stylized dueling serve as entertainment, as do many board games with a strong tactical element – people play them in their lunch break, after work or on free days in a garden or seated comfortably with a drink in hand. The people are more than willing to offer lunch or shelter to a master of one of those games in return for a chance to play with him. Often, a whole audience gathers around a game played by true masters and watches in utter silence.
Swimming is also very popular, quite surprising given the nature of the land – many an Arcadese will not miss any chance to go for a swim.
*Tattoo and scarification: are not used in Arcadizar.
*Housing and architecture: dwellings are constructed of polished white stone and roofed with red shingles. Every city will be walled, the tall rectangular houses hidden safely inside. Most homes will have a tiny garden, either on a terrace or in front of it – it is there that guests are welcomed and the meals consumed if the weather allows it. The weather problem is sometimes solved by protecting the garden with a glass roof. Inside, the house will include a hall with pillars and a pool if a spring is nearby, as well as several small sleeping chambers – if possible these will be equipped with a water reservoir and broad beds with cotton pillows and blankets. There will also be a party room and a small shrine. The cities are arranged in a rectangle as well, with a fortified bastion on each corner.
*Food and cooking: the crops planted consist mainly of wheat and corn, and this is reflected on the menu. As most cattle are lizards or bugs, they show up on the table regularly. Hefty drinks resembling coffee or strong tea complement each meal. When the orchards bear fruit, those are a welcome addition to the diet.
The people cook in a separate room in the basement. As befriended families like to dine together, the kitchens will be well stocked at any time, the fire kept burning constantly.
*Clothing: The people will wear white and beige robes with cowls to ward away heat, cold and the wind – should a winter be particularly harsh, which does not happen too often, they will don heavy cloaks. The cowls are not used to conceal one’s identity, but solely against the weather. Lighter robes are worn at home, these made of fine cotton, silk or spider wool. Even at times of war, robes are worn over armor.
*Fire-making techniques and fuel: fire is sparked using sulfur with additives with flint and steel. Most often coal and dung serve as fuel.
*Packs and containers: goods are kept in baskets, sacks, jugs or amphorae. They are transported in the same containers tied to the backs of beasts of burden.
*Land transport and mounts: various lizards are used both as draft and riding animals – small bipedal lizards serve as cavalry mounts, while gigantic six-legged behemoths transport goods, carry troops or pull siege engines. Winged lizards carry messengers between cities, express deliveries to their destinations and scouts in times of war.
*Ships and boats: the vessels used in Arcadizar are long galleys with a single row of oars and three rectangular sails, each fitted to a separate mast. On war vessels, the prow will protrude into a reinforced ram, while all ships will have eyes painted on the sides of their prow and the locked twin rings resembling the suns on their main sail.
*Missile weapons: both hunters and soldiers use composite short bows, javelins, bolas and nets to bring their target down. A variety of explosive and noxious concoctions are sealed in jugs and flung at the enemy. The missile weapons are almost exclusively made of metal – the country is rich in various ores, though the people are not near as much skilled as the dwarves in utilizing these resources. Nonetheless, the javelins and arrows are designed for maximum efficiency and ideal flight attributes.
*Melee weapons: long elegant spears and viciously barbed lances are the weapons of choice for the cavalryman. For close combat, delicate and slightly curved blades are used – their lightness belies flexibility, endurance and a keen edge. The infantry will march to war bearing tall pikes and halberds – the regiments of Arcadizar are renowned for their discipline and thus can utilize these weapons with maximum effect, their ranks seldom falling into disorder.
*Weaponless combat: when unarmed, the people will usually go for the wrestling techniques that are taught as a part of the common education, the skills being honed by army training.
*Shields: a soldier will never go without a resilient round shield made of beetle or lizard hide. These are lightweight and can withstand any but the most powerful blows. Metal shields are considered heavy and cumbersome, and thus find little use.
*Armor: full plate is almost unknown in Arcadizar – light chain mail or scale mail is considered the best option, while some soldiers rather opt for armor made of lizard scale or beetle shells. The regiments of Arcadizar are recognizable on sight due to their traditional pointed helmets with chain links to guard their necks.
*Tactics: the armies of Arcadizar march to war in organized ranks, the infantry blocks being supported by fast and medium cavalry and huge beasts of war mounting howdahs and siege engines. There are as many different tactics for these versatile armies as there are tacticians, and the archives of the war college are full of examples. One can never expect what an Arcadese army will do next, a fact that has brought them many a victory.
Rp area / The Lost Caves Of Stolenites
« Last post by BeatDropGaming on November 15, 2017, 10:51:20 AM »
In the land of The Strolenites there are rumors of a lost cave system filled will unimaginable wealth and knowledge 
Citadel Tavern / Are you a Henry Still
« Last post by axlerowes on November 15, 2017, 06:53:29 AM »
A footnote in Sci-Fi history for any would be sci-fi writers. In 1956 four authors were nominated for Hugo's Best New Author award.

Robert Silverberg (Winner):  The Sci-fi zines are still republishing his work. This year Galaxy's Edge magazine reprint a story of his from the 70s.

Harlan Ellison: Yeah

Frank Herbert: Yeah

Henry Still:  Did Henry Still know he was in the company of greatness? Is he a forgotten great?  Are you a Henry Still?


Setting Forge / Re: Sanctum - A World Beyond its Fate
« Last post by EchoMirage on November 14, 2017, 03:39:41 AM »
Everhome, The Roof of the World
Ancient texts speak of a time when the Dwarves dwelt elsewhere, and a truly strange world it was, with thick air, dense mists and little light. Alongside them the Elves lived – in lofty heights above the dwarven abodes. From that place Durandir Voxardent, celebrated as the Second Father, led them through the Void to the place they call home today, where they carved out a safe haven for all times to come. The Kithray mountain range has become their dominion, the heart of dwarvendom in the New World.
Their land has become one with the dwarves, bearing the marks of their passing wherever they went. Their drive to adapt their surroundings has led to a vast network of highways, huge cities, dams and irrigation projects.
The greatest Dwarven realm in the world, Zharr-Naggrund occupies the breath-taking heights of the Kithray mountains and the caverns beneath. From the pinnacle of Taxon Dur to unfathomable depths miles below, the Dwarves have honey-combed the mountains in search of wealth, metal, and a salvation for their race.
The land above is mostly covered with glaciers and forests, with fertile valleys in between. Pastures, terraced fields and small picturesque towns of gnomes, halflings, and humans are sprinkled throughout the realm, huddled in the shadows of peaks and Dwarven monuments.
Impressive it may be, but a significant portion of the realm is still outside Dwarven control - large swathes of the surface are home to feral humanoids and beasts, and some caves that pre-date Dwarven settlement are home to strange things that have never seen the sun, yet grow to like the taste of Dwarf.

Zharr-Naggrund is landlocked; it shares borders with So'Lun to the west and north, Arcadizar in the south, Samea in the east, and Lyra to the north-west.

*Taxon Dur
The highest peak in the known world, Taxon Dur is a frequent stopping point for far-ranging spirits of the air. The Dwarves have built an array within the pinnacle that listens in on the gossip of the passing spirits, and allows the Dwarves to learn their secrets. Due to the incredibly clear air, the Dwarves have also erected large telescopes to gaze upon lands far and wide.

*The Vaults
The Dwarves were much weakened by their passage to Sanctum, yet still saw their share of fighting against deities and demons alike. Those whom they could not truly defeat (or those who were more valuable alive) they incarcerated within Spellsinks, natural anti-magic rock formations found in the Kithrays. Ironically, the Dwarves took up more than their fair share of custodian work, with Elves dumping several uncomfortable prisoners upon them.
The vaults are mostly just locked and guarded, but a few of the prisoners produce exotic substances, or are talkative despite their confinement. So do Dwarven sages often come to converse with Arthenal, the Twisting Life, seeking to work through its mind games and deceptions to kernels of truth within.
Some Vaults are known to have failed, and are declared no-go zones. The status of some distant Vaults is unknown, their custodian orders having fallen silent.

*The Warding Waters
Especially the western side of Zharr Naggrund is quite arid, and water storage for agriculture is of prime importance. Numerous dams were built to hold back the valuable moisture, and dispense it in the time of need. The Warding Waters are a set of dams with an additional purpose - positioned along important access routes to the mountains, they can be used to release floods upon encroaching enemies, or to flood sections of the mines should the Dwarves dig too deep. Finally, dams at the borders can be used to throttle or re-route several rivers; denying water in a time of drought has been enough to force many an enemy into submission.

The Crown of Flames is a region of lively volcanic activity, the rock beneath riddled with lava flows and highly unstable. In its centre, a rare sight is the citadel of Axalorn, home to a fair number of dragons and numerous draconids. With the Dwarves being unable to approach from below, and exposed to draconic might above ground, the citadel is defiant and unwilling to bow to the Dwarven kings. Instead, its dwellers frequently raid the lands of Zharr-Naggrund for supplies, and return once a defense has been mustered. The Dwarves would lose less if they just bought the dragons off with the very same supplies that get stolen amidst fire and pillage, yet pride forbids this course of action. It is but a consolation prize that the dragons raid their Arcadese and So'Lan neighbours indiscriminately as well.

One of the oldest and holiest of cities in Zharr-Naggrund, Ur-Galla is known for the Breath of Stone. Some strange property of the rocks releases a wondrous quintessence into the air; this miraculous fragrance emboldens the Dwarves, and in fact restores a part of the vitae stolen by Elves during the Great Treason.
Distant Dwarven holds invariably house a large rock taken from Ur-Galla at their core; this continues to exude its wondrous properties, and gradually bestows them upon the surrounding rock. Dwarves from all over the world attend pilgrimages to Ur-Galla to bathe in the original, undiluted Breath of Stone, and reinforce their ties with the homeland. Surface Dwaves will wear talismans of stone on their skin to gain the strength of stone.
Secret: the wondrous properties of the stone at Ur-Galla were bestowed as the result of one of the Three Ignoble Pacts. The charisma penalty that Dwarves suffer in many systems is in fact not caused by the Dwarves' behaviour, but by the subtle demonic taint. Dwarves are simply perceived as worse than they really are. The knowledge of this fact is well-hidden by the Dwarven sages, and known by few (if any) non-Dwarves.

Dwarves: 66%
Gnomes: 13%
Halflings: 9%
Humans: 7%
Giants: 1%
Slaves (various races): 4%

The numbers of Orcs, Goblins, and other humanoids are not listed here, as they are in fact not part of Zharr-Naggrund.

*Family, Marriage and Divorce: because males outnumber the females several times, a woman will marry a man and some of his brothers who raise the offspring together. A dwarf will swear allegiance to a clan, each clan calling one of the great figures of dwarven history as its ancestor, and using his name as a second family name. When a woman marries, she is accepted into the clan of her husbands, but only after they have proven themselves worthy, for no marriage can take place without the agreement of the bride’s father. The suitors will have to present tales of their heroism, and let their provess and skill be tested. Often, it takes several years before the father of a highborn girl agrees to marriage.
Marriages are huge public affairs, with trumpeters sounding fanfares from the battlements, and town criers calling to the crowd. Likewise, it is a show of the wealth of the families and clans involved – everyone attending will don the showiest armor, and shower the pair with presents.
The husbands wear decorative plate, while the bride will don a winged helm and a gown of the finest chain mail, fine as silk, the Ara-Niht. This gown will be passed on from the mother to her favorite daughter.
Divorce is impossible according to dwarven law; only death can part a bond.
After birth, the children are kept in a temple to the All-Father for one day, overseen by their mother and several priests, while a Lorekeeper seeks its true name – the name of its soul, a dwarf’s dearest secret he reveals only to the closest friends. The child will remember it when the time is right.
Likewise, he will divine the Drajemra – the True Path – of the child. This is a profession for which the newborn has received blessings by the Ancestors. While it is in no way obligatory to follow the Path, it is believed that doing so brings good luck.
Last, the Lorekeeper will give the child a holy book, the Krommu, in which blessed sigils will be recorded – one at birth, one at the onset of maturity, and others for saintly deeds. The Krommu is worn on a chain around the neck, and one of the most prized possessions. Outcast and clanless dwarves don’t have one – thus losing the book is a sign of shame.
The family raises the children, aided in this endeavor by crèches, where a lorekeeper oversees the youngsters and teaches them what it means to be a dwarf – the lore, tradition, honor and obligations. Older children are apprenticed to relatives, or, less often, friends – it is a gesture of trust to be offered an apprentice, and the father is honored if the child is accepted, shame falls on him if the child is refused.
A dwarf will defend his family and clan with his life, and heed the word of three men – his father, clan head, and the king.
Generally overly protective of the females and offspring, dwarves will often keep strangers from even looking at them. The abuse of children and women is almost unheard of – though youngsters get their share of beating once they are apprenticed.
*Adultery: adultery is a terrible crime amongst the dwarves – the adulterer must face all of the husbands in combat, if they wish so – otherwise he will lose even that tiny rest of honor he had left before.
Rape is one of the most terrible crimes for a dwarf, and the punishment is death and eternal dishonor.

*Government: Zharr-Naggrund is a coalition of city-states, linked by ties of blood, ancient truces and dwarven loyalty. A High King is elected from amongst the rulers of the cities, and all dwarves are supposed to heed his word, yet this is wishful thinking: dwarven towns outside the mountain range sometimes maintain only very loose ties to the homeland, especially if the town does not possess its own Gate, and even in the heartland, dissent can lead to schisms, as demonstrated several times in the past – at one point in dwarven history, there have been three High Kings, vying for the Eternal Throne.
As to maintain good relations, the High King will not interfere with everyday matters of the cities – the king and his councilmen, the heads of the most respected clans, are the real power.
The Clan Heads can trace their lineage directly to the ancestor of the clan in an unbroken line. Most clans restrict their presence to one city, but the largest ones are spread all over the face of the world.
*Class Structure: Despite their traditionalist nature and structured everyday life, a dwarf can rise to almost any position, given sufficient effort and skill.
An important aspect of dwarven mentality is that they consider all honest jobs to be equal in prestige – a great fighter might earn renown, but a master mason’s word will weigh equally. As dwarven society grew, and one individual’s reputation could not reach all corners, so medals, decorative rings, brooches and sigils came to represent a dwarf’s accomplishments – kings and heroes, as well as elder craftsmen, can grant these tokens of honor. They will bear a representation of the achievement, and the name of the one who granted it. Thus, being given a high-ranking medal by a revered king is far more valuable than bearing one from a sovereign whose deeds were little. Also, what medals to wear on official occasions has become an art of its own – minimizing the negative and maximizing the positive reactions of the audience expected.
*Etiquette and its enforcement: Dwarves have a strong sense of propriety, duty and personal honor. The latter is very important to every dwarf – his honor is the most prized aspect, and many who are disgraced end their lives to erase the shame. Staining the honor of another through insults, slander or libeling is unwise, for this will lead to a feud, with the offended dwarf protecting his name. Most dwarves will have nothing to do with dishonorable scum, and the disgraced dwarf has to work hard to restore at least shreds of his dignity, through self-sacrifice and diligence, and one day, he might be considered honorable again, though many manage to redeem themselves only in death, and many others not even then. A few become so crazed and bereft of reason that they are only fit to be used as shock troops, the Warhounds – oblivious to pain and fear.
Dwarven etiquette demands respect to be shown to age and skill, as well as to territory and privacy. Truthfulness is a much-valued virtue – a dwarf will rarely lie, though stubbornly remaining silent, that is a wholly different matter. Priding themselves of honesty in all dealings, dwarves will rarely cheat or betray, and given trust, they do not abuse it. Bargaining hard is considered honest though: while a dwarf will not sell you goods he knows to be flawed, he might ask exorbitant prices for a product he deems to be valuable, especially if he knows you need it desperately and can pay.
*Slavery: Very few dwarves would tolerate being enslaved – either they’d rebel at the first opportunity, or take their lives. Despite this, the dwarves readily take slaves, be it enemies captured during war, or criminals of other races who were caught red-handed; sometimes, those indebted to a dwarf with large sums of money will find themselves dragged off in shackles. Still, Zharr-Naggrund takes little numbers of slaves when compared with other nations.
They are employed only for the most menial of tasks, though treated fairly well. Their owners consider them just tools that must be maintained. Abusing the slaves is considered below anyone’s dignity, thought punishing a disobedient one is seen as a necessity.
Most slaves are used for agriculture, as dwarves generally dislike being above ground for too long.

*Religion: while they acknowledge and honor the spirits of the earth and deities connected to the earth and the crafts, the only religion in Zharr-Naggrund is ancestor worship. Statues of kings and heroes of the past, songs written in their honor and rituals designed to please them are the mainstays of dwarven religious expression. Every dwarf is buried with a metal book telling his tale, and temples hold a niche containing small offerings and a constantly burning flame as a sign that his family has not forgotten. Only when a dwarf’s fire goes out and no one tells of his deeds is he considered truly dead. Up to that point he is considered to be watching over his people. The mightiest of ancestor spirits are reported to have caused miracles of great proportions, while the protection of the smaller ones is considered to be subtler – good luck, so to say.
Most dwarves will have a shrine at home dedicated to the family ancestors, while temples will serve all the deceased dwarves, as places of burial, storage of records and an abode for their spirits. Blessed tools, weapons and pieces of art are hoarded there, as to provide a place where a spirit can rest. A special kind of dwelling are the Durbru, spheres of metal adorned with carvings and prayers, serving this purpose and no other.
On the holidays of the great ancestors and heroes, which differ from city to city, though some are universal, large masses of citizens gather around the monuments and in the temples and celebrate.
All monuments will be colossal and awe-inspiring, thus evoking worship subconsciously, even from strangers, and so will most other structures – all of one’s works are considered a testimony, thus, bridges for example, will bear the names of the architect and the craftsmen, and a dwarf passing them will utter a short prayer of thanks for making such a fine bridge he can use. A great blade that survives ages and is used in countless battles is said to honor a spirit as much as a prayer.
*Liturgical form: every dwarf utters individual prayers to the ancestors after he finishes work. Most often, they consist of praise and thanks, as it is deemed impolite to bother the ancestors with trivial matters. As the saying goes: “The ancestors know best what they have to do.”
Public worship consists of a storyteller reading or chanting a formalized epos, and the gathered faithful joining in on certain passages.
*Funerary custom: the dead are buried in walls near the temple, behind metal doors with their name and profession on them. Rarely will they be given grave gods, except for their medals, and even those will sometimes rather be displayed. The dead dwarf is groomed, and oiled. Priests will carve his history into a plaque below a niche in which his candle is lit, and sing the Chant of Passage until his soul has left the body. Thus, dwarves always try to recover their dead, as to allow their spirits to be freed within safe walls, where their descendants dwell. A spirit still trapped in the dead body is said to be unable to aid his blood.
*Magic: young wizards will be apprenticed to elder spellcasters, to learn the art to aid all. Of honor learn they must and many an oath swear, yet the reward is knowledge deep, the fruit of a long carefully kept tradition. The intuitive and emotional sorcery of the Elves is frowned upon, and methodic learning and the understanding of the fundamental aspects of magic are the ways of the dwarven wizard.
Given the numerous great projects dwarves undertake, it is but natural that early on, their wizards learn to pool their power to accomplish feats impossible for someone acting alone. Thus, their works often have a strong sorcerous aspect – walls reinforced with magic, gates supported by force fields, or furnaces inhabited by fire elementals (those tend to settle in such places on their own volition frequently, though).

*Art-Graphic and Sculpture: mosaics and statues, as well as decorations on tools, weapons, furniture, just about anything, actually, make up the mainstay of dwarven art. It seems to be a fundamental drive, a need, which leads the dwarven craftsman to elaborate and decorate his products without detracting from their functionality. Scenes of legend and lore make up most of the motifs, the rest are abstract patterns. Precious stones and metals are favorite materials, stone for the rest of course.
Though it will have subtler aspects, dwarven art, especially sculpture and architecture, is mostly big. Ostentatious is a term with which you can describe most of the pieces.
*Music and dance: dwarven music is very rhythmic, and quite loud. Heroic epics and tales of great deeds tend to be quite complex, while music meant for entertainment, and work chants, are quite simple and repetitive, with lyrics you can shout, and remember even when drunk.
Feasts are accompanied by dancing and music, with most of the dances being group events, with rings or rows of dancers. The rhythm is especially important, and many dances take place on iron floors. This combined with the traditional iron-shod shoes makes for a loud event.
*Sports and games: while many a foreigner would name brawling and indulging in alcohol as the favorite dwarven pastimes, the truth is different. Many team sports originate from dwarven culture, for example Dragon’s Hoard, where rock balls are tossed onto the playing field in regular intervals, and each team must capture and haul to their home base as many as they can – the game is full-contact, so most players are armored (but then, when are dwarves not armored?). Another one is King of Elements, where players must haul four differently colored balls into the opposing team’s goal area before they score, colored red, blue, white and brown, with the white being light and bouncy, and the brown one quite heavy. Another favorite is simply called ‘Quarter’, played with four goals – if one team manages to score, regardless into which goal, it gains control of the quarter. Once a team controls all four quarters, it wins. Longer matches can require a team to win, say, three times before it is over. The teams are numerous, the ball heavy and the sticks used to propel it through the air quite dangerous. The heavy war maul of the dwarves is actually an adaptation of this sports instrument.
The more contemplative dwarves delight in board games and cards, and betting on it, too. So is chess often played with pieces of precious metal, and if you lose a figure, you must surrender it permanently to your opponent.
*Architecture: think big is the motto here. Dwarves build things to last, and while they last, they might be as well pretty to look at. Circles and octagons are frequently used forms, as well as hexagons. Buildings have a certain robust feel around them, rightly so, because dwarves build most structures also as fortifications. Key elements of buildings feature statues of mighty ancestors or heroes, for this is said to draw the spirit’s protection to the crucial element of the structure. Bridge pillars will regularly be topped with such statues, for example.
A regular element of the underground dwellings is a stone garden with running water.
Residences feature an antechamber for accepting guests – isolated well from the rest of the dwelling, a workshop or forge, and an excessive storage of food and wealth.

*Food: the surface of the land is not especially fertile, being rather rocky and the soil thin. The dwarves have done their best to increase the fertility of the land – terraced fields cover the mountain slopes, huge waterwheels pump water into the heights, and vast water reservoirs serve as backup for periods of drought. Still, dwarves are not the greatest farmers, thus leave much of the fieldwork to slaves or the inhabitants of the small human, gnomish or halfling settlements dotting the landscape.
Underground, fungus farms produce nutritious fungi, or chow for swine. Several plants that require mana currents or heat rather than light for growth are planted as well. Some of the wealthier cities have crafted sunlight enchantments in great caverns, thus allowing crops to grow below ground.
Dwarven food will be nutritious yet heavy, greasy or excessively sweet. Dwarven sweets are known to be especially durable, and sweeter than an angel’s smile.
A specialty of sorts is the rat, which dwarven cooks prepare in hundreds of ways. This is understandable when one considers that the rat is one of the few animals that follow civilization anywhere.
The drinks of choice are beer and mead, very thick and sweet, actually fluid caloric bombs.
*Cooking: dwarves cook either on stoves in their homes, or eat in large communal kitchens placed near the larger manufactures. This is the place where a single dwarf will be dining.
*Clothing: heavy wool, leather and metal are the materials of choice. Apparently as a product of a fundamental need for security, dwarves will don armor regularly, even when no danger is in sight. A chain shirt is considered casual garb. Dwarven clothing will be study, first and foremost, esthetics coming second. The underwear will most often be wool, the higher layers leather, topped with metal.
The only really colorful pieces of garb are the capes, made of wool or flax, with intricate patters woven into them. Some clans also wear colored scarves or sashes.
*Packs and containers: dwarven travelers carry leather backpacks, while goods are stored in barrels, yet most frequent are ceramic and glass containers, for storing both liquids and supplies.

*Boats: a landlocked country, Zharr-Naggrund builds few ships. The few merchant ships they have constructed in neutral dwarven holds near the sea, or in human shipyards, are huge and sturdy with a large carrying capacity, several rows of oars, and heavily plated and armed.
*Airships: a few large zeppelins cruise through the skies above Zharr-Naggrund, used for swift transport of goods and persons, as well as for military operations – bombing runs. The dwarves don’t rely on them, though.
*Land Transport: dwarves prefer to go by foot. Heavy wagons and shaggy ponies are used to transport goods, while Gorgurs (sturdy pachyderms) are employed in battle. In mines, carts on tracks transport ore. This concept has been expanded, and a few railroads already haul large quantities of goods from one city to another.

*Weapons: adaptations of tools are most often used – pickaxes, hammers and mauls are a dwarf’s weapons. Those dwelling in heavily forested areas also use axes. Spears and pikes (collapsible) also see wide use.
*Missile weapons: the crossbow is the Dwarf's missile weapon of choice - underground, the projectile's flat flight trajectory is a boon, and the short limbs of the Dwarves are not suited to larger bows. Various types of crossbow are used, from light repeaters, to heavy winch crossbows, or spring crossbows that look very much like a rifle.
Employing alchemical compounds and bound elementals, Dwarves also developed flame throwers and various hurled explosives, which are especially devastating in the narrow halls of their homes. Certain clans possess the secret to the manufacture of gunpowder weapons, and guard this jealously. The most closely guarded secret are lightning guns, fueled by storm elementals captured when tempests lash the peaks (an understandably dangerous endeavour).
Dwarves employ a wide range of war machines both below and above ground. Below, these include the infamous 'Hedgehog' (a huge crossbow that hurls a hundred bolts at once), flame cannons and huge blunderbusses. Above, these will include early cannon, ballistae, and a variety of catapults.
It is worthy of note that Dwarven war engines will be heavily enchanted, and are also very precise in comparison to their counterparts in other armies. So have Arcadese generals learned long ago that they must abandon their fanciful crests and banners when battling the Dwarves, as 'general sniping' is a favourite pastime of Dwarven war machine crews, and many a battle ended even before it began when a huge boulder squashed the fancy peacock general along with their command staff in the first minute of confrontation.
*Weaponless combat: Dwarves are not fancy about their unarmed combat - they brawl or wrestle. Still, Dwarven brawlers know well how to use their low centre of gravity to throw opponents. Rings that bestow elemental effects upon the wearer's fists are sometimes used as a discreet form of self-defense; less wealthy Dwarves use brass knuckles or iron gauntlets.
*Armor: finely woven chainmail and layered chainmail-lamellar composites are very common. Heavy infantry will wear articulated plate, or, in the case of elite shock troops, articulated plate that is enhanced with enchantments that are otherwise used to animate golems and such; this animated plate enhances the wearer's strength, and carries them to safety should they lose consciousness. Beside steel, a range of exotic metals are used in the making of armour. Being masters of thaumaturgical metallurgy, Dwarves have even invented some metals normally not found in reality. Especially high-grade armour is also heavily enchanted. The general consensus is that Dwarves make the finest armours in the world. This allows them to demand exorbitant prices, though their detractors claim that some magical armours have hidden enchantments that can be used to harm the wearer should the Dwarves wish so (the Dwarves counter that the very same people claim that Dwarven coin is enchanted to vanish from your pockets, especially in pubs and brothels).
*Shields: Large. Sturdy. Shield wall.
*Military tactics: Dwarven tactics focus around their superb heavy infantry, and destructive machinery. They employ armoured wagons to get their infantry into combat faster; they use portable portals to send heavy infantry through; they deploy their heavy infantry through tunnels, via zeppelins, or under the effect of haste spells. Their preferred field of battle is around strongpoints though, where the enemy cannot avoid confronting their stalwart troops. They will soften up the enemy first with war machine fire and various kinds of ambushes, such as collapsing cliffs upon them, prepping the field of battle with explosives, spike pits, or unleashing lava flows. If the enemy army has very specific high-priority targets, such as dragons, demons, or powerful mages, the Dwarves will strive to design devices to obliterate these entities and to demoralise the rest of the army thus. As such, fighting Dwarves is most difficult when they have had time to prepare - in which case they inevitably prepare will.
The disadvantages of Dwarves are their fairly low numbers, and the time it takes to replenish those numbers. Their armies cannot be everywhere at the same time, thus they take great pains to demonstrate irresistible force and utterly dominate an enemy when they can, so that enemies believe that any confrontation with the Dwarves will end this way. Their secretiveness means that enemies rarely know which hold is defenseless while its army is occupied elsewhere, and they do their best to conceal their numbers. The Dwarven vindictiveness is a defensive measure - they place great importance to make an example of their enemies, so that other foes know what lies in store for them should they raise arms against Zharr-Naggrund.
Setting Forge / Re: Sanctum - A World Beyond its Fate
« Last post by EchoMirage on November 14, 2017, 03:15:49 AM »
I have yet to add:
> Zharr-Naggrund, the home of the Dwarves.
> Arcadizar, the theocratic expansionist empire
> Tallarn, the cursed high elf nation
> Torre, the archipelago of half-elf pirates
> Baicuna, the lizardman homeland

Luckily, I do have something written for most of them already.
Setting Forge / Re: Sanctum - A World Beyond its Fate
« Last post by axlerowes on November 13, 2017, 09:50:31 PM »
This is as complete as many of the published worlds that people have tried to explain to me. This is pretty d**n complete, all you need is a map.
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