Rhul

Compared to the dynamic kingdoms of Men and the strange doings of the inscrutable elves, the dwarves are a bastion of order and reason. Their society has been without major upheaval for over a thousand years, and the history of Rhul traces back longer than any other established civilization in the region. Even their civil wars are more like duels, being organized and adjudicated by the dwarven Parliament, known among their own kind as the Moot. The traditional leaders of the Moot are the Stone Lords, aged and respected dwarven paladins who can trace their bloodline all the way back to the Thirteen Clans who first founded the dwarven nation. The other members of the Moot are representatives from the Hundred Houses, the most powerful landed clans. It is this group that is responsible for forging the laws of dwarven society, using an incredibly lengthy set of procedural rules called simply the “Codex.”

Across all the known lands dwarvenkind are renowned for their fine craftsmanship, engineering, and prowess at building. Any child knows the quality of dwarven stonecraft, and the stout folk’s love of gold, gems and other treasures of the earth is a truism. What many people do not know is that the dwarven skill in stonework is not restricted to the dark spaces of tunnels and dungeons. They also craft many magnificent castles, keeps, towers, temples, and bridges, a fact that shocks most first time visitors to the great city of Ghord

The dwarves are the next most populous and influential of the races native to the Immoren Kingdoms after humans. Their civilization in Rhul is ancient by the measure of humanity, and the city of Ghord was counted a wonder of the age even four thousand years ago. By their own records, the dwarves were the first civilization of the region, and their clan-based society was well entrenched by the time the elves fled to Ios, while humanity was still wandering the nearby plains in savage hunter-gatherer tribes. Most of the old records have gone to dust or lost their reliability in translation and revision, but it seems likely Rhul was the beacon of western Immoren civilization when most other races were in their infancy.

Despite the age of Rhul, the dwarves who dwell there seem little interested in expansion or exploration. They believe in building, one stone at a time, one building at a time, each castle or tower designed to last the ages. Unlike their warlike human neighbors, the dwarves have never attempted to conquer or subjugate others, but any attempts to invade their own lands have met with swift and merciless reprisals. The old human barbarian tribes and warlords soon learned the folly of meddling with these small yet stalwart people. It is worth noting that even the Orgoth did not invade Rhul when they subjugated the rest of the region, although some human scholars point fingers of blame at the dwarves and claim they enjoyed trade with a single empire of mankind. There was indeed some peaceful commerce between the Orgoth empire and Rhul, but the dwarves also played a crucial role in the successful rebellion, so most have forgiven them this earlier “collaboration.”

The dwarves of Rhul have a very stable and complex social structure based on clans, and are arguably the most democratic society of the Immoren Kingdoms. Despite an outward appearance of solidarity, dwarves fight frequently among themselves. However, while bloody, these battles are highly ritualized and controlled by rigid laws. Feuds and dueling are a perfectly legitimate and encouraged method to solve disputes among the dwarves, and even building contracts and construction rights are frequently decided by skirmish.

There are several hundred thousand dwarves currently living outside Rhul, with conclaves in all the Immoren Kingdoms. They have become increasingly friendly with humanity in the last several centuries, particularly with the kingdom of Morrowden. Both races share a strong aptitude for magical technology and fine smiting and building techniques, a similar work ethic, love of profit, and other values. Yet despite other friendships, the dwarves are loyal to their own kin before any others. The security and safety of Rhul is of primary importance even to those conclaves outside their kingdom.

The Dwarven capital of Rhul is the massive fortress peak city of Ghord. For many thousands of years there have been Dwarves living in the majestic cliffs overlooking Urhluus Lake. The city visible above the surface, with its impressive towers and exotic architectural configuration, still pales when compared to the massive expanse of cavernous undercity that stretches for almost a mile down in places and covers an extensive horizontal distance that has not been accurately measured in centuries.

With all of this space many speculate that a hidden population of Dwarves must exist in Rhul but this has never been confirmed.

The Dwarves of Rhul believe most strongly in Neutrality in foreign affairs and upholding dwarven law. Both in the wartime sense and as a principle of moderation. Still Dwarves might be of any alignment, as might Humans.

Dwarves speak and write both Rhulic and common.

Dwarves have kept their trade routes open to Humans whenever the latter had a solidified kingdom, but in times of war, the Rhulfolk return to their mountain holds. Regardless, Dwarven architecture and engineering grace many a Human city, and although they had little to do with the invention of firearms, Dwarves have taken to the Human weapon as if it was their own, and many specialized components and even new types are of Dwarven make.
In addition, Dwarves maintain a mutually beneficial peace with the powerful Ogren clans of the Bloodstone Marches, and it was largely through their doing that the Half-Ogres and their barbarian kin have found peace in Western Immoren.

Deities

• Abbathor, intermediate god of greed.
• Berronar Truesilver- intermediate goddess of safety, truth, home and healing.
• Clanggedin Silverbeard-intermediate god of battle and war.
• Dugmaren Brightmantle, lesser god of scholarship, discovery and invention.
• Dumathoin, intermediate god of exploration and mining. Keeper of Secrets.
• Hanseath, lesser god of war, carousing and alcohol.
• Laduguer intermediate god of magic weapons, artisans, magic and duergar.
• Muamman Duathal, lesser god of expatriates, urban dwarves, travelers and exiles.

Clans

There are thirteen clans of Dwarves, of varying sizes. Although of the same race, each clan has its own unique physical and personal characteristics, and it is easy for a dwarf to determine another’s clan on sight alone, a task that may prove challenging for outsiders. There is a semblance of a class system amongst the different clans. Despite this, dwarves are a tight-knit bunch and will trust a fellow dwarf over an outsider.

  • Clan Crownshield – A noble clan, comprised mostly of merchants, traders and aristocrats. Have the most dealings with non-dwarves, and their wealth gives them substantial influence in dwarven political affairs.
  • Clan Stoneshield – A clan of proud fighters. The chieftain of this clan, Roryn Stoneshield, is also the captain of the Dwarven Guard, a domestic force which protects the major cities from the horrors that occasionally surface from the deeper regions. Notably taller than other dwarves
  • Clan Duergar – A reclusive clan, often refusing to associate even with other dwarves. Few outside dwarvenkind are even aware of their existence. Years without venturing beyond their mountain homes and their worship of some of the darker gods have left them with much darker skin and paler hair than their brethren.
  • Clan Stoutarm – The most widely known clan beyond dwarven borders, at least in name. Artisans and smiths of great skill, they have produced weapons of the highest quality for centuries. Recently, they have also proven to be adept gunsmiths, and have combined the two arts with the invention of the deadly Flintlock Warhammer.
  • Clan Truesilver – Although all dwarfs recognise Moradin as the dwarffather and creator, members of Clan Truesilver claim a deeper connection than most, many being clerics and paladins of Moradin. This role as speakers of Moradin’s will gives them great sway despite their small size. They are the only clan to consist of a single bloodline, which they claim can be traced back to the firstborn of Moradin.
  • Clan Copperbeard – A clan of labourers, although some of the wealthier families ply trade as artisans. One of the larger clans, despite many of this clan choosing to leave Rhul. Most dwarven enclaves outside Rhul are managed by a Copperbeard. For unknown reason, nearly all clan members are red-haired, and their distinctive appearance and surly nature is somewhat responsible for the dwarf stereotype familiar to outsiders.
  • Clan Highforge – Another merchant clan. Notable for their worship of Abbathor and their long standing feud with Clan Crownshield, although their constant in-fighting and power struggles prevent them from seeing the same level of financial success. Clam Highforge is also notable for being the only clan with a female chieftain.
  • Clan Goldhammer – Artisans and masons. They are able to work intricate details into almost any type of metal or stone. Although their stonework (much of which adorns the capital city buildings) lasts for centuries, their metalwork is often fragile and unsuited for weaponry. Many wealthier dwarves will have their Stoutarm forged weapons taken to Goldhammer smiths for detailing, and there are often partnerships between smiths of the two clans.
  • Clan Fireheart – A small and select order, recognised as a clan mainly for political purposes. It is made up of mostly of a few small families, although anyone born into another clan is eligible to join. Clan Fireheart are the keepers of dwarven law and history. Members of the clan/order have various roles, with lower ranked members being scribes and adjudicating minor disputes and duels, while the highest ranking members are scholars and ultimate arbiters of the law
  • Clan Elderhall – The most prominent of the military clans, with clan chieftain NAME also being General of the national army (not to be confused with the Dwarven Guard) and a renowned tactician. There are numerous Elderhall squadrons famous for their precise tactical manoeuvres, and many tales exist of a small number of Elderhalls defeating much larger hosts of enemies
  • Clan Blackfist – Although adept at battle and producing some of the greatest warrior heroes celebrated in epic war songs, Clan Blackfist are generally lacking in military discipline. Members of this clan generally favour solo adventuring or mercenary work over joining the military or Dwarven Guard.
  • Clan Greystone – Miners and explorers, responsible for a large portion of Rhul’s wealth. They have a natural knack for finding gems, which they either sell to Crownshields and Highforges, or sacrifice to the god Dumathoin. They are easily recognised by their untrimmed beards and hair.
  • Clan Brighthelm – Another military clan, paladins of the war-god Clanggedin Silverbeard. They have their own dedicated regiment in the military, and are feared for their deadly dual-axe techniques.

Rhul

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