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Modrigswerg: Clans, Houses and Families

by Giulio Caroletti

The following write-up is based on my own "History of the Dwarven Race" and "Manuale dei Nani" (eng: "Manual of the Dwarves"). Unfortunately the Manual (incomplete, but still a 40-page pdf) is to be found only in Italian. The History of the Dwarven Race in Italian is (more or less) complete, but it might (sooner or later) be updated based on John Calvin's Shimmering Lands work, and on Zendrolion's migrations tables. It has never been fully translated to English, but the first part has been translated into English and can be found at the Vaults.

There are three dominant positions among the Modrigswerg clans:

a) hostile to Rockhome (Buhrest; Gråbjerge; Midlhyn; Sareft; Tarkor; Thrabol);
b) neutral (Fenkor; Irast; Karrdag; Stillrist);
c) friendly (Garlindwerg; Hwyr; Kurwerg);

Obviously, given the nature of Dwarves in general and Modrigswerg in particular, it would be quite difficult for someone to notice the "friendliness" between the "friendly Modrigswerg" and the Denwarf - it is mainly expressed by the fact that they don't jump at each other's throat immediately. The "enmity" instead results in the fact that at least one of the two parties is actively plotting to erase the other.

The "Kingdom of Makkres" mentioned in the article indicates the territories in NW Vestland controlled by three Modrigswerg Clans, the Buhrest, Midlhyn and Tarkor. Misanthropic and hostile to the rest of their race, their existence is not known to the Humans of the Northern Reaches.

The original inspiration for much of the material was Jacob Skytte's material for the Modrigswerg dwarves, part of which surfaced also in the Mystaran Almanac.

Modrigswerg are on average 1,20 m of height, like their Denwarf counterpart, but are a bit lighter, weighing about 60 kg. Still they are strong and resilient. They have a light amber tan, brown, grey or blue eyes, and their beards are red, blonde or brown, seldom black. Modrigswergs' life-spans are longer than the Denwarves', but, with aging, Modrigswerg are inclined to depression and maniacal behaviour, and their race have the highest number of pro-capite suicides among the humanoids races.

Clan Buhrest ("eye-of-fire") is one of the three that make up the Kingdom of Makkres. They are hostile to Rockhome Dwarves and Gnomes, and are Golem-craftsmen. Their Golems, that are shaped in the semblance of Dwarves, are used as guards and hard-labour workers, and sometimes are sold to their dwarven allies in Makkres.
The Buhrest don't deal with any other living race, no Dwarves, no Humans nor Goblinoids. The city of Buhrest is an enormous forge encased in the mountains, a black spot in which all windows burn of the red of the forges, the heating devices, the local thermal waters used for the boilers, and other vapour-based machines and mechanisms; it is so hot that the Buhrest tend to wear short-trimmed beards. Buhrest dwarves have commonly amber or reddish eyes.

These Dwarves are neutral isolationalists and live in a small valley in Soderfjord's western mountains. The Fenkor ("grey-wolf") train wolves which they use as mounts for transport and battle. There are weird rumours about Fenkor clerics that can change into wolves, but there are weird rumours in general about Modrigswerg, so it's difficult to know how much they are to be trusted. The Fenkor have a long-lasting feud with the Stillrist Clan: they blame them of having used soul-binding spells to trap the soul of one of their Kings in the Blood Crown (the royal crown of the Stillrist Clan), and have vowed to steal the Crown and destroy it.

Followers first and foremost of Garalin (the name by which Dwarves call Garl or Garal, the main gnomish deity), but also of Kagyar, they are a philosophical Clan with religious interests, and the most trusted allies of the Denwarf among the Modrigswerg. Their capital is Hammarskjöld ("hammer-and-shield"), a city hidden in the mountains of Soderfjord, not far from the Falun Caverns occupied by the Kobolds. The Garlindwerg are descendants of the dwarf Arwarfin, the first one who tried to restore peace between Denwarf and Modrigswerg.

This Clan is devoted to dark magics; they are considered the most dangerous masters of soul-binding spells for which Modrigswerg were accused of Dark Magic. The Gråbjerge ("blue/grey-mountain"), to avoid any dealing with other creatures, have hidden themselves in the depths of the mountains on the island of Noslo, in Ostland, around 1700 BC, and do not have any relationship whatsoever with the other Modrigswerg Clans.

Clan Hwyr ("wind") lives in Vestland, in the city of Durrest ("deep mountain"), one of the few dwarven settlements in Vestland whose name is known by the Northmen. Durrest hosts the Fritar Hammar ì Skjold (Brothers of the Axe and Shield), a mercenary organisation of Garlindwerg and Hwyr dwarves, and the Guild of Free Artists and Artisans, that controls most of the trades between the city of Rhoona, the Hwyr Clan, the Irast Clan and the Denwarf (both of Vestland and Rockhome). The Hwyr are allies of the Irast, have good relationships with Denwarf, Kurwerg and Garlindwerg. The Fritar know very well Mystara's Underworld, and their interest in the Falun Caverns have put them at odds with the Kobolds and the Sareft Clan. The Hwyr are enemies of the Thrabol Clan and of the Kingdom of Makkres. Their King, Whargor Gyllwurm, is over five hundred years old (even if he seems to be not a year older than two hundred), and has been a member of the Fritar before his ascent to the Dragon Throne of Durrest.

Clan Irast ("in the mountains") resides in Vestland, in a complex of underground caves linked to each other, each one settled by a family. The Irast are workaholic smiths even by dwarven standards. Their weaponsmiths are considered among the best among dwarves. The Irast don't like strangers, but after they forged weapons for Clans Karrdag and Hwyr for centuries, they have been convinced by the Hwyr to trade their weapons even to the Northmen. The Hwyr have tried to convince them to join them in an alliance with the Denwarf, but the Clan remains indifferent to politics. Clan Irast trades with Rhoona and Rockhome through the Guild of Free Artists and Artisans, but, to the Hwyr and Denwarf's dismay, they will provide weapons to any creature that can pay them enough or provide them with an artistic and/or technical challenge.

The Karrdag ("day of death") are allies of the Irast, of whom they are the best customers. The Karrdag are renowned for their mercenaries, who act often as engineers for humanoid and Modrigswerg clans. Because of that, even if they insist on being neutral toward the Denwarf, they are considered with extreme suspicion and some distaste by the latter. Although most of the Karrdag, men and women, are mercenaries, some families grow subterranean mushrooms, herd giant lizards for food, or herd sheep in the mountains. There is no political unity in the Clan: every family or mercenary company has its own system of laws and regulations. There is no central settlement for the Clan. Most families live in Vestland, some in Soderfjord.

The Kurwerg ("black dwarves") worship Kagyar and a minor dwarven Immortal known as Clangeddin (note: a better Mystaran name is sought for). The Clan's warriors are bond together in the Siblinghood of the Black Dwarves, holy warriors renowned among the dwarven population for their boldness. Allies of Rockhome, their capital is Kurats ("black axe"), ruled by Smaeg Filgor, the current Black Pope (supreme general) of the Siblinghood.
Most Kurwerg have black eyes, and black hair and beards; grey eyes are very rare, as are brown hair and beards. All the male warriors of the Siblinghood must shave their hair bald, and if they don't have black beard they have to dye it black; female warriors must, if necessary, dye their hair black.
The Kurwerg are fierce enemies of the Sareft, the Kingdom of Makkres, of the Thrabol and of the Gråbjerge. They don't like Irast and Karrdag because they consider them ambiguous and greedy, and would like to convince them somehow, by force or diplomacy, to cut their relations to goblinoids and side with the Denwarf, the Garlindwerg and themselves in their quest to "redeem" the Modrigswerg race.

The Midlhyn ("mid-lying") are the main Household and Clan of the Modrigswerg Kingdom of Makkres. They are fierce enemies of the Kurwerg, the Hwyr and the Garlindwerg, and are especially committed to the destruction of the Rockhome Denwarf.
Their goal is to build a Kingdom strong enough to gain political recognition in the Known World before the Denwarf get worried enough to decide to eradicate them from the face of the earth. This is why the Midlhyn have allied themselves with the Buhrest and Tarkor in the so-called Kingdom of Makkres alliance. The Midlhyn are secretly trying to undermine their own allies to make them submit to their King. The King of the Midlhyn is also King of Makkres and thus formally a leader of all three communities, although in practice he only rules over Makkermyr, the Clan's dominion.

Nainklint House is a family of the Hwyr Clan, and it's also one of the most important of the Fritar Hammar ì Skjold. The Nainklint are mainly Underworld explorers, and they are experts of gnomish and underground lore. Rumours say that they have gnomish blood, even that they are relatives of Highforge's royal family. Nainklint dwarves have generally blue eyes and blonde or red hair.

Clan Sareft (“southern mountain”) is one of the most degenerate among dwarves. They live in Soderfjord, on the Hardanger mountains, and are allies of Kobolds, with whom they have exchanged culture and costumes; they are expert with poisons and traps. The Sareft are considered a shame for all the dwarven race by most dwarves, Modrigswerg included. Modrigswerg themselves tell how the Sareft have forgotten most of the craft skills for whom dwarves are renowned, and cannot forge any magic-imbued item. The contact with Kobolds have contributed to their decline, beyond any possible redemption. Against the Sareft and their Kobold allies, the Kurwerg tried several Crusades (194 BC, 25-23 BC, AC 138-139, AC 344-346), without managing to wipe them out. It would be fair to say that the progressive degeneration of the Sareft stems also from these cruent wars. Recently, the Sareft have contracted an alliance with the Kingdom of Makkres.

Artisans and jewellers, the Stillrist ("suspiciously silent") are neutrals towards the other dwarven clans and are the most common Modrigswerg to be encountered in the Known World - a few Stillrist jewellers might easily be found in Soderfjord cities, usually pretending to be immigrants from Rockhome. It is believed that Stillrist know the secret of trapping souls into jewels, but nobody seems to have the proof of that. The only true enemies they have are the Fenkor dwarves, that claim that the Blood Crown of the Stillrist King contains the soul of an ancient Fenkor leader. The King resides in the city of Blyrrad ("iron blood") in Soderfjord.

The third Clan to constitute the Kingdom of Makkres, the Tarkor ("gray beard") have a fierce hatred of the Denwarf and of their sympathisers among Modrigswerg. Tarkor live at the borders between Vestland and Rockhome and trade with Giants in Jotunheim, with whom they are friendly. Most of the Tarkor have gray hair and beards. They are guided by a Council of Nobles, and it is believed that they worship Metal and Earth, and that they gain clerical and/or druidical powers from these elements.