Atlas Rules Resources Adventures Stories FAQ Search Links
The (Not So) Young races, a guide to Dwarves and Gnomesby Giulio Caroletti from Threshold Magazine issue 14
THE (NOT SO) YOUNG RACES
A Guide to Dwarves and Gnomes of Eastern Brun
By Giulio Caroletti
Another Threshold issue, another article limited in scope and objective, following the rules on the use of space and time in RPG campaign writing that I have slowly built up in my previous articles on Thyatis up to now.
For those blissfully unaware of my vision for fantasy writing, suffice to say that I object to undying cultures soaring unscathed through millennia, set in the unchanging stone of one-page descriptions of cities that never change names and lands that never change in ethnic composition and language. I object to huge empires occupying whole regions or even continents, with little diversity and less adventure possibilities.
Luckily enough, this is quite rare in Mystara. However, both in my writing and in that of friends and fans of this setting, it is easy, sometimes, to slip, eager as we are to fill in the minimal details of the setting. The Known World is an excellent example of good spatial writing: many cultures with different histories are crammed in a relatively small area. But this is just like it is in real world and real history. Take Great Britain, where even before the migrations from African and Asian countries, the Anglo-Saxon descended English lived on the island along Celtic Welsh, Cornish and Scottish, and four aboriginal languages are spoken over an area of 209,000 km2 (or 80,000 sq mi), with a nobility of French-Norman and Anglo-Saxon origin and a German-born royal family. Take Levant, take the Balkans, take South Africa, take Indochina. Even the apparently most monolithic states like Russia and the US are in fact multiethnic empires with many cultures and internal differences.
One of the most loved products of the Mystara line - and well deservedly so, the fantastic Hollow World campaign setting, written by Aaron Allston, tried to give a comprehensive vision of the history of the world from prehistory to AC 1000 (the notorious Time of the Gazetteers). The results were not less astonishing than the gargantuan scope and width of the opus. The history of the surface and hollow worlds as presented in the Dungeon Master book, which tried to summarize, complete and develop the individual histories presented in the 14 original Gazetteers of the Known World, is the starting point for every fan writer who wants to expand on Mystara’s civilizations and races, on their history and their past, and to develop new cultures and lands.
However, given the huge endeavour attempted by Allston, it was not possible to avoid some minor oversimplifications that have haunted the Mystaran community ever since. After all, like theologians trying to establish absolute truths from prophets’ writings; like philologists trying to reconstruct old, fragmented literary works; like historians trying to put together and validate archaeological findings and old parchments; the Mystaran fan tries to stay as close as possible to the so-called Canon, and to twist it to his own vision when contradictions and holes emerge from it. And the history of the dwarven race has problematic aspects that deserve to be addressed, in order to open space (and time) to writers who have never dared confront one of the basic tenements of demihuman history on Mystara: namely, the fact that all dwarves of the world descend from the same racial stock, the dwarves living in the Northern Reaches around 1800 BC.
In this article, I will try to present my vision of the Denwarf and their relative clans. The Denwarf are the Dwarves of Rockhome: reborn in 1800 BC out of the dying remnants of the original, pre-Blackmoorian dwarven race, which was living in the area now known as the Northern Reaches, battered and beaten by radioactive catastrophes, harsh environment, and constant struggle with enemy races.
As mentioned above, in the original Mystaran products, all dwarves of the world descend by one half of the few hundred survivors that Kagyar and Garl left on the surface world, reshaped to survive magic and radiations, and planted in Rockhome (the other half were transplanted to the Hollow World as the Kogolor dwarves). Over time, I started to feel that this was a bit limited for a world as big as Mystara, and that it would be a hindrance to creativity, as it would force every possible dwarven culture on the planet to be reconnected to the dwarves of Rockhome, something that might be difficult to do and implausible. What chance is there that every dwarven civilization descends from a dwarven colonizing party that left Rockhome 50, 200 or 400 years ago to end up in Zyxl, in south-western Davania, or Hyborea?
Not only dwarves: even gnomes have always been underdeveloped on Mystara; and their history is sketchy, full of contradictions, with gnomish races very different from each other and scattered across the world in a patchwork of apparently unrelated cultures. So even here, I tried to separate the history of the Known World’s gnomes from that of the other, faraway cultures that don’t seem to be closely related to the Eastern Brun gnomes.
In the end, I decided to collect and order the history of the Known World dwarves and gnomes as it has been written and developed over time, sometimes in self-contradicting fashion even in official TSR products. I have used as main sources the Hollow World boxed set and the Gazetteer line, especially The Dwarves of Rockhome by Aaron Allston and The Northern Reaches by Ken Rolston. For Serraine, the material has been mainly lifted out of the Creature Crucible product “Top Ballista”. For the Blackmoor era, I have used material written by Dave Arneson, and fan material written by Håvard Faanes, Francesco Defferrari (New Blackmoor, BC 3050, and “Past Ages of Mystara”) and Old Dawg (“Hail Thonia!”). For the struggles of dwarves after the Great Rain of Fire, I have used John Calvin’s 2300 BC material, especially for the history and culture of the Shimmering Lands, and once again Francesco Defferrari’s “Past Ages of Mystara”. For the civil war between Kagyar’s followers and the ancestors of the Modrigswerg, and the history of dwarves from 1800 BC to about 500 BC, I have used my own material coming from the History of the Dwarven Race at the Vaults of Pandius web site. I have tried to note and discuss most references in text notes, but some authors that I have cited or that might have inspired me will surely have escaped me. I hope they will forgive me for this.
The Young Races
Humans were born many thousands of years ago. Some scholars say they descended from ape-like creatures, and in the course of time evolved into less and less primitive creatures, able to walk straight on their two legs, with hands and an opposable thumb. Others suggest that humans were created as such by the Immortals, or that Immortals shaped them at some point out of other, lesser creatures.
Elves too are ancient creatures. Their origin is not known, but they appeared in the history of Mystara some six thousand years ago, according to their own chronicles. Hin, or halfling, as they are mockingly called by the bigger races, appeared in Mystara's history at about the same time, close to the region where the first Elven civilization, Evergrun, grew on Davania.
It was only much later, some 2800 years ago, long after the Great Rain of Fire, that a new race appeared on Mystara: the dwarves. Created by Kagyar the Artisan, they were moulded by Him in His image: a sturdy, no-nonsense race, strong and resistant, able to walk long distances in the mountains, but also suited to work and thrive in the depths of the earth. More or less at the same time, Garal Glitterlode, Kagyar's best friend and companion among the Immortals, created the gnomes, lighter than the dwarves, in size and also in spirit. Dwarves and gnomes, last of the major races to appear on the Known World, have been also called the Young Races.
The Young Races entered the history of the Known World much later, though. Contacts with other races remained minimal, with the exception of a military occupation of Shaerdon, the Hin homeland in the Known World, which did not last long and left no major traces in the history of that country. At the same time, around 900 BC, a rise in humanoid activity forced dwarves and gnomes into almost total isolation from the rest of the world for five centuries, surrounded by enemies and confined by hostile creatures in the kingdoms of Rockhome and Falun.
In 492 BC, the dwarven and gnomish coalition won a decisive battle against the humanoids led by Queen Ubdala at Sardal Pass, but they were defeated at the Falun Caverns: Kobolds and other humanoids occupied the gnomish mainland in 490 BC. This last victory of the humanoids settled the frontier between the Young Races' lands and the humanoids' for a long time. Gnomes have since created smaller city-states and strongholds which dot the continent of Brun; but they have never ever had a major country for themselves.
Dwarves and gnomes are wary races, and have always planned cautiously and carefully their expansion – through colonization or emigration – into other areas of the world. With the exception of Dengar (which, in other languages of the Known World, is translated as – Rockhome, Steenheim, Domuspetrae, Lithopolis, Casa di Roccia), dwarves and gnomes do not exert political control over sizeable nation-states, contrarily to elves1 and especially humans. This has led them at the same time to be highly acceptable and tolerant towards other cultures, and to keep very strong ties to their own cultures and places of origin.
Dwarves and gnomes are young, prolific races on the rise - they have been slowly growing and building communities around Brun, on the Isle of Dawn, and on Alphatia, for over one millennium now. For the most part, they are an added value to the regions where they have settled, because of their serious and law-abiding nature, and because of their technical and intellectual skills as artisans, craftsmen, technicians, engineers, and scientists. Few are the regions, from Brun to Alphatia, where dwarven and gnomish communities cannot be found in the main cities and market towns.
The Not So Young Races
In fact, dwarves and gnomes are much older than most think. Descended from the same stock than humans and giants, dwarves started their quest toward civilization around 6000 BC, when they were barbaric mountain and foothill dwellers, mostly goatherds, in the land bridges between Brun and Skothar.
Originally, Dwarves called themselves dhwerg; later on, the name took different dialectal forms, like dwerg, duerg, twerg, dreg, dwerch, dvergr and dwargh. Dwerg is still the term used by Modrigswerg dwarves (a name which in turns comes from modrig+dwerg), while Denwarf dwarves use the commonly known dwarf (from dwargh → dwarf, after a process of guttural shift common in Antalian languages). In most combined words, the weak d in front of dwerg or dwarf is muted or cancelled outright (denwarf, wyrwarf).
Dwarves of the First Age
What the dwarves know: According to the most ancient dwarven chronicles, dwarves had developed a cultural identity at least as far back as 4000 BC2. At that time dwarves were not so shy and reserved, nor were they so obsessed with chronicling, age-reckoning and with their genealogies. This is a shame for dwarven historians, as they feel so much must have been lost; however, it is unlikely that much information would have survived anyway, after the Great Rain of Fire.
This era is called the First Age by dwarven historians. At the dawn of the First Age, Dwarves were mostly interested in agriculture and craftsmanship, and they hadn't developed their interest for mining and underground. It is believed that Dwarves were much more open-minded, friendly and open toward strangers than they are now.
With the slow rise of Thonia3 and Blackmoor, dwarves created their first civilization on western Skothar. There were dwarves in the Empire of Thonia, although it is not clear whether they were citizens, a subject race, or if they constituted a protectorate, were allies to the Empire, or were fully independent.
At some point, Blackmoor became a huge Empire, and begun a meteoritic rise thanks to its incredible magic. It overshadowed Thonia and managed to build colonies around the world. This growth, however, got quickly out of control, and in 3000 BC the Blackmoorian magical arts resulted in a terrible catastrophe known as the Great Rain of Fire. When the Great Rain of Fire destroyed Blackmoor, some of the Skotharian dwarves living close to Blackmoor, and some of their colonies on Brun, were able to survive, even though they suffered horribly and their dark ages begun.
What the DM knows: It is believed that elves and hin originated in the southern continent of Davania, while the first humans developed in the savannas and plains of eastern Skothar, where the Tanagoro now roam.
The common ancestors of dwarves and giants, instead, rose in the land bridges between Brun and Skothar, many tens of thousands of years ago. These ancestors were closer to the current giants than to dwarves: like many other creatures living in the last ice age, like mammoths, smilodons, and others, they were giantish, furry creatures apt to these extremely cold environments.
The two kins drifted away as the gradual warming of the planet brought the ancestors of the giants further north to the colder climates, and up on the higher mountains; while the ancestors of the dwarves moved south to warmer areas and less impenetrable mountains and hills, and became shorter and bulkier in the process. Through many millennia, and possibly Immortal intervention, this resulted in the birth of the modern dwarven specimens.
Fast forward to the Thonian and Blackmoorian eras4. Thonia is the first large human civilization on Mystara5. The First Republic of Thonia was founded in 5000 BC. At the time, the Fey people lived in the woods of the Thonian Republic and went along well with humans6. In the following centuries, the Republic met some crisis and decline, and it was founded again two more times. After nearly a millennium, around 4000 BC, the Third Republic of Thonia was more an empire-like nation, arbitrarily ruled by the Emperor of All.
It is not known how many dwarves there were during the first Thonian millennium, nor where they exactly dwelt at the time. Most sources agree that the main dwarven lands were located on the landbridge between Brun and Skothar. What we know for sure is that an independent dwarven colony was founded at the northern border of the Thonian Empire, close to Blackmoor, by Uberstar Khazakhum; and that at the same time some dwarves were part of the multicultural and multi-ethnic Thonian Empire. It is not established whether Uberstar and his followers were originally subjects of the Thonian Empire, either.
The year 4887 BC is the legendary birth date of the dwarven hero Uberstar Khazakhum. It was in 4487 BC that he established the Northern Delving mines ( also known as the Great Mines), in the Crystal Peaks mountains, just north of the northern border of the Thonian Empire7. A few years later, a smaller colony, the Duchy of Evedhur8, was founded within the Empire of Thonia.
Dwarves had been good mountaineers, adapted to the mountain environments where iron, minerals and precious ore could be mined. So it was only natural that they were favoured in comparison to other races in specializing first as miners and then as engineers and underground architects. They even invented steam engines, a technology that would be lost after the Great Rain of Fire for millennia9.
The northern Khazakhum dwarves developed a culture that in interests, although not in attitude and morality, was more similar to the modern Denwarf. The Khazakhum were proud and boastful, much more than the humble and cautious Denwarf are today. They were easy-going especially towards humans, and happy to adopt their friends and their families in their own through the “Dwarf friend ritual”.
It is interesting to note that dwarves at the time weren't suspicious of magic – and were even able to become wizards and sorcerers. As the Khazakhum controlled the major mines of the north, they also controlled the major locations of the raw gems wizards needed to create spell foci; this made them natural allies for the spellcasters. Even at the time, however, the Khazakhum dwarves mistrusted and disliked elves, whom they found boorish and self-serving10. Last but not least, having settled the northernmost areas of Skothar and the land bridge, they were among the first creatures to be attacked by the savage beastmen coming from the north: creatures of Hel, born out of the reincarnated spirits of evil beings, the beastmen, unable to breed true, were the ancestors of most modern humanoids . By 4000 BC, the Khazakhum and the beastmen had already fought five major wars.
Khazakhum society at the time was male-dominated. However, dwarves were not a very prolific race, and since, from a certain point onward, female births were steadily on the decline, this caused a rising role for them.
The Khazakhum worshipped Immortals that are either lost or have long changed their names and interests over Mystaran races: Dhumnon, the lord of the Khazakhum pantheon; Hemgrid, older brother of Dhumnon and former lord of the pantheon11; Koorzun, the good patron of dwarven wizards; and the feared Gorrim, the evil god of destruction and of the underworld12.
Many of the cultural traits established at this time by the Khazakhum would then pass on to their descendants, the Denwarf and Modrigswerg, the two dwarven races of the Known World.
Once again it is important to remind readers that the Khazakhum are just one of a multitude of possible dwarven cultures and races present during the Blackmoorian Era. It is entirely possible that other dwarven races of Mystara exist nowadays, unrelated to the modern Denwarf.
The city of Blackmoor, the first official settlement of the Thonian Empire beyond the North, was established around 4250 BC. At the time, the North already had several inhabitants: the Unwanted (exiles and criminals fleeing Thonia), the Khazakhum dwarves, the Cumasti and Westryn elves, the Docrae (possibly related to Hin), and several beastmen clans. Among the founders of Blackmoor was also the mortal form of the Immortal Khoronus13. The whole region was annexed to the Thonian Empire and called the Province of the North. It is possible that the Feys' migration to the Northlands happened in this period, as the Feys were disappointed by the increasingly authoritarian government of the Thonian Empire14.
In the following time, new states, like the Duchy of the Peaks and the Duchy of Ten, were established; the Cult of the Frog was born; Skandaharian reavers started harassing the coasts of the North; and the mysterious creature known as the Egg of Coot appeared. Afridhi raiders, followers of the firegod Zugzul, conquered the lands of neighbouring nations, like the Valemen and the Peshwah, and occupied the Duchy of Ten (4015 BC). As the Thonian emperors sought peace with the invaders and failed the northern marches, Uther Andahar, Baron of Blackmoor since 4025 BC, seceded from Thonia and became King (401015 BC).
In 4006 BC, the alien spaceship Beagle crash-lands on Mystara, in the Valley of the Ancients, a desert lowland south of Blackmoor. The events of the DA1-DA4 adventures take place around year 4000 BC. Among the huge consequences of these events is the fact that both Blackmoorians and the Cult of the Frog get access to high technology extracted from the Beagle. At some point, the Beagle is annihilated by an explosion, creating in the process the Immortal Benekander out of one of the crew members16.
Thanks to the Beagle's technology, the Blackmoorians build a technological society that imposes itself on its neighbours. By 3500 BC, the Empire of Thonia is conquered by the Kingdom of Blackmoor17; the Fey, disturbed by the alien technology of Blackmoor, seek shelter in the woods of the Azcans and Oltecs18. More or less at the same time, the Blackmoorians meet the elves of Evergrun, who swiftly embrace their technology. Four clans of Evergrun (Celebryl, Porador, Felistyr, Gelbalf) settle in the lands of Blackmoor19.
Priests of Blackmoor begin a crusade against the Beastmen, whose ancestral homelands are located in the Borean Valley20. Elves join them. These are the ancestors of other Brunian post-cataclysmic elves21.
By 3200 BC, Blackmoor crusaders have pushed the beastmen to the lands of Hyborea and closer to the old North Pole22.
The Great Rain of Fire takes place in 3000 BC, during the sixth year of reign of Reger I, Emperor of Thonia and King of Blackmoor. Metropolitan Blackmoor and most of its colonies are destroyed.
Most of the dwarves of the First Age, having revelled in the Blackmoorian technology and having been a technological and technomantic force in the Empire, fall with Blackmoor. However, the ancestors of the current dwarves of eastern Brun, somehow survive23.
Dwarves of the Second Age
What the dwarves know: At the time of the Rain of Fire (3000 BC), all dwarven colonies near Blackmoor were immediately destroyed. According to the few remaining literary fragments from those days, the dust clouds that were raised shaded the sun for years and made the temperature drop. The dust brought skin-affecting diseases and cancer, that fell upon the dwarves and their neighbours. In order to flee from sure death, dwarves built new homes underground. Having become soft with the comfort of Blackmoorian magic as a substitute for their mining and engineering activities, they had to re-learn their old techniques the hard way.
In those years, Rockhome's climate was beginning to change toward ice-age: the mountains were always covered with ice and the dwarven agricultural skills were failing. Dwarves lost gradually contact with their neighbours, human and humanoid races became extinct, disappeared or fled from the Known World. Little use to the dwarves were the friendship they matured with another race, the Gnomes, around 2900 BC. Gnomes are believed to be related to dwarves, and moreover both races revered the Immortals Kagyar (whom the gnomes also call Karl or Karal) and Garalin (whom Gnomes call Garl or Garal).
In the end, after wars for survival had wiped out all the last traces of culture, only dwarves remained, in the regions near Rockhome, apart from the gnomes, who were settled in the area now known as Northern Reaches.
The diseases continued to harass the dwarven race: even if the climate, around 2500 BC, had slowly begun to revert to normal, most children were stillborn, or bore deformities, and many dwarves were born sterile. Around 2000 BC, only some ten thousand dwarves were present, and the race was facing the risk of total annihilation, of extinction. Most knowledge of their past had disappeared with their lost greatness; in a desperate move to avoid ultimate oblivion, clinching to their art and their existence as the testimony of a race condemned to death, the dwarves begun to compile extremely precise and definite genealogies of their families and clans, descriptions of their activities and history, while living their desperate lives. However, one of the six surviving dwarven clans, the Hrukats, got in touch with the dark elves.
The dark elves had been enemies of the dwarves in the past. They were servitors of the Father of Demons, and lived north of Rockhome. The Hrukats Clan was in charge of the fortresses in the north that had been built to repel the dark elves in the past. The Hrukats were proud and noble, and had always defeated the enemies of the dwarven race, defending the other Clans from the threats in the north. After the defeat of the dark elves, the Hrukats had remained to guard the passes, waiting for an enemy that for a long time didn't show itself again.
Four centuries after the last battle, the dark elves returned. After long years of decadence and desolation, the Hrukats were ready to downplay the old enmity and their adoration of the Father of Demons when the dark elves pretended to offer a truce and an aid to the Hrukats. Although the Hrukats King expelled the dark elves, he secretly arranged to have some meetings to discuss the matter.
The Father of Demons was an obscure divinity. According to the ancient dwarven mythology, he had fathered some of the most foul of creatures: Garm, the Devourer of the Sun; the Midgard serpent, a monstrous demonic snake enchained beneath the oceans by the Immortals, whose desperate movements to free itself could cause earthquakes and sink huge continents; and Fenris the wolf, who could kill an Immortal by swallowing him or her whole. Later on, the Vikings would identify the Father of Demons with Loki, although currently the dwarven clerics suggest that the Father of Demons was more probably Orcus or Demogorgon.
The dark elves told their necromantic arts to the Hrukats, promising the King that these arts would slow and prevent the decline of his people. The King, his counsellors and their closer relatives became thus, secretly, powerful necromancers. In the beginning, they used their spells to halt and then erase the diseases from the population: but Evil always corrupts whoever uses its powers, and in the end the Hrukats leaders became tainted by Evil, isolating the Clan from their brethren in the south.
The dark arts tainted the heart and soul of the dwarven necromancers, madness spread and the cult of the Father of Demons spread too, openly. Most of the population, having been denied any contact with the other dwarves, forced to live always in the depths of the earth, ruled by necromancers, became apathetic and indifferent, while instigators at the service of the dark elves spoke against Kagyar and Garalin, and told the Dwarves that their patrons were to be blamed for their condition, as they had forgotten their race and left them to suffer in the claws of Evil. Around 1900 BC, the southern dwarves begun to see clearly what was happening, and started to plan a way to expel all Hrukats from Rockhome. However, given the necromantic arts of their rulers, that had halted diseases and sterility, the Hrukats counted the same number as all the other clans together. Called Moadreg ("dark dwarves") by their own brethren, the most impious among the Hrukats rulers planned an attack against their own race, allied with the dark elves, with whom they forged five cursed weapons, each built appositely to be used against each remaining dwarven Clan.
A group of dissident Hrukats were able to discover the plot and managed to convince the other dwarves that something dangerous was happening and that they had to move before the Moadreg did. The dwarves held a Council (1812 BC). Here they decided to attack immediately, before the Hrukats were ready, hoping in a spontaneous revolt among the Hrukats population. However, the intransigent nature of the dwarven race, and the malice spread by the followers of the dark elves (whose purpose was to destroy the whole dwarven race, like the Father of Demons wanted), had caused most of the population to actually hate and despise their southern cousins because they believed that they had been indifferent to their fate before, and now only desired to conquer and destroy them, blaming the whole Hrukats Clan for what was just the responsibility of their rulers (and of their gods, moreover).
The dwarven attack was extremely hard. The five Clans strangled the Hrukats in a long siege, that went on for six years. The Hrukats were suddenly abandoned by their allies, the dark elves, and the Moadreg had to crush internal revolts in blood-baths. In the end, the dark elves had nearly obtained their goal, as the dwarven population had nearly halved itself with the long and bloody, cruel war, and the race was near extinction. Desperate, the Necromancer-King of the Hrukats surrendered (1806 BC).
Hate between the two dwarven factions was at its peak. Both had suffered terrible hardships; the life of dwarves in the last thousand years had just been suffering and desperation. Almost bursting in tears, the Moadreg-King of the Hrukats, the son of the dwarf who had allied himself with the dark elves, shouted his wrath against the southern dwarves, saying they were just jealous of the achievements of his necromantic comrades: they had relieved the Hrukats from the curse and disease of Blackmoor, from sterility, and to do so they hadn't hesitated to use every means. Crippled, suffering and debilitated because of the dwarven race disease, the general of the dwarven army, Commander Tor, showed his plagues and his sore body to the bounded Moadreg and proclaimed: "In no way shall the dwarven race be consumed and tormented by the Disease of the Soul, even when this shall mean be consumed and tormented by the Disease of the Body! So, all dwarves who stipulated the insane alliance with the Forces of Evil and the dark elves and the Father of Demons will not be dwarves anymore! And their name will be removed from the Clans Chronicles. The Hrukats Clan is dead, it doesn't exist anymore. But you surrendered, so we will leave your people to leave our land. However, you and your batmen are sentenced to death, in the name of Kagyar and Garalin."
So the survivors of the Hrukats Clan left Rockhome and moved, in shame, east to the mountains at the border between Rockhome and the lands of the gnomes.
The pride of the dwarves of the five Clans moved the heart of Kagyar the Artisan, the Immortal who had always loved the dwarves. Kagyar has never wanted to interfere with the lives of mortals: he is a respectful divinity, who wants to leave mortals free to choose and live their lives, according to their laws, and not as pawns of the Immortals. But in that time, the only time in the history of Mystara, Kagyar stepped in and acted, saving the dwarves24. In 1800 BC he sent them Denwarf, a dwarf with great powers, that would guide them and save them from death. Denwarf was the first cleric of the dwarves. He cured the dwarves of their diseases and brought to them many secrets that Kagyar and Garalin themselves had taught him.
What the DM knows: When Blackmoor came to an abrupt end in the Great Rain of Fire (3000 BC), part of the Known World was in an Ice Age25. The Great Rain of Fire shifted the planet's axis: Blackmoor became the north pole and its civilization disappeared outright. One of the Blackmoor devices, however, remained untouched in the Broken Lands. The northern areas of the Known World, on the other hand, slowly became habitable as ice receded from the region.
Although the Great Rain of Fire’s destruction was beyond compare, its aftereffects were just as violent. Those that survived were subjected to the wasting disease. Life became painfully short as the flesh literally wasted away from the bones. There were ways to fight the Wasting (as it was called) else nobody would have survived at all.
Giants and humanoids fared the best during these times. The giants seemed to be immune to the Wasting, while the humanoids actually seemed to thrive under it. Giant nations sprung up filling the void when human and elven nations crumbled. The humanoids increased in number (and in species) and spread destruction wherever they went.
The Thonian colonists, who had settled south-eastern Brun, started rebuilding their civilization, isolated from neighbouring forces. Around 2500 BC they will resurface as the Taymorans, a people with bronze age technology. Metalworking and social advancements were preserved during the Great Rain of Fire age by a cadre of Nosferatu followers of Nyx, so the Taymorans turned to necromantic magics and entropic Immortals in order to sustain themselves.
The elven colonists on Brun suffered different faiths. Some, the ancestors of the Genalleth elves, fled to Wendar26. Others retreated into caves, farther and farther into the depths of Mystara. The first four clans to settle close to the Brunian colonies became the Shadow Elves. Some clans devolved into degenerate cave dwellers - barbarians little better than animals. Most died out. Some other clans, in order to preserve their society, turned to dark entities for sustenance. These clans eventually became the dark elves27.
The southern elves had a schism over a debate about whether to return to the old ways of the Immortals, or to continue seeking solace from Blackmoorian technologies. Those who shunned Blackmoor left their brethren and migrated northward. With the help of the Immortals it is said that they found ways to contain the Wasting, and even to remove it from the environment around them.
The dwarves of Brun who survived the cataclysm faced a similar situation. The polar shift changed the climate drastically for the dwarven colonies of Brun, thrusting their civilization into a wintry turmoil almost overnight. The Brunian dwarves struggled to find food and shelter in an increasingly hostile environment.
But the dwarves of Skothar had no such dilemma. To them Blackmoorian technology had become a way of life, and there was no question about shunning it. They continued to use Blackmoorian technology, and their numbers continued to dwindle. During their struggle for survival they discovered a new form of magic. Radiomancy they called it, and it was more powerful than any magic they had ever known before. The Radiomancers worked great miracles to save their people from the Wasting, and for a time they even succeeded. In the end they did more harm than good however, as their newfound powers tapped into the forces that were actually the cause of the wasting disease. It seems strange that they did not discover this fact (for nearly every other race that had dealings with them knew, or at least guessed at it), but perhaps their lust for power blinded them to it. Wherever the dwarves went, they were shunned and persecuted by all around them and their numbers continued to dwindle.
At the same time, most of the dwarves of Brun simply abandoned the dangerous technology of Blackmoor, that they were not dependent upon anyway, and clung to their hilly pastures and low mountain terraces, eventually settling in the areas between the Wyrmsteeth Range in Norwold and nowadays Heldann. These were the ancestors of the Kogolor dwarves. The difficult choice for the dwarves was to live in the Norwold and Heldannic mountains, colder but farther away from the evil winds blowing over the sea from the east, or to live in the warmer environments on the leeside of the Rockhome mountains and in the Northern Reaches, more affected by the radioactive winds.
By 2900 BC, most of the Dwarves living in these latter areas were so severely affected, that the Immortal Garl Glitterlode, once a dwarf himself, and thus sympathetic to their fate, sends his Vision promising to deliver the dwarves from their sickness, if they accepted a radical re-shaping of their nature. The dwarves of the Northern Reaches clans took to Garl's way, and were changed into modern gnomes, slightly smaller than dwarves, more resistant to radiation and disease, and more adaptable to their surroundings. Gnomes in the Known World readily expanded west towards Rockhome, and were the original settlers of that land.
The northern clans, however, had to fight against the dangerous radiations on their own terms. And they would probably have succeeded, if two major events hadn’t shaken their history, bringing about the eventual demise of their civilization.
The first of these events happened to a major community who had moved along the coast from Norwold to the areas of current Wyrmsteeth, under the guidance of a dwarf named Lugett Yardrak28. Guided by a prophetic vision of an Immortal of light and radiance, he drove his people to the south and disappeared amidst caverns where his Immortal patron told him he would find salvation for his people. Studying his notes, his son Kardrof led a second expedition. This led the dwarves into the arms of the dark elves, who were happy to teach them foul, defiling spells that could cure them and sustain their bodies. Yardrak’s clan became thus the most powerful in the region, and the Entropic magics spread among the dwarves of eastern Brun, gradually replacing the old ways among many clans. Others, especially in the fringe areas of dwarven territories, remained wary of the strange magic of Yardrak’s clan, and stayed true to the old ways.
The second of these events took place on Skothar. Although the surviving Skotharian Khazakhum dwarves had made some progress in fighting the wasting disease, they realized that they were losing the battle. It was generally believed that they have remained too close to the site of the disaster. They resolved to leave their homeland in search of a less deadly abode, and crossed over the Bridge of Oost to reach Brun in 2602 BC.
They settled between the Bridge of Oost, Norwold and the Northern Reaches. Although their numbers continued to dwindle they were able to subjugate tribes of humanoids and giant-kin with their superior arcane power. Despite moving a great distance from their homeland, the wasting disease still plagued them and many of their sorcerers unknowingly exacerbated the situation by practicing the arts of Radiomancy. Radiomancy was becoming ingrained into their society, as the dwarves used its magic to power their spells as well as their creations. Many wizards still made an annual pilgrimage to their homeland, where their magic was strongest.
The arrival of the Skotharian dwarves came not unnoticed to the Brunian dwarves: they were in fact more numerous than gnomes, Yardrak and Fuldreg (western dwarves) combined. Some of the Kogolor joined their newly-arrived brethren, attracted by their advanced technology; others, terrified by their radiomantic magic and even more wasted appearance, hid deeper in the mountains or moved at the fringe of dwarven lands. Still others finally decided to flock to the banner of the Yardrak dwarves. In the course of the following century, the Sanndreg (“eastern dwarves”, as the Skotharian dwarves were called), the Yardrak, the Fuldreg and the gnomes were put more and more under pressure from other races, so the loose clans and houses had to intensify their collaboration in order to survive.
Throughout most of the rest of the world, the effects of the wasting disease lessened. It could still be felt (especially in Brun), but slowly populations were beginning to grow again.
Rafiel took an interest in the Sanndreg and prompted them to begin building a wondrous artifact on the Bridge of Oost called the Gate of Light (2576 BC). Dwarven radiomancers broke their traditional seclusion and formed a community around the artefact.
By 2550 BC, the Dwarven conflicts with their neighbours intensified. Giants, elves, even dragons in the area, took an immediate disliking to the plague bearing dwarves. Some of the giant tribes began to work together to repel the new invaders.
In an effort to prevail against their enemies, the Yardrak dwarves shared with the Sanndreg the dark pacts with beings of other worlds that they have practiced since their first meeting with the dark elves.
In BC 2473, Dranwyrf finally united most of the clans of the Northern Reaches, the Bridge of Oost and Rockhome in a major coalition, and made a final stand in the Makkres Mountains against the giant and elven hordes persecuting his people. The combined strength of the dwarves and gnomes crushed their enemies like copper on an anvil. Dranwyrf was named “First King of the Shimmering Lands” and the site of the battle became Drangyr, the first gatherhold of the Moadreg, the new name for the unified dwarves. Moadreg means “molten dwarves”, with “moad” being the term used by dwarves to indicate the molten metals fused together in the forge to create new materials. Fringe clans of Kogolor dwarves and gnomes continued to live north and west of the Shimmering Lands, carving out peaceful but harsh lives as farmers and herders, shunning their degenerated brethren.
While the situation was slowly stabilizing itself, in BC 2400 massive volcanic eruptions in Vulcania destroyed the elvish civilizations on that continent and sent gouts of black ash swirling into the atmosphere. The resulting clouds plunged the world again into decades of darkness and despair as the climate shifted and hunger and death plagued the lands once more. The influence of the demon worshipping Yardrek grew among the dwarves.
The beastmen of the frozen north begun to breed true and started exploring the more desirable territories to the south. The tribes gathered at Urzud.
By BC 2350, most of the Taymoran nobility had joined the ranks of the undead under the tutelage of the original Nosferatu29.
In BC 2319 the Moadreg completed the construction of the Gate of Light, allowing them a permanent gateway connecting to their ancestral lands. The power of the radiomancers grew and the wasting sickness begun to reach out from Moadreg lands to other territories.
By year 2300 BC the southeastern tip of Brun (what would 3000 years later become known as the Known World) was the centre of many civilizations. The Taymoran city states were emerging as a major power: but their rule was often violent and bloody, and few foreign nations could stomach having the undead as neighbours. The giant nations of inner Brun fought with the Taymorans for territory. So too did the Azcan tribes (broken since the fall of Blackmoor) as well as scattered remnants of the reptilian kingdom of Mogreth. And southern elves appeared sailing white ships from the Sea of Dread, and begun to trade with Taymora.
During this time, most dwarves preferred to live quiet and isolated lives in secluded estates hidden in the wilderness. Those that couldn’t be masters of their own domains swore fealty to those that could. Even so, the population that made up dwarven estates was only a fraction of the total. Dwarves who were underprivileged and unlucky enough not to have the money or means for solitude ended up living in the few scattered cities of the Shimmering Lands.
Dwarven culture at the time was not monolithic, but instead made up of several varied beliefs that had meshed together throughout the years as different dwarven clans merged throughout the long pilgrimage that brought them to the Shimmering Lands. One thing that they all had in common though was the dreaded Wasting disease. It was a plague brought with them from their ancestral lands and affected all dwarves in some shape or form. The most common manifestation of the Wasting was physical deformities, though mental deterioration often took hold in older generations as well.
Although by now most dwarves identified themselves with the Sanndreg clans and houses, there were many mixed families. The Yardrak-blooded clans were de facto demon worshippers. Kogolor dwarves which refused the tainting of radiomancy and/or demonology lived at the fringe of dwarven society; some lived like gnomes, others still had formed small enclaves of hardy and independent workers and farmers in the Shimmering Lands or even beyond the northern and western borders of the country.
Gnomes that had settled in Moadreg lands were treated as near equals by the dwarves. The gnomes were hardy and could endure the harsh conditions of the world, and as such they took on all societal roles that the dwarves either shunned or were unable to perform.
Many swore fealty to one of the dwarven Houses and served them directly, though most gnomes were content to live on the surface of the land, beholden to the dwarves but for the most part left largely to their own devices. In fact gnomes hold many positions of prominence in the Shimmering Lands and were largely responsible for keeping the country cohesive. They were the merchants, tradesmen, and administrators of the country.
Like the dwarves, gnomish culture was a union created from several different tribes. Unlike the dwarvish culture however there were many commonalities between the tribes that brought the gnomes closer together. Gnomes tended to enjoy the company of their peers, and often worked together – even when a single gnome was enough to accomplish the task at hand. The gnomes of the Shimmering Lands also held a singular distinction, of all of the (flesh and blood) races in eastern Brun, the gnomes were the only one that had proven resistant to the Wasting.
Over the next hundred years, the Taymoran Empire reached the height of its power. The Sheyallia elves migrated to the area and were offered the lands in the east (2250 BC); Giant and Antalian clans were brought to submission; and the necromancer kings began to extend their power beyond the borders of the Known World. In addition the Taymorans began breeding programs that would eventually lead to the creation of several new races including lycanthropes and the Albarendi.
By 2000 BC, the lizard kingdom of Mogreth had collapsed, and Taymorans and Moadreg were the only two major powers of the Known World30. Separated by Giant kingdoms, by the lands of Thantalians and Trantalians (Neathar tribes related to Antalians), and by hostile humanoids, the two powers rarely got in touch with each other. Nithians fled the Isle of Dawn for the lands of modern Ylaruam.
The number of dwarves decreased constantly because of the radiomantic powers. Many Moadreg increasingly turned to demon worshipping or, on the other side of the spectrum, to the clergy of Kagyar. Gnomes carved out independent kingdoms in the regions depopulated by the dwarven disappearance.
A number of Taymoran sorcerer-kings tried to increase their power by shifting their allegiance from Nyx to Thanatos. The effects were devastating, as the war between followers of the two entropic Immortals raged for years. Some geological instabilities destroyed some peripheral areas of Taymora, sinking some areas and creating new islands and land masses. Most Taymoran cities survived, and the kings foolishly continued their wars31.
1900 BC: The dwarves had been completely decimated by a combination of internal plagues (spurred on by their use of the radiance), internal and external conflicts. The priesthood of Kagyar had risen to the control of many clans of Moadreg, most of whom were now reduced to only a few hundreds of members each, and challenged openly the rule of Radiomancers and the demon-worshippers that had led the Shimmering Lands to an escalation of isolation, dementia and decadence. The lands of the Bridge of Oost, by now a radioactive wasteland, were gradually collapsing under the upheavals that were hitting the Known World; many refugees fled to the western mountains.
1850 BC: The Bridge of Oost collapsed almost completely, bringing the Gate of Light to the bottom of the ocean. Radiomancers began losing their power, although faint magical powers could still be accessed from the coastal Northern Reaches.
1812 BC: An open civil war started between the followers of Kagyar, and the demon-worshippers and radiomancers, led by House Hrukats, that claimed both Khazakhum and Yardrek ascendance. The civil war and internal strife lasted for a full decade, and killed off almost all the remnants of the race.
1800 BC: Unfortunately, over time it became clear that, even without the last, terrible civil war, the dwarven race on the Known World was slowly, inevitably dying out. Initially, Kagyar had not liked the idea of his friend and companion Garal to reshape the dwarven race. He didn't like the idea to meddle in that race's life and history, and didn't like the idea of being a creative power on living flesh. However, he grudgingly had to see the wisdom of Garl's vision, as the gnomes thrived in the same regions where the dwarves were struggling with their genetic disorders and radiation-imparted diseases.
Kagyar and Garl took half of the remaining dwarves, cured them and transplanted them to the Hollow World, where they became the Kogolor dwarves; and the other half were reshaped by Kagyar into a new dwarven race. The few survivors of the demon-worshipping Dwarves were left to themselves in the Northern Reaches, where the largest dwarf colonies had been, and eventually became the Modrigswerg clans. The new dwarves, known as the Denwarf clans, were planted in the Rockhome region. Both groups were given false memories and believed that the Modrigswerg dwarves also originally lived in the Rockhome lands but were expelled at the end of the civil war.
The dwarven and gnomish legends described in the previous section heavily distort the historical facts, also because of the false memories planted by Kagyar and Garl: they put demon worshipping and radiomancy in the same evil cauldron, and underestimated the length of the era in which dwarves were ruled by radiomancers and demonologists.
They have no memory of their arrival from Skothar, of the existence of the Bridge of Oost, and they believe that they always lived in Rockhome and that their culture has always been immovable. There they slowly declined from 3000 BC to about 2000 or even as late as 1900 BC before part of their race gave into demonologic practices.
Gnomes believe they were created in 2900 BC by Garl, and they share with the Denwarf the historical ‘knowledges’ of the subsequent history of Rockhome and the Northern Reaches until 1800 BC.
1'750 BC: After many years of war between those who had remained loyal to Nyx and those who had turned to the ways of Thanatos (a battle between nosferatu and vampires), the core of the Taymoran Empire sank beneath the waves. Geological disasters -- volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, enhanced by the massive magical energies invoked by the warring sorcerers -- sank most of the remaining Taymoran lands into the sea, and splintered off much of the lands south of the modern day Five Shires and the Atruaghin Clans. This cataclysm marked the end of the Taymoran culture32.
The last remaining parts of the Bridge of Oost collapsed, leaving only islands of barren radioactive wastes behind.
Dwarves of the Third Age:
What the dwarves know: It is said that Kagyar created Denwarf from a rock, and thence came his name, which means rockborn, and the name of the new people.
Dwarves never speak about things that happened before the advent of Denwarf, and will never reveal this part of their history to any non-dwarf (exceptions are extremely rare, and are only true and long-time friends of the dwarven race).
Denwarf was the first King of Rockhome, and ruled justly for a long time, bringing the dwarven race to an age of peace and prosperity. An intransigent and harsh King, he was respected more than loved. He guided the dwarves in a careful project of planned growth of the population and careful exploration of the mountains around their homes, that hadn't been in their control for a long time; they slowly expanded their colonies and opened new mines in the region, regaining control of their land, that with their decline had been occupied by barbaric tribes of goblinoids.
The Dwarves soon learned to hate orcs, goblins and kobolds, creatures that lacked any artistic sense and form of civilisation and culture; soon new conflicts arose, and those conflicts saw the dwarves victorious over their enemies, that were forced to leave the mountains. Last of those who were repelled were the orcs: this marked the start of a hate that would never end.
When the dwarves occupied the mountains and started to build new communities and colonies, Denwarf assured himself that he only would confirm the community leaders and town majors in their position, and ordered all communities to send him a representative. In this way he created the basis for the current government system of Rockhome, and of the Senate.
But even dwarves grow old, and Denwarf felt that his body was weakening after long years of peace and prosperity under his rule. He went into the forge, and made himself a new body of rock and steel, so that he could guide his people for coming centuries as well. But Kagyar spoke to him then and said: "Are you not happy with the body that I have given you? Seek you to improve on the work of your Master?" And Denwarf answered: "Forgive me lord, for it is not arrogance that has led me to do this work. But is it not an apprentice's task to learn from his master?" Kagyar answered: "Very well. You will have this new-forged body, but for now you must leave, and allow younger dwarves to rule themselves." Then the legends of the dwarves say that Kagyar added: "I will let you return to the dwarves when they again need you ." The Hurwarf Clan especially believes this legend to be true, while others shrug it off, saying more or less convincingly that "it's just a legend"33.
Denwarf had discovered a great system of dungeons under Mount Everast. He gave the name of Dengar (rockhome) to the caves and told his followers to build there their capital. Then he chose as heir a dwarf of the Everast family, prophesied his return and left his kingdom for the dark caverns under Dengar34.
The communities had changed from small families to big families, from villages to cities. By 1400 BC, the number of dwarves had almost reached 125'000, and the race was healthy and safe from extinction. But their past history had changed their way of living dramatically: removed for centuries from all other sentient races (bar their gnomish allies and hostile humanoids), having suffered every sort of hardship and desperation, the Denwarf dwarves had developed a taciturn and stubborn attitude. Fear for the fate of their race, threatened by the folly of humans and elves, and by the contact with violent and barbaric orcs and goblins, made them suspicious of all other races. It's also for this that the dwarves write long and accurate genealogies, with whom any Denwarf can trace her roots back to the few survivors that had been visited by Denwarf and saved by the love of Kagyar and Garalin.
The dwarven legends say that "Denwarf had seven retainers; these became the dwarven lords, founders of the greater Clans", but Denwarf dwarves know that this isn't true35. When Denwarf founded the new dwarven nation, he forged, with the help of some apprentices, the first three Forges of Power. These three he gave to the most important and influential families: the Everast and Torkrest that followed Denwarf to Dengar; and the Skarrad of Smaggeft. Most of the smaller families allied themselves to these three, effectively giving birth to the structure of the dwarven Clans as they are known today. The legend of the seven retainers is very popular, and is considered mostly true among other races, like humans, elves and hin. However, Denwarf are not secretive about this, and they will be more than happy to explain the truth to any member of another race, if he or she is ready for a long treatise on dwarven genealogies and clans.
Rise of the Modrigswerg:
What the dwarves know: While Denwarf rose to power in Dengar, the Moadreg had arrived to the dark mountains of the east36, close to the regions where most gnomes lived. Here, three remaining faction of Moadreg confronted each other; although their leaders had been killed, some Hrukats, followers of the Father of Demons, were still present among them. Then there were two other factions, those that called themselves Fuldwerg (a corruption of the old Fuldreg term, chosen to highlight both their diversity from Denwarf dwarves and from the old Moadreg ways), that wanted to repent for their sins and return to the worship of Kagyar and Garalin, and the majority, formed by the Moadreg who just wanted to isolate themselves from the rest of the world and especially from their brothers in Dengar, and forget everything about gods or Immortals or demons or whatever beings that had only caused them problems and suffering.
The Fuldwerg were led by Arwarfin, a follower of Garalin. While the Moadreg fragmented themselves in many small family groups in the mountains, Arwarfin and his followers challenged the remaining Hrukats and were able to erase their presence from the surface.
This heroic and disinterested act was appreciated by Kagyar and Garalin, who chose Arwarfin as the first cleric among the Fuldwerg. As an act of gratitude, Arwarfin, the first Hrukats Cleric of Garalin, sought the weapons that the necromancers had forged with the aid of the dark elves to help in the destruction of the dwarven race, and he found two, the Footspear of Brissard and the Shield of Ryleegh, that he hid in the deep of a Black Basalt Tower that he found thanks to a dream omen sent by Garalin himself. Later in his life, Arwarfin met with King Denwarf, and the chronicles of this event are in possession of the Clans Hurwarf and Everast. It wasn't a successful meeting. Denwarf was a hard and uncompromising ruler, and he refused to forgive even one single dwarf who had fought along the Hrukats King in the civil war which had put an end to the Second Age of Dwarves. Saddened, Arwarfin returned to his companions.
Following the desires of Arwarfin, the Fuldwerg separated in small groups to live among the other Hrukats. "It's no use to close ourselves in the towers of granite of our purity. Our brothers in the west have made this mistake, refusing to see the good in our hearts and refuse to admit that we repented for our sins. Now we must not make the same mistake and look with scorn and arrogance at our brothers in the east that have decided to seclude themselves from the world. We must live among them and remember them with our example that our past is great and our present may also be of greatness. We must reconcile the Denwarf and the Moadreg, because only being one race and one blood we will be able to fight against our enemies. Everything went wrong the day the King of the Shimmering Lands left our brothers to follow the delusion of the Father of Demons." It is said that when Arwarfin died, he and his closest followers were blessed by Garalin: their bodies were put to guard the weapons hidden in the Basalt Tower, to avoid forever the use of these foul weapons against a dwarf.
Most of the Moadreg ignored Awarfin's followers' preaching, and their ambitions. The Moadreg’s name became Modrigswerg (from moadreg dwerg). The Modrigswerg separated in many small groups hidden in the depths of the mountains (1800-1400 BC). Their life philosophy turned towards paranoia and pessimism: Kagyar and Garalin were aloof deities that had proven uninterested in their fate - first during the hard days after the Rain of Fire, and later on too; they had been cheated by the Father of Demons and the dark elves; and then they had been unjustly exiled by their own brethren that they alone had tried to save! What had happened had been just a mistake, and they couldn't be accused of it! They had been cheated, after all! So why respect and worship the Immortals, if the Immortals didn't care in the first place? And why ask their brethren for forgiveness? And why have any contact with other races at all?
The consequences of the necromantic arts that had cured the rotting plague aggravated their paranoia and depression: the Modrigswerg, due to the taint of the necromantic magic, now an inherent part of them, developed an inclination for madness and manic depressions even culminating in suicides, psychoses that are especially evident and frequent among the oldest members of the race. Neutral to most conflicts between the surface races, the Modrigswerg became soon even more greedy than their relatives in the west, agreeing to sell magical weapons and artefacts to anyone, if only they were paid a good price for it, never caring to ask what use would be made of the items they built, nor against whom - even brothers and friends.
Given the taciturn nature of all dwarves, when the northmen met with the Modrigswerg, they didn't even suspect that the two people were separated kin; this, along with the Modrigswerg's isolationist and greedy attitude, has helped to spread the latent distrust the northmen have for the dwarven race in general.
What the DM knows: The remaining Moadreg remained untouched by Kagyar. However, they too were given false memories of having been exiled from Rockhome by the other dwarves, because of their leaders making an unholy alliance with the dark elves. They were left free to choose the path to pursue in their future. Kagyar's hope was that they would return to his worship (without any active encouragement) and repent their sins, otherwise he is willing to let them fall into decay and eventual slumber.
The Years of Growth
What the dwarves know: While the Fuldwerg tried to bring the Word of Kagyar and Garalin among the disillusioned Modrigswerg, the Denwarf begun slowly to expand eastwards. Ignoring the areas settled by the Modrigswerg, the Denwarf allied themselves with the gnomes of the Northern Reaches, whose capital was Falun (in nowadays Soderfjord). The dwarves theorise that gnomes could be a subrace of dwarves, while gnomes claim that they evolved from a common ancestry. Whatever the truth, the two races had been allied since the first time they met, after the Great Rain of Fire, and whenever Denwarf and gnomes met again, the alliance was reassured.
Meanwhile, the dwarves met again with Humans after several centuries: beyond the mountains and hills lived the Antalians, ancestors of modern northmen. The contacts were rather sparse to begin with, as the dwarves had no interest in a race of barbaric pirates, busy only fighting among themselves. In the north, over the mountains, the Denwarf met the aggressive Ethengarians, something that discouraged the relationship of the Denwarf with their northern neighbours, given the superstitious and rather chaotic nature of this people.
The first Everast kings promoted a politic of slow population growth; intelligent and cunning planners, they knew the risks of an uncontrolled growth. They continued the tradition of exploration, fortification and mineral exploitation of the land, and of craftsmanship, that King Denwarf had pursued during all of his reign. The Everast dynasty, moreover, made an important decision that gained it the support of the population: the tradition of Abdication. Everast I (1400-1378 BC) believed that Denwarf had begun to show his weaknesses and limits with age: personal limits, sure, but also the limits that were peculiar of the Denwarf race, first of all a conservative attitude that could lead to intellectual and creative stagnation. To avoid this risk among the leaders, it was wise and right for a King to step down when he recognised that his time to rule the dwarves was over.
In those years, the Syrklist of Dengar (a family belonging to the Skarrad Clan), stepped to the front of innovative mining techniques. The family had such a big following among its Clan, that it was able to form a new Clan. Clerics, artisans and smiths of the Skarrad Clan helped the Syrklist to create their own Forge of Power (1323 BC), a major event in dwarven history, as it was the first time a Forge of Power had been created after the departure of King Denwarf. The Skarrad Clan split, with the technocratic families of engineers, architects, smiths, and those interested in the developing of metallurgic and building techniques mostly remaining in the original Skarrad Clan, while the miner families entered the new Syrklist Clan. Since then, however, the two Clans had been close allies and shared a common political view.
The tradition of abdication went on even after the end of the First Everast Dynasty, when Everast VI (1206-1161 BC), surprisingly enough, not only didn't choose his older son as heir, but even chose a dwarf from another Clan, the Torkrest, that ascended to the throne maintaining his true name Thoric (1161-1119 BC). The unexpected decision created some tension between the Everast and Torkrest Clans, but no-one dared to oppose it. Thorin Son of Thoric chose a new name when he ascended to the throne, Blystar (1119-1062 BC), becoming the first of a long number of Torkrest kings to bear that name.
It was during the kingdom of Blystar I that a small number of ultra conservative traditionalist families, that opposed the political strategies of the Torkrest and the Everast, left these two Clans under the guide of the Lyrrast family of Dengar. They formed their own Clan, the Hurwarf, that was recognised by the other Clans when Kagyar showed his approval by allowing them to build completely on their own a new Forge of Power (1089 BC).
After these events, the heads of the Clans, the clerics and the historians codified the requisites needed to be recognised as a Denwarf Clan: a group of Denwarf families will be considered a clan when it is in legitimate possession of a Forge of Power. The Forge may be built by the artisans, sages, priests and smiths of the Clan, with or without external help.
The chroniclers and miniaturists of the various Clans wrote a marvellous book that, since those days, should complement all the family genealogies with the list of all the true Denwarf Clans (1083 BC). The tome, known as "Book of Clans", reports the List of Clans and the names of all the Families belonging to all Clans, comprehending the dates of transition of a Family from one clan to another. More or less during the same years, the chroniclers and historians begun to catalogue and compile all the genealogies of all dwarven families. It took them more than a century, but it brought to the completion of a precise genealogy for each of the clans.
What the gnomes know: While dwarves of Rockhome and of the Northern Reaches started to rebuild their communities, gnomes fared much better in the Northern Reaches. While many continued to live by the dwarves and to thrive in their growing communities, the main gnomish clans were dotting the Soderfjord ranges. As dangerous humanoids occasionally scourged the surface, creating disruption to commerce and family contacts, the gnomes started building an impressive set of dungeons and caves. The project was led by the Falun clan, and took almost two centuries (1800-1600 BC), after which all the gnomish settlements of Soderfjord and eastern Rockhome were interconnected by hundreds of kilometres of galleries, allowing for travel and commerce underground.
As the surface world was still dangerous, and the consequences of the new explosions in what is nowadays Glantri (1700 BC) sent again huge clouds of radioactive smoke and cooled down the Known World, the gnomes were convinced that the safest route to colonization, traveling and exploration was to build a whole set of underground highways that connected together the whole Known World. The idea was clearly crazy, but it fitted well the gnomish’ mindset.
The enterprise was once again led by the Falun clan, and gnomes asked for the help of the Rockhome dwarves for its development and implementation. The first set of underground caves was established to connect gnomish lands and dwarven lands, and the whole gnomish nation worked tightly towards these goals: geological and engineering studies bloomed as the two races worked closely together to map the underground, find the natural caves and the areas where it would be possible to safely expand and build new underground routes. By 1200 BC most of the dwarven settlements of Rockhome were connected together and to gnomish settlements in the Northern Reaches. The project had to halt at Ethengar, and also the Heldannic territories did not have mountains and geological features that could allow for the building of new underground roads. This was also a major factor in determining the first lines of expansion for the two young races.
A political result of this endeavour was also that the gnomes formed a loose confederation and elected the clanmaster of Falun Clan, Sigurd Falun, King of the Garalin Gnomes, in 1233 BC, in a solemn ceremony attended by the clanmasters and relic keepers of most dwarvish and gnomish clans.
What the DM knows:
Kagyar and Garlain in fact had need of Denwarf to help them in the Known World. A shadow elf invasion threatened the whole Kogolor population, so Kagyar sent Denwarf there to deal with the invasion. After five years of fight, the war was won and Denwarf was placed in a state of suspended animation below Dengar.
And with the story of Denwarf and the establishment of the gnomish Kingdom in Falun, we end the first part of this series on the Young Races of Eastern Brun.
1In Canon material, and only considering the surface, elves rule over Alfheim, Shiye-Lawr, Wendar and the Sylvan Realm.
2Håvard Faanes, "Legends of the Dwarven Race", says that the dwarves remember having existed before 1800 BC.
3For more information and options for this time of Mystara’s history, we suggest three excellent articles: Old Dawg’s “Hail Thonia!”, Francesco Defferrari’s “3050 BC” and “Past Ages of Mystara”. We have tried to keep as much as possible of their ideas compatible with our vision of Mystara.
5Aaron Allston, “Hollow World”. More precisely, Thonia is the first Canonic one. Lhomarrians, enemies of the Carnifex, are the first ones, according to Geoff Gander and other authors.
6PC1, “Tall tales of the wee folk”
7Lo Zompatore, cit.
9Dave Arneson's Blackmoor First Campaign, pp.14-15.
10In Dave Arneson's Blackmoor, there are also orcs, goblins and other humanoids. We know that modern humanoids breed true species on Mystara only after the Great Rain of Fire. This is one of many examples of incompatibility of the original Blackmoor campaign with the Mystara one. It is generally solved by establishing references to humanoids as in fact referring to beastmen.
11Dhumnon can be considered an older alias of Garl, and Hemgrid an older alias of Kagyar. Both were supposedly Immortals at the time of Blackmoor, although Marco Dalmonte in his Codex Immortalis dates Garl’s ascension to Immortality at 3100 BC. According to Marco Dalmonte, the original dwarves were created in 10500 BC by Kagyar, who lost interest in the race later on. Although we prefer a darwinist approach to dwarven history, the loss of interest and followers by Kagyar to other Immortals is reflected in the back story of Dhumnon and Hemgrid. If you prefer to have Garl ascending in 3100 BC, Dhumnon can be some other Immortal.
12Dave Arneson, cit.
13Wrathof the Immortals.
15Old Dawg, “Hail Thonia!”, Threshold #11, 54-65, sets this date in 3987 BC, and all the events from 4015 BC to 4000 BC are moved consequently in time by 23 years.
16Wrath of the Immortals.
17Wrath of the Immortals; Lo Zompatore, cit.
19GAZ13, page 4.
20Gaz 10; Hollow World.
21Lo Zompatore, cit.
22Gaz 10; Hollow World.
23According to “New Blackmoor: 3050 BC”, by Francesco Defferrari, among these are the dwarves (and gnomes - but according to us, gnomes will be created only in 2900 BC) of nowadays Rockhome. You are free to follow his interpretation, but we prefer a slightly different take for various reasons, among whom are canon sources (HW, for instance, explicitly states that dwarves did not have their main ancestral lands in Rockhome before 1800 BC), fan sources (the work of John Calvin on the Shimmering Lands), and our own preference to not having the dwarves mostly confined to the Rockhome area from 5000 BC to 1000 AC.
24At this point, there should be about 5000 dwarves. According to GAZ6, the original dwarves were 500, but they are way too few to rise in 400 years to the meteoritic number of 125000 dwarves.
25Sources are variable; some say the Known World was the polar ice cap, others say the same further Norht, or Northwest. There has been extensive research made by fans in this isshue placing the ice cap in the NW section of Brun stretching ice to somewhat in the Known World. In Francesco Defferrari’s “Past Ages of Mystara”, the Known World is mostly ice-free at the time.
27The dark elves are mentioned in GAZ7,The Northern Reaches. John Calvin calls them ‘deep elves’ in his articles on the Shimmering Lands and the 2300 BC campaign setting.
28John Calvin, Mystara BC 2300.
29Giampaolo Agosta, “Taymora, Land of the Dead”, Threshold #12.
30Francesco Defferrari, “Past Ages of the Known World”, Threshold #12.
31Giampaolo Agosta, “Taymora, Land of the Dead”,Threshold #12.
32Giampaolo Agosta, cit.
34Aaron Allston, “Dwarves of Rockhome”. In fact, Denwarf returns in the Poor Wizard’s Almanac series.
35The Buhrodar and Hurwarf Clans, at the very least, were created later in dwarven history. See Aaron Allston, "Dwarves of Rockhome".
36As mentioned before, this is a false memory planted by the Immortals.