Mountain Dwarven Kingdoms
As detailed on the dwarvish culture page, there are five known mountain dwarven civilisations in Leng that maintain a presence on the surface. These are:
- Nilun Ebbek and Edem Azmol, located in the Dagrenoth Ur region.
- Rukon Zon, located in the mountains on the western edge of Tamora.
- Zon Sacat, located in the Sacatmorul mountains.
- Oshokthespen, located in the mountains of the same name.
In addition to these surface civilisations, it is known that there are some dwarven colonies that live entirely beneath the earth. These tend to be simple underground outposts of the surface colonies, although there are thought to be a handful of mountain dwarven civilisations that have never emerged to trade with the surface-worlders. For the most part, however, the only dwarves that dwell in the Underdark proper are the evil duergar.
In addition to the five dwarven societies described here, there was once a sixth: Uzan Rith. This was the first dwarven civilisation to emerge from the Ancestor Forges, and it existed in the low mountain ranges between Dagrenoth Ur and Tamora - the only tractable pass into what is now known as the Plains of Death. Their civilisation was destroyed by the event known to humans as the Red Tide and to dwarves as Tuath Corraign, when the Grey Trolls poisoned the land and created the Plains of Death. The other dwarven societies, which were awakened but not yet emerged at this time, feel a lasting sorrow at the ruin of this great nation.
Nilun EbbekLawful Good
Nilun Ebbek is the oldest surviving dwarven society: the Ancestor Forges in their mountainhomes at Lothruz, deep in the heart of Dagrenoth Ur, opened at around 1000 BE. Along with Edem Azmol, they were the ones who sallied forth to the surface after the destruction of Uzan Rith. Though they did not realise it, Uzan Rith was a close neighbour to them and they are filled with shame that they abandoned their brothers in their time of need.
It was the scouts of Nilun Ebbek who first realised what was happening in the north, and who first reached out to Edem Azmol and convinced them to join forces to drive the Grey Trolls back. To this day, the dwarves of Nilun Ebbek have upheld this duty: they hate giants, orcs and trolls perhaps more than any society of dwarves on Leng. Their warriors patrol the entire length of the Dagrenoth Ur mountain ranges, always alert for any incursion by monstrous forces. Often they even go further and take the fight directly to the enemy. Dwarven rangers and soliders have been known to leave their mountainous homes on crusades in the Uncharted Lands to slay those who dwell there.
Even their name reflects this singleminded preoccupation: Nilun Ebbek means "The Councils of Branding". Those who have ventured forth into the Uncharted Lands and returned with kills to their name are known as the "Branded", and are accorded a position of great respect.
- Lothruz, "Earthaxe" - Mountainhome
- Obokhesh, "Pillartail" - City
- Tulongeshud, "The Fortress of Roads" - Fortress
Edem AzmolNeutral Good
The dwarves of Edem Azmol, "The Keys of Obscurity", are located in the northern Dagrenoth Ur region and were the third group to awaken from the Ancestor Forges. Even though they are closer to the Uncharted Lands than any other civilisation, they were even more oblivious than Nilun Ebbek to what was going on in the Plains of Death. This is an aspect of their society that has not changed: even now, they prefer to close their gates against the dangers of their north and focus their attention inwards.
The dwarves of Edem Azmol are well-named, for obscurity is their watch-word. They are fervent historians, and the vaults in which their Ancestor Forges were placed are the most intact of all the dwarven mountainhomes. The entrances to their cities and fortresses are exceptionally well hidden. Unlike the dwarves of Nilun Ebbek, who build grand edifices that rise above their mountains and cultivate animals and plants from the surface, the dwarves of Edem Azmol are almost impossible to find unless you know where to look.
Because of their devotion to the preservation of history, the dwarves of Edem Azmol can often be found ranging far afield. Just as those of Nilun Ebbek will crusade into the Uncharted Lands, the historians of Edem Azmol frequently wander and adventure in search of secrets. Whether travelling alone or in the company of their own kind, they tend to be secretive and distrustful - even for dwarves.
- Urdimusan, "Towermurdered" - Mountainhome
- Iklistdatan, "Ironwhispers" - City
- Zimiteb, "Crestedhallows - Fortress
- Eshimushar, "Freehalls" - Fortress
Rukon ZonTrue Neutral
Located on the western edge of the Tamora mountains inhabited by the gnomes, the dwarves of Rukon Zon were the fourth group to awaken from the Ancestor Forges. It is from this group that the hill dwarves of Nirkivish, to their south, came to be. The story behind this was formative to the dwarves of Rukon Zon. Like those in Edem Azmol, the dwarves were awake during the Red Tide, but unaware of what was happening. When they finally emerged from the earth in 910 BE, the so-called "Reign of Monsters" was in full swing - with giants and orcs rampaging across Leng and the desperate humans doing their best to survive.
Though all of Rukon Zon was filled with shame at the defeat of their brethren, they could not agree on how to proceed. Some of them, the so-called "onelancers" (nír kivish) thought that the dwarves could atone for their shame only by sallying forth and driving back the monstrous menace that they should have repelled in the first place. The elders of Rukon Zon, however, did not share this view. It is not the responsibility of the dwarves to safeguard humans, they said, and the ease with which they were defeated proves that they cannot stand on their own feet.
The strife within Rukon Zon came close to civil war, and only the deep reverence that dwarvenkind holds for tradition and honorable conduct kept this at bay. Disgusted with their brethren, the upstarts left the mountains and settled in the Nirinen Hills to fight alongside mortal man. The kingdom formed by these dwarves is known as Nirkivish to this day.
As for the dwarves of Rukon Zon, they are a society in decline. Some would argue that it has been ever since the dwarves of Nirkivish left - regardless, they have become obsessed with dwarven ideals and principles. Most of their efforts are directed downwards, into their constant conflicts with duergar, and they rarely if ever have any dealings with the surface. When they do, it is most often with their gnomish cousins in Tamora, to the east.
- Limaravuz, "Wealthmine" - Mountainhome
- Kivishidos, "Lancer's Hall" - City
- Olinmul, "Geargold" - Fortress
- Akrulothos, "Twinhilts" - Fortress
Zon SacatTrue Neutral
The fifth to awaken were the dwarves of Zon Sacat, in the far southerly Sacatmorul mountains. These dwarves, of all their kindred, are the closest to both humans and elves. When the other races struggled against orcish and gigantine forces in the War of Domination, they sent out legions from their safe mountainous home into the danger of the plains.
The Sacatmorul mountains are located on the frontier of civilisation. To their north and east are great city-states of Lorknir, the halflings of Nevermoor and the elven forests of Lurkmoor. To their south, however, is the bitter expanse of the Plains of Dust and the deadly wilds of the Borderlands. This suits the dwarves of Zon Sacat just fine - they sporadically trade with the desert folk and the people of Lorknir, and seem to view it as their duty to protect the mountain passes for those who are of good intent and pass without violence.
If the dwarves of Zon Sacat have any conflict with their neighbours, it is that they take their duty as a safe haven too seriously. The dwarves have their own laws and code of honour, and it does not always line up with human morality. They often find themselves acting as a neutral mediator in disputes, or providing safe harbour to those who would be called fugitives in other nations. This is not because they are chaotic by nature - quite the opposite - but if they think that there is reasonable doubt as to the justice of a cause, they believe it should be approached through careful negotiation and diplomacy rather than force of arms. Somehwat paradoxically, they are willing to defend this principle to the death.
- Sacatmorul, "Dotpage" - Mountainhome
- Dakoslosan, "Colorwinds" - City
- Shisingiz, "Fangedceilings - City
- Dastotnin, "Swordstruck" - City
- Veshdoren, "Dustdiamond" - Fortress
- Zokunsarvesh, "Siege Furnace" - Fortress
The last of the dwarven societies to awaken, and the most remote and desolate of all, the dwarves of Oshokthespen dwell in the mountains of the same name. They are a hardy, unforgiving people who believe wholeheartedly in the principle of survival of the fittest. In Oshokthespen, he who cannot work to earn his bread does not deserve a place in society. The only exception are those who serve society in some other way - such as priests - or those who have earned respect and veneration - such as the crippled and elderly. Even amongst these, though, a certain tenacity and strength of will are highly valued. A dwarf who has no pride or accepts charity is seen as a pitiful thing, to be mocked.
This principle is not motivated by simple cruelty or callousness: Oshokthespen and the lands that surround it are harsh and dangerous even by dwarven standards. To the north are the Plains of Dust; to the west, the jungles of Blackreach; and to the south are the trackless Untamed Lands. Oshokthespen are a people of rangers and trailblazers who are constantly at odds with the vicious wilderness around them and the frequent encroachment by dragons and other monsters upon their lands.
- Avekadum, "Redcloisters" - Mountainhome
- Itebzon, "Posthelm" - City
- Dorenarak, "Diamondshaft" - City
- Kansarvesh, "Tiredfurnace" - Fortress
The Earthen Ways
Although the mountain dwarves are geographically very remote and live in cloistered societies that show little interest in the outside world, they are not completely separated from each other. The very same dwarves that constructed the Ancestor Forges are responsile for a marvelous magical transportation network - now sadly disused and little understood. These dwarves, who originally came from the Plane of Elemental Earth, maintained a number of the portals through which they had first entered Morus. By traversing these so-called "Earthen Ways", it is possible to cover a great distance in a relatively short amount of time - simply by following the ancient tunnels that connect them on the Plane of Earth.
Although many of the portals (or "Wayshrines") into the Earthen Ways have fallen into disuses and collapsed over the millennia, enough of them are still maintained by dwarven runepriests to connect all of the major mountain dwarven kingdoms. However, in present times they are used only at great need - and with good reason. Without maintenance by the Ancestor Dwarves, these extraplanar tunnels are home to the strange and dangerous creatures that dwell in the Elemental Earth. They can be traversed only at great risk.
With the exception of Oshokthespen, the Wayshrines still maintained by dwarven kingdoms tend to be located in fortresses or cities rather than the mountainhomes. This is because their existence was not known to the dwarves when they first awakened - they were rediscovered and reclaimed over time. They are located in the following places:
- Tulongeshud, in Nilun Ebbek
- Zimiteb, in Edem Azmol
- Kivishidos, in Rukon Zon
- Dakoslosan, in Zon Sacat
- Avekadum, in Oshokthespen
There may be other Wayshrines that open on the Earthen Ways which have not been discovered by any dwarven civilisation and have survived without maintenance, but it is unlikely. If such Wayshrines do exist, knowledge of their existence is not widespread.