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[top]KGauck on Dwarven life

I ran a campaign in Baruk-Azhik, but I dealt with many of the these aspects
by describing them as differences in perception, not reality. The dwarves
can't lock themselves away forever. All life ultimately derives from Avani's
warmth, so the dwarves need to get to the surface to farm and herd most of
the time. The dwarves are very diligent and preparedness-minded, so I can
imagine a two year supply of food and materials supplemented by geo-thermal
agriculture, raids of their own herds and farms, and even eating rocks
(vitamins and minerals, yes, calories, no). So dwarves can last much longer
inside their underground fortresses much longer than a besieging army can
just loiter about in mountains. While I might declare this time period to
be 2 years +, no one has ever actually been able to lay down a siege and
wait the dwarves out, so as far as the humans are concerned, it may as well
be a thousand years.
You can knock, but that doesn't mean the dwarves will answer. They may be
farming and herding until their scouts alert them to arrivals in the passes
and bridges. Then, if they don't want to meet you, your arrival finds only
deserted fields and quiet hills and valleys. You might suppose that because
they didn't greet visitors for a hundred years, they have been locked in
their fortresses for a hundred years. That's not how it actually happens.
The dwarves are to the mountains what the elves are to the forest. They are
at home and in their element. You aren't. They can move quickly in rough,
moving their full movement when you are moving at half yours, or at 3/4
normal dwarven movement when you are moving at 1/4 yours. They arrange
excellent ambushes in key passes, on steep passages, from hieghts, and using
other obstacles. They always attack from above (higher elevation) and use
their crossbows to excellent effect. By means a of tunnel network, they can
put raiding parties on the surface to cut you off from your supply trains
and reinforcements, leaving you alone in the mountains. If pursued, the
dwarves just retreat uphill. How far can you run uphill? They will run up
in stages under the crossbow (or sling) cover of the others. Will you run
uphill while dwarven missiles hail down?
If dwarves remain in the mountains and those hills near to mountains, they
can remain unaffected by the wars and disturbances of others by keeping
sentries and making use of their fortresses. But when not required, they
return to the surface to harvest their crops and tend their animals. Their
crops are root crops and tubers for the most part. Such crops share the
dwarven affection for dwelling underground, and are harder to disturb. A
potato field or carrot patch can't be destroyed nearly as easily as a field
of grain. In the mean time, who's watching your supplies?
The dwarves build for the long term. This means they build in stone, not
wood. Wood is a useful material, but you don't build in it. Buildings may
exist at the surface level, but where humans build *on* the surface, dwarves
build just under it. They will excavate the area for a house, build a stone
house in the pit, then put the dirt on top of the house. Dirt might be used
for terracing fields as well. The only way in is through the door, which
might be impenetrable iron doors, or secret stonework doors in an otherwise
unassuming rock face. Family compounds are linked by secret tunnels, though
each house is normally defended by the family whose favored class is
The effects described in the books are more or less valid on the realm
level, although as far as I am concerned, the way the dwarves achieve these
ends are not as the humans take them to be.
--Kgauck 22:43, 21 February 2007 (EST)

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