Tuesday, 11 September 2012
Dungeon Frost Hell World Part Six: Races Revisited (Non-Humans)
I thought I'd make a few notes on the races in the setting, since I've been mentioning bits here and there throughout the blog posts I've made so far. This time, I'm going to cover the Frost Dwarves, Halflings, and Hearth and Taiga Elves, and next time, I'm going to cover the Human cultures of the world.
Dwarven Holds have traditionally been built in snowy climes - even in balmier areas, they inhabit the mountains, above the snow line. As such, they are somewhat acclimatized to the cold, and although several new Holds have been built nearer to the Hearthlands in recent centuries, most of the traditional Holds, huge fortified cities, are to be found in the Winterlands. It is believed that there were at least a couple of Holds within what is now the Hellfrost region, but all contact with these Holds has been lost.
Frost Dwarves are somewhat insular, tend to lethargy in extreme heat, and tend to be pale. They are excellent craftsmen and armorers, and make for fierce warriors. Dwarven Thanes rule their cities, backed by their elite warriors, the Huscarls, but priests and wizards are few in number. They have a fondness for Ertha, goddess of the earth, and Tiw, god of warriors, and their magic is almost always practiced by their Rune Mages. In some Holds, the Old Order Druids are the main religious experts.
Halfings tend to be at least semi-nomadic, moving around in large caravans of wagons, stopping from time to time to trade, then making their way to the next town. Most have set routes which they follow, appearing at the same time every year or two, while others travel as the winds take them. In a world where suspicion of unknown faces in the village seems to be rising, not everyone trusts the halflings and their caravans, giving rise to the presence of Bludgeoners, non-uniformed police who watch over the caravans for signs of trouble from within and from locals wherever they are camped. They are sometimes accused of being little but mobile thieves guilds, but the truth is that local ne'er-do-wells often take advantage of their presence to commit crimes which they can conveniently balme on the halflings as scapegoats.
Most of the goods the halflings sell are made elsewhere rather than by their own hands, but they are famous for their brightly-dyed cloth that they weave, and the pipeweed they harvest and dry while they travel. Some caravans are dominated by Old Order Druids, but most have a cleric of one god or another that the caravan revere as their patron. They don't tend to become wizards very often, but are usually skalds or elementalists when they do.
Hearth Elves reside in great Elfhomes in the larger forests of the world, sprawling cities that are mostly in the tree-tops rather than on the ground. Hidden bridges and ropes connect the various parts of an Elfhome, so much so that a traveller could easily wander through the largest elven city and not notice a single inhabitant or building. They are guarded by Wood Wardens, forest guardians who seem to be in contact with the forest itself, as they appear to instinctively know when its borders have been breached. Most travellers are subtly warned off of their intended path, the elf forests beholden to no human kingdom, but more malignant invaders are seen off with arrows, sudden ambushes and at times, the forest itself seems to take a role in the battle.
Every elfhome, it is said, has a temple to Eostre in both her forms, as Plantmother and Animalmother, but Old Order Druids abound too. Elementalists can be found here and there, but almost all are of the earth element; few bother to learn even rudimentary fire spells.
When the Blizzard War erupted, many elves fled south, settling in the deepest parts of the larger forests of the Hearthlands, but some remaned behind in their ancestral lands. Over the last few centuries, their culture has changed slightly, as they have become more accustomed to the cold (some say by magical means) and as they have formed closer ties to the Frost Dwarf enclaves remaining in the north. Unlike their southern kinsmen, Taiga Elves do not live in the branches of great trees, especially since the coniferous trees of the northern forests do not provide strong branches upon which to build. Instead, they use great sheets of sturdy canvas, furs and skins to create tents which can quickly be torn down and re-erected elsewhere if danger looms. In a few areas of their forests, they have more permanent structures made from logs, but these are rare.
Like their southern kinsmen, they tend to revere Eostre in both her forms, and the Old Order Druids are prominent. There are far fewer wizards amongst them, but they do have access to strange magics which help keep the hearts of their forests warmer. Even so, the Taiga Elves, although in many respects similar to Hearth Elves, tend to have a bluish tinge to their skin and appear to thrive in the colder climates of the north.