Friday 29 August 2014

Burrows of the Dwarves

If one was (un)lucky enough to find an abandoned Stone Dwarf burrow, or else had conquered one by incredible military prowess, what would they find?


A great airlock, sealed by huge reinforced discs of the hardest local stone. If there is not a suitable material available locally, huge expenditure will be made to import the very best. The tight walls of the tunnel connecting to the airlock are riddles with holes - these being placed for the militia of the poor to pelt invading Nightmares with missiles. These holes are barely enough for the weapon of choice, discouraging individuals attempting to look upon the Nightmares - this is the sole burden of the Dream Wardens. This central passage will be a veritable death-trap with several false passages. These traps are activated as the Dream Wardens advance to defend the entrance - there is no retreat for this line of defence. The militia tunnels lead directly to the slums where the Dwarven poor rub shoulders with the proud Dream Wardens. This layer is collectively known as the 'Qhywt.'

Eventually, an explorer or soldier would run into a second airlock. This would be defended by the commanders and veterans of the Dream Wardens, as a last ditch defence against invaders.

The Qhywt Proper (The Up)

The Up is an approximation of an urban sprawl in negative space - streets are wide tunnels connecting places worth going. Often lesser-used areas will only be connected by one-way passages, forcing the unfortunates to clamber atop each other. Dream Wardens, on the off chance they are in these tunnels, are always allowed to climb atop others, out of reverence for their sacrifices above and beyond the common Dwarf. Dwarves share space freely - there are simply communal dorms where those who need sleep do so. Personal wealth - what little those living in the Qhywt have - is carried about the person. Stone Dwarves do not steal from each other.

Rot Farms

The staple crops of Stone Dwarves are fungi, which are intensively farmed in the Rot Farms, huge expanses of decaying organic matter. A significant portion of this material is the Rock Dwarven dead - Stone Dwarves feel no guilt about this use of their cousins, simply viewing it as the way of things. The variety of fungi are huge, and they are simply allowed to grow where-ever they please, leading to a strange chaos of otherworldly structures nestled in the decaying mass of the dead. Rot Farm workers are incredibly respected.

Water Catchment

Burrows in porous areas filter the water trapped and filtered by the surrounding stone into huge clay bowls which are then piped around the burrow. This water is seen as a gift of the mountain. Non-porous rock areas general pump water from underground sources, though some tap into mountain streams unknowingly, thinking instead they have tapped into hidden, stony veins.

Dream Warden Barracks

Dream Wardens are completely convinced of their duties to the Stone Dwarven society, even more than the average member of the culture. When not on active duty they train near relentlessly, attempting to achieve martial perfection. The Dream Wardens are also responsible for training the crossbow militia made up of the populace of the Qhywt, and significant time is spent doing this.

The Tak (The Fall)

Behind the second airlock is a huge vertical shaft, which runs down the the Darln, the central district of the burrow. Movement between the levels is achieved via a huge cargo elevator, which moves excruciatingly slowly. Most Tak journies will take 6 hours, though this speed will vary depending on how the elevator is powered - most are muscle powered, with teams of dwarves working at the mechanism, though some advanced burrows utilize water or even steam (generated via geothermal heating) The mechanism is located nearby, in the Qhywt.

The Darln Proper (The Seat)

The Tak leads to the centre of the Darln, meaning any given area contained within this immense space is equidistant from the Tak. The entire Darln is mined out, buildings being pre-planned long ahead of time. Endless bridges and walkways connect the various stone buildings of the Darln, and ornamentation derived from the wealth of the earth is spread liberally throughout. All Dwarven industry beyond basic farming occurs here, meaning the fumes from various processes congeals and roils around at the top of the Darln, slowly bleeding out through the stone. In a significant number of older burrows, these clouds react with the condensation of living creatures to create rain showers, giving these burrows a distinctive weathered look despite being entirely sheltered from conventional weather.

At the bottom of the Darln is yet another airlock, the Kyrl (The Divide). This one puts the defences of the Qhywt to shame, with multiple metal layers and mechanisms to ensure there is no accidental opening. This is done to keep out those that lurk in the deeper dark below the burrow, oft disturbed by the miners. This area is collectively known as the Knurl.

The Knurl (The Deep)

Only the hardiest of Dwarfkind live in the Knurl - exclusively the territory of the military, who also function as miners when not performing military actions. The Sapper-Spearmen continuously dig out from the main base in the Knurl, establishing outposts and important spots. If a natural or foreign tunnel is broken into, the Delvers immediately set up a mobile head-quarters at the breech and begin scouting heavily, the base defended by a considerable cadre of Sapper-Spearmen.

The tunnels of the Dwarves are incredibly precise and uniform, marked in simple Dwarven script to make navigation easier. Their underground fortifications are truly formidable, bristling with steel and a collective memory of stubborn defiance against attackers.

Supplies and raw materials are exchanged every two weeks, utilizing the Kyrl. These exchanges are completed as rapidly as possible minimizing the risk of enemy forces getting into the Darln.

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