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Notes on Dwarfs


jajagappa

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These are Jeff's notes on dwarfs from FB:

Notes on Dwarfs
The dwarfs are an often underestimated and underrepresented Elder Race. In Sartar, they arguably played a bigger role than any other major Elder Race. They built the walls of Sartar's cities, the Pockets of Boldhome, and built the initial King's Road between Boldhome and Jonstown (in particular the incredible path through the Quivin Mountains).
Dwarfs might look more like humans than aldryami or trolls do, but they are more distinctly alien. Only the dragonewts are considered more mysterious and enigmatic.
Unaging, secretive, and possessing incredible skills and lore unknown to the rest of Glorantha, the dwarves view trolls and aldryami as implacable enemies and humans as fast-breeding pests.
A few notes on dwarf history in the Third Age:
The danger from the human empires was largely broken in 1120, but the dwarfs were incredibly weak. Greatway was the most important stronghold in central Genertela, and the dwarfs were extremely risk adverse, needing to rebuild. So things start off with the elves trying to reclaim the Pass from 1120 to 1150. Reinforced by Brown Elves from the Old Woods, the Stinking Forest expands to the Indigo Mountains (as well as down the Dragonspine).
Around 1150 the trolls, aided by the half-trolls, defeat the Marching Forest with beetles, poison gas, and spirits. The angry ghosts of the elves still haunt the Deadwoods. And around 1180 the trolls and half-trolls fought.
After that came the dark troll period of supremacy, which was broken in 1222 by the dragonewts. Also around 1240 the trolls distract themselves by defeating the Praxians and conquering Pavis. After that the Grazers and Beast People have their period of importance. Which lasts until about 1320 when the Orlanthi return to reclaim Dragon Pass.
The dwarfs did not stir until after 1240 or so, until the trolls sacked Pavis, with its dwarf secrets. Sometime before1490, the trolls made an assault on the Door That Goes Nowhere in the Three Little Giant Mountains. The Dwarfs were forced to temporarily withdraw from Door Mountain, sealing it off from the rest of the Greatway.
Meanwhile The Dwarf decides to ally with the Orlanthi and lends his aid to Sartar. Dwarfs build Sartar's cities and roads. This is the typical dwarf response - use the humans as a counterweight to the trolls.
But to the dwarfs' surprise, Saronil stole dwarf secrets and used them to build the Orlanth Temple. The dwarfs withdraw from direct aid of Sartar, but the damage has already been done. The Sartarites took the secrets of stonemasonry and other crafts. And although they certainly fought with the trolls, they tended to fight the wrong ones.
And so the dwarfs make contact with other humans as well. Other humans who will fight trolls and keep the Sartarites from exploiting the dwarf secrets they stole. But it is important to remember that the dwarfs really don't give a damn about human theologies and politics, and probably have great difficulty telling them apart.
The Elder Race can't help but fight each other and waste their resources. The humans are viewed by all the Elder Races as untrustworthy bit players. The other Elder Races are the real foes. Thousands of years of hatred and conflict, between species with some very long lived rulers.
---------------------------
In Boldhome, the dwarfs have a sealed-up complex, called the Inviolate Dwarf Palace. Dwarf constructs are sometimes seen deep in the Pockets.
...
The most commonly encountered dwarfs are rock and copper dwarfs, especially in Boldhome and New Pavis (dwarfs are not an uncommon sight in either city). Most humans think of dwarfs as small miners, bronze workers, and stoneworkers, capable of amazing craftsmanship.
...
Q: Have they interacted much with the Lunar Empire?
A: Yes. But the dwarfs nearest the Lunar Empire are not Openhandist and far less friendly than The Dwarf. So Sartar has likely gotten far more dwarf gifts than the Lunar Empire has in its entire history.  Remember, Dwarf Mine and Greatway are the center of Openhandism in Glorantha.
...
Q: ... why are the dwarfs starting out weak?
A: The dwarfs had a very difficult Second Age.
 
 
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It's interesting to me how the conflict of the "Elder Races" is played up so drastically, when humans in one form or another, have been around for much longer than, say, Trolls have. 

Partially, I understand that this is thematic. Non-human races are, well, non-human, and giving them their own internal dynamic just sorta feels right. Fae politics, as it were. Human are outsiders to this, albeit increasingly dominant.

Secondly, there is of course simply the explanation that while humans have been around for a long time, they either weren't terribly populous or weren't terribly involved in the matters of Dwarfs (this feels like a half-truth, certainly the Malkioni were involved heavily). 

Thirdly, I suppose it's possible that even the Dwarfs are letting the experiences of the First Age, when humans were a small minority among Elder Race majorities, color their perception of both now and the God Time. 

Fourth...ly..? There is of course the overall attitude. Humans are "merely" unreliable and unpredictable. The other Elder Races are *anthithetical*.

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29 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

It's interesting to me how the conflict of the "Elder Races" is played up so drastically, when humans in one form or another, have been around for much longer than, say, Trolls have. 

Partially, I understand that this is thematic. Non-human races are, well, non-human, and giving them their own internal dynamic just sorta feels right. Fae politics, as it were. Human are outsiders to this, albeit increasingly dominant.

Secondly, there is of course simply the explanation that while humans have been around for a long time, they either weren't terribly populous or weren't terribly involved in the matters of Dwarfs (this feels like a half-truth, certainly the Malkioni were involved heavily). 

Thirdly, I suppose it's possible that even the Dwarfs are letting the experiences of the First Age, when humans were a small minority among Elder Race majorities, color their perception of both now and the God Time. 

Fourth...ly..? There is of course the overall attitude. Humans are "merely" unreliable and unpredictable. The other Elder Races are *anthithetical*.

All of the Elder Races claim to be before humans (remember Grandfather Mortal was more than just humanity). Most human myths agree.

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8 hours ago, Jeff said:

All of the Elder Races claim to be before humans (remember Grandfather Mortal was more than just humanity). Most human myths agree.

It's a bit weird that this applies to trolls, though right?

I guess we might be making a distinction between mythical, immortal beings in the God Time who are superficially similar to humans, but later became distinct (Agi, for example), and "anatomically modern" mortals. 

Do we count Zzabur, Murharzarm and Vingkot as "humans" or merely as "mortals"?

I don't mind there being ambiguity here, by the way. If the answer is something along the lines of "it's complicated, but that's what most cultures believe" then fair enough.

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11 hours ago, jajagappa said:
The Sartarites took the secrets of stonemasonry and other crafts. And although they certainly fought with the trolls, they tended to fight the wrong ones.
 
And so the dwarfs make contact with other humans as well. Other humans who will fight trolls and keep the Sartarites from exploiting the dwarf secrets they stole.

The question here is which other humans did the dwarfs make contact with whether to fight trolls or weaken the Sartarites.

In the former case, a possibility would be the Sun Dome templars - natural troll foes.  But which trolls do the dwarfs want them to fight?  The ones in Pavis, Dagori Inkarth, or the Shadow Plateau?

In the latter case, I would guess Tarsh/Lunar Empire, but could also be the Holy Country? 

 

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1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

It's a bit weird that this applies to trolls, though right?

I guess we might be making a distinction between mythical, immortal beings in the God Time who are superficially similar to humans, but later became distinct (Agi, for example), and "anatomically modern" mortals. 

Do we count Zzabur, Murharzarm and Vingkot as "humans" or merely as "mortals"?

I don't mind there being ambiguity here, by the way. If the answer is something along the lines of "it's complicated, but that's what most cultures believe" then fair enough.

Mistress Race trolls are older than any of those as they resided in Wonderhome long before Yelm came.

From time to time I find it useful to repost this timeline:

Present year 1627
10 years ago - Lunar Empire invades Hendrikiland
25 years ago - Boldhome falls to the Lunar Empire
50 years ago - Battle of Grizzly Peak
100 years ago - Apotheosis of Sartar
300 years ago - Belintar unites Holy Country
500 years ago - the Dragonkill War (1120)
1000 years ago- the Kingdom of Dragon Pass. After this came the EWF.
1500 years ago - the Second Council. The Theyalans dominate Genertela and war with the Pelorian horse people.
2000 years ago - I Fought, We Won, and the Unity Battle. After this, came the Heortling kingdom, which lasted about 800 years (until Gbaji destroyed it).
2500 years ago - The Chaos Age, which lasted until the Unity Battle.
3000 years ago - the Ice Age
5000 years ago - the Vingkotlings
10,000 years ago - Orlanth kills Yelm

Compare this to a Greek at the time of Alexander (330 BC)
10 years ago - Philip founds Philippopolis
25 years ago - the Sacred War
50 years ago - Battle of Leuctra (371 BC)
100 years ago - start of the Peloponnesian War
300 years ago - fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire
500 years ago - the neo-Assyrian Empire
1000 years ago - the Trojan War
1500 years ago - height of Babylon
2000 years ago - Sargon and the Akkadian Empire
2500 years ago - Gilgamesh is king of Uruk
3000 years ago - Menes units Egypt (first dynasty)
5000 years ago - Neolithic cities like Catal Huyuk and Jericho
10,000 years ago - beginning of Neolithic age

So if we look at this, trolls aldryrami, and mostali are all far older than when Orlanth killed Yelm. The Dara Happans said they were even older, but of course they would, wouldn't they? Other Pelorian groups don't claim that, and I doubt the Lunars do.

 

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56 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Mistress Race trolls are older than any of those as they resided in Wonderhome long before Yelm came.

 

You're right, I probably underestimate the time between when Grandfather Mortal gets yeeted into the underworld by the First Killing and when Yelm does.

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2 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

You're right, I probably underestimate the time between when Grandfather Mortal gets yeeted into the underworld by the First Killing and when Yelm does.

Death appears early in stories. And there is no human culture that has an unbroken chain of events leading to that event.

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3 hours ago, Jeff said:

Present year 1627
10 years ago - Lunar Empire invades Hendrikiland
25 years ago - Boldhome falls to the Lunar Empire
50 years ago - Battle of Grizzly Peak
100 years ago - Apotheosis of Sartar
300 years ago - Belintar unites Holy Country
500 years ago - the Dragonkill War (1120)
1000 years ago- the Kingdom of Dragon Pass. After this came the EWF.
1500 years ago - the Second Council. The Theyalans dominate Genertela and war with the Pelorian horse people.
2000 years ago - I Fought, We Won, and the Unity Battle. After this, came the Heortling kingdom, which lasted about 800 years (until Gbaji destroyed it).
2500 years ago - The Chaos Age, which lasted until the Unity Battle.
3000 years ago - the Ice Age
5000 years ago - the Vingkotlings
10,000 years ago - Orlanth kills Yelm

I realise that Jeff's timeline starting from Alexander the Great is more relevant, as it traces events through ancient world timescales. 

But as entertainment, doing the same exercise from this year (funnily enough I found the more recent ones more difficult to populate):

Present 2022

  • 11 years ago: Arab Spring Protests
  • 25 years ago: Death of Princess Diana
  • 50 years ago: start of the Watergate Scandal
  • 100 years ago: Formation of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
  • 300 years ago: End of Great Northern War, Russia eclipses Sweden as regional power.
  • 500 years ago: Vittoria, surviving ship of Ferdinand Magellan's expedition, completes circumnavigation of the world
  • 1000 years ago: Canute the Great codifies the laws of England 
  • 1500 years ago: Theodoric the Great substantially rules the remnants of the Western Roman Empire
  • 2000 years ago: Christianity was born as a Jewish sect in Jerusalem (27 AD)
  • 2500 years ago: Battles of Thermopylae and Salamis (480 BC)
  • 3000 years ago: Death of King David, ascension of King Solomon
  • 5000 years ago: Aegean Bronze Age
  • 10,000 years ago: Neolithic culture and technology becomes established throughout much of the Fertile Crescent

I'm not sure it shows anything useful, as modern pace of chance is hardly equivalent to ancient world...

Edited by Stephen L
That grammar thing
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15 hours ago, Jeff said:

All of the Elder Races claim to be before humans (remember Grandfather Mortal was more than just humanity). Most human myths agree.

Question: Do they claim dwarves came before humans? Or Mostali came before humans? Because the second one is definitely "true", but dwarves didn't exist until the Mostali had to shore up their numbers due to losses immediately after the World Machine broke, and I'm not sure how that lines up with the rise of humans. Humans generally only pay attention to their own kind in their histories.

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ROLAND VOLZ

Running: nothing | Playing: Battletech Hero, CoC 7th Edition, Blades in the Dark | Planning: D&D 5E Home Game, Operation: Sprechenhaltestelle, HeroQuest 1E Sartarite Campaign

D&D is an elf from Tolkien, a barbarian from Howard, and a mage from Vance fighting monsters from Lovecraft in a room that looks like it might have been designed by Wells and Giger. - TiaNadiezja

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On 1/20/2022 at 12:41 PM, Sir_Godspeed said:

It's a bit weird that this applies to trolls, though right?

Mistress Race Trolls were created long before humans, when Kyger Litor toyed with the Man Rune.

On 1/20/2022 at 5:42 PM, Stephen L said:

I'm not sure it shows anything useful, as modern pace of chance is hardly equivalent to ancient world...

What it does point out is that referring to events in the First Age, for example, as if they are fresh in people's minds, or even relevant to current Glorantha, is like comparing the Romans under Theodoric the Great to modern-day Italy, i.e. utterly meaningless.

On 1/20/2022 at 6:40 PM, AlHazred said:

Question: Do they claim dwarves came before humans? Or Mostali came before humans?

Mostali came before Humans. Clay Mostali came after humans.

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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

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On 1/20/2022 at 11:41 PM, Sir_Godspeed said:

It's a bit weird that this applies to trolls, though right?

Trolls and Dwarves likely first met with the Dwarves delving too deep and arriving in the Underworld well Before Time.  It may even be that this is why the Trolls knew there was an overworld to flee to when Yelm arrived. The underworld was likely experiencing a boom in spirits of the dead by then too.

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On 1/20/2022 at 1:41 PM, Sir_Godspeed said:
On 1/20/2022 at 4:51 AM, Jeff said:

All of the Elder Races claim to be before humans (remember Grandfather Mortal was more than just humanity). Most human myths agree.

It's a bit weird that this applies to trolls, though right?

Dwarves aka Clay Mostali were invented after Death was released (and after the Iron Mostali were created by (an assembly of) the surviving original Mostali).

The same can be said about Dark Trolls, not to mention Trollkin.

The standard mermen are all pretty recent in their origin, too, descended from the Vadrudi that raided across the Surface World only after Umath was chained or dismembered after his invasion of the Sky and the birth of the stars.

In all of these cases, there is an older and more magical precursor form from which these later-born subspecies of Mostali, Uz or Triolini descended. Entities which usually are unaging and quite direct descendants of the original founders (niiads only a few generations from the Tritons, Uzuz hell mothers a few generations from Korasting, Mostali from the original crucible of their caste, although not necessarily from the first ever such batch).

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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On 1/19/2022 at 8:54 PM, jajagappa said:

and humans as fast-breeding pests.

Conjures up all sort of ideas for dwarf pest-control specialists... Cleaning up "toxic" spirit vortices, "removing" temples, "spraying" an area with a Rune suppressant, investigating caravans for "contraband" or stolen weapons.

On 1/19/2022 at 8:54 PM, jajagappa said:

Dwarfs build Sartar's cities and roads. This is the typical dwarf response - use the humans as a counterweight to the trolls.

I can envision dwarfs hiring humans to approach troll areas to complete tasks.  Need more lead?  Send humans to the Lead Hills to mine it.  Need tar/earthblood?  Send humans into the depths of the Shadow Plateau to the Tarpit to get it.  Need exotic spider silk?  Off to Skyfall Lake.

On 1/19/2022 at 8:54 PM, jajagappa said:

And although they certainly fought with the trolls, they tended to fight the wrong ones.

Makes me wonder which trolls are considered the "right" ones to fight, and which the "wrong" ones.  The most noted ones the Sartarites fought were the Kitori and trolls of the Troll Woods.  So perhaps these were ones they didn't need to fight in the mind of the dwarfs.  And suggests the ones they should have fought were in Dagori Inkarth or Halikiv?  Maybe the humans were supposed to have stopped the Swarm?

On 1/19/2022 at 8:54 PM, jajagappa said:

And so the dwarfs make contact with other humans as well. Other humans who will fight trolls and keep the Sartarites from exploiting the dwarf secrets they stole.

Lots of possibilities there.  Did the dwarfs encourage the Tarshites?  Do they think Argrath and the Praxians will fight the Sartarites?  Perhaps they have plans to get the Brithini of God Forgot to take action?

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Why no musketry?

Actually getting black powder, should be a recurring challenge for a Dwarf player character though. 

I am available as a consultant on the musketry.

i do wonder why the Dwarfs were written up as using flintlocks.  I would have done them with matchlock muskets myself, just as a play balance thing. 

 

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On 1/21/2022 at 2:55 PM, soltakss said:

Mostali came before Humans. Clay Mostali came after humans.

See, that's what I thought. But technically only the Clay Mostali are "dwarves," the True Mostali aren't.

ROLAND VOLZ

Running: nothing | Playing: Battletech Hero, CoC 7th Edition, Blades in the Dark | Planning: D&D 5E Home Game, Operation: Sprechenhaltestelle, HeroQuest 1E Sartarite Campaign

D&D is an elf from Tolkien, a barbarian from Howard, and a mage from Vance fighting monsters from Lovecraft in a room that looks like it might have been designed by Wells and Giger. - TiaNadiezja

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2 minutes ago, AlHazred said:

See, that's what I thought. But technically only the Clay Mostali are "dwarves," the True Mostali aren't.

Clay Mostali are inferior mostali in the same way that humans are inferior to their demigod ancestors. I suspect Clay Mostali have stories of existing long before any of what we'd recognize as humans showed up. Or do you think that beings like Murharzarm (son of Yelm and Dendara), Vingkot (son of Orlanth and Janerra Alone), or Malkion (son of Aerlit and Warera) were just like ordinary humans in Time?

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One thing that jumped out at me when reading the Guide to Glorantha was the changing descriptions through the Ages before Time. Relatively undifferentiated in the Green Age, then increasingly differentiated as the ages progress, with descriptions like Darkness Tribe, Darkness People, before Uz and Trolls later. Or more on topic, Stone Tribe, Stone Men, and Mostali.

As a God Learner, I’d posit that as part of the increasing differentiation, the ‘species’ retroactively rewrote their history to reinforce their  beliefs and justify their defining conflicts.

 

Edited by Charles
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22 hours ago, Jeff said:

Clay Mostali are inferior mostali in the same way that humans are inferior to their demigod ancestors. I suspect Clay Mostali have stories of existing long before any of what we'd recognize as humans showed up. Or do you think that beings like Murharzarm (son of Yelm and Dendara), Vingkot (son of Orlanth and Janerra Alone), or Malkion (son of Aerlit and Warera) were just like ordinary humans in Time?

Sure, but back in the day I always got the impression the True Mostali were far more specialized in function and form than the petty dwarves that we call "Mostali" today. Like, the dwarves don't look like short humans but they might at least be "humanoid" with two arms and two legs. But my impression (possibly derived incorrectly!) rereading the old Wyrm's Footnotes and other old material was that True Mostali might be completely alien in form. A Sartarite would at least picture Vingkot in human form on a piece of art.

Edited by AlHazred

ROLAND VOLZ

Running: nothing | Playing: Battletech Hero, CoC 7th Edition, Blades in the Dark | Planning: D&D 5E Home Game, Operation: Sprechenhaltestelle, HeroQuest 1E Sartarite Campaign

D&D is an elf from Tolkien, a barbarian from Howard, and a mage from Vance fighting monsters from Lovecraft in a room that looks like it might have been designed by Wells and Giger. - TiaNadiezja

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2 hours ago, AlHazred said:

Sure, but back in the day I always got the impression the True Mostali were far more specialized in function and form than the petty dwarves that we call "Mostali" today. Like, the dwarves don't look like short humans but they might at least be "humanoid" with two arms and two legs. But my impression (possibly derived incorrectly!) rereading the old Wyrm's Footnotes and other old material was that True Mostali might be completely alien in form. A Sartarite would at least picture Vingkot in human form on a piece of art.

True Mostali are a lot more individualized than most Individualism heretics among the Clay Mostali, while remaining the epitome of their caste. Isidilian, the Dwarf of Dwarf Run, emerges from his tunnels to fight(!) as a hero in the Hero Wars despite being one of the very few Quicksilver caste True Mostali remaining on Glorantha.

The Dawn Age conflict between the Only Old One and Martaler of the Blazing Forge (sounds like a Brass Mostali to me) may have been mano a mano (or magic vs. magic) too.

Clay Mostali are born with their caste skills, but need to strive for Diamond Dwarf perfection. True Mostali were made with that perfection, and can go beyond that, diversifying somewhat.

As at least demigod entities, True Mostali may have several shapes and appearances, including one as a sentient tool of their caste. It doesn't get much more alien than that, I suppose.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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On 1/26/2022 at 6:52 AM, AlHazred said:

 Like, the dwarves don't look like short humans but they might at least be "humanoid" with two arms and two legs. But my impression (possibly derived incorrectly!) rereading the old Wyrm's Footnotes and other old material was that True Mostali might be completely alien in form. A Sartarite would at least picture Vingkot in human form on a piece of art.

The present batch of clay dwarves were manufactured incorporating the self-replicating and self-healing technology.  They are made en-masse as cheap and disposable components for the war machine to counter the various elements of Glorantha's mechanism that are presently out of control.  They are built primarily with the purpose of emergency maintenance in mind and are created for subterranean operations.  Once the emergency is over, the Mostali will return to creating Mostali of the older models according to the old plans, with modifications and redundant fail-safes to help overcome previous errors those units encountered that led to the present emergency.:20-power-stasis::20-power-stasis:

Edited by Darius West
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