The Shattered Throne and the Thrice Crowned Queen
The Mountain Dwarf Kingdom
The Mountain dwarf kingdom is legendary for its riches and spans a great mountain range making up most of the western border of the Three Crowns. Although once many Kingdoms, it is now one, as a result of the pressures of the Goblinoid War. Few surfacers actually ever get to truly know what the subterranean kingdoms. Few visiting diplomats and merchants who are invited see the halls of the mighty guild heads or royalty. So stories on the surface are full of grand vaulted ceilings, rich halls and warriors clad in fine armor, carrying battle axes, And feasting every night. But tucked away in the darkness out of sight of visitors are various other districts and caverns, that do not compare to the halls of the wealthy. A poor surface human scraping to get by has an easier time than a poor subterranean dwarf. Soil and sun is more forgiving than stone and darkness. Knowing this dwarven society strives to support all of their members. The Mountain Dwarf Kingdom is held together by a dynastic kingship whose rule is absolute. Although the guilds tend to manage day to day governance and enforce law and order, all Mountain Dwarves are loyal to their king.
The Hill Dwarf Kingdom is a loose collective of small to moderate sized cities that have grown up over or near the greatest dwarven underground cities, but geography tends to limit the upper size of the partially submerged hill dwarf cities. They usually have strong trade ties as preferred middle men between surface trade centers and the craftsmen of the Mountain Dwarves. The Mountain dwarf cities claim no control over their surface brothers. Rather, the Hill Dwarf cities function as independent city states which send a member of their dominant clan to sit in the Conclave at the Hill Dwarf city of Gongolir. Although technically a Kingdom with a dynastic King seated in Gongolir, historically the Kingdom has existed solely to ensure the mutual defense of Hill Dwarf cities, as the Gongolir king cannot govern without the consent of the Conclave, ensuring the Hill Dwarves thier indepndence. Hill dwarves get along well with their neighbors, and hill dwarf buildings in cities use hard glass prisms in street pavers to channel light into tunnels just below city streets. Hill Dwarves do control several sizable cities on ore veins without a local Mountain dwarf city, these islands of dwarves can usually trace their history back to a Mountain dwarf kingdom that was prosperous and needed to remove excess population.
Early Life: Young dwarves live at home with their parents for the first 32 years of their lives. After that nearly all mountain dwarves and most Hill dwarves are expected enter into an apprenticeship. From the wealthy and influential guilds like the Brewers, jewelers, silver, and Priesthood guilds down to the poorer Digger’s guilds, a dwarf has their business planned out from a young age. There is a yearly weeklong festival where all children of age are presented to the guilds for selection, trials, games and tests are the order of the day, with winners achieving better apprenticeships, though many loving dwarven parents also pre arrange a with a master to select their child through Favors, friendship or bribery. City elders are supposed to ensure that every presented child is selected by the festival’s end. (the fungus growers and scrapers collective is always looking for new blood). Hill Dwarves depend less on this strict regulation, and have more economic freedom to find and pursue their own life path, but apprenticeship is still regarded as a fortunate path to follow.
Guild in Mountain dwarf culture: To a mountain dwarf their guild is their family. When translating dwarven into other languages, the word for Fellow apprentice translates best into sibling. Contact with the birth family will be rare in daily life, reserved mostly for holiday visits. Each Guild present in a dwarven settlement has a vote in the city council, and all dwarves of master rank can vote on more public affairs. It takes an act of the city council to recognize a new master, and the politics of this can be quite drawn out (think congress approving judges, sometimes it is a rubber stamp, sometimes a battle). Mountain Dwarves traditionally elect city officials for life, including the selection of a King or queen (who has a parliament of guild masters as well). Public office requires good standing in a guild and master’s rank. Often the apprentices of the most influential guild master rise to public office, creating guild dynasties.
The Goblinoid War has of course forced the creation of a single kingdom, and then membership in the kingdom The Three crowns. Acceptance into this was the choice of the king, and the guild masters for the good of the kingdom, and as long as there is the threat of the return to war, the general populous, current marquis and a majority of Guildheads are willing to follow the young queen. The separatist movement has gained some traction in the guilds that traditionally produced kings, but is still in its infancy and would require a blunder on the part of the queen’s government to give it true momentum.
Membership in the guilds is also a support system for guild members. Guild officials can always find a contract for a struggling member, support the family or apprentices of a dwarf who dies young, or Protect young members form a master who is not training apprentices properly. Pride in the Guild prompts a good guild leader to shore up the weakest members of the group. This creates great loyalty and friendship bonds within a guild family. Mutual respect is the currency of cross guild relations, and with each guild created to preform vital functions a network of support is required to keep the kingdom functioning efficiently and keep the gold flowing.
Because Mountain dwarves place such a premium on work life, dwarves often do not have time to start a family. So arranged marriages are very common. A dwarf is never married to a dwarf inside of their own guild, such marriages are arranged by local guild heads. Dwarven marriages are not for life, instead the couple will come together, be together long enough to produce several children and see them into apprenticeship, and then part. In a dwarf’s long life they usually have several arranged marriages, often requesting the same partner if it was a good match.
Hill dwarves have fewer arranged marriages, placing less importance on work life gives them time for more natural courting. Their pairing tends to more permanent as well.