Notes on Dwarven Society

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Notes on Dwarf Society in Curabel

General Information

The dwarves are descended from the rulers of the oldest civilization in Curabel – ruins from their empire dot almost every island south of Midland. In the present day, the dwarves mostly keep to themselves on the island of Curasur (Zur’Khel, or Home Fortress) as a reaction to their ill-treatment during the colonial occupation. The few dwarves that buck this isolationist tendency become either traveling merchants or adventurers. Many dwarves on the high councils of the various Khels remember the occupation personally and still remain suspicious of humans descended from colonists and elves.

The Dwarfs of Curasur

The “South Island” is the stronghold of the dwarves.<ref name="ftn1"> Note: Curasur technically refers to several of the southernmost islands (hence the plural construction). However, in common usage, the name refers to the largest of these islands.</ref> Originally known as Zur’Khel (Home Fortress), this is the ancestral home of all dwarves in Curabel and the seat of an empire that had ruled most of the isles up until a few centuries before the imperials arrived (the collapse of that empire is a mystery). While the upper halls of the dwarf citadels (Zurnost’Khel and Zurilum’Khel; First Home Fortress and Second Home Fortress) fell to imperial forces, many deeper halls were untouched. Still, slavery and ill-treatment have soured the dwarves on outsiders in general. Elves call this island it Silverhome (Mithrihal). This isle supplies metals and precious stones throughout Curabel.

Due to declining birth rates and a spike in deaths during the imperial occupation of Curabel, the fortress cities of Curasur are ghost towns compared to their glory days during the ancient dwarf empire. The modern dwarves largely keep to the halls closest to the surface, excepting eccentrics, rogues seeking to avoid official attention, and outcasts who have violated the strict social protocols of dwarf society. Among those who have spent a good deal of time in the home fortresses, it is speculated that the outcast system is used by the socially prominent dwarf males to get rid of potential rivals both in business and in the courtship of the dwindling population of dwarf females.

There are some rumors that the largest outcast groups have grown as large as the “official” Khels and have taken over the deeper halls and made them into viable cities. Some even go as far as to say they’ve developed their own political order and, cut off from the surface world, have developed alliances and trade partnerships with the peoples of the Underdark.

Dwarfs on Curmidden

The dwarfs call Curmidden, the chief island of the human nations, Xen’Khel (Far Fortress) since it was once their northernmost settlement. In the present day, the dwarf fortress of Xenilum’Khel (“Second Farthest Fortress”) is located in a mountain called Ramithil on the western side of the large bay. It is new and relatively small relative to the great dwarf Khels of Curasur; it is also very friendly with human city-state of Midmark and travel/trade between the settlements is brisk. Further inland there is an older, abandoned dwarf fortress called Xen’Khel (“Far Fortress”) that has been picked over extensively by adventurous humans from Midmark and inquisitive dwarfs from Xenilum’Khel. It is widely believed that the dwarfs built there new fortress for more convenient access to the water and trade, but there are some voices that whisper of dark secrets locked in ancient halls beneath Xen’Khel that have never been penetrated by post-imperial explorers.