Shadow Dwarves

Beldwhig

The Kingdom of Beldwhig is set underground in an area called the Underdark. Deep in the darkness, time and distance is measured differently. No matter how dast or how slow you walk, it will always take the same amount of time to walk from one end of the kingdom through the tunnels to the other end of the kingdom. It takes ten hours to walk from one point of the four sided star, for that is the form of the kingdom, to the opposite side. Outside the kingdom, the Underdark spreads even further. The tunnels of the Underdark are always in ruin and ever changing so no map can be made. The natives have aninnate sense so they never get lost and are the few that can find their own cities in the huge everchanging maze of tunnels. Cave-ins are common in the chaotic tunnels and any strangers to Beldwhig will surely be trapped without a guide.

The foundation of Beldwhig is recorded to be more than four generations into the past of the natives, which make it about eleven hundred years. One generation in Beldwhig ranges from two hundred years to four hundred years for that is the life span of the natives. The generations are counted with the help of a specific social class called the Time Dwarves. At first Beldwhig was only a great stronghold built underground to protect it from the war that was raging on the surface. The stronghold was built as a research facility but a failed experiment propelled the city into the world of shadow. This is why time and distance is different and why the tunnels are chaotic. The name Beldwhig comes from the founder of the first stronghold, Norin Beldwhig.

There are only seven strongholds in the kingdom which makes them dense and rich. Every stronghold is built differently, which means that their manners, customs, and laws are different. The grandest city is Beldwhig and it lies at the very centre of the kingdom. The two smallest strongholds lie four hours west of the capitol. The remaining four strongholds lie at the four points of the kingdom. The kingdom is set horizontally while the strongholds have hundreds of levels to support the large population. New strongholds are only built if hundreds of settlers are willing to move out and build a new stronghold. The natives only live in the strongholds and none live by themselves in the wilderness or anywhere else outside the strongholds.

All the farms are set around the strongholds except at the entrances. Farms in the Underdark is different from the farms on the surface. In the kingdom of Beldwhig there are various types of fungi, which substitutes grain. Many of these fungi have been carefully bred to produce a wide variety of flavours to excite the palate. Only the Guild of The Fungi, which are the owners of all farms in the kingdom, can harvest the non-poisonous fungi. Most are very careful about the kinds of fungi they eat. Approximately 50% of underground fungi are poisonous. They may cause an upset stomach or be so poisonous they cause death.

None of the strongholds are built of wood. All of them are carved out from the earth and stone and ornamented with iron and gold, which is in abundance in the Underdark. The Guild of Iron and the Guild of Gold own all the mines of the kingdom. The water in the kingdom looks foul and dark and has a thick texture like blood but tastes like fresh water. The Guild of Rivers take care to keep the water clean and the sewers in order. The Guild of Lizards and the Guild of Beetles are responsible for all the meat that circulate around the kingdom. The guilds keep their cattle of strange lizards and beetles. The Guild of Fungi is responsible for the clothes of the kingdom. Clothing tend to be heavy, sombre in colour, and serviceable. Made from spun strands of fungi, it is designed to keep the people warm in the unheated places of their strongholds. To the untrained eye, colours are uniformly drab greys and browns. The people of the kingdom of Beldwhig have over five hundred words for rock and almost as many to describe different rock hues. Particular shades of grey and brown reveal much about the guild and the status of the people, if one has the eye to see. Boots, belts, and hats are usually made by the Guild of Lizards from lizard hides.

of Their Strongholds

All of the strongholds of the Kingdom of Beldwhig are somehow different. There are seven strongholds throughout the kingdom. In the centre lies the capitol Beldwhig. On the points of the kingdom, to the south lies the religious outpost of Dorkil’Beldwak, to the west lies the mining outpost of Thorbal’Balfadukr, to the north lies the sinister stronghold of Throv’Kilthahak, and to the east lies the stronghold of Ovdalbal’Kildal. The two remaining strongholds lie between Beldwhig and Thorbal’Balfadukr. Dalmek lies to the north while Bof’Balhik lies to the south.

Beldwhig is built around a large lake, which is about a mile in diameter. It is built around it but spans upward into several hundred levels. There is about a hundred feet from the surface of the lake to the ceiling of the cave. The lake is supplied by water from the south where a dam has been built. This river is known as the Beldwhig River. The river flows past Dorkil’Beldwak. The tunnel in which the river flows is filled with water and therefore no ship may sail on the river. The water from the lake and river is carried in earthen pipes throughout the kingdom. There is only one entrance to Beldwhig and that is through the northern gate. The whole of the northern tunnel is blocked by five huge gates that fill a total of fifty feet. The lake is surrounded by huge pillars about thirty feet in diameter and are set a hundred feet from each other. About five hundred feet from the lake the buildings tower up to the ceiling. Every guild has its own design and the buildings themselves are categorised by guilds. These guildhouses houses a specific family specialised in a specific trait. All the ships are at ground floor and the entrances are decorated according to the guild. To enter the residence one must pass through the shops. The shops are never closed for the people of the kingdom have no sense of day or night.

In the history of Beldwhig it is recorded that in the first generation (in the middle of the Third Age) a group of about fifty evil underground dwarves, that had fled from the southern continent of Talangrania, came to Beldwhig Lake. The Grey Dwarves, which was their name, had travelled underground since the humans of Espreta had conquered Talangrania. Beldwhig lake lied under the Cordell, which is a valley on the island of Espreta. The lake was named after the Grey Dwarven leader, Norin Beldwhig.

Dorkil’Beldwak lies along the Beldwhig River in the southern point of the kingdom. There is thirty feet from the water surface to the ceiling of the cave. The river runs from the south to the north toward Beldwhig. The river flows further underground and disables the use of ships. To the south the cave is large enough to have small boats sailing on it. This is the only stronghold, apart from Beldwhig, that has its own water flowing through its sewers. There are two entrances to the stronghold. The northern entrance is nothing more than a heavily fortified barbican blocking the tunnel while the southern entrance has three gates set ten feet apart and each taking up ten feet of the tunnel. Along the river are set huge pillars of obsidian ten feet in diameter and fifty feet apart. Two lines of pillars thus form the main hall and fifty feet from the river lies all the guildhouses, all of them decorated in their own way.

In the second generation of the kingdom of Beldwhig the followers of King Norin rebelled. His closest friends and the founders of Beldwhig demanded more power. To obtain more power they had to construct their own stronghold. Balur Door the Guild Master of the line of Gilain, Thorim Kill the High Priest of the line of Gimia, Bur Bell the Chief Engineer of the line of Bina, and Bofim Dwak the Mercenary Employer of the line of Dala assembled dozens of people from Beldwhig and journeyed south. Four hours of travelling brought them under Halruaa, which is a valley on the island of Espreta about 250 kilometers south of The Cordell. Together the four dwarves founded Dorkil’Beldwak.

Thorbal’Balfadukr lies at the entrance to the grandest mines of the kingdom. The stronghold has been dug out of the earth just like the mines have. There are two entrances to this hold. The eastern entrance follows the earthen pipes from Beldwhig, which becomes the sewers of Thorbal’Balfadukr. Here a gate similar to the northern gates of Dorkil’Beldwak protect the city. The other entrance is by the chaotic mines where very little defence has been set up for all the vermins that come out of the darkness of the mines are instantly slain by the Vermin Slayers of Thorbal’Balfadukr. The main hall of Thorbal’Balfadukr is no more than 10 feet high with small pillars only two feet in diameter and set every ten feet. Three rows of pillars are present in the hall and on both sides of the hall are the guildhouses with their own personal decoration.

It is recorded that the construction of Dorkil’Beldwak was an original idea and therefore copied by those who wished more power. Bofin son of Balur, Dalo son of Thorim, Daim of the line of Dola, and Noro son of Bur lead dozens of ambitious dwarves who wished for more power west. Many hours from the capitol of the kingdom the dwarves built a great mining outpost. They would control the economy of the kingdom and so they were given a lot of responsibility and power within the government. The four dwarves decided to call the new stronghold for Thorbal’Balfadukr. The reasons that this name was chosen was never recorded in the history of the kingdom. The stronghold was built in the middle of the Second Generation.

Throv’Kilthahak lies in a great cave in the northern point of the Kingdom of Beldwhig. The stronghold is built as a military outpost meant to protect the kingdom from invading forces. The cave itself is 50 feet high and the guildhouses have been dug out from the sides of the great cave. Two large gates have been constructed at opposite sides of the cave while two smaller gates have been constructed in the centre of the cave. The largest gate points northward and persists of four large gates each ten feet wide filling ten feet of the tunnel. The four gates are set thirty feet apart and thus take up a total space of 160 feet (about 50 meters). The second large gate has been constructed pointing towards the capitol. Two gates the same size as the northern gates fill the tunnel leading south. A single small metal portcullis has been constructed in the centre of the cave. Beyond this portcullis is the tunnel leading south east towards Ovdalbal’Kildal. The fourth gate is built in the ceiling and can only be attained by mounting the many steps set around the centre pillar. This gate is also no more than a portcullis and leads to Thorbal’Balfadukr. Both portcullises have been hidden with dwarven cunning and dwarven magic. To break open the metal gates, one would have to destroy the centre pillar. Large reinforced war pillars about twenty feet in diameter has been set everywhere in the cave and fifty feet apart. The cave itself is oval and thus there is a total of five circles of pillars. The centre pillar is the largest with a total of sixty feet in diameter. It has been constructed by smelting mithril and adamantite and then reinforced with steel and divine magic. If this pillar was to fall the whole of Throv’Kilthahak would be destroyed. The guildhouses are built around the cave and in several hundred levels all with their own personal design.

At the end of the Second Generation the two remaining Prime Ladies of Thorbal’Balfadukr gathered hundreds of settlers and journeyed to the northern point of the kingdom. None knew who the founders were but it is said that the Prime Ladies Bola and Nalon along with Bolor son of Thorar of the line of Gilana lead the settlers. Legend tells that Bola and Nalon forsaw the coming of the Dark Age and thus to protect the kingdom they constructed a military outpost in the northern point of the kingdom.

Ovdalbal’Kildal was constructed as a secondary stronghold to Beldwhig. It has been constructed in a large tunnel in the eastern point of the kingdom. Three entrances can be found between the guildhouses on the sides of the main hall. All three gates have been contructed with the same design. All three gates are double gates set thirty feet apart and each fill up a space of five feet. Three rows of pillars fill the thirty feet high tunnel. The pillars are five feet in diameter and set twenty feet apart. On the sides of the tunnel is set the guildhouses in their own design except where the entrances to the stronghold can be found.

At the beginning of the Third Generation better known as the Dark Age the stronghold of Ovdalbal’Kildal was constructed. The Dark Age is the generation where the history of Beldwhig came to a halt. Nothing was recorded and many battles were fought. Deception and corruption was common within the government in the Dark Age of Beldwhig. Therefore there are no records of Ovdalbal’Kildal or the two next strongholds, Dalmek and Bof’Balhik.

Both Dalmek and Bof’Balhik were built in the Dark Age and they have been built with the same design. Both have been dug out of the earth and have been well hidden both by dwarven craftmanship but also by divine intervention. A main hall set in a semicircle with only two rows of pillars five feet in diameter holds the guildhouses on its sides. Many small entrances with but a single gate have been constructed and many escape routes aswell. The gates are not portcullises but secret doors that look like the walls of the mines of Thorbal’Balfadukr. It is believed that both Dalmek and Bof’Balhik were constructed to hide from the bad news of the Dark Age.

of Their Wonders

The Shadow Dwarves of the kingdom of Beldwhig constructed magnificent strongholds. Though their whole civilisation would be considered a wonder to any outsider, they considered only a few monuments and constructions as wonders. In the founding of the first stronghold, the Guild of Engineering led by Bur and Bina constructed a great building in Beldwhig. This was to become the greatest building in the whole of the stronghold. They built The Great Forge of Beldwhig. It took them years to construct but it became the biggest forge in the world at that time. It was a great wonder in the Underdark and only a legend on the surface. Later it was upgraded and through the generations it grew and dozens of years were set on top of the few years that it took to build. It is still a renowed wonder in Beldwhig and still a legend in the material plane.

After they had finished the construction of The Great Forge of Beldwhig they turned towards the main purpose of the stronghold. The hold was meant to be a research campus. The humans had driven the dwarves from Talangrania to Espreta. Since the humans couldn’t defeat the dwarves in Espreta they called for help from the Elven Isles. The humans and the elves were slowly commiting genocide on the dwarves and the dwarves needed a weapon. One theory was that since humans and elves could wield magic they would win the war. Therefore, Beldwhig was to become a great research campus for the dwarven civilisation. Years after the construction of the first wonder, the Guild of Engineering built a second wonder, which no longer exists. They constructed the Research Laboratories of Beldwhig. This great complex, which filled a quarter of the stronghold was blown to pieces when the stronghold was sent into the Shadowfell.

The Guild of Engineering did not stop building wonders after the destruction of the Research Laboratories of Beldwhig. After the founding of Dorkil’Beldwak, Thorim demanded help from Bur. Together they planned the first and greatest monasetry devoted to Lithor. It took almost a decade for the engineers and the clergy to build The Monastery of Lithor.

The Guild of Engineering was not the only to build great wonders. Noro, one of the settlers of Thorbal’Balfadukr, spent about a decade to build the mining outposts outside of Thorbal’Balfadukr. He had built the greatest mining outpost known at that time. Mines of pure iron and pure gold were dug out and it produced two wealthy guilds, the Guild of Gold and the Guild of Steel. Together with Noro, they constructed The Mines of Thorbal’Balfadukr, which still exist today.

of Their Rulers

The founder of the Shadow Dwarven Kingdom of Beldwhig was Norin Beldwhig. He was seen as the monarch of the primary stronghold, Beldwhig. The dwarves who founded the stronghold with him, were friends and family. They were all loyal followers of their leader. After a few years of the founding of Beldwhig, Norin’s friends demanded to be heard. Norin did not keep councillors, nor did he listen to the people. He ruled Beldwhig as a tyrant. Balur, Thorim, Bur, and Bofim were Norin’s closest friends, and when they demanded to be the voice of the people, he decided that they could be his councillors though he was still to be the supreme ruler. Officially, the government of Beldwhig changed from a monarchy to an oligarchy. The group of rulers was known as The First Council of Elders. The people of Beldwhig rejoiced when they thought that their voice would be heard. They rewarded the elders by letting them marry beautiful women.

The kingdom of Beldwhig was ruled by The First Council of Elders, which grew, for hundreds of years. In the end of the Second Generation, King Norin Beldwhig died of old age. This brought The First Council of Elders to an end. Most of the people of the kingdom had been converted to Lithor and so they demanded a theocracy when King Norin died. Not long after the death of the great king, the guilds of Lithor were in power and their guild masters became the new elders. The council was renamed to The Second Council of Lithor. The founders of the theocratic, which was actually a religious oligarchy, government in the kingdom were Kilim the Temple Guard son of Dalar of the line of Nalon, Gimak the Ritual Priest son of Dalo of the line of Gimia wife of Thorim, Dwor the Pariah son of Gili of the line of Bona, and Thrain Temple of the line of Gilana wife of Balur.

The real theocracy of the kingdom was first founded after the Shadar’kai War in the middle of the Third Generation. The Second Council of Lithor fell because Lithor thought that there were too many members of the new oligarchy. He wanted a hierachy, which would be easy for him to control. He would become the true power behind the throne. When Thrain Temple of Thorbal’Balfadukr died, his heir became the absolute ruler of Beldwhig. The founder of the Theocracy of Beldwhig was Bar Temple of Thorbal’Balfadukr son of Thrain Temple of the line of Gilana wife of Balur. The capitol of Beldwhig had been Thorbal’Balfadukr since The Second Council of Lithor but Bar turned it back to Beldwhig for it was closer to the Darkland of Lithor, he thought.

In the Fourth Generation, the Theocracy of Beldwhig changed back to a monarchy. The new monarchy follows the teachings of Lithor and through the age, the kings and queens have had to prove their worth to their deity. After the rule of the High Priest Bar, which was only 67 years making it the shortest ruling dwarf in Beldwhig, his son, Dain, succeeded him. Dain Temple is known as the dwarf who brought Beldwhig out of the Dark Age and into the Fourth Generation. Dain had only one offspring, a girl called Fara. When Dain died there was much talk of the heir since no females had ever sat on the throne of Beldwhig. The holy guilds consulted Lithor and he told them to send Fara to him. Fara was thus sent into the Darkland and protected by Lithor. Lithor could not see that she was a female and thus saw no problem in making her the heir of Dain. As the first female ruler of Beldwhig, she showed vitality and order. She did more repairs to the kingdom than ever recorded. She finished what her father had begun, she took Beldwhig out of the Dark Age.

The people of Beldwhig decided that it was maybe not a bad idea to keep females on the throne. Fara had but only child. She gave birth to Dalon while Dain ruled. Dalon was not a very promissing priestess but showed great leadership and charisma. When she was pronounced supreme ruler of Beldwhig, she pronounced herself as Queen Dalon Temple of Beldwhig, daughter of Fara and Moror. This angered Lithor and thus he send a great plaque unto the dwarven kingdom. A dragon created by intense magic and the deepest shadows was called forth. Draklor was an old friend of Lithor and she was sent into Beldwhig as a punishment for changing the Theocracy of Beldwhig to the Monarchy of Beldwhig. Queen Dalon restored faith in her people when she vanquished the dragon in the name of Lithor. This pleased Lithor and he aggreed to have a monarchy aslong as they followed his teachings. After the death of Queen Dalon, her son King Bolak Temple of Beldwhig became the new ruler. He was a priest in the Monastery of Lithor in Dorkil’Beldwak. He did not want to be king but high priest. To honour his mother and the deeds she had done to give the rulers more power he kept the title of king.

Today, women are favoured on the monarchs throne. It seems that Lithor brings luck to females and the people rejoiced to know that the Princess Ovola Temple of Beldwhig, daughter of Bolak is to take the throne after King Bolak’s death. The Princess Ovola is married to Noraim Temple of Beldwhig. They have a son and two daughters. The Prince Gilo Temple of Beldwhig will never rule. After the death of the Princess Ovola, the Princess Dalip Temple will take the throne. The second daughter is called Princess Dola Temple. The Princess Dalip is also married. Her husband is Moror Temple of Beldwhig. They have one child, a 55 year old male called Prince Doraim Temple of Beldwhig, son of Dalip, heir to the throne of Beldwhig.

of Their Time Dwarves

Each Generation is measured by the life of a specific class of dwarf called the Time Dwarves. Only one Time Dwarf can exist at a given time. Between the foundation of the stronghold of Beldwhig and the birth of the first Time Dwarf, it is said that the kingdom was in its First Generation. Thus the Second Generation began with the birth of Din the first Time Dwarf.

A few days before the birth of Din, Thorim the High Priest of Norin and the 3rd Elder, was wandering alone throught the Underdark seeking an answer. The gods had left the dwarves and he had been given the quest to find a new deity that would substitute the Moradinsamman. As he travelled through the Underdark he arrived to the Darkland. Everything grew darker than usual and plants slowly seemed to die with no apparent reason. Thorim suddenly felt a quivering chill run down his spine and it frightened him. He quickly turned around to return home when Lithor showed himself to Thorim. Lithor told Thorim that the dwarves had invaded his land. Thorim responded that his people sought a new deity and that he was convinced that Lithor was this new god. Lithor lied to Thorim by telling him that he was a powerful deity. Thorim then demanded a holy quest from this new god and Lithor told Thorim to bring the next born child to him. Thorim returned to Beldwhig in search for the most pregnant woman and he found her in the poorest corner of the stronghold. Dwia of the line of Belor was pregnant. Her husband, Daim of the line of Kilola, named the child Din of the line of Belor. Dwia and Daim were the poorest couple in Beldwhig, luckily they both still had their name and their health. Thorim told the couple the tale of Lithor and then that he was to take personally care of Din and give him the best life he could. The parents were thrilled, for their child would become one of the most famous dwarves in the kingdom. As Lithor had asked, Thorim came with Din and left without him. Days passed before anyone saw Din again. Nobody knows what Lithor did to Din but a theory says that Din was brought to the Darkland and from here to a powerful spellcaster. The spellcaster was probably a Chronomancer who infused the magic of time into Din and transformed him into a Chronomancer. Thorim was married with Gimia and together they had a child called Dalo. Dalo became very jealous when Thorim brought home Din the first Time Dwarf and thus Thorim pledged his time to his real family. He sent Din to the Traders Guild where he would learn the basics of dwarven economics which interested him a lot. Through the many years, Din visited both his real parents and Lithor and bonded with all of them. When he reached the age of 50, Thorim took Din back into the Ritual Priest Prestige Guild and taught him to be a healer. He spent five years in the guild in Beldwhig when Thorim took his family away. Din said his goodbyes to his family but not to Lithor for he would watch over him wherever he went. Din helped Thorim and Bur to construct Dorkil’Beldwak and the Monastery of Lithor but through the many years he became more independent and more isolated. He became a nomad who would leave Dorkil’Beldwak and only return in time to help his people with time. Through these wanderings it seemed that Din gained more power over the magic of time and his abilities to sense time grew. Many said that he was sent on pilgrimages by Lithor. He left the kingdom at the age of 100 when he had finished his training as a healer in the Ritual Priest Prestige Guild and was not seen for many years. He returned when Belaim the founder of the Guild of History was killed by orcs. Din knew that war was about to break out and that he was needed. Din fought in the first Orcwar as an elite soldier. He used his powers over time and his knowledge of healing in combat. Still, there were battles which were lost. In one of these battles, Din had to retreat with the rest of the troops. Before he left the battlefield he saw a small band of ogres gore through his real parents. He tried to return to help them. He tried to use magic to save them. Despite his effort, he failed. Thorim prevented Din to charge back into the battlefield for he was most needed in the kingdom. The troops returned to Dorkil’Beldwak and set up a defence to protect the stronghold from the orcish horde. Despite their efforts, the dwarves were losing the battle. The gates were broken and the orcs were charging into the stronghold like water through a broken dam. Thorim saw no more hope and thought that Lithor had forsaken his people. Lithor had infused something into Din, which drove him to rally the demoralised troops and hold the defence of the stronghold. By holding the line long enough they won the battle for reinforcement arrived from the capitol, which drove the orcish horde to retreat. After the Orcwar, Din decided to join the History Guild. He showed a large potential and interest in history and literature. He joined the guild when he reached the age of 224 and he stayed with the guild for fifty years. Time passed and old age caught Thorim. Din grieved, for Thorim was all that was left of Din’s family. Gimak took Thorim’s place in the First Council of Elders. Din prophesised the fall of the kingdom and the coming of a dark cloud that would obscure the Underdark for hundreds of years. Few took heed but as time passed the most noble dwarves perished. First the Prime Lady Gimia the Healer of Dorkil’Beldwak, a well respected woman. Then Dala the Last Prime Lady of Dorkil’Beldwak. Thus, the Prime Ladies of Dorkil’Beldwak was to an end. The coming of the Dark Age approached. Then King Norin died of age and Din warned the kingdom that when time took him, the Dark Age would begin and the dwarves would be doomed to a life in utter darkness. Thus Din died at an age of 345.

Lithor’s friend, the Chronomancer, warned Lithor that the Third Generation was going to be a Dark Age for the kingdom of Beldwhig. Lithor decided to do something about it but could not gain more information from the Chronomancer. This warning was given a few years before the birth of Belin, the second Time Dwarf. He was born in Throv’Kilthahak with his twin brother, Thaim. The birth of twins was enough for Lithor to chose him. He chose the first born and Thaim was not to know that his twin brother existed. Belin’s mother died while giving birth. His father, Norain, had been a general in the Orcwar but had lost his entire reputation and all his possession after the war. Norain could not get a grip on life after the Orcwar and kept living in the past. Norain’s father kept the family together and forced Norain to work for the lord of Throv’Kilthahak. The entire family was extremely religious, another sign to Lithor that Belin was to be the next Time Dwarf. Belin’s family did not believe in The Second Council of Lithor and wished for a king to rise to power. Norain’s brother had also fought in the Orcwar and had been the cause of the victory of an important battle but had died later in the war. Lithor thus chose Belin to become the new Time Dwarf and to prevent the Dark Age he decided that a good dwarf was needed. He gathered the most powerful dwarves, now lost in the history of the Dark Age, to create an artefact, the heirloom. The heirloom possessed the power to transform any being into a good being over time and grant the possessor three wishes. The heirloom was given to Belin who wished that Beldwhig was a better place. This caused the Dark Age. Lithor was surprised, he had not thought that a good dwarf would create such misery. He quickly confiscated the heirloom and went into seclusion to find a solution to the Dark Age. Without the help of the powerful dwarves, Lithor could not destroy the heirloom. Belin, who was young but intelligent, ordered the assassination of the powerful dwarves so that Lithor could not destroy the heirloom. Belin had already founded a small cult who followed all of his orders. Thus, Lithor could not destroy the heirloom but instead divided it into four pieces and hid them through out the kingdom. Many work shifts passed before Lithor found a solution to end the Dark Age. If Belin died, so would the Third Generation and along with it, the Dark Age. He ordered the assassination of Belin who had fled in time to avoid being killed. Lithor thought that Belin was in hiding in the kingdom but the clever kid had retreated into the Darkland where he had encountered the Chronomancer. The Chronomancer became Belin’s master. He taught him more about Chronomancy than Lithor had taught Din. When the Great War of Throv’Kilthahak began, Belin could not resist. He had turned to the good side and thus left his master to help his people. He kept low and nobody knew that one of the soldiers was Belin, the second Time Dwarf of Beldwhig. After the war, Belin retreated back to his master to finish his training and avoid Lithor who had found out that Belin had helped in the Great War of Throv’Kilthahak. Lithor did not catch Belin, for Belin had already mastered a part of Chronomancer enabling him to be a step infront of Lithor. Lithor punished the dwarves of Beldwhig for not helping him capture Belin. He punished them by slayin the Last Prime Lady of Beldwhig, Lady Belor. All grieved and shunned Belin. A few years passed and the people of Beldwhig assembled to construct Ovdalbal’Kildal. Between the founding of Ovdalbal’Kildal and Bof’Balhik, Belin returned to the kingdom more powerful than when he had left it. Lithor had abandoned his plan to get Belin assassinated since he understood the power that Belin now possessed. Belin had the potential to slay Lithor. Belin joined his followers once more and it is said that they constructed the stronghold of Bof’Balhik. This is where Belin built his resident and learned all the teachings of the dwarves. After the construction of Dalmek, Belin became a fierce hunter who used the magic of time to defeat his foes. The kingdom was safe but many had died in the process. The Guild of History shunned Belin and wrote history texts that lied. Belin destroyed the texts and most of the guild, which was seen as his enemy. He slew all other who opposed him and history was his and not others. Time passed in the kingdom and many new Guilds was created. Many feared the powerful Chronomancer and avoided history and time hoping for the death of Belin. Many also followed the Chronomancer erasing history and creating their own, learning magic from Belin. Belin never chose to teach other dwarves the power of Chronomancy, probably because it could threaten him to have an apprentice. Then the Shadar’kai armies of the Underdark arrived to Beldwhig with only one intention, to destroy the Shadow Dwarven race and take over the kingdom. The Shadar’kai War had thus begun and Belin was to fight in yet another great war. Even with the help of Chronomancy the dwarves could not withhold the Shadar’kais. The Second Council of Lithor spent too much time making decision and thus did not help in the war. Belin tried to be every where at once but his powers were outmatched by the magic of the Shadar’kais. It is unknown how the war was won but it is known that Lithor punished The Second Council of Lithor for not helping in the war. Lithor wanted a hierachy to be able to control the dwarves more easily. He thus founded the Theocracy of Beldwhig forcing priests to the throne. This did not bother Belin who was growing old and had still not found magic to prevent the death of old age. Belin lived long enough to see the ruler who would bring Beldwhig out of the Dark Age. Bar Temple had taken the throne as the first high priest of Lithor and his son, Dain Temple, ruled the Shadow Dwarven kingdom of Beldwhig when Belin the second Time Dwarf died at an age of 392.

Thus ended the Dark Age. On the same day that Belin died the present Time Dwarf was born. Dain, the third Time Dwarf, marked the beginning of the Fourth Generation. His family were worshipers of the Shadar’kai goddess Raven. The entire family was led by the high priest of Raven who became a great enemy of Dain, for he was converted by Lithor. Lithor kidnapped Dain and brought him to the Chronomancer. The Chronomancer taught Dain the same that he had taught Belin. Thus, Dain did not see the kingdom for over a hundred years. He did meet one other Shadow Dwarf in the time. Dain, son of Bar, had died and a new heir was to be found. The people spoke badly of Dain’s only offspring, Fara Temple. Lithor demanded to see Fara Temple. Fara and Dain met shortly in the time that Fara visited the Darkland. Lithor did not notice that Fara was a female and thus saw no problem with her ruling Beldwhig. She was sent back and proclaimed High Priestess Fara Temple of Thorbal’Balfadukr, daughter of Dain. Before Fara died of old age, Dain was sent back to Beldwhig. He was the most intelligent dwarf in the kingdom and had learned as much Chronomancy as Belin, the former Time Dwarf. When he returned, the high priest of Raven tried to have him assassinated but with the help of the magic of time, Dain avoided being killed. He never hunted down the high priest since he was an inportant figure in Beldwhig. When Belin returned to Beldwhig he joined the Ritual Priest Prestige Guild. A few years later, Fara died of age and Queen Dalon Temple of Beldwhig, daughter of Fara, took over the throne. Dain prophesised the coming of Draklor but few headed his warning for they were content with having a female on the throne. The changing of title from high priestess to queen angered Lithor and he thus sent Draklor, daughter of dragons, to punish the dwarves of Beldwhig. Dain could have slain the dragon but decided not to intervene for none of the dwarves had headed his warning. Instead, Queen Dalon proved her worth by slaying the dragon and both Dain and Lithor agreed that as long as the queen was religious it was acceptable to have the title of monarch. King Bolak Temple wished to honour his mother by keeping the title of monarch but he became good friends with Dain since he was extremely religious and followed the will of Lithor.

of the Necklace of Beldwhig

The Chronomancer prophesised the coming of the Dark Age in the Third Generation and warned Lithor. To prevent the Dark Age, Lithor thought he could create an artefact that would make the new Time Dwarf good and willing to help the kingdom out of the Dark Age. Lithor brought together the most powerful dwarves of the Second Generation to create The Necklace of Beldwhig.

The Necklace of Beldwhig was a jewel that would make the wearer turn to the good side. It was thought that if the new Time Dwarf joined the good side then he would stop the Dark Age. This way, Lithor would avoid the Dark Age. The Necklace of Beldwhig also granted the wearer three wishes. This was a backup plan. If the new Time Dwarf did not stop the Dark Age, he would be able to wish that it never occurred. When Belin, the second Time Dwarf, was born, he was given The Necklace of Beldwhig.

Lithor was surprised when he found out that it was the goodness of Belin that brought Beldwhig into the Dark Age. Belin wished for the Dark Age to punish evil and thus the entire population of Beldwhig. Before he could wish for more, The Necklace of Beldwhig was taken by Lithor who went into isolation to find another solution. Belin feared that Lithor would destroy The Necklace of Beldwhig and thus had the most powerful dwarves assassinated. Lithor could not destroy The Necklace of Beldwhig without the help of these dwarves and thus was forced to break it into four pieces.

The mithril chain was given to the lord of Thorbal’Balfadukr. The platinum locket was given to the lord of Throv’Kilthahak. The jet pendant was given to the lord of Dorkil’Beldwak. The black sapphire (part of the pendant) was given to the lord of Ovdalbal’Kildal. These lords hid their heirloom and its secret from all, even their closest friends and relatives. Lithor then found a solution to end the Dark Age. The Dark Age would end when the Third Generation ended, which would end as soon as Belin was dead. Lithor thus sent assassins to kill Belin. Belin quickly noticed that he was on Lithor’s hitlist and escaped. Lithor could no longer find Belin.

of Their Guilds

The entire Shadow Dwarven Kingdom of Beldwhig is set up in guilds. Guilds are family groups which are usually related to one another. All the members of a guild trace their lineage back to a common ancestor. This could be one of the Prime Ladies, but most go back only as far as the previous generation. Each guild specialises in a particular craft or skill: The Guild of Smithing and the Guild of Gold are examples. There are many different guilds in all the strongholds of Beldwhig. The relationship between guilds are complicated and interdependent. The Guild of Smithing needs to eat, so they trade with the Guild of the Fungi and the Guild of the Beetles. Most guilds are concerned with the manufacture of goods and services. They love to create things from raw material, and delight in the working of stone and metal. There are guilds which specialise in military and political activities. Military guilds include specialists, such as the Temple Guard Prestige Guild, Vermin Slayer Prestige Guild, and the Sharpshooter Prestige Guild. A political guild is usually responsible for governing the strongholds and comprises the king’s own family, plus other high born dwarves. These dwarves have undergone long apprenticeships in their chosen trade and are experts. Like other dwarves, they are convinced that they are always right. They tend to be argumentative with outsiders, even with political families from other strongholds.

Guilds specify weights and measures, quality, and the pricing of items. For example, the Guild of the Fungi establishes the weight, price, and ingredients of loaves of bread. All guilds conform to these strictures. Those of other strongholds will have different strictures imposed by their present guilds. This leads to situations where dwarves from the Guild of the Fungi from one stronghold will get into heated arguments with dwarves from the Guild of the Fungi from another stronghold over which one’s loaf is of the correct weight. This, combined with their stubborn nature and inability to compromise, is why dwarves are so wary of each other. One view is always right, and all others always wrong. The elders of the guilds handle marriage arragements, housing, and political dealings with other guilds. The elders are the oldest dwarves in the guild. They are frequently also the richest, having amassed large fortunes over the centuries. Some may be guild masters, but this is not a requirement.

New guilds are formed when a dwarf decides to take up a different profession from that of his own guild. He may learn a new profession by apprenticing himself to another guild with the understanding that he will either become a member of the guild through marriage, or that he will practice his new trade at a different site. In both cases, he relinquishes membership in his original guild and swears never to reveal the secrets of its guild to others. If he has served his apprenticeship and does not marry into the new guild, he is obliged to move to a different stronghold or found a new one. His descendants follow his profession. Although still related by blood to his original guild, he is no longer considered to be part of that guild. Ties to his immediate family remain strong, and he may call upon them for aid if he needs assistance. If he is attacked or insulted, his brothers and sisters will quickly come to his aid, as will others of their guild, but he cannot expect their help in matters of trade and daily life.

A sick or injured dwarf will be fed and cared for by his guild. Those in good health are expected to work in order to maintain the welfare and reputation of the guild. No dwarf would ever do otherwise. Someone who cheats or doesn’t pull his own weight earns the disapproval of his fellow guildsmen. He will be warned and pressure will be brought to bear to ensure that he does not bring the name of the guild into disrepute. If he does not heed the warnings, he will be ostracized. An ostracized dwarf loses all benefits provided by the guild. The guild will prevent him from working and confiscate his tolls if it can. If he shows a desire to mend his ways, he will be allowed back into the guild.

In the Shadow Dwarven kingdom of Beldwhig there are hundreds of guilds. Most were founded in the Dark Age. There are, however, thirty very large and respected guild within the kingdom. These thirty guilds are divided into three categories; “The” guilds, “Prestige” guilds, and “Common” guilds.

“The” guilds represent guilds that specialise in the production of food and drinks, or anything similar. There are four major guilds within “The” guilds. The Guild of The Lizards specialises in the rearing of giant lizards to ride and eat. This major guild not only keeps lizards for food but also as pets or mounts. The Guild of The Beetles is similar but specialised in the rearing of giant beetles instead. The Guild of The Fungi is specialised in the production of bread. Various types of fungi substitute the use of grains. Like the giant lizards and beetles, many of these fungi have been carefully bred to produce a wide variety of flavours to excite the palate. Most are very careful about the kinds of fungi they eat. Dwarven clothing is made from spun strands of fungi and designed to keep the dwarves warm in the unheated places in their strongholds. To the untrained eye, colours are uniformly drab grays. The dwarven language has over 500 words for rock, and almost as many to describe different rock hues. Particular shades of gray reveal much about the guild and status of dwarves, if one has the eye to see. Boots, belts, and hats are usually made by the Guild of The Lizards of tanned leather from the hides of giant lizards. The fourth major guild with “The” guilds is the Guild of The Rivers. This guild specialises in water. It keeps the rivers and lakes clean and keeps the sewers working. Without this major guild, the entire kingdom would be drinking their own filth.

“Prestige” guilds represent more political and military guilds. Twelve major guilds exist with the “Prestige” guilds. The “Axe for Hire Prestige Guild” is a mercenary guild, which sells it services to the highest bidder. All members of the “Axe for Hire Prestige Guild” is taught to engage in hand to hand combat. He is also able to use a crossbow and other missile weapons. The “Battlerager Prestige Guild” is a guild filled with warrior dwarves who are thought to have been touched by Lithor. These fearless warriors, able to create an insane rage within themselves which increases their fighting ability and distorts their physical features, are thought to have been gifted with a divine spark from their deity. The “Ritual Priest Prestige Guild” is an extremely political guild with a lot of power within the government. Members of this guild are the most common priests in Beldwhig. The royal family originates from this guild. The “Sharpshooter Prestige Guild” is a guild of elite soldiers taught to fire crossbows with such an acuracy that it makes them the deadliest warriors within Beldwhig. This guild has a bad relation with the “Axe for Hire Prestige Guild” since they are thought to be “those who resort to hand-to-hand combat”. The “Craft Priest Prestige Guild” is a second major political guild. The difference between this guild and the other religious guild is that this guild is more specialised in the construction of divine objects and temples. This guild keeps the shrines and chapels intact and practice different types of crafts. The “Pariah Prestige Guild” is well known in Beldwhig. This guild lives in seclusion for they are the remaining worshipers of Raven. They are shunned and usually hunted as heretics of the dwarven society. These dwarves are considered as evil as Shadar’kais. The “Temple Guard Prestige Guild” is specialised in protecting temples and important people such as the royal family and the Elders. This guild is also very religious and force their members to pray and follow the orders of more religious guilds. The “Vindicator Prestige Guild” is another guild of elite dwarves. The Vindicators are thought to be imbued with the spiritual power of Lithor. When this power is manifested, they become fearless and powerful warrios. They are able to enter a rage similar to that experience by Battleragers. This guild is more religious than Battleragers but are not thought to have a divine spark only to be imbued with spiritual power. The “Entertainer Prestige Guild” is specialised in entertainment and the magic of music. They prepare all the festivities within the kingdom and are the jokers of the king while still being powerful spellcasters. The “Locksmith Prestige Guild” was once a respected guild but like the Pariahs, the Locksmiths are now shunned by society. They are still hired to forge and craft magnificent locks and none are hunted, but they are thought to be a danger to society the same way that Belin the second Time Dwarf was a threat to the government. The “Pest Controller Prestige Guild” and the “Vermin Slayer Prestige Guild” are two major rival guilds which are specialised in protecting the strongholds from such vermins and pests as kobolds, orcs, spiders, snakes, and other nasty creatures.

The third category the “Common” guilds are more orientated in common professions. All profession, which are not specialised in either the production of food, politics, or military, fall under this category. There are fourteen major guilds within this category. The “Guild of Taverns” take care of all the establishments such as inns, taverns, and bars. The “Guild of Tools” take care of the manufacturing of tools and other metal objects. The “Guild of Traders” take care of messangers and merchants. They usually hire dwarves from Prestige guilds to protect their trade routes. The “Guild of Temple Architects” take care of the blue prints of strongholds and buildings within the holds. They are the engineers of Beldwhig. The “Guild of Gold” and the “Guild of Steel” are the two major mining guilds. They supervise the different major mines throughout the kingdom and make sure that there are no casualty in the process. The “Guild of Engineering” is the largest guild in the kingdom. It was the first guild and founded by the Chief Engineer Bur. This guild holds the authority over all other engineering guilds within the kingdom such as the Guild of Temple Architects. The “Guild of Architecture” is another such guild, which hold possession and authority over minor guilds such as the Guild of Temple Architects. The “Guild of Smithing” is a guild specialised in the manufacturing of metallic objects other than weapons and armour. Weapons are crafted by the “Guild of Arms” and armours are crafted by the “Guild of Armours”. The three remaining guilds, the “Guild of Alchemy”, “Guild of History”, and “Guild of Science”, were all lost guilds. These professions were taken up again and the family of the guilds have been honoured since their destruction. The “Guild of Science” is one of the most reputated guilds. It was destroyed in the Great Accident in the end of the First Generation and none from the guild survived. The guild was created again in the Dark Age.

of Their Manner of Life

Shadow Dwarves reproduce very slowly compared to humans and orcs. The birth of twins is rare and triplets and quadruplets do not occur. The majority of families have only one or two children to care for. This is seen as a virtue because it allows them to lavish their time and care on one child, and give that child a better education than would be possible with several. Until the age of 10, young dwarves are cared for within the hearth. During these formative years, they learn to speak and are taught the traditions and history of their guild and stronghold. The children socialise with others daily, often in a special guild nursery, while their parents and grandparents are at work. In the nursery the children are taught the rudiments of their guild’s trade. Children from the Guild of Armour will play with miniature suits of armour, those from the Guild of The Fungi will play with scales and bread dough. They are allowed to follow their natural instincts and are provided toy tools and allowed to dig tunnels and “hidey-holes” in the nursery. At the age of 10, more formal education begins. For a work shift, which is eight hours, every day the children learn runes and local history. Training in crafts begins with basic techniques and skills constantly drilled into them. Their education continues until their 25th year. On their 25th birthday, great celebrations are held to mark the coming of age. The whole guild assembles to witness the event and join in the fun. The climax of the celebration arrives when parents deliver the youth to the guild’s guild master and apprenticeship begins. Males and females both serve the same apprenticeship, with no differentiation based on sex. Once the apprenticeship begins, the youth leaves his family hearth and goes to live in the apprentices’ dormitories; if apprenticed to individual craftsmen, to the craftsman’s hearth. They may return home for thirty work shifts a two-hundred-ten work shifts, otherwise they are busy learning their trade. Dwarf apprenticeships are served for 25 years. At the end of the apprenticeship, celebrations are held to mark the dwarf’s entry into adulthood and the acceptance of adult responsibilities. Once dwarves have attained adulthood, they are eligible for marriage. Most female dwarves are expected to marry at this time. Few young males have much hope of marrying soon, as the guild elders invariably choose suitors who have plied their craft for at least 10 years after apprenticeship. Males, achieving adult status, will spend their time honing their skills and amassing wealth. Those from military guilds amy leave their strongholds to go adventuring, in the hope of acquiring wealth and reputation enough to enhance their chances of marriage.

Shadow Dwarves live beneath the surface and do not have day and night or the moon to measure time with. They use Time Dwarves, who have been infused with the magic of time, to measure time. Time is measured in work shifts, which is eight hours. A dwarf sleeps one workshift, works a second workshift, and has leasure time in the third work shift. Three work shifts make up a cycle. Around 350 cycles make up a year and generations are counted by the birth and death of a Time Dwarf. Time Dwarves can give more precise measures on time but frequently do so since the kingdom is large and there only exist one Time Dwarf at any given time. Children study for one work shift every cycle and females work the same shifts until thirty cycles before they are ready to give birth. One year is defined by the time that a pregnancy lasts. Tradition dictates that the thirty cycles preceding the birth be spent preparing the hearth for its new member. After working, the time of unmarried dwarvesn is their own. Unmarried dwarves usually seek their own solitude for part of their leasure time, and an opportunity to count their wealth. Then they will visit the hearths of married relatives. Around the hearths stories are told, songs are sung, and children play. Single dwarves often congregate in one of the guild’s great halls to feast and swap stories, and to be amused by entertainers with juggling, acrobatics, and other displays of skill. After an evening’s amusement, they sleep a work shift before rising to work.

Living underground for thousands of years has affected the world view of dwarves dramatically. They believe themselves to be the dominant race in the world, the primary force of civilisation and culture. Dwarves who live below ground don’t care who controls the land aboce so long as they are left alone. Life underground has had a lasting effect on dwarf personalities. They have developed an instinctive love of earth and rock which represent stability and permanence. Earth and rock may be tunneled and carved, arched and butressed, yet they remain always solid and reliable. Themes of solidity and reliability recur continually in the dwarvish world view. The world is solid and constant, so life should be conducted in the same manner. Dwarves are expert craftsmen not out of some god-given ability, but because they serve long, exacting apprenticeships. To dwarves this is part of life “A job worth doing, is worth doing well.” This attitude is deeply ingrained and explains why dwarves love to create beautiful objects and lavish so much time on them. They seek to create that which will last until time’s end, and they have difficulty comprehending why other races consider work a chore rather than an act of artistic expression to be savored and enjoyed. Dwarves live 350 years on average, during which time trees grow and die, axe hafts are made and replaced many times, and wooden structure decay and rot away. Compared to the strength and durability of metal and rock, other things seem very transitory. Building to last means building well.

Dwarves are viewed as humourless, if not downright grumpy, by other races. This is a fair assessment. They do not often tell jokes, and have no appreciation of practical jokes. Society is based on law, order, and a respect for one’s fellows. A dwarf does not abuse that respect by ridiculing another’s dignity. Dwarvse love to work and find pleasure in it. This pleasure is so spiritually uplifting that any attempt at humour appears facile. Those not content with work or their position in life may need such diversion, but humour is seen as insult. That’s not to say that dwarves are humourless, they have a very black humour concerning their racial enemies, but their sense of humour is very different from that of humans. They do not find jokes about personal suffering or failure funny. They do find those based upon clever stories entertaining. The problem is that dwarven jokes tend to follow a standard narrative pattern. Because of their great length it is difficult for other races to maintain any interest in them. Dwarf comedians, telling jokes to other races, are frequently annoyed when audience attention slips after 15 minutes or so.

The Shadow Dwarven concept of wealth is very different than other races’ concept. Shadow Dwarves are attracted to objects for their beauty, not for any commercial value. They prize masterworks, but know that craftsmen only augment what the earth has provided. All Shadow Dwarves are expected to, and prefer to, keep their wealth hidden. It is considered bad manners to flaunt accumulated wealth. Such behaviour is offensive and has caused insult to many Shadow Dwarves. Wealth, especially gems, is for personal delight. They should be horded and only displayed for one’s closes family or cherished friends. It is a mark of acceptance and friendship among Shadow Dwarves for one to reveal his wealth. By doing so, he is not only sharing the joy of his possessions, but is saying, “You are my friend, whom I trust not to steal from me.” They love wealth, especially gold and gems. They love to possess it, polish it, and cut it into brilliant shapes that catch the light perfectly. Each stone is seen as a shining example of the beauty of the earth. To those who have left Belwhig, it is a reminder that true beauty comes from within the earth. They have, however, no desire to own or collect pearls for they are products of the chaotic sea. Pearls are not considered to be gems. Pearls lack the deep lustre of natural stones. While pearls are worthless, Shadow Dwarves are aware of their trade value.

Shadow Dwarves love to sing. Many have rich baritone voices that echo splendidly about their chambered halls. All great halls are specially constructed around natural acoustic properties. Singing is a group activity. Their songs speak of the beauty of the earth; commemorate famous deeds of valour, or sing of the construction of a magnificent edifice. Some are laments which tell of the death of a loved one or great hero, or the loss of a stronghold. The songs tend to be long and very well written. Most races would lose patience with a spoken story, but even elves have sat entranced for hours by the story songs of the Shadow Dwarves. Shadow Dwarves also enjoy playing a few kinds of instruments such as the flute, horn, bagpipe, and drum. Their music is either martial or mournful. Rarely will musicians be accompanied by singers for music dampens the true resonance of the voice.

of Their Marriages

Dwarves are not romantics. The vast majority of marriages are arranged by guild elders. Their main concern is to secure the continuation of the guild by ensuring that children are properly raised. They select suitable males from eligible candidates and ensure that the family has a warm and secure place to live. Dwarf society is about one-third female. Dwarves are monogamous, and marriages are entered into for life. That, along with the fact that males outnumber females about two to one, means that many males do not marry. A woman who loses her spouse will, after a year of mourning, remarry. Grandparents play as important a role in child rearing as do parents; elders find mates for widowed grandmothers. Divore does not exist in dwarf society. Couples who have grown distant from one other will continue to share the hearth and the responsibilities of child rearing. Only death can end a marriage.

of Their Wars

The construction of the primary stronghold of the Shadow Dwarven Kingdom of Beldwhig was founded in the Underdark of Espreta for a reason. It was founded in the middle of the Magic War. This war began with the humans of Espreta trying to invade the dwarven empire of Talangrania. The humans were successful but failed to destroy the dwarven race. The dwarves fled into the Underdark and followed the Great Tunnels, that lead through the entire world, to the human kingdom of Espreta. The dwarves thus invaded Espreta after the humans had invaded Talangrania. The humans then allied themselves with the elves of the Elven Isles and together they began to wage war on Espreta. At this point, the dwarves found out that they needed powerful magic if they were to survive, they needed to learn to handle spells. They built several large strongholds in the Underdark with the sole purpose of finding a specific dwarven magic. Beldwhig, the primary stronghold of the Shadow Dwarven Kingdom of Beldwhig, was founded to be a research campus for dwarven magic. The war ended and the purpose was gone when the Great Accident happened. The great research campus blew up and threw the stronghold into the Shadow Plane. It took the dwarves many years to find out what exactly happened in the Great Accident and why the war ended, but that was because they were no longer in the world where the war was waged.

Four great wars has been fought in the Shadow Dwarven kingdom of Beldwhig. There was the Orc War, the Shadar’kai War, the Great War of Throv’Kilthahak, and the arrival of Draklor the daughter of dragons. The Orc War first began with the Guild of History. The guild master Belaim was a very arrogant and ambitious little dwarf. He found out what really happened when Beldwhig was sieged in the Great Accident. He kept his knowledge secret at first. He found out that the Guild of Science had reached an interresting part of magic research. They had found the Shadowfell. Studying the Shadowfell had revealed a way of travelling. This meant that reinforcement could be sent twenty times faster than previously. They didn’t want to report to The First Council of Elders at first for they had no hard proof that it would work. They kept experimenting and had an accident in the Research Laboratories. The whole campus exploded and sent Beldwhig into the Shadowfell. This caused the whole stronghold to fall into ruin. Belaim wanted to check his theory before he set it before The First Council of Elders. He tried to reach the world of Aspenta but only succeeded in creating a one way portal. The problem with this portal was that it was a portal from the world of Aspenta to the Shadowfell. The greatest problem was that the portal in the world of Aspenta was set in the middle of Kroc, the capital of the orcs of the west. The portal didn’t stay open for long, but long enough for the orcs to send a large army into the Shadowfell. The orcs killed Belaim and his scientists and sieged all the strongholds in Beldwhig. Thror son of Belaim took over the History Guild and decided to reveal the guilds findings to The First Council of Elders. The orcs attacked the whole of Beldwhig and were about to commit genocide on the dwarves. They destroyed the line of Norip and Morana, but then four heroes emerged from the halls of Beldwhig. Farar Healer from the line of Noron, Doro Axewielder from the line of Bofon, Thaim Rager from the line of Dwona, and Nalain Crossfire of the line of Bofon. After the Orcwar, which lasted almost a year, The First Council of Elders decided to have Intermediates from the guilds which were not present in their own stronghold. In Thorbal’Balfadukr three new guilds were created in the Monastery of Lithor. These were the Crafts Priest Prestige Guild, Pariah Prestige Guild, and the Temple Guard Prestige Guild.

A few decades passed after the settlers had built Throv’Kilthahak when a great war broke out. This war was more terrible than the Orc War but it was only set in Throv’Kilthahak and not all over Beldwhig. There were only about 70 dwarves in Throv’Kilthahak at that time and they had to fight against five hostile armies. Orcs, goblins, and worst of all, beholders, attacked Throv’Kilthahak. It is said that the Prime Ladies Bola and Nalon died in the Great War of Throv’Kilthahak. It is also said that the Prime Lady Nalon was the last to die and so the Last Prime Lady of Throv’Kilthahak. The war lasted 23 years and how they did it will stay forever in the dark corners of the shadows of our world for the Great War of Throv’Kilthahak was fought in the Dark Age.

The most popular event in the Dark Age was the Shadar’kai War. This war took place about a hundred years before the end of the Third Generation. Again, what began it all is unknown but what is sure is what happened. In a matter of days most of the strongholds of Beldwhig were literally invaded by Shadar’kais. The dwarves were turned to slaves by the Shadar’kais. Most dwarves were taken away from the kingdom and nobody knows to where. Beldwhig’s strongholds were turned to Shadar’kai fortresses and the dwarves were converted to Raven and kept as slaves. They became more evil and bitter than before. The invasion lasted 21 years. A large group of dwarves from the Prestige Guilds who had been taken as slaves to a Shadar’kai city began a rebellion about a year before the end of the war. This large group had all come from the Prestige Guilds and had all been slaves to the Shadar’kais. The Shadar’kais had taken them away from Beldwhig and revealed to them immense power. The most powerful dwarves today would not be able to fathom the powers these dwarves were given. The Shadar’kais never meant to give such power to the dwarves, but revealing the Material Plane to them opened their eyes. The Shadar’kais brought their prisoners to the world of Aspenta in the Underdark and used them as slaves there. Many dwarves fled to the surface and saw colour again. They were blinded by the beauty and it is said that this is when the goodness of the dwarves began. Not only did the colour of the real world open their eyes to all the goodness but also to potential power. The large group revolted against the Shadar’kais and used their powers to reach the Shadowfell. They transmitted goodness, rebellious tendencies, and their power to their kin. A year passed and the Shadar’kais were driven out of Beldwhig. Very few dwarves became good and tried to reach the world of Aspenta. Very few dwarves kept worshipping Raven. Most dwarves turned to Lithor again for he had given them power beyond belief. Today only the most powerful dwarves have the weakest powers of the Dark Dwarves.

As the first queen of Beldwhig, Queen Dalon Temple was punished. Lithor did not wish for a queen but for a priestess. Although Dalon ruled for 98 years, she showed her worth to Lithor by slaying the dragon Draklor. In the middle of the Fourth Generation, Lithor summoned one of his old friends. A Shadow Wyrm called Draklor. Draklor was a female dragon and became known as the daughter of all dragons. Draklor sieged the kingdom of Beldwhig and as punishment to the people he demanded tribute in the form of sacrifice and wealth. Many dwarves perished and learned from Draklor that she had been sent by Lithor. When they learned this, they turned to their queen who, in her defense, said that she would prove that Lithor had not sent Draklor. Queen Dalon Temple slew Draklor after a year had passed. Alas, she knew not that Draklor had children and had had offsprings with the people of Beldwhig. Queen Dalon Temple died thinking she had vanquished the most powerful being in the Shadowfell.

of the Religions of Beldwhig

Before the construction of the primary stronghold, the Shadow Dwarves worshiped the Moradinsamman, the dwarven pantheon known to most. The stronghold of Beldwhig worshiped these deities until the Great Accident. This event threw the stronghold and its population into the Shadowfell. In this new world, the Moradinsamman has no power and thus the dwarves thought that their deities had been destroyed. Thorim, the high priest of Norin Beldwhig, left the primary stronghold in search for new deities. He then strayed into the Darkland of Lithor where he encountered the nightshade. As Thorim entered the Darkland everything grew darker than usual and plants slowly seemed to die with no apparent reason. Thorim suddenly felt a quivering chill run down his spine and it frightened him. He quickly turned around to return home when Lithor showed himself to Thorim. Lithor told Thorim that the dwarves had invaded his land. Thorim responded that his people sought a new deity and that he was convinced that Lithor was this new god. Lithor lied to Thorim by telling him that he was a powerful deity, and thus began the worshiping of Lithor the Nightwing.

The Shadow Dwarve Kingdom of Beldwhig is ruled by a religious monarch. This means that it’s the clergy that rules the kingdom but that the ruler has the title of king or queen. The supreme ruler is the guild master of the Ritual Priest Prestige Guild. This means that the whole kingdom has specific religious duties. They have periods where all Shadow Dwarves must pray. The Shadow Dwarves of Beldwhig worship two deities. One of them is Raven, which is a banned deity in Beldwhig, and her worshipers are hunted down by society. Raven does not really exist and does not give power to her subjects. The magic that Raven’s followers cast is better known as Arcane Magic. The best known guild that worship Raven is the Pariah Prestige Guild. The other deity is a creature of darkness and not really a god. Lithor is one of the most powerful Nightshades in the multiverse but he is not a god. Still, the people of Beldwhig worship him and this gives him power that he distributes to his followers who then can cast Divine Magic. The ruler is chosen by Lithor when the former high priest, priestess, king, or queen dies. Lithor usually chooses the decendant of the line of rulers.

The Complete Book of Dwarves (Advanced Dungeons&Dragons 2nd Edition)
Player’s Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition)
Manual of The Planes (Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition)
Monster Manual (Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition)
Faiths & Avatars (Advanced Dungeons&Dragons 2nd Edition)
Monster Manual 2 (Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition)
Deities and Demigods (Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition)
Dungeon Master’s Guide (Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition)
Sword and Fist (Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition)
Masters of the Wild (Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition)
The Quintessential Dwarf (d20)
Utopia (Thomas Moore)

Beldwhig

Introduction

”What I’m I going to write about? I asked myself that question when I had finished with my first book. I decided to write something completely different than from HnH. I learned of an elven hero called Aramile Valanthe and sought him out immediately. He had gone into the Underdark in search for the bow Kalwynrian. I tracked him to the Underdark of Halruaa where I lost his tracks. Months passed when suddenly I heard that he had been slain by dark elves. This was not the end of my search for the bard that told of Aramile’s fall also told of Aramile’s resurrection. He had been raised as a Death Knight. I decided to search for Aramile once more so that I would be able to write my book about him. The bard told me that he had left this world with a party of heroes to seek Lithor. Lithor was to be Dryder’s bane and the destruction of all dark elves. I learned that Lithor lives in the Shadowfell. I thus decided to journey to the Shadowfell and here I stumbled into the Shadow Dwarven kingdom of Beldwhig. I decided to write about these dwarves before I sought Aramile Valanthe.”
An introduction by
Rakof Dioliar Nest

What is this book about? Technically it’s about a race that does not exist. It’s about the Shadow Dwarves of Beldwhig. In this book is written everything about this new race, everything from the race itself to it’s history to some of it’s stronghold designs. This book can be read by both DMs and by players. It has been designed for DMs as a campaign book but players may want to use it to create their own Shadow Dwarven character.

Imagine a world of colour and a world without colour. These two worlds combined create the world as we know it. Shadow and darkness are concepts from the colourless world. This world is the Shadowfell. From this world comes ghosts, evil creatures of darkness, and the cause of our fear of darkness and the unknown. In this world is a kingdom of small evil creatures. These are the Shadow Dwarves and they have only one kingdom in the Shadowfell, the kingdom of Beldwhig.

Note that this book was written during the Third Age, over two thousand years ago. Certain names have been updated so that it makes more sense.

Shadow Dwarves

”My first impression of the Shadow Dwarven race is not a positive one. When I first arrived to the dwarven kingdom, they were very suspicious and still held grudges against the human race for what happened in the Magic War a thousand years ago. They may hold grudges but they know power when they see it and they fear it. They left me to myself under one condition. If I caused any trouble I would have to deal with the whole civilisation. Very few dwarves accepted to answer the question I sought and it took a long time before I could begin writing this book.”
An insight to Shadow Dwarves by
Rakof Dioliar Nest

In the kingdom of Beldwhig there is but one race, this is the race of the Shadow Dwarves. This chapter covers everything from racial traits, to personalities, to appearances.

Shadow Dwarves are actually Grey Dwarves from Espreta that have lived in the Shadowfell for over a thousand years. This has changed them significantly. They still live in the Underdark. They have created their own kingdom, called the Beldwhig.

Life of a Shadow Dwarf

Shadow Dwarven Hearths

Shadow Dwarven families are called hearths, a term which means the place where children are born and raised. A hearth includes grandfather, grandmother, their children, and any offspring of their children. Family members share the same dwelling and are extremely close. Hearths are what create the guilds. Everyone within a guild share the same blood in some way, whether they have been married into the guild or born into the guild. Cousins, aunts, and uncles are part of the guild though they are not part of the hearth. In some ways the hearth is a convenient social organisation rather than an important entity in its own right. Its primary purpose is to create a legal and social environment into which children may be born and to provide a stable environment in which children may be nurtured and educated in the rudiments of dwarf beliefs and conduct. At the core of the hearth is the institution of marriage.

Marriage

Dwarves are not romantic. All marriages are arranged by guild elders. Their main concern is to secure the continuation of the guild by insuring the birth and education of dwarven children. They select suitable males from eligible candidates and ensure that the family has a warm and secure place to live.

Since one-third of the Shadow Dwarven kingdom of Beldwhig is female, marriages are entered into for life. That, along with the fact that males outnumber females two to one, means that many males do not marry. A female will first remarry after one year and one day of mourning. Grandparents play as important a role in raising children as do parents. Elders find mates for widowed grandmothers. Divorce does not exist in Beldwhig, only death can end a marriage.

The first 25 years

Shadow Dwarves reproduce as slowly as other dwarves. The birth of twins is extremely rare and more is impossible. The majority of hearths have no more than one or two children to care for. This is seen as a virtue because it allows them to lavish their time and care on one child, and give that child a better education than would be possible with several.

Until the age of 10, young dwarves are cared for within the hearth. During these ten years, the dwarf learns to speak, walk, read, write, and the traditions and history of their guild and stronghold. Children socialise with other children in special guild nurseries, while their parents and grandparents are working. In the nurseries the children are taught the rudiments of their guild’s craft. Children from an armourer’s guild will play with miniature suits of armour, those from a baker’s guild will play with scales and bread dough. They are allowed to follow their natural instincts and are provided toy tools and allowed to dig tunnels and hidey-holes in the nurseries.

At the age of 10, more formal education begins. For eight hours every day the children learn different academic subjects. Their training in crafts begins with basic techniques and skills constantly drilled into them. Their education continues until their 25th year.

Apprenticeship

On their 25th birthday, great celebrations are held to mark the coming of age. The whole guild assembles to witness the event and join in the fun. The climax of the celebration arrives when parents deliver the youth to the guild’s guild master and apprenticeship begins. Males and females both serve the same apprenticeship, with no differentiation based on sex. The apprenticeship lasts for 25 years in which the youth lives in the apprentices’ dormitories. They may return home for one day a week, otherwise they are busy learning their trade. At the end of the apprenticeship, celebrations are held to mark the dwarf’s entry into adulthood and the acceptance of adult responsibilities.

Adult Age

Once Shadow Dwarves have attained the age of 50 they become adults and thus eligible for marriage. Most female dwarves are expected to marry at this time. Few males who have just attained adulthood have much hope of marrying soon, as guild elders usually choose males that are above 60. Males will spend their time honing their skills and amassing wealth. Some dwarves leave their strongholds to go adventuring, in the hope of acquiring wealth and reputation enough to enhance their chances of marriage.

Adults usually work eight to twelve hours a day. Those with children are limited to eight hours a day and are expected to spend the rest of the time with their children. There is the same expectancy on female dwarves until a month before they are ready to give birth. Pregnancies are a year long, and tradition dictates that the month preceding the birth be spent preparing the hearth for its new member. Around the hearths stories are told, songs are sung, and children play. Single dwarves do the same but in the great halls to feast and swap stories with other single dwarves. They are amused and entertained with juggling, acrobatics, and other displays of skill. Shadow Dwarves sleep eight hours on average and work right after they awake.

Appearances

Shadow Dwarves resemble a darker and colourless version of the Grey Dwarves. They have the same expressions and features. A Shadow Dwarf has grey eyes and black skin. He has hair that ranges from grey to black. They’re grumpy, ugly, scary, and nasty.

Height and Weight

Shadow Dwarves measure the same as Grey Dwarves, between one metre and one metre and a half, with females tending to be smaller. They also weigh the same as Grey Dwarves, between 40 kilos and 150 kilos, with females tending to be lighter than males.

Diet and Clothing

Shadow Dwarves do not have a large assortment of food since they live in a world with abundant resources and evil creatures. In the kingdom of Beldwhig there are four guilds that are specialised in diet. These are the The guilds: two of them in meat, one in fungi, and one in water. The two kinds of meat are Giant Shadow Lizard and Shadow Beetle meat. They keep these creatures close to their strongholds and breed only those that can be eaten. The rest are slain. The Guild of the Fungi is responsible for other kinds of food. In Beldwhig there are various types of fungi which substitutes’ grain. Many of these fungi have been carefully bred to produce a wide variety of flavours to excite the palate. Most are very careful about the kinds of fungi they eat. Approximately 50% of underground fungi are poisonous. They may cause an upset stomach or be so poisonous they cause death. Only the Guild of the Fungi can harvest the non-poisonous fungi.

Shadow Dwarven clothing tends to be heavy, sombre in colour, and serviceable. Made from spun strands of fungi, it is designed to keep the Shadow Dwarves warm in the unheated places in their strongholds. To the untrained eye, colours are uniformly drab greys (and, if outside the Shadowfell, brown). Dwarven languages have over 500 words for rock, and almost as many to describe different rock hues. Particular shades of grey (and brown) reveal much about the guild and status of Shadow Dwarves, if one has the eye to see. Boots, belts, and hats are usually made by the Guild of the Lizards from the hides of the Giant Shadow Lizards.

Display of Wealth

The Shadow Dwarven concept of wealth is very different than other races’ concept. Shadow Dwarves are attracted to objects for their beauty, not for any commercial value. They prize masterworks, but know that craftsmen only augment what the earth has provided.

All Shadow Dwarves are expected to, and prefer to, keep their wealth hidden. It is considered bad manners to flaunt accumulated wealth. Such behaviour is offensive and has caused insult to many Shadow Dwarves. Wealth, especially gems, is for personal delight. They should be horded and only displayed for one’s closes family or cherished friends. It is a mark of acceptance and friendship among Shadow Dwarves for one to reveal his wealth. By doing so, he is not only sharing the joy of his possessions, but is saying, “You are my friend, whom I trust not to steal from me.”

Personalities

Shadow Dwarves have their own personality. They are proud and noble. They are guildnish and traditional. They are stubborn and patient. They believe that there is a time and place for everything. Here are nine different personalities that may be found among the Shadow Dwarves and below are four concepts that are important for the basic personality of the Shadow Dwarves

The Decadent personality is the first. This kind of Shadow Dwarf follows the ways of other races instead of the way of Beldwhig. The Decadent people are rare but there are some. They are viewed with suspicion by other Shadow Dwarves and they can never really be trusted. The Decadents are the outsiders of Beldwhig.

There is also the Glory Seeker. These seek great wealth and opportunities to perform heroic acts. They dream of becoming one of histories great heroes. They want their name to be sung. They enjoy being the centre of attraction though they are not always skilled in the art of speech.

The Grumbler loves being unhappy, there is nothing satisfies him. It’s either too damp, or too dark, or too smelly, or too cold, or too hot, or simply just wrong. There is never a right. He is only happy when there is something to be unhappy about. He only speaks to complain, and something as simple as ordering a room at an inn sounds like a complaint (”And don’t stick me in a room infested with lice, I want a decent one – make sure it isn’t over the common room or I won’t get any sleep”).

There are some that obsessed with acquiring and counting wealth. These are called Hoarders. They will never spend any of their wealth if they can avoid it. They are always the first on the battlefield, after the battle. In their spare time they count and polish their gold. The Hoarders are always looking for the best deal in any situation.

Optimism is present in Beldwhig. Some Shadow Dwarves are called Optimists because they are cheerful characters and always look on the bright side. They enjoy meeting new-comers not like the rest of Beldwhig.

The Paragons takes racial pride to the extreme. Dwarf achievements are the highest possible and no other race can hope to measure up to the standards dwarves have set. To these characters, elves are flighty and apathetic; orcs are wretched, brutal, and depraved; and humans and Halflings too easily distracted. They are bad diplomats.

Some Shadow Dwarves are paranoid. They are always scared. These are the Phobics. They seem to be afraid of many things such as water, heights, open spaces, closed spaces, or even monsters such as Giant Shadow Lizards. The Phobics seem the most normal Shadow Dwarves but when confronted with their fears, they flee in panic.

Then there are the Pragmatists. These Shadow Dwarves knows what has to be done in any situation and does it, ruthlessly and efficiently. They are never foolhardy. They may be gruff and taciturn but on the outside they will seem happy and gregarious. They know when they have achieved all they can get.

The last Shadow Dwarven personality is the Statesman. These are concerned only for the safety of their guild and stronghold. They are the guild masters for they exude natural leadership, or at least likes to think that they do.
Religions

The Shadow Dwarve kingdom of Beldwhig is ruled by a religious monarch. This means that it’s the clergy that rules the kingdom but that the ruler has the title of king or queen. The supreme ruler is the guild master of the Ritual Priest Prestige Guild. This means that the whole kingdom has specific religious duties. They have periods where all Shadow Dwarves must pray.

The Shadow Dwarves of Beldwhig worship two deities. One of them is Raven, which is a banned deity in Beldwhig, and her worshipers are hunted down by society. Raven does not really exist and does not give power to her subjects. The magic that Raven’s followers cast is better known as Arcane Magic. The best known guild that worship Raven is the Pariah Prestige Guild. The other deity is a creature of darkness. The people of Beldwhig worship Lithor and this gives him power that he distributes to his followers who then can cast Divine Magic.

The supreme ruler is chosen by Lithor when the former high priest, priestess, king, or queen dies. Lithor usually chooses the decendant of the line of rulers.

Humour and Loyalty

Shadow Dwarves never tell jokes, and have no appreciation of practical jokes. Beldwhig is based on law, order, and a respect for one’s fellows. A Shadow Dwarf does not abuse that respect by ridiculing another’s dignity.

Shadow Dwarves love to work and find pleasure in it. This pleasure is so spiritually uplifting that any attempt at humour appears facile. Those not content with work or their position in life may need such diversion, but humour is seen as insult.

Shadow Dwarves are not humourless; they have a very black humour concerning their racial enemies. They do not find jokes about personal suffering or failure funny. They do find jokes based on clever stories entertaining. Shadow Dwarven jokes tend to follow a standard narrative pattern. Because of their great length, endless genealogies, and catalogs of Shadow Dwarven concerns, it is difficult for other races to maintain any interest in them. Shadow Dwarf comedians, telling jokes to other races, are frequently annoyed when audience attention slips after 15 minutes or so, or when the audience has no concept of the importance of lineage in the joke’s ”punch paragraph!”

Shadow Dwarves have a very conscious idea of where their loyalties lie: first to the family, then to the guild, the guild, the stronghold, and then to the rest of the kingdom. The Shadow Dwarves are proud and maintain their loyalties. They are willing to defend each other, often to the death. An insult against one Shadow Dwarf is considered to be an insult against all Shadow Dwarves.

Lithor

The Nightshade, The Nightwing, Lord of Darkness, Lord of Shadows

Lithor is a huge bat 10 feet long with a wingspan of 20 feet. He’s a horrible creature composed of utter darkness and absolute evil. The chilling malevolence hangs heavily about him, along with the smell of an open grave on a winter’s morning. He is all but invisible, detectable only because of the stars that he obscures in his passage (but there are no stars on the Shadowfell).

When the Shadow Dwarves came to the Shadowfell, they came to Lithor’s land. They began worshipping him and in exchange, he was to protect them and help them. His powers grew with the worship of the dwarves and now nothing can stop him. He does not openly help the Shadow Dwarves but makes them believe that he’s the cause of everything that happens in the dark. Everything that is cold and evil is his.

Dogma

Lithor hangs mostly to himself, avoiding the dwarven civilisation. If he’s bored he may want to entertain himself by torturing or helping (mostly the latter) the dwarves. He encourages battle to the death and worship several times a day. A Shadow Dwarf must pray at least three times per day: when he wakes, when he has finished working, and before he goes to sleep.

Lithor loves the dwarves. They are the perfect race. They are grumpy, ugly, nasty, dark, and filled with evil. They have no sense of humour except for their dark jokes on other races. He also loves the fact that they have no emotions or at least does not show them and that they do not display wealth and arrogance (except for themselves). He encourages this to all Shadow Dwarves.

Clergy and Temples

Lithor rules his people through the clergy. The clergy may be both male and female. All who wish to become members of the clergy must be member of a religious guild or else Lithor will not trust them. The different religious guilds are completely obsessed with Lithor. The older priests rule over the younger priests and the ruler of Beldwhig is the eldest priest from the Guild of Temple. The eldest priests of the different guilds become guild masters and links between Lithor and the Shadow Dwarves. The clerics serve as absolute rulers. They are the leaders, police, juries, and executioners.

Every hearth in Beldwhig has a shrine dedicated to Lithor, even if it’s nothing more than a small statue of a black bat. Larger temples are laid out in the shape of a bat. These serve as the great halls, the meeting places for all Shadow Dwarves, sacrificial sites, and the centre of entertainment.

Raven

The Raven Queen

Raven appeared as either a tall, beautiful female or as a black raven. She maintained a ruthless, tyrannical reign over the elves who in turn invaded the kingdom of Beldwhig during the Third Age. Raven ruled through a combination of fear and the promise of power. Some dwarves still believe that there is hope for Raven and worship her in hope for power.

It was Raven who first spread evil among the elves in the First Age of Aspenta, and it was she who led the shadar’kai to break away from the rest of elven society and to dwell in the Shadowfell. Worshipers of Raven see this as the only strength in elven society and they shun any elf that do not worship Raven and dwell in the Shadowfell.

Dogma

Raven used to constantly turn one worshiper against another. She claimed to do this to cull out the weak and to make her worshipers strong, but she was a cruel and capricious deity who enjoyed watching other suffer. She was careful to prevent open or widespread strife among her followers. She didn’t tolerate cmapaigns of harassment or attrition among groups of her worshipers, but she did sanction well-planned, swift, and overwhelming attacks.

Raven expected her people to be shrewd, calculating, and aware of the dangers and opportunities around them. She had no use for sentiment, weakness, or love. She expected her people to rule the entire Underdark, eliminating foes that are weak enough to be destroyed and biding their time before attacking other opponents.

Clergy and Temples

Raven ruled her people through her clerics, who were exclusively female and organized into noble houses made up of clerics related by blood. Since the dwarves of Beldwhig begun worshiping her, she turned to arcane magic instead of divine magic and let noble male dwarves rule her followers. Any shadar’kai were still higher ranked than any dwarf.

Nearly every worshiper of Raven has a small shrine dedicated to her in his or her home, even if it is just a raven statue or a modest altar. Larger temples to Raven are usually laid out in the shape of a raven and only built by shadar’kai. They serve as meeting places, sacrificial sites, and centers of entertainment for high-ranking shadar’kai.

Likes and Dislikes

Shadow Dwarves love the earth as much as any other dwarf. Earth and rock may be tunnelled and carved, arched and buttressed, yet they remain always solid and reliable. The sea, however, is ever changing, chaotic, with no stability, and prone to tempestuous storms. It is the antithesis of the safe, womblike caverns that are home to the Shadow Dwarves.

They love wealth, especially gold and gems. They love to possess it, polish it, and cut it into brilliant shapes that catch the light perfectly. Each stone is seen as a shining example of the beauty of the earth. To those who have left Belwhig, it is a reminder that true beauty comes from within the earth.

They have, however, no desire to own or collect pearls for they are products of the chaotic sea. Pearls are not considered to be gems. Pearls lack the deep lustre of natural stones. While pearls are worthless, Shadow Dwarves are aware of their trade value.

Shadow Dwarves love to sing. Many have rich baritone voices that echo splendidly about their chambered halls. All great halls are specially constructed around natural acoustic properties. Singing is a group activity. Their songs speak of the beauty of the earth; commemorate famous deeds of valour, or sing of the construction of a magnificent edifice. Some are laments which tell of the death of a loved one or great hero, or the loss of a stronghold. The songs tend to be long and very well written. Most races would lose patience with a spoken story, but even elves have sat entranced for hours by the story songs of the Shadow Dwarves.

Shadow Dwarves also enjoy playing a few kinds of instruments such as the flute, horn, bagpipe, and drum. Their music is either martial or mournful. Rarely will musicians be accompanied by singers for music dampens the true resonance of the voice.

Names

A Shadow Dwarf receives his name from the guild elders. Every name has been used and reused down through the generations. A Shadow Dwarf does not own his name; it is the guild that owns it. If he misuses it or brings shame to it, his guild will strip him of it. A Shadow Dwarf who has lost his name may not, by law, use any other Shadow Dwarven name. Shadow Dwarves have three names: a birth name, a guild name, and a stronghold name.

Prestige Guilds

In Beldwhig there are only four prestige guilds. These four prestige guilds are: Pest Control Guild, Sharpshooter Guild, Vermin Slayer Guild and Vindicator Guild.

Pest Controller

”They’re everywhere. Can’t you see them?”

Pest Controllers keep a stronghold free from rats, giant spiders, centipedes, carrion crawlers, kobolds, and other pests. They are experts at setting traps and in eradicating minor animal and monster nuisances.

Pest Controllers are members of the Pest Control Guild. Through experience they learn all of a stronghold’s tunnels, passages, and sewers. Although they perform an invaluable service keeping underground settlements habitable, their true worth becomes apparent when a stronghold is under attack. Then they use their expertise to rig traps along passages of expected enemy advance to slow and kill the invaders. Enemies entering a dwarf stronghold are likely to find their way beset with deadly traps.

Sharpshooter

“Ranged weapons are not acceptable, except this one.”

A Sharpshooter is highly skilled with the light, heavy, or hand crossbow. He has spent the majority of his youth practicing with his crossbow so that he may one day join the Sharpshooter Guild. He is skilled in rapid loading and expert at inflicting the most damage possible with his weapon. Exuding confidence in his abilities, he tends to disdain those who resort to hand-to-hand combat.

Sharpshooters form either part of a crossbow unit or make their living shooting for prize money at fairs. When in battle, a Sharpshooter’s targets are enemy officers, wizards, and clerics, to prevent them from co-ordinating attacks or casting spells.

Sharpshooters are set apart from other dwarves by the care they lavish on their crossbows and bolts. The crossbow is made of the finest materials and the butt is often inlaid with intricate patterns. The bolts have only the finest flights, and they burnish the points to a fine, razor sharpness.

Vermin Slayer

“Kill them. Kill them all.”

The Vermin Slayer is a highly skilled specialist who enters the tunnel systems of monsters such as kobolds, goblins, and jermlaines, with the intention of eradicating them. Vermin Slayers are also adept at negotiating the constricted passages created by giant rats, centipedes, and other pests and vermin.

They are used to fighting in confined spaces and are experts at hiding in shadows, where they wait to surprise their prey.

Vermin Slayers are similar to Pest Controllers, but where a Pest Controller uses traps to catch his prey, Vermin Slayers actively hunt victims with light crossbows and hand axes or hammers.

They belong to their own guild, which sells their services to those who require them. In parts of Beldwhig plagued by pests, Vermin Slayers are highly regarded. Their willingness to enter narrow tunnels is seen as commendable by other dwarves. In strongholds where they are not constantly employed, they are often viewed with suspicion and distaste. Many have been known to turn to illegal activities in order to support themselves, but their willingness to enter even sewers has proved their worth as recoverers of lost items and has earned them a reputation for being incredibly tough.

Vindicator

“Arrrrrrrg!!! CHARGE!!!”

The Vindicator is imbued with the spiritual power of his deity. When this power is manifested, he becomes a fearless and powerful warrior. He is able to enter a rage; his face becomes contorted and he grinds his teeth together.

They are often the most potent force of Lithor, expected to give their lives for their religion. Most are well aware that their lives are likely to be short, though sometimes glorious.

Vindicators usually have facial and body tattoos.

Elders of Beldwhig

The Shadow Dwarven kingdom of Beldwhig is ruled at present by a religious monarch who follow the teachings of Lithor, the god of Shadow Dwarves. In ages past, the government was mainly ruled by an oligarchy of elders. At present the king is old and even if he was young he would not be able to rule every stronghold the same way he rules the primary city of Beldwhig. Therefore he has apointed elders. Each elder takes care of a stronghold. They are the second in the hierachy. All but the king and Lithor must follow their orders. The capital has no elder since the king takes care of that city himself. Dorkil’Beldwak has no elder because the last elder, known as Thorur the Elder of Dorkil’Beldwak, was sent into exile. Though he was sent into exile, his title remained until his death, and since then Dorkil’Beldwak has not had an elder.

Shadow Dwarves

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