Player Character Race: Dwarves

craft_pointsDwarves should be clever; not necessarily wise, or even particularly intelligent in the conventional sense, but clever. It’s a subtle distinction but important, I think, to their character.

Dwarves are not mundane. They are not merely small men (certainly not the stocky, angry, inexplicably Scottish men that modern pop culture has universally made them out to be.) What’s missing in most depictions of dwarves is an essential magic, an elevated, supernatural cleverness. We get our notion of dwarves mostly from Tolkien, of course, but they’re much older than that. In Norse mythology, the dwarves are closely related to dark elves, the Svartalfar. Like any good myth, dwarves are a metaphor: they fascinate because they represent the spark of creative, destructive magic. They combine intemperance with wonder and amazement.

The Norse dwarves were dangerous, sharp-minded, over-eager to invent, to dig deep, but they also were unattached. They didn’t belong in Midgard. I think Tolkien realized that and created a story for them which gave them an authentic connection to the world. My dwarves are definitely thematic relatives of the norse dwarves, but I’ve taken a page out of Tolkien’s book as well. The story of the dwarves is a developing tragedy; slowly, they are falling asleep and returning to the stone that they were illegitimately hewn from. If your connection to the world is a tenuous one, then a threat to that connection makes it all the more important. I’ve got a short story on the way that goes into it a bit.

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The Edda of Armod: Part 1

stretchy prophetArmod is an important figure in Felmoorish history. While there are several Eddas in existence, (ancient books,  prophetic or revelatory in nature, usually containing a cryptic mishmash of verse and arcane prose) Armod’s is by far the most intelligible, and therefore the most widely reproduced and studied.

I quoted from Armod in the player’s overview. Since I have the full document, I thought I’d post some of the longer passages from it, as it contains a lot of interesting details and nuances that don’t fit in the overview.  

As I lay in the wilderness, as one struck with a mortal wound lies, these further revelations also passed before my senses:

I saw the world as it was. And the world was called “Ull” because it had been spoken from the mouth of the Creator. It’s form was as one unbroken firmament, for men had not yet known want. As far as Rel is from Ker, and as far as Tel is from Ary, there was nothing that was not Good in the shadow of the Spire. This is why men of the ancient tongue say, to this day:

Ulta ulmura
Nournay heilor teobanay
Eri uelo ner peime

In that time, Men made their dwellings in the western foothills of the Spire, and the spirits lived among them also. But the spirit who withholds his name, powerful in the reckoning of Men and spirits alike, placed himself between the Spire and a man named Omad, and gave secret counsel to him against the creator’s design.

Omad, the first man, is another important figure. This is only his first appearance; he makes his way into many stories and legends.

Now, Omad was a leader among men, a man of influence in the dwellings of the Creator’s children. According to the secret counsel he had received, Omad made for himself an earthen mound near his home, and on it, he sacrificed his with his own blood, and that was the first bloodshed. He did this because the spirit which had deceived him had told him he would become more powerful even than the spirits of the celestial stars, possessing the secret of their knowledge and wisdom. In addition to this, Omad also led all men to follow his example, and commit the sin he had committed by prostituting themselves to the nameless spirit. In this way, he turned the hearts of Men away from the Spire of the creator, and caused them to forsake their first destiny, for the spirit who withholds his name had deceived him.  

Then the creator’s anger burned against Omad. So great was his wrath and his roar that the very earth itself could not bear it. The foundations of the world were uprooted and torn apart and fire and liquid flame erupted from the ground. Then the stars were torn from the thrones they had set up for themselves and were shaken loose from all 7 realms of heaven and destroyed upon the splitting and frayed edges of the world.

Lithtanic scholars still ponder Armod’s reference to falling “stars.” Many believe that this is a direct reference to the Ramaki, or more likely the celestials: powerful beings believed to have migrated to Felmoor from other planes during or shortly after the fracture. Still others consider this a reference to beings that are completely unknown in the contemporary era, probably destroyed or buried entirely – lost in time. 

“A curse on Omad!” proclaimed the Creator over the destruction. “And a curse upon the land that bore him! Henceforth, Ull is broken, as a sign of the doom that has fallen on man!” And so Ull has ever been broken, and a great sea has filled the desolation carved by the his anger when the foundation of the world was torn.

This last passage is the source of the false belief that the plane of Ull could be reached by sailing in a straight line due East. To many, Armod seemed to imply that the separation which divided Felmoor from Ull was only a physical one. For centuries, this theory was widely held among ruling families of the Lithtanic Kingdom, and even by  members of the Stellarine Council. History records at least 5 large expeditions that launched with orders to discover a passage to Ull. 

The Beginning

Snorri snoring.

Before we do anything else, we should know what kind of world this is going to be, in the broadest sense, right? Where does it come from? To get a sense of history and form some idea about what the future might look like, it seems logical to go the beginning of relevant developments.  For Felmoor, we go all the way back to the literal beginning of the world, which depending on how you look at it, is also the end of the world.

I came up with the basic idea for Felmoor back in highschool. It was called Telmor back then. I was super into Beowulf, and I’d been reading Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda so there was some Norse myth bouncing around in my head. The big influence, though,  was “The Silmarillion” and what emerged was in some ways an intentional imitation of Tolkien’s account of the creation of the Midgard. Felmoor is a little bit different, a little more modern, but it’s got a similar profile.

The creation narrative below the jump is eventually going to be part of a “Player’s Overview.” The overview won’t be exactly analogous to the “Player Handbook” for vanilla D&D. It’s intended to be the bare minimum of lore, geography, etc. that players new to the setting need to know before playing. This is just a draft. The final product should probably be a lot shorter, and go into less detail.

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