Jan 22, 2012

The Dawnlands: The Dwer

The Dwer are the inhabitants of the second city of the Dawnlands, Dwer Tor. It has a population of about 75,000 in the main polis, with smaller colonies extending outwards for several hundred kilometres along the Little Road River with another 175,000 people. The urban population is mostly split amongst dwarves, voidmen and halflings, while the colonies have significant minorities of elves and humans in addition.


Dwer Tor was the grant given to Kakarna, the first divine hero and founder of the dwarvish race, by the Dawnmen as thanks for his assistance in slaying Eternal Night. It has remained an independent city-state for most of its existence, though its status as chief ally of the Kingdom of High Kaddish led to its near integration at several points. Hundreds of years ago, voidmen fled from the distant Kingdom of Falling Stars up the Great Southern Road to Dwer Tor and integrated into Dwer society. Since then, dwarves and voidmen have constituted the upper ranks of Dwer society, oppressing the halflings, humans and others beneath them.


The Dwer have a narrow majority of halflings (~50%), with fewer dwarves (35%) and a minority of eladrin (10%). The remainder are mostly humans and elves living in subject territories.


The Dwer have a state-supported cult in which their king is the high priest of the Hard-Faced Mother, the star-wife of Kakarna who forms the mountain on which Dwer Tor is built. They also propitiate their divine heroes, powerful individuals who develop incredible power and who reincarnate from time to time to defend the city and its people. Very few divine heroes are incarnate at any time, and they are often far from the city dealing with distant terrors before they can come close. There are about two-dozen divine heroes total, each with a cult focused on emulating their chosen heroes' conduct in order to build the power of its followers. Divine heroes are mainly worshipped by the optimate and thaumate castes. Helots confine themselves to worshipping the Hard-Faced Mother.


The Dwer are great rivermen, connected as they are with the Dawnlands' largest series of rivers, the Little Road. They do very little oceanic sailing though. voidmen are the only members of the society who ride commonly, as both dwarves and halflings find it awkward.


Everyone in Dwer Tor is one of four castes.

Optimate - the ruling caste. Optimates are traditionally warriors and statesmen. Many optimate families are also rich trading families. They run the government of Dwer Tor and its colonies. The king may only be from an optimate family. Optimates are primarily dwarves, with a small number of voidmen families. They may adopt talented members of other races, but those members cannot pass that status on to their children unless they are dwarves. Optimates are organised into houses with patrilineal descent.

Thaumates - the administrative caste. Thaumates are the religious, technical and magical professionals. Thaumates are either dwarves or voidmen. Thaumates are organised in ecclesia, or schools, with all members of a school being related to one another. Thaumates identify themselves with a first name and the name of their school.

Helots - the vast bulk of the population. Helots are the productive caste. They make and trade goods, grow food, and have built Dwer Tor's wealth and reputation for fine craftsmanship. The helot population is overwhelmingly halfling, though dwarves are well-represented amongst the artisans and richer merchants. The helot population is both urban and rural, found in the countryside surrounding Dwer Tor. Helots are organised into demes of about two hundred households which are considered to be related. Helots are forbidden to touch weapons without permission from an optimate or thaumate, and are barred from certain sections of the city (the Palace Eternal) without permission.

Slaves - the Dwer use many slaves. These may be criminals, prisoners of war, debtors who defaulted, or simply people who had the misfortune to be captured by slavers. About one fifth of the population is slaves. Slaves are the property of the Dwer state, and must be rented from the king. They are mainly used for dangerous and unpleasant jobs like mining, quarrying, and for tasks requiring minimal skill and maximum effort like unskilled agricultural labour. The city of Dwer Tor is kept quite clean by an army of slaves that sweeps over it every night to wash, sweep and collect trash. Slaves are forbidden from wearing any colour other than black.