The Dwarven Lands
(Feb. 7, 2021)

New visitors to the dwarven lands often assume that the region is mostly inhabited by dwarves, but it is not so. The dwarven lands are home to a variety of peoples, and outside the handful of dwarven redoubts studded through the mountains, dwarves are not even the majority. The realm takes its name from the fact that the land has been so thoroughly shaped by dwarven hands.

Every city is made, almost entirely, of buildings in the rectilinear style of dwarven construction, with extensive catacombs beneath. The roads between the cities are paved with distinctive lozenges of basalt. Even a traveler lost in the wilderness will find well-appointed campgrounds spaced about a day’s march apart.

This is because a dwarf, whenever not otherwise occupied, starts building something. Those wilderness campgrounds exist because, whenever a traveling party including dwarves stops to camp, the dwarves immediately start building out a proper hearth, and a rudimentary stockade, and a bear chest, and eventually some bedsteads. Should the party have found an existing dwarven campground, the dwarves will occupy themselves repairing and improving the site. In the dwarven lands, after so many centuries, every wild place is not far from what amounts to an unmanned inn.

Meanwhile, every cave system in the dwarven lands has been explored and built out into an underground warren. Almost all are left empty; the dwarves who built them had no particular purpose for them. Some have become home to bandits, or wild beasts.

Other peoples find all this building perplexing but useful, and few have made a serious effort to understand why the dwarves do it. Dwarves, for their part, have generally proven unable and unwilling to articulate their motives. Indeed, it’s not always clear that they have motives other than building more things and trading for necessities. To the other inhabitants of the dwarven lands, dwarves are affable, helpful, and ultimately incomprehensible.

This is because the dwarves that other peoples know are but a small outcrop of their civilization. The dwarves of the surface are sexless drones, birthed from sacs carried up through endless tunnels from the great dwarrowdelves of the deep. The dwarves of the mountain redoubts exist to acquire foodstuffs and other goods to be sent down to the caverns where the deep dwarves dwell, and then further still, past where most surface dwarves will ever go, to the abyssal palaces of the lords and queens of dwarfkind, who only a handful of humans have ever seen.

Those who have call them the aboleth.