Thoughts on Dwarfs

My posts regarding Dwarves always include one gripe about how Dwarven architecture is portrayed. I do like what I read about the Lore of Dwarves but have things to say about that too. So since this is a forum to discuss, I will post my thoughts and you all can shred it or thumbs up/down it.

In order to present my viewpoints and arguments, I would look at the Psyche of the Dwarves and would suggest a certain amount of Lore of my own.

Dwarves live underground. This has been their preferred environment and they have adapted their culture and manners to match the harshness and dangers within those environments. Issues like creatures, lighting, caverns, waters, lava, earthquakes, and even the greatest danger, Dragons pursuing the riches the Dwarves unearth, all of these factors influence how Dwarves live from day to day.

Dragons are rare and the simplest solution to then is to live deep away from the surface and to make entrances into their caverns small enough to become a major hindrance to the beasts ever gaining access into their caves. This same strategy can be modified to create narrow paths into the depths to restrict large armies from trying to invade. Keep the paths into the Dwarven enclave narrow and you can thin out the attackers instead of facing a horde of them all at once.

Other creatures will of course vary, from food sources to pests (like small D&D Kobolds) to goblins with smaller than human stature and up to orcs with larger statures. Dwarves would in all likelihood build their tunnels and pathways to allow for ease of THEIR movement and seeing goods easily passed through them yet restrictive to larger creatures and races so as to give advantage to themselves in case of invasions.

Natural conditions like lava, water in the forms of rivers, lakes and hotpools all would figure into how they live their lives. Mineral springs could become sources they exploit should they develop the ability to alchemically covert the waters to usable minerals. Hotpools can help heat the tunnels, be used for cleaning/washing, bathing, etc. Lava, if kept at a safe distance and low enough below living areas, could also provide heating for the cold dark tunnels. The inherent dangers of hotpools and lava are clear – magma movement usually means volcanic eruptions every so often and possible loss of life. Dwarves will either leave such factors far away or find clever ways to adapt them into daily life.

Earthquakes, and tectonic shifting happens pretty much world wide here on Terra Firma and no place is totally free of earthquakes although some spots can claim to be sufficiently far from any faults as to be practically "earthquake-free". Dwarves will KNOW about this fact and they will build with that reality in mind. And it is this fact that brings me to mention Lord of The Rings – The Mines of Moria, the Halls of Dwarrowdelf, as Gandalf mentioned as they entered the columned hall. Perhaps Dwarven skill could build such a place but the logistics and practical reality would be that such a place could only be built on the most stable of locations. I live in California in earthquake country and building architecture knowledge says that such a place is an earthquake deathtrap waiting to happen. That entire realm of Moria was tunnels, natural caverns, wide open caverns and leading to deep depths (such as the long fall of Gandalf and the Balrog). To me such a HUGE dramatic structures as that Hall is too impractical for the New Dwarven City to mirror or try to capture and emulate. I prefer to think in terms as Dwarves being smart enough and protective enough of their families and society to give a lot of thought and consideration to where they build and what they build.

In this re-imaging of Everquest perhaps we can suspend reality details and just build as we see fit, yet won’t there be cave systems all over the Next world, with deep caverns and tunnels? Won’t there be some lava pools and flows we have to evade and work around?

I would see their underground living place/City to have found a large cavern where thery could build INTO to stone walls, rather than work and shape stone to make human-like castles underground like we saw in EQ1. Would there be some worked stone structures? Sure, but the use of what Brell (or insert name of Diety here) provided would be the basis of building a city. Natural look predominating, worked stone where need required. <Diety> will provide, Dwarves will use thankfully.

The Lore presented so far has no mention of their stonework, yet whatever a Dwarf makes has the look and feel of Mastercrafting on it. Thus SOME stonework has to be present. And logically, they excel at it.

If the underground City is what we are asked to build, then I would prefer to see a lot more underground-looking builds that keep us away from British and Scottish type- castle builds and a more "community in the walls of a cavern with worked stone balconies, windows, walkways and paths" type of concept, and some mid-chamber worked stone buildings making the community feel like they LIVE in and around the earth, not within worked-stone walls.

About the Given Developers Lore:

/QUOTE – They are renowned metalworkers and crafters, purveyors of the finest arms and armor on Norrath. Dwarves feel most at home in the earth, where their massive underground cities afford wealth as well as nigh-impenetrable defenses. When circumstances force them to build on the surface, dwarves surround themselves with thick walls of hard stone. /UNQUOTE

Going over that I tend to agree to most of it. Dwarves to me do feel at home in the earth, and it would make sense that when made to build aboveground the surround themselves with thick wall of stone. To me, this says that their preferred living environment is CLOSE to the earth, surrounded by solid, trustworthy stone.

I like that the lore doesn’t make Dwarves out to be greedy little grouches, hoarding and refusing to let a copper drop from their hands without a berserker rage coming over them. THAT stereotype needs to go away. Maybe Brasse may wish to disagree, but I liked seeing it absent.

The "Massive" underground cities…….. . I disagree with that in this way. If the goal of this statement is to make a home Dwarven City (aka, Kaladim in EQ1) Then I see why it is stated that way. My view is different as stated above. Yet, given the centuries that the Dwarves may have inhabited said underground city, then I would say it should have a strongly "ancient" feel to it, built strong and sturdy but showing its age.

I tend to see them living in a system of interconnected tunnel systems, perhaps miles long, with "nodes" of family groups who are working at mining a given ore that is local to that position. this would require a supply system both self-suffucuent yet communially shared over all the nodes within the system.

Above Ground, structures should be heavy, thick and DURABLE-looking. No Dirt earth based structures. Dwarves would want pure solid stone around them. Practical in nature and functional in use. Ornamentation only if it is to have been around for a long time, but an outpost built on the territorial lines of the Orcs and Dwarves with be build to stand assault, not to look fancy, unless it added insult to any attacking Orcs.

Coloration – Primary – Granite-stone colored. Shades of gray similar to that.
Lighting – I see a warm hearth being in every dwarf home, either of wood or coal. thus the burning yellow-orange of a wood fire or a red-orange of glowing coals to dominate their City lighting. In the mines area, phosphorescent mosses and such could have a greenish color, with yellow-white or greenish lantern light. Perhaps in their mining the Dwarves have uncovered lighted Crystals which they use to illuminate some of their paths.

Suggestions – Dwarves do NOT strip mine the underground. Finding a cave that contains Geodes from floor to ceiling and simple torch light makes the room sparkle would cause a Dwarf to sigh at the beauty of such a natural display, and I could see them leaving such a room alone to give them their own form of Natural Park system of tourist spots. The wonders of the earth are not all to be exploited, but also to be revered and preserved.

Dwarves do not make huge underground landfills for their garbage. They burn the wood products for light and heat. Metals get remelted whenever possible and converted over to some other use. Gems are harvested and cut when they can, chips from the cuttings usually find some other sue like gem powders prized by mages for their spell and alchemical use. food and bodily waste is converted into compost heaps for underground "farming" of plants, mushrooms and roots, and also for their above-ground, hidden-valley farms where they work as farmers to feed the community.

Whatever else is not re-usable is cast into lava to burn up.

Dwarves with use the natural shape and formations of rock to make their pathways through the underground. Minimum Pick-axe cutting of paths is used and minimum shaping of steps and ladders will be present. Sloping paths smoothly transitioning up and down, natural bridges across canyons, natural caves of ice or hotpools are treasures they will find ways to use.

Dwarves have lived underground too long to be wasteful and they live a practical lifestyle of need over want, but they also find great pleasure in simple things like ale, beer, stories by the hearth, and in loving their family and home.

It will be my hope to try and bring such ideas to life as I build for Dwarves.
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