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Dharzad 

Appearance Dharzad dwarves are leaner and wirier than their northern cousins, with red, black or gray hair and a look of desperation in their eye. Their beards are scraggy and often festooned with bones and bands of ivory and gems, They are often scarred and each one is always armed. Most are tougher then the average human but not quite as agile as their bones and skull are more dense The forehead and brow more pronounced with a wider nose then the Gold dwarves. Iron dwarves are given this name due to them being a tough race adapted for life in a harsh dark world and they are quite successful at it. Able to go on longer without food or water or even rest then most other races. Dharzad dwarves are often called Iron dwarves by other races but never by one another.

History

Ever since Moradin, god of people of stone, created the Dwarves over a thousand years ago, they have made their home inside the deep reaches of the mountains in Hatar. The Dwarves are an ancient race and they had already erected impregnable fortresses and fashioned weapons of unrivaled strength and quality, all of which they used to keep their lands safe before the Dar and khans came. That war and its aftermath represent the birth of Dharzad, the first Iron Dwarven nation.

After securing their position, the Dwarves turned their attention inward to the mountains of Dharzad. They scattered all across the region, forming individual settlements and carving out a living in the rock their god had given them --their ability to thrive on so little served as proof that they were blessed. The terrain encouraged isolationism, but, over time, the separate settlements began to grow together into one cohesive nation, banding together under a single chieftain. Vicious human tribes (Hatarians) sprang up on the plains above ground, but their attacks only strengthened Dharzad at first, which was still a nation of great warriors and craftsmen, always prepared for war. However over confidence cost them against the Federation and that remains a sore point in dwarven history.

Dharzad today is a proud nation, very self-sufficient, but not really involved in the affairs of its neighbors. They are also at peace with Hatar, but it is no secret that the two nations have never liked one another. And they maintain a unfriendly rivalry with Karnigan, their Dwarven brothers in the furthest reaches of the north. 


Geography

Dharzad is dominated by the Hatar Mountains, a dense range, rife internally with river canyons, natural caverns, and even a few dormant volcanoes, which runs the length of the nation from east to west. On the northern face, the foothills of these mountains level out to form icy steppes, which continue across the border into the dar lands. The central southern region is occupied by the Dharzadian steppes, which resides primarily around the border with the Aldergeist Valley (lit: “Old Ghost’s Valley”) and is also flat arid grassland, with sparse shrubs.

Dharzad is known for a handful of cities, with angular, highly-detailed stonework carved within the mountains themselves. The capital city, Ignus Bazuul, lies in the central region of the Hatar Mountains, slightly further to the east. The Dwarves apply the praenomen “Ignus” to all volcanic mountains, with Ignus Bazuul being the largest and most recognizable site. 

Religion

Dharzadians, whether they be Dwarves or otherwise, hold Moradin in high esteem. He is seen not only as the god who created the Dwarves, but as the one who shaped this land, these mountains, and the many mysteries therein. From Mordain, the Iron dwarves derive their endurance, resiliency, and strength; life in the mountains and barren deserts can be harsh, thus they take nothing for granted. Their capital city is within the mountain where they believe Moradin set the first Dwarves upon the world

Government

Each of Dharzad’s under-regions (areas underground set out as counties) is represented by a Chieftain, chosen by the people of that region. The entire nation has roughly two-dozen Chiefs in all, which form the Council. The Council elects one of their number to perform the role of High Chieftain. Historically, the High Chieftain has nearly always been the Chief of the most populous region --Bazuul, the capital. All of these positions are held for life, unless the Council recognizes a challenger, at which point a vote or combat is held in the contested region (or in the Council, if it is a challenge to the seat of High Chieftain). Challenges are somewhat common, , especially when officials are corrupt or inept.

The High Chieftain’s role is in national issues, while the council exists to advise him and bring regional issues to his attention. He manages trade routes with neighboring nations, internal taxes, foreign policy, and controls Dharzad’s standing army. It is a lot for one man to handle alone, thus many of Dharzad’s High Chieftains choose leaders/advisors to help handle these affairs. The selection of at least a Chief of Defense (to manage militaristic affairs) and a Chief of Commerce (to handle foreign trade and taxation) has become common practice. Also, there is no rule against women serving as Chieftains, but this is rare and none have ever been High Chieftain. 

Culture

Dharzadian culture has remained largely unchanged for the past thousand years. Strength and hard work are the most valued traits to any Dharzadian, and honorable competition is a key facet of their society. 

In times of peace, Dharzadians enjoy tests of strength. This includes physical combat and non-lethal gladiatorial bouts as well as rugged outings into hostile territory or wilderness. One’s ability to handle one’s drink is also a much-valued trait in Dharzadian culture and they are known for their strong brews. But wartime is when a Dharzadian man (or woman) truly proves him/herself. Burial rights are a sacred practice, especially for those who fell defending the nation. It is said that the most beautiful architecture of any Dwarven city is reserved for its necropolis, where the tombs of their fallen warriors and Chieftains lie.

For many day to day survial is the frist and foremost, the underground are home to many deadly predators and illnesses. Unlike the gold dwares, females play and equal part in society which puts them at odds with the nothern cousins who find the idea of female rule laughable and scoff that the iron dwarves are ignorant.

Groups/Societies

Moradin’s Hammer -- The Dharzadian chapter of the Order of the Red Earth who crusade in the name of Moradin. In the past, there have been attempts to integrate them into the military, but the Hammers answer only to their god. Nevertheless, they typically move with the army and have always defended the nation in times of need.

Leaders and Figureheads

High Chieftain Rhok Vhir -- The current chieftain, a venerable man who has sat upon the throne for nearly a century and continues to be well-liked and well-respected. His foreign policies have been slightly more open that past rulers, leading to improved international relations.

Chief of Defense Ringel Khor -- A former general who was promoted to the seat of Chief of Defense. Ringel’s friendship with the Great Khan of the federation has helped forge bonds between the two nations. He is well-liked in the Council, despite never having served there.

Chief of Commerce Lerta Niso -- One of the females elected to the council, Lerta previously served as Chief of the Kadeem region. She is well-known and respected for her shrewd business sense, while also being quite beautiful by Dwarven standards.