Dwarven Urban Settlements

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golan2072
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Dwarven Urban Settlements

The larger ACKS domains have urban settlements in them. However, from my reading of the text, dwarven vaults seem to be self-contained structures rather than the citadels of vast underground cities. So how do dwarven Urban Settlements work?

I am asking this as I am designing a dwarven vault - which once belonged to a dwarven duke - as a mid-to-large-sized dungeon. I can definitely turn the vault into a dungeon while adhering to the ACKS stronghold rules, however adding an underground Large Village of up to 449 families might be an overkill for such dungeon.

The solution I was thinking about was a partially overground settlement, which did not survive as well as its underground part and the Vault itself. Dwarven stone masonry, after all, is second to none, so the local human population was very quick to loot the site for building materials (as IIRC happened to many Roman structures after the Western Empire fell).

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Jard
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technically the "dwarven vault" is merely the equivalent of the stronghold, not the domain population or a possible eventual city.  I believe the information as to what dwarven realms look like besides the vault are left intentionally vague.  This is likely because they don't actually make a lot of sense with respect to how much farming is possible in the mountains/hills and how much it takes to support a number of people.

Of course, for quite some time people have been making dwarves "scottish" so you could use the scottish highlands as a source of descriptive material, but the "highlands" are still pretty green and flat, just higher up.  I'll also suggest reading about the pre-columbian societies that settled west of the Andes mountains in south america for more examples of very mountainous societies.

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

The exact nature of dwarven settlements has been intentionally left vague. It depends on how you imagine the dwarves living. 

1. Dwarves live in rock-cut dwellings in mountainous terrain. Their food comes from high-altitude terrace farms and mountain herds worked by the lowest class of dwarven society. The efficiency of their farming allows about 20% of their population to be urban. Urban dwarves dwell in subterranean cities and villages. Villages are essentially outgrowths of vaults, in the same way that hamlets are outgrowths of manors; while large cities are a series of underground citadels, each similar in size to an urban ward of a human city, all connected by underground highways in a hub and spoke around a central vault. Essentially, dwarves reverse the traditional human concept that the higher a man lives, the more powerful he is - whereas the human emperor lives on the palatine hill and the peasants in the lowlands, dwarven peasants live exposed to the elements high on the mountains, while the clan-lords live in the deep vaults. I imagine the dwarves on the northern slopes of the Meniri Mountains living in this manner. 

2. Dwarven lords live in fortified vaults carved into hills and tors, similar to the way elf-mounds are often imagined, with hobbit-like settlements of common dwarves dotting the landscape around the central vault. In this view, there are not really any dwarven urban settlements; instead there is a big central vault, and then scattered independent dwarven homesteads where small crafters and herders dwell. I imagine the dwarves of the southern hilllands of Jutting Mountains living like this.

3. All dwarves live underground. Dwarven farming is either non-existent, or relies on magical mushrooms that thrive in the underdark. Dwarven cities are vast underground metros.I toy with this as perhaps being the original dwarven settlement pattern but I usually eschew magic food sources.

A side note: I assume the physiological differences between the various races impact where and how they live. Dwarves are stocky, short-limbed, and hairy because they are adapted to live in harsh, cold climates, endure heavy labor, and move through narrow underground tunnels. and so on. They probably eat a lot of meat and cheese. 

Elves are lithe, gracile, hairless, and pale because they are adapted to living in dark forests. And the reason they live in forests is because mixed agro-foresty has an incredibly high yield for those patient enough to cultivate it; with their long lifespans, elves have the time horizon to do so. Elven forests aren't wild and untamed, they are rather enormous, carefully maintained gardens and orchards whose careful, decades-long yields can be easily disrupted by a foolish woodcutter or beastman arsonist. They eat a lot of fruit and vegetable with some meat.

 

golan2072
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Alex,

I like your discussion of demihuman physiology and evolution.

I really like the second option as it is the most amenable for vault dungeons.

The third option has interesting implications. I do like the idea of fungi evolving an equivalent to photosynthesis using ambient "magical radiation". This will probably require a source of magical energy - maybe a Place of Power. This is very "alien" and can produce all sorts of very, very, very weird ecosystems in large underground cave systems.

On the other hand, you could possibly create a much more realistic (speculative) sort of a weird underground ecosystem based on chemosynthesis - also very alien (but exists on real-life Earth):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemosynthesis

Or an alternative to the magic 'shrooms - create a land based or a shallow cavevolcanicc pool based variant on these:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_tube_worm

koewn
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There are/were radiotrophic fungi found at Chernobyl that appeared to be using melanin to convert gamma radiation into chemical energy...and presumptively would as the first action of an encounter, SMASH PUNY HUMAN.

Irregardless of that, though, I'd expect dwarves could get a pretty decent fungal farming system going in the vaults - just need some dampness and organic matter, plus spores, and there you go; no real need for magic - just engineering.

 

 

SenorOcho
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It works in Dwarf Fortress! Combine with connections to massive cave networks, underground rivers, and subterranean creature raising/hunting...
Antiquities
Joined: 2013-07-05 19:55

One idea I've been batting around is dwarfs using lenses and mirrors to illuminate subterranean farms that are irrigated by canals diverted from rivers. They'd be cool, damp, misty places, so they'd be growing crops like peas, radishes, mustard greens, broccoli and cauliflower, beets, cabbage, and scallions, which can grow in cooler climes. Potatoes should also do well, since the Inca grew them in the Andes. For meat, rabbits, since they have high yield per area of land once the land needed for fodder is accounted for.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

One idea I've been batting around is dwarfs using lenses and mirrors to illuminate subterranean farms that are irrigated by canals diverted from rivers. They'd be cool, damp, misty places, so they'd be growing crops like peas, radishes, mustard greens, broccoli and cauliflower, beets, cabbage, and scallions, which can grow in cooler climes. Potatoes should also do well, since the Inca grew them in the Andes. For meat, rabbits, since they have high yield per area of land once the land needed for fodder is accounted for.


-The Dark

Oh, I love this idea!

 

Antiquities
Joined: 2013-07-05 19:55

 

 

One idea I've been batting around is dwarfs using lenses and mirrors to illuminate subterranean farms that are irrigated by canals diverted from rivers. They'd be cool, damp, misty places, so they'd be growing crops like peas, radishes, mustard greens, broccoli and cauliflower, beets, cabbage, and scallions, which can grow in cooler climes. Potatoes should also do well, since the Inca grew them in the Andes. For meat, rabbits, since they have high yield per area of land once the land needed for fodder is accounted for.

 


-The Dark

 

Oh, I love this idea!

 


-Alex
The original "I want it to be self-contained" came from being a Fallout fan, and wanting vaults to be Vaults. Then it was a matter of lining up the fluff - why are dwarfs so handy? Because all of them need to maintain the illumination systems and aqueducts and composters and ventilation fans that let them survive underground. That's why the "religious" leaders are craftpriests; their machines really are what keep them alive (and now that I phrase it that way, the Gegs from the Death Gate Cycle or the Mostali from RQ may have been a minor unconscious influence as well). The craftpriests are the core and the elite of society; they maintain the Great Machines and keep everyone alive. Vaultguards protect the sanctity of the vault. Delvers are in charge of communication between the vaults and help explore the Exposed (vaults that are no longer concealed and controlled by the dwarfs). Machinists are somewhat frowned upon, since they use their talents for more "frivolous" uses that aren't part of the Great Machines, but the more progressive vaults or those that are more involved in Exposed exploration appreciate them more for their usefulness. Furies are the oddballs, but I see them as a bit like the Slayers of that other elf-game - cast out for some reason, and channeling their determination into fighting and surviving instead of building and maintaining (for a heroic game, an alternate explanation might be something eldritch touching certain vaults, making them into the berserker dwarfs).

ZeroSum
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And the Dero are batshit crazy Chaotic dwarves driven to madness and corruption by Cthonic influences, whose Great Machines have gotten equally odd as a result. Machinists on mad science steroids. And also meth.

golan2072
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The original "I want it to be self-contained" came from being a Fallout fan, and wanting vaults to be Vaults. Then it was a matter of lining up the fluff - why are dwarfs so handy? Because all of them need to maintain the illumination systems and aqueducts and composters and ventilation fans that let them survive underground. That's why the "religious" leaders are craftpriests; their machines really are what keep them alive (and now that I phrase it that way, the Gegs from the Death Gate Cycle or the Mostali from RQ may have been a minor unconscious influence as well). The craftpriests are the core and the elite of society; they maintain the Great Machines and keep everyone alive. Vaultguards protect the sanctity of the vault. Delvers are in charge of communication between the vaults and help explore the Exposed (vaults that are no longer concealed and controlled by the dwarfs). Machinists are somewhat frowned upon, since they use their talents for more "frivolous" uses that aren't part of the Great Machines, but the more progressive vaults or those that are more involved in Exposed exploration appreciate them more for their usefulness. Furies are the oddballs, but I see them as a bit like the Slayers of that other elf-game - cast out for some reason, and channeling their determination into fighting and surviving instead of building and maintaining (for a heroic game, an alternate explanation might be something eldritch touching certain vaults, making them into the berserker dwarfs).

 


-The Dark

I love this idea!

I actually think that Mechanists fit in this society very well. After all, the Dwarven birth rate is very low, so Automatons replace Dwarves in various menial jobs and serve as a force multiplier in the vault's defense.