The End of the World
Organized socio-economically, from highest to lowest class.
It was the dwarves who first made their way to this remote part of the world, and it was under their iron hand that Mors Delving grew from a mining camp, to a company town, to the strong city-state that it is today. All dwarves (with the exception of renouncers) belong to the Delvefast Concern, a consortium of dwarf-held companies specializing in mining, forging, smithing, and artificing. Although the Concern and the companies that comprise it are ostensibly meritocracies, one might note that there aren’t any non-dwarves in any management capacity, and that the management turnover seems to be rather low. Worship of Moradin is encouraged, as loyalty is valued above all else – loyalty to your fellows, your superiors, and your company. Erathis, with her emphasis on laws and order, is also held in high esteem. A small number – primarily those who work with the dwarven-created warforged soldiers – venerate Bane, as the god of skill and battle.
Of course, as the halflings are quick to point out, Mors Delving would never have been able to grow as it did without the traffic and commerce their merchant family barges brought to the region, as well as being the ones to establish Rambledown as a trading post. Halfings spend most of their lives on the water – in fact, their traditions state that halfling women always give birth on ship. A halfling born on land is scorned, and considered bad luck. Each merchant family is headed by a matriarch who is the captain of her own barge, and – depending on the size of her family – usually commands a number of other craft captained by younger women in her line. Though they love the water, most of the families’ ships are immense barges, coastal craft, and riverboats as opposed to sea-worthy vessels, there being a long-held and unspoken taboo about going too far out to sea. Halflings revere Avandra, the water-aspects of Melora, and rumor has it that there’s a small sect of halfling males devoted to Kord . . .
Though they haven’t been in the region as long as the dwarves or halflings, the gnomish people are quite firmly ensconced within the region’s power structures. Little is known about their arrival (though rumors abound), but it is said that it was the gnomes who helped create the Council of Three. Gnomes are loosely organized into cabals, interest-groups of sorts, each focused around and holding authority over specific areas of knowledge. Deeply secretive, inquisitive, and cunning, gnomes serve as information brokers, cultivate networks of informers, and also strictly (some would say fanatically) regulate the use of magic within areas under their influence – something the dwarf companies and halfling families allow in exchange for specialized knowledge as well as other unnamed services. Those who wish to practice magic in Mors Delving or Rambledown must be licensed by the local gnome cabal, and purchase all their materials through them as well. Violators – if they’re discovered – simply disappear. Gnomes revere Vecna, the god of knowledge and secrets, and some also quietly give homage to Sehanine.
The minority dragonborn population in the region is relatively new, only dating back around four generations. It’s said that they came chasing rumors of ancient dragonborn ruins in the mountains of the Crooked Spine and in the Tanglen. Others say that they fled some cataclysm or war in their homeland. Whatever the case, they do number quite a few scholars and archeologists among them, some have sunk their talons into banking, and a few seem bent on resurrecting a warrior sect. There are also some rumors of archeological expeditions into the Tanglen having “gone native”. Heritage and bloodlines are prized among them, and they are a proud people. Tiamat is worshipped among them as the god of preservation and reprisal, and some speak of their once having had another god, who they refuse to name.
Prized as forge-workers by the dwarves for their tolerance for intense heat, most of the tieflings in the area are a clannish lot, known for being the companies’ hard men, sent in to break up strikes and unauthorized labor gatherings. As such, they’re hated by many of the other workers. Though some of them realize that they’re unlikely to ever rise higher in the companies, steady work is difficult to find. If occasionally having to do the dwarves’ dirty work is the price of steady pay for their families, they’ll do it. Most fall in with the company line and worship Moradin, though there are whispers of a shadowy revolutionary figure that’s recently come on the scene.
All the shadar-kai in the region originally hail from the warrior-priest religious communities in the Desolate Isles, but over the years a small population has filtered over to the mainland. Most still live in proximity with their temple-compounds in Mors Delving and Rambledown, working at trades they know will be needed by the priests, and a few have made their way working with the gnomes or involved in criminal enterprises. Among those who are still affiliated with the Isles, service to the Raven Queen is central to their life, but those who’ve wandered farther afield from their roots may worship any deity.
The first wave of human settlers came to the region following promises of work with the dwarven companies. After them came the refugees, fleeing wars in the north. Some went to work in the mines, some were hired as rowers & stevedores by the halflings, still others settled the lands of the river valley as farmers. All found themselves trapped in situations owing more than they could make, often becoming indentured, particularly among the miners. As such, there’s little love lost between them and the upper classes. Recently, there’s been an upswell of subversive rumors among those who work directly for the companies, some associated with the Open Door organization, others with a shadowy cult. The worship of Pelor is common in the river valley humans, with Avandra and Sehanine also having their adherents, and within the indentured miner population the name of Torog has been heard mentioned.
Half-Elves, Half-Orcs, and Shifters
The descendants of human settlers who made their homes at the edges of the Tanglen and interbred with their “neighbors” over the years, these folk are held in even more disrepute than humans, regarded as half-savage and untrustworthy by the upper classes. Farmers, hunters, trackers and prospectors number many among them, and they’re more likely than most to be involved in other “fringe” activities of varying degrees of criminality. Of the gods followed by their human kin, Sehanine is the most popular among these folk, and some have taken a cue from elven tribes in choosing to follow the Wilderwoman.
Elves & Drow
These savage fey inhabit the dense forests of the Tanglen (known to them as Tywyll Gwyrdd), living in small tribal groups usually led by an alpha and advised by an elder or seer. Elven tribes tend to make their homes in the limbs of trees, whereas the drow prefer burrows or caves, and are primarily nocturnal. Aside from the occasional territorial conflict, there isn’t any inborn enmity – in fact, some have witnessed the two peoples living in a sort of symbiosis. Though some elves worship a god they refer to as the Wilderwoman, and it’s been said that some drow tribes still follow a primitive spider-god of some sort, most simply revere the primal spirits of the land. If an elf or drow hail from a tribe that live near the fringes of the Tanglen, it’s much more likely that they have some relationship with the settlers, and some even take work as trackers or hunters.
Once in a great while, a child is born into an elf or drow tribe who seems to hold a strong connection with a wilder, brighter world like the one described in their myths – a world that all their stories say is lost to them. Depending on the tribe and on the context, these rare births might be regarded as omens for good or for ill, and the eladrin themselves might be revered as a prophet or cast out as a pariah. Some eladrin are plagued with incomprehensible visions, or troubled by dreams in which they’re menaced by small, shadowy figures. Whatever the case, their existence is seldom a peaceful one. If they find themselves traveling in “civilized” areas, most pose as elves, preferring to be regarded as savage rather than singled out.
At the very bottom of the social ladder, warforged are regarded as objects and property. Created by dwarven artificers in the great foundries of the Delvefast Concern, the ‘forged serve as soldiers, bodyguards, and security. The Concern leases them out to the halflings and gnomes, and those who live under their protection, such as the tenant farmers of the river valley, pay a tax for the privilege. Some of the younger dwarves of the Concern have recently begun gladiator fights, in which warforged fight to the death. With the tacit approval of their superiors, the fights have become quiet popular among the affluent in Mors Delving. Warforged’s only chance for freedom is to be emancipated by a patron, or win their way out through the fights. Either is rare, but does occur. Those constructs that work security for the companies often follow Moradin, whereas the frontier soldiers venerate Bane, and Kord has become quite popular among the gladiators. If there are those among them who belong to the Open Door, they stay quiet about it.
Changelings, Deva, Genasi, Githzerai, Goliath, Kalashtar, Revenants, and Wilden are not specifically accounted for in the setting, but if you’d like to play one, we’ll work up a reason for them being there.