As far as any surface dweller knows the mighty mountain kingdom of Karak Ankor span the entire length of The World Pillars, though there are plenty of rumors and myths that would suggest that the underground empire covers all of the continent. However any truth to these rumors is but one of many secrets the dwarves of Karak Ankor keep to themselves. The dwarfs are very suspicious of those who live on the surface. This mistrust is either caused by the vast differences in ideology or perhaps during the Age of War the mighty dwarven holds can under attack for surface armies seeking their riches.
The mountains of the World Pillars house many cities, or holds. Each hold is ruled by a thane. The greatest of these holds is Karaz-a-Karak where Thorgrim Grudgebearer of Clan Hammerhand, Thane of Karaz-a-Karak, High King of Karak Ankor, Slayer of Gormak, Slayer of Teek, Bearer of The Dammaz Kron rules. These holds are connected by a underground road system called the Underway.
The dwarves do not recognize the dominion of any gods but instead pay homage to their ancestors.
The dwarves and gnomes of Karak Ankor are stubborn, stalwart, loyal, and skilled craftsman.
If you wrong one you wrong them all but if you manage to gain the trust of a citizen Karak Ankor then you and your descendants will be treated as a friend by all of Karak Ankor. The people of Karak Ankor hold oath and honor above all else.
Clans and Guilds
A dwarf or gnome of Karak Ankor have two loyalties. First is to their family or clan, the clan determines were they live, as well as the deeds, oaths, and grudges that all of the clan has to uphold. The second loyalty is to their guild. The guilds focus on a single skill be it blacksmithing, masonry, mining, brewing, fighting, or so on. The guilds hold the secrets of their craft sacred no one outside the guild are allowed to know these secrets. The branches of each guild operates completely independently the branches in other holds, each with their own guild master, but they do share their secrets with the other hold branches of the same guild. So the mining guild of Karaz-a-Karak operates separate from the mining guild of Karka-Drak but the two guilds do discuss mineral finds and new mining techniques. Communication between different guild branches is always done in codes unique to each guild. When they come of age, every citizen Karak Ankor undergo a series of trials to determine which guild is best suited for them. They then become an apprentice to a senior member of the guild.
Though Karak Ankor does not trust easily they do understand that trade with the surface is important to their continued prosperity. As such they are willing to trade they crafts and even loan some of their technology and expertise to others, black powder weapons or among their most popular. When ever any Ankor technology leaves the mountain kingdom, be it a team of stone masons or a troop of musket welding Thunderers, it is accompanied by a group of heavily armored warriors known as Ironbreakers. The Ironbreakers are an elite order of warriors that are charged with protecting the loaned technology and to hunt down and kill any one who stole from Karak Ankor. Ironbreakers, like every other guild, operate by the hold they are from with each hold being lead by an Ironbeard.
Accolades, Honor and Grudges
The denizens of Karak Ankor take great pride in their achievements. To such an extent that they introduce themselves with the complete list of these accolades following their name. Every title and deed is mentioned making introduces with members of Karak Ankor a very long winded affair, especially when talking about gnomes who already have ridiculously long given names to begin with. For the purposes of this series of books I will only include the most pertinent of a given individual’s accolades.
Personal honor is just as important to Ankor as clan and guild honor. Should a Ankorian shame themselves, or worse their clan, they give up their name and all accolades and then must go on a path of redemption. This path is known as the Seekers Oath and ends went the dishonored individual has completed a great feat of heroism such as killing a hated enemy, recovering a long last artifact of Karak Ankor, or accomplishing a great feat worth of song. Most Seekers die before finding this redemption and as such many clans have a funeral/farewell party for the Seeker and consider them dead in the clan records until their triumphant return.
Should you be so foolish as to insult, dishonor, or otherwise a wrong an individual or clan your name and crime are then entered into a Book of Grudges. The books of grudges are held by each individual, clan, and hold. These grudges are only crossed out when the person who wrote the gudge feels it has been statified. The crimes for most personal and clan gudges are for anything from insults at a tavern to the murder of a clansman and the repayments for these crimes are often very resonable especially if the criminal comes forth and admits to the crime. The grudges of holds are much more severe. Usually these grudges are leveled at whole nations or tribes and usually are only repaid with death. The greatest of all books of grudges is the Dammaz Kron which is held by the High King and holds grudges for crimes committed against all of Karak Ankor. The Dammaz Kron has whole chapters devoted to the crimes of the greenskin races as well as a race known as the Thaggoraki.
—Karaz-a-Karak: Largest of the holds and the known capital of Karak Ankor
—Karaka-Drak: Siting atop the the highest peak of the small mountain range that borders the Roc and Pelican Provincia in the eastern Griffin Impirium, Karaka-Drak is the farthest and smallest of all the dwarven holds. Due to it’s distance from the rest of the dwarven kingdoms, Karaka-Drak relies more on external trade than any other hold. Karaka-Drak’s current ruler is Harnus Son of Bromgram of Clan Fararmor, Thane of Karaka-Drak, Founder of Karaka-Drak, Slayer of Skarsnik.
—Barak Varr: Sitting at the southern most edge of the World Pillars is a massive sea cave whose walls ceilings and opening have been carved into a massive port city. This city has become a major trade port for the west since the city connects the sea with the underground highway that connects all the holds and through these holds The Tellesion Highway. The city is also home to the 5 mighty dreadnoughts and 20 ironclad ship that make up the Ankor navy. The dreadnoughts are massive floating steel fortress close to a mile long and half a mile wide, it bristles with siege engines and is manned by an army of sailors and warriors. The ironclads are more of the size of a traditional galley but is no less impressive. The secrets of how these metal monstrosities float let alone move without sails are of course closely guarded secrets of the Seafaring and Engineering Guilds. The Thane of Barak Varr is Torgo Doricson of Clan Mithrilforge, Thane of Barak Varr, Slayer of Krakens and Captain of the Indomitable.