This rugged, mountainous land is home to the isolationist Dwarven Kingdom of Narak-Zagul. (The name meaning "Mountain Dwarves" in their native tongue.) Save for the bowl-shaped Loc'nee Plateau, the land is almost unrelently rugged, beginning at the foot hills along most of the borders and rising toward the imposing Turum Mountains to the north. The harsh Loc'nee plateau is located just above the tree line, and grows hardy strains of grasses and plants that serve as fodder for migrating herds. The plateau has a cluster of large lakes in the center that are always frozen during the long winter.
The Mountain Dwarves have built an underground capitol, known as Turakkhumul (Turak), in the Turum Mountains. The Obsidian Citadel, located on Mount Khazur, serves as the gate to the city of 52,400 below.
A row of three active volcanoes, known as the Toes of Khabencleaver, serve as sources of immense heat for the great Dwarven forges. The forges are constantly fed ore mined by the Drakon, a race of flightless, orange-hued Dragons that have taken to standing upright like giants. These beings are only to be found deep within the cores of such volcanoes, as they seem to require the extreme temperatures near the lava flows.
This mountainous land is not without its hazards, being home to families and tribes of Giant and Ogre. Hence the industrious Dwarves have built a network of underground tunnels leading to nearly every point within their land. This allows them to travel quickly and in relative safely throughout their nation. When they do build farms or livestock pens above the ground, they are usually fortified, or at least located within hidden valleys and plateaus in the mountains. Fortunately, these Ogre and Giants have long been disorganized and split into rival camps, so they only serve as a minor nuisance to the nation as a whole.
The great war with Ar-Abel was one of the bloodiest and most costly conflicts of all time. It raged for years, with neither side gaining a clear advantage until the Dwarves were routed from the land by a cunning and dastardly blow. They migrated to this rugged new land due to the rich ore deposits and the relative lack of Orcs and other nasties.
The dwarves have a complex relationship with the Drakon. Perhaps they mastered the art of forging gold in such a manner that it will control the minds of these reptiles. (All Drakon seen working with the Dwarves wear a chain of gold around their neck.) Or maybe it is a voluntary partnership on the part of the Drakon. When asked, the Dwarves of Narak-Zagul are deliberately evasive about this issue, as it concerns a very sensitive period in their history.
The Dwarves are ruled by the High King Thane "Khamal Blackhammer", who spends most of his days brooding in the Obsidian Citadel. His time is usually filled by the many advisors who give their opinions on how best to oversee the capitol city and the surrounding lands. There are governors and such in the cities and towns, but the High King is the unquestioned ruler.
The Dwarves possess an army which can appear more numerous than their actual strength. This is due to the fact that there are underground tunnels leading to nearly every strategic location in their land. Thus, their troops can travel quickly through these passages while any invaders are forced to travel overland.
The regular army is actually of a moderate size, although disciplined and well equipped. It primarily consists of axe-wielding infantry, with some regiments of crossbowmen for support. They also have "great war machines" located at each of their mountain strongholds.
To keep an eye on their borders, the Dwarves have built a network of squat stone watch towers on top of prominent hills. These allow the Dwarves to watch for invasions and to have a force in place when Ar-Abel raids the land. These also allow the Dwarves to quickly mop up any Goblinoid groups that attempt to take up residence.
The sturdy towers are fitted with the high precision of the dwarven stone masons, and fitted with small machines of war. They can have a great oil lamp and mirrors on top so messages can be quickly flashed to the capitol, when conditions permit. Finally, all towers will have a secret underground escape route to the tunnel network.
Finally, the Dwarves possess an elite regiment of Cavalry mounted on specially bred hybrid Mountain Sheep that they use for hit and run raids. These light Mountain Cavalry troops can constantly harrass and pursue larger units when they are strung out to cross the narrow mountain trails that cover Narak-Zagul.
Due to a profitable trade agreement, the Narak-Zagul are currently somewhat closely aligned with Carmun. This agreement allows the dwarves to sell their wares across the continent with the least amount of interaction as possible. Due to the fact that their metal goods are highly prized and any attempt at an attack on their mountain redoubts would be near suicidal, most of the other nations are neutral with regards to the dwarves.
The notable exception is their ancient enemy, the Ar-Abel. There have been intermittent and bloody skirmishes between these two bitter enemies for the last 50 years, but actual war has yet to break out. However, ancient rivalries and hatreds threaten to bring total war once more between these nations. Both sides aggressively patrol across their borders, watching for large scale attacks.
While opposed to the trade agreement between Carmun and Narak-Zagul, Uranorn needs their weapons and for this reason they are not in open conflict.
The Llowar'ah Sadaal have similar objections to the trade agreement, but they have no need of the Dwarven weapons so they have adopted an isolationist policy towards Narak-Zagul. Nevertheless, there is some fear in the Llowar'ah Sadaal government of a more direct alliance between the dwarves and Carmun. Neither the elves nor the dwarves care for the others life style so they somewhat frown on each other. They are also the two best armor and weaponsmiths in the world, resulting in a great competition.
The dwarves have a thriving and rich economy, as their wares are held in the highest regard by nearly everyone. They trade in fine weapons with most of their neighbors, and have a trade agreement with Carmun that provides them with shipping to most of the continent. They also mine precious stones and metals out of the mountain, giving them additional power in the market. Imports consist primarily of food stuffs, clothing, and wines, plus raw materials that are scarce in this mountainous land.
The Drakon serve as miners and porters near the fiery lava flows, and they use the intense heat to refine the ores needed by the Dwarven smithies. Only rarely are the Drakon seen on the surface. The presence of these powerful beasts has allowed the Dwarves to forge great works that were smelted from refined iron ores.
The dwarves of Narak-Zagul pray to the Gods of the Forge and Fire, Battle, Strength, and Secrets within the Earth. There are only a few clerics within the nation. Most dwarves show their devotion to their patron deity by working their lives in a forge, mining, or some other related profession. In return for this devotion, the most dedicated of the dwarves have minor abilities granted them by their deities.
Located amidst the cluster of lakes on the Loc'nee plateau is an isolated monastery of old, eccentric monks. They practice strange rituals and perform personal sacrifices, such as dancing in the snow naked on Winter's Solstice. Through much perseverance, they have learned to use meditation and peculiar musical rhythms and chants to gain access to eerie and wild mental powers. However, they live in such splendid purity and isolation from the remainder of the world that few know about the abilities of these Gurus.
Dwarves have no use for the arts of the magi.
The dwarves believe the holiest thing they can do is devote their lives to a craft and become a master. Thus, they spend much of their time learning their art and an even greater time perfecting it. The family is a highly important structure in their society and the family groups are quite extensive, often with cousins and uncles and grandparents living in one large "house".