Also called the Nybelmar Plain Dwarves (lit. "KavoHoonHol" in Thergerim or KavoHoonHol Thergerim, "Dwarves of Desert Travel"). Working as caravan warriors and trail guides rather than smiths, these tough but stunted dwarven clans have had to make many adjustments to the ‘traditional’ dwarven society as their Santharian cousins know it. Driven from their once-vast mountain caverns and forced onto the dry plains of central Nybelmar, they had no access to metals or forge fuel, and took up the mercenary life of protecting human trade caravans from the orcish raids, a job which they do with grim enthusiasm and deadly skill.
|Image description. A member of the Kavogerim tribe as seen in his underground HolHund home. Illustration drawn by Faugar.|
Only standing about a ped high, and more wiry than the
dwarf, the typical
Nybelmar Plains Dwarf is tan-skinned,
with deep-set eyes in most of the common colour ranges. Head and beard hair
comes in black, brown, dark red, and a nondescript beige. Silver can also be
seen on older dwarves (although as the
head is always covered above ground, it is difficult to determine most of these
features - only the eyes and brows show through the har-eh). Hands are
large-knuckled, competent, usually with heavy weapons callousing on male and
female alike. Legs are bowed slightly, as in most
Thergerim, and the bone structure is
heavy and distinct, in limbs and face.
Coat of Arms/Sign. The Kavogerim sign is an upright oval, bisected across the horizontal centre, with the top half tan and the bottom black. This design is meant as a stylistic representative of the Kavogerim face, half-concealed by the veil.
Territory. The Kavogerim were driven from their once-vast mountain caverns and forced onto the dry plains of central Nybelmar.
People. Unique to the Kavogerim is the development of a powerful ability, the AnulOrn (AnulOrn), or Water-Sense. Children are tested for this quality almost at birth, so important is it to these plainsfolk; a rag is soaked in water and wrung out so it does not drip, then brought next to the sleeping baby’s cheek without touching it. Most infants will stir restlessly and then turn their faces as if rooting for the breast, towards the dampness. Those with strong Water-Sense will actually awaken, or begin crying in their sleep. It is believed by the few curious and envious human scholars who have tried to investigate this phenomenon that the enlarged noses of the dwarven clans may contain some sort of augmented sensory system; but it may simply be that their sense of smell is so acutely developed that they can literally ‘sniff’ water, as horses are said to do.
Most wells and streams in the plains are well-mapped (by the Kavogerim, and kept a guarded secret, as being integral to their success as trail guides!) but one can never count on a water source being there in time of need, so this gift has saved many a dwarf, and even whole accompanying caravans, before now.
Housing. Kavogerim live in individual underground courtyard homes known as HolHund (HolHund) - shafts sunk directly down into the packed sand and reinforced with a mud cement made primarily from the secretions of the burrow bachik (a Nybelmarian beast about the size and appearance of a badger crossed with a lizard... it digs tunnels in the dry sand and compacts them with a brown slime that it produces from large ‘nipples’ around its neck area. The slime hardens to a cement-like consistency, making the tunnel semi-permanent.)
The head of the household, who may be male or female, chooses a site near his or her neighbors, and checks the known tunnel maps in the area so as not to impinge upon their privacy. The dwarf then sets in a good supply of bachik mud, buys a shovel, pick, and burrowhelm, and starts digging. First a round, sunken court is created, open to the sky, about four to six peds in diameter, and about three - five peds deep. A wooden ladder is used for access to the surface in less-secure regions, while dwarves within a guarded Holtyr (mudwalled compound) more commonly build fore-wide stepped staircases down the curve of one side. Once the walls have been mudded up and the slime has set, the dwarf is ready to create the rooms directly off the courtyard. A common room, toilet room, cistern room, storage pantry, and one bedroom are the usual essentials; more bedrooms can be added as the family’s needs dictate.
Cooking usually takes place in the court, on an adobe or stone hearth. A slanted sail of rough oiled cloth is slung from spikes at the top of the courtyard wall to provide shade and direct the smoke upward. The hearth is always located between the pantry and the cistern room, for easy access to both food storage and water.
Wealthier Kavogerim cover off their courts with wooden beams (which of course come in on the trade caravans, but must be imported from the few forests Nybelmar has over a long distance), fill in the spaces with woven mats, and then mud over the roof thus created. With a ped or so of sand on top of that, the rich dwarf can simply unlock a small trapdoor flush with the ground, and vanish into his artificial cave.
Clothing. Born of the necessity for sheer survival, the gender-based job divisions were done away with among the Kavogerim, so that both male and female dwarves now appear above ground, doing all manners of service. As a result, any dwarves above the surface wear har-eg (singular har-eh), a type of veil which covers the entire head, face, and beard down to the shoulders all around, with tiny clasps linking it to light, sun-reflective tunics under which they wear a delicate chain mail (crafted by their Hill Tribe brothers). The har-eh serves the dual purpose of protecting their sun-sensitive skin and hiding their beards from “non-believers” - those who do not accept the faith of Hunyeh Hthom (see Religion).
The main body cover is a short robe (knee-length) over trousers. The robe is a pale colour, often stained with plains vegetation in a mottled, camouflage pattern. Worn by both sexes, light-weight billowing trews are tucked into tough leather boots. A heavy belly belt cinches the robe in over the trews and holds a pouch, waterskin, eating knife, and a few herbal remedies or other small necessities.
Diet. Much of the Kavogerim diet is based on imports purchased with their income from caravan running, or gotten in trade with their Hill clan brothers, particularly the fresh fruits and vegetables. Goat is the most common meat, though wild bird is a close second. A homebrew with a vicious kick known as GerBrandy is brewed from the GerGer cactus, but seems to be potable only by dwarves. Human wanderers claim it will dissolve the paint off a wagon’s side and eat through leather clothing, but this may be a traveller’s exaggeration...
Weapons. Nastily-spiked and fanged halberds replace the classic dwarven short-handled axe, and long thin boot daggers are worn by all dwarves past adolescence. Havach-plate shields, only about a fore-square in size, are ubiquitously worn on the back.
Occupations. The children and adolescents are employed in herding and animal tending. Children are often given a havach calf to raise, and competitions are held for the healthiest/heaviest/best coloured/etc. animal. Teens go bachik-hunting with nets and nooses, digging into the burrows to find pups which can then be raised in captivity and their slime harvested for use in building. Most healthy adults engage in heavy weapons training and various survival skills and work as mercenaries. Usually only one adult in each family pair goes out at a time, trading family duties and house or herd work with the mercenary appointment, so that they each have house time and plains time. Elders and the disabled do the other necessary community services such as leatherworking, weaving, croptending, and so on. It doesn’t matter to a dwarf how long a job takes as long as it is done well. The Kavogerim also have a Denirim (the religious leader) although his duties seem to be very different from his Santharian Thergerim equivalent. It is unclear exactly what he does, though it is suspected that it involves animal sacrifice, ritual daily prayers, and assignment of penitential work, among other things.
Government. Oddly enough, the Kavogerim have a theocratic matriarchy as their form of government. While most duties among the Kavogerim are assigned by ability and aptitude as much as possible, the rules and decisions for the clan are always handed down by a senior female, usually in close consultation with the Denirim. This clan leader is known as the Morhuttel (Morhuttel), or Minemother. It is believed that the Morhuttelerons meet regularly with each other to discuss current issues, keep up with trade agreements, and set fair exchange prices, but it is impossible to determine when or how. It is difficult enough for a human to tell a dwarf’s gender, but impossible with the Kavogerim who wear their har-eg, or veils, at all times above ground; it is only through casual talk and tavern exchanges that we are aware of the Morhuttel’s title and general duties at all.
Production/Trade. Not much. The Kavogerim mostly trade only with their Hilltribe cousins - goats, quarried stone, some lumber, spikegates, and weapons go one way, and havach-plate shields, goat blankets, lizard leather, and finished drums go the other. Survival is a more essential matter, and most of their income comes from caravan/mercenary hire and goes back into buying foodstuffs and medicines.
Natural Resources. There are few natural resources in the dry, high plains east of the Zsharkanian Peaks and on the Grey Fields, but what there are the dwarves use thriftily. Various dry-land and stone desert plants, some stunted fruit trees, plenty of sedge-like grasses, and a variety of animals populate the plains.
The great havach-oxen, unique to Nybelmar, are used as draftbeasts and ridingbeasts. Plated beasts the size of elephants, with powerful curving horns, they are nonetheless placid by nature and timid of disposition. They prefer to herd together, and mate for life. They seem to enjoy the company of their comparatively tiny owners, who feed and stall them in the winter, pick away the small drilling parasites that get under their plates, and provide chagga oranges and other fruit once in a while.
Burrow bachik are also kept in captivity and bred for their useful secretions, known as bachik mud. They tend to escape easily, but are just as easily replaced, as they breed quickly.
The dwarves of the plains also keep small meat lizards, a type of large flightless fowl, and milch goats, all of which are native to the continent. The goats come from the rocky highlands and are a frequent trade item between the Hill Tribe Dwarves and the Plains Dwarves.
All the Nybelmargarim’s animals, when not grazing or foraging, are kept in larger, shallower versions of these sunken courtyards, with ped-wide ramps leading down the side in a gentle spiral, and an iron-forged spike gate at the base of the ramp to deter the animals from wandering out. A central cistern with drinking trenches and side feed storage and stall caverns make for very comfortable quarters. Side tunnels also store a few trade waggons or sledges, which can easily be added to any passing caravan.
Religion. Very little is known about the social life of the Plains Dwarves. There are frequent rock-lizard hunts, goat-roasts, weaving meets, and drumming competitions in the early dawn or evening, but most of their other activities take place below ground. The sort of humans who are invited to any of their events are not the sort to talk about it afterwards, so our information must remain sketchy in this respect.
The Plains Dwarves do have their own religious practices, which must seem strange to their main continent cousins. Known to them as Hunyeh Hthom (which simply means Head of the Mine), their deity seems to be a harsher form of TolBarol, or Urtengor as the humans name him. Hunyeh Hthom is a smith god who, they, say, demands patient devotion, ceaseless toil, and the frequent slaying of enemies, preferably orcs. The Kavogerim of the Plains claim that the Mine Head is ‘forging’ them in the Injèrá’s fires, shaping and refining them through their daily hardships. When they pass into their Time of Stone, as the dwarves call death, they hope for no more than to become a precious stone or jewel that Hunyeh Hthom will place back into the earth, their soul finding rest until such time as the jewel is excavated, when they will pass again into a dwarven form elsewhere in the world.
The har-eh is worn as part of this religion, to hide their faces and beards from the non-believers. Only in the privacy of their own compounds or shaded courtyards will they remove the veil, and only with other Kavogerim. Although the rest of their practices are not known in detail, it is believed that they must complete three rituals in life, and repeat them as many times as possible to attain credit with Hunyeh Hthom; the slaughter of an orc, the digging of a well, and the faithful completion of a service (such as a caravan brought safely to its destination). This suspicion is reinforced with a saying that merchants claim to have heard at times from their dwarven guards: “Green blood, clean water, gold hands... these three a Kavogerim make.”
Obviously some corruption of the orthodox Thergerim beliefs have crept in over time; the variations are intriguing and a natural outgrowth of their turbulent history and contemporary lifestyles, so alien to the naturally claustrophilic race. It does not seem a comforting religion, but it has produced a tough people who are reliable guards and savage warriors, filling their niche in the social ecosystem of Nybelmar.
Holidays, Festivals and Observances. Still to be added.
Information provided by Bard Judith