The Thrumgolz (Thergerim
or "Pickhands", are a dwarven clan at the
High and the Low Fores, west of the Ancythrian Sea. The Highs have good access
to timber from the woods of Goltherlon, and the various trade items on shores
of the Ancythrian Sea. The Lows are not as fortunately situated, and have a
simpler lifestyle and less varied diet as a result. Note that the "High Fore
Thrumgolz" and the "Low Fore Thrumgolz" are only distinguished so amongst
humans: as far as they are concerned they
are all part of the same clan.
Appearance. The Thrumgolzerim (short: Thrumgolz) are stocky, stubborn humanoids, of human intelligence but much longer lifespan. They stand about one to one and a half peds tall, and run about four spans across the shoulders. They are barrel-chested, full-stomached, and heavily-boned, the males as well as the females. Dwarven bones are on the whole denser than human, making them far less prone to breakage, but also rendering them poor swimmers.
Picture description. Two typical Thrumgolz dwarves of the settlement in Een Puvtyr, Lower Fores. Pic by Quellion.
Both genders are bearded and long-haired by preference; they both braid their
beards and scalp hair for convenience in working, but the females tend to add
more ornaments and decorations, while the men will be content with a scrap of
leather to tie back their locks. The hair of both face and body tends to be
dark, but reddish, golden, or bluish highlights are common, and older
will eventually grey out into a pure white. Eyes are often brown or black, and
appear smaller in proportion to the enlarged ears, nose, and molars of the
Thergerim face. Their hands and arms are strong and muscular, with rounded pads
and calluses from daily labour.
The Thrumgolz are, like all dwarves, loyal, persistent, monotheistic, singleminded, opinionated, and devoted to their clan and family. They are slow to rouse but unstoppable once angered. Excellent bargainers and hard-headed drinkers, the Thrumgolz dwarves do not make extra-racial or cross-cultural friends easily – but their friendship once won is unshakable.
Coat of Arms/Sign. Dwarves do not use coats of arms or other individual insignia as humans do, but they do consider their steelmarks (clan symbols) and cave orestamps to be significant. These simple and unique graphic designs are carved, scribed, or stamped on every piece of metalwork that issues from a clan forge. Some of the most famous dwarven smiths, or more notable armourers, may also have their own personal forgemarks to which they are entitled by common consensus of the clan.
The Thrumgolz steelmark is an orehammer inside a vertical rectangular frame. It may be noted here that although the clan name is "Pickhands", they do not use a design of a pick, the Tenthrums ("Strongpicks") of the Rimmerins Ring having claimed that symbol. This would indicate that the latter are the earlier clan to have settled in Sarvonia, or at least that they were one of the first clans to begin the tradition of forgemarking.
|Image description. The steelmark of the dwarven Thrumgolz clan, a stylized orehammer inside a vertical rectangular frame. Picture by Artimidor.|
Territory. The Thrumgolz claim the Lower Fores and the Higher Fores, mountain ranges west of the Ancythrian Sea, in Southern Sarvonia.
For dwarves, the Pickhands are both more relaxed and more independent than the
typical clan. They trade fairly freely with
humans, although not many are invited back to the home cavern, and like all
dwarves they prefer to keep the exact
location of that cavern a secret even from
human friends. Their independence manifests itself in a less-organized,
less clan-centred lifestyle than other
dwarves: for example, their governmental proceedings are open to all adult
dwarves' input, whether council members
or not. Thrumgolz dwarves do not eat
regularly at the communal hearth, but take their bowls and plates from the
common stew and go back to their own quarters to have mealtime with their
Also, the traditional divisions of labour and responsibilities according to gender and age are not held to as strictly among the Thrumgolzerim. While the same belief that all labour is valued equally and no one job is more important than another is still in full force, they also say that everyone should turn his or her hand to whatever work is needed at the time. Thus if the grannies and granthers who are child-minding need more assistance, any adult dwarf who enjoys the task may set down his hammer or put aside her shovel and spend community hours with the young ones instead. Females who display a gift for mining or smithing are encouraged to develop it, and males who love growing things may help in the glow-farms. But while Thrumgolz dwarves are in their adolescence, the community ensures that they have done a bit of everything, whether they like it or not!
They are more liberal in their religious beliefs and might even exhibit tolerance to a human's faith in more than one deity (usually any mention of the Twelve elicits a skeptical snort or a dubious scoff). They will refer to Urtengor or Trum-Barol with equal ease, saying that a name does not change the nature of the thing, but rather that as a gem has many facets so their god may have more than one name.
The Pickhands clan, both High Fores and Low Fores, are practically-minded and rather thrifty – perhaps one might say even parsimonious – inclined to save and reuse items wherever possible. Perhaps this is a factor of their rather monotonous environment; though their resources are not scanty, they are not varied, and the clan is encouraged to make do with what they have as best as possible. Some creative uses of unexpected materials have arisen from this attitude, and the Pickhands hope to export some of their more successful ideas to other clans soon.
Housing. Like all Sarvonian dwarves, the Thrumgolzerim dwell in underground caverns, linked by a network of sleeping cavelets, storage caves, and traveling/transportation tunnels. Een Puvtyr is one of the better-known "towns" (technically, all dwarf settlements are better described as communal caverns) of the Lower Fore Thrumgolz, and characterizes the caves of the area. Known mostly for basic ore mining and mushroom farming, the cavern is located about half a stral deep within the foothills of the Lower Fores, close to the lower branch (the Rusik Headwater) of the Dorashi River, which flows down through the Steppe of Kruswick into the Bay of the Sky. See the Een Puvtyr entry for a lyrical description of a typical dwarven cavern, and a marvelous illustration done by an artist revered among the Thergerim.
|Map description. Location of the High and the Lower Fores, home of the dwarven Thrumgolz ("Pickhands") clan. Maps drawn by Artimidor.|
Rockmoss is woven into hard-wearing but somewhat coarse (to
sensibilities) trews, vests, and overcoats. Other fabrics or the raw materials
for them, such as wool, are imported. Female
dwarves enjoy spinning whatever
they can get their hands on, and the discovery of a recent vein of a peculiar
white substance that was mineral in nature but had a fibrous consistency
resulted in some very strange fireproof vests! As useful as this discovery
might have been to their smiths and alchemists, not to mention to
human applications, it was also discovered that the substance caused extreme throat
and lung irritation, which actually resulted in several untimely deaths in the
clan. Thrumgolz mages are currently experimenting very cautiously with small
amounts of this material, which they have tentatively named Kariz Trom
Trom, Antifire Rock).
Leather is always part of the dwarven costume; here so close to the plains it is often tanned horsehide, which holds up well under stone abrasions, forge sparks, and other occupational hazards. The younger Thrumgolzerim have taken to tanning neckpieces with the manes attached and wearing them as leather caps, braiding the mane along with their own hair and weaving in beads, metal filigrees, and other ornamentations. Boots are also vital, and every human tanner knows that the tough old hides that no shoemaker can get an awl through will be accepted, albeit stone-facedly, by dwarves in trade for a few barrels of bat guano. The Thergerim craftsmen will rivet the hides into immensely thick workboots that could immobilize an elf, while the human tanners will have a powerful substance for use in their curing vats.
Thrumgolz females, having less access to precious metals than some of their cousins in more prosperous clans, have made a virtue out of wooden jewelry, and their carved necklaces are delicate chains whittled from one stick of wood, or marvelously polished burl-beads, or carefully pierced amulets with runes the size of an ant’s leg marching round their rims. Miniature replicas of eating utensils and smithy tools are also for some reason popular with this clan, and are often seen as decorative themes for personal ornament.
All dwarves enjoy bright colours, which of course appear subdued to them in the low light levels of their caverns but appear quite gaudy to the human eye when the wearer is above ground. Certain hues can be produced locally with various extracts of luminous fungi, plant roots and barks, and so on, while others must be traded for or bought in finished bolts of cloth. The High Fores seem to favour lighter, brighter shades, while the Low Fores tend towards the more classically earthy, saturated dwarven colours.
They are not very inventive as to pattern in their work, mostly concentrating on smelting iron as they do, and this same matter-of-fact approach carries over into their dress; solid colours are the most common, while simple stripes or even just a hemtrim of contrast are rarely seen on work clothes. Generally it is considered more tasteful to add trimmings such as shell beading, wooden amulet fringe, or metal sequinning rather than to mix colours in one garment. Dwarven eyes are even more attuned to texture than to colour, so this layering of materials seems to be a natural development among the clan.
Accessories are few: a belt with attached eating-dagger sheath and hammer loop, a hair net or leather hair tie, metal beard clips, and the wooden jewelry which the females favour. For festive occasions the clan will change out of heavy workboots to lighter footwear, and weave bells into their beards. Generally the clothing is practical and sturdy, which is all they ask of it.
Diet. See Production/Trade and Natural Resources, below. Mostly mushrooms, fish, lichenbread, some rusik/goat/rabbit meat, various grains and leafy vegetables as traded for with the humans (tuberroots, rootweep, carroot and other low-light plants are successfully grown in the Thrumgolzerim glow-gardens) plenty of dwarven beer, and a few traded fruits. Dried seaweed and dried mithanjor are favorite snacks in the High Fores. Rabbit jerky is more common in the Low Fores. Sweets are rare in the Thrumgolz diet, but since most dwarves have a savory tooth, this is not as much of a hardship as one might expect. Cheese and other dairy products have not been popular, though the children have developed a taste for them in recent years, and pregnant dwarven females have been known to crave the oddest things…
Weapons. All adult dwarves, whether male or female, carry a small eating-dagger and a smithy/jeweller’s hammer at their belt. The first is considered a necessary utensil, as dwarves use it for both cutting up food and conveying the pieces to their mouths (spoons, usually hand-carved, are commonly used for liquids, but forks only come in the large two-pronged style for carving and transporting meats). The second seems to play a ritual role in the dwarf's life, given to him or her at the ceremony of passing from adolescence to adulthood, but it can be used for rocktesting, piton-driving, small craft projects, hammering in nails, and in a pinch, an offensive throwing weapon.
Unique to the Thrumgolz, however, are the larger orehammers which serve as both basic tool and weapon; the one end bearing a slightly dished, rounded-diamond-face head which tapers into a thick "throat" over the hammer’s haft, and then flares out again into a slim, sharp, chisel-shape at the other end. Neither pick nor axe blade, this unique design is ideal for wedging in the cracks and crazings of the mountain rock, and forms a sturdy pry-bar. It is this same orehammer that forms the Thrumgolz clan symbol, its characteristic silhouette contained inside a vertical rectangular frame.
Short hunting bows with their stubby quarrels are useful for picking off the wild goats aboveground, or the omnipresent cave drell below. Their accuracy is limited by their attenuated size, but their draw is phenomenal, the powerful arms of the Thergerim being able to bend the tough bowlimbs further than a mere human. Many an opponent found themselves completely punched through by these same stubby quarrels during the Helcranian Civil War, even chainmail (unless dwarven-forged) being a deterrent at best.
Occupations. As with all Thergerim, occupations are gender-segregated and one’s role in life is defined early within the community. Everyone has a place, and a task to perform, which ensures the individual dwarf food, shelter, medicine, and clothing within the clan circle. Some common occupations are Miner, Smith, Teacher, Mage, Healer, Drumsender, Singspeaker, Foodmaker, Brewmistress, Woodsmith, Weavewender, Farmtender, Leader, Hunter, Dowser, Guide. There is always one Denirim (Denirim, "Holy One"). who performs rituals, teaches the Trumesdrummerons (Trumesdrummerons), or “RockTales”, and officiates at ceremonies of birth, wedding, and death. For further detail, see the entry on dwarven society.
Government. Each clan of Thergerim has a single leader or clan chieftain (the dwarven term is unpronouncable), who may be of either gender, but must be past his or her Age of Choosing, sexual maturity, usually at around 90 human years; known as "Huregozar" (Huregozar) for females or "Baregozar" (Baregozar) for males. The leader is elected by common consensus, although he or she is often from a popular family within the clan.
The chieftain then makes decisions aided by his/her council members and if the council sees fit to bring any particular decision before the clan, it must then be supported by consensus voting of all adult dwarves. Leaders also have a sub-leader, or “travel-chief”, as it can be literally translated; this dwarf (male or female) will often be responsible to travel to annual clan meetings and stand for the leader in a Thergerim Great Council.
The Denirimerons also travel outside the clan and meet, but their religious gatherings are shrouded in mystery and fanatic secrecy. Generally if clans meet with humans for any ritual or barter purpose, a sub-leader (for reasons of security) and a Denirim must be present, along with the most skilled workmen of whichever trades are represented in the barter. Thus whichever dwarf of a clan knows the most about leatherworking will be present at a hide swap, while the head smith will be asked to come if ore is under discussion. Such meetings almost always take place at neutral locations, neither in the human city nor in the dwarven cavern.
Production/Trade. The High Fore and Low Fore Pickhands trade mostly with each other, through the great tunnels and excavations under the Bone Valley. It’s more of an active hike than a pleasant stroll, but dwarves can certainly travel it regularly to make trades, see friends and relations in the other cavern, or just take a nice day trip with the children. Both High and Low caverns have plenty of guest cavelets carved out for just that reason!
However, the Thrumgolz also have human trade links up and down the Dorashi River, all the way to the sea, and Horth, Caelum, and Naios are a few of the major human towns which benefit from their ore mining directly or indirectly. It is believed that the tasty sulcho mushroom finds its way down to the steppes in return for horse dung upon which to grow it, but this is an unconfirmed rumour.
The Helcrani are one of the few human tribes who the insular dwarves will welcome into their caverns; this close relationship dates back to the First Sarvonian War. See History, below, for more details. To this day ore travels from the dwarven diggings in the High Fores out to the Helcrani, and medicines and grains come back.
Rusik meat from the plains around the Dorashi River is a treat for the underground dwarves, and the plainsfolk know that any crippled animal, weak colt, or dilapidated mare that must be culled will be welcome; if left tethered near where the Dorashi forks up into its Milaripaw and Rusik headwaters, at a certain old burrow, the animal will vanish overnight and a pile of oresacks be left in its place. This tradition is of such ancient heritage that the riverfork area is now called "Nag’s Passage" to commemorate it.
Natural Resources. The Lower Fores are unremarkable hills covered mostly with heavy scrub, thick pines, wolf willow, and remarkable amounts of mosses and lichens. The miyuestiac bush which produces the topically-anesthetic miyu beans grows well here in parts, and some human healers have permission to harvest miyu in the area around Een Puvtyr.
The sulcho mushroom, which thrives in low-light conditions and a lot of moisture, grows wild in the crevices and damp crannies of the Lower Fore hills, and of course is domestically cultivated underground by the Thrumgolz.
Mithanjor, often mis-translated as "Silverfish", but more accurately as "Metalfish", are the small minnows that populate the high rock pools of the Fores, and can also be found in the Ancythrian Sea. Mostly used as bait for larger fish, they are popular with the dwarves, who prepare them in all sorts of ways and also collect their edible roe.
The High Fores are younger, more aggressive mountains, and the dwarves in that location are also closer to the riches of the Goltherlon Forest and the trade along the Ancythrian Seacoast. However, they too depend mostly upon their ore production as their primary natural resource, using it to trade for the other things they require but cannot produce in their underground existence, such as certain fresh vegetables, grains, and some medicines.
Holidays, Festivals and Observances. Barden (Barden) and Hutden (Hutden) are observed weekly, as with all Sarvonian Thergerim. For further details of these service-centered days which help to foster community equity and encourage healthy gender relationships, not to mention promoting romance, see the Kurakim Clan entry. Other important days for the Thrumgolz are listed below:
Denimett Avefer among the Thrumgolz is practiced individually. Generally a dwarf chooses to undertake the scribing of the Dwarven Holy Book, the Trumesdrummerons (Trumesdrummerons, Rock Tales, as it can be loosely translated) as a way to gain merit with Trum-Barol or to refresh himself spiritually, and the timing of this is between him and his Denirim (dwarven priest).
A dwarf who wishes to ascend to adulthood will also petition his or her Denirim for this right. The petitioner is then excused from all community duties to spend a week in seclusion writing out the complete text of the Trumesdrummerons, rune for rune. The Denirim checks the copy against his original, and a single mistake will mean the offending copy is burnt. The petitioning dwarf must then wait a year before applying again, and part of that intervening time must be spent in study with the Denirim and private meditation. The Thrumgolz say sternly that no dwarf can take on adult responsibilities if he cannot even be trusted to copy a rune correctly (it is a punchier saying in the original Thergerim Taal!). Fortunately, the holy book is terse and straightforward, and many dwarves have much of it by heart.
"Day of the Basalt-Lord")
A character particularly appealing to the dwarven females, Unphvil (Unphvil, Basalt-Lord) is the one of the Unsthommerons (Unsthommerons, Stone Fathers) who is associated with basalt and other mephitic rocks. He is said to have power over lava, volcanic eruptions, and other netherworld heat sources. He was Trum-Barol's assistant when the Dwarf God invented cooking and food preparation, so he is often invoked when dealing with hearth-matters. Dwarf couples will ask for Unphvil's blessing over their food after they eat it, and if herbs or medicines are to be imported/exported, they are often rune-protected in Unphvil's name.
UnphvilDen is celebrated monthly, on the first day of new moon. The dwarven children go round to every hearth and forge to collect one ember in their bowl-tongs. The embers are brought back and piled in the main hearth as a symbol of unity, and tuberroots are set to roast in the coalbed while games and songs are played. The women pat out Herb-n-Shroom bread, a deliciously-spicy flat wafer which is baked on the hot hearthstones and then folded around a weeproot and mushroom filling. The men are encouraged by the Denirim to compose little blessings and prayers to Unphvil, the best ones being inscribed that same evening on a stone to be set into the main hearth. Plenty of drink is available, and the cup goes round more than once to assuage the heat from the well-spiced bread.
After the communal meal, the fire is allowed to die down into grey ashes, which are then scooped into a cooling hod. The dwarves form small groups as their whimsy takes them, to talk, play quoitstones or bowling or Axes High, for several hours. This is a time for parents to be with their children instead of leaving them with the childtenders (usually the grannies and granfers of the clan), for unattached dwarven lads to make eyes at silken-bearded lasses, for jokes and stories, and for everyone to relax and enjoy each other’s society.
Finally the head Foodmaker and Farmtender claim their folk’s attention, and lead the way to the underground fields where the Thergerim low-light crops grow, lit by the strange phosphorescent glow-globes. Everyone takes handfuls of the now-cool ashes and helps sprinkle them on the earth, enriching the soil. The children particularly enjoy this, throwing the feathery flakes into the air so that grey "snow" comes filtering down everywhere, and the parents indulgently smile, knowing they will have their communal bath later on in the hot springs of the lowest levels.
Even the hardest laborers will relax then, soaking in the mineral-rich waters, leaning against beautifully-hued stone scooped out by their own talented hands, feeling their mate’s fingers against the tense muscles of their backs… The dwarf-babes are lulled by the warmth and motion, rocking on their caregiver’s bosom, and slowly each family will wend its way back to its own cavelet for the night’s rest.
History. Helcranian Civil Wars: "The
dwarves of the Thrumgolz clan helped the
Helcrani (in) those early days and
taught them - not without a reward- the art of mining. The
to establish a buffer-state which would repel the
elven attacks from the east as well as a
partner for trading goods. In the face of the
found more, as many Thrumgolz dwarves
lived among the humans in their villages."
(Quote from the Histories of Curgan, 780
Note: This particular historical document is somewhat suspect, as even the most liberal of dwarves still prefers to reside underground, or at the very least, in simulacra of stone caverns. It is possible that the author wanted to emphasize the well-established friendship and reciprocity of the dwarven/human treaty. We may suggest an alternate reading which has the Thrumgolz dwarves and the Helcrani humans mingling at a "neutral" trading post, or small village, in the neighborhood of the northern High Fores.
Information provided by Bard Judith