Dwarves and Fortresses
General Background Info
The world of Mithia is brutal and savage. Four races have organized themselves to the point that they call themselves “civilized”: Men, Dwarves, Elves, and Goblins. Each relies on a different tactic to survive. The men form great armies and have learned to use their numbers against the terrors in the dark. The dwarves build mighty fortresses. The elves have tamed the forests, at least a little, and rely on their denizens for protection. And the goblins are slavers, turning whatever they capture into their mad defenders by means unknown.
There are many other humanoid races, but none so numerous or organized. At least, not on the surface. You’d recognize some of them from the Monster’s Manual, though you shouldn’t expect them to be quite like what you’ve read.
There are also less regularly shaped Beasts that roam both the surface of the world and the many tunnels that catacomb underneath it, most of them dangerous. Of the surface dwellers, among the most feared is the elephant, an enormous, tusked carnivore known to devour dwarves whole. And infesting the underground rivers that dwarves rely on for water are carp, fish at least as large and as vicious as a medium-sized shark (though some are much larger).
There are nine great dwarven fortresses scattered across the world, each ruled by a king, who is elected for life by the fortress’s nobility. These structures are larger than most human cities, protecting the endeavors of hundreds of thousands of dwarves. Each of the nine dwarven kingdoms also contains many smaller, subsidiary fortresses, mostly involved in mining. Those that grow large enough and survive long enough will one day become kingdoms in their own right, often under the leadership of their founders, for dwarves do not age and die as men do. When they speak of the First Dwarf who rules the First Fortress, they do not exaggerate.
See also: languages.