Élas is a relatively mountainous place about the size of New Zealand, shaped in a sweeping arc, with a large area of water on the inside of the arc, dotted with many small islands. The primary land mass becomes quite mountainous at one point, dividing Élas effectively in two. While most of Élas is city-states, the mountain range is the Dwarven Socialist Republic of Throlaia, which itself wraps around a large forested valley, the Hinterland, with a small population of elves dwelling away from the coast and clans of rangers toward the chaos sea. Trade going from one side of the other has to choose between the safe but taxed roads through Throlaia, the perilous updrafts over the mountains, or the risk of dangerous sea creatures in the Sea of Jiyara.

The city-states are mostly based in foothills near the water or on promontories overlooking chaos; the higher hills sometimes have well-defended roads, but most are unpoliced areas populated by bandits and escaped slaves (mostly humans, orcs, or combined clans).

Technology Level

Most cities have aqueducts supplying public fountains and relatively good sanitation. Construction is from local materials— white limestone is popular. Minoan-level flush toilets are common in places with good water supplies. Underground sewers flush waste out to sluice gates that can shunt the waste to artificial lakes where the water is slowed down and then spills over a mobile gate, trapping the actual waste in the lake. When one begins to get full, the flow is diverted to the next one, and the full lake is allowed to slowly drain and dry out until it is ready to provide cartloads of fertilizer to nearby farms.

Good homes are heated from underneath by a hypocaust, and often have glass windows to keep heat on one side while letting light through. Urban lighting is generally provided by businesses who wish to attract customers after dark or helpful citizens who want to make their neighborhood safer at night. Almost all settlements have some level of public baths, though they can be fairly crude affairs in the smaller ones, and elaborate locations to relax or do business in the larger ones.

Medicine is coping with a challenging environment. (The most recent plague was a vicious one where a bacterium created a condition of foul humors that caused spontaneous generation or summoning of a disease spirit.) Most cities pay certain doctors to treat the general public; some even have hospitals where patients can convalesce with a view of the garden of medicinal plants tended by the doctors and later-stage convalescents.


Most of the economy is built around hillside industries: the main crops are grapes and olives, and there is a great deal of sheep and goat herding.

Since high-mass shipping between islands is inefficient (since dirigibles are the only common way of getting around), trade is usually in the more precious items.

Exports: Olive oil, retsina, wine, metals, mercenaries

Imports: Spices, cotton, linen, silk

Internal goods: Goat and sheep products, cows and grain from the flatlands in the southeast.


The culture is fairly Greco-Roman: democratic (with landowners getting the vote), mostly following the Children of the Dragon pantheon, with a smaller cult of the Pyramid pantheon. A league of major cities bands together to decide the general and fairly loose laws that govern the city-states. Élas has been a hub of mercantile activity for so long that either any older languages have been superceded by tradetongue or their tradetongue is the most common one reported on the planet.

Law is based primarily on common sense and publicly posted edicts. You can be your own lawyer, if you have a good head for reasoned argument and understand the local notions of common sense. For those who aren’t sure of their own ability to think on their feet, advocates are available for those who wish to hire their services. (There are no appointed public defenders, though some advocates will take on charity cases.)

Medicine is fairly good, with most cities having a number of doctors and the occasional hospital supported by taxes in order to maintain public health.

Élas’ fleet of balloons and dirigibles is quite impressive, and they do a great deal of trading among other islands. The soil there is rocky and not wonderful for farming, though they are self-sufficient with the aid of fertility magic.

Slavery is legal in Élas, though slaves have rights (including a minimum wage that allows a slave to buy their own freedom in twenty years if they don’t spend any of it— and it is illegal to force them to spend it otherwise) and can buy their own freedom. The child of a female slave is also a slave, and the child and mother are considered a unit until the child reaches the age of 15. (If the father is free, they have to free mother and child to raise the child free.) If one of a married couple is enslaved (for debts or crimes), the other has the option of annulling their marriage. There are regular feuds between the local lawmakers and the pyramid-temples dedicated to Tran, who customarily offer sanctuary to escaped slaves. Due to lack of other countries to invade for acquiring slaves, the economy is less strongly based on slavery than that of classical Rome; there is actual incentive to create labor-saving machinery. Some banks exist for the purpose of giving slaves stable investments toward buying their own freedom, and some opponents of slavery donate to such banks to help slaves meet their goals of buying their own freedom.

The lower proportion of slaves and the lack of truly imperial reach means that cities are not as large as those of Imperial Rome, thus with lower population density and less need of “bread and circuses” to keep the population happy. Chariot racing is the major fad in cities; gladiatorial combat is more rare and more ritualized, as it is a form of worship of Danor. (Winner and loser are both healed afterward.)


Currency on Élas is largely ripped off from the British system, though I’ve taken some liberties. The primary currency unit is the silver shilling. Twenty silver shillings (or four electrum scepters— electrum being an alloy of gold with 20–35% silver) make one gold crown, five crowns a single platinum orb, and ten platinum orbs make one mithril sun. (Few people have ever seen a mithril sun.) The silver shilling divides into 12 copper pennies, which can be subdivided into 2 bronze ha’pennies or 4 tin farthings. In short, the scale is:

1 gold crown = 4 electrum scepters = 10 silver florins = 20 silver shillings = 60 silver groats = 240 copper pennies = 480 bronze ha’pennies = 960 tin farthings

A good meal at an inn will run two copper, and room for 2 at an inn 4 copper. An adventurer can travel comfortably on a silver shilling a day, paying for food, lodging, and miscellaneous necessities. (It’s cheaper to be peasant who buys raw ingredients and uses established capital (house, oven, utensils, etc.) to prepare them; most peasants trade via barter anyway.) Coins run to the 4-gram range, if you’re estimating mass. I have a page of prices I pulled off the Ars Magica mailing list that seem rougly to scale; the era is a bit late but should be OK.

(Coinage notes: Greek coins: 1 gold stater (pl. stateres) = 20 silver drachmai (sing. drachma) = 120 silver oboles (sing. obolos) = 1440 copper chalkoi (sing. chalkos) = 10080 copper lepta (sing. lepton). Roman: 1 gold aureus = 25 silver denarii = 100 bronze sestertii (sing. sesterce) = 1600 copper ases. France: gold deniers, silver livres. Byzantium: 1 gold solidus = 24 silver siliquae (sing. siliqua). Italy: gold florin, sequin, or ducat, silver grosso. The denarius is the “d” in £.s.d., and is where we get deniers, denaros, and dinars.)

When comparing to other fantasy gaming systems, 2 copper pennies are equivalent to an AD&D silver and 1 gold crown equivalent to 12 AD&D gold. 2 copper pennies are also comparable to the silver livre in Ars Magica. (This comparison is based on the price of a good meal.)


The House of Varosi

Run by Lady Niressia, a shrewd negotiator, the House of Varosi is Élas’ most powerful banking and mercantile organization. The House has mercantile interests on several islands, a small fleet of airships plying the winds between islands, and a large number of elite couriers. They can afford to hire the enchanters to create devices for communication within islands and the adventurers to go out and find the appropriate goodies to supply to the enchanters; between islands, they have regular couriers. Any time you deposit money with the House of Varosi, it is available anywhere within the island given a bit of time for checking. Anyone wishing to establish accounts on a different island must explicitly have the House carry cash over there and put it in the bank on that island, and accept the risk of the vessel being lost in transit. It is possible to use their network as an extremely fast message service at the price of a few gold.

The Thieves’ Guild

After centuries of tug-of-war between Town Watches and thieves, the Thieves’ Guild of Élas has settled down into a steady pattern in most city-states: anyone who has anything worth stealing pays an annual fee to the Thieves’ Guild, and not only will members of the Thieves’ Guild not steal from them, if non-members do, the Guild will hunt them down, kill them, and return the stolen goods. If the Town Watch catches a thief in the act of theft or of trafficking in stolen goods, they can be punished according to the city regulations, but mere membership is not illegal and the head of the local chapter of the Guild is often on the city council.

The Vampire Tribunal

Vampires tend to be a solitary lot, but if one acts up, they can make trouble for all vampires. A group of master vampires got together several centuries ago after the Pogrom of the Unliving and decided that there was a certain need for policing the undead community. Vampires are freely allowed to travel and hunt, but must seek permission in order to create new vampires and must demonstrate good judgment in who they kill, and how often.

The current policy on killing victims is that predators upon humans must behave in an analogous manner to predators in the wild: weeding out the ones that are detrimental to society. The Town Watch tends to be much less bothered by the exsanguinated corpses of murderers and the dangerously stupid than they are of beautiful young women and wealthy merchants.

There are many contacts between the Vampire Tribunal and bounty hunting organizations.

Significant Locations

Most cities on Élas have a large temple to the most prominent deity from the pantheon of the Children of the Dragon, smaller temples to each of the other members of the pantheon, and recent, small-to-medium-sized temples to the Pyramid pantheon.

Oropedios, the Plateau City

A city on top of a plateau, with bright beacons and ballistas with padded grapples for bringing in airships. A major trading city. South of Derinas on the west side of Élas. An entrance to the shadow roads of Élas is within a cave complex a few miles away at the foot of the plateau. Guldush is the patron to the practical-minded traders of this city.

Derinas, the City of Lights

RedBrothel (women for men)
PinkMassage parlor
OrangeBrothel (men for women)
YellowThieves’ guild dues paid up
GreenBrothel (women for women)
BlueBrothel (men for men)

Also known as the City of Debauchery. South of the Labyrinth of High Sorcery on the west side of Élas. Derinas is a city dedicated to pleasures, licit and illicit, after the fashion of Pompeii and Las Vegas. The Bazaar of Derinas is one of the best places to fence or purchase illegal materials. The city government is an oligarchy of the most wealthy businessmen, and all law in the city is based on whether or not something is bad for business in the long term. The Thieves’ Guild is practically the left arm of the law there, and establishments hang lanterns with yellow filters outside to indicate that their dues are paid up, so no one will be robbed while there.

There is a color-coding system for the different establishments; a lantern is typically hung next to the sign indicating that a place is open for business, colored to show its particular trade. Single-colored lanterns are common, but many places offer a variety of services and have multiple lanterns or multicolored lantern shields or entire stained glass windows lit from behind. The Street of Glaziers is possibly the best on the whole island, with a variety of elven and human craftsfolk (and one renegade dwarf who likes making fragile things), and the Street of Chandlers does brisk business in candles and lanterns.

Random encounters: sixteen-year-old boy dressed as a shepherd herding several shampooed, combed, and perfumed sheep; person hawking a good night’s sleep at a soundproofed inn with privacy, room service, and an anti-vermin ward; heavily stoned patrons of drug purveyors; young nobles from other cities coming here for the thrill... Various locations: a library of erotica with a trove of useful books in the back room; an inn with silk sheets and wandering cats; a bathhouse that specializes in private bubble baths with no disturbances.

The largest temples in the city are to Cassa, the Gambler and patron goddess of the city, Mogran, the Trickster and patron god, and Mirkas, the Healer, a recent addition whose followers’ services are needed on a regular basis. (The Mirkas priesthood consider the temple an excellent training ground.)

An entrance to the shadow roads exists on an island where two rivers meet a few miles south of the city.

The Labyrinth of High Sorcery

The sorcerers of Élas have a single major stronghold in Élas, the better to keep an eye on each other. The Labyrinth grew out from the Tower of High Sorcery, which was founded before the beginning of Élas’ recorded history. Legends state that the Tower was founded to end a war between sorcerers, that it was created by any of a number of charismatic founders of mage-schools, that Shakli herself, the patron goddess of the city, conjured its cornerstone from pure chaos and directed the first wizards of Élas to build their school there.

Over the centuries, the Tower has acquired extensions, additions, renovations, and auxiliary buildings, all the while coping with the depredations of feuding schools of mages, magical experiments gone awry, and the occasional war. The buildings have been built up and torn down so many times that only master sorcerers can even find their way to the Tower. The Labyrinth is the size of a small city, filled with dormitories, temples, libraries, lecture halls, laboratories, warehouses, artificing areas, inns, and more. The outskirts of the Labyrinth are relatively well-mapped and non-magicians come and go as they please; closer to the heart of the Labyrinth, escaped experiments and aged but powerful sorcerers walk where the Watch refuses to go.

Flight is of aid in dealing with the upper levels of the Labyrinth, but is not a panacea for navigators. Many of the buildings have built their own extensions underground, then added passageways to their allies, then turned disused cisterns into new thoroughfares, then excavated new storm drains when it seemed necessary, and later moved the storm drains when they had a sudden influx of apprentices. There are only a limited number of safe landing spots for those flying over the Labyrinth, since most of those who build towers prefer to have them well-defended from the occasional flying demon that gets loose. Very few of the gargoyles perched on the towers are completely inanimate.

The Labyrinth is occasionally rocked by a schism, at which point some particular group decides to leave with its private library for other parts, but they usually return within a decade because they cannot bear to be so far from the myriad libraries of the Labyrinth.

Many wizards disagree over matters of principles, and the inhabitants of the Labyrinth have come to a consensus over such problems. Necromancy is not banned, but its practitioners are responsible for procuring their own corpses without resorting to murder or grave-robbing; they are also required not to pollute the city, and can be cited for allowing the smell of carrion to be detectable outside their laboratories. Any conjuror who summons a creature from another level of reality and then lets it escape is responsible for its actions; this goes for avenging angels striking down public officials as well as demons carrying off tavern wenches.

There are a number of mage-schools in the Labyrinth. For the past hundred and fifty years, most schools have encouraged their journeymen to actually journey, rather than hanging around trying to get time in the libraries; practical experience at magic remains in vogue.

The city government is technically run by a council of eminent wizards. However, the populace is well aware of the history of bringing mundane problems before a council of powerful sorcerers who want to get back to their laboratories. (During the last famine, for instance, a breed of cows that could eat anything organic and bred by mitosis were created to feed people.) The Castellan of the Labyrinth, who technically only has command of the City Guard, is the de facto ruler of the Labyrinth. As long as he is a more popular decision maker than a bunch of dangerous wizards, he’ll have no trouble keeping power...

An entrance to the shadow roads is near the Tower of High Sorcery, in a broken-down region known for its monster infestations.

The wizards do not go in for formal duelling when they disagree. They’re more likely to just blow each other up, send assassins, restrict access to each other’s libraries for the offending wizard and his allies, send demons, spread the rumor among adventurers that they have the Lost Hoobajoob of Iskhaeis hidden in their pants, send monsters, arrange for them to learn the “secret weakness” of the dragon Indoshaur that should allow them to handily win a battle and claim his hoard, send undead, etc. If they’re civilized enough to use a formal duel that doesn’t actually risk death, they’re civilized enough to use other forms of mediation.

The Wilderwalkers’ Guild

Students of nature magic, with more theurgists than thaumaturgists. Over the years, they have cleared a small sector of the Labyrinth for the Wilderwalkers’ Gardens, which house an outdoor temple to Ryohnn and an unusually designed pyramid temple to Imlas that is made of a framework of trees and vines.

The Shadow Brotherhood

The best school of necromancers in the Labyrinth. Some of the masters have been teaching for over 500 years, thanks to their command of reanimation magic. They are staunch followers of Mlas and have a recent truce with the worshippers of Gatekh, in particular the nearby high priest Kintor. One of the more prominent researchers is Jarlun, a longtime friend of Shargun, Administrator of Azec Sisura. The library contains the skulls of a number of sages who have undead-perfect memories and the ability to talk with a skeletal sage who handles the tomes; the conversations in there are quite lively though rather abstruse.

The House of Narlas

A long line of illusion-masters who trace their teachings back to Narlas the Elusive, a master illusionist who is rumored to have created his own world as a perfectly detailed illusion and vanished into it forever. Tyron is a one of the nine masters of the House, an expert in illusions of nonexistence.

The Temple of Nervon

The pyramid-temple dedicated to Nervon, god of Truth, is one of the best places to find experts in divination magic, and they do a brisk business in divination and analysis experts.

The Order of Sublime Perfection

A hierarchy of sorcerers who study the power of Order.

The Kaleidoscopic Mandala Fellowship

Usually called “chaos monks” behind their backs (and sometimes to their faces— they don’t get bothered about such trivialities), the Kaleidoscopic Mandala Fellowship seeks revelation of the inner mysteries of the universe in primal Chaos. Many of them are chaos warped, and all of them tap the power of Chaos. If you find someone meditating on a promontory above an expanse of Chaos, it is likely one of these.

The College of Elementalists

A source of elementalist magicians known all over Élas and many other islands for their talented engineers and architects. In addition to sorcerous training, they also have an excellent engineering school for those who lack the talent to wield magic.

Azec Sisura

The necropolis in the heart of the Dune Sea in the desert at the far southwest end of Élas, a large, windowless sandstone edifice. It is ruled by Shargun, the Administrator, an ancient and powerful lich, and currently houses seven other liches that have retired there to continue their researches. It houses a community of mummies (some of whom are there to slowly expiate their sins from their mortal lives, others of whom have found they prefer the company of the undead to the living) and ghosts. The bodies of Élas’ most dangerous criminals are here as skeletal and zombie servants, the animating spirits sucking energy out of the souls of the criminals in the afterlife, lest the criminals ascend their infernal hierarchies and return as demons to torment the land. There is a temple to Zhor here that sees use in the rituals of maintaining the undead existences of the residents of Azec Sisura. The nearest town, at the edge of the Southern Desert, sells hardy livestock that are likely to survive the trip to Azec Sisura, where they can be offered to undead relatives who need some life energy to keep on going.

The dead have nothing to steal from each other, nothing to make, and basically no economy. They are there as scholars, researchers, watchers over their descendants, and atoners for lives they feel were too filled with sin to gain proper admission to the afterlife. (Atonement is much less efficient when you’re already dead, so it takes a very long time of meditating and reciting sutras. Aiding mortal endeavors is far more efficient, and the atoning dead are often very helpful to those who come to find them.) They all hide their dead bodies by wearing robes and masks.

People come to the Necropolis to consult sages and magicians, to leave offerings for and to consult with their ancestors, and to inquire on important matters of histroy. Messengers arrive every few weeks carrying mail. There are even a few mummified warriors there, hanging on, defying nature until they can lay down their burdens at last.

The standing army in the Ossuary is seldom called up, but old stories of skeletal warriors on skeletal horses are still told on the fringes of the desert.


An elven tree city in the Hinterland, built around a lake fed by a beautiful waterfall. The elves are ageless beings who live primarily by thaumaculture, using nature and ecos magics to encourage fruit trees to bear far more often than normal, and they carefully replenish them in thanks. They may spend a day hunting and stalking a choice deer, but they are careful not to overhunt the local fauna, and so only have meat in their diets as a choice delicacy. Elves take their time doing things so as to do them well; when an elf spends too long among humans, they can become Hurried, and will need time among elves to learn to take their time again. Elves that stay Hurried for too long can burn out, shining brightly for a mortal lifetime but then becoming slowly eaten away by ennui, having rushed through the world doing everything in a cursory manner. Their focus on fine detail helps them appreciate each nuance of the world and so enjoy their immortality. Because of this attention to detail, learning to see the subtle touches that make similar things unique, elves are often seen as possessing a childlike wonder; it shows in their crafts, as no two creations of theirs are alike. (When the elven smiths start turning out simple, elegant creations with a bare minimum of ornamentation, you know the elves are on a serious war footing and there is great trouble in the world.)

The Citadel of Zardis

A small trading town on the eastern side of the Hinterland, guarding the pass through which traders leave the Hinterland and Throlaia. It is unusual for a city of Élas in that it is on the Chaos side of the hills, though it is relatively well protected from Chaos storms by being nestled in mountains.

The citadel is ruled by Jaron, the former bearer of the quest item known as the Torc of Resolution. He and his wife, the weather-witch Lissandra, have gladly retired from adventuring to watch over the pass.

There is an entrance to the shadow roads some tens of miles away, up in a depression too small to be called a valley in the mountains on the east side of Throlaia.

The Township of Grundar

A large town on the road between Zardis and Lucinth. Known for fisheries and the vineyards further inland, and its splendid temple to Kor, goddess of fertility.


Lucinth is a city ruled by the green-scaled dragon Indoshaur, who arrived several centuries ago during the Undead Pogrom and installed himself as the Tyrant of the city. He rules as an autocrat with a panel of advisors (the head of the Thieves’ Guild, the Castellan, prominent merchants and bankers, and so on).

Lucinth is known for being the safest city on Élas, with clean, well-lit streets, a very competent town watch, good libraries and temple complexes, and a port safe from sea monsters. In addition to being the chief executive of the city, the Tyrant is also the executioner, the standing army, the High Justice, and the treasurer. Taxes are slightly lower in Lucinth than in other cities, due to the lack of need to support a standing army; they could be lower, but much is spent on urban maintenance and improvements, and a certain amount trickles slowly into Indoshaur’s great hoard.

The law is very well enforced in Lucinth, and the guard are trained to capture criminals alive if at all possible. The death penalty is a bit more common in Lucinth than others, but it’s not ridiculous (e.g., pickpocketing is generally punished by maiming; only grand theft leads to capital punishment). Capital punishment consists of being eaten by the dragon after being bathed and fed well. (Indoshaur seems to be quite good at detecting and neutralizing poisons; the last three attempts to poison him led to adventurers being hired to capture prominent members of the guilds of Thieves or Assassins.)

Indoshaur is not highly regarded among dragons because he is acquiring his hoard in a very non-traditional way. If he didn’t have so much of it, the other dragons might look down on him more, but gold carries a certain social weight with dragons... and the treasury of Lucinth has a big pile of it.

The Oracles of Kesshar

A mated pair of sphinges live out in the hills, far behind Lucinth. They will prophesy in exchange for mystically potent food, such as a couple of the local thunder cattle (who arc lightning between their horns and launch it at threats, and can summon storms) or a large batch of local discord hares (giant rabbits who thump the ground with their feet and make earthquakes).


The next major city south of Lucinth— situated atop a mountain, with many subsidiary villages and farms below— is known for its military prowess. They have strong warriors and strong sailors, and their port-town houses the most substantial navy on Élas. They are staunch followers of Danor, the Warrior, and the annual dedicatory rites in the spring are a marvel to behold. Their major export is talented mercenaries.


A city built around a lake high in the hills. The city sprawls across a large portion of hillside, and the lake is channeled into a number of spectacular waterfalls and fountains. Some of the greatest artists of Élas come from Kataraktis, and the temple-park complex dedicated to Niera, the Maiden, is reknowned even on other islands.


A large farming town, with many granaries and paddocks. Guldush, the Worker, is honored in many small shrines throughout the area around Dhimitriaka, and cats are more often seen as his diligent assistants, protecting the granaries from mice and the sown fields from birds, rather than the representatives of Shakli.

The nearest known entrance to the shadow roads is at the Sideways Tides, where the daily tides sweep the edge of the sea past the chaos.

The Dwarven Socialist Republic of Throlaia

Throlaia exists primarily within a rugged mountain range in the north of Élas containing many small valleys used for farming; the areas would be impassable without the dwarven tunnels honeycombing the mountains. Food is supplied by aboveground farms of regular plants and underground farms of fungi, as well as herding above and below the ground.


The Dwarven creation legends have them being formed out of volcanic rock by their deities. The see humans as created out of clay, elves out of wood, and orcs out of mud and slime.
Gods of Throlaia
Keldurond Construction, engineeringRulershipStone Logic, math, philosophy
Throgorond SmithcraftWar, DiplomacySteel Tactics
Gefirond WeavingFriendshipJewelsMusic
Demborond Fermentation, brewing, distilling Health and longevityWaterHistory
Bifturond Carving, sculptingBeautyLight Painting
Meldairond Planting, reaping, bakingFertilitySoil Cooking
Folgorond Skinning, tanning, hunting, herdingNature Wood, BoneDance


Exports: all manner of liquor (beer, wine, fungo [fermented mushrooms], whiskey, brandy, mushly [distilled fungo]), worked metals, musical instruments, crossbows, siege engine kits (assemble at target site), dwarf-bread (much like moderately tough dark grey sourdough rolls that keep for ages without going stale; one roll will keep you nourished and feeling content for about a day— they’re very mild and a recommended food for people with ulcers), engineers and sculptors

Imports: Spices, silk, cotton, furs, breeding stock of new animals and crops to try out

Internal goods: fungus products, various food crops, wool, dark-jewels (which glitter in dwarven darkvision)

“Black fungo” is a very, very dark red fermented mushroom beverage with an impressive kick, an impressive hangover, and a tendency to have mystically significant delerium tremens and dreams while under the influence.


Pets are almost always useful, sometimes even decorative. The domesticated bats function much like carrier pigeons, and some even sing (usually a very high-pitched descant) along with nearby music. Cats are popular for keeping the rats down, as well as cavern hounds (a breed with good night vision that serves well in both war and herding). Blind koi swim in ornamental pools and their movements are sometimes watched as a form of divination.

Geomancy— in the literal term, divination by the earth— is a popular art, involving making semirandom figures in a box of sand and observing the result.

They don’t do airships, or longbows. They don’t ride giant bats.

The society is an odd mix of socialism and capitalism which only works because of the millennia of Dwarfish customs backing it. There is a core planned economy that makes sure that everyone has work and gets enough to eat— people who don’t want to work are simply considered insane and are locked up in caverns with the completely incompetent until they beg to be given jobs— and a strongly capitalist layer above that. In lean times, the richest begin pitching in with their resources— holding back is considered dishonorable and would wreck a dwarf’s possible fortune in the future. If a dwarf failed to keep their contract with society, how could they be expected to deal fairly with an individual? Greed has its proper place, of course, but how can you fulfill it if no one will do business with you?