Today’s post is brought to you by the caffeinated musings which have distracted me from my homework and encouraged me to write world background material instead.
The setting of For The King! is largely lacking playable non-humans at the moment. There are a few dwarves or elves who might be somewhere in the realm of Duval, and there are some gnomes and halflings and others scattered around, but most people, in most places, are human. The orcs and half-orcs mostly live to the northwest of the kingdom, generally part of the large nomadic tribes which roam through those sections of the Trade Lands. Heck there are centaurs too, but they generally stick to the lands northeast of the kingdom of Duval, and don’t have much direct contact except with traders who venture out onto the northern plains.
And yet there are remnants of dwarven architecture throughout the center of the kingdom of Duval, and historical records definitely suggest that they used to live in the area. So… where have all the dwarves gone?
Well, first of all, they generally live(d) underground. So most people who lived on the surface didn’t see them most of the time. But while there were definitely a bunch of dwarves living in the area about 1000 some-odd years ago, they were pretty well gone by the time that Duval truly rose into power. And the Duvalians didn’t kill them off.
The dwarves in the area disappeared because they were consumed from within, more or less. Centuries before their disappearance, they had developed fungal agriculture to a high art; they rarely needed to travel above ground in order to provide themselves with food, both because they had well-designed skylight systems for their light-based agriculture, and because they relied so heavily on their fungi.
All of this was quite fitting, according to the dwarves, and demonstrated their superiority over the fungus which they grew and consumed. Why would anyone care about being superior to a fungus? The dwarves cared because they were at war with myconids (mostly-intelligent mushroom beings) for vast swathes of the underdark. They held the upper hand, controlling access to large cave systems and blocking the myconids into smaller cave networks, walling them away where they couldn’t expand into what the dwarves considered their territory. But around the time that the city of New Kraskya was destroyed, the dwarves lost control of their defenses. A series of earthquakes and tremors caused widespread damage to their careful system of walls and blockades, and they were unable to respond effectively or in time. Whole cities were lost to the rapidly spreading myconids, and the federated dwarven city-states crumbled. Only two dwarven cities remain in the mountains to the north of Duval. The vast territory which they once influenced has dwindled to the cave systems closest to them. Their federation now exists only in their histories and their tragic odes.
Never fear, there are other dwarves elsewhere. But the kingdom of Duval has very few these days.
I think this is the first time I’ve heard of a mushroom apocalypse. “The Dwarves all died” is pretty old news: you basically have to do it somewhere in your game world just to show that you read Tolkien. But “we farmed too many mushrooms”? The dwarves were too vegan to live. I love it.