The Karzat have an unshakeable, iron-clad belief that it is only thanks to them that the free peoples of Nalunara remain so, and that without the Iron Army of Khazarak the whole continent would fall into chaos and ruin. Depressingly, they might well be right.
A predominately dwarven realm, the Queendom of Khazarak is the most prosperous nation in the Alliance. Its economy is very strong, and its standard of living high. Khazarak's border with the Dominion is protected by the Unbreakable Wall, lessening the pressure the queendom faces from the north. Khazarak has had to develop a strong navy to counter naval assaults from the Dominion off its western shore.
Life and Society
The dwarves of Khazarak are arranged into clans, extended family groups and their accompanying servants. Their servants and soldiers, and the families of the servants and soldiers, are considered to be as much a part of the clan as those who are actually part of the family. In Khazarak there are currently twelve clans, some large, some small. Khazarak society focuses heavily on duty and responsibility to one's clan. Children are raised to believe that service to their clan and country is the most important thing they can achieve, and to put their own desires a distant second. They are taught useful trades such as mining, smithing, crafting and fighting, so that they will always have a skill to fall back on. Military service is highly valued in Khazarak. Typically a dwarf will pick one role and follow it for most, if not all, of their lives. There are soldiers in the army over a hundred years old who joined when they were only twenty, and the same can be said of most other professions.
In Khazarak, the wisdom of women is seen as preeminent, and women hold the dominant role in Kharzat society. The woman is the head of the house, and all the clan leaders are female. Dwarves typically live in extended family groups, with perhaps ten to twenty dwarves sharing a large house. Children are raised communally, with their aunts and uncles having as much of a role in raising them as their mothers and fathers. Children live with their family until at least the age of twenty, at which point they may chose to leave and seek fortune elsewhere, or stay in the family home and work in the surrounding area.
The gnomes of the nation live somewhat apart from this clan system. Although some have achieved 'adoption' into a particular clan (also securing the same right for their descendants), most remain unaffiliated.
In times long ago the dwarves lived predominantly underground, in deep caves and tunnels. As their population increased the underground ecology could no longer support them, and increasingly they were forced to seek new homes in the open air. Now the majority of dwarves in Khazarak spend their time above ground, and few indeed live underground in the old style. That being said, dwarves still feel the call of the deep, and are most comfortable in enclosed environments. As a consequence of this, dwarven buildings are typically laid out somewhat different to those of other races: rather than there being a ground floor, and then successive floors above it, in dwarven constructions there is a ground floor and then successive basement layers. A typical middle-class family house will consist of a ground floor containing the kitchen and other communal rooms, and a basement containing the bedrooms. This means that most dwarven towns and cities are much less physically imposing than those of other races, as few of their buildings boast more than a single above-ground storey. As a general rule only the truly old cities in Khazarak (such as Stombarad and Khundumunz) are all or mostly below ground.
Government and Politics
The matriarch of each of the twelve clans of Khazarak is called a Queen. Each Queen sits on the Nazak Council, the ruling body of Khazarak. Additionally, there are three seats on the council for non-voting members who serve in an advisory capacity: the Marshal of the Iron Army, the Grand Priestess of the Church of the All-Father, and the Gnomish Representative (elected by the gnomes of Khazarak in an imitation of the democratic system of Sindal). The Nazak Council has final authority over every aspect of the nation.
Khazarak is one of the most active and powerful members of the Grand Alliance. With the Unbreakable Wall to protect it, Khazarak feels secure enough to regularly dispatch contingents from the Iron Army to assist other members of the Alliance. This has earned it a lot of goodwill from the border nations of the Alliance. Khazarak has particularly strong ties to Sindal. The two nations trade extensively, and frequently cooperate in battles against the Dominion.
The two daughter-nations of Khazarak, the Dhar and Vekril, have very different relations with their mother. The Dhar separated amicably, and maintains close ties to Khazarak. Troops from the two nations frequently carry out joint manoeuvres together, and trade flows mostly freely across the border. However, Vekril wants nothing to do with its parent nation, and has closed its borders and severed diplomatic ties.
Khazarak has mostly good relations with the goliath tribes in the mountains in and adjacent to the nation. Some goliaths feel the dwarves look down on them (metaphorically speaking, of course), and it is true that when there are competitions for resources Khazarak has a significant strength advantage. In general though the Karzat have little desire to live where the goliath do, and other than low-levels of trade and cooperation against threats they have little do with each other on a daily basis.
The Karzat get on well with the merfolk in the Spellscar, a positive relationship built from years of cooperation in plundering the Scar's resources.
Khazarak has been in a state of war with the Kwal Dominion almost since the Dominion's inception, and the famous dwarf ability to hold a grudge is aptly demonstrated in this conflict. The Karzat have little regard or respect for the members of the Dominion (though they are forced to admit their military competency at least), and indeed most Karzat hate the Dominion with a seething passion. Most nations of the Alliance have had, at one time or another, internal political groups pushing for appeasement or a negotiated settlement with the Dominion, rather than perpetuating the endless war. Not so in Khazarak.
The Iron Army is, due to the country’s size, very big. Nonetheless, the army prides itself that its troops are typically well trained, disciplined, and equipped. The emphasis is on close-combat troops for dwarves, usually clad in thick metal armour and wielding axes or hammers. For gnomes, the emphasis is on ranged combat and support. The army makes heavy use of casters to support its operations, with the ratio of divine casters to arcane casters being around 60:40. Despite the fact that only around 13% of the country is gnomish, nearly a quarter of the army is formed of gnomes.
The Iron Army mostly lacks in cavalry, with one notable exception: the Tusker Battalion. The Tuskers are elite dwarves mounted upon giant, ferocious boars. Each Tusker raises their mount from the day it is born. The Tuskers are few in number, with around five hundred active at any one time. Any dwarf can apply to join the battalion but the entry requirements are very stringent. It also takes time, as the candidate must raise their mount from a young age before they can become an active part of the battalion. The Tuskers exist slightly outside of the standard structure of command, being much more independent. Small groups have been known to turn the tides of entire battles. Civilians and normal soldiers look upon the Tuskers with great awe and respect.
Khazarak's long coastline and its exposure to Dominion naval assaults from the west have prompted the nation to establish a long and successful maritime history. The dwarves, particularly those along the coast, have become very comfortable at sea and are competent sailors. Dwarven ships are constructed to the highest standards, making the Iron Navy a formidable force.
The state religion of Khazarak is that of Moradin. The dwarves are raised from birth to believe that Moradin created everything, and that they are his favoured children. According to the Church of the All-Father, Moradin is the supreme deity, and the other gods are subservient to him. Because the other gods (save the evil ones) serve Moradin faithfully, worship of them is completely acceptable - so long as it is in addition to worship of Moradin, who of course must come first. In particular, Orln and Osprem are heavily worshipped by coastal-dwellers, and Yondalla is often venerated as the goddess of family.
Khazarak has an extremely strong industrial base, with the manufacture of items - particularly weapons and armour - considered highly important by the people as a whole. Dwarf-craft weapons and armour are nearly the best in the Alliance, surpassed only by the masterpieces produced by the elves, and Khazarak has so many blacksmiths that these items can be churned out in massive numbers. Another strong area of industry in Khazarak is the production of jewellery. Also, if something has to be built of stone and has to last then it is the dwarves of Khazarak who are hired to build it. The country is rich in natural resources, particularly metals and stones, and Khazarak mines these in vast quantities, both for internal use and for export. The Spellscar forms the eastern border of the nation, and is constantly plundered for the gems and magical materials common along its edge.
Khazarak produces much less in the way of luxury or artisan goods, and imports large quantities of these from Sindal and Esé-Nal.
The Church of the All-Father
The official church of Khazarak, the Church of the All-Father maintains an iron grip on the religious sensibilities of the nation.
The Concord of Runes
This ancient organisation has a dual role in Khazarak. They serve both as the keepers of history and traditions, and as the greatest and largest body of mages in the kingdom.
The Nazak Council
The ruling body of Khazarak, the twelve Queens who make up the Council control the fate of the entire country.
The centre of naval power in Khazarak, Hombarond sits on the south-eastern shore of the Darden Sea. It is home to a vast number of naval construction yards, and is also where new recruits to the Iron Navy learn their craft.
A fortress-city, Khundumunz guards the entrance to the Darden Sea. It is built into the cliffs on the north-western edge of the Darden Channel, overlooking the most-accessible shipping routes into the inland sea. A string of forts and watchtowers line both sides of the Channel, though more focused on the northern shore due to the treacherous reefs, shallow rocks and unpredictable currents common to the southern half of the Channel.
The capital of Khazarak, Stombarad ('Cradled by the Mountain') is the most heavily fortified city in Nalunara, and perhaps the world. A nigh-impregnable fortress built on and in the mountain Rerdak, Stombarad is protected by the most formidable fortifications dwarven architects can create and entirely surrounded by a magically-maintained moat of lava. The Nazak Council has its seat here, and it is the hub of dwarven industry and commerce.
A sacred mountain located near Stombarad, where the Grand Priestess and the Queens of Khazarak go to commune with Moradin.
Queendom of Khazarak
Inhabitants Dwarves (equal mix hill and mountain) 85%, gnomes 13%, other races 2%
Languages Dwarven, Gnomish
Neighbours The Kwal Dominion, The Dhar, Sindal, Vekril
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