"I have fought many dangerous foes over my career but none of my memories keep me awake at night like the morlocks. These hairy beasts growl and snarl as monstrously as they look, but behind the growls, I hear them speak our mother tongue." -Beznak Bristlebranch, dwarf deep rangerMorlocks are a degenerate offshoot of regular dwarves, the result of generations of jormangers breeding exclusively with other and evolutionary and elemental forces gradually shaping their culture and physiology. Like the jormangers they evolved from, morlocks crave eating mortal flesh, are pained by bright light, have excellent underground senses (including a perfect sense of direction), are amazing climbers, and have perfect celestial attunement to the movements of the sun and the moon (even when underground). Morlocks are genetically more stable than first, second, and third generation jormangers, so they do not often manifest random mutations, helpful or baneful. They tend to get the standard morlock package. To the naked eye, morlocks are largely unrecognizeable as an offshoot of dwarves. Most morlocks are at least vaguely aware of their shared history, some dwarves suspect a connection between their races, but most others have not made the connection. Morlocks are beardless and have weak chins. Apart from their constitution and stature, they do not physically resemble the dwarves they once called kin. Morlocks do not possess any vestige of dwarven honor, only a perverted version of dwarven pragmatism. They do have a vague sense of kinship with other morlocks but their relations do not greatly resemble the clan structures of dwarves. While morlocks support their extended family, they have no real sense of clan honor and do not normally extend filial piety to their ancestors. Morlocks, like the dwarves they once were, are very good at working with metal and stone. Their building skills are generally turned to horrifying ends engineering sophisticated traps both to subdue or kill prey and to defend their lairs. Morlocks tend to keep to their own kind, but they are willing to work with others surprisingly often. Assuming a Scarnoctis race is okay trading with a race as vile as morlocks, the morlocks can be a great supplier of weapons, armor, traps, and cages.
Morlocks are stocky muscular humanoids with pale skin, flaxen hair on their bodies and heads, brutish faces with weak chins, pointy teeth, and little to no facial hair. Grey reddish eyes and white hair are the morlock norm, but centuries of evolutionary change have created some cosmetic differences by clan and region.
Genetics and Reproduction
Morlocks have an even male-to-female ratio and reproduce with the same basic process most humanoids use. Morlock pregnancies lasts about a year. Roughly 99% of the time, births are singular and roughly 1% of the time twins are born. Infants are typically weaned in about four years. A typical Morlock female will have between six and ten children over her lifetime depending on what the attrition rate for her clan is.
Growth Rate & Stages
Morlocks mature and age slightly faster than dwarves. Morlock children can largely fend for themselves in basic tasks around age ten. Morlocks tend to enter adolescence around age 20. They are considered full adults after about 35 years old and they tend to start dying of old age around 240 years old with a few lucky individuals making it to 280 years old.
Ecology and Habitats
Given that morlocks are pained by sunlight, most live primarily underground. A few clans will occasionally venture onto the surface at night, but many stay underground full time and never venture above ground at all. Morlocks prefer isolated and defensible underground warrens but they are obligate carnivores so they need to have sources of prey nearby. Many morlock clans are nomadic or semi-nomadic so as not to exhaust a single area of prey.
Dietary Needs and Habits
Morlocks are obligate carnivores. They can eat plants and fungi in survival situations but it makes them uncomfortable if not outright sick. Morlocks can eat any meat, but they prefer to eat mortal flesh and dwarf flesh is a special delicacy. Morlocks are remorseless about feeding on mortals but they are also pragmatic. They might prefer eating human flesh than a clutch of rabbits, but they know the rabbits rarely have kinsmen eager to violently avenge them. Most morlocks eat more animal flesh than mortal flesh over the course of their lives. Morlocks will restrain themselves from hunting mortal flesh when they believe they cannot easily handle the potential reprisals preferring to abduct people unlikely to missed and unlikely to be avenged. If a mortal stumbles into morlock territory, that mortal is destined to be served up at breakfast, but when morlocks go into other mortals' territory, thhey have thoroughly scouted them out and assessed their enemies' strengths and weaknesses. Morlocks usually cook their food but they eat their meat fairly rare compared to civilized mortals.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Morlocks have keen senses of hearing and smell. They can see perfectly in darkness but they are pained and disoriented in bright light, especially sunlight. Morlocks are less bothered by fire than other sources of light, and have zero problems using fire to cook their meat or heat their forges.
Civilization and Culture
Dwarf men pride their beards and dwarf women like to sport long carefully woven braids. Morlocks cannot grow beards or braids. Morlocks of both sexes tend to take pride in their manes of silky hair and their back hair which would disgust most outsiders if they ever witnessed morlock mating rituals. Both sexes use the volume of a potential mate's hair as their first physical indicator of attractiveness.
A majority of morlock clan leaders and war party leaders are male, but morlocks on the whole are much more egalitarian than the dwarves they descended with morlock men and women serving in any societal role they are qualified for without social stigma. Much like dwarves, morlock society prioritizes defending women and children before prioritizing defending the men, but morlocks expect their women to hold their own and not be helpless damsels.
Morlocks usually mate for life. At periodic intervals, morlock clans visit courtship sites. Wide caverns with varied and unusual rock formations. (Remember that morlocks can scale walls and ceilings very well). The females adolescents then run into rock formations and after a head start, the males follow and whichever female they catch is their betrothed life mate. This is less chauvinistic than it sounds. Females are nearly always faster runners than males and females are generally considerably much more agile climbers. A female's attitude toward the particular male chasing her determines how fast she runs. Morlock sense of smell is potent and even a female cannot see the males nearest her, she knows exactly who they are. If a male doesn't catch anyone or a female is not caught, they can participate in the next courtship ritual, but males and females don't get a third chance to find a mate. They are literally branded as unworthy of having a life mate and treated as second class clan members. This mating process is intended to weed weak morlocks out of the gene pool.
Average Technological Level
Somewhat hampered by a severe lack of timber and other surface world based supplies, morlocks nevertheless have technological parity with ordinary dwarves. Their traps are among the most sophisticated and deadly in all of Scarnoctis. Typically traps are designed to nonlethally maim a target's legs, so they cannot flee but do not immediately die. The traps also make just enough noise to alert morlocks when they are sprung. If the morlocks suspect their prey has access to magical healing, they will adjust traps to make them lethal, using crushing skulls. Morlocks don't like to eat meat off the face much and unlike goblins and other underground maneaters, they are too pragmatic to display skull trophies.
Major Language Groups and Dialects
Morlocks speak a there own dialect of Dwarven. Most dwarves can understand the morlock dialect but morlock dialect sounds unnatural and disturbing to their ears. They have a few hundred words that diverge from the Dwarven language, mostly different words for morlocky things like different types of prey and different types of traps. Even if they wanted to, morlocks cannot impersonate the vocal intonation of an ordinary dwarves. At best they can sound like a normal dwarf that was just punched in the throat. That said, morlocks have zero trouble understanding normal dwarves talking. Morlock dialect involves a bit of snarling and growling for punctuation. Morlock can produce deep low sonic rumbles that reverberate very far underground to communicate very simple ideas to other morlocks over long distances. Things that can be conveyed are along the lines of "FLEE" "ATTACK" "REST" and "FOLLOW." Outsiders cannot translate these subsonic reverberations but they know something is happening and that the sound is coming from a living creature. Most morlocks rarely make a serious effort to learn other languages, but a few of the more mercenary minded morlock clans are an exception to the rule, and few highly intelligent individual morlocks in every clan find they have a surprising knack for languages. Morlock skin changer witches can learn a language magically by ceremonially eating the brains of native speakers of different languages. In forward thinking clans, the skin changers teach what they learn to their fellows.
Common Dress Code
Like everything else morlocks craft, morlock clothing and armor is functional, not pretty. Normally morlocks dress minimally, with just enough clothes to not be nude because I want them to keep the monstrous look but I never ever want to see a picture of a naked warlock. Morlocks are hairy and hot blooded enough that they can exist comfortably in cool environments with minimal clothing though if temperatures become cold enough to create ice and snow, morlocks need to dress in layers, which are usually patchworks of fur from previous animal prey. More often than not, morlocks prefer lighter armors, preferring to stay relatively mobile. Morlocks usually craft their armor to fit specific individuals. It is a mild taboo for a morlock to wear another morlock's armor. Because their armor is so perfectly form fitting, morlock armor does not clank or rattle much meaning the morlocks are effectively stealth warriors even when armored.
Culture and Cultural Heritage
Morlocks, like the dwarves they descended from, are clever and prodigious builders and crafters. Centuries of (de)evolution have killed the morlock sense of aesthetics. Dwarf artisans take pride in things that are beautiful to the eye while retaining their functionality, but morlock crafts are always purely functional. A morlock clan that adopts younger jormangers as outside breeding stock might occasionally produce crafter with a glimmer of an aesthetic eye. Morlocks do not shun these "artistic" morlocks but they don't celebrate them either. Morlocks do like to sing, though it is radically different from what most other mortals consider "singing". Morlocks enjoy deep harmonious rumbling in tandem as a sort of bonding ritual with their clan mates.
Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals
Most morlock clans develop their own unique traditions and rituals, but while some of these traditions might superficially resemble religious ceremonies, most morlocks are not very pious and give the Nine very little thought. Many morlocks cannot even name them all. Rumors that morlocks worship Turoch and widely practice their own form of Infernalism seem to be just that, rumors.
A lot of dwarves survived the early days and weeks of the Unmaking by hiding inside their barred fortresses. Eventually their food stores ran low. A few dwarves roamed the surface of Scarterra looking for food but most dwarves remained underground where there were far fewer Void demons and undead but less food. Some survivors resorted to cannibalism and became Jormangers. At the start of the Third Age during the period known as the The Little Unmaking, while the elves were trying to purge skopen from their ranks, the dwarves likewise struggled against the newly formed jormanger clans. The untainted dwarves claimed victory over the jormangers but they didn't realized that they failed to kill them all. The Jormanger clans were not wiped out, they were figuratively and literally driven deep underground. The emerging morlock clans evolved physiologically and socially. There were many disparate morlock clans scattered about Scarnoctis. Most ranged fairly far, at least in the early days of the Third Age so this led to most isolated groups of morlocks meeting each other and occasionally trading news, cultural practices, and marriage partners creating a loose global morlock culture of sorts.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
Most morlocks vaguely understand that their ancestors were once normal dwarves. Most dwarves are in denial about this, even among themselves though they know in their hearts that they are connected to morlocks in some way. To morlocks, most other species are prey. You don't socialize with your food and you don't let them learn details about you that let them fight back. Morlocks clans are pragmatic and clever enough that they will negotiate with other mortals when it suits their needs, especially nonhumanoids who usually don't taste very good and are also not instinctively repulsed by a race that routinely feeds on other mortal races. Many clans have working relationships with individual ocumati when their territories are near each other. Eye monster flesh tastes awful, so morlocks have little incentive to fight them, and most ocumati likewise have better things to do than pick fights with morlock clans. Likewise, morlocks cannot eat delvers and delvers likewise have no beef with them. Morlocks are prodigious metalworkers and since delvers love to eat refined metal, morlocks can barter metal to delvers for their services as tunnelers. A few so called "rancher clans" have set up dark symbiotic relationships with some humanoids. They clandestinely provide "aid" to mortal groups giving them free supplies and "safe" places to live keeping all external threats away...save the morlcoks themselves. The morlocks will periodically visit their "ranches" and disappear individuals to feast on, much like the relationship between Eloi and Morlocks in H.G. Well The Time Machine though on a smaller, less industrial scale. These arrangements rarely last especially long, but it's a proverbial Holy Grail that many morlock clans aspire to create even if they can never reach it.