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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Modern Dwarven Kingdom

    I was curious, what would everyone think a traditional dwarven underground monarchy style kingdom would look like with modern technology applied? I am running a modern campaign and want to introduce something like this.

    I just came up with the idea and so far, just have the concept of large drills used to mine and create shafts in the mountains to use as smokestacks, and probably all their motor vehicles would be on tracks rather than wheels, to easier traverse the underground passages. Any other exciting ideas?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Modern Dwarven Kingdom

    Quote Originally Posted by joe View Post
    I was curious, what would everyone think a traditional dwarven underground monarchy style kingdom would look like with modern technology applied? I am running a modern campaign and want to introduce something like this.

    I just came up with the idea and so far, just have the concept of large drills used to mine and create shafts in the mountains to use as smokestacks, and probably all their motor vehicles would be on tracks rather than wheels, to easier traverse the underground passages. Any other exciting ideas?
    I think the most important question is, are dwarves steampunk?

    Let me back up. One of the threads that runs through the steampunk aesthetic is the idea of individual quality craftsmanship as opposed to mass production. This sort of focus on individual mastery of some art or other (usually involving hammers... maybe some pliers) is key to many depictions of dwarven culture and industry. In OTL that kind of* declined with the industrial revolution and the rise of mechanized mass production, despite the attempts to turn back the clock by groups like the Luddites.

    So, if we're talking about modern day dwarves, they'll presumably have gone through an industrial revolution of their own. How did that go? When someone suggested that dwarves who had spent thirty years learning how to work mithril could be replaced by untrained neophytes who were happy to accept a bare living wage to pull a lever on Bjorn's Patented Mithrilator, were there riots? Did the mountainhomes burn?

    How this shook out will effect a lot as far as how and where dwarves work, how and where they live, etc.

    (*warning for vast oversimplification of a very complicated set of economic, technological and social changes)

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Modern Dwarven Kingdom

    That doesn't quite follow.

    But there can be more. There's always room for individual craftsmanship. Look at Iron man, Reed Richards, and how their technology is reproduced, reproduced poorly, or reproduced not at all. You can certainly have things like 'irreplaceable, unique artifacts' not unlike the Technocracy (Mage the Ascension). You just have to... fiddle a little bit with the Aesthetics.

    Yeah sure, maybe you can make Mithril pressed blades at speeds and ease that would have been impossible a century or 2 ago. But they're low quality, high numbers things, that no Dwarven Smith would ever show to his customers. Good enough for the masses, but no nobility would be caught dead with them.

    Remember, humans have an upper limit on their mastery of crafting. Master loom-users were eventually replaced by machines when their skills became redundant. There's no reason this can happen here. In factd, Dwarven Master-smiths might even welcome the Industrial Revolution. Now they no longer need to spend effort making ordinary swords or farming equipment, but now focus on their own tools, mastering their craft, and perfecting their own projects. Let the masses have their toys.

    You're in a steampunk setting? That means truly interesting things, things that can really let us make a gonzo and schizo-tech setting. Ok, you're in Victorian Steampunk. Congrats. You have steam cars which outrun horses, you have metal armour powered by a single large boiler at the back. You have large airships looming over cities. You have armies of conscripts wielding muskets and blackpowder cannons. You have telegraph wires and cinemas. You have all the aesthetics that Victorian Steampunk has.

    The Dwarven Mastersmiths have it even better. Blackpowder rifles are good. You know what's even better? An etheric projector that can serve as both a 'plasma cannon' and a lightsaber, capable of turning entire castles into molten slag and cut Werewolves in a single blow. Airships and balloons are nice, but Master Bjorn has managed to create helicopters, biplanes, and all the like. Telegraphs are nice, but radios are even better. Maybe normal dwarves have clunky steam driven robots called Clanks. Dwarven Master smiths create sleek androids of gleaming chrome that move faster than any human, made from mithril springs and brought to life by microscopic runes.

    You don't need to even put it completely in tech setting. I mean, these *are* dwarves, which brings in the potential for magic. No level of knowledge about steam and engines can ever match, say, the Mad Dwarf Mijaibhas who has created a contraption of steam, cogs, gears, glass, crystal, and sand, which allows its bearer to manipulate the gears of Time itself.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Modern Dwarven Kingdom

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    That doesn't quite follow.

    But there can be more. There's always room for individual craftsmanship.
    It absolutely does follow, because it happened in real life. There is always room for individual craftsmanship, yes, but in increasingly niche domains (like tailored clothing), and as we stray into the near-future, even those might be threatened by the advent of more advanced and versatile computerized manufacturing. As the volume of machined goods increases, individual craftsmen usually find themselves outcompeted, as the

    Look at Iron man, Reed Richards, and how their technology is reproduced, reproduced poorly, or reproduced not at all.
    Those are comic book characters for a reason. Indeed, that technological dynamic is largely confined to comic books or similar genres that demand that the setting stays mostly true to life over a long period of time. In real life, when something proves useful, it gets reproduced, often shockingly quickly. There's no reason for society to wait for an invention made one at a time by one guy, or for that one guy to spend the rest of his life hunched over a worktable, when he could either sell the process of making it or set up his own factory and churn them out as fast as the market demands. (Iron Man's technology is mostly not reproduced because he intentionally tries to restrict its spread, with unrealistic success for a man who's not a government.)

    Yeah sure, maybe you can make Mithril pressed blades at speeds and ease that would have been impossible a century or 2 ago. But they're low quality, high numbers things, that no Dwarven Smith would ever show to his customers. Good enough for the masses, but no nobility would be caught dead with them.
    Machined tools in the modern day can compare favorably to the best of preindustrial equivalents, and modern tools can be made to a level of precision that far surpasses anything our ancestors dreamed of. No goldsmith could hand-forge a microprocessor or the other circuitry in even the most quotidian of modern electronics.

    Remember, humans have an upper limit on their mastery of crafting. Master loom-users were eventually replaced by machines when their skills became redundant. There's no reason this can happen here. In factd, Dwarven Master-smiths might even welcome the Industrial Revolution. Now they no longer need to spend effort making ordinary swords or farming equipment, but now focus on their own tools, mastering their craft, and perfecting their own projects. Let the masses have their toys.
    Do dwarves not have limited lifespans and memories in which to expand their knowledge and experience? Do dwarves not have lower limits on the size of objects they can see or manipulate, or upper limits on the force they can apply with their hands (or, indeed, a trade-off between how hard and how finely they can strike)? (I mean, sure, they're a fantasy creature, so you can say, "Well, in my setting...", but generally, the answer is "Yes, they do have these limits.")

    You're in a steampunk setting?
    That wasn't in the OP's description; the steampunk genre was merely used as a point of comparison by Ajustusdaniel to illustrate the conflict between automation and handicraft.

    That means truly interesting things, things that can really let us make a gonzo and schizo-tech setting. Ok, you're in Victorian Steampunk. Congrats. You have steam cars which outrun horses... You have large airships looming over cities. You have armies of conscripts wielding muskets and blackpowder cannons. You have telegraph wires and cinemas. You have all the aesthetics that Victorian Steampunk has.

    The Dwarven Mastersmiths have it even better. Blackpowder rifles are good. You know what's even better? An etheric projector that can serve as both a 'plasma cannon' and a lightsaber, capable of turning entire castles into molten slag and cut Werewolves in a single blow. Airships and balloons are nice, but Master Bjorn has managed to create helicopters, biplanes, and all the like. Telegraphs are nice, but radios are even better.
    All of these things are made in factories (well, save the steam-powered armors and "etheric projector," which aren't made at all for reasons unrelated to quality of craftsmanship), where human input is often limited to QC/QA.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Modern Dwarven Kingdom

    Steampunk (or rather the Victorian era) is at a very interesting intersection of mass production and craftsmanship, though. They still made beautiful mass production machinery.

    My go-to example is this:


    That's a working sewage plant in London.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
    Après le monde - le gris; après le gris - le monde de nouveau.
    "

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Modern Dwarven Kingdom

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post


    All of these things are made in factories (well, save the steam-powered armors and "etheric projector," which aren't made at all for reasons unrelated to quality of craftsmanship), where human input is often limited to QC/QA.
    Yes to all this

    But this isn't real life. It isn't out of bounds for weird **** like that to be in grasp of dwarves

    Besides, what else is there? Dwarves are fames for mining, great craftsmanship, and those little stereotypes.

    Without the craftsmanship, they're basically short humans with underground civilisations.

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    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Modern Dwarven Kingdom

    I mean, to be really blunt, dwarves are short humans that live under ground. THere's very rarely anything that dwarves do in fantasy that's entirely out of bounds for a human civilization. Except live underground.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
    Après le monde - le gris; après le gris - le monde de nouveau.
    "

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Modern Dwarven Kingdom

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    I mean, to be really blunt, dwarves are short humans that live under ground. THere's very rarely anything that dwarves do in fantasy that's entirely out of bounds for a human civilization. Except live underground.
    Because fantasy writers are either lazy or they just make their own stuff.

    Dwarves are more like maggot death spirits that eat into the world's corpse in old mythology, and their magic involves treating ideas as physical entities. I would probably change the whole nature of the Dwarves to be more old timey; you can't get to the city of the dwarves if you aren't invited in, and dwarves find people looking for things by burrowing up to them. One day you will be Jeremy Thatcher but instead of a shop a horrible, pasty bedecked in a mountain of gaudy jewelry comes out of the ground to offer to turn your memories into wine or make a pair of shoes out of your conscience. If you are invited to visit the dwarves you have to crawl through one of their tiny tunnels, and come out in their enormous city which is housed Elsewhere. The city is forged of gold, jewels, and people's Hopes and Dreams.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Modern Dwarven Kingdom

    Another question, not specific to modern dwarves, but worth thinking about if you're looking at how dwarven society works, is the question of agriculture. The vast majority of calories that humans eat relies on energy ultimately derived from sunlight. In a closed subterranean ecosystem, this presents some problems. Existent underground fauna generally depend on nutrients brought in from outside, either via water flow, or by animals that move between the caves and the outside world.

    A couple of obvious solutions-

    Surface farming- the dwarves just go up on and farm where there's sunlight. Why shouldn't they?

    Trade- the dwarves swap precious metals, minerals, or ☼Masterful Cups☼ for shipments of grain. Note, this would tend to suggest that dwarven civilization as it exists necessarily evolved in parallel with a surface farming civilization.

    Novel Autotrophs- This being a fantasy setting, perhaps there's some source of energy besides the sun the dwarves can usefully tap. Maybe the basis of the dwarven diet is tubeworms clinging to the sides of magma vents. Maybe they cultivate macrofaunal lithoautotrophs. Perhaps everything feeds off of arcanoplankton capable of drawing energy from the world's ambient magical fields.

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Modern Dwarven Kingdom

    Wait... Short, Bearded, Subterranean?

    The Dwarves in a modern setting have mastered the Tech industry.

    Dwarven Masters Computer Forgers build the finest Custom PC Rigs in their basement fortresses.

    Meanwhile Runic Codemasters have created the Sentient, Functional AI, and unlike the wacky, buggy mess that those deranged Gnomes came up with, the Dwarven one doesn't want to destroy all humanoids.

    MITHRIL is the brand name for the top shelf military grade Cybersecurity suit.

    Beards that once upon a time dangled perilously over subterranean forges, stained with bacon grease and beer, are now illuminated by glowing monitors, powdered with orange dust, and dripping with Mountain Brew.
    Last edited by eru001; 2021-01-18 at 01:07 PM.
    Warning, this poster makes frequent use of jokes, snarks, and puns. He is mostly harmless and intends no offense.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Modern Dwarven Kingdom

    Quote Originally Posted by joe View Post
    I was curious, what would everyone think a traditional dwarven underground monarchy style kingdom would look like with modern technology applied? I am running a modern campaign and want to introduce something like this.

    I just came up with the idea and so far, just have the concept of large drills used to mine and create shafts in the mountains to use as smokestacks, and probably all their motor vehicles would be on tracks rather than wheels, to easier traverse the underground passages. Any other exciting ideas?
    I feel it would eventually transition to a meritocracy or a technocracy.

    (If i reference a system it will likely be Pathfinder and d20 modern)


    First up is; what are dwarfs like? They are a heavily martial society who go out of their way to make rivals. They place great stock on both craftsmanship, quality and a personal touch. Can often live for over three centuries if not killed with a minority still hitting over two fifty regardless. Their metallurgy and engineering is often a century or two ahead of humanity (occasionally more so depending on setting)


    Now we come to power, food and water. Unless there are Underdark creatures to deal with they are likely to get quite deep into the earth. Tapping into thermal power seems quite likely but i think they will go nuclear instead. Unless you make a varient dwarf the average dwarf has a +3 to radiation over most of humanity and radiation does count as a poison even if it mechanically acts like a disease. They are much less likely to die and can shrug off mild radiation that would shorten the lifespan of a human.

    Water is easy; they can setup water collection on the top of their mountains or tap underwear sources. They definitely have the engineering skill to make either work safely. Food is even easier. I stand confident in saying ALL produce found in supermarkets are altered in some fashion; being hardy, improved yields and better tasting you need only one competent farm dwarf to manage the others. Between mountain terraces and hydroponics meeting the needs of everyone or the meat farms will be trivial to meet their needs. They might still trade for more but they won't be as dependent as normal.


    Next up is mountains. Unless humanity concedes large amounts of flatlands (as history shows over our literally dead bodies) they will still be restricted to scraggy hills and mountains. How will they look? No mountain is the same so I'll just go with an archtipical; The Lonely Mountain from Tolkien transplanted into earth present day with some 600 to 800 years of extra development;

    Imagine the land surrounding the foothills being unnaturally flat ending abruptly at a hundred or more foot tall walls that wouldn't look out of place in Warhammer 40k. Battlements will be built in every fifty feet and the top covered against airstrike. Concrete is unlikely to be used unless they make concrete with a much lower water content (which will make it last longer, our modern concrete is still not as good as the ancient Egyptian equivalent).

    The mountain top? Fake; perhaps artistic but still fake. It is the perfect spot for anti missile emplacements, surface to orbit batteries and telescopes. We have weapons that can do serious damage to a mountain if enough are used and dwarf mountains are kinda hollow. Just need enough concussive force to crush/entomb the dwarves. If i was a ruler that might be concerning enough on its own.

    Assualting a dwarven mountain is a reenactment of D day...


    Lastly (for this post, more might follow) we come to weapons and armor. We have had lasers for over a decade. They are the size of trucks and require the victim to sit still James Bond style. How will they look in 200 years? Power isn't an issue if nuclear fission is in use (or fusion, another sci fi tech we have now but is still too impractical). I imagine gun batteries along the base of the mountain. Mechanically they will either function as a burst or a line with a fort save. Remember that lasers in reality are completely invisible; one moment you're looking at your men, the next smoldering corpses in a surprise bonfire. If the dwarfs figure out a durable material that let lasers pass through there might be no hole for attackers to shoot at...

    We have armor that is powered so actual dwarven power armor might be a thing. Unless they want a reactor on their backs they are likely to be battery powered and for defensive action only. Still that does seem far more protective than normal modern armor. Can't [race] reverse engineer? Sure. They still have to put in the quality in or it will be bigger, cheaper, less efficient crap by comparison.

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