At World's End
The dwarven capital, Belegost, is one of the world’s oldest standing cities, second only to Mithrendain in age. While not as heavily populated as Grandville or the Imperial City, Belegost holds a very strong spiritual tie to all dwarves, symbolizing the deep familial and religious link between all of the dwarves.
About 9,400 normally. When there is a clan moot, a new king to be chosen, holidays and wartime the numbers swell to nearly 20,000 as dwarves from everywhere under the Silver Mountains gather in the capital city. Belegost’s capacity for habitants has never been pushed to the limits, and it is estimated that the great city has space for upwards of 35,000-40,000 people should the need every arise.
The dwarves are ruled mostly by a single king. Underneath the king are 22 clan lords. The clan lords are the leaders of loosely connected dwarven families. As the centuries passed and the distinct families became more and more intermingled they became less about family. Today the clans represent a more economical and political aspect of dwarven society. They function much like a political party, and are a way for similar-minded dwarves to get their voices heard. The clans are also set up based on geographical features and what each clan can produce.
While not politically powerful, the Voice of Moradin, or “Moradin’s Chosen”, acts as an arbiter in times of crisis when there is no king to look to. She (for the Voice of Moradin is always female) is meant to balance the male (it is not law, but all dwarf kings have been male) king and hold all of the traditions of ancient dwarf culture, as well as leads holidays and important ceremonies.
Belegost is perhaps the most naturally defended city (not counting Mithrendain) on the planet. Located a mile underground, there are only a handful of tunnels that lead directly to the cities proper, and for every one of those tunnels there are a dozen labyrinthine tunnels, mine shafts and forgotten routes to the Underdark. Belegost has no permanent need for any sort of army, though there are 150 guards employed to watch the tunnels leading from the city and to guard the major points of interest. Roughly 2,000 dwarves are employed in their sole military force, though are only called upon during wartime.
In such an isolated world the clans have created their own system of barter. They don’t use standard coins, though will accept human-made coins. The clans each specialize in some product or range of products and then ship it to other clans in exchange for their goods. Since the Nerath Empire the dwarves have also started shipped surplus goods out of the mountains, and trading for “exotic” goods (wood, fertilizer, tropical foods, silk, etc).
Outside of the clans dwarves have set up their own networks of trade and labor. Some of these are less than legal, but most are based on interest; fellow metallurgists sharing trade tips or the like. The most notable are the Most Careful Order of Skilled Smiths & Metalforgers, the Jewelers’ Guild and the Guild of Fine Carvers.
There are a total of 22 clans. Each clan is led by a clan lord, who is picked through whichever means the clan decides. Some choose their leaders via democracy, some through family lineage, some through wealth; most of the time the method is whatever is tradition for that clan. A king is decided during a moot, when all the clan lords come together and spend a week or two meeting all day and night, arguing, persuading and debating on who the next king should be. The king is decided by vote of the clan lords. Each clan has a city named after them that acts as the primary residence for the those dwarves.
List of a several clans:
Hammerfast clan: The oldest and largest of the clans. The first dwarven king came from this clan. Specializes in forging mining metal and forging tools. The Hammerfast clan is the only clan known to have found a reliable source of adamantite. The city of Hammerfast is located on the surface.
Anvilhelm clan: The brother clan to Hammerfast. This clan specializes in farming and livestock. Because of this, Anvilhelm is a wealthy clan. The city Anvilhelm is another city that is located on the surface; it has to be for them to farm and keep livestock.
Coppereye clan: Just as old as Hammerfast, this clan has dwindled in numbers of the centuries. Coppereye used to produce machines, working constructs and mechanized weaponry. Now that Moradin’s Blood (oil) deposits are all but dried up the clan has taken to producing smaller and less imaginative gadgets.
Blackstone clan: A newer clan that was formed when younger dwarves banded together in light of the changing times. Blackstone was the first clan to initiate trade with the outside world; mostly because they control a lot of the coal and iron deposits in the Silver Mountains and humans were willing to pay good money for dwarven-mined iron.
Toughbeard Clan: Another old clan. This clan is made up mostly of grizzled Dwarves who have seen their share of winters. This clan, more-so then any other clan, sticks to the traditions of dwarven society: drinking, mining and forging. The Toughbeards are known all under the mountains for their skill at weapon and armorsmithing.
NOTES: Belegost contains one of the known travel stones.