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Old 01-11-2013, 11:08 PM   #11
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Dwarven Governance & Economics?

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We have enough references to dwarven kings to think that something of the sort exists for dwarven society, though they may not be exactly equivalent to human kings. However, dwarves seem to assign greater prestige to those who make things (including weapons) than those who use them, and it's not clear just how inheritable political position is; a guild-based government, where promotion is dependent on demonstrated skill (if possibly assisted by nepotism) seems more likely than strictly inheritable positions, though a clan-based system also seems to appear (of course, you can easily have family businesses).
Medieval guild systems were basically labour exploitation, where the apprentice spent most of his time doing manual labour, and very little time actually being taught the trade by the master craftsman. It follows from this that if the master is liked by his teacher, e.g. due to non-blood nepotism or being an actual blood relative, the proportion of teaching could be much larger and with much less exploitation, so that over the course of the guild-regulated apprentice duration, e.g. 7 years, many more Skill Points can be accumulated.

This would lead to classes or grades of apprenticeships. Normal ones are mostly exploitation, so the resulting journeymen have decent skill but nothing special. Favourable ones have a bit less exploitation, so the resulting journeymen got enriched by more SP during the time when they had young and flexible brains. And very favourable ones have little exploitation and thus the resulting journeymen are very skilled, and are likely to achieve great craftsmanship later in life.

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I disagree that dwarves wouldn't have a struggling working class, it's just that dwarven society is typically relatively wealthy overall, so a struggling dwarf looks like an average wealth human. However, I'm inclined to think that dwarves are big on idle hands being bad, and thus dwarven society encourages 100% employment, with makework projects if necessary (which accounts for a lot of pointless structures created by dwarves). Dwarves might well have a disadvantage or advantage that they have trouble just relaxing and doing nothing, a dwarf who's just sitting there will probably pick up a stick and start carving, or something.
A vague idea I have is that food might be expensive in Dwarven society while manufactured goods are relatively cheap, compared to Human society. This makes sense if almost all Dwarves are Compulsive Craftsmen and if they import their food by trade with the above-ground world.

This produces a different picture of the underclass, compared to urban medieval Humans. The poorest Humans, in towns, are skinny because food is expensive, but they're also clad in rags and own no real requipment or homes. The Dwarven underclass might be very well supplied with decent clothes (woven by compulsive weavers), and small but still private homes (dug by compulsive diggers), and own nice eating utensils (made by compulsive smiths and potters), but be rather on the skinny side and slightly malnourished, because food is what's expensive.

They might also be strongly inclined towards grumpiness because they get all their fluids from water. Even if the water is from clean underground streams, they look with envy at their better-off brethren not because they can always fill their bellies with food, but because they can have several bottles of ale per day (keep in mind, alcohol is made from grain or other foods, so if food is scarce, so is alcohol).

If Dwarves who travel in Human society are also grumpy, it's because they don't like our booze.
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:50 PM   #12
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Default Re: Dwarven Governance & Economics?

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If Dwarves who travel in Human society are also grumpy, it's because they don't like our booze.
Dwarven booze... maybe a topic for yet another thread. I have my own thoughts, but.
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:52 PM   #13
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I actually really like dwarves as underground Romans. Great at civil engineering, very family oreinted, and a crapload of cuthroat politicking.

The dwarven society depicted in Dragon Age, if you've played that game, was a really nifty concept to me. I don't know if I'd have such a desperately poor lower class, but the concept of just really ugly political infighting and insular viewpoints being part of what keeps dwarvn populations small is a pat of the game I really liked.
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Old 01-12-2013, 12:01 AM   #14
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So far as dwarvish kingship is concerned, I think a reasonable starting point is Mancur Olson's "stationary bandit" model of the state: A bandit who travels about, or who preys on travelers, has little reason for restraint in what he takes, or in care for his victims' lives; he's like a hunter who moves on when game gets scarce. But a bandit in a fixed location has an incentive to limit his take and his damage, because he wants to be able to repeat his extraction of wealth. Such bandits are more like shepherds or ranchers—who, to be sure, fleece and milk and occasionally butcher their sheep.

A stationary bandit will find, among other things, that letting other bandits raid his robbing grounds, especially mobile bandits who will do major damage, is a bad idea; so he'll be drawn into providing some measure of military defense and law enforcement.

This is one end of a continuum of statelike entities. The other end seems to be a mutual protection agreement. Ironically, such agreements seem to arise among groups of people who commit banditry or piracy against outsiders.

Are dwarves susceptible to stationary banditry? Can a dwarven warrior of skill and charisma gain the ability to raid other dwarves and extract their wealth, and over time, be transformed into a king. Or do dwarves have enough ability to defend their own mines so that a stationary bandit won't survive, or won't make enough to stay in operation?

Conversely, are there economies of scale in mining, or mine planning, or mine defense that would lead to the formation of "bands of brothers" defensive arrangements, or guilds? Might such an organization then hire a competent leader of troops to fight its external wars? This could be like a pirate ship, whose captain had absolute authority in battle, but had to surrender command to the quartermaster after the battle ended.

I saw, lately, a comment by Glenn Reynolds that the old unionism of mines and factories involved men whose daily work both required fitness, and was likely to be physically dangerous; such qualities, he said, made them well suited to labor struggles through overt violence. A team of miners likely has some of the same dynamics as a team of infantrymen (or sappers!). A dwarven "king" who loses the trust and respect of his soldiers or his citizens may not stay long on the throne.

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Old 01-12-2013, 12:39 AM   #15
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Default Re: Dwarven Governance & Economics?

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So, in summary:
  • I have no fixed ideas on what it should be in totality, just what it shouldn't be, and the elements it would contain;
  • Guilds would be important;
  • Clans would be important;
  • If you have nothing, you can always get free accommodation, free food, but with the requirement of providing unskilled labour for a minimum of 75% of your free time (leaves the other 25% for personal profit, education etc);
  • A similar arrangement could provide for the basic necessities for journeymen;
  • If you dig it at your own cost, you own it; and
  • It isn't quasi-socialist*. Capitalism** seems like a natural fit for dwarves.
<snip see quoted for footnotes>
For governance, a king seems legit as any, although I like the idea of perhaps a differnt kind of king. Maybe a lead project manager.

For economics I generally percieve dwarves as builders of metal things and that they live in mountains. So there are essentially 2 value channels, that which you dig out of the mountain and that which you add value to through craftsmanship. We cast this in side of a mountain with your constraints and this is what we get. To add to that, the ability to structurally cut your way thorugh a mountain in a liveable fashion is also I think reasonable for a career path.

You essentially get 3 different career paths for dwarves. Those that dig things up, those that forge and build things, and everyone else. It must start with the diggers.

Diggers

When the first dwarves 'settle' a mountain IM sure that there is some parceling of the interior of that mountain. The amount of volume that a dwarf can claim at one time must be limited somehow as opposed to a few dwarves dividing up an entire mountain upon arrival. (A mountain, unlike a planet, is not percieved as an infinite resource so huge land grabs must be kept in check). In the begining, everyone is a digger as they must tunnel out for themselves a place to live. If a law exists that says what ever you dig out of the ground is yours, then their original starting wealth comes from whatever they find in their initial settlement volumes in the mountain.

So now we have a certain division of dwarves with whatever wealth has been gained from diggin out thier original caves. As the wealth of a mountain is not distributed homogenously, then it stands to reason that there is the initial disparity in wealth. Those with less natural resources must then apply the only value they have left. The value add of Craftsmanship.

Craftsmen

Raw ore has little value, but ore that has been refined and honed into something is worth a great deal more. Enter the craftsmen. Left a bit short by the natural resources that were in their original living volume, they will make up for it with the sweat of their brow. Originally, they will be the ones that forge the Picks and shovels, but once the economy begins to grow beyond self sustenance, they will be the ones that forge the much sought after dwarven goods such as Armor, Weapons, Jewelstones etc. Note that although not exactly common, it is also from this class that the original stone workers and sculpters will come from.

Govt Workers

The caves that are not living areas, but are pathways and the internal supports that keep the mountain from collapsing in on itself must be managed and handled with great care to keep the movement of people and goods through the mountain flowing smoothly. Slightly different from the craftsmen in that that they do not compete against one another. What they do is for the public good and they are police, safety inspectors, and architects as well as being the stone cutters that fashion any 'common good' structures.

Everyone Else

Dwarves need food, entertainment, traders and a host of other proffessions just like any society.

Progression

When a new dwarf is born, they are assigned a volume of mountain that will be the dowery to thier adulthood. When mature, a dwarf seeks his fortune in the earth and hollows out his haul,normally on the next level down in the mountain. As older dwarves Die, thier homes are either reverted back to the state or simply carved out clean for the purpose of ventillation. In this way, as the dwarven colony grows, it goes deeper and deeper still into the mountain with a growing communal area. As the mountain evolves, the Diggers are always on the lower levels, the crafstmen in the middle, and the public areas on top.

Tribute

Although there is a tax system it is common and reasonable for a small tribute system to be seen to, child to parent. In practice, this functions as a form of Social Security as the children and grand children offer up money for the care of their elders. Note that this makes it strategically sound strategy to have many children and dwarven families are often quite large.

Taxes

Taxes are leveled flatly and are normally used for the maintenance of the infrasturctural caves and when the need arises for the raising of an army.

Nymdok

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Old 01-12-2013, 02:48 AM   #16
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Dwarven Governance & Economics?

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Are dwarves susceptible to stationary banditry? Can a dwarven warrior of skill and charisma gain the ability to raid other dwarves and extract their wealth, and over time, be transformed into a king. Or do dwarves have enough ability to defend their own mines so that a stationary bandit won't survive, or won't make enough to stay in operation?
Historically, most victims of roving banditry have been farmers, who live on flat lands and wealth in the form of cows, sheep and grain/flour, and town-dwellers.

Farms have essentially no defensive structures, while towns can have walls, which provide some protection.

But it seems to me that if Dwarves live underground, in fairly narrow tunnels, or even tunnels that are wide most of the way but which calculatedly narrow down to tactical "choke points" every few kilometers, might be a lot less vulnerable to roving bandits, and so have less need for kings, at least in the sense of a tax-extracting protector.

Maybe the problem for Dwarves is that the dig too far, too deep, too quickly? In some worlds, digging the wrong way might uncover supernatural threats such as Balrogs, while in more-or-less mundane worlds you're likely to hit an aquifier (if that is the right term?) or a lava vein, and get your tunnels flooded, with lots of death and destruction.

If so, then what Dwarves need aren't warrior-kings to protect them from military threats, but rather lords with a certain careful and restrained attitude, to counter the normal impulse to dig, and dig, and dig some more. Not to prevent digging, but to increase the likelihood that digging is safe, and is done in directions that are reasonably assumed to be safe to dig in.
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Old 01-12-2013, 01:31 PM   #17
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The Natural Resources of Dwarves

Upthread I began with the idea that there was only the minearls, jewels and ore in the mountain that formed the basis for agriculture (in the general sense of the word) and began to think about other agrarian posibilites and furthermore other natural resources period.

Oil/NatGas

Dwarves dig. We all agree on this much. If your world has Petroleum and Natural Gas, this might make for an interesting addition to the economy allowing for the evolution fo Dwarven Alchemists(Chemists). Wow. now that I think of it, wouldnt it be great if the Mithril shirt from the Hobbit wasnt made of metal dug up from the earth but from Kevlar spun from a Dwarven oil find. Note that finding stores fo these energy dense materials would also serve as a great fuel for forges and gets away from the 'Well where do the dwarves get the wood for fires?' question.

Geothermal

If you go with Geothermal heat as an energy source for your dwarves, then i recommend using the central shaft as the heat radiator. This way as the dwarves dig down, they alo get warmer, drier and more cozy. A fitting re-enforcement of their already borderline agoraphobic ways.

Non-Miniing Agriculture

The non-mining agriculture of dwarves falls into the 'Everyone else' category of labor and since it deals with contact with the world outside the mountain, it is probably not a 'First Choice' Career path for anyone but the most solitary and/or adventurous of thier ilk.

Dwarves could exist on a wide variety of fingi, molds and even insects, What I think might be more satisfying is the simple existence of pit traps. Consider this. After a Volume of a dwarfs space has been hollowed out, and he has lived his life, if the governent has no need of his cave(s) and they are close enough to the surface, one option is simply to sell off /assign the cavespace to someother dwarf who will then dig out to the fresh air. These caves allow small animals to fall through (into suitable cages in case itas a carnivore) and thus can provide meat. Kind of a mountain analog to 'trotline' fishing.

Also, rock providing, it seems that the concept of the flower pot, when affixed to a dwarven ceiling at fairly shallow depth might be an ideal place to grow and harvest root foods like carrots, potatoes, radishes, and othersuch things. Theoretically, the greenery of the plant above ground would also attract herbivores so it seems reasonable to interspace the 'dwarven fields' wtih pits that will allow animals to fall through.

Livestock

Because fo the amount fo space and food they require, it seems to me that there is little call for 'beasts of burden' in the traditional sense of the word, and dwarves would prefer to rely on machinery for any tasks that require lifting or moving that is beyond reasonable dwarven capacity. This limits the existence of livestock in dwarven culture and may even lead to some fear of those creatures due to their typically large size and foreign nature. It would however seem comepletly in line to have Moles, Gophers, and other burrowing rodents as both pets and food sources. Note that because they are found in caves, its not too farfetched a notion that they might also eat/domesticate bats. Bears seem likely given thier willingness to hibernate in caves, but due to thier large food requirements, domestication seems difficult.

Nymdok

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Old 01-12-2013, 05:04 PM   #18
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Default Re: Dwarven Governance & Economics?

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[SIZE="6"]
Oil/NatGas

Dwarves dig. We all agree on this much. If your world has Petroleum and Natural Gas, this might make for an interesting addition to the economy allowing for the evolution fo Dwarven Alchemists(Chemists).
  • Industrial dyes
  • Bakelite handles instead of wood
  • Bitumen
  • Gaslight


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Geothermal

If you go with Geothermal heat as an energy source for your dwarves, then i recommend using the central shaft as the heat radiator. This way as the dwarves dig down, they alo get warmer, drier and more cozy. A fitting re-enforcement of their already borderline agoraphobic ways.
It is just a matter of getting down through the aquifer bearing rocks. Also, it might be warm, but the fresh air venting would be a major undertaking at those depths. Dwarven surface structures could be dominated by massive air vents, supplying air down below.

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Non-Miniing Agriculture

...one option is simply to sell off /assign the cavespace to someother dwarf who will then dig out to the fresh air. These caves allow small animals to fall through (into suitable cages in case itas a carnivore) and thus can provide meat. Kind of a mountain analog to 'trotline' fishing.
Goblin sappers would just break open these traps in order to infiltrate a dwarven settlement. IMHO it would be better to just trade with non dwarves for food.

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Livestock

Because fo the amount fo space and food they require, it seems to me that there is little call for 'beasts of burden' in the traditional sense of the word, and dwarves would prefer to rely on machinery for any tasks that require lifting or moving that is beyond reasonable dwarven capacity. This limits the existence of livestock in dwarven culture and may even lead to some fear of those creatures due to their typically large size and foreign nature.
Feed lots for smaller stock, say pigs, and battery chicken farms. I can see dwarves and battery chickens as a natural fit.

Was discussing this with Greenneck last night, and he reminded me of my dwarven butcher character that I had in one of his games. She used a small Horse Cutter to butcher animals, but because she dealt with animals, her family and her would looked down on, similar to the lower castes in India, or the way that butchers and tannery workers were looked down on in medieval Japan.

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It would however seem comepletly in line to have Moles, Gophers, and other burrowing rodents as both pets and food sources.
Food sources seems a bit of a stretch. Not sure how they taste...
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:16 PM   #19
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Default Re: Dwarven Governance & Economics?

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[Moles as] Food sources seems a bit of a stretch. Not sure how they taste...
Nor do I, but hedgehogs apparently taste pretty good if you know how to cook them right. And doing things right is something of an obsession for dwarves. Pratchett's dwarfs prefer rat to beef, and while that's comic exaggeration, the idea that dwarves will use almost any food that's available is pretty plausible.
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Old 01-12-2013, 06:13 PM   #20
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Nor do I, but hedgehogs apparently taste pretty good if you know how to cook them right. And doing things right is something of an obsession for dwarves. Pratchett's dwarfs prefer rat to beef, and while that's comic exaggeration, the idea that dwarves will use almost any food that's available is pretty plausible.
Rabbits burrow, and rabbit is delicious.

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