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Old 09-15-2018, 09:48 PM   #1
(E)
 
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Default [GAME] Collaborative World Building Dwarven city as a start

Collaborative world building
Detailed here and here are some thoughts on how the farming systems might work for a dwarven city. It has been suggested that this might make an interesting setting seed for collaborative world building, so here goes.

Using the dwarven city of Knurlkyth as a start point, let's see what evolves.
Answer a question ask a question format.
Any mistakes in continuity that crop up might also be solved by asking the right question.
Feel free to expand beyond just the one city.

There are a number of switches in the write up that might be best selected as a side effect of other answers or as standing questions for later in the process. These questions are largely unimportant to the narrative but will likely change the population. To separate them from the normal questions they have been lettered.

A. Do the dwarves have access to relatively clear glass or a substitute?
B. Do the dwarves have access to “new world" crops such as potatoes?
C. Are the dwarves technically inclined enough to develop the seed drill earlier than humans did?
D. Do the dwarves farm fish?
E. Are minerals mined for agricultural use?
F. Are insects used to make better use of resources for food.

Question 1
The highest point in the city is about 5km above sea level. How deep are the mines beneath Knurlkyth? Why?
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Last edited by (E); 09-16-2018 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 09-16-2018, 12:52 AM   #2
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Default Re: [GAME] Collaborative World Building Dwarven city as a start

Quoting the linked posts here for convenience:

Quote:
Originally Posted by (E) View Post
Dwarven agriculture


Heat exchanger

Central to a dwarven cities habitability is a heat exchanger. This feat of civil engineering serves to both cool the depths of the city itself and extend the growing season of the alpine farms. In essence its it's just a rather deep hole in the ground that's filled with water. Water is typically sourced from a mountain glacier and is channeled to a deep central shaft. The fresh cooler water sinks then warms as a result of contact with the comparatively hot rock of the depths. This warmer water rises to the surface and as it is displaced by the incoming water it overflows into the irrigation and warming system for the alpine crops and farms.
The waste warmth is further used to assist in the movement of air throughout the city and its associated mines. The hot air that is the byproduct of this process is used to disrupt the pockets of still air that cause frosts. This system will require a considerable amount more complexity than has been suggested here. Additionally there may be shafts and tunnels at lower levels allowing for incoming air or outgoing water. The water may have additional uses as a power source and defensive measure.

The surface microclimate generated by a dwarven city is not enough to defeat winter but it is enough to extend the growing season by several weeks, effectively lowering the altitude.

Systems

Heated terraces
Amaranth, field peas, cowpeas, beets and turnips
These have been built in a similar manner to the terraced fields seen in the high mountains of South America, Nepal or Tibet(?). The dwarves have added some refinements though. The retaining walls are obviously partially made with darker stone to absorb more heat from the sun. Less visible are the internal channels in the base of the walls that distribute the warmer water from the city.
Terrace like structures are also used for mineral extraction, salt would be purified this way if no deposits of sufficient purity exist. But any water soluble compounds could be processed this way leading to a situation where minerals might be harvested from a field.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maras,_Peru

Valley
While humans have been developing wheat that yields more grain the dwarves have been concentrating on strains of wheat that are more frost resistant and otherwise more suited to high altitude conditions. Winter wheat plantings are most likely which has two effects, a 20% increase in yield as well as increased protein in the resulting flour, meaning harder bread. Dwarven wheat may be bred to have a high protein content in general as it allows the resulting flour to be augmented with puffball based flour. How ever wheat is never going to be as altitude tolerant as pseudo cereals and is planted in the lower valleys along with other crops like barley, oats, brassica and beans.

Behind glass
It is unlikely that the dwarves would have the materials required to produce large amounts of clear glass. But if they did double glazed glass fronted structures heated with the waste air from the city would dominate. Traditional greenhouses would be unlikely due to the extremes of snowfall. The heat from the city may even be sufficient to grow high altitude tropical plants, Dwarven coffee to help recover from last night's dwarven ale?
One benefit to having even a small area under glass is that plants can be started inside while it is too cool outside stretching the available growing season.

Variations in crop types
Growing crops at extreme altitudes means farming in conditions that are too extreme for traditional cereal crops. Pseudo cereals are a likely replacement for the role filled by more usual cereals at lower altitudes. Pseudo cereals are simply put non grasses that yield an edible seed like cereals. Given the presumed age of a dwarven civilization it is likely that they have bred plants for consumption like various human cultures have done in the past. Amaranth is a group of pseudo cereals that was bred for the conditions in the Andes. While this is a new world plant variety it is a reasonable assumption that the dwarves developed a similar plant.

Animals
Sheep are a likely mainstay of Dwarven animal husbandry. Seasonally moved between low valleys/animal sheds, quality pasture, high altitude pasture and fallow or harvested fields and terraces. Providing wool, dairy and meat. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roquefort . If high altitude forests are nearby then cattle may have the advantage. Cattle are used for deliberate nutrient migration in some high altitude areas. The animals are grazed on undeveloped land and then moved so their manure fertilizes the fields. If the dwarves shed the animals for winter smaller breeds may dominate if they do not the inverse may be true.

Crop rotation
At very high altitudes conditions can be harsh enough to significantly reduce the number of pests that can damage plants. The use of livestock to migrate nutrients and the dwarves’ access to subterranean sources of plant nutrients means soil requires less “resting”. As such crop rotation is of less importance. Fields only need to spend at most 1 year in 4 fallow.

Fungi
The dwarves will have been farming fungi for quite some time and as result by human metrics they are advanced in the area. As there are nitrogen inputs from bat guano and livestock the biggest bottleneck for mycoculture will be access to a bulk growing medium for the various fungi.

Wood based
A byproduct of the cities consumption of wood is sawdust and wood chip. There are numerous varieties of wood mushrooms that can grow rapidly in a such a medium.
Plant based
The amaranth is presumably not a modern semi-dwarf variety, as such it will produce a lot of waste matter that can be used for mushroom production while it composts.
Other - insect
There are several edible and medicinal fungi species that grow on other mediums. These are harder to source than wood or basic plant matter so they would be used for high value products such as medicines and delicacies. One of these is the Caterpillar fungus
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophiocordyceps_sinensis

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophi...ceps_robertsii

These or similar fungi may also be propagated for use as biological pesticides in crops.
Two main fungal based systems would probably develop, a house garden equivalent where food is grown fresh by each family and a more labour efficient system where many different varieties are produced by professionals.
Varieties
Bioluminescent, these may be propagated in situ.
Edible, varieties to be consumed fresh would be more common in the household gardens while species that are later processed or are difficult to cultivate would be more common in the professional gardens. This may include puffballs for flour additives, various preserved varieties and other species with more industrial applications.

Orchards
Likely species Cherries, Pears, Plums, Apples, Black Walnuts, Butternuts, Pine Nuts.

Potatoes
If the dwarves have access to potatoes it would provide huge benefits as they do well at altitude.

Seed drill

Dwarves that have a mechanical inclination may have developed the seed drill earlier than humans did in history. If so increase yields of grain crops by 10-15%

Dwarven vs Human agriculture
Water
Slight improvement in irrigation ability and irrigation infrastructure is more widely developed. Drainage generally excellent.
Food/nutrients
Poor base levels in mountain soils but improved soil composition through management and resources such as composted mushroom growing medium.
Health
High altitude and knowledge of fungi have a good effect, reduced somewhat by the more intense rotation used.
Management
Well developed infrastructure balanced against difficult terrain. Faster rotation increased total yields.
Climate
Very hard climate offset partially by infrastructure and breeding.
Genetics
Typical to the TL in most areas, improved availability of high altitude crops, mycoculture well developed.

Knurlkyth
This is an older and larger dwarven city located higher in the mountains than humans care to live. The bulk of the city is in a column shaped area that extends down from one of the high valleys in the mountain range. This area is cooled by six dwarf made shafts that are continually filled with glacial meltwater. On the surface the upper gates to the city are surrounded by many acres of terraced fields made from dark coloured stone, an unseasonal mist hangs in the air.
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Old 09-16-2018, 12:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: [GAME] Collaborative World Building Dwarven city as a start

Second post quote:


Quote:
Originally Posted by (E) View Post
Knurlkyth
Crunch
Knurlkyth is an older Dwarven city dating back before the fall of the High Elves. While rich in many metals and minerals It was not founded in the pursuit of underground resources. It instead began its life as a training ground where Dwarves and Twilight Elves developed the foundations of several martial traditions.

A well developed network of aqueducts and tunnels brings water from several sources higher qin the mountains. These feed into the six cooling shafts that largely surround the subterranean parts of the city. A percentage of the water flowing into the city is used to power the machinery that makes the residents lives easier, a central shaft houses elevators that move ore and rubble up from the depths. A second more isolated shaft draws the more pungent waste up from the city to an area of tunnels and rooms near the surface where this and other waste is processed.

High gate (terraced farms)
The waste and heated water are then used in the terraces which densely line the parts of the mountain valleys that collect the most sunshine. Grain crops cover these terraces more densely than they do on the human fields at lower elevations. About a third of the area around the high gate is under intense cultivation.
Amaranth, due to the small size of the seed amaranth does not benefit from the use of an early seed drill. For every pound of amaranth grain produced six pounds of material is collected for fungus production with another three pounds consumed by animals or used for other purposes. Another crop is grown in the more marginal areas around the high gate is miscanthus (a.k.a Silver grass or Elephant grass) Producing around eight tonnes of carbon rich material per acre miscanthus is used where wood would normally be used in places below the tree line. This is a grass that can grow to about 10 feet in height. This provides a sulphur free fuel source close to where its needed, coal would be used in areas where sulphur isn't an issue.

While the majority of the fields grow the amaranth equivalent some areas are rested in an irregular fashion and used to grow peas, greens and root crops. In terms of grain production the intensive dwarven terraced system produces forty percent as much per planted acre as more traditional wheat at lower altitudes. Without the necessity of crop rotation the land the dwarves can put under plow (roughly 1/3rd) is comparable in grain production, if not total actual food production to human farms at lower altitudes.

In general the produce from the area around the High gate is low in carbohydrates. To partially overcome this the animals farmed in the area would be bred and raised for a higher fat content. The animal fat would also be of use in the production of metal and leather items.

An area approximately 20 by 5 miles is farmed in this manner with animals being herded around the higher pastures surrounding the area as conditions permit. This results in about 20000 acres for food production. Unseasonal storms are a constant risk. This produces 4500 tons of grain

Middle gate (field)
This is a mix of more typical farming methods revolving around a typical three field or (scandinavian/northern european) four field system and the terraced system the dwarves use at higher altitudes. The techniques from higher altitudes are also used here, though they are used less intensely. For example the terraced fields could be as narrow as three or four meters near the high gate while near the middle gate they may be twenty or thirty meters wide. Many other cereal crops are possible at this altitude, presuming dwarven dietary requirements are similar to human ones carbohydrate rich crops will be important. The rubble generated by the city is also used to make higher quality roads than are normally encountered. Irrigation is well developed. Defensive structures such as retaining walls are incorporated with the agricultural infrastructure. (There is less incentive to have these defenses higher up because armies from low altitudes are put off when they start coughing up their lungs)

An area twice the size of the high gate system is cultivated. Oats, barley and pasture account for most of the land area though other crops are grown in rotation. The intense infrastructure allow the selected crops to be grown slightly better than a comparable human farming community at lower altitude. (15-20%). This is the result of the many years of work that has been put into the originally poor area.

Lower gate
This entrance houses a small community of dwarves who both trade dwarven products and provide the city with wood and timber. They source the wood from the forest surrounding the river near the entrance. This is taken by water to a system of locks inside the lower gate that lift the wood to the mills within the city itself. Not much is grown around the lower gates due to the semi-regular flooding, this leaves visitors with the impression that the dwarves have no surface agriculture.

High altitude forestry
Timber of a very high quality is produced slowly at several locations around the high and middle gates. This is an irrigated forest that grows at least half as fast as it would if it was at lower altitude. The wood produced is 10-30% stronger and denser however.

Farming within the mountain
The resources harvested from around the high gate allow for up to 24000 tonnes of fungus to be produced. Assuming half of this is used for lightning and medicine this leaves 12000 tonnes for consumption. 2000 tonnes is used for puffball flour production resulting in 120 tonnes of flour additive. 2000 tonnes are probably wasted or fed to “storage” animals. This leaves 8000 tonnes for food, however assuming a dietary maximum of 40% fungal sources each dwarf consumes not much more that 300 lbs per annum. As a result production capacity isn't the restricting factor here, maximum consumption is. They can easily grow more fungi than they need.

Depending on the exact mycocultural requirements raw materials (wood and hay/straw) are brought into the mountain where they are either pasteurized with boiling water or used as animal bedding in shallow well ventilated cave/shed systems. This enriches the material with nitrogen and begins the decomposition process, the material is then heated to sterilize it before the spores from the desired fungi are added. Once the mushroom crop is harvested the growing medium is composted and added back into the soil. It is also easy to stockpile the growing medium in dry form for sieges and other similar locked in situations.

Heating the growing medium before the spores are added may use recycled heat from any smelters and forges if there is sufficient energy remaining to carry the smoke and fumes out of the city. A very deep borehole might also serve as a source of extremely hot water. Alternately firewood or dried miscanthus could be used as a heat source. Coal could be utilized but care must be taken to keep the smoke and residue separate from the fungi.

Animals
The High Gate terraces produce little in the way of carbohydrates, this means animal production will be limited. Sheep, goats and cattle can be grazed on pasture and forested areas around the city. They are brought inside for short periods of time in the depths of winter when even the pastures at comparatively low altitudes are snowed under. Poultry are found in the very few farming villages on the surface. This is due to a lack of light reducing the laying capability. The manure from this birds is very useful for mycoculture however. Pigs (or other omnivores) are kept near the living areas of the dwarves where they are used as both a food storage system and a means of recycling waste food. Fungi fodder crops are grown for them but they need a more varied diet than mushrooms alone. (The fungi are basically used to bulk out their diet)

Switches
Aquaculture
The need to provide carbohydrates for omnivorous species such as tilapia means they are not an attractive option for inside the cooling boreholes. However species like Grass Carp would likely do well in the existing irrigation system. Without special attention they might add up to five percent to the food output of the terraced system. If fields are flooded to allow them to eat the weeds and remnants of (primarily) pea and other crops larger numbers could be supported. This would require crops to be planted as fish food for other parts of the year. Some hybrid systems with fish in rice paddies add 30% to the total food output.

Mining for fertilizer
It is possible that the dwarves with their focus on minerals may develop the knowledge of basic mineral fertilizers. If so yields may be up by 20%. The biggest change this would make is how fast a section of poor mountain soil could be turned into a fertile field.

Insects
Another possibility is using insects to turn waste plant and fungal material into protein and fat for carnivorous or omnivorous animals, this would allow for subterranean aquaculture, larger pork production and increased poultry numbers.

Depending on the setting this agricultural systems would support a secretive dwarven population of 5-10,000, a self sufficient population of 10,000-20,000 or a thriving population of 25,000+ who trade for food with other groups.
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Old 09-16-2018, 01:01 AM   #4
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Default Re: [GAME] Collaborative World Building Dwarven city as a start

Finally, one of these I can get into on the ground floor, as it were!

Quote:
Originally Posted by (E) View Post
Question 1
The highest point in the city is about 5km above sea level. How deep are the mines beneath Knurlkyth? Why?
The deepest point in Knurlkyth is actually relatively shallow, only about a hundred feet below the local terrain baseline (about 1 mile above sea level). This is because of an ancient belief among the dwarves that if they ever delve deeper than the depth of the lowest body of water in their territory, a terrible fate will occur. Whether this is true prophecy or merely superstition is unknown, but it's entrenched enough among the dwarves that they don't test it (though there has been some talk of dredging a lake to artificially lower the critical depth).

Question 2:
What are the three most important goods, by trade value, that Knurlkyth produces?

Quote:
Originally Posted by (E)
A. Do the dwarves have access to relatively clear glass or a substitute?
B. Do the dwarves have access to “new world crops such as potatoes?
C. Are the dwarves technically inclined enough to develop the seed drill earlier than humans did?
D. Do the dwarves farm fish?
E. Are minerals mined for agricultural use?
F. Are insects used to make better use of resources for food.
These all sound cool to me, so I vote "yes" on all of them. Further, I'd like to suggest that, in addition to New World crops, the dwarves also have access to New World livestock, specifically the llama. Inca-esque dwarves, with potatoes as a staple, llamas as beasts of burden, and an extensive textile culture, is an idea I saw before in something similar, and it's always interested me.
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Old 09-16-2018, 07:26 AM   #5
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Default Re: [GAME] Collaborative World Building Dwarven city as a start

1A Do they have glass or a substitute?

Yes and they also shape and polish parts of the surrounding mountain to reflect light to extend the growing season. https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/20...alleys/100613/
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Old 09-16-2018, 12:02 PM   #6
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A. Do the dwarves have access to relatively clear glass or a substitute?
Answer A
It's probably easy enough for them to make broad sheet glass for glass houses. The quality and clarity would be quite low, but still adequate for the purpose of extending the growing season. The nearby halfling city-states, with access to purer materials, produce some of the region's higher quality glass products, but it's difficult for Knurlkyth to acquire much.

Quote:
B. Do the dwarves have access to “new world crops such as potatoes?
C. Are the dwarves technically inclined enough to develop the seed drill earlier than humans did?
Answers B,C
I'll say "it depends" for these. How much would the new world crops replace what we have so far?

And for the seed drill- which human culture do you mean? China and India apparently had early versions, and there were European ones in the 1550s and 1600s. I'd give the dwarves something between that and the 19th century version, whatever that would look like.

Quote:
D. Do the dwarves farm fish?
E. Are minerals mined for agricultural use?
F. Are insects used to make better use of resources for food.
Answers D, E, F
All these I'd put under the umbrella of "use it if it's useful". I don’t see the dwarves turning away from a useful technology (or biotech) that they've heard of or come up with if it improves their situation somehow.

Fish would give them a different protein source to rely on, and would keep pests under control. (Besides, I can't deny a suggestion I originally made…)

Being miners and working with smelting and glass-making chemicals, it would be unusual for them not to experiment with agricultural uses, so this would be a natural synergy of them mining and farming in the same space.

And insects would be used if they're useful, and probably end up on the dinner table too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
Question 2:
What are the three most important goods, by trade value, that Knurlkyth produces?
Answer 2- Trade Goods
1) Amaranth Sour Beer
Amaranth seeds make a spicy beer with a thick, persistent head. May sometimes be flavoured with amaranth flowers too, giving it a deep red hue.

2) Caterpillar Fungus, and its cousin, Corpse Fungus
The caterpillar fungus, found in the wild meadows above 4000 metres as a stalk sticking out from its mummified caterpillar host, is a highly valued folk remedy, taken in tea or cooked in soup or chicken dishes. It is supposed to improve vigour and vitality, cure diseases and relieve impotency. Herbalists use it as the basis for potions of strength or healing as well as aphrodisiacs. This is one of the most valuable trade commodities for dwarves across the region and is referred to as purple gold.

The Knurlkyth spore-masters long ago found a locally unique strain of the fungus that can spore in the dermis of humanoids. Cultivating it on the corpse of a recently deceased dwarf allows the fungus to gradually desiccate and mummify the corpse, from which it can then be harvested. The fungal mummification is a standard part of the local burial custom, but thence trading in the fungus for its purported magical properties is both blasphemous and highly illegal… except for one source. Criminals condemned for crimes heinous or treasonous enough are incarcerated alive in the spore pits, where they are slowly and painfully consumed by the fungus. Harvesting the fungus from these victims is hardly condoned, but this would have to be the only source possible for the fungal stalks that appear on the local black market, complete with attached identifiable pieces of humanoid anatomy, wouldn’t it?

3) Artisanal Weapons and Armour
Knurl the Firstsmith founded the city as a locus of fine weapon manufacture in the early era of it being a major centre for the martial arts. In a philosophical argument with the elven warmaster, Lornegei, over which is superior in combat - the perfectly trained warrior armed with but a broken tree branch, or the perfectly equipped warrior with little training - Knurl the Firstsmith embarked on a quest to create the perfect weapon.

He and his descendants are responsible for many of the metallurgic and hoplological advances accredited to dwarven weapon-crafting. Knurlkyth is now known for producing some of the region's best individual weapon or armour creations, but as each piece is unique they command a high price. For mass-manufacture of quality weapons to arm your host, you should seek audience with some of their neighbours instead.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dcarson View Post
Yes and they also shape and polish parts of the surrounding mountain to reflect light to extend the growing season. https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/20...alleys/100613/
They polish the bare rock or metal mirrors?
I was thinking of having sun mirrors across the valleys too, but I wanted to know if the city is supposed to be hidden from casual observation first.

-----

Question 4
What is the name and title of the current leader(s) of Knurlkyth.
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Old 09-16-2018, 02:52 PM   #7
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Default Re: [GAME] Collaborative World Building Dwarven city as a start

Proper sheet glass is a modern invention that requires techniques and technologies that were not developed until the 19th century (late-TL5). Now, the dwarves could have late TL5 glassmaking, but it would be their major export because every nation in their world would desire their superior glass products. The value of their glass products would be so great that using it to facilitate food production would probably be considered as wasteful as using gold for their sewage pipes.

I can imagine several adventures based around shipping sheet glass from the dwarven nation to distant human nations. The sheet glass would have to be padded with massive amounts of wool to protect it from damage and, with a value tenfold its weight in gold at its destination, merchants would hire guards to protect the shipment at every stage. The sheet glass would be used in every palace, though nations in colder climates would especially value it for their palaces.
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Old 09-16-2018, 03:56 PM   #8
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Default Re: [GAME] Collaborative World Building Dwarven city as a start

Quote:
Originally Posted by (E) View Post
A. Do the dwarves have access to relatively clear glass or a substitute?
B. Do the dwarves have access to “new world" crops such as potatoes?
C. Are the dwarves technically inclined enough to develop the seed drill earlier than humans did?
D. Do the dwarves farm fish?
E. Are minerals mined for agricultural use?
F. Are insects used to make better use of resources for food.
Additional
A. The glass wouldn't need to be of plate glass quality, early tile glass would be sufficient if it was clear. Some of the earliest plants grown under cover used oiled material that only let in a small amount of light. Palace gardens are also common enough in history, cucumbers all year round for emperors.
B. Having potatoes and other New World root crops increases the carbohydrate production at the High Gate. The potatoes and other root crops would require a rotation and likely take up 1/4 of the cropping area leaving the rest unchanged. The end result might be either a 20% increase in production or decreased need for the Middle Gate system.
C. I was thinking about the later Jethro Tull version or something similar. Sorry for the omission. It would benefit the Middle Gate system the most, again maybe a 20% improvement.
D. Fish farming indoors would require either insects or grain production from the Middle Gate.
F. Likely insects include alpine crickets, wax worms and for consuming fungus maybe slugs.

I'll forgo answering questions just yet, no matter how much I want too. Here is the current question.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daigoro View Post
Question 4
What is the name and title of the current leader(s) of Knurlkyth.
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Last edited by (E); 09-16-2018 at 04:12 PM.
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Old 09-16-2018, 04:35 PM   #9
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Default Re: [GAME] Collaborative World Building Dwarven city as a start

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daigoro View Post
Question 4
What is the name and title of the current leader(s) of Knurlkyth.
The current leader is a middle-aged dwarf named Knurl (as all leaders of Knurlkyth have been named since its founding). Her name prior to assuming the mantle of leadership was Darada Spore-wise. Her rule has been adequate but uninspiring. She harbors a feeling of inferiority that's not as secret as she assumes, and as she approaches the later years of her reign it's affecting her decision-making. Her title is First Forgewright.

Question 5:

What do the dwarves of Knurlkyth believe to be the greatest threat to their way of life, and are they right?

(to get us away from the dwarf-hold a bit and start building the neighborhood)
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Old 09-16-2018, 09:09 PM   #10
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Default Re: [GAME] Collaborative World Building Dwarven city as a start

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I'll forgo answering questions just yet, no matter how much I want too. Here is the current question.
We usually start off with one question at a time to establish the premise, but as you've already given us a pretty firm one we could probably open up to having a few concurrent questions.
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