Known far and wide as dwarves and the “people of the stone” the Khurfel are a hardy and gifted race. Blessed with both a remarkable sense of aesthetics and a good head for the practical … (continue)
When it comes to dealings with other races, the Khurfel are generally happy to keep to themselves and to continue working the stones and metal they love so much. The Khurfel thus have very little contact with the outside world. The one exception to this is Undercity Khurest, which has regular dealings with the humans of Emtoch-Iser. (continue)
The Khurfel are mainly organized along family and then greater clan ties. The dwarven nations (if they can be called that) are networks of allied families ruled mostly by the dynamics of power politics. Family comes before individual, city, and racial level interests most of the time. When one clan gains recognized dominance in a particular city, the patriarch of the clan usually takes the title of “Jarl.” Claiming this title is often dangerous business, but if the claimants are able to hold their position despite all challenges, the claimant’s family becomes the ruling family and their larger clan becomes the acting nobility for the city. This arrangement lasts as long as the clan can hold their position, though once dominant enough to claim this title, these clans usually have little trouble holding their position.
Because clan loyalty is so strong, the Khurfel often have difficulty organizing themselves in groups larger than the city level. When a city grows too large for the current Jarl’s clan to influence and control effectively, the city usually splits to avoid a total and bloody alliance conflict. Clans or families who find it in their best interests to move generally migrate to a new area and found a new undercity.
Every twenty years sees a council of Jarls, which meets in the Halls of Rulership. The hall of Rulership is its own location outside the influnece of the undercities, and is under the care of the High Temple of the Dark Maiden. Mutual benefits and concerns are usually the topic of discussion.
Religiously, the Khurfel worship mainly the second prime face of the One Divine: the Dark Maiden, Keeper of Secrets and Protector of those who live in shadow (darkness/hiddenness not evil) and those who are lost. Because of the nature of the Dark Maiden, non-discursive (apophatic) meditation is a popular form of worship, which is good, because it helps to temper (if not entirely mitigate) rivalry between clans for influence and power.
Dwarves who hear the call to religious orders cut all clan ties and are often moved to new cities; thus the Temple is often the only source of unbiased dispute arbitration in any Khurfel city. Because of this, one entire branch of the clergy is dedicated to judging and arbitration in every dwarven city. In addition to the Arbiters, the Temple is divided into the Shadow-smiths, who deal with the various needs of the people, and the scholastic Dark-shapers, who write theology and doctrine.
The rituals of etiquette are vital to the smooth functioning of dwarven society, so much so that the Khurfel word for “foreigner” translates roughly to “barbarian-who-knows-not-ritual”. The Khurfel have ritualized almost all forms of social intercourse which makes the warmth and sincerity with which they deal with each other (or at least those from the same clan) all the more striking. This strict formal code of behavior is only broken ritually in specific situations such as weddings and celebrations…. in which case drinking and dancing until you’ve lost all inhibitions is the “ritually polite” thing to do.
Though some of the humans of Jermiah have manged to grasp the basics of dwarven etiquette, the intricacy of Khurfel ritual codes are as staggering as a language. Since the Khurfel look very poorly on primitive anthropological fieldwork, little more than the bare basics can be learned from any non-dwarves.