View Full Version : [9th Age] Tips for Background Writing

Karak Norn Clansman
10-06-2016, 12:54
Copy-pasted from the 9th Age Forum, in case anyone would find it useful in their own story-writing or suchlike:

You are free to use any and all of my stories and background material as basis for your background. You are also free to use any and all Warhammer illustrations of mine straight off, should you find anything useful. You'll find the most dense pieces written by me and others in here (http://www.chaos-dwarfs.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=14539), and the rest in the other links in my (Admiral's) signature on CDO. And don't miss Thommy H's army book (http://www.chaos-dwarfs.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=14481&page=1) or Grimstonefire's WIP Liber Chaotica: Hashut (http://www.chaos-dwarfs.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=11010).

My tip is to make your own background as rich as possible, with as many possibilities for players to fit in their own strongholds and themed armies as you can cram into the fluff. There should be a bewildering plethora of different cults and sects worshipping different aspects of the same god, and even, heretically, different gods. There should be lots of nods to the wider otherworldly realm of Daemons, and lots of ties-in to your version of Chaos and Daemons. These are Daemonsmiths and enslavers of Daemons, and this should show in their mythology and permeate their worldview.

Likewise, their brutality and ravenous hunger for power, slaves and conquest shall be the lead words. Theirs is an imperial society built upon domination and the trampling of the weak; upon cruelty and fell deeds to make a heart of stone bleed. Their religious practices are ritualized cruelty, their language is harsh, their treatment of slaves and others is abominable. Their Dwarven roots are still apparent in their craftsmanship, their hardiness, their stubborn nature, their conservativeness, their loyalty to clan and kin, and their inventiveness; but theirs is a corrupted nature, a twisted nature, one defiled and violated by an unyielding and oppressive (bull) god demanding sacrifices, wars and great labours and monuments to be erected in His dark glory, to praise His might and virility, and to stamp His dominion and His chosen tribe's dominion over lesser mortals and over life and nature itself. Theirs is a worldview of mysticism, of dark omens and of the capricious will of cruel gods on high. Theirs is a dark empire, a realm of shadow and flame, of ash and slag, of smoke and molten rock, of metal and soot, of enormous slave plantations and hellish manufactories and (primarily) open-pit mines scarring the face of the earth itself. They are a mysterious people, an enigmatic race, one obsessed with order and chaos alike. Their culture would be strictly patriarchical (in contrast to uncorrupted dwarves), with harems and polygamy where their distant, hated cousins are monogamous, and their entire lives would be geared toward producing as many children, slaves, crafts objects, great works, conquests and heinous new discoveries as possible. Theirs is a realm of wastelands, but not bereft of navigable rivers and coastlines. Always leave room for lots of naval combat, and the ability of powers to reach across the globe with fleets and battle all other factions!

Make abundant use of ancient historical sources in Mesopotamia in particular, but also in surrounding bronze age territories such as Anatolia where appropriate. Learn from Assyrian cruelty and propaganda, and from both Assyrian and Roman ingenuity, warcraft, industrious nature and brutal conquests. Learn from their systems of slavery, of their deportations and killings and maimings and flayings and geldings. Know that the Infernal Dwarves' worldview is one of strength and weakness, of master and slave and of soaring ambitions carried on the broken backs of foes and slaves alike; not of right or wrong or good or evil. Their morality is entirely different. Ancient pagan/polytheistic religions will serve well as a basis here, not least in their mythology. Yet learn also from the 19th century industrial revolution, and make a twist for the darker, with uncounted masses of Orcs, Goblins, humans and others trapped in the treadmills of infernal industry. And by no means ignore Tolkien's ingenious showcase of Mordor Orcs' slavery in that nightmare landscape. And do not shy away from tying your version of Chaos Dwarfs well into the wider Chaos, as is right and proper.

Just a tip. Feel free to explore mine and others' writings on CDO to see for yourself. :)

One thing to consider, is how you portray Infernal Dwarf numbers. In 4th edition forward, GW portrayed Chaos Dwarfs as very small in number and reliant on vast hordes of slaves. However, in Tamurkhan, FW realized that the more life there is, the more death there can be, and the more there are, the more you can do. As such, FW CD background took a U-turn in this regard and made the CDs a slowly but relentlessly expanding empire with a slowly but relentlessly expanding CD population, despite occassional disastrous bumps in the road. I realized the same thing when I started to write CD fluff, and played up FW's slow population increase with harems glowing hot, so that you had vanilla Dwarfs slowly declining from ancestral greatness, and Chaos Dwarfs slowly ascending from ancestral smalldom.

By all means portray Infernal Dwarves as a minority of their realms' populations compared to their hordes upon hordes of slaves, but my advice is to don't overdo it, and by no means stress that the total numbers are very small, because they shouldn't be. The more beards you have, the easier it is to throw away thousands here and there in wars and catastrophes and slave revolts without the impact seeming too stark, as has always been the case with High Elf and vanilla Dwarf disasters in WHFB.

Tolkien set the course for Elves and Dwarves as doomed to decline and ever diminishing. So very much else he came up with was brilliant, but as a standard resort in fantasy this theme is truly a scourge to the genre. It's time to break free from doomed elder races, at the very least in case of Dark Elves and Infernal Dwarves to underline that they have chosen a very different path from their less malignant cousins, and are reaping the benefits from it. (Ideally, one would see many places where strong elder races have utterly defeated and pushed humans to the margins to live and fight among Greenskins and other wild races, but I understand if 9th Age won't do this because of faith to the inspirational fantasy material.)

1: Take note from the very best fantasy maps, and aim to make a detailed world with lots of waterways, isles, peninsulas, rivers and seas that stretches long inland at places, thereby enabling each and every faction access to raid, trade, send out settlers and attack one another via the great highway of the preindustrial world. Water. This is one example of how it can be done:


In other words, don't make the world just a mass of jumbled-together shapeless blocks without interesting shapes (not that there is much risk of this, but still).

2: When making up the world, always add more cities, kingdoms, rump states, smaller realms, independent citystates, mage centres, mystical ruins of ancient time, peoples and tribes than you at first stretch might be inclined to. The more the merrier, and the more there is, the easier it is for people to imagine their army's home region to have a place. This drive for lots of small fringe stuff and a varied patchwork of a map should of course not mean that you would shy away from having some large, dominant empires, such as Sonnenstahl, which are major driving forces in the world.

3: Pirates, sea monsters, cursed areas of sea (magical Bermuda triangle, basically, perhaps where some ancient mumbojumbo lies sunk beneath the waves). These are always welcome. Pirate coves, infamous monster lairs, permanent maelstroms and the like could dot the coastlines and oceans, adding some variety and areas of lethal peril, some of which may be hard to avoid for merchantment because of bottleneck straits. Perhaps even a ghostly sea battle or two raging for all times between zombies and ghasts upon rotting-away hulks at a cursed spot.

4: Always leave lots of sparsely populated hinterlands, wastelands, deep forests, mountains and other wild areas, where political control might be infrequent and fragile at best, and where often independent sedentary peoples may try to carve out a living never far from a fortified holdfast, while the wilds are roamed by greenskins, undead, beastmen, monsters and whatnot.

5: Have hints at sunken or underwater civilizations, hints at fishfolk, hints at wars raging under water, hints at coastal villages where the inhabitants disappeared, carried beneath the waves by mysterious sea peoples, according to scared and disbelieved witnesses. Always fun.

6: Don't be shy of adding colossal monuments. And the odd canal and tunnel. Maybe even warning beacon system(s). And some border walls (http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-famous-border-walls) akin to Danevirke (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danevirke), Hadrian's Wall, Limes, the Sumerians' Amorite wall and the various walls of the Chinese warring states (http://www.sacu.org/maps/WarringStates.png), which predated the great wall.

Much of these are obvious things, especially for anyone familiar with Warhammer, but it won't hurt to mention them out of good hope for a truly phenomenal fantasy world getting fleshed out by the hard-working 9th Age Team.

Got any more tips and ideas of your own to share? Then fire away!

I recall that the Dev Team said they were going to use a map closely modeled after the real world...
Which, unless the map is already set in stone with no changes allowed (and without knowing how that map actually looks), gives us a good example of how to apply the above tips: Make corresponding continents of South America and Africa more interesting in coastlines than they are in reality. Retain their shapes, but break up their coastal areas a bit with jutting peninsulas at odd places and bays and lagoons at others, add some more isles. The corresponding patch of Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Zanzibar could be a narrow, hooked archipelago. The Horn of Africa could be allowed to be well into breaking apart from the continent (since it's a geological process a bit underway in reality; in fantasy you could even have lavalands where the sea rift ends), thereby creating a narrow rift sea as the tectonic plates pull it apart. Leave some softer curves to said continents, nothing should be busy everywhere. Also, the sea and waterways could be allowed to stretch well into the equivalent of Central Asia by having some kind of connection between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea (https://www.quora.com/Ancient-History-When-did-shipping-begin-in-the-Caspian-Sea-In-other-words-when-were-people-goods-first-transported-across-the-Caspian-on-a-regular-basis), a simple little twist to a real-world based map based on real-world natural history.

Just some friendly tips, from someone who has drawn fantasy and real world maps since 8 years of age, and has seen a lot of fantasy maps. The aesthetic lessons from it all seem to point in one direction: Do sealines more interesting than this bulk (http://i1.wp.com/www.tor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/randland-small.jpg?fit=429%2C%209999&crop=0%2C0%2C100%2C321px). Basing something on the real world map isn't a hindrance. :)

Do a better job than Games Workshop in portraying practically globally widespread wild races. Someone who thought that Orcs & Goblins only existed in the Old World and Dark Lands could be forgiven, since GW took very little opportunity to use them elsewhere. There were possibly some frost Goblins in Naggaroth, Savage Orcs in Southlands, and by 8th edition Black Orcs in the Mountains of Mourn (a very clever addition on GW's part, which brought the Warhammer world into the Ogre Kingdoms). For the 9th Age equivalents, make use of Greenskins at many different continents. There should be Greenskins from Nippon and Cathay to Ind, Araby, Estalia, Naggaroth and Lustria. Orcs & Goblins are always good enemies to have close at hand, and a good guarantee there'll always be war in a fantasy world.

Also, having them globally widespread opens up doors such as Sand Trolls in Greenskin armies roaming the hinterlands of Araby, shaggy frost giants and ice Goblins at the shores of Antarctica, and Greenskins armed with sharpened bamboo weaponry in the far east. Most of these new local variants, or even all of them, wouldn't ever warrant any new option or unit type whatsoever in the army list, but could inspire players to convert and paint unique armies built around strong exotic themes.

For Beastmen, you'd see Tigors in Ind and have Satyrs/Gors common in forests and jungles almost everywhere, although they'd be harshly pressed and far from thriving nearby Wood Elf and Lizardmen lands (and also, if this hasn't already been implemented in the Sylvan Elf background, please include many far-flung scattered Wood Elf enclaves and little forest kingdoms making their encounters at the battlefield with armies from foreign parts seem that much more credible than the Athel Loren-focussed WHFB variant).

You want marauding wild races almost everywhere, including duking it out not just a little in the equivalent to the Chaos Wastes. Expect to see some Marauders with flayed Orc hide cloaks.

Just a tip. :)

10-06-2016, 21:41
Mmh. Plenty of good advices, but am I allowed to find it cringe-worthy to also see advices such as "in deserts, make sand trolls, in snow areas, make frost giants" etc?

Karak Norn Clansman
11-06-2016, 12:10
Cringe whenever you feel like it, but it can hardly be more awkward than having stone/cave trolls in mountainous terrain or river trolls in watery terrain. In fact it just plays along existing lines, and assumes great adaptabiliy to local conditions in troll species. And shaggy giants in cold climes is a standing fantasy theme, which would easily find a home in such an all-inclusive fantasy smörgåsbord setting as Warhammer or 9th Age.

Proposing to introduce e.g. a fiery lava realm with fire giants (Muspelheim) and a misty glacier realm with ice giants (Nifelheim) would be to break those lines and strike out for something new for a Warhammer world, and thus decidedly more cringe-worthy. :)

Karak Norn Clansman
25-05-2018, 00:22
Shot them a proposal on Avras in T9A. (http://www.the-ninth-age.com/index.php?thread/30153-avras/&postID=759795#post759795) If you've got any ideas of your own, then join in that thread.






Originally posted here. (https://www.the-ninth-age.com/index.php?thread/32189-elven-urban-planning-landscape-architecture/&postID=832601#post832601)


One way to reinforce the non-Human impression of Highborn Elves, is to break away from long-standing real life Human design forms in architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture and the like. Stark and simple geometric designs are standard when Humans map out buildings and street networks: There are squares, rectangles, circles, octagonals and a combination of such simple geometric forms. Parallell lines are a favourite.

Fictive Elves on the other hand usually go well along with flowing lines, leaf forms, wave forms, perhaps simplified shapes borrowed from bottle-nosed dolphins, birds such as swans, swallows or eagles, and other elegant creatures and plants. In order to set Elves apart, one would expect that this plays true not only in surface decor but often also in the layout of buildings, gardens, streets, canals, road networks and modified landscapes (perhaps surrounding a mansion). One wouldn't expect Elves to resort to a mere gridwork, since that would be for Dwarves in their simpler moments or Humans when they can bother to even make an effort at urban planning. Instead, one would expect the layout of Elven cities, villages, farmed landscapes and so on to share some elements from their ornamental patterns.

Below are some quick experimental doodles to try out some of the proposed design principles, depicting map details of Elven roads or street networks, or perhaps canals? Nothing refined and perhaps nothing worth using, but maybe something to get the ball of imagination rolling:


And this doesn't even touch on such things as walkways, fountains, potential street lights, possible elegant and sweeping mosaic patterns inlaid into the road/street pavement, flanking statues, greenery and ways in which surrounding terraces, triumphal arches, buildings, bridges between towers and topography play into the overall impression of which this 2D layout is only a part. One would expect Elven urban planning and architecture to produce an artistic effect both on the ground and on the map. Likwise, Elven settlements would often be expected to make dramatic or soothing use of the landscape, often but not always favouring climbing heights or rolling hills over mere flatness, perhaps remodelling the landscape where necessary to better please their eyes (though not necessarily the cart-drivers!). Within reason, Elven practicality would probably often be adapted around the artistic layout of towns, buildings or roads, rather than the other way around. (Related to a fondness for slim, tall towers which look nice but leave a lot of walking up steps to reach a room.) And often, quirky features that would seem and act as an unnecessary minor hassle in the middle of a street's flow to Humans, would have the Elven denizens long since being used to it, forming their traffic behaviour around it in seeming harmony, even if the solution is pragmatically suboptimal.

One source of inspiration could be Elven patterns like this (https://i.pinimg.com/736x/cf/c8/ce/cfc8cee13e0c797a039cdf0ea74015ec--tattoo-patterns-tattoo-quotes.jpg) or this (https://i.pinimg.com/originals/a4/f9/76/a4f97612c426ba79f5b30cc15a60bc15.jpg). Another could be natural forms, for example a whole city whose street map forms an eagle in flight seen from the side; some kind of flower or leaf; a street network mimicking a tree branching out; or something mulilayered such as a city wall and main street map which hints at a proud, rearing horse head with throat (symbolizing victory, rising power and shining splendour), while inside this, the canal network running up from the harbour resembles a stylized kneeling Elf maid crying in sorrow, standing for loss, decline and fading glory.

Just some tips for T9A artists and background writers. With fantasy Elves, the sky is the limit. You might want to take the chance for some daring novelties.


A somewhat hasty concept map to illustrate some of the above proposals, drawn in the same quick manner and with the exact same type of felt pens which I drew city maps with as a child. Note that everything is simplified (e.g. no walkways or topography or statues), and even where the base of a building might have an odd form, the rest of the building might turn out to flow into more mundane shapes. Roads might have turned out broader than they should be since those were drawn first. Note also that the length of city wall to man and defend could have been shortened considerably with a different layout around the present head and wingtip section, but Elves aren't about minimalist practicality, Elves are about dashing beauty first and foremost ("The unadorned life is not worth living"), to which their practical solutions then have to take shape around.

My brother proposed a better city map based on an eagle shape, namely something with wings like this (https://i.pinimg.com/originals/2a/b5/31/2ab53106eaaa2b313645f1ac6e3683fa.jpg), where the empty space between wings and head is the city's harbour, easily sealed off by giant harbour gates at the wingtips.

Note also that this concept city have a lot of untouched marshlands close by. Elves, being resistant to sickness, would not find swamps to be an unattractive waste of productive land and den of pestilence. Rather, they would find their natural beauty appealing, not least for all the swarms of birds nesting thereabout.

As you can imagine, a lot of buildings would be tall and towering structures, meaning that a small footprint on the ground doesn't say anything about the actual space. Likewise, cellars, sewers and underground grain stores and reservoirs are not touched upon at all. A lot of roads and walkways would probably have sparse and elegant mosaic patterns inlaid into them. The military harbour is just a close copy of Carthage's (http://i.imgur.com/zBL03CJ.jpg). In the end, one would expect Elven cities to take on different forms than Human ones, given the different and more artistic mindset of Elves as well as the prevalence of high towers and ridden flying creatures mean that any noble worth his salt would like his city to have an appealing layout, whether mimicking the shape of objects or creatures, or having a street network based upon prismatic patterns or something else completely.

Rules of thumb:

Wide streets
Don't squash buildings together cheek by jowl
Flowing roads
Stud it with fountains like gems
Grids are for Dwarfs




Karak Norn Clansman
25-05-2018, 00:24
Kegiz Gavem: Ethiopian Dwarves of Light (https://www.the-ninth-age.com/index.php?thread/37892-kegiz-gavem-%E2%80%93-the-ethiopian-dwarves-of-light/&postID=989587#post989587)

Rapidly pasted-together reference board, if real life Ethiopian inspiration is sought:


Shotel sickle sword for some Gavemite guard unit? Quick sketches drawn while eating Italian meat (catch the reference). The headcrest could represent blazing sunbursts, as do the shield ornaments. If one was to keep the barefoot part (even Ethiopian noblemen walked and rode barefoot into the 19th or 20th centuries), then perhaps there is a religious significance: It would be unseemly to tread the ground lit and warmed by the judging sun on high with anything but your own soles of flesh. Partake of the sun's blessed gifts. If nothing else, we note that Dwarven Holders and Infernal Dwarves as a rule always have shoes and boots (Seekers aside), so Kegiz Gavem manning up to walk barefoot sets them visually apart.


Spearman with head of fresh Feral Orc victim. Filthy heathens! Cleanse them from the sacred sight of the brilliant sun. No, body proportions have never been a strong card of mine:


Onward from devout but ultimately sinful foot soldiers to holy men of war and deepest piety. Barefoot knight? If shoes and sandals are to be used by Gavemites, then perhaps their paladins eschew footwear to trample unwarded on thorns and brambles, not to speak of ants, serpents, hot coals and grotesquely sharp obsidian shards strewn out by Infernal Dwarf hosts' sadistic Hobgoblin scouts. All endured as a penance and test of faith in full witness of the divine light on high. Paladin of Kegiz Gavem, possibly in ceremonial attire if heavier armour should be the battle norm:


Should any inspiration be gleaned from Nubia to the north? Yes or no to gunpowder weapons and advanced mechanics?

Would Kegiz Gavem's ships be of the sewn ('https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sewn_boat') variety, kept together by ropes not nails, as was the case with ancient Egyptian and Aksumite vessels and boats in general at the Horn of Africa until recently, just of more immense fantasy scale? In real life, Aksum's navy ('http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showthread.php?699368-The-Aksumite-Army') must have been important for its dominance of overseas province in Yemen ('https://janakesho1.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/kingdom-of-aksum-axum/'). And to borrow a page from that book, how about some holy righteousness-fuelled wars over trade routes, local minerals and luxury goods such as myrrh and frankincense against Infernal Dwarf settlers and traders and warlords?

Note that Kegiz Gavem's lines of communication over the Southern Ocean could be much faster and better than trudging Infernal Dwarf overland routes (unless they, too, sport considerable harbour facilities and fleet forces in the Southern Ocean, which are able to outmatch Kegiz Gavem), making the numerically and materially superior Infernal Dwarves in the region face a logistical uphill battle against the sea-supplied fortified coastal settlements of Kegiz Gavem in the equivalent of Yemen. And once any concerted Infernal Dwarf offensive at kicking the Taphrian rivals into the sea ebbs out and the besiegers need retreat, the overseas forces and settlers of light-worshipping Kegiz Gavem give praise to the holiness of light and can encroach once more on the turbulent hinterland of their holdings, which otherwise hugs the coast:


And to help keep night guards alert against Hobgoblin sneak attacks, the Gavemites have their secret weapon of coffee! Blessed freshness of sunlight for the body stored in beans, turning night to day for a tired sentry's senses:



Gavemite Technology


Given the probable (but not complete?) isolation from the Vetian Dwarven Holds through many centuries of chaos, Kegiz Gavem may have been left much to their own devices as regards innovation, and one would expect them to invest more heavily in matters connected to religiosity than in advanced technology. Still, fantasy Dwarves are Dwarves wherever they live, and they need sport a higher innovation level than the real world counterparts they are based on: Ancient Celts, Norse Vikings and Babylonians didn't sport gunpowder or steam machinery, so to speak.

Dwarves have an affinity for working matter. Their craftsmen's tinkering minds and hands coupled with a long life span (boosting innovation since all that knowledge and craft skills aren't wasted on the grave as quickly as for humans) mean that their holdings will shine as beacons of advanced technology in classic fantasy settings. Kegiz Gavem being separated by distance and volatile neighbours from northern Dwarven Holds mean that they will have missed out on much of the benefits of being a close part of a wider, innovative and creative world. Less snowball effect from friendlier neighbours in the invention department.

We may however assume that long-standing rivalry with Infernal Dwarves since at least the 7th Age (of Thunder) have been driving Gavemite modern technology for centuries at this point. By capturing Infernal Dwarf equipment in war and reverse-engineering those pieces which are not corrupted by the unholy (and maybe even exorcising such gear to allow study and copy?), Gavemite engineers may have kept up the pace reasonably in the arms race, and moreover been spurred to make some inventions of advanced technology of their own to compete with the enemy. Some contact with human Augeans through trade, and maybe even sporadic contact with other Dwarven Holders in adventurous circumstances during the eras of strife (think of young engineers with mates trekking through savage countries and wastelands to reach their legendary lost brethren for thrill, glory and the betterment of uncorrupted Dwarfkind everywhere) could have played a part in Kegiz Gavem's technology.

Do they have steam machinery? Or indeed sufficient fuel sources (coal and charcoal from wood) for said engines? Do they sport Gyrocopters? Or would these things in the DH army list perhaps be Gavemites mounted on flying beasts or suchlike, Warcraft style (https://i.pinimg.com/originals/ff/c0/f8/ffc0f854c5825664846b0552bc2ad74d.jpg), if they are available at all? One could imagine that Gavemite access to Gyrocopters, if they feature, could be a sign of reconnected Dwarven Holds in the 9th Age, and maybe some potent rune-crafting techniques in stone have flowed in the opposite direction?

Whether or not flying machines and steam engines are used by Kegiz Gavem, here is my take on their technology:

Developed mainly in isolation from their Vetian cousins (great stonework architecture). Picked up some Infernal Dwarf technology through reverse-engineering captured equipment (esp. gunpowder weapons), spurred to further inventions by the necessity of arms race (artillery variants, metallurgy?). Less advanced technologically than both other Dwarven Holds and Infernal Dwarves (e.g. limited clockwork, optics and printing at best), have instead devoted resources and energy to advance spiritually/religiously (and in fantasy this have potent practical payoff). Kegiz Gavem remain the most technologically advanced power in all of Taphria, and their efforts to catch up with some Infernal Dwarf technologies have aided them greatly through centuries of tug-of-war in T9A equivalent of Yemen, together with their powers of holy light. As of lately in the 9th Age, contact has been re-established with Vetian Dwarven Holds, leading to some imports of technology, yet the demented inventors of the Infernal Dwarves are ever pushing the boundaries of possibility, and in this very Age the recovering devil worshippers and heathen slavers are pulling ahead of their Gavemite rivals. At this moment, the Gavemite overseas holdings are under mounting pressure from their enemies, whose increasing naval superiority disrupt vital supply lines. The future of Kegiz Gavem's fortified coastal settlements overseas looks grim, yet the stubborn Dwarves are determined to resist with all their might. The Gavemites have redoubled their efforts in the face of rising losses on the seas and on the distant shores, trusting in their arms, the divine light, and hoping for miracles against the powerful forces arrayed against them.

Such is one of the fierce battlegrounds of the Ninth Age.



Founding of Gavemite Religion

Ancestral memory in Kegiz Gavem could be primeval and thus revered even in other Dwarven Holds. Their orthodox self-abnegation and atonement could be a spiritually loaded imitation, commemoration and re-experiencing of the miserable drudgery and humiliating hardships of Dwarven slaves under the claws of their Saurian overlords during the 1st Age.

Chastisement of self would be reliving their virtuous and humble forefathers' suffering; a perceived punishment for primitive sins during which some of the mine, quarry and stonework-toiling troglodyte slave Dwarves in the midst of darkest despair found hope and salvation in the light. And the light delivered: A light that grew in the sky and shattered the slavers' dominion and the shackles of their slaves. The Gavemite cult could have been founded during this time in bonds, a belief in salvation, sin and higher holiness intertwined with the universally Dwarven ancestor worship.

The well-remembered founders, the martyrs and the humble endurers during this formative age of slavery and salvation are all part and parcel of the Gavemite mindset. The names, acts and travails of these righteous ancestors colour their everyday thoughts, spice their language, give shape and meaning to their innermost beliefs and echo in the dour lifeworks of each generation of devout Gavemites. Their way is a faith apart from other Dwarven Holds, although sharing many basic tenets of Dwarfkind for all their uniqueness: The ancestor cult, the rigorous engineering, the unending work, the care and precision of their crafts, the rejoicing in working matter with their hands.

Gavemites try to follow the examples set by their cult founders. There could have been especially hellish silver mines worked by slave Dwarves in Taphria, digging deep beyond the reach of the sun. Many died, yet many more were bred for the mines. The dangers were legion: Lead poisoning, earthquakes, rock falls, monstrous tunnel denizens, magma flooding and freak deluges of onrushing water from surface rainstorms escaping into mining networks. Dwarves died, Dwarves suffered, Dwarves survived by hardihood, and some survived by sheer faith. Tales tell of Dhuraz, who standing on his knees, praying to the light while a Saurian taskdriver flayed him whiplash by whiplash, found the mine he worked in collapsing when the heavenlight struck. Above Dhuraz, the ground caved in and fell hundreds of fathoms in upon itself, crushing sinful slaves and slavedrivers alike. Yet when the dust settled, faithful Dhuraz found himself still praying on the same rock, now exposed to brilliant daylight. The tonnes of crushing rocks had miraculously all cracked, tumbled and fallen to the sides of Dhuraz, swallowed by collapsing mine shafts below.


Icon of Dhuraz the Preserved. Note hand of sinful slave and Saurian tail sticking out from the rock masses.

One way in which Gavemites understand the Preservation of Dhuraz is to point to sufferers of hardship and remind them that Dhuraz was pelted and scourged with gravel and small stone shards, yet endured and saw the light on high shield him from any large rocks. The faithful must endure his woes unfailingly, no matter how harsh they seem, for by accepting the lesser evil, he will be saved from the greater evils by the light. Shoulder your burdens and suffer your pain.

For Dwarven reasons, there ought to be no single portal figure to Gavemite religion, the way Mannish faiths sometime sport one. The founder ancestors are revered as a group, an enlightened collection of saintly sufferers, legendary hard labourers, self-sacrificing fertile mothers, keepers of trust in the face of torture, seers, secret rune scribblers, revealers of higher truths, humble miracle-workers and scarred breakers of chains. A common figure is the Victim, who endures his hardships and face his cruel fate with humility. Another is the Downcast Risen, a battered survivor of woes who often wish to die, yet sees the light, hears the call and endures to wreak the vengeance of the oppressed and weak upon the mighty; a strong hero rising from the dust to save his kin and go out in a blaze of tortuous glory.

Gavemite religion is replete with the names, deeds and miracles of its cult founders. That of Dhuraz the Preserved is but one of many.

Karak Norn Clansman
25-05-2018, 00:27
Copper Dwarves (https://www.the-ninth-age.com/index.php?thread/38162-copper-mountain-dwarven-holds/&postID=996271#post996271)

As originally proposed here (https://www.the-ninth-age.com/index.php?thread/13313-a-few-tips-for-9th-age-world-map/), let's spice up the map with more Dwarves! Namely, Dwarves in the Copper Mountains (Atlas Mountains equivalent). Not Vetian Dwarves, but descending from ancient Infernal Dwarf colonists fleeing ravages during gone ages and seeking wealth, who settled in the distant Copper Mountains and lost close contact with their eastern kin in the following ages of chaos. During these eras of war, the Infernal Dwarf main body to the east turned toward heinous methods to survive and even prosper in an vicious world of savage hordes and marauding tribes battering their fortified cities: They started to enslave Daemons and mortals alike, dabbling in forbidden arts and pursuing power at any cost. Power to survive, to fight back, to dominate those who once beset them with superior force.

Not so the westerly cousins of the Infernal Dwarves, who developed in isolation and claims to have never turned to arts Daemonic. While a Dwarven folk apart from Gavemites (https://www.the-ninth-age.com/index.php?thread/37892-kegiz-gavem-%E2%80%93-the-ethiopian-dwarves-of-light/), Vetians and Northern Dwarves alike, the mysterious Copper Dwarves have also become a tribe separate from their original kinsmen in the Infernal east, an uncorrupted branch of the benighted Infernal Dwarf tree.


I've got neither intention nor time of turning this into Homebrew army book with hopes of something making it into an official Dwarven Holds army variant, but if anyone wants to do so, then be more than welcome to move this to the Homebrew section! Just want to plant this seed firmly in the minds of T9A fluff writers and readers, and advance Dwarven interests in a milieu which is usually not associated at all with Dwarves in fantasy. Hopefully this gets the ball rolling enough for the Ninth Age team to pick up on the concept.

How does their culture look like? Any defining characteristics? Would a potential Copper Dwarf army list variant sport any unique things? Got ideas of your own? Please share!


As something of a reference, we've got Nabatean Petra's rock-cut buildings. Much of the largest is in Graeco-Roman style, while other parts sport local styles familiar from Mesopotamia in particular, with a local twist (stepped ornaments).


Below is a proposal on how Copper Mountain dwellers would fit into the wider world. Amharaq in particular could hold sway over many vassal Copper Mountain Dwarven Holds by long-standing treaties realizing Amharaq's military dominance into political influence and mutual economical benefit for both parties.

The southwest could be more rowdy, with only some Holds occassionally swearing allegiance to Al-Hisn (when forced or when it suits them), but mainly staying independent or acting independently under Amharaq's umbrella. Conflicts over land and water with local human highlanders and towns repeatedly flare up in the southwest, breaking an uneasy peace of occasional raiding. Copper Mountain Holds as a whole are not a united force with anything resembling a confederation, but a scattering of mainly subterranean settlements cleaving to their own interests and doing what it takes to survive and prosper. However, a gaggle of southeasterly Holds share a long-standing alliance against incursions from Hakim Nomads (dwelling on the desert frontier of the Copper Mountains), and will often unite their forces to exert control over key points along the eastern caravan route through the Great Desert, leading on to fabled Kegiz Gavem. Fortified oasis towns with date palms serve as resupply points for desert-trekking caravans, yet rule over the oasis towns have shifted many times from Copper Dwarven to Human hands. These towns sport a predominantly Human population, yet often with Copper Dwarven garrisons and overlords.

Note that the southern-most fork of the eastern route take a long detour around Rift Daemonic lands, while the northern fork to Kegiz Gavem is in eternal danger from Orcs & Goblin raiding from out of the northern Mountains of the Moon.

The ancient sea migration is obviously a reference to Sea People resettling to the west, and more particularly to Phoenician colonies in the Mediterranean.


MM90 "Pilsner" by Clam (http://www.chaos-dwarfs.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=17471&page=1)

Karak Norn Clansman
25-05-2018, 15:01
Elven Views of Marshlands (https://www.the-ninth-age.com/index.php?thread/38182-elven-views-of-marshlands/&postID=996653#post996653)

Humans, being a sickly lot with much more to gain from living in cleared-out plains near rivers and coasts, are not great fans of wetlands. Apart from some sacrifices, particularly in Celtic cultures, marshlands are generally an unproductive wasteland and den of unsavoury wildlife, disease and parasites. A place to hide out in during times of war, and something best drained (at great effort and cost) and made better use of during times of prosperous peace.

Elves, being resistant to disease and of an artistic mindset to admire nature in its manifold shapes, would not necessarily share this view of wetlands. On the contrary, Elves since the dawn of time would have observed that marshes and bogs are soft watery places where nature is particularly bountiful in its sprout of bringing forth vegetation and wildlife (including mosquitoes, flies and even Orcs and Goblins, but not all life is pleasant). How could these wetlands be anything else than expressions of the feminine force, the euphemistic wells of Mother Nature, the most female of landscapes on Earth?

Elves would be particularly prone to appreciate the rich bird life of swamps, not least swans, and this include for purposes of egg-snatching wherever and if such is done by Elven youths.


As such, there may be taboos persisting even in urban Elven cultures against draining marshlands, dumping rubble into swamps (but perhaps not organic waste?), and building them over with rude causeways. In Elven lands, wetlands may well be left alone even in breadbasket plains, with city walls skirting marshes at some length (not too shabby part of the defense, see Ravenna) and with roads curving around marshlands or, if need be, travelling above them on elegantly arched viaducts. While marshes are not the most aesthetically pleasing features of the natural world, Elves would nevertheless see a value, that Humans do not do, in preserving bogs to a large extent. You may well find some respectfully placed half-overgrown Elven-crafted stone statues or sleek stelae out in a marshy nowhere, at some spot where some Elf thought that this artwork would decorate the surroundings like a gemstone adorns armour.

Dread Elves or even Sylvan Elves, if prone to sacrifices, could very well sport traditions running after the cycle of the seasons, where they lead and prod a male animal (e.g. stallion or slave) into a deep bog where the screaming victim sinks into the swamp and drowns in the embrace of Mother Nature: A union between male and female to re-energize life itself in the world.

Conversely, Orcs and Goblins would have a much ruder view on swamps, but still connect them to bodily nature. You could well hear marsh Orcs exclaim, when declaring their home: "I grew up in my armpit!"

Karak Norn Clansman
16-06-2018, 03:12
Posted on T9A as advice for Steepled Hat Studios, given the scarcity of knowledge of how Carthaginian architecture looked:

Carthaginian Architecture & Aesthetics (https://www.the-ninth-age.com/index.php?thread/38651-steepled-hat-studios-product-releases-and-support-for-t9a/&postID=1008360#post1008360)

Just tossing out reference material to inspire ideas, since you mentioned possible Carthaginian style terrain. So little remains of ancient Carthage's buildings (the capital city itself was razed to the ground and then later built-over by the Romans) that much is guesswork. It was a Phoenician colony, sitting close to western Greek colonies and being part of the larger Mediterranean world, which was being permeated by Greek cultural influences: See how Rome aped Hellas down to its very gods.

This may be of interest on Carthaginian architecture (http://historum.com/blogs/markdienekes/593-aesthetics-carthage.html): The mix of styles include Greek and Egyptian. But mostly it's Middle Eastern Phoenician style incl. flat roofs and possibly also decorative crenellations on domestic houses given this surviving depiction of a Punic city (buildings surrounded by city wall?):


Possibly stepped crenellations, given Carthage's Levantine roots, under millennia of heavy Mesopotamian (http://www.chaos-dwarfs.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=17187) influence.


Carthage (http://math.arizona.edu/~dido/description.html) sported some of the world's first high-rise buildings (6 storeys tall (https://books.google.se/books?id=jM1sFXcAPvAC&pg=PT308&lpg=PT308&dq=carthage+high+buildings&source=bl&ots=C9Pv8tFSfl&sig=iXjXaCmWf69SzZFx_XaR4_ZJ5Nw&hl=sv&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjn14347tbbAhWmDZoKHSvhDnEQ6AEwEHoECAEQA Q#v=onepage&q=carthage%20high%20buildings&f=false) at the main streets) and parts of the city was built in a hellenistic grid pattern. Houses sported central courtyards with narrow corridors leading into the middle.

Doing terrain with Carthage in mind would not only give you pieces that could maybe fit into the Persian world, but could even be of interest for Hellenistic scenery given the apparent mix of local styles and Greek architecture and decor for some buildings. In T9A such mixed style could easily represent Infernal Dwarf settlements in the equivalent of the Levant (with residual neighbour influences from both Avras/Rome and Naptesh/Egypt), or even Copper Dwarf (https://www.the-ninth-age.com/index.php?thread/38162-dwarven-holds-of-the-copper-mountains/&postID=996271#post996271) above-ground dwellings, or older parts of the human city Amharaq/Carthage/Tunis).

Proto-Aeolic capital, Phoenician architectural invention and forerunner of Ionic capital:


Assyrians attacking Tyre, Carthage's mother city:


A helpful source of information on Phoenician architecture is the Bible’s I Kings 6-7 description of King Solomon’s temple. This was, of course, built at Jerusalem in the 10th century BCE but the architects and artists involved in its construction were Phoenician and its layout matches temple descriptions at Phoenician sites and the wider region. Its general design shows a significant influence from Egyptian architecture (https://www.ancient.eu/Egyptian_Architecture/').

Notice the corner horns, artist's interpretation copied from altars: (https://www.google.se/search?q=horned+altars&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwij3_KJ_dbbAhWDiSwKHeFaDVQQ_AUICigB&biw=1680&bih=957#imgrc=9_IJ890sdkdUaM:)




Karak Norn Clansman
16-06-2018, 03:13
The Second Temple may give further visual pointers, as a Canaanite style monumental building with Hellenic influences (note columns):



As to horned altars:


This one is not Canaanite, but Egyptian from Karnak:


Temple remnants of Phoenician Amrit (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amrit), note decorative stepped crenellations on the centerpiece:


Proposed reconstruction:


A couple of 4th century BC tomb towers at Amrit:



Karak Norn Clansman
16-06-2018, 03:14
Temple of the Obelisks (http://www.obelisks.org/en/byblos.htm) in Byblos:


Phoenician ivory inlays, sporting obvious Egyptian influences:


Other Phoenician art:


The Phoenician city of Tyre, mother of Carthage:


The harbour of Carthage, a partially Hellenized Punic city:


Carthaginian buildings by Wildfire Games:


Carthaginian buildings by LordGood (https://lordgood.deviantart.com/):


And lastly, we're fortunate to have Mr. Cyns' interpretation (http://bennosfiguresforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=18962&p=210576) in model scenery of a richer Phoenician/Carthaginian dwelling:


Mausoleum of Thugga, 2nd century BC Punic monument

More on scenery and architecture in general here. (https://www.the-ninth-age.com/index.php?thread/38651-steepled-hat-studios-product-releases-and-support-for-t9a/&postID=1008686#post1008686)

Karak Norn Clansman
10-07-2018, 20:00
Very promising concepts! I'll confess to be in the minority who likes the idea of actual anteaters, even though they're South-Central American. Perhaps something for Virentian Vermin Swarms? ;)

As a homage to that intuitive image of bipedal anteater-men, here's an African cousin of the anteater family, an aardvak. I hope there's space enough for all manner of mammals-turned-humanoids in this shunned horde of mound-dwellers and anteaters? Dress from Dogon ceremonial warrior attire (you gotta love how less-is-more didn't count back in the day when these styles where developed). Being fantasy, the below concept takes the over-the-top step of turning ceremonial stiltwalking into a tool used by anteater monster hunters, for you need to reach high to slay those big beasties:


Reference board: