Of Poets, Fools and Madmen. . .
The Benaedresha are the only (openly acknowledged) hybrid race on Panisadore. In millennia past the dwarves of the Underdark encountered the halflings who inhabited the caverns well above them and near to the surface. For the first time in their history the two races were able to interact with another race in their fiercely competitive natural environment which had no interest in killing them for their territory and resources or enslaving them. Although their cultures were radically different in almost every respect save the value both placed on cooperation rather than competition, the two soon formed a lasting alliance of unprecedented productivity and mutual benefit. Since the primary non-violent interaction with other races which both engaged in was trade, it was predominantly the trading clans of each which intermingled with the other and traveled between their respective homes. Eventually these trading clans began to intermarry, producing fertile hybrid offspring. For the dwarves this was a godsend of even greater value than the trade and “military” alliance. Plagued by infertility since the dawn of their race, they found that these marriages and their gnomoii issue were far more fertile than their race own alone, thus setting the precedent for the now well known dwarven propensity for xeno-eugenics. (Since emigrating outward from the Underdark their fertility has increased significantly, though the practice was by that time a well established and enjoyed custom.) Over the course of many centuries the trading clans of both became virtually indistinguishable from one another – the only real difference being the “home of origin” of a given family and a slight cultural bias this produced – for they had likewise developed a hybrid culture as distinct, yet clearly derived, from both as they were physically. Thus the Benaedresha were born.
Over time the Benaedresha grew to act as trade ambassadors for both peoples. The combination of artless dwarven honesty and tactful diplomacy with perceptive halfling caution and disingenuous insouciance proved highly effective in dealing with other races. This highly advanced form of trade diplomacy displayed a degree of sophistication in social, political and economic thinking far beyond that of any other society and became the principal hallmark of gnomoii culture. When the Burrowing peoples as a whole were driven toward the surface, the Benaedresha began to venture forth under the Great Vault along with the Surenashi. However, while the halflings were primarily motivated to explore by their curiosity to simply see “what’s out there,” the gnomes went exploring to see “who’s out there” and what sort of trade could be conducted with them. Already accustomed to dealing with much larger races, the Benaedresha felt no hesitation in engaging in their traditional role among Burrowing society upon the surface where their diminutive stature proved even more disarming to the inhabitants than ever below ground.
With the disappearance of the Old Sun and ensuing ice age, the Burrowing Peoples as a whole withdrew largely from surface affairs and commerce while humans migrated toward the warmer climes of the equatorial region. For much of this time all three races were largely preoccupied with fending of the incursions first of the Illithid as they retreated below ground to escape from the cold, then those races which they subsequently displaced as they migrated deeper into the Underdark. On the plus side, in the process they were able to establish positive relations with the Dromite hives which rose toward the surface among the polar mountain ranges in the wake of the Illithid’s migration inward. Also, relations between the Khurorkh and the Burrowing People’s were further strengthened as the region of the upper caverns became the Khurorkh’s first line of defense against the spawn of Gaurashiage and their forward outposts for engaging and containing the Pahrorkh. (It is believed that Khurorkh monks first began developing psionic abilities around the end of this period as a result of interaction with the Dromite facilitated by the Benaedresha.)
With the reemergence of the New Sun, the Burrowing Peoples likewise reemerged upon the warming surface. The gradually expanding humans frequently encountered craft and trade outposts among the foothills and mountain ranges as the rising sea levels forced them further north and south from the equator toward higher elevations. Often these were quite literally “outposts:” carved stone obelisks marking the entrance to settled caverns from the surface. As the humans settled above and around these locations a new era of interracial trade relations began which set the precedents upon which much of the current geopolitics and commerce are based.
Over ensuing millennia the Benaedreshan merchant houses grew to dominate international trade and finances as well as many of the craft guilds. In particular, gnomoii coppersmiths developed and maintained the trade secrets behind the most advanced techniques of working copper and its alloys. Copper sheeting and wire are produced almost exclusively by Benaedresha run guilds, and the most durable bronze castings are likewise of gnomoii manufacture. The Benaedresha further practically monopolize the research activities of the alchemist guilds, an experimental field which many others are quite happy to leave to them.
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