Rimenosha

The Rimenosha, or dwarven peoples of Panisadore, came into being in ages past deep within the caverns known by those who dwell beneath the Great Vault as the Underdark. Their legends say that they were the first of all the True Peoples originally formed by the Will of the World from the Great Matrix of its own material and given life. In the Urtime the People were led by Clan Elders of great wisdom who taught them to comprehend the Will of the World and how to fulfill their role within it before finally merging their forms once more with the Great Matrix. Though their forms are no more, the wisdom of the First Elders and the spirit of their great love and generosity lives on and continues to guide the Rimenosha and any others among the True Peoples willing to open their hearts and heed the truth of their voices.

From Rimilnix, the First of the First, they learned to treasure the truth and the perception to discriminate between it and fair-seeming falsehood. To this day, little can deceive the Elders of the First Clan and to them has always been entrusted the most sacred duty of the People, the raising and education of the newly-formed to ensure that their greatest treasure is never lost. From Vanidar, the First Maker of the People they learned the lasting joy of their crafts and the greater joy of sharing their gifts with others. From Zelatrix, the First Guide they learned to read the Great Matrix and the Shaping skills of The Delve, both the Hollowing and the Building. From Zhedarhe the First Defender they learned both to treasure all life and to remain stalwart under the crushing sorrow of the duty to sometimes take other life to preserve the People. Even now, the tearful wailing of the Clans of Sorrow as they enter into battle declares the terrible truth of their task, sapping the will to destroy from those who would violate the sanctity of The Delve. Dwarven battle keening is a truly awful sound in every proper sense of the word. From Benaedrass, The First Light, they learned the value of friendship, hospitality and the joy of other’s company, along with the ways of finding and preparing food and drink. From Thelema they learned to read the pathways of karma, to understand the results of their choices and actions and to plan for their future. While the Rimenosha accept that Benaedrass has chosen to take on the form of the Delenosha as offspring of the dwarves, they claim that Thelema was first (and actually remains) a dwarf who later chose to present her avatar as human in order to instruct them. From the Will of the World and the Great Matrix itself the Rimenosha learned to comprehend the nature of life and form; the ways of its coming into being, its preservation (and healing) and its passing once more into the Great Matrix itself. By these and others, now forgotten or known only to the Rimenosha they were taught the means to survive and prosper in the harsh austerity of their first home among the many races which sought to enslave or destroy them. These teachings the First Elders carved into the stone of the Mother Delve before returning to the Great Matrix and as the People grew and spread the Elders of the Clans did likewise in each new home that their wisdom would never be forgotten.

The Dwarves soon found that most of the other races of the Underdark did not value the truth or the gift of life. While it was at times necessary to deal with them in trade and even alliance in the face of greater threats, they could not be trusted to do so in good faith and honor the words shared or agreements made. The clerics of Rimilnix of necessity became their diplomats and trade ambassadors among the neighboring races as few could deceive them or even willfully speak falsely in their presence. Eventually, as the People expanded their Delves upward the encountered another race who shared their values of friendship, hospitality and generosity. Even smaller in stature, they proved quite adept at concealing both themselves and their intentions. Though not given to outright falsehood, they did not always reveal the truth if not pressed to, allowing others to deceive themselves. They called these people the Surenashi, The Wanderers, as they did not always cling to the straight path of the truth. Nevertheless, it was clear that they did not do so out of malice toward others and preferred to deal fairly with those whom they could trust. The Surenashi traveled extensively in the upper reaches of the Great Matrix, even at times venturing out under the Great Vault. This provided them with much that was new and of use to trade with the Rimenoshi and over time the friendship and alliance between the two peoples grew very strong with many of both races traveling between their respective homes. Gradually many of these travelers began to intermarry and form distinct trading clans different from, while at the same time part of both Peoples. Over the course of countless generations these clans slowly developed into an entirely separate race of their own, displaying and blending many physical and cultural characteristics of both parent races. These, called the Delenesha for their joyful, open and friendly natures, conducted nearly all of the commerce and trade of both peoples as a result of their origins.

Eventually a new, potent threat made its way downward from the Great Vault into the depths of the Great Matrix. Much taller than the True Peoples and adept in magic, these were characterized most by their arrogance and disdain toward all whom they encountered. Driven from their homes above by a great war with another race as well as many of their own kind, they sought a new home, safe from the enemies they had made. With their magics these Dark Ones enslaved many whom they encountered and killed those whom they could not enslave, taking over and inhabiting the caverns and delves of others. Slowly and inexorably they drove the Rimenosha upwards from their ancient homes to the delves of their friends and allies among the True Peoples. However, here too they found yet another race, bitter enemies of the first but likewise forced to retreat from beneath the Great Vault by the same enemies of the Dark Ones. Driven by an unfathomable burning hatred toward all they met, these Children of the Greatest Sorrow simply slew all in their path, waging bitter wars against the all of the True Peoples and claiming their homes and craftings as spoils by right of arms. Gradually the Rimenosha came to inhabit the upper caverns and began to venture out beneath the Great Vault themselves, while their more diminutive allies for the most part began to live among the other surface races. The Delenesha found the environment much to their liking as they expanded their commerce with these new friends and allies, eventually becoming the predominant traders among them as they had been in the Great Matrix.

The Rimenosha’s first encounters with the Khurorkh were often troublesome, as they initially had difficulty distinguishing them from their cousins, the Children of Greatest Sorrow, whom the Khurorokh named the Pahrorkh. Likewise, to a lesser extant with the elven nations who looked little different from the Dark Ones when they had first invaded their ancient homes. The Khurorkh for their part, had always waged war against the twisted creatures of Gaurashiage, which most often were spawned underground. Over the course of a few generations they were able to comprehend these other two races better, as those of the First Clan continued to fulfill their traditional roles in this new environment and recognized them as numbering among the True Peoples. The Khurorkh likewise came to know and appreciate the Rimenosha and their traditions, being sympathetic toward their root principals even if they could not always fathom their expression. In particular they found a deep concord with the Clans of Sorrow and many of their warriors who fight beside them have come to revere the First Defender. Even they however, for all their fierce passion and ferocity, find the overpowering anguish of the Great Sorrow to be almost too much to bear and few find themselves capable of becoming his clerics. They admire the strength and purity of Rimenosha feelings and their openness and honesty in their expression as balanced by dwarven pragmatism and awareness of duty. Additionally, the function of their clans in Rimenoshan society is very similar to that of the Khurorkh shyz’n. The two peoples have come to live well side by side, but have difficulty truly mingling as they both find many of the other’s expressions of common principals rather incomprehensible.

Rimenoshan society evolved to meet the necessities of living in the Great Matrix. In the limitations of their environment, survival required great cooperation and harmony within the Delve. Sharing of resources with all in the Delve was a vital survival trait and very little was viewed as personal property, with nearly everything in the Delve belonging to the overall community. Survival of the Delve as a whole is an over-riding value as a mechanism of self-preservation. The result here is a fundamental perspective that survival resources inherently belong to everyone equally and communal surplus is shared. The concept of personal property, by extension, inherently arises only in limited regard to things not necessary for survival. Most cultures within the Great Matrix function at a predominantly subsistence level given the relative absence of basic sustenance and tend to be characterized by evil races in competition for resources, viewing other races as obstacles at best and potential slaves and/or food sources at worst. Among all of them then, further development of cultural expression is predominantly artistic, making use of abundant non-consumable materials not expressly required for survival. As such, gift giving and exchange is highly valued among the Rimenosha, marking signs of prestige in dwarven society. What little can actually be considered as constituting personal wealth is invariably attained as a gift from another, taking the form of some sort of adornment. Displays of this in appropriate settings (such as councils and festivals or formal interactions with other Delves and races,) then shows the esteem and honor in which one is held by their peers. Of course, generosity breeds generosity, and miserliness is looked upon with distaste if not outright disdain. Hording and greed are among the greatest of sins in their culture as they not only deny the needs of the Delve but in their expression are viewed as a subtle form of untruth about one’s own needs. As a result, dwarven covetousness and greed manifest instead in relation, not to personal property, but to that which the property represents. The associated prestige in the society is highly desirable and feelings of jealousy and envy, with regard to both the esteem of one’s peers and personal affections, are easily aroused.

Even so, the Rimenosha are not a very violent or warlike race, finding aggression distasteful at best. Dwarven anger, like all their emotions, is readily aroused and its expression difficult to curtail, but is recognized as one of the greatest destructive forces constituting an internal danger to the welfare of the Delve. “Working it out,” is a literal coping mechanism in order to channel the feelings into constructive pathways rather than fueling aggressive behavior. (Simply viewing an angry dwarf hard at work can be quite frightening to many others.) Their respect for other life makes them abhor killing others and they name the act The Great Sorrow. Nevertheless, they are quite capable of defending themselves and they honor those who of necessity will stand stalwart and bear the Sorrow’s crushing burden for the sake of the People. Only the killing of one’s own kind could be more heartbreaking to them than this. In spite of all this, violent crimes of passion certainly do occur in Rimenoshan society, even to the extremes of murder. Law enforcement and investigative roles, generally small in scope, then fall upon the shoulders of those few paladins of Rimilnix. Punishment mostly takes the form of varying degrees of ostracism, up to outright banishment from the Delve in the most extreme cases. While this serves as a rather powerful motivational deterrent, once enacted it unfortunately tends to exacerbate the feelings of slight which prompted the crimes, as a clanless dwarf is held of no account at all in their society. While one step short of execution, banishment in the Underdark was originally tantamount to a death sentence.

Less serious, drunken brawls can easily erupt during festivals, particularly out of jealousy over choices of partners during the fertility festivals. This is dampened somewhat by the fact that most dwarven intoxicants tend to display potent aphrodisiac properties rather than promoting anger and violence, so that celebrants tend to be too preoccupied with and busy engaging in sex to get into many fights. Regardless, under those conditions, upon sobering up it can often be difficult to tell which activity had been engaged in. Needless to say, if dwarves work hard, they play even harder and recovery from a festival can last nearly as long as the festivities.

The Rimenosha were never a particularly fertile race. Like many other races, women living in close quarters with each other (as in the Delve) tend to menstruate at roughly the same time. These cycles were always far apart, and considered cause for celebration among them. They were carefully noted and the times of highest fertility was marked by even greater celebration among the Delve as a whole. These festivals last many days and all adults take part in them. Therefore only such work as is absolutely necessary is performed solely by men. They are characterized by rampant drunkenness and open promiscuity coupled with the hope that children will result. Visitors are almost invariably invited to participate, however this can be hazardous to those of other races who may find many dwarven intoxicants to be deadly. (In order to survive in such an austere environment dwarves have of necessity developed a high degree of constitutional fortitude. This allows them to consume many things that other races would find indigestible or even poisonous. Much of the typical dwarven diet is at least unpalatable, if not inedible to others.) While the dwarves as hosts, do try to insure that their guests come to no harm, at some point about midway through the festival both hosts and guests tend to start losing track of the various contents of the many cups being passed around. (Frat boys, hard-up gaming nerds and Marines take note, you have been warned. . .) As a result, half dwarven children are not unknown and are accepted by dwarven society without stigma. In fact, parings with halflings in ages past proved more fertile than those among themselves. Since coming to the upper caverns the term of dwarven menstrual cycles has become significantly shorter and male fertility has noticeably increased as well. Less dramatically, the fertility of the Surenashi and Delenasha has likewise increased. Although many are aware of this change in their fertility, so far none of they other races have noticed any significant increase in dwarven population over all, given that the environmental separation of their society as a whole prevents much observation. It is speculated that some aspect(s) of the Underdark act to dampen the fertility of those living there, increasing with depth. Having observed similar fluctuations in the litter sizes of many predators in accordance with the availability of there prey, it is thought that this is some sort of natural mechanism serving to control population growth in an environment with a very limited capability both to support the needs of life, or accommodate it spatially. This theory is widely accepted but the determining factor(s) remain unknown. {In point of fact, common fields of radiation in the Underdark have the effect of increasing testosterone levels among its inhabitants – both reducing female fertility and promoting angry, aggressive behavior in all. The latter effect is very explicitly addressed in dwarven society, but also manifests in the violent, warlike and competitive behaviors of most other Underdark races. Additionally, the radiation has the effect of reducing sperm levels, often causing males to be sterile; an effect the Dark Ones have addressed through the development of their matriarchal society, increasing the potential for females to have access to viable mates.}

Given the effects of dwarven intoxicants, drinking buddies frequently turn into fuck-buddies as the night wears on and consequently dwarves have the fewest sexual hang-ups of any of the races of Panisadore. An invitation from a dwarf to share a drink, while not quite tantamount to an invitation to have sex, can certainly be understood as a declaration that the dwarf “wouldn’t say no,” as they learned long ago not to drink with anyone they would mind waking up with. . . While other races may look somewhat askance at their sexual behavior, dwarves see no reason to share in a perspective that does not serve in any way to bind and strengthen the society/community as a whole.

The Rimenosha rarely marry in the same sense as other races view that relationship, but pairings which do prove fertile are usually maintained for the sake of the Delve as a whole and anyone capable of reproducing is encouraged to do so. Under the circumstances in which conception usually occurs however, such pairings are virtually impossible to sort out without divine aid. Heredity is incidental at most – dwarves revere the ancestors of the People as a whole and are sufficiently aware of the results of inbreeding to actively seek out other bloodlines to mingle in the otherwise limited gene-pools of the Delves. (This is why they are the most willing of all the races to mate with those of other races and so readily invite guests of the Delve to take part in their festivals.)

As for relationships, the Rimenosha do partner freely, developing life-long relationships out of friendship and liking for one another. These, the closest and deepest personal relationships termed soul-sharing, constitute what other societies view as marriage.. Having nothing to do with reproduction, the partners are frequently of the same sex. Soul-sharing can be viewed as the “primary relationships” in a society which places little value on monogamy. Ultimately, they have no words for (nor concepts of) homo- or heterosexuality or inter-racial relationships, at least with regard to those they acknowledge as likewise being among the “True Peoples.” The fundamental criteria of these relationships being affection (which they share and express rather readily and freely) and an overall compatibility, i.e., would the friend be a good room-mate? Again however, this ultimately increases the potential for jealousy and its associated social problems.

As a side note, dwarven women grow beards as readily as men. Both sexes may trim them depending upon the requirements of occupation but generally only women will actually shave when preparing for a fertility festival (the only time when the ability to readily determine another’s sex really matters) to reduce confusion among the intoxicated. Beyond the need to wet-nurse the newly formed, distinct gender roles in dwarven society are likewise minimal. Children are all reared together as a communal function. Their care is seen to by the Clans of Joy, while the First Clans are responsible for their education. As they approach maturity, the Clans of Fate also take part in helping to determine which clans the children are most suited to. Eventually they are invited to enter one or more of the clans and are free to choose among those inviting them.

The clans each have a patron deity (First Elder) whose teachings they embody by way of their roles in Rimenoshan society as a whole. They each have their own internal councils which are led by clerics of those First Elders who serve as the Clan Elders of the Delve. The Delve itself is governed by a council of these Clan Elders, constituting a sort of theocratic republic with this council of Clans led by the Elder of the First Clan (of Rimilnix). The Elder of the Clan of Will (also referred to as the Final Elder,) participates in this council, and no vote is ever taken until s/he has spoken, but does not vote hirself except to resolve tied votes held in deadlock. Further, only this Elder can over-rule the First Elder in disagreements regarding the Council’s role and function.

Rather than the emphasis on personal spiritual striving and growth in Khurorkh culture and society, the Rimenosha focus instead on communal religious participation and experience. If sacred can be “defined as the dangerous power of the divine, which must be dealt with first,”`before “the holy, the blessing power of the divine, [can] be acquired,” such that “purification enables one to cross over into the sacred,” while donning vestments “puts one in touch with the holy,” {Serith, Ceisiwr; A Book of Pagan Prayer; Weiser, 2002} a clear distinction between the two cultures can likewise be made in that the Khurorkh are more aware of the sacred in the world while the Rimenosha are more aware of that which is holy. The very substance of their (original) world, the stone of the Great Matrix from which all things are formed and given life by the Will of the World, and into which all separate forms must return, is the very means by which the blessing (of life) is acquired, both as it’s conductor and the vessel which receives and carries it. While the sacred connotes what is set aside from the profane because it is holy, in the eyes of the Rimenosha, the holy is what has always surrounded them, and as such is ever present in their lives and impossible to set aside. Dwarven religious ceremony is bound up in this concept and serves to acknowledge and give thanks to/for this. Of significant social value to them, it also serves as one of the primary means of binding community.

Further, in recognizing that all forms have arisen from the (inherently holy) material of the Great Matrix itself, all things are likewise holy. In that all life is the active expression of the Will of the World, all animate life is viewed as inherently likewise sacred. Unlike most other races, the Rimenosha do not perceive flora as “living beings” in the same manner as fauna. The various fungi of the Underdark are instead viewed as more mutable forms of stone which emerge from the Great Matrix (through the action of the Will of the World) to provide sustenance for the many Peoples. Upon exploring the Great Vault this perception has been extended to all plant life. Significantly, in their language the words for all physical objects and materials are derived in some manner from the root word for the Matrix, usually translated as “stone.” (In some textual translations Stone and Matrix are used synonymously.) Water, air, metals, flesh, blood and bone, are all examples of the infinite variety of stone forms arising from the Great Matrix, which are shaped by the forces of fire, heat, light, cold, weight, etc. exerted by the Will of the World. Their physical cosmology is at heart then very simple – everything encountered is either (inanimate) stone (part of the Great Matrix), or People who have been formed from stone (the Great Matrix) and made animate (through the action of the Will of the World). It follows easily then that the Rimenosha are adamantly vegetarian in their diet, as to kill other People is abhorrent to them. To destroy animate life outside of direst need is, by the very definition of the word, an act of sacrilege.

In spite of this core simplicity in dwarven cosmology and the very pragmatic nature and teachings of the First Elders (dieties) whom they revere, the heart of Rimenoshan spirituality and religion is surprisingly abstract and mystical in its fullest understanding. As in all cultures, there are those who feel compelled to explore and contemplate the most fundamental mysteries of existence. The Clans of Will are the smallest clans in Rimenoshan society, consisting entirely of clerics, adepts and the few monks which their culture produces. (In smaller Delves and enclaves they may often be found merged with the Clans of Fate.) Their numbers are even further spread thin as these clans attempt to simultaneously pursue the exploration of the Twin Mysteries of Transcendent Manner (expressed in the domains of Balance, Destruction, Mysticism, Purification, Renewal, Time) and Immanent Manifestation (expressed in the domains of Air, Cold, Earth, Fire, Force, Water) along with the fundamental mystery of (the domain of ongoing) Creation itself, resulting in a vast body of lore which can only be transmitted through the contemplation of direct experience. It must be understood that the Rimenosha do not perceive the Great Matrix and the Will of the World as separate things. They are instead merely different ways of looking at and describing the same thing, which ultimately is everything in existence. The Will of the World is the causal, guiding force and awareness providing the impetus by which the World is made manifest from the Great Matrix which, consisting of (and being the source of) all material existence is the Body of the World. In short, the World exists because it Wills itself to do so. Any proposed act of initial creation is therefore a logical absurdity, creation being an inherent moment-by-moment state or ongoing activity which by its nature can neither be begun nor ended. Time itself, in the perception of its seeming passing, is simply the artifice by which the Will of the World prevents everything from appearing to happen at once. Nevertheless, eternity, like the substance of the world, is only the ever-present. Infinity is not seen as “going on forever without boundary” as their first awareness of the world did not include an “empty” sky into which one could gaze and see no end, instead it points to that which is impossible to measure, such as the expanse of solid stone beyond the point of one’s touch upon the cavern wall. Emptiness itself cannot really exist, the term merely describes a relative characteristic of substance lacking density which is easily displaced by substance of greater density. Dwarven cosmology is an eternal, inherently solid-state existence which, while displaying an endless kaleidoscopic variety of ever changing forms, does not itself change in any way, as the procession of various forms is one of its inherent, constant characteristics. (Many would consider the proposition that the World exists solely because it wills to do so, or as an act of its own Will, likewise a logical absurdity, which the Rimenosha recognize but to which they reply that “Nevertheless it is obviously just so.”) In this light, they therefore consider everything as “living.” In fact, Dwarves claim that if you are silent and press your ear to the stone, you can clearly hear the heartbeat of the World itself. (This actually is the principal form of meditation in which the Rimenosha engage. Where other races “Sit,” dwarves “Listen.”) They say further, that this is more evident the deeper you go into the Great Matrix; down within the First Delves it can be heard in the very air without having to press your ear to the stone and its pulse is felt clearly, permeating everything with its slow, steady vibration.

The primary practical religious function of the Clans of Will in dwarven society is the conduct of funerary rites. The concept of “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” is inherently obvious to them in the relationship of forms to the Great Matrix; “Stone forms from stone and returns to stone.” The Rimenosha have a unique memorial practice emphasizing and reinforcing their sense of continuity as a People through the (internalized) preservation of the forms of their ancestors. The bodies of their dead are cremated at high temperatures and the ashes gathered up. These are then placed in a large vessel containing the ashes of those who have died before and all are thoroughly mixed together. The memorial service then consists of a great feast at which a stew is served made from a fungus with rather potent hallucinogenic effects into which some of the combined ashes of all their People, even back to the First Elders and ancestors, is mixed. Partaking in this rite then serves to underscore the sense that all life (as existence) is truly eternal, and nothing can ever really be lost within the Great Matrix, but merely changes in form and all forms are in essence the same. A significant characteristic of the Clans of Will is the absence of a First Elder – that Elder being the Will of the World and the Great Matrix itself. As a result, unlike those of all the other clans, the teachings of the Clans of Will are not inscribed upon the walls of the Delve and are in fact considered inexpressible in words.

Of course, all of this essentially evolved while living in the Underdark. Dwarven preservation of their social forms and traditions (remember, dwarven law is quite literally written in stone. . .) serves to slow the erosion of them, but change and adaptation are still natural forces acting upon their society. The simple rise in population in an environment capable of supporting it is already having some noticeable effects. Surplus of survival resources is much more commonplace than in the past and the Great Vault is seen as a place of astounding abundance, of both materials and space. To the dwarven mind this latter remains a treasure of inestimable value inexplicable to other races. For their part, the Rimenosha find the existence of territorial conflict in the presence of such amazing bounty to be utterly incomprehensible. A small degree of agoraphobia has developed among them as a result of the suspicion that having too much space in which to live may actually make people crazy from not knowing what to do with it.

In spite of their relative isolation overall, the Rimenosha are by nature a gregarious people and are by no means little known or reckoned in the world at large. Dwarven craftsmen in particular are famed world wide and eagerly sought after for their skills. On a smaller scale of clientèle, Rimenoshan architecture and construction are likewise greatly prized. Nearly every notable city built upon sufficiently large hills and mountainsides boasts a thriving dwarven enclave or Delve not far below it. In or near most of these will also be found the residence of a significant portion of the city’s gnomoi and halfling populations as well. These “stumptowns” as many vulgarly term them (when well out of earshot of the “halfers,” “footers” and “rain barrels” who inhabit them,) are often independently governed by their traditional councils which maintain a close alliance with their counterparts upon the surface. Frequently the craft guilds erect their quarters in the vicinity of these as well and both groups will cooperate in the conduct of the temples of their common deities above ground, further drawing gnomoi craft and mercantile activities (along with the associated temples) to the district. In such cases, temples to Benaedrass are likewise racially integrated. In many cities as well, members of the Clans of Sorrow serve in the city’s guards. Where they do so they have proven to be very capable in their role of law enforcement. The power of a cleric of Zhedarhe’s keening is often sufficient to cause a criminal to surrender, and even the sight of a weeping dwarven fighter is something few will be eager to respond to with violence after hearing the words, “This is going to hurt me even more than it will hurt you. . .” (“It’s not a sadist who would make a dwarf cry. . .” is a common axiom translated among rogues as, “Never poke a leak in a rain barrel.”) Where they aren’t also directly integrated into the militia, they are always willing to supply auxiliary forces in the city’s actual defense when occasion arises. Likewise the clerics of Rimilnix will frequently assist in judicial proceedings, occasionally even sitting as city magistrates themselves. Dwarven taverns however are rarely found above ground as their dangers are by now quite well known. Among the city’s populous, frequenting them is something people either boast about (as often as not falsely,) or prefer to keep very secret. Additionally, unless speed is a priority, when they have cause to travel dwarves have come to prefer doing so above ground, if for no greater reason than the novelty of it.

While a lot has been said about the role of clerics in Rimenoshan society, virtually any other class may be found among them. Some remain quite rare, being introduced to the culture only in recent generations. Many classes only occur within specific clans, their roles and abilities being directly related to the ethos of the clans’ patron First Elders. Clerics and the few adepts are the only classes to be of service to all the clans, and as such, are the Rimenosha’s favored class. (For purposes of multi-classing, adepts and druids are considered essentially the same as clerics. Druids however, only appear within the Clans of Will.) Among the (First) Clans of Law are found primarily clerics, but also included are the rare dwarven paladins, occasional experts and bards who most often specialize in storytelling, serving also as the repositories of much of the dwarven oral lore and understanding of law. Monks, while not unheard of are few and far between among these clans. Such bards make skillful teachers for the newly formed. Any of the other First Elders could conceivably inspire paladins, but only the Clans of Sorrow fulfill a role in Rimenoshan society in which a paladin’s abilities would also be of use. The Clans of Joy (or Light) are most often bards, but also include in their numbers many experts, knowledgeable in a wide array of skills useful in the day-to-day functioning of the Delve, particularly the healing arts. Also, when psionic wilders appear they are adopted into these clans. These are also the only clans in which illusionists serve any function in dwarven society. Exclusively among the Clans of Sorrow are found the fighters of dwarven society. Paladins in this clan often do not appear for many generations, but are not entirely unknown. Psychic warriors and soul-knives are also adopted into these clans and in rare cases, monks as well. (These last are becoming slightly more common, one or two appearing in most generations among most Delves.) Likewise, in most Delves will be found one or two bards inspiring these clans and sometimes sorcerers and wizards skilled in abjuration, enchantment or evocation. In the Clans of Building (also sometimes called Clans of Tracing) are frequently experts in their related skills, but also the rangers and rogues which sometimes appear in the Delves. These generally serve the People as scouts, messengers and guides. As more dwarves venture out under the Great Vault, a handful among these clans are learning the skills of sailors (and shipbuilding). The Clans of Making also predominantly consist of experts in a vast array of crafts. The occasional wizard (primarily conjurers and transmuters) and psion can also be found among them, primarily as magical (and psychic) artificers. The Clans of Fate, only slightly more populous than those of Will (for now at least,) most frequently of all the clans adopt sorcerers and wizards, most of whom are highly capable diviners. Dwarven monks are most often found among the Final Clans (of Manifestation). These also frequently adopt psions, as well as wizards and sorcerers skilled in the areas of conjuration, evocation and transmutation. As a result of exposure to other races, a growing number of these clans’ members are becoming druids as well. In such an egalitarian society, nobles have no more place than necromancers and barbarians are invariably clanless outcasts.

Furthermore, in adapting to and incorporating the concepts and perceptions of those races which originated beneath the Great Vault, as well as integrating its inherent phenomenon into their cosmology, the Rimenosha have come to view its exploration as an inherently spiritual and religious endeavor. Since the principals of fire, light and heat have always been viewed as forces exerted by the Will of the World in the shaping of the Great Matrix, the suns are then seen as extremely potent manifestations of these forces. Here the basic sensations (both physical and emotional) of pleasure and pain are easily recognized as definitive indicators of action either in accordance with, or counter to, the Will of the World. The sacred fire both hurts the living and transforms the dead. In this light, the sacred as “the dangerous power of the divine” expressed in the related deities is obvious to the Rimenosha. Arising from their original view of Benaedrass as the “First Light,” her association with Salistreah follows readily, and indeed, Salistreah can be seen as representing the same basic concepts and ethos of Benaedrass taken to a potentially dangerous extreme. A similar parallel may be drawn between the ethos and teachings of Rimilnix and Jessanak, both law-givers to their respective Peoples, yet the laws of Jessanak are likewise viewed as a potentially dangerous extreme being taken beyond the inherent reverence for life. Such fires, wielded out of hand or to excess can certainly kill. As yet, no consensus has been formed (such as it has regarding Thelema,) in equating the deities in either of these parings as being identical, or avatars of one or the other, or as entirely separate entities who happen to share a similar ethos.

Where banishment from the Delve once meant almost certain death, it now means an opportunity for the miscreant to literally explore the implications and results of their choices in the larger expanse of the world and so offers the possibility of redemption and return to the Delve with greater wisdom. As the Rimenoshan population grows there has been a very slow but steady increase in the proportional numbers of young dwarves entering the Clans of Will, with more and more of their members voluntarily undertaking a period of searching for meaning beneath the Great Vault. This has been one of the leading factors behind the growing dialog between the Clans of Will and various other churches and religious orders, especially the Disciples of the Ways along with its affiliated churches, and the Druid Groves. Members of the Final Clans find deep affinity with the practice and perspective of the Druids in particular and are starting to represent a gradual influx of that class into Rimenoshan society. They at the same time are perceived by others as offering a synthesis of the metaphysical perspectives and approaches of druids, clerics and monks in the search for enlightenment. Ultimately, theological scholars of Panisadore are uncertain of how to view these clans in terms of deity and church. The Rimenosha declare the Great Matrix and the Will of the World to be one and the same, a unified entity beyond any anthropomorphizing. In Dwarven terms, to say that the world creates itself in its own image is to state the ridiculously obvious – if you wish to comprehend the form of this Primordial deity you have merely to look around, as it is displayed in the forms of all existence. The concept then appears to others as an even greater abstraction, through the unification, of Dashin and Wu-Jai. For their part, dwarven theologians tend to perceive these two Primordial deities as being essentially the primary forms of this unified entity’s expression in the Great Vault’s rarefied region of the Great Matrix. Some equate then, the Great Matrix and the Will of the World as absolutely identical to the unified source or wellspring of druidic power and abilities (lying beyond the separations of the Primordial deities), particularly in that it represents a specific source of divine power as channeled by clerics characterized by the absence of personification as declared by druids. Both druids and dwarves consider any debate of this point to be a splitting of hairs much too fine.

Given that the teachings of this deity are considered inexpressible and it’s form so comprehensive as to be indescribable, the few in a position to do so are tempted to equate it with Who Cannot Be Named, or at least some manner of Hir avatar. However, in this case there definitely are clerics, receiving directly from their deity granted spells and abilities, with clearly identifiable access to a surprisingly large number of domains even though no specific being or avatar providing them can be identified. Therefore the Matrix and Will can be positively declared as a definite something somehow lying in between and bridging the transcendental aloofness of the indescribable ultimate reality of the Over-deity Who Cannot Be Named and the immanent manifestation of the acknowledged deities in that it acts like one of them without evidently being one of them. Neither dwarves nor druids would bother to dispute this assertion were it presented to them, but would still tend to view it as hair splitting approaching the point of irrelevance. Regardless, while as yet there does not appear to be any dwarven contingent active within the Unseen, the latter (albeit tiny) group is no doubt very much aware of the Final Clans’ activities and teachings. Should contact be established between the two, the Unseen will almost certainly swell astronomically in both numbers and influence as the Rimenosha are recognized by the (again, tiny handful of world-wide) observers as being by far the most likely to attain enlightenment as an entire race, with the Clans of Will becoming the most populous of their clans.

At present, dwarven participation in the activities of the Hands of Peace and other orders is not unheard of, but they do not constitute a significant factor or influence in these orders given the relatively small numbers of dwarves currently active in the world outside of their Delves. Where the Hands of Peace are active in regions proximate to a Delve or other large dwarven enclave they often will receive much assistance from the Clans of Joy, Making and Building in their endeavors, but the Rimenosha rarely travel with them elsewhere as need dictates their order’s movements. Dwarven lifespan has not grown appreciably shorter with the increase in fertility, and as their population continues to grow (especially given an increasing influx into the Clans of Will) they will no doubt begin to exert a greater cultural influence upon the world overall, along with a greater participation in its affairs. Given their remarkable ability to quickly and surely produce results and effects of the concepts they choose to implement on a very large scale it is likely that the other races in the world may soon see the incontrovertible manifestations of Rimenoshan values to which they also ascribe, at least insofar as paying lip-service to them, but have been far more reluctant to act upon amid the myriad concerns of their day-to-day living. In short (if you will pardon the puns) the Rimenosha are a rising force in Panisadore which, so far, has been overlooked by the taller races originally inhabiting the Great Vault.

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Rimenosha

Of Poets, Fools and Madmen. . . Snargash_Moonclaw