The Vrachos Dur (Deep Dwarves) are a sub-species of Dur characterized by their dappled, craggy grey skin and fiery red or snowy white beards and hair. Vrachos are known for being stout traditionalists, unbending in their belief that the Dur belong within the embrace of Sha'uru, not living atop her. They are attuned to the darkness of the Sunless Roads and the flora within, making them adept blind fighters and master poisoners.
Note: Please remember that all of the information provided herein is an overarching synopsis of the species- a stereotype, if you will. That means that in most cases, you are free to tweak your character away from the generalities listed here. If your character concept does not quite match up with a bullet point below, that's fine! If you're still concerned it might not be acceptable, please contact a staff member. Thank you!
The Vrachos Dur are the eldest of the Durrish species. They claim to have existed in Calydon before the Nisse and Humans were made by the Flame of the Hearth and Forge. The more religious among them often call themselves the First Forged. They have also kept to themselves within their underground communities for most of world history. During the Orc Wars, from 1518 to 1568, they traversed Sunless Roads that went under the Blackwater Sea and into Lerna. They would attack Orc Bands by tunneling beneath their settlements and causing sinkholes. Unfortunately, a large Orc Band got the idea to explore caves until they found the Sunless Roads, and a massive horde of Orcs pushed all the way into Calydon. The Vrachos saw this as proof that they should not become involved in the war in the first place, and caved in all of the passages into Lerna. A few of the cave-ins were done improperly and created a few of the underground salt lakes from the spill of the Blackwater Sea. From that point on, the Vrachos stopped becoming involved in greater world political matters. This is how the Forged Kingdoms were created in the first place, the Vuono King claimed that they were one sovereign nation, and the Vrachos noted that it changed nothing about their current situation save that they sent a representative to the Vuono capital. Much like the stone they admire, change in Vrachos society tends to happen when small amounts of pressure are applied over a long period of time.
Government and Politics
Durrish society was previously broken into royal families, nobility, minor nobility, and peasantry but with the changing times, royalty and nobility have transformed into merchant houses. These merchant houses are usually run at the highest levels by the family and lower positions are filled by non-merchant Vrachos or Homunculi. Vrachos families build ties in much the same way as was done in the age of royalty- the occasional arranged marriage, trade agreements, and favorable gifts.
The Kroner originated as a Durrish currency and the strength of it was so steady and so great that other species began accepting and integrating it into their economies. It would be an insult to their history to use anything but Kroner.
The Vrachos Dur are renowned for their mushroom farming, poisons, and mining of aurum and crystals so these are hungrily sought after as commodities for use and for selling.
The Vrachos Dur cities are exclusively underground and connected by well-traveled and well-patrolled sections of the Sunless Roads. Vrachos lands consist solely of large metropolitan cities, there are no small towns or suburbs due to the nature of their living conditions and the dangers inherent in the Sunless Roads. Vrachos are a stationary species, unlikely to move around with frequency.
As stated above, Vrachos find any other currency or ways of barter outside the Kroner to be an inferior method of barter and an affront to the Dur. They also gravitate toward Dur-run organizations where possible, as they trust their own blood and kin more than anyone else.
Culture & Traditions
The social hierarchy is broken down by Durrish House, the wealthiest and most politically powerful are at the top. The top of this social ladder currently is the Slatebeard clan, the matriarch being Brona Slatebeard. She and her spouse have a wide array of business ventures spanning every major Vrachos settlement.
The seven major houses, their leaders, and primary occupations are:
Ferrule (Torba Ferrule); Fungal Farmers
Herringbone (Clovis Herringbone); Masons and Builders
Voussoir (Marcus Voussoir); Shipping and Transport
Wythe (Brutus Wythe); Chemical and Poison Manufacturing
Bassanite (Theadosia Bassanite); Hotel and Restaurant Magnets
Shalefist (Nathul Shalefist); Security Firm
The Vrachos Dur have no specific conventions about societal roles relating to gender or age; instead the older and more noble houses hold fast to the most sacred of traditional occupations, leaving more modern and non-traditional trades to the less noble houses and "outsiders".
The Vrachos celebrate Ancestral Remembrance Day (November 23rd). It is a minor holiday to the Vrachos, so a family will take the day off but the only real recognition for the holiday would be to add a chair and plate to the table for a passed family member.
The Feast of the Solstice (December 21st) is a much larger holiday for the Vrachos. They often take half days on the Eve of the Feast and have the entire day of The Feast off, exchange gifts, and have large meals that encompass their entire extended family (or several families if there were inter-marriages). Particularly wealthy and philanthropic Vrachos may invite their employees or purchase small novelties for their Homunculi.
Durren's Day (March 1st) is a holiday of yore, when the intelligent species were all separate kingdoms. The Dur used to use a more complicated calendar system and so, their new year fell on a different day than the calendar of the others species (January 1). The Dur have been using the standard calendar for hundreds of years, but they still celebrate Durren's Day as a mark of their heritage with fireworks, alcohol, and music.
Vrachos value truthfulness and trustworthiness in others. If they feel they cannot trust you completely, you are not considered their inner circle. More conservative Vrachos may put more emphasis on "pure-bloodedness," but they are a minority in the greater Vrachos community. Vrachos are very in-tune with the stones and earth they inhabit so some are more disposed toward the beliefs of the Children of Sha'uru.
A Vrachos would test food and drink given to them from an unknown or untrustworthy source for poisons, if able to. They may fuss that the giver try it first to ensure it is not poisoned.
(Out of Game Note: Food and drink purchased directly from the game-run bar will never be poisoned. It is encouraged that your PC roleplay checking the food/drink if that is within their personality but, regardless, we do not want you to feel you have to check with a staff member after every purchase or fear in-game consequences for utilizing our service. This promise does not prevent players from buying from the game-run bar, poisoning the food/drink, and then giving it to you, however.)
'Stargazers Syndrome' is a fabled disease that befalls Vrachos who spend too much time on the surface. It is mostly told to children to illustrate that a proper Vrachos stays underground as much as possible. Vrachos with this illness are said to grow pale and dizzy whenever they return to the stone and short of breath because their lungs can no longer handle the hearty, pure air below the surface. Children are warned that spending too much time on the surface can make their lungs so weak they die when they visit home. Modern physicians believe the origin of these stories is most likely from Vrachos hundreds of years ago (prior to modern medicine and study) who explored the surface and returned with consumption.
There are numerous stories of adventurers who explored and beat back the denizens of the more wild areas of the Sunless Roads. Griswold the Adept, The Great RedHammer, and Penelope vonn Amli are a few of the most commonly told tales.
Other Dur—Partially due to their inability to fully integrated steam technology into their cityscapes (Vrachos cities were not built with the appropriate ventilation in mind), their extreme profitability off the technology, and also because of the archaic belief that Dur come from the ground and thus should remain within it, Vrachos resent Ouranos Dur obsession with Aetherships and find their flying cities to be ostentatious and profane. Vrachos believe their squabble with the Vuono Dur infantile, though the removal of their metal in favor of feathers insulting. Vrachos would never outright dismiss either species though, having a deep-seeded respect for the bond of blood and family.
Nisse—The Vrachos find the tiff between Ouranos and Vand Nisse ludicrous and a small subset take joy in utilizing the services of the seafaring Nisse over their Dur brethren. It is cheaper and safer, after all. Slagte Nisse are a touch off-putting to the Vrachos, but they can appreciate the austere nature and their precision. Vrachos take pride in the near monopoly they have in regard to Slagte poison purchasing. Being one of the longer-lived species, Vrachos have an appreciation for the way things were during the Time of Magic and they are relieved the Afsla Nisse are so driven in finding a solution. The Afsla themselves are haughty and exacting, a personality that causes an equal measure of respect and irritation in the Vrachos.
Humans—The Imperial Humans and Vrachos get along fairly well, with a shared appreciation for social status and a fond remembrance of "the old days." Vrachos disapprove of the Wayfaring Seekers and their way of life, considering them mostly vagrants and vagabonds who need to grow up. The vast majority of their diet comes from trade with The Tribes of Barlethan and for that, the Vrachos are incredibly wary of them.
Goblinites—Far and away, the Vrachos are the most cruel to Gnomes and exercise most freely the laws allowing Gnomish execution in their lands. However, the Vrachos are still traditionalists who believe the law of the land must be followed and will refrain from doing so in neutral and contested territory. They are also the most likely of their Durrish kin to remind or stop another Dur from breaking that law. Interactions between Halflings and Vrachos are usually aloof and reserved. Halflings get angry at very little, but the disrespect and downright hatred the Vrachos show toward Gnomes is not something they can stand, and it shows. The trademark confidence, often seen as haughtiness, of Kobolds toward non-Nisse species grates on the Vrachos, making interactions very tense, even when in a working relationship. Homunculi are not an uncommon sight in the employ of a Vrachos.
Goblins—Despite a shared interest and bustling trade between the two in Alchemy, alchemical supplies, and the occasional Homunculus, Vrachos have a deeply ingrained distrust of Goblins, seeing them as little more than wretched creatures scraping by on the goodwill of Humans.
Vrachos mining companies are very interested in Antioch as a means to control more of the Aurum supply. It vexes them that the Vuono profit more off of Aurum veins that the Vrachos.
Vrachos are also very interested in greater access to supplies for their poison trade, or perhaps even discovering new components for different or more powerful brews.
Vrachos believe that there may be possible way to reach Antioch via the Sunless roads, however they understand that the trip would be quite long and arduous.
Vrachos know that there are dangerous creatures in the Sunless roads that must be fought and kept from reaching the surface. There is a particularly nasty type of creature called Mindeaters that are known to be quite powerful and frightening. Few have encountered one up close and those who have when alone have not survived to tell the tale. They have hairless sallow skin and pitch black eyes.