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Old 11-18-2014, 10:38 AM
Immion Immion is offline

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Default Wildhammer Military and Culture?

For an upcoming P&P campaign taking place in the Hinterlands, I am currently trying to delve deep into the background of the Wildhammer clan, and I sure could need some help.

This is what I’ve come up with so far:

The world naturally becomes much larger in the P&P, and the Hinterlands encompass much more than just Aerie Peak in terms of Wildhammer settlements. Aerie Peak will be the capital of course, but there will be one or two other cities, as well as great number of small fortresses and villages harboring many different clans, and more Wildhammer dwarves will in fact live in these villages rather than in the great cities.

I would consider the gryphon riders to be the Wildhammer’s elite fighting force. Surely, there are not enough gryphons for just anybody to become a rider, and even if there was, the clans would still have need of regular guardsmen and soldiers to protect their settlements, as the gryphon riders have limited use against enemies sneaking through the great forest expanses. In this context, I am wondering about what the Wildhammer’s military might have looked like during the War of the Three Hammers. They did not have gryphons back then, and still they were able to go toe to toe with the forces of the Ironforge and Darkiron clans, so they must have been formidable even back then. One possibility would of course be that they were much more similar to their cousins in those days, also military wise, probably meaning heavily armored, tough infantry. Was it ever established when firearms were actually invented in Azeroth? Might the Wildhammer of that time have used them? For flair reasons, I would not like that very much, but I don’t think it is impossible.

Back in the present, I am going for a kind of primitive Highlander kind of culture. In the villages, I wouldn’t expect for the clans to have organized military units aside from the prestigious gryphon riders. Rather, each and every able-bodied clansman (and woman) would be expected to take up arms and defend the community. Of course, there would be those better suited to that kind of work, who would become something like regulars, but who still would not be soldiers in the strictest sense, and who would still have other duties/skills aside from that. The cities would still have soldiers and guardsmen, but after millenia of fighting against little more than disorganized troll warbands, I doubt that even these units would be highly organized and disciplined, relying on individual prowess rather than tightly knit formations.

Economy-wise, they these rural clansmen would for the most part be farmers and breeders of cattle and sheep. Even awesome dwarves have to eat, after all, and all that ale has to be made out of something. Despite of being more feral than their cousins, the Wildhammer are also still dwarves and would work with iron, which probably means there would be some sort of mining going on. Now, keeping in mind that the hill dwarves that love to live under the open sky would probably abhor little as much as crawling under the earth to dig to ore, this poses a potential problem. I tried to solve it with the following.

The different clans bicker and argue a lot. Each clan normally pretty much keeps to itself, and rivalries among the clans are common. Young dwarves are pretty much expected bring glory to their own clan by humbling its rivals. As a result, thefts between the clans are common, even somewhat encouraged. Sometimes even potential spouses are stolen from other clans, though rarely kept against their will if they truly wish to return to their clan afterwards. The idea is humiliation of the clan as a whole, not cruelty against any particular member. Usually, an appropriate fee is decided upon by the two parties, accompanied by lots of swearing and oaths of revenge, and then the abducted clansmember is returned to his/her family (this is especially embarrassing for male dwarves having been abducted by a woman from another clan). Sometimes, however, such potential spouses are actually quite smitten by their abductors’ courage and bravado, especially if no member of their own clan have displayed similar determination in showing his/her interest.

The more important part about this is what happens if these “criminals” are caught. First of all, a failed raid of this kind of course only shames the perpetrator’s own clan. Secondly, the potential value of whatever the dwarf was trying to steal has to be repaid in full, and this usually by working it off in the mines. If the clan in question owns a mine on his own, the sentence is usually carried out there. If it doesn’t, the perpetrator is “lent” to another clan who has a mine for the appropriate compensation, either in money or in ore. These transactions would be supervised by the shamans of the clans, who are considered to be neutral and working for the best of the land and all of its inhabitants.

That being said, I also intend for a few human villages to be around, as well as an elven village next to the hunting lodge, and many of the humans would actually work as miners for those clans that are not too proud to let them.

I also intend to carry over the classical notion of gryphons hating horses for some reason. I mainly like this idea because it gives me a good reason why the Wildhammer should have never sought to use horses as mounts or animals of burden. So while there are still wild horses roaming the Hinterlands, few people would be crazy enough to risk riding one, as there is always the risk of some wild gryphon deciding to take a swoop at you, as the new human settlers had to find out the hard way. So aside from a few crippled gryphons (alces) used as mounts by downed gryphon riders, the way to get around the Hinterlands would be either flying or on foot, maybe by ox cart between the villages and cities.

I think that’s pretty much all I have at the moment. I would love to hear your thoughts on it. If there is anything directly conflicting with established lore, don’t be shy to point that out. Otherwise, I am pretty open to other ideas to paint a more complete, plausible picture of what the Wildhammer society could look like.
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