It is of interest that Khordaldrum have over seven hundred words in their language that describe rocks, and over a hundred words that are derogatory towards beings that think a rock is just a rock". - Shylock Weir, noted Sage.
"When you build, you start with the foundation because all else rests upon the strength of that foundation. Same with society, where rules and laws are the foundation upon which the people stand. You knock the foundation; you are going to fall." - Runemaster Gavlic Pickhammer.
"We thought that the Khords would understand, but they couldn't see past the incident, they couldn't bend their laws and rules. For that, we were at war for six hundred years." - Unknown Sylvari seer
Writer's Note: This write-up draws heavily upon an article written by Roger E. Moore in Dragon Magazine #58, February 1982, "The Dwarven Point of View". Yes, we are talking over 20 years ago but I highly respect the writing of Roger E. Moore so I wanted it noted.
Deep in the mountains of
Khordal live a race of beings that dwell in cavern homes, who
dig deep into the earth and mine for gold and riches. These
are the Khordaldrum, which roughly means "The chosen people
of Khordal." They are a hardy race that lives deep under
the mountains, building vast cities and mines within the rock
and earth. Of all the races of Audalis, the Khordaldrum are
the most reclusive, even more so than the Gilskalos or the Slaa'kar.
The People: The
Khordaldrum race is known for being sturdy and strong. As a
long-lived race, they can easily attain three hundred years
in age, and remain quite active through the majority of those
years. They are often called "Khords" by the other
races and sometime "Kords," although a Khordaldrum
always prefers to be called by his given name. While they rarely
grow much taller than four feet, Khordaldrum are very solidly
built (weighing usually over 130 lbs) and make excellent warriors.
Their skin is usually tan or ruddy; hair is normally brown,
occasionally black, sometimes red, although very rarely. Eye
color is typically brown for the males, although it is said
that Khord females have violet or green eyes. Khord males have
a tendency to go gray early in life, around sixty or seventy
years, which is considered a mark of distinction in their society.
All Khords, both male and female, have beards. A clean-shaven
Khord is an outcast, this being a lowest sign of disgrace and
Most Khordaldrum make their
homes in the subterranean cities under the Khordal mountain
range, though a few opt for aboveground settlements. Centuries
ago, a second Khordaldrum nation existed in the Chakran mountains,
but the inhabitants there were exterminated by the crunaik,
goblins, and trolls that also made their homes in those same
mountains. Many Khordaldrum still dream of the day when the
Chakrans will be reclaimed from the foul beasts that slew their
kin, and rumors persist that a small clan of Chakrandrum survived
and live on deep within the bowels of the earth. The Chakrandrum
were a very similar race to the Khordaldrum, with the exception
of being taller (4 to 4.5 feet tall), and fairer of skin and
Culture and Society:
Rules. They are the heart and soul of Khord society and each
and every last Khord lives and dies by the rules. The people
live in vast caverns, built from the rock and earth, carved
carefully from the living stone. If one rule is not followed,
one part of a column done in haste and without care of the rules,
then the cavern will probably collapse. One can only imagine
how important rules must be to the Khordaldrum, given that context.
A Khord that breaks the rules is banished from society without
exception. A Khord that breaks the rules and thereby causes
the death of another is shaved, then banished - a fate worse
than death. All the rules, no matter how small or how important,
are kept in the Halls of Memory where the entire Gamulqolfelir
is carved into the walls and kept for all Khordaldrm to read.
[Editor's note: The written language of the Khords
is based on over five hundred different runes and symbols. Every
Khord child is taught to read and write the runes before their
As a function of the rules,
every Khord in Khordal knows what he is and where he ranks within
the society. He knows what to do to help a craftsman, he knows
who to go to when he is not feeling well, and he knows what
he can say and what he can not. This may be part of why Khords
have so much trouble with other races, because they cannot classify
them into any rank of their society other than "outsider".
Khord social structure is
not widely known or understood by outsiders. Many Khords never
leave their homes for their entire lives, instead devoting all
of their energy to crafts and smithing. Others become warriors,
defending the homelands from invaders above and below. Yet,
where are the women? Very few outsiders have even seen a Khord
female, and some have pondered that there is no visual difference
between male and female Khordaldrum. That is not true; female
Khords are indeed bearded, slightly shorter than males, and
tend to be round-shaped with large bosoms.
A little known fact about Khords is that for every four born,
three will be male. Given this disproportion in the male to
female ratio, Khord males who do not find a mate in life will
devote themselves and their energies to working on their chosen
profession. Married Khords also have professions, but it is
generally accepted that bachelors do the better work. Female
Khords mostly tend to home and hearth, attending to the needs
of children and education. It is taught among the Khords that
males deal with the big issues, while females deal with the
small. To the outsider this may seem a bit derogatory to the
women, but it is not true to the Khordaldrum. It is understood
in their society that there are many more small issues than
big, and if they are not dealt with effectively, then society
The family is the most important
part of the Khordaldrum life. Families live together, building
subsections off of their homes as needed. Every family has a
Patriarch who represents them in outer council meetings. Married
couples will have their own dwellings, while bachelors often
stay in the same series of caverns. As the typical Khord female
has four children in her lifetime, it is considered good if
one child becomes a craftsmen, another a warrior, the third
a part of the clergy, and finally a female to help continue
the race. If a fourth male is born, then they are the one encouraged
to marry to help build the family. Marriage ceremonies are planned
years in advance, last for two weeks, and invitations to these
events are relished and highly sought. Once a couple is married,
the female is officially adopted into the family of the male
and takes his name. This adoption is often ridiculed by the
other races, as it does mean that the couple technically becomes
brother and sister, but the Khords do not understand the joke.
Marriages are often prearranged
between families, many times as soon as a female child is born,
and the women do the choosing. With so few females and so many
males, it is considered unwise to let these things happen by
chance, and generally male Khords are just glad to be picked.
Whether part of their heritage or whether the women are good
at "picking" couples, most marriages among the Khords
are considered happy, although there is the fact that they will
go long periods of time without seeing each other.
Khords often find it hard
to understand other races because they do not follow the same
world views. Raised to believe that rules are the foundation
of society, Khords have a problem understanding the "frivolous"
Sylvari, the "promiscuous" humans and the "damned
Part of this also lies in the fact that Khordaldrum have a completely
different sexual makeup than the other races. Female Khords
are only in "season" for a period of three days every
three years. During that time they give off an earthy scent
(like peat moss) that will drive a male Khord into a lustful
state. Married Khords usually lock themselves in their homes
during this "fertile" season (Orta-dal as the
Khords say). Females usually go through this starting at age
fifty. However, other than during the season, there is no sexual
activity. If a male Khord goes his entire life without ever
marrying or seeing a female in this state, he will never feel
the urge. This is why Khords are baffled by the other races'
need to court, kiss, cuddle, and fool around; it is all a waste
of time to them. This is not to say that a Khord never feels
love - indeed, when a male Khord dies, it is not unusual for
his wife to die of the "weeping" disease, an illness
created by severe grief where the female essentially cries herself
to death. Those that do recover from the grief will usually
not remarry for decades.
There are many different
kinds of craftsmen and professions within Khordal. Metals are
forged into mighty weapons, gems and rock carved into artistic
pieces of beauty. It is said that a Khord hates to see a naked
blade, - which is to say that every piece that is worked upon
has some artwork bestowed upon it. Even the simplest of pots
and pans will have the seleta mark of the maker upon
it. This seleta mark is a source of great pride among
the Khords, and they will remark upon them to others. (See this
hammer? Look here, it's a Relis! See, here is his seleta).
The Khordaldrum love to work hard and enjoy their professions.
Anything less than twelve hours is a leisure day, and even warriors
will spar for hours, only to take their turn at helping the
Warriors are held in high
regard in Khord society, and are very necessary. The lands of
the Khords are often beset by many a foul creature, from trolls,
ogres, and goblins to even viler creatures awoken by the Khordaldrum
digging too deep into the bowels of the earth. Another profession
held very high among the Khords is the sapper. A type of warrior,
a sapper combines the fighting skills of a soldier with the
engineering skills of a miner. The sapper is the first into
any newly discovered caves or grottos. It is said that sappers
can look at a stone on the ground and realize whether a cavern
is safe to claim or best left alone.
In combat, the Khordaldrum
favor the double-edged axe or the warhammer. Looking at a Khord,
it is not hard to see why, as they are not built for finesse-type
weapons. Some Khords use short swords, light spears, or other
such weapons, but most chose the axe and hammer.
It is often said that Khordaldrum
are completely without a sense of humor. The Khord response
to that would be that it is false; he will laugh when he hears
something truly funny! Although an extremely serious and somber
race, they do enjoy a good laugh over a nice frothy tankard
of ale or hard cider. The reason that Khords are seen among
the other races as humorless is that to them, each individual
must be the epitome of Khordaldrum kind when they are among
other beings. Therefore, it takes a while for a Khord to feel
comfortable enough around others to let down the guard, push
the rules to the back of the mind, and simply relax.
The Khordaldrum have a higher
alcohol tolerance than most races, and can drink an exceptional
amount of libations without feeling the effect. The preferred
drink of most is ale, followed by hard cider and mead. No Khord
will drink wine willingly ("if I wanted water, lass, I'd
ask for it!"). In Khordal, there is a drink that the warriors
drink called zhan-vunlgen or "Khordaldrum Liquor".
This is a harsh drink, and very potent; few of the other races
can stomach it. It is so strong that even among the Khords,
one tankard is enough to put a male warrior on the floor.
Trade and Commerce:
Khordaldrum merchants trade the goods and products of the craftsmen
among themselves and to the aboveground races of Antaron. Metal
goods, weapons, armor, jewelry, and crafted metallurgy are traded
by the merchants in exchange for foodstuffs, cloth, and other
goods that are not readily available to the Khordaldrum. On
the bigger scale, the Khords are the source for about forty
perfect of the iron ore and sixty percet of the gold in Antaron.
If it weren't for the goods
they sell being so highly needed, no one would ever willingly
deal with a Khord merchant. They rarely haggle and if they do,
they don't deviate from the price much. All the merchants use
the same prices (rules, don't you know) and it is hard to find
a bargain with a Khord.
One particular trade good
that will get a Khordaldrum merchant bargaining is mithril.
This fine metal, the secret of which is held by the Sylvari,
is like ambrosia to the Khords. They love it and they like to
have it. Many a Khord smith has tried unsuccessfully to figure
out the secret of mithril, and it remains a point of contention
between the Khordaldrum and the Sylvari.
Religion: Religion is a very vibrant
part of a Khordaldrum's life. They worship Kharox, or Gamultinader
in their language, and it is considered part of a family's honor
to enter a son into the clergy. There are three different clerical
followings of Kharox, each with its own function and purpose
Art of Olorfarluk, the World Carvers: Followers of this teaching
seek to make their marks upon the world according to the vision
of Kharox. This is the largest sect of his teachings that keeps
Kharox's laws called the Gamulqolfelir, the Grand Vision.
The home of these followers is in the Warrens of Gunthras in
Khordal with other shrines and followings in Settlestone and
Jaycern. World Carvers seek to preserve the great works of the
Khordaldrum as well as work towards making even grander and
more breathtaking works of beauty from the earth.
Sentinels of Runes: The Sentinels are guardians of sacred places.
These followers study ancient arts, architecture, and engineering
to create some of the grand tombs, temples, forests, and rivers
seen in the world of Audalis. Whether natural or formed by hand,
the Sentinels use their knowledge, creativity, magic, and their
abilities to protect holy places. Some of the most famous traps
and protection devices have been devised by the Sentinels.
Runemasters: Among the Khordaldrum, there is a small group that
is held in high esteem. While the World Carvers are keepers
of the Laws, the Khun-kharad, or Runemasters, are keepers of
all lore and knowledge that is sacred. They are the defenders
of secrets, and the last line of defense against demons and
elemental creatures that slumber within the earth's core. Unless
they are on a specific quest for knowledge or an artifact, the
Runemasters will not venture forth from Khordal. Most Runemasters
would prefer to stay home in the mine and curl up with a good
Values and Taboos: As
strange as it sounds to the other races, Khords hold great value
in their beards. Their facial hair tells a story to other Khords
and they read one another's like a book. A braid in a beard
is something highly valued by the Khords, both male and female.
When a Khord performs a deed or action that exemplifies the
Gamulqolfelir or shows great honor, they are allowed
to tie a braid in their beard. No one would dare tie one without
performing such an act, as wearing a braid will bring prompt
other Khords to ask, "Tell us how you earned that braid."
A bead within the braid means that a life was saved and the
family of the rescued has given honor to that Khord. Two braids
woven together through a single bead represent a sacrifice.
A grouping of silver or golden threads in a braid represents
acts of faith or steadfastness.
Stories and tales of heroic
deeds and Khordaldrum steadfastness are enjoyed by all, along
with song. Khords tend to enjoy songs that are shared by a group
and generally make all other races look ridiculous in comparison
to Khordaldrum kind.
There is a Sylvari saying
that all topics are taboo to the Khordaldrum. Certainly with
the structured lives of the race, it is very limited what they
will discuss among themselves, let alone with outsiders. Among
themselves, it is considered very taboo to talk about another
Khord's wife. It is very bad manners to use another dwarf's
tools without permission. This rule alone could explain the
special dislike of cidals that the Khordaldrum are known to
have. However, to offer another Khord the use of your tools
is considered a high honor.
The Khordaldrum value hard
work, good craftsmanship, and time honored traditions. Family,
home, and hearth are at the core of their existence, and they
enjoy peace and harmony. That being said, a Khord will never
shy from a fight, and they do not fear dying for their homeland,
family, or race.
Large bodies of water and
things that are used to cross them are not liked by Khords.
The general dislike comes from the bulky and solid physique
of the race, which is not meant for swimming; truth be told,
most Khords would sink faster than an anchor in water. Another
general dislike of the Khordaldrum are horses. They do not like
riding horses, for basically the same reason - their short stature
makes riding difficult at the best of times.
One of the biggest values
and taboos rolled into one lies in the prized weapon or tool
of the family Patriarch. When a family loses their Patriarch
to age or battle, the chosen weapon if he was a warrior, or
tool if he was a craftsman, is passed to the eldest son. The
ceremony is very sacred, and is always attended by members of
the clergy. The celebration afterwards rivals that of marriage
as the family celebrates the new Patriarch and the fond memories
of the ones who have passed. The eldest son has no choice in
this - he must take the offering and the role given to him,
and abandon all previous plans. If a Khordaldrum were to ever
refuse this honor, they would be shaved and banished forever,
never again allowed to return.
Game Terms (d20):
·+2 Constitution, -2 Charisma:
·Medium-size: As Medium-size creatures, Khords have no
special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
·Khordaldrum base speed is 20 feet.
·Darkvision: Khords can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like
normal sight, and Khords can function just fine with no light
·Stonecunning: Stonecunning grants Khords a +2 racial
bonus on checks to notice unusual stonework, such as sliding
walls, stonework traps, new construction (even when built to
match the old), unsafe stone surfaces, shaky stone ceilings,
and the like. Something that isn't stone but that is disguised
as stone also counts as unusual stonework. A Khord who merely
comes within 10 feet of unusual stonework can make a check as
if he were actively searching, and a Khord can use the Search
skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can. A Khord can also
intuit depth, sensing his approximate depth underground as naturally
as a human can sense which way is up. Khords have a sixth sense
about stonework, an innate ability that they get plenty of opportunity
to practice and hone in their underground homes.
·+2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison: Khords
are hardy and resistant to toxins.
·+2 racial bonus on saving throws against spells and
·+1 racial bonus to attack rolls against orcs, crunaik,
and goblinoids (goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears): Khords are
trained in the special combat techniques that allow them to
fight their common enemies more effectively.
·+4 dodge bonus against giants: This bonus represents
special training that Khords undergo, during which they learn
tricks that previous generations developed in their battles
with giants. Note that any time a character loses his positive
Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, such as when he's caught flat-footed,
he loses his dodge bonus, too.
·+2 racial bonus on Appraise checks that are related
to rare or exotic items: Khords are familiar with valuable items
of all kinds (especially those made of stone or metal).
·+2 racial bonus on Craft checks that are related to
stone or metal: Khords are especially capable with stonework
·Favored Class: Fighter. A multiclass Khord's fighter
class does not count when determining whether he suffers an
XP penalty for multiclassing. Khordaldrum culture extols the
virtues of the warrior, and the vocation comes easily to Khords.
Game Terms (OSGS):
·+1 Constitution; -1 Charisma
·bonus to Khords' saving throws against attacks from
magical wands, staves, rods, and spells. This bonus is +1 for
every 3 - ½ points of Constitution score. Thus, for example,
if a Khord has a Constitution score of 7 he gains +2 on saving
Saving Throw Bonus
·Khords have exceptional resistance to toxic substances.
All Khordaldrum characters make saving throws against poison
with the same bonuses that they get against magical attacks.
·In melee, Khords add 1 to their dice rolls to hit orcs,
half-orcs, goblins, and hobgoblins. When ogres, trolls, ogre
magi, or giants attack Khords, these monsters must subtract
4 from their attack rolls because of the Khords' small size
and combat ability against these much bigger creatures.
·Khordaldrum infravision enables them to see up to 60
feet in the dark.
·Khords are miners of great skill. While underground,
they can detect the following information when within 10 feet
of the particular phenomenon (but they can determine their approximate
depth below the surface at any time).
Detect grade or slope in
passage 1-5 on 1d6
Detect new tunnel/passage construction 1-5 on 1d6
Detect sliding/shifting walls or rooms 1-4 on 1d6
Detect stonework traps, pits, and deadfalls 1-3 on 1d6
Determine approximate depth underground 1-3 on 1d6
Thanks to Roger (Alacrity) Briant for this contribution!