Publicada por Arith Härger / 11:17 PM /
Nidavellir: The Realm Below
Nidavellir isn't like a city or just one location. It's a complex labyrinth of "territories." They're sort of like main corridors that are like freeways and nobody really owns them. Then you have personal dwellings that just branch off. Often a wrong turn would walk you into someone's bedroom or dining room. One 'castle' has a clearly lit doorway, and thus you know that you are incide" and not just of thearea/village.
Residents: The Duergar
Most of what this guidebook says about dealing with the Duergar can be found in the chapter dedicated to the characteristics of their race. They are the absolute masters of this world; while the Dokkalfar rule in their forests, they are aware that they still inhabit this world at the whim of the Duergar.
Visiting Nidavellir is not that difficult. The main areas of Nidavellir are a hub of trade from all the worlds except Helheim, and there are hundreds of visitors coming and going at any given time. The Duergar take advantage of this, with fairly high prices for food, drink, and the crowded displays of saleable items. Capitalism is alive and well in this part of the Nine Worlds, where every bit of gold eked from tourists and traders enriches this barren country. Assuming that you bring at least some reasonably quality goods for sale, or the means to buy something, you can walk right in.
Duergar guides to the area are, as we have mentioned, easily for sale. They know better than to walk you into private homes or off-limits areas, so they are quite worthwhile. You don't generally need to worry about being led into a dark alley and rolled for your meager pocket change; harm done to tourists and traders is bad for business and is sharply punished. The young Duergar who make a trade out of guiding tourists are generally smarter than that. There is no rule, however, against constantly jacking costs for anything "off the beaten path". That includes helping you to find certain famous names among the Duergar, and their various halls, and getting an introduction for the possible purpose of training or education. For each of these specialties, the price will go up, and it is up to you and your pocketbook as to whether it will be worth it.
Usually what travelers have come for is to shop, and the main guided tours will be the hundreds of shops in the main area of the city, filled with gorgeous trinkets of metalwork, woodcarving, jewelry, statuary, etc. While other races might make lovely things, it is agreed by all that the Duergar are better at making it, whatever it is. The sole exception might be fiber arts, as they must import all their fiber and it is not a common art, but the few Duergar women who do weave and embroider are said to make breathtaking pieces.
Not only are they highly talented as a race, their work ethic shows in everything they make. Every piece offered for sale will be finished to the best of that dwarf's ability. The idea that they would make shoddy work in order to save money and cheat customers is an insult. Cheaper pieces were made by less skilled craftsmen, perhaps apprentices still learning the trade. The Duergar guilds - in some cases more like secret societies - monitor all work sold to the public with their seals of approval. Quality is far more important to them than quantity, which is why they have the reputation that they do, and why there are waiting lists for some particularly high-demand objects.
They also have a very good idea of what their work is worth, and what the market will bear. No Duergar, even an apprentice, sells his labor for pennies - at least to outsiders. They will drive hard bargains; although the buyer, thinking of his purse, may feel that the prices are unfairly inflated, to the dwarf that he is facing it is simply a fair measure of his time and labor. One doesn't go to Nidavellir hoping to get a bargain on cheap toys with a bit of glamour on them; for that, one should find an Alfar peasant-merchant with a homely little caravan. Dwarves make high-quality luxury items, or solid practical things that will last several lifetimes and give good wear. Generally they will not mar the perfection of their creations with any glamour that shows them to be other than they are; to them, the quality of the creation should be able to stand on its own without help, or it should go back into the furnace to be melted down again. You can guarantee that a Duergar-make piece will be all that it looks and feels to be. On the other hand, they might lay a galdr on it that subtly calls out to passersby, attracting their attention and possibly sparking their greed, that they might suddenly find themselves craving the fine piece and impulsively buying it. To the dwarf, this is not such an unethical thing, because the workmanship is excellent and your life will be enhanced by owning the item, won't it? As they know a good deal about greed themselves, making a greed-galdr is an easy thing for them.
The most famous and skilled smiths, most of whom won't take commissions for mere mortals, are: The four Lovar brothers Dvalin, Alfrik, Berling, and Grer. The sons of the Duergar-King Ivaldi, Brokk, Eitri, and Sindri. Andvari the Fish, as he is called in Nidavellir, and his son Narvi. The last two are your best bet if you want someone who will deal with human beings.
For food, they keep extensive underground caverns filled with food that can be grown in the light and heat from magical artificial lightning - mostly root crops - or without any light at all, such as the famed hundred varieties of edible mushrooms (a few of which are valuable medicinals, or even hallucinogens). Duergar ale, in fact, is root-based, rather like vodka which is made from potatoes, rather than grain-based Vanaheim beer. It is said that they even make fungus-derived alcoholic drinks, but it is also said that it is unwise for the traveler to partake of them. Physically, the Duergar have a huge tolerance for alcohol, unrivaled even by most average-sized Jotnar. Their sturdy bodies can burn it off at a great speed, so accepting a challenge to a drinking contest with Duergar is extremely foolish.
Wealthy Duergar also keep herds of goats for their milk and meat; unlike sheep and cows, goats can survive on brush rather than grass, and they are kept in caverns and fed on branches brought in during the winter. In the summer, they are herded up the mountains daily for forage; Duergar goatherds are well-armed and well-paid, as nearly all the skirmishes between them and the Dokkalfar have come from goat-poaching. Some of the richer dwarves have imported pigs, raised in underground caves on roots and food scraps. Flocks of tame pigeons are the most common livestock, flying out daily through vent-holes in the caves and returning to underground roosts where their droppings are added to the underground gardens. Some poorer Duergar use and eat bats in the same way; it is a sign of the rather tenuous peace with the Dokkalfar that one of the names for a livestock bat is also applied to their elven neighbors.
Accepting food and drink from the Duergar is generally safe; it is very rare that they would attempt to poison or ensorcel someone with food. That's much more of an Alfar danger. At worst, they might try to get you drunk and then chivvy you into agreeing to something that you wouldn't dream of accepting while sober. Since turning down their gifts - including liquor - is considered terribly rude, you might try investing in a magical tankard that turns all liquid to water as soon as it is poured in. Make it sturdy-looking but not that attractive, so that it won't flag their covetous interest; you might put a sloppily sentimental line about some fictitious ex-lover on it as an excuse for only drinking out of that one cup. Another possibility is to provide them with a small-to-moderate quantity of very excellent alcohol, which you will be excused from imbibing in order that there be more for them.
Gifts - or payment, if you wish to buy from them - should come in the form of raw materials for their craftwork, especially things they don't have access to - exotic gems and precious stones, pure precious metals, shells, raw or spun fiber, fine hardwoods. You can also bring them food and drink, especially bread, fruit, and sweets, or herbs and spices. If you trade, be prepared to bargain hard, but remember that they will not take less than they think their work is worth.
Supported by Rod Landreth and RavenKaldera