Disclaimer: I really like dwarves. Tolkien dwarves, Dark Sun bald OCD dwarves, Warhammer 40k Biker Squats, Warhammer Fantasy Grudge-book red haired berserker dwarves and the Alcoholic Maniacs from Dwarf Fortress. But they have become a crutch from where I prop my ideas, and as such, they gotta go. Hence the history of their demise.
It had been 20 years since the last goblinoid was put on the run.
The “Goblin Purge”, was it was called, was a drawn-out and bloody affair, but resulted in the near extinction of orcs, ogres, goblins and giants.
A few years before the Purge, the human lands had been stricken with a deadly plague, but it only affected humans and half-elves. While their people died in droves on the streets of their cities, the Orc Clans Confederacy saw the opportunity to strike, and marched for war.
Orcs, ogres, gnolls and goblins ravaged the countryside, and the Hobgoblin fleet landed on every island and coastal city, blockading the defenders.
The human kingdoms fought fiercely, even as their infected troops succumbed to arrow and disease, knowing that would be last war. The corpses of the enemies piled against the walls, and served as ramps for the attackers.
The elves and dwarves offered token assistance. Certain forests and jungles under elvish rule were so threatening for the goblinoids, that human settlements on the borders benefitted from the relative peace.
However, no refugees were accepted under the argument of quarantine, even though scholars suspected that the fair folk were immune to the plague.
The dwarves kept a steady flow of weapons for the humans, but more than one kingdom was surprised when the enemies took routes through mountain passes that otherwise should be heavily guarded by the dwarven republics.
In the end, the humans were vanquished. With their cities razed and burnt, refugees fled to their so-called allies.
In foreign lands, the few humans who survived found little comfort. Reduced to servants, their masters denied proximity under the same pretense of not wanting to be infected with the deadly pathogen that had weakened the men and women who sought refuge.
Cold, heat, hunger, floods. All of this proved too much for the refugees, who dwindled too close to extinction. In far off lands, isolated clans and roving bands of nomads are still said to exist, but these could never challenge the dwarven or elven kingdoms.
Soon things became peaceful again, as internal conflicts kept the goblinoids from mounting an unified front.
Forests began to expand without the depredations of human logging activities, and the plateaus between the mountains were too heavily defended to be attacked from below.
The dwarven republics got greedy though, and unified under the Great Dwarf Collective, a new system were elected leaders overthrew the old clan appointed republican consuls.
This new government sought to rid the land of all goblinoids, and gathered every other intelligent creature from the underground into a foreign legion, promising citizenship in the dwarven lands after the whole affair was over.
They began their raids at night, emerging from behind the orcs and goblin lines, striking their recently rebuilt cities from below.
The ruined walls, still scarred from the war with the humans, were no match for veteran dwarven sappers, and fortifications were crumbled in exceptionally violent cave-ins.
The orcs and goblinoids still put on a fight, and the dwarven overlords rejoiced when the underground denizens legion engaged in large scale battles against the ancient enemies of all dwarfdom.
A meat grinder of a battle, in the same spot where the last human kingdom fell, marked the end of hostilities. A steel clad phalanx composed solely of dwarves mopped the last orcs, bruised and battered from slaughtering the cannon fodder that was thrown at them at the start of the battle.
The few underground creatures that survived the battle found out that second-class citizenship was all they would have, but were too weak to debate this proposition.
In the end, a delicate balance was set between the elves and the dwarves. Not having engaged in the final fight against the orcs, the elves grew their strength quietly, training thousands of light irregulars, hawk riders and moose cavalry.
The dwarves also fielded impressive quantities of soldiers, but their kingdom was too large for their own good, and these troops were often fighting enemies at the fringes of the empire. Nonetheless, if pressed into action, every worker of the Collective could fight, and would carry fine dwarven steel into battle.
Things would change when particularly large incursion of giant ants plagued the underground farms of the Dwarven Collective.
These creatures were troublesome, as they bypassed many of the chokepoints and strongholds made to deter an invasion from the surface. Although few dwarven defenders actually died in the struggle, it was enough to disrupt the food supply of an empire that was already stretched thin.
Meanwhile, disturbing reports started to arrive from the more distant outposts. Whole settlements disappeared overnight, but no sign from sieges or break-in were detected: the attacks came from below.
This detail was too disturbing, as no one dug deeper that the dwarves. Even though, it kept happening, and expeditions were sent to the caves and passageways that the attackers left behind.
Small even for dwarven standards, these tunnels were dug with claws and teeth, although crude stone tools were scattered about.
Soon, the truth was unveiled.
In great caverns that stretched from under the elven lands, a new enemy had been bidding their time, and amassing great strength: the Mole People.
These creatures were cunning, used stone tools and farmed extensive fungal farms, and were expert diggers. Their numbers were great, and once the dwarfs amassed their soldiers to engage all major enemy’s settlements, it was already too late.
The Moles ruptured inside the Collective’s rear lines, killing non-combatants and striking down their leadership. The Dwarf President was assassinated, and every official in the chain of command soon met the same fate.
Leaderless, the dwarf soldiers retreated to the surface, finding the elves waiting for them.
Instead of a helping hand, these dwarves were betrayed and massacred. These elven legionnaires seemed unaffiliated with the known Elvish Satraps, and wore dull grey robes with little ornamentation. Their only symbol was an inverted red triangle.
Pressed between the Mole People and the elven death squads, it was the dwarven turn to flee and be scattered to the winds.
Survivors of the Last Betrayal found hard to understand who these elves were, and why the known Elvish Satraps didn’t return their emissaries.
Unknown to them, these grey-clad soldiers were an order of elven supremacists known as Bloody Tombs.
They were the creators of the plague that afflicted the humans, and secretly spurned the orcs into action. But before these events, they were also behind of the Mole People.
Using dark and forgotten magics, simple forest creatures were experimented upon, with varying levels of success. Raccoon-men and bipedal Rats were smart, but too prone to violence amongst themselves when the population rose to certain levels.
From all the creatures suited to underground combat, the star-nosed Mole proved to be most prone to develop a higher level of consciousness, necessary to build complex societies.
For 50 years they were nurtured and encouraged by their elven overseers, and when the time was right, shown the best way to become the lords of all underground kingdoms.
Now, many years after the goblins and orcs were eradicated, the dwarves had met a similar fate, being supplanted by an species that would develop and thrive upon the remains of once proud underground dwarven cities and palaces.
Elven scholars, affiliated or not with the Bloody Tombs, have visited the Mole People domains, and saw impressive evolution in their ways. Below we present some notes of these expeditions.
Architecture and decoration
The rooms have little furniture, and molepeople kneel over dry fungi mats.
Almost all rooms are square, and most are symmetrical. They are divided with leather bound sliding doors.
Each Moleperson’s house, above or below ground, has an inner court, covered in course sand. Mole children love digging this soft material.
The rooms are kept in pristine condition, as Mole People loathe the smell of feces or spoilt food.
Most lairs have an aboveground or underground body of water nearby, as Mole People are very good swimmers. Sometimes a secret exit is placed underwater, preventing pursuit from determined attackers. This proved invaluable when steel armored dwarves counter-attacked the moles, but were unable to follow them in the deeper regions of their homes.
Demeanor and communication
Mole people are dour, with a vengeful streak on the side.
When marching for war, a Moleclan charge usually happens at night when aboveground, and is bereft of sound, save for bowstrings and assorted mettalic clashes.
Mole People are impatient when pursuing vengeance, but they are not dumb. Those who have wronged them will soon see their houses caving in, bridges being demolished and Mole Ninja Assassins bursting from the floor at night.
Most Moles understand common and elven, and communicate using their own language, which is composed of high-pitched squeaks and movement of the tendrils located at the tip of their noses. They seldom write, using a simpler form of the elven script when doing so.
Food and Drink
Fungal farms are the main crop of the dark underwold, although the Mole People acquired new types of great mushrooms from the vanquished dwarves. Dried fruits and meats are also popular, as well as annelids in general.
These are bred in large dirt pools, or in vases in every Mole home. Guests are encourage to stick their hands deep into these large clay pots, and grab a handful of worms, ingesting them as squiggly hors d’oeuvre.
The Mole People do not consume alcohol, for it disturbs their senses, masquerading other scents which would be picked up by their prickly noses. Juices from aboveground fruits are considered a delicacy though.
What matters most in the Mole cuisine is scent and texture, harking back to when they were simple mammals searching for worms. As such, very little spices are used, since their sensitive noses are able to pick up even the slightest of scents. Also, a sucession of very soft and hard foodstuffs comprise a Mole gourmet feast.
Guests will find almost colourless puddings and porridges alternating with blocks of hard cane sugar (known to humans as Panela or Rapadura). While the soft foods are felt with the tip of their noses, the harder items of a meal appease their great incisors.
Clothing and physical capabilities
The Mole People are a magically mutated species, differing from their base mammalian ancestors. Standing at around 4 ft. 6 in., the stand on modified legs, and their claws are reduced in size. Although they can still be used for digging, this reduced size allows the manipulation of tools. Keys, lockpicks and other small items are still challenging for them, and aren’t usually found in their lairs.
Coming from the star nosed mole, they have grey fur covering their whole body, sometimes speckled with white dots on the Moles living in colder climates.
Their star shaped noses remain as sensitive as ever, and can be used to feel movement and seismic activities when pressed against a wall or the floor. Some scholars claim that these appendages can even sense incorporeal undead or disturbances in the ethereal plane surrounding a member of this species. Tales of Mole warriors prevailing against invisible or teleporting enemies are not uncommon.
The nerve endings on this organ are also a weak spot, and when fighting the Mole People will usually wear steel helmets and large shields. Long piercing swords are their favourite weapon, except when longer one-handed spears can be fielded.
Mole people have very short reaction times, and are seldom surprised.
Being clad in fur and having excellent body heat control, most clothing is eschewed in favour of belts and pouches. Waterproof containers made of clay are also highly valued, since many members of the Mole society swim on a regular basis.
Setting them apart from their ancestors, the Mole People have better eyesight, and can even use crossbows, but drawing the strings of normal bows is difficult for their clawed fingers.
Government and religion
Mole People are functionally atheists, but are able to channel mystical energies commonly known as “Holy Magic” in the form of healing spells and undead turning. In order to prepare themselves for these activities, they do a ritual called “Eimerring“, when they meditate by pressing their noses on the floor. During these rituals, older Mole persons claim they feel the “heart” of the land or deep magma flows, feeling very relaxed afterwards.
Magic-users and psychics claim that clusters of Mole persons engaging in “Eimerring” generate large quantities of energy, which could theoretically be used to produce great magical effects.
The basic unit of social organization is the “Clan”, organized around the oldest female. Blood relations are relevant, and conflict among brothers is frowned upon. The head of each clan gets a vote to elect a regional representative, who conducts diplomacy and trading in the name of 3 to 10 clans, covering an area of around 1,000 sq. miles.
A Mole clan underground castle always has the biggest gold, silver, copper or tin nugget in the center of this court. Disagreements between clans are settled in favor of the one who has the most valuable nugget in the region, and Miner-Judges calculate the value of a nugget when they are of different metals, according to complex pricing rules.