"Much like its sister nation, Ulkran is
a wondrous realm hidden away from the eyes of surface dwellers. We here above never see
the works of dwarven skill, the battles with the creatures of the deep. We do not hear the
sound of a thousand dwarves raising their voices in song as it echoes and thunders and
booms through dwarven halls. Such things are reserved only for those who dwell deep."
- Tarrin, Master of Uthran's Academy
|Proper Name||The Under Realm Kingdom of Ulkran|
|Ruler||His Most Resolute Magnificence, Lordly Monarch of the Underrealm, King Dorian I, the Staunch|
|Demographics||Dwarven 90%, Human 6%, Orc 3%, Skrell 1%|
|Languages||Dwarven 95%, Northern 5%|
|Capital City||Independent city-state.|
|National Colors||Grey and white|
|Natural Resources||Granite, obsidian, shale, coal, saltpeter, iron ore, copper, silver, gold, tin, lead, clay, crystals, semiprecious and precious gemstones|
|Manufactured Goods and Major Exports||Forged iron and steel goods, weapons, armor, various metal ingots, copper goods, bronze goods, pottery, cut gemstones, jewelry, finely crafted silver goods, gold foil,|
|Allies||Uthran, Urmordia, Normidia|
|Technology Level||Middle Ages|
|Approximate Land Area||11,000 square kilometers of living space (subterranean)|
Although not the focus of dwarvish legends and culture, Ulkran was for several centuries the only dwarven nation. Even after the founding of Urmordia, Ulkran maintained its position of authority on dwarven life due to its immense size and resources. Ulkran is by far the largest known underground structure on the planet. It is nearly twice the size of Urmordia spanning dozens of kilometers underground and is reported to be more than a hundred levels deep.
The entire nation of Ulkran is subterranean. Their geography is natural cavern until it is shaped by dwarven ingenuity into great halls filled with huge columns of stone. There are some large caverns filled with crops or fields for grazing. The dwarves also create something called "Life Halls". These are immense natural caverns, sometimes kilometers across and lit with magical light, in which whole ecosystems are allowed to thrive. Life halls often have orchards, broad grasslands and small forests.
Mordia (which translates roughly from the Old Dwarven tongue as "Home") is the oldest of the dwarven nations and is the origin of dwarvish culture and history.
When the fires and terror of the Great War came, the mining villages of north eastern Irenni League found themselves being attacked by Thullian Imperial forces, bandits, monsters and worse. To defend themselves, the mining villages took refuge in an ancient fortress ruin built into the base of a mountain. They were lead by the town of Mord. Thousands came with food and animals and equipment to join under the banner of Mord. They set up a permanent home in the mountain in 43 CY and worked hard to rebuilt it and expand it. While there, they found many deep passages and caverns beneath the fortress.
In 46 CY, a great landquake struck the north. So powerful was this quake that it shook the mountain side loose and a great landslide buried the fortress and trapped the people within. Rather than spending months trying to dig their way out, the people chose to explore the deeper caverns. They found the caverns led to a vast world of tunnels and caves beneath the surface that stretched on forever. For months they explored and learned to survive. They began to adjust to a subterranean life. They found great wealth in the deep earth and mined it. They came upon a vast underground lake and settled there, feeding on the fish of the lake, the lichens and fungi.
In 57CY, the Mords were attacked by an army of skrell. It was their first encounter with another subterranean race. The battle was long and fierce and the skrell made off with many prisoners. In response to this, the various clans of the Mords put aside their differences and united as a single people. The leader of the Mords, a human man named Ral Grekan, crowned himself king and declared the people the Kingdom of Mord. They began to build a great castle and form an army. The threat of the skrell served to unite the people. From that time forth, the people of Mord were one nation.
In the years to come, they encountered other faces. Peaceful contact was made and they began to trade. They heard news of the surface world and heard horror stories of plague and famine, fire and war. The people, having prospered in the deep, choose to remain below and wait while the world above seemed to be destroying itself.
Years stretched in to centuries. With each generation, the people changed, becoming shorter and more stocky. Likewise, a new culture was developing among them. They came to call themselves the dwarves. Their people thrived in the dark underworld and their culture became strong. Through mining and hardwork, they became wealthy and powerful. Their well made armor and weapons helped them defeat enemies in times of conflict. Their jewels and gold were valuable in trade with others. The dwarves built a vast network of chamberd and tunnels, caves and halls. This was their home and they called it Mordia.
During the Age of Sorrow, in 722 CY, Mordia was attacked. A great army of many races came. They were led by the magic wielding sarthak. The War of Caverns began and it was long and terrible. Unable to defeat the sarthak and their minions, the dwarves were forced to abandon their home. Legends speak of this... that the dwarves lost the War Of Caverns to a vast and terrible army and were forced to flee. Dwarves are very tight-lipped about this section of their history. Tens of thousands of dwarves, led by Drugen Kren Stonehammer Symul, fled west in 736 CY. This flight became known as Drugens Trek.
Despite difficult obstacles and an encounter with a dragon, more than half of the sixty thousand dwarves in Durgrens Trek survived to find a suitable cavern complex in the very northern reaches of the Thunder Peaks. Drugen's dwarves ended their trek in 740 CY and named their new home ("Hope" in the dwarven tongue).
In 784 CY, the dwarven nation of Kran began building on the surface and, in so doing, rejoined the world above. It established formal diplomatic relations with several other nations. Kran also changed its name to Ulkran (New Hope).
Centuries passed, but the dwarves did not forget about the lost kingdom of Mordia. In 1275 CY, the reigning king of Ulkran decided it was time to reclaim that lost realm. An army of dwarves went forth from Ulkran, along underground routes, and returned to their original underground home.They fought another war against the sarthak and reclaimed their ancestral home. This reclaimed nation was repopulated by the dwarves, surfaced and was renamed Urmordia (Home Reclaimed) in 1280 CY.
Dwarven history is recorded in written form in ancient scrolls and tomes. These documents are stored in a central "Chamber of Records" which lies near the heart of the city.
Because of their subterranean habitation, the dwarves must deal with vastly different ecosystems than their surface counterparts. Notable animals of the underworld include cave spiders, crystal ooze, dythillin, grobban, javoks and the dreaded shaker. Beneath the ground the black mushroom and light moss are the two most notable plants.
A species of heavyset, pug-nosed canine. Broad chest, short legs. Heavy rolls of fat. Used as guard dogs and war dogs.
Dwarven Cave Oxen
A large cloven hoofed herbivore. Stands about three feet tall at the shoulder, but weights close to 700 pounds Very strong for its size. Used as a beast of burden, pulling mining carts and such. The animals are too slow to serve as steeds. These sturdy beasts are docile and but rather stubborn and untrainable. They respond only to the whip. Dwarves also use cave oxen for meat and milk.
Probably the most feared underground predator, these horrors are rare. They live deep in the ground, much deeper than Urmordia. However, some of the dwarven mining operations reach down into deep dark regions where shakers and other foul creatures dwell.
Dwarven society is divided up into great clans. Both of the massive dwarven city-state nations have hundreds of individual family clans, each of which may have hundreds or thousands of members. Clans compete for status, wealth and political positioning. Generally speaking, one dwarven clan will hold rulership of the dwarven city-state at one time. Leading over all of Ulkran is a king. The dwarven king is aided by the Great Council which consists of several hundred members of the Symul class (the judges and lawmakers of the dwarven race). The king and the council balance each other. A dwarven king is expected to appoint other members of his clan to political positions. So, having one of its members hold the position of king is the goal of every clan. A lot of political maneuvering goes on as each clan tries to position itself to be the next ruling clan.
The Symul also serve as judges. Individually, each Symul serves as the judge for a small section of Ulkran. Symul are viewed as wise men and their word is final.
The Thollis class is the warrior class of dwarven society. The Thollis class serves as the military, the law enforcers and general pacifiers of conflict.
The economy of Ulkran is stronger than Urmordia in that it is not as internal. Ulkran has a good amount of trade with other nations.
Ulkran society is very stratified as all dwarven society is. Each dwarf belongs to a certain class or "rank". Each class performs a specific function within the society.
Although the dwarves are not a particularly magical race, there are those dwarves who do excel at wizardry. These spell casters form the trimell caste of dwarven society. These individuals hold a special place in dwarven society. They are seen as touched and are given a great deal of respect mixed with a small amount of pity at having been given such a burden as magic. Dwarven society uses magic to help them light their tunnels, warm their homes, heal their wounds, grow food and carve out an existence in the otherwise unrelenting realm of the Underdark.
It should be noted that dwarves do not use orichalcum because of a racial intolerance for the mineral. The dust of orichalcum causes allergic like reactions in dwarves and concentrated exposure can even prove lethal. Dwarven spell casters make do without the mineral.
The Festival of Light
The largest dwarven celebration is the Festival of Light. It celebrates the dwarven lifestyle, ingenuity conquering obstacles, dwarven engineering reshaping the underworld and, more generally, light conquering darkness. It is a time of crafts and feasting, dancing and ale drinking, marriage proposals, new constructions being unveiled and speeches.
Like Urmordia, Ulkran is truly a massive subterranean city-state. There are no towns or cities... Ulkran is simply a maze of interconnected chambers, tunnels and shafts stretching for kilometers. This vast structure stretches in all three dimensions. The only way to navigate and organize something so vast is to break it up into a number of districts. Ulkran consists of 780 districts. This breakdown forms a rudimentary addressing and navigational system. Each district can be considered a "neighborhood". The only way to find anything in Ulkran is to reference the district.
In the lightless underworld, the dwarves take great advantage of height and their city-states are very three dimensional. Dwarven architecture often involves hanging structures of immense size. Huge stone bridges cross chasms and enormous buildings and fortresses are often built into these bridges. Some of these hanging buildings may be connected to sheer stone walls with several bridges. Some bridges are so large they have tunnels running through them and may have many internal chambers and multiple levels.
There are several major temples and hundreds of smaller shrines and altars to Uxamar scattered throughout Ulkran.
The East Gate of Ulkran
There main gate of Ulkran which faces Normidia.
The South Gate of Ulkran
The secondary gate of Ulkran which faces Avar.
The Bridge of Mazkardon
The largest bridge in the nation of Ulkran is a tremendous structure which spans the Chasm of Mazkardon, a crack in the deep underworld which is 400 meters across and over 8 kilometers deep. The bridge itself consists of three levels - a road on top and a two central corridors within. The bridge also houses several hundred chambers throughout its structure. About 5000 dwarves live in the Bridge of Mazkardon. The Bridge of Mazkardon separated the north districts of Ulkran from the south districts.
The Great Hanging Tower of Mirat
At the heart of the South Districts, in the deepest level, is the great Hanging Tower of Mirat. This architectural wonder is the pride of the nation. The great Hanging Tower is actually the remains of a tremendous stone column. The bottom crumbled to rubble long ago during the World Storm. It hangs from the ceiling of a huge vertical cavern. The cavern is about one kilometer wide and more than a two kilometers deep. The Hanging Tower is a great shaft of stone about 500 meters in diameter and over 800 meters in height. Dozens of skybridges connect the Hanging Tower to the walls of the cavern. However, the weight of this colossus is entirely supported from the ceiling.
The great Hanging Tower of Mirat is, in many ways, modeled after the Foundation of Urmordia. Named for the dwarven architect Mirat who conceived it, the tower takes advantage of the existing stone structure. Generations of dwarven architects and engineers have been crafting the great Hanging Tower for more almost 2000 years, since the very founding of Ulkran. The Hanging Tower of Mirat is the largest single structure in Ulkran and the tower, along with the cavern wall structures, house almost a tenth of the entire population of Ulkran.
The cavern floor below is lost in a perpetual mist. Legend says that there is a mushroom forest on the floor of the great cavern and that a race of foul flesh eating creatures dwell down there. The dwarves very rarely ever venture down to the floor of the cavern. They consider it taboo. The creatures of the mist below, whom the dwarves call the "ulfodar" or simply "the deep ones". One of the favored methods of executing criminals is to cast them from the Hanging Tower to plummet into the misty horrors below. If the fall does not kill the victim, the Deep Ones will.
Inside of Ulkran, most dwarves get around simply by walking. Ulkran is so large that it takes nearly two days to walk from one side of Ulkran to the other. Wagons and carts trundle through subterranean corridors and cross gaping chasms over stone bridges. Some special areas have rails laid down upon which modified mining carts run. Gravity propels the carts downhill, dwarven machines brings them back up.
Ulkran is also home to underground rivers and lakes. The dwarves use squat, thick hulled vessels called durogars. These sturdy vessels have broad bellies, are typically two levels tall, are tiller steered and are propelled by oars. Dwarven durogars can be seen, heavily laden with goods and cargos, plying the deep cold lakes of the underworld traveling from one section of their massive city-states to the next.
The dwarves use different beasts of burden to haul a variety of wagons, carts and carriages, but generally don't ride steeds.
Below is the travel time on the surface from the gates of Ulkran to various locations nearby. For more information, see the Travel and Distance page.
|Typical Travel Time|
|Ulkran - Shadow Vale||Dirt Road||619 km||27 days||20 days||12 days|
|Ulkran - Juran||Paved Road||493 km||20 days||15 days||9 days|
|Ulkran - Highpost||Mountains||258 km||35 days||50 days||10 days|
|Ulkran - Tal-Athon (ruins)||Paved road and hills.||196 km||12 days||8 days||5 days|
|Ulkran - Lair of Stormwing||Hills||452 km||37 days||26 days||11 days|
|Ulkran - Talith (Ethara)||Hills, mountains and forest.||861 km||92 days||192 days||35 days|
This website was last updated March 31, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.