Iron Spine Mountains
The Iron Spine Mountains, or Iron Spines are a narrow north-south mountain range west of Vindburg. It is predominately inhabited by dwarfs of the Iron Spine clans.
The recent (geologically speaking) mountain range is charaterized by a long zig-zagged ridge line of sharp peaks, with only a few high and treacherous passes. The highest peaks are snow-capped and there are some small glaciers in some of the upper valleys. The mountains descend to the Vindburg Plateau to the east and rolling grasslands to the west.
The western slopes see much of the rainfall. Dense pine forests occupy the lower slopes and there are alpine meadows. The eastern slopes are much drier, with barren rocks and scree with scrubby vegetation in the slopes with the only trees limited to the bottom of the valleys.
The western slopes are cultivated with ancient terracing with extensive networks off irrigation and water management systems. The eastern slopes are limited to rough grazing of hardy goats and mountain sheep.
There are three principal settlements within the mountains. The dwarven capital of dwarven Dun Korak, and the two towns Dun Barin and Kal Istar to the north and south. Smaller clan holdings are scattered sparsely.
The high mountain passes are difficult to traverse even in summer and most east-west traffic occurs through the extensive dwarven tunnel network bored through the mountains. These tunnels are heavily fortified.
The Iron Spine dwarfs are focused around their clan (extended family) and are typically fiercely loyal to it. Dwarfs can move between clans through marriage/partnerships or adoption.
The names of women and girls typically have matronymic surnames (-dottir suffix); men and boys typically have a patronymic surnames (-son suffix). There are various reasons why a particular dwarf might not follow this convention.
Dwarfs without clan, either through choice or from being expelled, are stripped of their surname and are known only by their first names. Clanless dwarfs can regain their honour through great deads that would convince another clan to adopt them.
The Iron Spine dwarven clans rule the mountains. The clans elect a parliament of 27 (?) members who in turn elect a prime minister.
Historically, the parliament was controlled by one of two powerful clans (the Ironhammers and the Gemcutters) with the lesser clans aligning with one of these. In recent decades a third consortium of lesser clans (predominantely trader) have been agitating for more influence.
The Gemcutters have majority control of parliament and have advanced a fairly progressive policy of improving relations with the outside world. There principle holdings are in Kal Istar.
The Ironhammers principal holdings are in Dun Barin. They are currently advancing a more traditional policy of limiting outside influence and restricting settlement by outsiders.
The ancient institution of research and learning, the School of Mines holds considerable influence.
The dwarves trade metals and precious gems from their extensive mine workings that burrow deep into the mountains, principally in exchange for food and textiles.
Increasing numbers of tribes from the western grasslands have been migrating eastwards and settling in the foothills. Initially this was broadly welcomed but now there is increased raiding on the borders and feuding amongst the new settlers which is causing security concerns. The migrating settlers are also increasingly poor and desperate, putting a burden on the Iron Spines' public purse.