So we pick up with running the Wilderlands of High Fantasy with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg. Why?! Because while the Wilderlands of High Fantasy is both fascinating & uneven. Its very good for bridging the two setting. Take for example the Dwarves of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. The Dwarves of the Wilderlands are different. And already some OSR illuminary is getting ready to send this blog another angry email. On every other world campaign setting the Dwarven race is dying utterly & yet within the Wilderlands of High Fantasy the race seems to be thriving?! Why?! There are more then a few off shoots of the Dwarven race within the Wildlands. And the Dwarven race are utterly connected with th founding of the City State of the Invincible Overlord. This comes into play in Judges Guild's Thunderhold one of the original homes of the Dwarves in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy.
Is there some reason why these Dwarven off shoots & subraces seem to have connections to the maggot Dwarves of the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg's Hyperborea? The answer comes down to the entry on the mythological aspects of Dwarves from their Wiki entry; "Norse mythology provides different origins for the beings, as recorded in the Poetic Edda (compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources) and the Prose Edda (written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century). The Poetic Edda poem Völuspá details that the dwarfs were the product of the primordial blood of the being Brimir and the bones of Bláinn (generally considered to be different names for the primordial being Ymir). The Prose Edda, however, describes dwarfs as beings similar to maggots that festered in the flesh of Ymir before being gifted with reason by the gods. The Poetic Edda and Prose Edda contain over 100 dwarf names, while the Prose Edda gives the four dwarfs Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri (Old Norse 'North, South, East, and West') a cosmological role: they hold up the sky. In addition, scholars have noted that the Svartálfar (Old Norse 'black elves') appear to be the same beings as dwarfs, given that both are described in the Prose Edda as the denizens of Svartálfaheimr."
Very few beings explicitly identifiable as dwarfs appear in the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, and they have quite diverse roles: murderous creators who create the mead of poetry, 'reluctant donors' of important artifacts with magical qualities, or sexual predators who lust after goddesses. They are primarily associated with metalsmithing, and also with death, as in the story of King Sveigðir in Ynglinga saga, the first segment of the Heimskringla—the doorways in the mountains that they guard may be regarded as doors between worlds. One dwarf named Alvíss claimed the hand of Thor's daughter Þrúðr in marriage, but he was kept talking until daybreak and turned to stone, much like some accounts of trolls"
Here's the cavet to the Dwarves of the Wilderlands not only are their different varieties of them but I believe that these varieties are survivors of some horrid event. There are hints here & there across the original Judges Guild Wilderlands & some of the D20 Wilderlands of High Fantasy line of books from Necromancer games. Yeah, yeah, the D20 Wilderlands of High Fantasy material has as much weight as a ballon filled with manure.
Is there is deep ibiding connection between the Deep Dwarves (aka Kazadrugar), Duergar, & the children of Ymir in Hyperborea. All of these races are cruel, vendictive, half insane, & survivors of some disaster. Its almost as if these immortal beings have been driven half insane by some ancient trauma. When the Dwarven gods made the crossing through the nexus gate into the Wilderlands they brought with them not only their survivors. But the knowlege of Ragnarök itself.
For the Dwarves who are incredibly long lived the literal war between the gods isn't over. The connections between the Dark Elves of the Wilderlands & the Deep Dwarves (aka Kazadrugar) are obvious. Don't bring this up with either race unless you don't mind slow torture followed by agonising death. The literal connection between the mythological Germanic roots & the Elves;"After the medieval period, the word elf tended to become less common throughout the Germanic languages, losing out to alternative native terms like Zwerg ("dwarf") in German and huldra ("hidden being") in Scandinavian languages, and to loan-words like fairy (borrowed from French into most of the Germanic languages)."
If Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea takes place thousands or millions of years in the future of Earth. Then this could be why the pantheons of the gods of Hyperborea are so shattered. The Dwarves of both the Wilderlands & Hyperborea are refugees from the far future conflict of the literal Ragnarök. GThe Dwarves of the Wilderlands are thriving because they've created new Dwarven gods & royal clans as well as families.
Are the Dwarven races of Hyperborea & the Wildlands hiding as well as thriving?! Perhaps a bit of both but let's go back to Qelong by Kennith Hite for a moment. The war between the two divine beings of Qelong represents a micro cosm of the large scale war that the Dwarves have witnessed in the ancient past. The Dwarves are tied to the fate of mankind going back to the ancient past millions of years ago.
The Dwarven race has forged the tools & weapons of Chaos & Law plus they have ancient legacies of their history that they want to have kept quiet. James Raggi's Hammers of the God for the LoFP rpg bares one of these secrets out into the open.
The Hammer of the Gods dungeon could be put at the edge of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy as a deadly little secret waiting to be found. But why are the Dwarves sticking so close to mankind?! The Germanic hero of folklore Dietrich von Bern sounds oddly like Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion Von Bek. In DM Steve's Stormbringer rpg campaign Von Bern was a distant member of the Von Bek family. He was another aspect of the Eternal Champion intimately involved with the Dwarven race of German mythology; "The hero Dietrich von Bern is portrayed in several adventures involving dwarfs. In Laurin, he fights against the dwarf King Laurin at the dwarf's magical rose garden and later rescues a woman whom Laurin had kidnapped. A similar plot occurs in the fragmentary poem Goldemar. In Virginal, Dietrich rescues the dwarf queen Virginal from a force of invading heathens. The dwarfs Eggerich and Baldung play a role in aiding Dietrich in the poem Sigenot: Baldung gives Dietrich a magical gem that prevents him from being bitten when thrown into a snake pit, whereas Eggerich helps Dietrich and Hildebrand escape. In the Heldenbuch-Prosa, a dwarf takes Dietrich out of this world after the death of all the other heroes, a role given to Laurin in some other versions of Dietrich's end." This sounds eeriely like something that the eternal champion's companion might do!?
Scene from the poem Virginal: Dietrich von Bern and Hildebrand fight against dragons. Note that Dietrich is breathing fire. UBH Cod.Pal.germ. 324 fol. 43r
Further connections between the Dwarves of the Wilderlands & Michael Moorcock's Elric saga come in with several Wilderlands kingdoms that could be considered tributes to the master of dark fantasy. But with a bit side glance could be more human & perhaps Meliborean refugees from the conflict between the gods. Could Dietrich von Bern's family have royal connections to the royals of the City State of the Invincible Overlord?!