Like the Dwarves of other campaign worlds, the Mardukim are experts in the working of metals, stonecrafting and jewelsmithing. However they are different in several aspects. The Mardukim possess tough hides, much denser than human or Ashani flesh. To the touch they generally feel only slightly less solid than stone. Their skin often has a greyish hue to it.
The Mardukim possess a few abilities rarely demontrated to outsiders and which vary from other campaign settings. Players begin with these powers undeveloped, but may acquire them either by becoming an Anchorite (a dwarf warrior monk) or through other, hidden means. The first ability is called 'stone leaping'. The spirits of Mardukim are not as strongly tied to the physical world as those of other races; the Mardukim can choose to dissolve their bodies in special places and travel through the earth, leaping from certain types of rock to a specific destination. Once there they form a new body of the available materials (see Player Notes for more). Due to these 'loose spirits' Mardukim are more vulnerable to certain types of magic than others.
Secondly, the Mardukim have the ability to shape stone according to their wills, through a process they call stone-singing. Through this ability a Marduk is able to shape stone as is he were carving it with sculptor's tools, yet he accomplishes it with only his hands. The singing actually sounds like a low rumble, as if stones were grinding together, and takes about half the time as sculpting with tools. With this ability some Mardukim have produced carved doors, pillars and statues of stone that surpass the best efforts of other races easily.
Society and CultureEdit
The Mardukim are very social in nature and tend to band together in small villages and towns. These are often found in rocky areas, such as foothills, mountains and so forth, or within cave systems (natural or artifical). These communities are usually led by an hereditary chieftan who passes on rulership to his eldest son. Within individual families, however, Mardukim can be essentially matriarchal. Generally, while males wield the majority of political authority, females rule the homes. However there is no socially proscribed division of gender roles and males and females alike serve as warriors, priests and leaders.Young are raised collectively within the family, while deferring to the ultimate authority of the parents themselves. Each blood family and its immediate relations are governed by the eldest appropriate family member as Patriarch or Matriarch. Often, several of these individuals lead as a council. Blood family ties are strong within Mardukim society; the family is known as a Blood Clan. Additionally, each family has a traditional skill or trade in which they are well-versed; these include blacksmithing, weaponsmithing and armoursmithing (the three are highly specialized and different trades among the Mardukim); gold-, silver- and jewelry-smithing; stone contruction; fortifications; religious service; trade; and so on. Each Marduk child is expected to learn the trade of his or her family although they are not required to make it their primary vocation (it is encouraged however).
Mardukim society tends to highly ordered and regimented. A sort of caste system exists, but it is not arranged into a hierarchal pattern. Rather, the divisions between societal groups are based around duties and obligations and thereby shape different groups. For example, members of the warrior caste tend to be more dour and serious while craftsmen tend be more thoughful and creative. Brewers, unsurprisingly, tend to be much more jovial than the average and have a more laid back demeanor. Professions tend to follow familial lines and similar professions form the clan groups that shape the castes. For example, a hypothetical Mardukim village may have 3 families whose profession is silversmithing. Each family considers the members of the others to be family members as well. The collected silversmith families feel an extended kinship with similar trades--goldsmiths and jewelers for example--and these are seen as part of the extended family (cousins, once-removed and so forth). This extended tribe forms the Lore Clan or caste. Since the Blood Clan and Lore Clan usually coincide due to inheritance of trades, there are far fewer conflicts of loyalty than would otherwise be imagined. Young Mardukim are encouraged to marry within their Lore Clan but are not required to by any law or social convention. Lore skills are based to all children, but patrilinearly.
Personal honour is also highly important in Marduk society. One's honour is influenced positively or negatively by one's actions (the campaign uses the 1st edition Oriental Adventures honour system for Mardukim). A Marduk whose honour reaches zero will be banished from clan and community, often with the shame of having their beards (if male) or hair (if female) shaved off.
Mardukim names reflect the various layers of their society. Each Marduk is given a first or birth name. Their second name is that of their Blood Clan and the third contains reference to either profession or Lore Clan. Sometimes the Marduk's place of origin is included. Some may have nicknames given because of a certain physical feature or attribute or in memory of some event. Take for example, a Marduk named Kahar Thorun Redforge of Sakhand. Kahar is his given name, Thorun his surname. Redforge is a reference to his profession (blacksmith) and he is from Sakhand. Kahar's sour, brooding disposition, along with his dark hair, has everyone calling him Black Kahar at home. Among foreigners Mardukim will usually employ the given and professional names only (i.e. Kahar Redforge).
To the Mardukim all forms of skillful work or labour are forms of art. They are capable of appreciating real skill in the execution of any task or chore and often do. Mardukim creations ranging from pillars, doors and walls to armor, weapons and defenses are often beautifully patterned and carved. Subtle touches, like contrasting grains in two stone blocks, are greatly appreciated by the Mardukim as well. Their architecture tends to make heavy use of arches, domed ceilings and pillars.
Mardukim temples and other religious structures are, on the outside, cunningly designed, and impressively executed. However worship chambers are either raw, untouched caves or else designed to look like them. Some of the most beloved architectural triumphs of the Mardukim are surface structures that, within, make one forget that one is on the surface all together.
Mardukim metalwork, especially weapons and armour, is highly prized by outsiders. While they willingly sell it (usually for at least 300% regular cost but always a weapon on quality) they do not willingly part with their trade secrets.
Mardukim religion is an interesting combination of a contemplative, Zen like tradition and a system of patron saints and honoured divinities. Each Blood Clan venerates a patron from among the Gods of the Mardukim and each profession honours a corresponding patron. Additionally, each Lore Clan honours a patron. Therefore one Marduk will honour 1) his family's protector; 2) the patron of his profession (say, goldsmithing); 3) the patron of his Lore Clan (jewelsmithers); 4) any additional patrons required by tradition or choice. Honouring these patrons is as simple as intoning their names while working one's profession; offering well-made items to them at their shrines; or meditating on the secret lessons of his profession, for family lore and wisdom is remembered and passed metaphorically, using the tools of the profession as a base. Each family and Clan group sponsors a member of the priestly caste however (this priest may be hired by the clan, or, more commonly, is a member of the clan chosen to take on the role on behalf of his family; in these cases his loyalty remains to his family). The priestly caste is the 'Out-Clan' for its members, while they come together fraternally each maintains his traditional loyalty to his own clan.
Alongside this system of worship is a heavily monastic tradition that focuses not on the Gods or patrons themselves but on the 'Echo of the Inner Delve'. These Mardukim divorce themselves from clans and professions, surrendering them upon joining the Stonesman Clan--a sort of default clan for monastic Mardukim. The Mardukim of the monastic clan work to develop the powers inherent in their race (see New Classes).
Mardukim characters possess all the benefits and penalties associated with Dwarf characters in the PHB with the following additions:
+Due to their tough hides Mardukim have a base AC of 8.
+Mardukim heal at double normal rates when underground.
+Mardukim gain their family profession proficiency for free and are able to choose earth-based proficiencies (mining, mountaineering, survival: mountains; etc) as if they were in-class.
+Mardukim lore and tales abound with descriptions of creatures of elemental earth. Mardukim have an Int+0 chance of recalling useful information concerning such creatures when encountered. This translates to either a +2 on reaction check OR a +2 to hit and damage. Players must choose, and cannot change until the next encounter.
+Weapons crafted by Mardukim smiths are of exceptional quality. At 300% normal price the weapon gains +1 to either attack or damage. For 500% normal price it gains both. If weapon speed is used, the speed of Mardukim weapons is improved by 2. Similarly, at a 300% markup armour may be given either a +1 bonus or a weight reduction of 30%. At 500% both may be applied.
+Stone Leaping: A Marduk who has developed this ability can, in certain places, choose to meld into the earth, dissolving his or her body. The Marduk's consciousness leaps from rock to rock deep underground, emerging at another point far distant, and reforming the body from local materials. The Stone Leaper must choose his destination when he departs and cannot change it; this means he or she must know of a point of exit on the other side. This can affect appearence; emerging from red stone will result in the Marduk's skin and hair taking on a reddish tint and so forth. These special points can be created temporarily by Dwarven priests or anchorites. Permanent points exist in many places around the world, often in ancient Marduk sites and citadels. The secret of their construction has been lost. Mardukim may travel a maximum of 100 miles + 100/level via this method, and can accomplish it only once a week.