Kegiz Gavem – the Ethiopian Dwarves of Light

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    • Master Artigas kindly accepted a commission from me to illustrate the royal crown of Kegiz Gavem for the Ninth Age: Be welcome to leave a comment for him under the artwork on Deviantart. I warmly recommend everyone to check out his quality gallery for a look at some spectacular and evocative Dwarf art!


      Sergio Artigas wrote:

      The general concept was to follow the historical "bucket crown" style they used, and to imbue it with hot weather/ Desert climate qualities. For that I made it with an interlocking pattern, reminiscent of basket weaving, that is breathable and yet impressive and complex. The crown also sports two facing lions (the true natural King in the region) and a large sun-gem at the crest.

      A splendid design, showcasing both fine Dwarven craftsmanship, wealth and ingenuity as to the airframe! Truly a crown fit for the Ras; the light-blessed monarch who lords it over Kegiz Gavem and all her holdings; the Ras Taphria who lay claim to sovereignty over all the sun-touched southern lands between the Great Ocean and the Southern Sea.

      Behold its splendour and the brilliant rays reflected in its carved gemstones, and know what true kingly power in Taphria looks like. And obviously those thrice-accursed heathens, Daemon-worshippers and idolaters known as Infernal Dwarves, with their ridiculously tall headgear, are just making up for having stood inferior and unworthy in the Ras' looming presence.

      Such is the crown of true kings.

      And it should show up as a common emblem on Gavemite military equipment, banners and buildings commissioned by the Crown.

      Historical Ethiopian reference:


      An idea inspired by seeing Artigas' crown: While the Gavemite king bear the magnificent bucket crown, the heir apparent could sport a mask of humble stature, yet still of fine Dwarven craft and handiwork. As @Ghiznuk kindly informed us of in his great summary (recommended read!), it was a traditional feature in Ethiopian Christian states to have all the male relatives of the emperor confined to a mountain settlement, where they would often spend their time at arts, out of reach from plotting against the sovereign. While I have a hard time seeing rock-stable Dwarves scheming and backstabbing to any extent approaching the familiar ways of Manling palaces, there could still be a reference echo to said historical practice, in that the Kegiz Gavem heir apparent is masked at all times in public, to symbolically hide which royal family member is next in line. Maybe with the extended royal family and all adult children of the royal couple living in seclusion, though probably not for reasons of the Ras' security. The heir apparent could be called the Hidden One, and this secrecy could play a great role in Gavemite epics surrounding dynastic turbulence and the ascension of a new line of kings, or the return of the rightful king, during times of extreme chaos and havoc across the land (thanks in no small part to the ever-damned Orcs & Goblins). The Hidden One revealed, the kingdom restored. That kind of thing.

      Also, a couple of other ideas: How about letting hero characters of some sort in the army list have access to expensively imported Dwarven guildcrafted handguns? Not for any regimental unit types whatsoever, but for individual members of the wealthy elite. This would better point out the trade networks and exchange of highly expensive fine crafts items that take place between far-flung Dwarven strongholds, isolated from each other as they are by vast tracts of countries and wasteland where hostile monsters, nomads and opportunistic settled people make life perilous for merchant caravans. It would also point forward to the future, where Kegiz Gavem may be destined to emerge as a gunpowder empire. During the Ninth Age, however, firearms are still the domain of Vetian Dwarves and the hated Infernal Dwarves, with some luxuriously crafted Vetian Dwarf (and maybe also Copper Mountain Dwarf) handguns being bought at great expense by wealthy members of the Gavemite elite.

      To reflect their fabled mastery over stonecarving and masonry, which Dwarves the world over hail the Gavemites for, the flagships of the Gavemite fleet could be fashioned entirely and extremely laboriously out of rock, carved with fine ornamental designs and magical runes. Although runic enchantments are involved, it is widely believed that the flotation of these stone ships occur only by the blessing of the heavenly Light, for otherwise these rock vessels would sink. All other craft in the Gavemite fleet are built out of traditional materials.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().

    • The 13th issue of 9th Scroll has featured an article on our Kegiz Gavem homebrew work, mainly due to art. May homebrewers of other factions in and outside of Taphria alike be inspired.

      Huge thanks to everyone involved in this ongoing brainstorming effort! :)

      And thanks to @Henrypmiller for taking up this article on his own initiative, and to @Ghiznuk for co-writing the draft sections!

      Future milestones should include stuff like conversion tutorials (as seen on CDO back in Battle for Skull Pass Days) and hopefully also miniature releases from various companies and an Auxilliary army list for T9A. We're going to root this concept of Ethiopian fantasy Dwarves firmly into the historically-based classic fantasy genre, at a Dwarven pace. What began as a reference echo in WHFB is being brought to fantasy life in its spiritual successor.

      The post was edited 11 times, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().

    • Kegiz Gavem Hold Guardian

      Artist Matthew Klaas de Witte over on Deviantart accepted a commission from me to draw us his own vision of a Kegiz Gavem Hold Guardian for the Ninth Age. Be welcome to leave a comment for him under the artwork on Deviantart. de Witte has a deft hand at playing with historical styles in fantasy artwork, as can be seen in his gallery!



      The Dwarves of Kegiz Gavem are masters of stone, more so than of metal, and their splendid architecture in stones laid upon stones or cut out of the living rock is a testament to their engineering capabilities and sheer mastery of shaping such hard matter. Dwarf lore in far-flung Holds record how Gavemite stoneworking secrets and arcane techniques of magical stone-carved runes were transmitted from the fabled lands of the Ras, through overwhelming dangers during long ages of chaos, by brave adventurers, heavily armed trade caravans and Dwarven pilgrims seeking the rocky cradle of their first ancestors. One such secret from the Runecarvers of Kegiz Gavem is asserted to have been the creation of Hold Guardians out of stone. It is disputed whether all similar constructs in distant Dwarven Holds originate from the secret lore and crafts originally developed by the Gavemites, or if parallell and mutually isolated instances of invention took place over time in several different beleaguered Holds.

      Be that as it may, most Dwarves of learning recognize that the Runecarvers of Kegiz Gavem were the first ones to fashion stone-faced Hold Guardians to protect their settlements and forest-surrounded shrines. The sturdy Hold Guardians of living rock have been a staple sight in Gavemite settlements since ancient times. And for many ages of ravages, loss and bitter reconquest have these statuary protectors of Kegiz Gavem been seen among the ranks of her armies, striding heavily into battles beyond counting, ever unchanging of expression, and ever serving their creators unquestioningly by crushing their foes.

      Furthermore, Prince of Spires over on Ulthuan.net had some comments to share:

      Prince of Spires wrote:

      I like the depth of fluff you're working towards.

      The idea of using handguns for the elite as a symbol of their wealth is an interesting idea. It's sort of what's behind the magical item allowance of characters (and certain units). Though I must say, if gunpowder is actually seen as the domain of the infernal dwarves, there is an argument to be made for not allowing any firearms in an army list (or having them distrust allies with gunpowder weapons).

      The hiding of the heir (and family members in general) is an interesting twist. It did conjure up an image for me of a society where this happens and the rules doesn't actually have an heir and they (try to) hide this being having different people parade around in the mask etc. There should be an interesting story there. Now, where is my pen... ;)

      And lastly, if ever you would feel like it, @Ghiznuk, be more than welcome to expand the historical exposition to the 17th century (good basis for conflicts against Greenskins of the Mountains of the Moon), and maybe even backwards to Aksumite days, through the rise of the Solomonic dynasty and the famous ravages of Judit. I always thought that Warhammer needed more ancient and dark age stuff, and in the new setting there's Nine Ages to plow through here. :)

      The post was edited 4 times, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().


    • Mountainous Kegiz Gavem have long fielded a considerable navy to safeguard its share of the Southern Ocean's trade. Likewise, the ancient naval traditions of the Gavemites have allowed them to strike unexpectedly by landing forces on the coast and overtaking their foes from the rear. Most famous of all of Kegiz Gavem's naval affairs, however, is the ages-long tug of war fought against the despised Infernal Dwarves over the Sacred Coast overseas.

      Zalaman Tekash the Great and all her baleful holdings is undoubtedly the stronger power of the two rivals, yet the core realms of the Infernal Dwarves are much more distant from the Sacred Coast, compared to the Gavemites. For where their benighted cousins face a primarily overland logistical nightmare to wage distant wars, the Gavemites with their easier access via the sea can reinforce, supply and outflank their enemies with a speed that has frustrated Infernal Dwarf efforts through a long succession of conflicts. Such have long been the state of affairs of wars fought for the Sacred Coast beyond the Southern Ocean, with Gavemites having the upper hand in most clashes.

      Yet nothing lasts forever.

      The Ninth Age has seen a great number of grudges recorded by the dour Gavemites against their hateful adversaries to the northeast, for Zalaman Tekash is once again on the rise, with an unrelenting hunger to dominate and reshape the world in its image. For the demented minds of the Infernal ones' artificers are putting out an endless stream of inventions, which is slowly giving these infamous Dwarves a technological edge of increasingly acute sharpness. And so their manufactories and shipyards glow and echo to the birth of ever deadlier weapons of war, and woe betide whosoever will stand against that ravenous will to power which drives Zalaman Tekash to rebound and reforge itself from disasters that would have toppled lesser empires.

      As a hereditary arch-enemy to the south of the Infernal Dwarves, the warriors of Kegiz Gavem and her colonial possessions has borne the brunt of this renewed Infernal onslaught. Where once her fleets ruled virtually supreme upon the waves, now the northwestern sections of the Southern Ocean has become a truly contested battleground, and the naval supremacy of the Gavemites have vanished in the face of Infernal technological advances. The trend is a dire one, yet the outcome of this naval warfare is still in doubt and far from being predestined. As such the devout folk of Kegiz Gavem turn to the Heavenly Light on high for guidance, call upon their saintly ancestors, and gird themselves for war. For nothing alive can be more stubborn than a Dwarf in the face of adversity, and the sworn admirals and mariners will serve their Light-touched Ras unto death, no matter come what may.

      The legend of the Sunken Souls will serve as an illustration of the difficulties that beset the Gavemite navy. It tells of a recent grudge by Dwarven standards, and follow the exploits of a dogged crew upon the Southern Ocean.

      The fleets of Kegiz Gavem are led by finely carved stone vessels that are the marvel of the seas, and the subject of fanciful sailor's tales the world over. Gavemite lore holds that it is only by the blessing of the Light that these ships of rock may float. Their ornate hulls and interiors are evidence of a mastery of stonecarving far beyond the ken of Human hands, and their surfaces are bedecked with sacral runes and iconographic fresques. Each stone ship is a massive monument wrought by the hands of Kegiz Gavem's Runecarvers, and each vessel hewn out of the mountain is an incredibly costly crafts object, and an overbearingly powerful instrument of naval war. The loss of a single stone ship is a disaster, for it is the equivalent of seeing a giant obelisk or fortress sink to the bottom of the ocean.

      The vessel known as the Radiance Upon Akurem was carved out of the naval quarries of Kallugiz Marak, south of Kegiz Gavem. Naval stonecarving is a most demanding craft, and the Runecarvers and quarrymen of this fortified stone shipyard toiled for years to fashion her into a smaller class of warship known as a Vrek within the Gavemite navy, to serve as a squadron leader for one of the many small patrol units who are the day-to-day workhorses of the fleets of the Ras Taphria. The timbermen of the Mastmaker Guild equipped her stony hull with stout wooden masts. The seamstresses and tailors of the Clothier Guild made for her durable sails, both of leather and of linen. The Ropemaker Guild crafted her rigging, and the Blacksmith Guild made all her details, implements and ornaments that were forged out of metal. And the Armsmith Guild provided the ship's mariners with an armoury of spears, sickle-swords, axes and many other weapons.

      When the Radiance Upon Akurem was launched, she rocked heavily seven times to the chanting of clerics and assembled worksfolk alike, as well as by a masked member of the royal clan. And they all rejoiced and sang hymns of praise, for the Divine Light had approved of their arduous efforts and found it to be good. The Vrek did not sink, but proved herself well carved to handle waves and winds, as well as to withstand ship-to-ship battles and sea monsters. The Crown was in possession of a resilient weapon of war, bedecked with a roaring lion's head of grey stone at both bow and stern.

      For four centuries and three decades did the Radiance Upon Akurem serve the Ras of Kegiz Gavem, and for four centuries and three decades did she protect Gavemite interests and thwart Goblin raiders, Human pirates and Infernal Dwarf battlegroups. The Radiance Upon Akurem was usually deployed in a squadron with four or eight wooden vessels of war attendant, or in convoy duty to escort merchant vessels and pilgrim ships, and at a few occassions did the Vrek earn her honours in large naval battlegroups facing full enemy fleets.

      Her many captains served with distinction, and the stone ship was well cared-for, and proved herself well able to sail for extended periods between drydock refits. Runecarvers would occassionally board her with their apprentices, as part of instructive inspections, where the novices of the secret craft would observe firsthand the handiwork and test of time in the field of the fruits of their Guild's labours. Master Runecarvers always brought up the Radiance Upon Akurem as a fine example of naval stonecarving done right, as opposed to other stone ships where cracks and repairs were regularly required from the wear and tear of mere sailing service.

      But all tales of success and fortune must come to an end, for the career of the Radiance Upon Akurem ended in fatal disaster by the hands of the hated Infernal Dwarves. Yet another war for the Sacred Coast erupted during her 437th year of service, and the stone ship left the grand royal harbour of Kegiz Gavem as part of one of two relief fleets that would reinforce and supply the realm overseas, intercept enemy vessels and seize any opportunity to land forces and strike from the rear. The voyage began under ill omens, for dark clouds blocked out the sun at the very moment the masked Crown Admiral blew out the signal for departure. Heavy rains drenched the sailors on deck, and fierce winds began tugging at sails to rock ships in the water. Then, lightning struck. First once, then thrice, then a hundred-fold. Thunder rolled ominously while the Gavemites prayed beneath deck and toiled sourly without complaint on deck and in masts, and over fifty sailors were struck by lightning in that hell-spawned storm, of which three Dwarves died.

      Nevertheless, the Light shielded its devotees from the worst of the storm, and both fleets emerged quite intact out of the harsh weather. Half a week of repairs was called for by one of the admirals, yet the leader of the Radiance Upon Akurem's relief fleet had to stop for a whole week out at sea. During this time, the admiral in charge held his fleet together, anchors down, sails rolled up and vessels moored to each other in squadrons, while sailors and timbermen toiled night and day to restore the damaged ships' rigging and sails, and replace broken masts. At last, this second relief fleet set sail anew, yet soon hit dead in the failing wind and found itself stranded on an uneerily calm sea without a single gust of wind blowing.

      Three weeks passed in this manner, and ships' clerics organized penitent masses to appease the Heavenly Light. The mariners asked each other what they had done to so anger the Light, and they repented of sins and prayed earnestly. At last, after a time of fruitless waiting that was torture to the soul, did the winds pick up again, and the second relief fleet sailed straight for their destination with great speed from strong winds.

      Yet even this stroke of luck turned out a curse, for it led the sail-borne Gavemite fleet straight into the clutches of an Infernal Dwarf trap close to rocky Cape Myrrh. Out from a cove did the steel behemoths churn through the turqoise waters, unfettered by wind and spewing black smoke from their spiked chimneys. Steam enginges gasped and clanked and creaked, and harsh voices rang out upon rivetted decks, to the cracking of whips and screams of slave flesh. The brisk winds had taken the Gavemite fleet into the worst possible position, and every squadron was out of position to respond to the lumbering metal monsters of the Infernal ones, for the enemy was close by and quickly upon them.

      The Infernal Dwarf ships fired mortars and rockets as their armoured hulls cut through the waves in spite of the wind direction, and Volcano Cannons unleashed their searing flames at close range while steel rams crashed into the sides of wood and stone. Sharks gathered to feast upon the doomed in the brilliant waters. The Infernal fleet had struck without a single sail unfurled, but had waited behind rock formations and pounced with their hot engines from a spot by the coast where sailing ships could not have hoped to do so and catch their prey. It was a slaughter, and Gavemite ships sank into the salty depths.

      This battle was to be the last of the Radiance Upon Akurem, for its captain, Avrakam Palebeard son of Rezilak, managed to steer it around to come back upon the Infernal Dwarf fleet, bearing down upon a three-chimneyed warship with full ramming force from the side and buckling her plate hull so badly the Infernal vessel sank within half an hour. This loud impact of stone upon twisting metal gained the attention of Bazerak One-Eye, the commanding Lord of Fire in the Infernal fleet, who commanded a handful of his steamships to deal with this flanking threat. The Radiance Upon Akurem managed to catch and crush a slave galley filled with shrieking thralls while this response force was incoming, yet the Infernal Dwarf steamships were too quick, and they bore down upon the Gavemite Vrek from all sides, putting their paddle wheels in reverse gear and striking the Light worshippers again and again with their rams.

      The crew of the Radiance Upon Akurem fought off their attackers as best they could with bolt throwers, crossbows and composite horn bows, yet their stone ship's hull cracked in places from the repeated ramming blows, and its deck was awash in the vomit of Infernal fire weaponry and guns. Finally, the Might of Azhebarak landed a titanic hit upon the weakened rock hull, and the Gavemite stern broke apart as the jagged metal ram ground into the Radiance Upon Akurem. Most of its crew abandoned ship and leapt overboard as their marvellous stone vessel sank, yet their chances of survival by escaping upon flotsam or their own rotund Dwarf guts were grim indeed. Infernal Warriors scoured the surface of the sea with blunderbusses and gouts of flame that even burnt underwater, and many sharks gathered to the shipwreck, throwing themselves at Gavemites in a frenzied bloodfeast. Captain Avrakam Palebeard is said to have been finished off by a shoulder-launched red rocket that blew his head clean off while he led a desperate boarding party who tried in vain to conquer a nearby steamship with grappling hooks and sickle-swords, and thus secure their escape upon captive enemy hull.

      Yet the sacrifice of the Radiance Upon Akurem and her dutiful crew were not in vain, for the diverting action of Avrakam's manoeuver saved half the Gavemite relief fleet from destruction, and allowed them to limp into harbour on the Sacred Coast. The survivors of the ambushed fleet repaired their crafts and spent the rest of the war making Infernal Dwarf naval squadrons pay dearly for their cheap victory early-on, for these sailors of fabled Kegiz Gavem struck with holy vengeance to avenge the Grudge of Sunken Souls.


      ________________________________


      Step-by-step:

      Border Rosary: Attempt at geometric base.


      Border: Anyone may copy and use it for their own iconographic drawings, no need to ask for permission. Credit is nice, but not a must.



      Lineart: The clutter of details loosened the paper fibres and made it fold.



      The post was edited 11 times, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().

    • I am relearning Blender 2.8 (beta) with all the new controls. I just have basic experience but want to get better at it. Modelling is the start of everything you make, so for the foreseeable time I will spend a few hours per day making objects I can use later on. Some will be dwarven inspired so I thought to make them Kegiz Gavem themed while at it.

      First object started: a war club.



      This is a preview of the object after subdividing the surface 4 times to smooth it all out, what I actually made looks more like this:



      Working with less detail means you can work faster, once you commit, you work slower but can get started detailing (not there yet). This is made from a single sphere for maximal control on how the surface will look. In Blender only relative size within the object matters, scaling later on is without loss of detail.
      I am considering adding a sun symbol on the hitting side of the sphere and want to dwarven it up a bit. To do that I would make a few ancestral faces and sun symbols to use as stamps. So I will be busy for a few days making those. Enough time for you all to think on this question:

      How to make this a fantasy weapon for a dwarf?

      Later on you can sculpt on the mesh, add materials, textures and so on if images/video is desired or even 3D print it.
    • Great going, Joe! Fantastic enthusiasm. Good idea with a mace. One could perhaps make it shaped a bit like a cut diamond, or just add runes (Ge'ez script for inspiration, but perhaps angular?) or Dwarven patterns/motifs to it. Might get sketching if I can find the time, but don't hold your breath. I'm looking forward to see how you make the sun and ancestor faces. :)

      I've seen good fantasy weapons for Dwarves come in all manner of shapes: Thick or rather elegant, curved or angular, long-shafted or short-shafted. Usually it's down to ornamental design and a look of fine craftsmanship above and beyond what human craftsmen can be expected to turn out. So don't spare the runes, decor and set gems (or pearls, relevant here).

      For inspiration:


      Here are some Ethiopian shields and swords preserved in a museum, for inspiration. Note the big flared sword pommels:

      The post was edited 6 times, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().

    • Yes. But various cultures still used clubs like that across the world, including Africa, America and Ireland. There may be advantages of having the striking knob protrude out from the shaft, e.g. to help make sure the knob at the end hits home true, by lessening the chance of accidentally striking with the shaft instead (certainly easy to do when head and shaft are on the same axis) thus reducing impact. For similar reasons as to why axe and hammer heads protrude from the shaft instead of having the axe blade or hammer head sunken into it, aligning with the axis of the shaft. It's all trade-offs. Hold it very firm, strike true, and the weapon won't rotate during strike. This is not an optimal design, but it is neither impractical.

      Some Zulu ones:



      The Rungu, for example, was a throwing club used in east Africa. Gut feeling alone makes me suspect the curved-out head will help rotate it forcefully through the air:



      You can see the origin of the design following shapes in the raw material. Here Irish shillelaghs step-by-step:

      The post was edited 14 times, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().

    • WarX wrote:

      @Little Joe I do not know how this is relevant... But I think that center of the mass of this kind of the weapon must be on the axxis of the pole or behind when you are striking.

      If not, your weapon will have tendency to rotate over the axxis during strike. Thus you need to put force not only to swing, but also to hold the direction.
      Dwarves should not make shoddy equipment. Overengineering should be fun on these weapons. Mine won't rotate easily, not a round grip, it has an ergonomic grip that is slightly triangular.

      I will fix a few geometry problems today and will have a look. Bending it is no problem, most images I found had this straight shaft. It is the most basic of clubs to make but @Karak Norn Clansman wants it pimped, so it will be pimped.

      I will need to find out many things and anything goes for these objects, so keep those suggestions coming!
    • Well, I found out how to get Ge'ez into Blender, I use those characters now but KNC wanted "angular". Seems almost no typeset has that language included. And it will be modern with way too many characters. Here are the fonts I found:

      Link to fonts

      Ethiopic Tint or Ethiopic Yebse are as close as it gets of which I have only found the first so far. It looks very Germanic. :D

      Links for your resources @Karak Norn Clansman, let me know what you think?

      This is Ge'ez abjad (the old language with just 26 characters):



      EDIT: in Blender scaling is not a problem, I will make a proper image for the records if you like it.

      The post was edited 2 times, last by Little Joe ().