Hidden King
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A Hidden King is the effective leader of a dwarven community within a predominantly non-dwarven city. This custom arose when dwarven communities in human cities first grew to significant size during the time of the Atalan Empire and needed a leader of their own to cement their identity as a group. The necessity to keep the identity of their leader hidden from humans became established when dwarves faced periodic persecution and even pogroms by the majority, and they needed someone to organize the defenses of the dwarven ghettos without fears of direct reprisal. To this day, dwarves will not discuss the identity of their Hidden King in front of outsiders - indeed, they will not even acknowledge his existence.

Hidden Kings are usually chosen from descendants of noble families, often exiles or younger sons who abandoned their homes seeking their fortune in human realms. However, this practice has sometimes resulted in conflicts when another dwarf with an allegedly better bloodline appears, sometimes even resulting into split communities where each fraction pledges fealty to a different Hidden King. Some of the modern dwarven expatriate communities, especially among the Flannish Cities, actually elect their own leaders from the most successful members of their own communities, without regard to their ancestry, but this is decried by the conservatives. Whether the Hidden King is chosen traditionally or not, all technically suffer from problems of legitimacy, as according to dwarven law only the kings of the great dwarven kingdoms (such as Gol Algor, Gol Grungor, and Gol Murak) have the divine right to rule other dwarves or designate others to rule in their stead. As most of the dwarven kingdoms (especially the extremely conservative Gol Grungor) don't acknowledge expatriate dwarven communities and in fact largely pretend they don't exist, the Hidden Kings must be careful with using their authority, and those who cannot maintain the respect of the locals will usually have little actual power.

The main service Hidden Kings provide to their communities is that of arbitration - dwarves who believe that they are wronged somehow can petition their Hidden Kings to help them. If the offender is another dwarf, the Hidden King is assisted by scholars of dwarven law to come up with a ruling that is hopefully accepted by both sides (and is enforced by the community as a whole if not). If the offender is a human or another outsider, the Hidden King will have to come up with another measure, such as strikes, sudden price hikes on dwarven goods, or other measures that seem to be spontaneously organized by the dwarven community as a whole and will force the majority population to notice their demands. The Hidden King can also levy taxes on the community which are used to build up the defenses of the local dwarven ghetto that it can withstand a siege by a human mob, as well as to assist any widows, widowers, and orphans the community might have.

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Adventure Ideas

Designer's Notes & Resources


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