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Gaming Groups => A Thousand Shattered Mirrors => Topic started by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 07 September 2011, 19:43:28

Title: City of Secrets - Elements of the Triple City
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 07 September 2011, 19:43:28
Aleshera - Black Pyramids of the Illithid
[NOTE - Work in Progress]

This particular Society has manifested itself largely on the wind-blasted surface of a largely-desert world; Aleshera. They have an almost symbiotic relationship with the lesser Humanoids who populate it, ruling large thralldoms with a relatively even hand in some regions. Seen as living gods in regions that have successfully subdued the Humanoid population. They are rare, seperate even then, holding themselves in their inhuman, dark and biomechanical looking fortresses/towers/etc. These powerful rulers have access to Spelljammer technology, though the rest of the blasted world is relatively primative. It is thought that they somehow brought this knowledge with them from the Far Realm itself, rather than gleaning it from the minds of their new home.

They are sometimes reffered to as Conclave Illithid to differentiate them from the more traditional, subterrainian varieties that are more commonly encountered on other worlds and the mysterious desert-born variety also present on Aleshera.

They do not need frequent meals of brains, and can survive on a simple, unsatisfying looking gruel that maintains their physical forms, but require Sentient Brains (either from convicted criminals or semi-willing sacrifices) to develop their potent Psionic talents.

Illithid Parasites spawned within these conclaves are 'birthed' into a large central vat of mysterious fluids, not entirely unlike the nourishing gruel, where they spend the first few years of their life being periodically tended by their Elders. Often there are several such creatures developing in the vats at the same time, and some are lost at this stage as the creatures fight or feed upon each other, though relatively rarely. In time, they are removed from the vats and allowed to bond with a (usually semi-willing) sacrifice. The Humanoid which the Parasite 'bonds' with is killed in the process as their brain is devoured, and they are fully aware of this fate, however, they believe that their essence will merge with the Illithid Tadpole. Those who volunteer for this fate are reveered in the conclave society at large, and spend their last months of life living in relative luxory. Any surviving family receives a pension of sorts, though they have no contact with the mindflayer who emerges from the union.

Outside of the conclaves, the Illithid Parasites that emerged from the far-realm (and still sometimes do), exist in a semi-feral state as part of the world's harsh eco-system. Though essentially aquatic looking in nature, the Parasites do not apparently need moisture to survive. If left in a dry enough enviroment, they adapt through various subtle mutations and become instead a borrowing creature, escaping the heat of the day by dwelling in the sands themselves. They hunt for living prey during the night, and will devour anything smaller than themselves. If they bring down larger prey, they will eat the Brain of said creature preferably (and derive significant nutrition from doing so.)

Assuming they do not encounter a suitable sentient host during a certain time-frame in their development, the proto-flayer continues to develop in it's worm-like form instead. They become large, non-sentient beasts with ravenous apetites that roam the Deserts. Their apetites wane over time as they grow ever larger, however they will remain a threat to anything they encounter till their death. It is rumoured that without predation or accident, the Mind-Worms could live all but indefinately. Myths speak of collosal worms in the deep deserts, capable of eating entire sand-ships in a single bite.

If they do, however, encounter a suitable Humanoid during their highly morphic phase of development, they will attempt to 'bond' with it, by consuming the creatures brain. Little is known of the Mindflayers that are produced by this unsupervised union, but they tend to be much more solitary than their Conclave brethren, and prone to wander. Like their brethren, they seem to derive knowledge from some additional, possibly ancestral source, as well as some residual memories and personality traits from their 'host'.

So called Desertborn Flayers rarely venture into Conclave controlled territory and are treated with suspicion and occaisionally outright hostility by the Conclave Flayers, though their Humanoid thralls both revere and fear these mysterious desert dwelling Illithid.

Some of the Desertborn Illithid prey upon travellers, whereas others mainly appear to be content to wander the wastes on inexplicable errands and quests. Some few attempt to band together with similar creatures as themselves, either to hunt for food (brain based or otherwise) or to provide protection from the Deserts more dangerous inhabitants.

Unlike the Conclave Illithids who exclusively subsist on either the mysterious, gruel-like substance or Brain matter, some Desertborn Illithid have very varied diets, apparently being able to stomach and metabolise things that would kill most Natural Humanoids. Like with their Conclave Brethren, however, the consuming of Brain-Matter is apparently required for them to develop any really noteworthy psionic strength.

Whenever they encounter the forces of the Elder-Brains there is inevitably hostility and often outright conflict. The existence of such creatures seems to enrage the Elder-Brains who lead so called traditional Mindflayer societies and they will attack without warning, mercy or reason until one side or the other is wiped out.

Title: Guanabara - City of Snakes
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 07 September 2011, 19:53:55
Gunabara - Silver Towers of the Snake People

[NOTE - Work in Progress]

Nestled in the heart of a vast and mist-shrouded rainforest lies a city of gleaming spires. No Eladrin walks their airy halls however as the City belongs utterly to the Yuan-Ti. Likewise, the towering structures are not magical, or extraplanar in nature. They are carefully engineered wonders of glass and steel and stone, bathed in light and towering above the clawing green mass of the forest.

Once a human city stood in the same location, having destroyed the forests that had blanketed the land for ages untold. They burnt the land and scoured the earth beneath their feet for riches and rare metals, growing fat and powerful on the back of the ecological crisis they unleashed upon the realm. The people of the Snake-Gods, their origins shrouded in time and arcane secrets, worked to undermine the land of men with subtle plots and assassinations.

The process took centuries, but by the time the humans knew that something was going wrong, there was no-longer anything they could do. Their institutions and constitution been effectively re-designed by the Snakes from the ground-up to trap them and almost all the wealth of the grand city now lay secretly in the hands of the Snakes. They bought the city from the Humans using their own gold, according to laws they had written for them and the Humans were so weakened by decades of carefully orchestrated social engineering that they rolled over and took it with barely a comment.

The human population of the city is a fraction of what it once was, an underclass who has exchanged the right to self-rule for the subtle guiding hand of their reptilian masters. Docile and unambitious, they provide the manual labour that the city's splendor is built with. With the population vastly reduced from the human-dominated height of the City's size, the Jungle has been encouraged to reclaim the land, even into the heart of the city itself.  

The serpent classes live as the middle and noble-classes, serving either one of the competing mega-corporations or the central, pseudo-religious administration.

Title: Re: City of Secrets - Elements of the Triple City
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 08 September 2011, 03:24:05
Zyn - Midnight City of the Drow
Work in Progress.

The Midnight City of the Drow is an enigma. Hidden on the dark side of a motionless world, bathed in endless night, it must once have had very different masters. The current population of Drow from across the planes, claimed the city long after the death of the world it resided on.

Being as it is, situated on the night side of the planet, the region around the city is deathly cold and frequently thrashed by harsh storms. The city itself is situated in a region of extreme geothermal activity and is quite effectively protected from the natural temperature. It nestles in a deep chasm, it's dark spires rising up above the cliff-tops that ring it wreathed in the ever present clouds of water vapour from the hotsprings and the icy waterfall that plunges into the volcanically heated depths of the chasm.

The city is at it's lowest point uncomfortably hot and humid, but quite airy and cool at it's peak. Overall, it is remarkably comfortable all considered and the Waters of the glacial waterfall are not only ice-cold but remarkably pure.

The city as it exists today was founded by a number of Drow families from a number of different planes. They vary in their beliefs, their goals and their methods incredibly, the only link they seem to have is their non-conformist tendancies in comparison to the society they existed in. The leaders of the families were approached by a mysterious masked Drow, dressed as a Harlequin. The Harlequin lead them to the Midnight City and brokered the deal that would become the city's founding laws. Little is known of the Harlequin, historians cannot even agree on the figure's gender.

One might suppose that a city such as this would be dominated by Lolth, but that is quite far from the truth. Religious freedom is actually one of the first laws set down by the founding families, as they did not universally share a faith. Major Gods honoured by the Families include Vulkoor, the scorpion god of the Xen'drik Drow, Araushnee (Said to either be the true identity of Lolth, an Aspect or an unrelated Goddess, depending on who you ask) and Lolth herself. Numerous other Deities are honoured, but rarely on any grand scale.

The Midnight City is often considered the beating heart of the Triple City. It is they, with their multiplanar origin that established the earliest trade agreements that led to the three-way partnership. It is the nexus and the hub for all trade and business in the Triple City. It is also renowned for it's elaborate festivities and grand debauchery. In the thriving cauldren that is Triple City Culture, the Midnight City has come to represent the endless party and is renowned and infamous for it's clubs, bars and fabulously deadly nightlife. It promises visitors the fruits of all three cultures, though in the dark and hedonistic night there are plenty of downsides for the unwary.

Title: Re: City of Secrets - Elements of the Triple City
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 21 December 2011, 06:40:44
Zyn - Crime in the Midnight City

Major points of Law.

The prime law, the one law upheld above all others on pain of death is deliberately harming or enabling harm to the city itself. Revealing it's location to a hostile off-world faction, attempting to undermine the Police or going directly against security-related pronouncements of the Circle of Thirteen all trigger immediate and zealous punishment under this directive, to be carried out by any and all available agents of the Circle, the Police and members of the houses who sit upon the Circle of Thirteen. Aiding someone avoid punishment for this crime is a seperate offence, usually dealt with slightly more leniently.

The second most important law in the Midnight City forbids Murder of any Citizen of Zyn. This law is also rigidly upheld, but the definitions involved are important to properly understanding the law. Firstly, a Citizen of Zyn is defined as follows;
A Drow, Dark Elf, or person of elven heritage who resides perminantly within the city of Zyn or it's two allied cities.
A lawful citizen of Gunabara who either posesses some measure of snake-blood or an appropriate Visa.
Any Illithid of Aleshera or directly appointed human servant thereof, presuming they posess the requisite sacred tattoos designating them as such.

Murder in this case is defined as the unlawful deliberate killing of any of the peoples defined above. Technically it is possible to commit such an act via poison, or sabotage, or any number of other means. However, the vast majority of prosecutions are in relation to acts of open violence. If a suspect has motive, means available and has expressed a desire to see the individual harmed then there is still not necessarily any strenuous investigation. Deliberately ingesting poisoned food is, regardless of the victim's knowledge of whether or not the food is poisoned, usually declared death by misadventure. The possession and use of poison is legal and it is presumed that an individual is responsible for avoiding ingesting it.
Never the less, there are many fatal accidents, presumed suicides and casualties via misadventure in Zyn every year.

If it is decided that Murder has been committed, however, the individual is declared to no longer be a Citizen of Zyn or any of her allied cities. It becomes entirely legal to take the individuals life and all of the members of the Circle of Thirteen are expected to provide a monetary reward to who-so-ever kills the individual, even if the criminal was from their own house.

There are of course many further laws and regulations, but far fewer in total than in the average city. An attitude of "Anything goes, as long as you are subtle about it" is very much encouraged. However, the major houses have all signed up to a number of less official agreements.
Cheif amongst these is that a house's children will never be targeted, not even accidentally. This agreement came about after certain families feuding escalated to the point where they a number of the cheif houses risked triggering an investigation under the primary clause.
Another noteworthy such agreement, though it technically lacks the full weight of law, is to support the city's law enforcement organisation. They agree not to attempt to use the Police in inter-house politics and to abide by the commandments and requirements of the organisation (itself often viewed as an informal house in it's own right, albeit one without any circle representation).

Likewise, there is a widespread agreement that no violence should be commited upon the world's remaining native Dwarves, nor should any unsupervised trading with them be attempted. They are allowed to enter the city unchallenged and are generally avoided as much as possible, except under strictly regulated conditions. When it becomes necessary to kill one of the native dwarves, specially trained teams are usually deployed, utilising Gunabarran Dwarf-stopping rounds to attempt to minimalise collatoral damage...

Minor Legal Issues

Slavery is legal in Zyn. However, it is regulated quite strictly. There are firmly enforced maximums on the slave population, which may not go above 1/3 the total combined population of the city and the demographics thereof must also be carefully managed. The specifics vary from house to house, but many operate under the model of Indentured servitude rather than outright slavery. Such houses often boast a decent (and much less stringently regulated) population of houseless Drow servants.
Openly killing a slave is treated in law as property damage. It's vanishingly rare for Slaves to be deliberately poisoned, however, due to the relative value of good poison.

Trade is also regulated, though only lightly for the most part. Cheifly, the more exotic imports from Gunabara and Aleshera are controlled, with licences being required to deal in them. Gunabaran Firearms in particular are subject to licence, with the number held by each house subject to strict controls though it is possible to trade allowances on a temporary basis on most such goods. Only the Police are excempt, and many of the houses use donations to the law enforcement agency to get around the limit on such weapons. This is tolerated, as it means that at any time the agency has access to the largest and most varied armoury in the city.

Title: Re: City of Secrets - Elements of the Triple City
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 22 December 2011, 17:41:25
Gunabara - Crime in the City of Snakes

Gunabara has a relatively elaborate system of laws and regulations. The majority of them are concerned with business and corporate law, as the large corporations are the major powers in Gunabara and control most aspects of daily life. Trading of stocks and shares, employment law (rights and requirements of both employers and employees), taxes and a carefully managed system of pensions and the banking system itself are all intricately detailed and designed to encourage the prosperity of the city without unduly harming her populace.

The second most major block of legislation concerns enviromental issues. In the years since the Snakes took control of Gunabaran society, it has transformed from an ashen blot on the landscape to a dazzling, verdant beacon.  Not only must Industry must take all conceivable steps to limit their effect on the landscape but the city has almost completed the shift to entirely clean and renewable energy as mandated by several major articles of law.

Laws relating to the individual are however not the most liberal. Supects can be indefinately detained without charge, punishments are harsh (with capitol punishment not being overly rare for more severe offences) and to a large degree as long as the basic wellbeing related concerns are met, a Corporation can set whatever regulations for it's workers that it desires. For the everyday man, it can sometimes be quite tricky to navigate the city, as one district will be effectively be running on a different legal code than the next. Most of the major corporations run their own private law enforcement agencies and have their own privately run prisons, which are the source of a large proportion of the labour required for many of the products that the otherwise affluent society enjoys. Prison populations are generally kept quite large.
Intallectual property rights and copyright laws are jointly handled by the Corporations and are thoroughly draconian.

Social mobility does also have some legal limits enforced. Pure Human stock citizens can only climb so high. They can never own property (though the majority of Gunabaran society rents and leases anyway), nor rise higher in a Corporation than department head. Humans who have Snake-blooded family members do enjoy slightly relaxed limits, however, and possessing even a small amount of snake-ancestry is usually sufficient to be classified as Yuan-Ti under the law, no matter the predominant outward appearence or extent.

Despite the tight societal controls, or perhaps because of them, there does exist a number of very determined anarchist groups, rebels and bandits who rebel against the sometimes very repressed nature of Gunabarran life. One of the more notorious figures goes by the name "The Feathered Boa". He or she is known for committing daring daytime raids on corporation headquarters, often making off with staggering wealth in terms of bonds, shares or simply technology, all whilst dressed in elaborate, expressive and often ridiculous feathery, sequinned outfits. In recent years, the Feathered Boa has built up a well armed gang who refer to themselves as the Sky Snakes owing to their use of Jetpacks and Air-Speeders in their raids.
Other groups focus on other issues, more or less morally. One of the most dangerous operates as a terrorist group, targetting corporations directly with bombs and sabotage. Another group might attempt to champion the cause of the human population, alternately commiting acts of violence and reaching out via the mass media.

With no unified law enforcement agency, the response to such groups can be less than cohesive at times. It is widely suspected (but almost never reported) that some of the more powerful groups may even have corporate backing.

Title: Re: City of Secrets - Elements of the Triple City
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 13 January 2012, 04:01:21
Aleshera - Law in the Shadow of the Black Pyramids

The law, as it stands in Aleshera, is largely benevolent in nature. Their society is essentially caste-based with a small clerical and administrative elite, the various revered tradespeople and experts, followed by the common citizen and finally the vast numbers of non-citizens in roughly descending importance, with levels of rights and privaledges commensurate with that.

Visualised as a pyramid, the lowest layer would consist of the vast number of serfs and less-important slaves that cluster in the shanty-towns that spring up and shift about the edges of Aleshera itself. These people have only the most basic protections under the law. For example they are not entitled to own property, or reside within the city walls themselves. They will often be directly ruled by (or owned by, in the case of slaves) one of the more powerful administrative dynasties, though the largest number are technically ruled and/or owned by the City itself (which is to say the secretive Illithid rulers). However, they are still offered numerous protections under law, including the right to food and water, though only the Serfs have the full set of basic rights which entitle them to a portion of the fruits of their labor, access to the legal process and so on. The majority of them work in the mines, doing the delibitating work of extracting the rare and exotic materials that Aleshara has become known for. Such work can significantly shorten the expected lifespan, so many aspire to be re-assigned to agricultural positions, however such work is rare and entrusted cheifly to highly trusted serfs or naturalised citizens.

Murder and theft are some of the more common crimes committed at this level of society due to the difficult nature of policing the shanty-towns. Any crime directly harming a Slave is treated as property damage and usually results in some kind of fine but crimes against serfs are generally treated more seriously. The rare earths, silicates and metals that provide much of the city's wealth are frequently stolen, but punishment is light because there is little genuine market for such materials on the desert world itself.

Food is usually distributed by whoever the Serf or slave answers to, but water is provided by the city. This is the main reason that cities such as Aleshera tend to boast such large populations, as the vast biomechanical water reclamation devices are capable of providing large amounts of the brackish, bitter water at generally low cost. Any damage to the infrastructure involved carries harsh penalties. Deliberate damage usually results in a death sentance. Usually this will involve the removal of the criminals brain, though usually an aparatus is used to remove it cleanly and allow storage or processing. More intimate methods of execution do exist but are usually reserved for the kind of criminal who has managed to raise some serious level of ill-will amongst the general populace.

The second main eschelon of Alesheran society consists of citizens and their families who do not belong to any of the more formal castes. Often, these represent the families of serfs who have proven their value to the city over generations and been granted full citizenship. They have relatively full access to the benefits of the law, can own property access the judicial system and even have the right to participate in the sub-illithid level of politics. Doing so actively can eventually lead a family to leave their uncasted life behind them and join the clerical caste. Likewise, if they excell at a trade they may be able to join the relevant caste and increase both their social standing and their quality of life. They have access to all the luxories of the city, whose walls they live inside of and may even purchase slaves or fresh ice-water, imported from the Drow's frozen world at great cost. However, they can rarely afford to actually do so and most live relatively modest lives and aspire to nothing much beyond owning their own small home and saving up enough to afford a slave or two in their old age should they be lucky enough to live that long in the harsh desert climate.

Alternatively, many members of this caste join the city's military and police forces. With competition for resources being intense on the blasted desert planet, inter-citystate war is still common even in the centuries since the coming of the Illithid. Soldiers and their families are well treated, and live slightly better than the average member of the uncasted.

This caste is not immune to the depravities of crime, but with improved standing and access, more complex crimes become an issue including fraud, tax avoidance and so on.

Tradesmen and Experts make up the majority of the upper-classes. They hold the majority of the wealth of the city and have full access to it's privaledges. They will often own a number of slaves and have care over a number of serfs to whom they will have various responsibilities. They can often afford to indulge in the more exotic recreational substances on a semi-regular basis and can usually afford a supply of Ice-Water, though never enough that they don't have to rely on reclamated water on a regular basis. They will at least be able to afford spacious accomodation away from the dull drone of the biomechanical reclamators however.

Violent crime is rare at this level of society, though not unheard of. Theft vies with the various frauds and other such crimes and when committed, the convicted's family can often raise enough money to pay the requisite fines. However, such families are often ruined by doing so and revert by default to life with the uncasted if they aren't careful.

The highest caste consists of those who run the city itself, the administrative heart of civil servants and elected officials as well as scholars, priests and so on. They have no more rights than the tradesmen, but often have much grander accomodation as such is often attached to the role itself. Frequently such people will be able to afford the finest the city has to offer, rarely having to deal with the unpleasent but plentiful reclamated water or other harsh necessities of desert life.

They are largely left to rule to their whim and the whim of those who elect them. It is not at all common for the Illithid overlords to actually make decrees or interfere in the governance of the city itself. Clergy convicted of corrupt practices however, usually find themselves being very publically executed by their Illithid masters, however and those who merely prove incompetant or unpopular are often dismissed from office quite rapidly once it attracts their attention. The rewards can be great, but it is all to easy to fall from such a position with startling speed.

The Illithid themselves remain distant from Alesheran society, served by directly chosen citizens who are marked with sacred tattoos as direct instruments of the Illithid's will. They stand seperate from the rest of society, directly residing in the grounds of the Illithids vast palacial pyramids, with their alien archetecture and strangely reserved, opulant asceticism. It is these Servants who are entrusted with the most basic of secrets of the Illithids biotechnological wonders, enough to oversee the construction and maintenance of. Crimes committed by the Sacred Servants are dealt with directly by the Illithid. Punishments are harsh and instant, but usually survivable and generally fitting to the offence.

Only the Illithid and their Sacred Servants have access to the portals to the Drow city, though most of the city's populace benefit directly from such trade. Occaisionally, large serf workforces are sent through to assist with larger construction or maintenance projects, but such ventures are strictly controlled.

Title: Re: City of Secrets - Elements of the Triple City
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 26 January 2012, 22:05:15
Zyn - Outside the Midnight City

The Steam Fields
The city of Zyn is warm, humid and perfectly habitable, considering it is on the dark side of a dead planet. Nestled in a crevass and in the middle of a region of intense geothermal activity, it is protected from the worst of the Night-side weather. Hotsprings provide the city with plenty of heat, which is at it's most unpleasent at the lowest levels of the city but becomes tolerable quickly enough as you scale the city's heights. The city's main source of drinking-water however is the glacial meltwater that forms the vast waterfall that runs the entire height of the city before dissapearing into the vapour-wreathed depths.
Outside of the city the icy wastes are kept at bay by the vast field of hot-springs and geysers. The entire region is frequently shrouded in mists formed by the sheer amount of water vapour in the air. Between the hotsprings, the sheltering hills and the large bioluminescent fungal-forest, the region is spared the most destructive weather.

The Mushroom Forest

At the edge of the field of hotsprings, overshadowed by ice blasted mountains stretches a vast bioluminescent forest of gigantic mushrooms and funguses. Some of the growths appear to be thousands of years old and stretch to stupifying heights. It glows with strange pastel colours, pinks greens and blues. Most of the surviving native wildlife lives in or around the forest, taking advantage of the rare shelter and proximity to the glacial-melt-river and the hotsprings.
Such wildlife that survives outside of the relative safety of the Mushroom forest is usually significantly more dangerous, though thankfully rare. Strange beasts roam the icy wastelands, some vast in size and many of them clearly magical in nature, and it's a brave or foolhardy hunter who seeks them out.

Ice Waste

Vast, wind-shredded expanses of frozen land. Bare rock gives way to drifts of snow deep enough to bury a city in, vast lakes of ice sometimes offer tantalizing glimpses of the lost civilisations entombed beneath. Colossal, frost-blooded monstrosities stride, slither or burrow through the white and black desolation with territories covering hundreds of miles. Exiles lost in the Wastes invariably die soon enough, or risk returning to the Mushroom forest at the outskirt of the habitable region neighboring Zyn. Those few who risk exploring the wastes occaisionally bring back tales of frozen, tomblike cities with strange and unspeakable riches or wonders hidden within, but such tales are not always reliable as the Wasteland drives mad most of those it doesn't kill. Still, one or two come back clutching strange objects of power, just often enough to keep the rumours flowing.

But the Wasteland is not tough enough to scour all traces of civilization from the planet. Even here, in the constant night of the dark side of the planet, with it's ferocious winds and ravenous abominations, there are survivors of the world that was.

The Dwarves
Whatever doom came to this world to end it's cycle of day and night, boiling half a planet and freezing the other half, it was unable to destroy the native Dwarves outright. Too tough or too dumb to die, the native Dwarves endured the nightmarish conditions uncomplainingly, but they were perhaps not unchanged. To describe them as savage, bloodthirsty or insane understates the situation but also misses the nuances of their situation. Alcohol soaked behemoths, clothed in fur and bone and utterly deadly whether armed or otherwise. The Grim, barely comprehensible Dwarven Barbarians barely seem to notice the cold beneath their layers of furs and hair and muscle. To be fair, they rarely seem to notice when they have been lit on fire, either, or when they have lost several organs or a large chunk of their head. Infact, once they become enraged they are almost impossible to stop, and they can become enraged over the simplest of things.
For this reason, intentionally harming or aggravating a dwarf is strictly forbidden almost above all else. For even once they have been taken down (usually with specially designed dwarf-stopping rounds fired from a Gunabaran anti-material rifle), there is the very high probability that their death will upset their kin and the next thing you know large parts of the city are on fire.

So they are allowed to make their inexplicable pilgrimages to the city of Zyn and pass unmolested through it's streets. They mutter darkly and incomprehensibly to themselves, draped in the fur of what few creatures remain at their disposal* or are dumb enough to get in the way of a Dwarven hunting party. They pass like short, hairy mountains with dozens of ferocious arctic cats (ranging from the size of a house-cat to panthers) following them in unruly bands.

However, those brave or mad enough to actually attempt to trade with them usually do very well. Essentially, most supplies available in the city are unheard of luxories to the Wasteland Dwarves, and they value them quite highly. They cheifly trade for food, rare materials (such as natural wood) and alcohol. They are not particularly picky about Alcoholic beverages and will enthusiastically buy, consume and drench themselves in pretty much anything with alcohol in it, the more the better.
In return, they bring barter goods such as gemstones or craft goods.  All craftsdwarfship is of the highest quality, though the engravings are sometimes a little unpleasant.

Occaisionally, a particularly adept merchant might manage to somehow arrange for the Dwarves to bring larger shipments of ore, stone or even chunks of finished masonry, but given that they don't speak a word of common (and it's often argued that their own language is so devolved as to basically be gibberish) that is a pretty ambitious undertaking, let alone considerning the risks concerned. You pretty much have to pay up what you promised regardless of what they turn up with and just hope they got the right end of the stick.
Plus, if you want the building supplies for construction purposes, there's the simple fact that you will have to look at them afterwards and that can sometimes take a strong stomach.

The monstrous dwarves of the wastelands aren't the only surviving natives on the planet, however.

The Black King and his Vampires

It is understood that there remains, about the green belt of survivably dim light at the edge of Night and Day several valid populations of humans. They never venture into the night, or far into the day, but they squabble and grub about in the ruins of the world their ancestors broke as humans do, eaking out a living with whatever measure of agriculture and scavenging they can manage. But they no longer rule even the fraction of the world that remains to them. No, they answer to the Vampire Lords in their Towers at the edge of Night. The Vampire Lords fight amongst themselves for superiority and advantage, but even they must bow to the greatest of their number, a Survivor from the very war that broke the world, the Black King.

The Black King maintains a vast palace, with grand domes and several colossal towers, much deeper into the Night than any of his lesser progeny. He is secretive, powerful beyond measure and completely unscrupulous. He is also very secretive, and few know much about him other than his existence.

His envoys are given free reign of the city of Zyn, which pays him a tribute in exchange for his lack of attention. The Tribute is given by the city in total, in the form of thirteen healthy young Drow a year. They are taken by the Envoys to the Black Kings palace, and the majority are never seen again. Some, however, return to the city either as envoys or as free individuals. Most of these individuals have been given the gift of Vampirism, but no-one believes that all of the Drow given to the Black King are anything like as lucky.

The Circle of Thirteen, the ruling council of the city of Zyn, tends to encourage the houses to contribute evenly to the tithe. In practice, the Houses often trade the requirement, either for goods, contracts or most commonly the agreement that the favour will be returned at some future date. The Lesser Houses (which share a single seat on the Circle) often end up trading several fractions of the tithe in exchange for goods, services, secret agreements or other things that they hope will allow them to eventually supplant one of the greater houses and take one of their seats at the Circle.