Gods Strewn Across the Walls.
The legendary city of the Svartalfar, Los Noir is a bastion of anarchy, tyranny and excess amidst the savage wilderness of the Norn Underdark.
Los Noir is inhabited by the Svartalfar – the collective name for the Drow, Duergar and Svirfneblin (dark elves, grey dwarves and deep gnomes, respectively).
Despite its apparent anarchy, Los Noir has a fairly strict class system – At the top, the drow noble houses rule with an iron fist, constantly fighting amongst themselves for supremacy and making sure the lesser classes know their place. Directly below them are the duergar, who are predominantly merchants, artisans and general bourgeoisie. The majority of the population, however, are made up of commoners of all races (although rarely Svirfneblin) who form the bulk of the paid workforce. At the bottom are the Svirfneblin, who are almost universally slaves for the drow and duergar except for those who manage to escape and remain unnoticed amidst the commons.
Each house contributes some of its members to form a ‘police force’, nominally to enforce the law but really to keep everyone below the noble houses in their place and to punish those stupid enough to get caught. Corruption is rife and the law is really only enforced if a member of a noble house brings clear evidence that another house did something illegal, with petitioners of the lesser classes who don’t have noble backing being either ignored or, more commonly, severely beaten.
Los Noir is ruled over by 8 houses, corresponding with the eight legs of Loki in his aspect as a spider.
- House Laufey – Currently the leading house in Los Noir. Ruthless and incredibly powerful.
- House Styxx – The bitter runners up, House Styxx is constantly seeking to usurp House Laufey’s position.
- House Sigynn – Most religious amongst the nobility, House Sigynn makes up a large majority of the Los Noiran church leadership. Despite this, however, they have not been able to compete with the raw power held by the first and second houses.
- House Lokasenna – Premier warriors amongst the houses. Field the most number of troops and have the best training academies. Lacking in magical power, however.
- House Narfi – Mercantile specialists, House Narfi boasts patronage of the largest number of Duergar artisans and counts a considerable number of enchanters in its ranks.
- House Prymr – In charge of mining operations, House Prymr provides a steady stream of raw materials to the Los Noiran duergar artisans.
- House Sleipnir – One of the more recent houses after aiding in the removal of House Edda, House Sleipnir is one of the more ambitious houses, albeit still finding their feet. They wish to expand further into the Underdark so as to have a powerbase away from the other houses.
- House Sinmara – A house of paupers since they have the fewest resources and the least power, and seemingly not the means to change that. Will probably be deposed in the near future.
- (House Edda – An unacknowledged house-in-exile that came to believe that Loki lied to the Svartalfar about what really happened when they fell from grace and that they should try to reconcile with their surface cousins. Currently dwell elsewhere in the Norn Underdark.)
The Svartalfar predominantly worship the shapeshifter god Loki, particularly in his aspect as a spider. As Loki takes a variety of forms, Los Noir is fairly gender-equal, although the church is completely controlled by the drow, thus enforcing their place in society. The spider is revered above all others for its patience, tangled webs and venomous bite.
Church doctrine holds that the Alfar were once all one, and what would become the Svartalfar were the just and mighty rulers of all they surveyed. Many of their lessers were jealous, however, and banded together to drive their betters underground where they were initially blinded and helpless in the darkness. Loki appeared before them and offered them power and a chance for revenge, changing them into the Svartalfar and revealing that the Svirfneblin had collaborated with what were mockingly termed the ‘Ljosalfar’ (collectively the elves, dwarves and gnomes). The Svirfneblin were enslaved, and the Svartalfar began to construct a mighty city from which to eventually sally forth and retake what is theirs.
In practice however, the noble houses like it just fine underground and while they do send raids to the surface, there has historically been no unified attempt at actually taking land.
The Laufey-Styxx Feud – This has recently blossomed into an inter-house war after House Styxx organised for Kraithe the Underhand and his band of thieves to steal a relic from House Laufey: a scale from the legendary serpent Jörmungandr. Currently sending very ‘pointed’ ‘missives’, exchanging assassins and forming alliances.
Piwafwi – A status symbol of members of the Houses, a noble’s Piwafwi is a magical cloak made from spider silk with their house insignia emblazoned on it and magical properties, most commonly including increased stealth for the wearer. They often have additional properties depending on the user and the house. Krixos Narfi, for example, has his enchanted to lead to a pocket plane.
The Blooding – A ritual of adulthood amongst the drow noble houses. Prospective scions are sent to the world above to raid and kill, bringing back evidence of their prowess and ruthlessness. The party encountered such a scion in the Goblin Fortress in the form of Kraithe’s friend Krixos Narfi, who had been comprehensively dismembered and then laid out (strewn, if you will) across the wall by’s wife, Helena.