Doza by Night
The Dwarven Families
Any description of Doza’s social strata should begin with the dwarven families. The five families (or houses) sit at the absolute top of the city’s economic ladder. They have been a part of Doza since its very beginnings. The power and influence they wield throughout the Heartsea region is unmatched by any other organization.
All of Doza’s dwarven families originally came from mountain dwarf clans. Depending on who is telling the tale, they were either survivors of a fallen sietch, or disgraced bloodlines exiled for their treachery. Because of the naturally long lifespan of dwarves (and ample resources to put towards extended life), some of the eldest members of a house might be the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of the founders. In any event, the true family stories are well guarded secrets, and the official histories have been considerably “polished”.
Each of the five families lives in a massive, fortress-like citadel. These strongholds are built directly into the cliff walls along the northern edge of the city. The dwarven citadels are masterworks of architecture, towering hundreds of feet above any other building in Doza. They can be seen from ships entering Calisson Cove over a mile away. Few outsiders ever see the interiors of the dwarven family homes, but it is common knowledge that the façades are merely the tip of the iceberg. Each stronghold extends well into the solid rock of the Iceshield mountains, and deep into the caverns below.
Over the centuries, each house has become a clan in its own right. Even the smallest family has over a hundred members. The largest is nearly five hundred. Intermarriage between houses is extremely rare. When a member of one of the families is ready to take a spouse, a suitable prospect of noble birth is sought from a dwarven clan outside of Doza. In recent decades, this has become more of a challenge as the great dwarven sietches of Thorcadia go into seclusion.
The actual family members represent only a small fraction of the population of any given house. Each family employs a small army of servants, guards, and other personnel to maintain their opulent lifestyle. The houses also serve as headquarters for the various family businesses. Thus, at any given time, the guest rooms are filled with important visitors and business associates. Those who prove themselves to be especially valuable and loyal are given honorary status as members of the house, and are allowed to take up permanent residence. Such inductees are always treated as secondary to true family members though.
The dwarven families are involved in virtually every type of business imaginable. They hold a total monopoly on Doza’s trade with the underdark. Their ships transport goods to and from every port on the Heartsea. Deep within their strongholds, forges burn day and night, turning out weapons, armor, and other metalwork. Not all of their business ventures are on the level. There is considerable profit to be made in contraband, and the dwarven families are quite adept at circumventing the law. There are even rumors that some houses engage in slave trade with their subterranean partners.
Competition between houses is fierce. The families are constantly maneuvering to gain an advantage over each other. However, there are certain lines which are not crossed when dealing with fellow dwarves, and in extreme circumstances the houses will work together against a common adversary. When dealing with outside businesses, the tactics used by the dwarven families are utterly ruthless. The dwarves will resort to anything from undercutting prices, all the way to employing saboteurs in order to destroy a competitor.
There is a long-standing rivalry between the dwarven families and the elven enclave. The elves supply Doza with a seemingly endless cornucopia of fresh produce, which they give away for free. This is perhaps the one area of commerce in which the dwarves simply cannot compete. There is absolutely no money to be made importing or growing fruits and vegetables in Doza, a fact the dwarves have always resented.