From: Peter Metcalfe (
Date: Fri 23 Jan 1998 - 13:54:26 EET

Owen Jones:

>My understanding of the dwarvish raison d'etre is that they labour
>unceasingly to repair the "world machine". Many people, when writing to
>the digest regards dwarves, have conjured visions of vast underground
>factories full of noisy machinery, and individuals whose role in life is
>to fit sprocket A to spindle B (which they get to do for eternity, if they
>do it right). To me this doesn't quite fit. Part of the problem is that I
>can't imagine the world machine as mechanical.

That's not the point. The Dwarves see the Cosmos as the World
Machine just as the Central Genertelans see the Cosmos as being
peopled by Gods. When a Dwarf looks at the Sun using his magical
vision, he sees it as a glowing cog of blazing fire. Likewise
he could look up into the Night Sky and see the planets moving
along on their clocklike epicycles. This reinforces the idea
that the world machine exists or more importantly, it reduces
the world to something that he can understand.

>In any case, dwarves
>are craftsmen rather than factory-line workers: I recall a description of
>dwarven musket units where every musket is different, hand made by its

They are Henry Fordesque craftsmen. Most dwarves in a factory make a
particular type of component and make it well. They could be trained
to make another component but then they would have to start from
scratch. Iron Dwarves are made for fighting at a particular position
in their regiment, frex.

>We know dwarves produce nilmergs and jolanti, but the process is sorcerous
>rather than technological. A jolanti climbs cooling from a vat of magma
>only after the appropriate spell has been cast. His sensory organs are
>carved by stonemasons, but require sorcery to get them working. If you
>were to cut one open, you would surely find stone organs rather than
>little cogs. My point here is that dwarves put as much effort into
>working with spirit as they do with stone, iron, bronze, fire, dark etc.

But what does the Dwarf think he is doing when he casts a spell?
To activate a Jolanti's eyes, the mostali might think he is
creating a path so that the some specialized energy fields from
the World Machine pervade the organs so that they be capable of

As for the organs, best not to remind a dwarf about that. It calls
into question their own imperfect organs (which are seemingly Grower
in origin) and then they'll have to visit the Gold Dwarf for therapy
(which involves a partial mindwipe and installing mental blocks so
they don't think down that route again). Those capable of handling
the strain will claim it's a relic of the last good growth in the
cosmos and that the Jolanti organs are Made copies.

>Back to my query, which is essentially, what do the dwarves see as wrong
>with the world machine, and what exactly are they doing to fix it? I've
>had a number of ideas, but they're still only part formed.

It is an error IMO to actually believe the mostali claim that they are
correcting the world machine. It's what they were built for but what
what would happen if the world machine was fixed? I have a strong
suspicion that they would carry on as they always have done because
they know of nothing else to do. Only diamond dwarf status could ever
grant them the ability to think outside the circle.

So in my opinion the world machine is fixed (it was fixed at the
Dawn, what more proof do you need?) and the dwarves don't know it
yet and are unlikely to find out. To keep a highly skilled workforce
prepared for the next catastrophe (you never know when one might
come up*), the diamond dwarves and the true mostali keep up the
pretense that the world machine still needs to be repaired. A few
long range predictions are made from time to time to give the workers
the impression that Progress Is Being Made but the end-result is
inexplicably not detailed. Apart from Trolls and Elves being extinct
(telling that!) and Stone shall return to life (which is in itself
extemely vague and one suspects purposely unrealisable).

*The Sunstop may be an example of a catastrophe here so the mostali
may not be totally useless. But I prefer to think they are so it
isn't IMHO.

- --Peter Metcalfe


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