On the Making of Clay Mostali

From: Erik Sieurin <BV9521_at_bhs.utb.hb.se>
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 1998 22:06:27 +0100

The basic components in this process is a lifeclay body, a large amount of vat melange, a protodwarf module and brain extract from the correct type of dwarf.

You also need a homunculus vat, an aetheric activator, an athanoric chamber, and an awakening device.

Most importantly, you need dwarven workers. A whole team of them: a Tin with several assistants for the basic process, a Quicksilver for creating the necessary fluids and earths, a Brass to regulate the heating of the athanoric chamber, one Gold to properly awaken the new-made dwarf, another Gold to record the process and set up files for the new-made, and finally one of the ubiquitos (sp?) Silvers, to fiddle with the magic-enchancing equipment and look mysterious. Following the usual dwarven practice, the one with the most (recognized) experience will be the Foreman, regardless of his part in the process.

As usual, there will probably be a couple of trainees nearby as well, eagerly memorising every step in the process. If you are unlucky, they will have their Gold pedagogue with them, loudly explaining everything you do as you do it, and sometimes interrupting you and asking you to do what you did again, though more slowly, so that the trainees (_his_ craftsgoods!) will learn properly.

The process is as can be seen a precious one, and dwarfs are only produced for positions which cannot be filled by homunculi, jolanti, machinae, human slaves (among Openhandists) or vegetative slaves (among Vegetarians).

First, a Quicksilver expert in lifeclay will mix up a large amount of this precious substance. The basic substance is the finest clay imaginable, which is then reduced until it reaches the Original State, wherein spontaneous production of life is possible. Such clay is easily affected by stray aetheric entities ; if one of them hits it, almost any life can start to build spontaneously, usually the most primtive form of Darkness creatures - strange worms and maggots, who die shortly, or moulds and fungi. As a result, it must be protected within an aludel isolated by a Stabilize Potion formula at all times. Since this is impossible during the actual molding phase, the area is then insulated by an Anti-etheric Warding Field.

This Lifeclay is then shaped into a dwarven form. Each important organ must be made separately and imbedded in the basic body. The organs must be perfectly shaped. To these, minute amounts of the Eight Minerals are added - Rock for the bones, Lead for the air and blood vessels, Quicksilver for the stomach, etc, etc. Iron Dwarves get minute amount of Iron as well, added to their brain to make them enamored of destruction and mayhem, unlike other dwarves. While adding Iron, the clayshaper must wear a protective lead mask to avoid breathing in the mixture of Essential Iron and lifeclay particles.

This step is really being taken at approximately the same time as step one, since it is done by different dwarves.

A Tin dwarf will set up the vat, which is made by enchanted glass with several hermetic valves, and place it in the athanoric chamber. It is then filled with vat melange, which is created from water being reduced by alchemy until it is almost darkness (and thus opaque) mixed with the same basic nourishing earths which are used to create dwarven food. The ratio of these earths to the amount of water depend on how long the homunculus is supposed to gestate: Rock Dwarves need large amounts of water due to their sturdy bodies, but since they will only gestate for a few years, they do not need that much nourishment. Silver Dwarves, otoh, will gestate for longer, but need much less water to gestate in.

The vat is allowed to gain the correct temperature in the athanoric chamber, a process which can take months and is known as pregestation. Meanwhile the melange starts to develop from darkness through water towards earth, following the natural process of elemental evolution, and it becomes first clear, then again opaque and slime-like. Then, when the correct temperature is reached, the vat is carefully opened and is ready for the placement of the body within, but first the body must be inseminated and primed.

The insemination needs the participation of two dwarves of each sex, which work with their 'mortar' and 'pestle', until a protodwarf module is created - a small, wormlike mucus-lump which is quickly placed in a sealed and constantly warmed lead container. Any extra sperm produced by the pestle dwarf is carefully collected and preserved for the production of nilmergs, gobblers and similar servant creatures. The two dwarves should preferrably be of the same basic type as the dwarf-to-be, but that is not always possible to to works schedules and such.

The priming uses brain substance from a dwarf of the correct kind, sometimes taken while the dwarf is alive (the preferred method, using special Tin ear-extraction techniques) but sometimes from a dead dwarf. Brains of dead broken dwarves are never used, though they might be used for psychoreconstruction purposes. Donating brain fluids is a good way to ensure your Foreman's goodwill, and all Diamonds do it regularily, to enthuse the workers to do the same.

The proto-dwarf module is then placed in the genital regions of the clay body, the brain substance is mixed with diamond dust and is injected into the proto-brain through the eyes, and the clay body is placed in the homunculus vat, which is then sealed.

STEP FIVE: GESTATION AND AETHERIC ACTIVATION The gestation period takes several years, and during all this time the temperature must be constant and the process must be constantly overseen by the responsible Tin. The melange will pass from an earth stage into a fire stage after about two thirds of the time, and the fluid will become luminous. At this period, an aetheric activator must be introduced (don't forget to remind the Silver of this, for he will usually forget about it) and its silver mesh securely tied around the vat. Then the aetheric fields must be set into their correct motions, so that thoughts, blood, phlegm and similar fluids run their correct course - the same process used to revive dwarves after the implantation of prosthetics. During this time, the sensual organs will all be tested; if they do not react to simulated stimuli, the whole process is deemed lost. This might break the Tin responsible for the whole operation.

When the end of the gestation period draws near, the melange will finally enter its air stage, becoming milky white and filled with strands of blue mucus. The dwarf - for now it is almost a dwarf - will start to move and flex it limbs, and although its mouth will still be sealed from slime, it will attempt to open it to breathe. During this whole critical phase, a Gold dwarf must be constantly present, using an awakening device to stimulate all necessary muscles and keeping the breathing process back as long as possible. When it can be hold back no longer, the vat is very quickly unsealed - better that the vat breaks than that the precious dwarf suffocates - and then the dwarf's mouth is opened. He is quickly marked with his code and number on the correct body parts (which these are varies from complex to complex), and the Gold will concentrate all efforts towards breathing.

Immediatelly after the vat has been opened, forumulaes of Life and Mind Stabilisation are placed upon the newly-made dwarf, and it is introduced to basic dwarven practices (eating, walking, etc) for a period of about five weeks. Then, it is introduced to basic caste practices, which takes another five weeks. After that, it is released as a trainee to the place where it is needed.

There are three classic problems of dwarf production which have puzzled dwarfs since their beginning: the need for the protodwarf module, the limitations of priming and the enormous maintenance requirements for lifeclay.

It has been proved that it is completely impossible to produce dwarfs without a protodwarf module, which reveals a dependence on Growth on the part of the True Mostali who invented the process that dwarves find extremely unsettling. It is stated that the Vegetarian heresy is grounded in this anomaly: the realization that Controlled Growth is part of the World Machine, and the implementation of that realisation on a grander scale to improve Efficiency of raw materials production. Incidentally, other substances than dwarven sperm and ovoae have been used to create proto-modules, with various results: the most famous among humans, which most dwarves believe is a hoax, is the 'daughters' of Flintnail and the human-dryad hybrid Pavis. According to anti-plutanthropic conspiracy theorists, a lot of monsters preying on the world was bred this way as well.

The limitations on priming is another embarrasment. When creating nilmergs, gobblers and similar slave homunculi, most or all of their education for their special job comes from their priming. So far no attempt to reproduce dwarven knowledge in a new dwarf the same way has succeeded. The result invariably is more inept and useless dwarves, like fat nilmergs. A dwarf can only be primed for his caste, and has to be trained for his position. This increases the chances of malfunctioning and maladjusment, and takes time and resources. Some complexes have tried to increase the period during which the new dwarf is placed under stabilization, but with no clear successes either; though the training period is shortened, this drastically decreases the production of dwarven modules so much that not much is lost. Furthermore, since this requires a lot of Golds, and the Golds are responsible for adjustment of mental malfunctions, it simply means you get more malfunctions higher up within the chain-of-command, endangering production.

Finally, many dwarves are worried about the maintenance of their clay bodies. While it can last indefinitely while worked in tune with the World Machine, it partially consumes its own substance all the time and needs constant replacement of earth, air, water and fire. It is also far more vulnerable than stone or metal, although it has been observed that dwarves approaching diamond caste seem to petrify without losing their flexibility and ability react to stimuli. However, some dwarves break by petrifying while losing these abilities, and they often seem very good candidates for diamondhood up to that point.

"The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea, in a beautiful pea-green boat..."
>From "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear

Erik Sieurin
Bodagatan 39, 2 tr
50742 Bor=E5s

End of The Glorantha Digest V5 #369

WWW at http://rider.wharton.upenn.edu/~loren/rolegame.html

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