Continental Excursions; Helvetica

Known by a number of names depending on where you are from, the largely difficult to access alpine nation of Helvetica is also called the Dwarven Confederation, Helvetian Alps, or the Dwarven Domain. As one might gather from the clues thusly provided there are a  lot of dwarves living and working in this landlocked realm of towering mountains, idyllic valleys and lakes, and a large plateau that is home to a number of cities. Helvetica is bordered on the west by Fanolania, on the north by Schwartzwalden, in the east by Geldenreich, and to the south the Forkanzan peninsula.

Being a dwarven state governed by dwarves and inhabited by dwarves it is by its nature a difficult place to interact with in any meaningful way. There has been a robust trade with its immediate neighbors for several millennia, and for a while during the waning centuries of the last Imperium the dwarves even allowed the Imperium to march its armies across Helvetica in order to try and secure the lands it was trying to hold on to in what is now known as the Wenigzustand. Every type of dwarf can be found here and thrive in this isolated realm; Mountain Dwarves inhabit the mountain peaks, Hill Dwarves can be found tending farms and in the cities of Helvetica as well as operating surface mining operations, deep beneath the mountains Duergar Dwarves can be found (travelers in the Underdark are hereby duly warned), strongholds of Daergar Dwarves keep watch over all passes that allow surface folk to travel into Helvetica across the alps (again, consider yourself warned), and Gully Dwarves can be found in the slums of the cities as well as the backwater villages nobody else cares about. In short, there are a lot of dwarves here (see what we did there?).

There are also other creatures living in Helvetica, although not as numerous. All mountain-loving dragons are found here as are other monsters and persons that thrive in the rugged alpine conditions. Despite what one might presume to be the case these creatures all function fairly well despite their animosity towards each other because Helvetica is not heavily populated and there is plenty of elbow room for different and opposing groups. When push comes to shove the dwarves are able to deliver quite a punch and the dragons and everyone else has to grudgingly accept that this is still their realm. Nobody has ever succeeded in conquering Helvetica from the outside due to the inherent toughness of the natives and the difficulty in rooting them out from the vast underground strongholds they have established.

Dwarven goods can be purchased by those that are able to enter into Helvetica, but savvy buyers should be prepared to not get a great deal on their goods. Helvetians do not barter with non-dwarves no matter who it is. They also refuse to conduct business with nonhumans (humans and demihumans do not suffer these restrictions), although certain nonhumans are at least able to travel across Helvetica to reach destinations beyond (certain restrictions might apply) as long as they pass alignment checks at the border checkpoint to weed out those that harbor evil intent. This isn’t wildly different from other realms, but the rugged nature of the alpine region restricts the ability of outsiders to simply sneak across the border at some other point.

The primary means by which there is a free exchange of ideas and open communication is through the Church. Helvetica long ago turned their back on what they viewed as questionable doctrine that seemed to be turning into open heresy by the Holy Imperium Church. To this end the Helvetica Church most closely resembles the Churches of Fanolania and Geldenreich. Although some of the dwarven clans are quite obviously evil in their outlook these tend to be excused by their more noble brethren as long as they are engaged in defeating more obviously dangerous foes such as chromatic dragons and goblinoids. There are no enemies that the dwarves view as problematic enough to justify leaving Helvetica to confront because dwarves are essentially no better than elves when it comes to going out and combatting evil before it knocks down your door. It is the dwarven way to simply build a stronger door. That makes a pretty sorry defense when the evil comes a-knocking and proves tougher than you had planned. Without allies the Helvetica had best hope their doors are indeed more solid than not.