Niflheim is a city of the Dwarves, and is located in the central mountain range of Ominia. It is the main home of the dwarves in Ominia and is carved deep into the heart of Mt. Niflheim, which lent the city its name. It administers the North-Central Province of the Ominian Empire and is currently governed by the Daisho-o Gurdh Terat. Niflheim has the largest dwarven population in the world and is sometimes mistakenly thought of as the only dwarven city. Unlike other towns and cities in the Ominian Empire, Niflheim still enjoys a degree of autonomy brought on by its powerful mining and smithing guilds as well as the high defensibility of being inside a mountain.
Niflheim was once the capital of the old dwarven country of Kunit in a time before the Ominian Empire had begun to expand. For a time scholars suspected that the two neighboring countries rivaled each other but never interacted. Niflheim was originally a mine of gold and mithril, and its influence grew as its wealth was exposed. More and more dwarves came to work, learn, and build in the halls of Niflheim. Eventually the kings of the dwarves relocated their throne there, increasing the power of the city. To support the new royals and show off the wealth, ever more dwarves from the nearby country were recruited. For ordinary cities this was not a significant problem, but Niflheim expanded more than was healthy and absorbed too many dwarves from the outer regions of Kunit. As a result, the country’s sphere of influence eventually shrank as smaller communities either moved to the city or were left to fend for themselves. Some of the other dwarven cities held out for a while, and a few still exist, but they lost a lot of people to Niflheim. Food and supply shortages quickly became a significant problem for the city. Some of the problem was alleviated during the Manscell Exodus in which many dwarves moved south to Manscell but the logistic problems remained.
The dwarves had invested too heavily into gathering the wealth of the deep earth to feed themselves. It was not famine, but hunger and poverty were rising. When the Ominians arrived, relatively peacefully, they were quick to strike up trade routes with the dwarves. Seeing as the dwarves needed food more than the Ominians needed gold, the empire had the advantage and pressed it during negotiations. This only resulted in Niflheim attracting more dwarves to the city, either for military purposes with the empire or for additional mining and architectural opportunities. While the city could have positioned itself as a center of learning for skills and trades, King Sathe sturck a deal with the illumians to open gates to Terrax, the elemental plane of earth. The city continued its mining and expansion off-plane, recruiting more dwarves to the cause and solidifying its dependence on Ominia for food. Many scholars find this action to be very unusual as had the city pressed its own leverage they could have held their own and gained significantly more independence in the empire. Of course, this history is rife for conspiracies alleging Ominian interference.
In modern times the city holds the Daisho-o of the Dwarves, the semi-appointed, semi-elected leader of the dwarves in Ominia and the city. The city continues to export minerals and metals for the empire, though most of these it mines from Terrax. This means it is the best place in the world to learn mining and smithing trades. It is also the best site for scholars of history to study the culture of the Kunit-era dwarves as most ancient halls and shrines have been maintained and the city has had a relatively peaceful history. Other settlements have been exterminated over the years by Ominians, dragons, and banditry.
The city is goverened by the Daisho-o who oversees the Council of the Daimyo. The Council is made up of heads of various ancient dwarven families and representatives from various important dwarven institutions. The heads of the families are the Dait and the representatives are the Leridh. The Dait designate family heirs while the Leridh are generally appointed by the heads of their respective organizations. Prominent Leridh come from mining companies, architectural firms, and various smithies as well as the enigmatic dwarven holyman, the Jikanin. Together they form the Council and the Council runs the city. To determine the Daisho-o, who has a measure of control over the Council due to his necessary administrative functions, the Empire and the Council each determine a list of candidates. The candidates must be dwarves of Niflheim, must be citizens of the Empire and though in theory any dwarf may be chosen, usually the candidates come from the Council or its former members. Then the various candidates chosen by each party are reviewed by the other and the field is narrowed significantly. Usually the only candidates remaining are those on both lists or those who are especially desirable to one party or the other. The Empire approves the final pool and the Council votes on the winner. Due to the complexity of such situations, it is not uncommon for there to only be one candidate. The Daisho-o serves for seven years before coming up for re-election, and act which is surprisingly rare.
The economy of Niflheim is built upon mining and smithing. While the mine networks underneath the northern mountains in Ominia are extensive and centered around the city, it also boasts a strong mining network to Terrax, the Elemental Plane of Earth. As such the city produces or oversees most of Ominia’s metal and mineral production. Bulk metals such as iron, steel, and nickel are refined just outside the city limits to avoid the extensive pollution while gems and precious metals are refined in specialty industrial levels of the city. Niflheim’s smithing reputation is unmatched and it hosts smitheries for everything from armor to jewelry. Many young smiths come to apprentice themselves to the dwarves within and there is a guild devoted to providing education and apprenticeships. The city thus exports many goods and imports most everything else except water. Food comes from taxes and trade with the surrounding province as do textiles and animal goods. Water is provided by two mountain lakes fed by the winter snowpack.