After 1155 TE and the First Blight

Nearly all sections of the Deep Roads connecting the thaigs were destroyed to prevent darkspawn from overrunning everything below the surface, and Orzammar and Kal-Sharok were the last of the Great Thaigs left intact, and both assumed all the other thaigs fell to darkspawn. However, there were other thaigs that were able to fend off the darkspawn long enough to close off entrances into their homes and preserve their lives, though now very nearly— if not entirely —cut off from the rest of the thaigs. Some fleeing dwarves from neighbouring thaigs found their way into Hormak before the dwarves native to the thaig destroyed the Deep Roads leading into their city, but other than that, after demolishing the Deep Roads entrances, Hormak became completely cut off from the rest of its dwarf brethren. They survived for centuries with utterly no contact with anyone but those still living within the Thaig.

With no outside help for them to call upon, the dwarves of Hormak were forced to rely on their own ingenuity to keep the remaining darkspawn at bay. Though destroying the Deep Roads leading into and out of Hormak greatly slowed the darkspawn from reaching the thaig at first, they eventually found their way to the dwarves sequestered within. In response to this, the dwarves erected enclosed walls around their thaig, but those were simply not enough for the continuing onslaughts over the years. Eventually, they developed rudimentary machines that they installed on their walls, triggered to essentially fight back when triggered by darkspawn attempting to scale or break through the new stone palisades. These machines proved effective in delaying the darkspawn more than just the simple walls, and so the dwarves worked to improve and advance the design and complexity of their machines.

Soon, they harnessed the power of steam and made their machines portable and, eventually, mobile of their own accord through special containers that held small amounts of magma and were able to automatically vary pressures to engage different mechanisms. Their original main focus was on ranged weapons within their attack palisades to keep the darkspawn from even getting near enough to scale or try and break through the walls, but soon progressed to handheld projectile weaponry for dwarven use, as well—usually used when a regiment was sent out to guard a mining expedition and protect the miners from groups of darkspawn. In fact, the dwarves of Hormak became singularly exceptional at fighting darkspawn with their advanced machines, and after a few short centuries of trial and error, rarely had more trouble than they could manage with the creatures.

from "City Ember"

With this respite from the once-continuous battles and skirmishes with the darkspawn, the dwarves were able to devote more and more time to the advancement of their technology and the study of a new and exciting field they called Empiricalism. They mined in places well beyond and away from the Deep Roads (for all forays into those old places revealed them to be overrun with darkspawn and not worth their while), discovering new and different types of rock and ore than their other dwarven brothers had never dreamt of, let alone found of their own accord. They discovered and harnessed magnetism, along with thermal conductivity and, from that, thermoelectricity. They made and utilized thermo-batteries that power through head to create power, and they also are working on steam generators, experimenting with using huge fans powered by their already used steam-from-pressured-magma method, to have a more powerful and more sustainable source of electricity and power.

Being so isolated for so long, their language grew away from and beyond that of Orzammar and Kal-Sharok, as did a deep-seated anger toward the other dwarva and thaigs that abandoned them for lost and cut off all means of escape from the darkspawn during the First Blight. Thus, they made the conscious decision to stop calling themselves "dwarva" in their native tongue; the dwarves of Hormak now refer to themselves as "dwarven", to differentiate who they have become as a whole from whatever dwarves they imagine to also have survived the darkspawn plague. Though they have long since developed advanced mobile machines to allow them to excavate through stone much more easily and quickly than any other dwarves, the dwarven of Hormak have grown used to and attached to their insularity, and have decided amongst themselves to not seek out other dwarves. They were abandoned all those centuries ago, so why should they be the ones to offer the olive branch— along with all their advanced automaton and vehicles?

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