The Burdinadin, or “Iron Elves,” are a race of intellectuals and shut-ins who have sealed themselves away from the outer world within huge metallic fortresses called Iron Glades. The Glades play a role in the Burdinadin Focus, which is unknown in its particulars but can be fulfilled if a din is shielded from the impurities of the natural world outside. The Burdinadin are gifted scientists, in large part because the same quasi-magical senses that make the outside world so intimidating to them can also be turned inwards, to analyze the subtle mechanics of natural law.

A Burdinadin wearing protective equipment for travel outside the Glade.


The Burdinadin range from chestnut-skinned to fair, and tend to have pale hair and green or red eyes. They rarely stand over 5’6, and tend to hover between 100 and 140 pounds. Females are not noticeably smaller than males.

The Burdinadin have relatively tame dietary quirks compared to humans. They do have difficulties digesting milk (having almost no evolutionary history of domesticated cattle) and are especially susceptible to food poisoning from meat near spoiling. Most eat a largely vegetarian diet, with meat being eaten fresh, or not at all.
Burdinadin generally mate for life, and pregnancies last about 12 months. They can breed with humans and other Din, though the offspring is generally of the mother’s race, except for Zells, whom almost invariably produce Zells.

Culture & SocietyEdit

Iron glade

An Iron Glade, one of the large arcologies built by Burdinadin

The Burdinadin live almost exclusively in the Iron Glades, which were built to shield them from the spiritual contaminations of the outside world. Having learned to retain their sanity and their Focus in such claustrophobic environments, the Burdinadin combine gregariousness and privacy, and greatly value their personal space, often retreating into seclusion for weeks or months at a time to ponder over problems, or come to terms with personal dilemmas. Their society recognizes and respects this withdrawal, but expects conformity and reservation in public. The result is a highly dignified society, with extreme standards of decency, conduct, and morality, but for which anything is permissible in private.

Imagine you're living in a claustrophobic environment that you naturally hate, where the greatest social pressure is to never see the blue sky that you instinctively long to see and worship. You're aware that the closest thing to God that you can perceive actually desires your destruction. Your entire life revolves around perpetuating the horrific prison that is your home. You hate it. The angles are literally painful for you to look at. You long for grass between your toes and fresh air on your tongue, but you've never felt either. You are required by law to produce children who will also grow up in this horrible existential nightmare that is the Glade, and your entire life's effort is spent towards perpetuating this horror for later generations. That's what being a Burdinadin is like. They HATE the way they live. They channel that hate into productivity.

At this point, the Burdinadin only keep living because they're forced to by the Ethics Committee. If they had their own way, they'd probably all plug into Lotus Eater machines and commit racial suicide voluntarily.

But they can't. There's a beast deep inside of them that won't die. It demands that they fight back, and scream against the coming darkness. So they do. And the Glades still stand.

The Burdinadin cannot perform meaningful agriculture inside the Glades, and so they trade for food and materials with the outside world, often trading back cheap steel, mass-produced goods, and wondrous inventions for bored kings.

The Burdinadin dispose of the corpses of their dead with alkaline hydrolysis.


The "heartland" Glades tend to be culturally similar. They all speak the same language more or less, and have similar enough customs and people, though any Burdinadin from any of those Glades will immediately recognize the accents and practices of a Burdinadin from a different one, much as an American from Boston will be able to recognize someone from Alabama. There is a sense of kinship there.

Once you start moving out into foreign Glades, though, ones that are outside of the heartland and have in some cases been isolated for generations, you start seeing significant differences. Though they all at one time derived from the same ethnic group, sometimes you even find Burdinadin who no longer speak their home language. Particularly in Kamen and the Steppe this is true, with the residents of one Glade even going so far as to identify themselves as Kamens because of their long history with the surrounding humans.

Environmental ProtectionEdit

Most would make, or at least design, their own suits, so they could vary dramatically in appearance.

An old diving suit, finely articulated maximilian plate, the main character's armor from Dead Space, the onion knight from Dark Souls, a Helghast outfit, it could be anything depending on the Glade, the maker, and the expected difficulties the wearer is to face.

It isn't totally necessary that they wear their suits all the time. Many also carry around bars of salt on ropes or in pouches, to prolong the amount of time they can stay exposed by sucking the energy into them. In this case, the tougher ones can actually handle an hour or two of exposure before needing to suit up again.


Trade for food is sometimes done in a large scale, as with the Reich and its 1000 swords.

However, more often, the Glades maintain the lands around them through the use of humans under their protection. This creates some tensions, but usually the Burdinadin increase the productivity of this land so greatly that they can pay tithes to whoever's peasants those officially are while also collecting enough to survive themselves. There's often a lot of palm-greasing involved here, but the lords involved are usually glad to pay the price since it means they have Burdinadin who owe them favors.

A couple, like Glade Logadda, have set up shop on the Infinite Steppe and raise cattle, using large mobile iron vehicles to watch over them and herd them back to the Glade at night.

Part of the problem that the Glades face is that what hurts them isn't just the nebulous concept of "outsideness" but rather concentrations of non-Dinnic organic life.

Hydroponics research has been stunted by the fact that merely growing large numbers of vegetables in one area can cause the area to become contaminated by spirits. They cannot simply create an organic environment inside containment and then live there as normal. That's one of the reasons for their cultural ennui--it almost seems as though their environment MUST be claustrophobic and dull in order for it to protect them.

Sometimes they try to use paints and bright lightning and soothing music to make the Glades more hospitable, but they have found that that tends to make their citizens curious about the outside, and curiosity causes containment breaches.

Other methods have been developed, like time-limited access to solariums with cultivated grass and glass roofs (and sometimes even--GASP--open windows) where the Burdinadin can go a few times a week without containment suits, sit and enjoy the sunlight and the fresh air, and then go back below before the contamination becomes painful.

You can be certain they're trying to develop soulless plants and whatnot, but it's not an easy business. A lot of them are experimenting with trying to splice Burdinadin genes into plants, since they're the only living things they've found so far that have no spirit presences at all.

One Glade, Glade Karol, successfully engineered a tree that emitted no spirit energy, and also seemed to grow hands instead of leaves. The Glade went dark six hours after their last semaphore, and stayed dark for seventeen years. After that time, they begin transmitting again. What the messages said has never been revealed, but Glades Lagu and Apa (the two closest to Glade Karol) have established a "shoot on sight" perimeter around the Glade ever since.


Free trade with the Burdinadin almost never occurs. They tend to be insulated, closed societies that deal only as a group, and very shrewdly. They very closely control their population and their consumption of resources so that they rarely fall short of anything. Big deals as with that Emperor of Kasel are usually made less for the benefit of trade, and more to establish a positive relationship to ensure that no conflict ever comes between the Burdinadin and the humans outside.

There are some exceptions of course. Renegade Burdinadin sometimes peddle their inventions to humans for a living. Most know that if they were to produce weapons, Glade Security would probably send someone to kill them, but as long as they're just making clocks or toys, they're safe.


Semaphore is the most common. Though only used at night, as a matter of practicality, towers are established in distant line of sight from each other, and use telescopes and a combination of signs and their own Stains of Time and Natural Philosophy abilities to transmit signals at great speed between these towers, which are then repeated by the next tower, to the next, and then to the next, and so on.

Of course each tower has to essentially be a miniature glade in and of itself, and houses a handful of Din. Many of them double as trading posts and safe havens for travelers, who stay in the lower area while the Burdinadin live above. This makes them well liked by the locals, provides a minor source of revenue, and also keeps them from getting too bored.


The Burdinadin are known for their elaborate gifts, and they prefer these gifts to be of the sort that "keep on giving," to encourage lasting peace.

Of course, that doesn't mean that common people necessarily like them, just the nobility. Normal folks tend to view them with great suspicion and unease. The Burdinadin are alien, weird, and perhaps most importantly, not Genosians. They have ideas about "labor saving" and "efficiency" that sound an awful lot like heresy to some Genosians, and oftentimes simple attempts to help humans they see struggling are interpreted as attempts to undermine public morality.

Of course this rarely gets out of hand, but occasionally the tensions boil over, and become a sore point for both groups for years to come.

Other Burdinadin state gifts:

  • The king of Galli has a mechanical songbird which is taught a new song on his birthday each year.
  • The King of Lagoria was given an iron horse (a motorcycle) that runs off of a Magestone power cell. A new one is delivered annually.
  • Every year, a barrel of a white powder is sent to Taphonomy Bay. This powder, when added to food, greatly enhances savory flavors. This was sent in honor of Zaza Racoco's revolutionary identification of savory (dubbed "Zaza") as a distinct flavor.
  • Queen Dahaka the Black of Krajina was sent a golden neck-torc with a ruby and a sapphire on either end. It is rumored that when worn with one gem on the left, it guarantees a woman's fertility, and when worn the other way, makes pregnancy impossible.
  • One of the Pontifatrixes was sent a cone which, when spoken through, magnifies the volume of one's voice by many times.


An intelligent human would be accepted pretty easily. A man would probably be a target for Burdinadin women who find him interesting. He would be bred rather seamlessly into their society, though because of the whole immortality thing, he would spend most of his life sitting around doing nothing (except banging his wife) while waiting for forms to clear.

Human women have it a bit harder, since the race of human-burdinadin unions always follow the race of the mother. If she's fucking brilliant then someone might marry her and guarantee her a place in the Glade. In some Glades, like Lagu and Apa, drugs are used to ensure that the offspring are male so that they can then marry Burdinadin women and produce honest Din instead of humans.

It's not as intense of a eugenics system as the Orredin have (where non-purple eyed children of the 5th generation onwards are flung off the edge of the flying city into the sea) but it's still pretty stringent.


Ideas and inventions are not generally lost. The originals usually survive (unless it was like a vehicle and crashed into a mountain, or something like that,) and generally the projects could be revived using the dead inventor's research and files. And this isn't particularly unusual either, the Iron Glades themselves were such an invention, as were the lights that illuminate them, the air-recycling systems that keep everyone inside from asphyxiating, the piping, the process for smelting such ludicrous quantities of iron, and so on.

However, a side-effect of the way they live is that though they have the capacity to innovate and develop, almost all of their human (Din) capital is occupied simply maintaining their way of life. The Glades are an imperfect solution to a societal problem that demands attention, and the nature of the problem makes improving the solution extremely difficult. They can't practically relocate. Acquiring food, resources, fuel, and a labor force is difficult. They're surrounded by pre-industrial feudal societies that don't particularly like them, and those are just the humans, who are positively nice compared to the alternatives. As a result, Burdinadin inventors typically suffer from a serious lack of funding, and are always under pressure to turn their attention to engineering difficulties instead of innovation.

This is why the ones who break free of this societal pressure are usually nutballs, and are regarded as the Din equivalent of the Timecube guy. The rest of Burdinadin society is too busy trying to figure out a solution to their arcology problem before they suffer a Behavioral Sink a'la Universe 25 to care for the advancement of technologies that they will never use.

The simplest solution, from an Inventor's perspective, is to leave. Human nobles are famously spendthrift, and entertained by novelty. Why not go work for one of them? Burdinadin courtiers in wealthy human kingdoms are not at all unusual, usually making fireworks, toys for peoples' nephews, and weapons for favored warriors. Labor-saving devices are, obviously, not in terribly high demand in Genosian lands, but some still make their way through.

Another option is to just design things under false pretenses, or to embezzle. This leads to a general lack of efficiency in Glade endeavors, as everyone is skimming off the top to fund private experiments. They've almost come to accept it now, but the margin is too thin to really make big strides.

Finally, many seek work in the private sector as arms dealers, or military advisers, frequently showing up to sell victory to the losing side at a price they can't afford.

Obviously all three of these are deeply frowned upon by the other Burdinadin, but only in the most extreme cases is any action taken to try and silence the rogue, and the line is pretty clear: If you endanger the Glades, they'll send a Steam-Centurion after you.


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