Stonebread is a foodstuff which has been created by the dwarves since the origins of their histories.
What exactly it consists of has been a matter of debate throughout the ages, as it is certainly not bread in the usual sense. The dwarves closely guard this secret and thus far no other race has been able to replicate its effects.
The only thing the substance seems to have in common with regular bread is that it comes in ‘loafs’ and is at least technically edible. However, whereas bread is soft with a hard outer crust, Stonebread is hard all the way through. It has a flaky, hard consistency and is dull grey in colour – granting it the appearance of rocks to the uneducated.
No one has attested to actually liking the taste, which has been described somewhere between sawdust and gravel.
Stonebread has remarkable effects on those who consume it. After only a few mouthfuls they feel completely sated, as if they’ve eaten a banquet but without the full, bloated feeling and sudden urge to nap which follows. This feeling is known to last for several days and can remain for up to a week.
These properties have led to Stonebread being a popular food of choice for sea voyages, expeditions, adventuring parties, and as a staple for armies on the move.
There are several downsides to the substance, however. Aside from its hefty weight (which is another reason it’s earned its name), someone who isn’t a dwarf who eats it for sustained amounts of time will get intense stomach pains. This is due to other races not having the intestinal fortitude to withstand digesting it for more than a short period of time.
Because the manufacture of Stonebread is a closely guarded secret of the dwarves, only they know how to make it. Due to this, attaining it is a costly and dangerous business. Trade caravans venturing into the Skybreaker Mountains of the Dwarf Kingdom must brave environmental dangers and risk attacks from bandits who try to relieve them of the herbs and spices which are often used to trade for such goods.
This has led to Stonebread being both extremely costly and a rarity anywhere outside of the immediate vicinity of the dwarves. Because of this it’s unusual to find it anywhere except on well-funded missions (those on royal commissions for example) or in the storehouses of castles as emergency siege rations.
An unusual example of Stonebread use in siege warfare came into infamy as an overconfident and naïve general – Sir Casius Rekt of Orondor, lay siege to one of his rivals in in a Runic border dispute.
Ignorant of what Stonebread was, he ordered the hard, stone-like objects to be loaded into his catapults and used them to pelt his enemies.
Of course, all this achieved was to grant his foes a hearty food supply. Having essentially granted victory to his rival, Casius swiftly retreated to his own fortress, and was defeated less than a year later as that in turn came under siege without the necessary provisions to withstand it.