A Rough Guide to Dwarves
Racial Realms = Strength, Skill
Minimum Features = Stout, Bearded
Prohibited Realms = Nature, Fate, Movement
Element = Earth
There are numerous tribes of Dwarf throughout the hills and mountains of the known land. They are of stocky build (but not necessarily short) with both males and females having long full beards. They live several hundred years, but do not share the ‘ageless’ quality of the other ancient races. They dwell underground, comparatively near the surface in expanded natural caverns or converted mines. They are renowned for their skill with stone and metal and as powerful warriors. Their distrust of the Elves is almost as well documented. They tend to treat other races (and strangers in general) with disdain, but firm friendships can be made with those that earn a Dwarfs trust.
The Dwarven people have contributed little to the world of the younger races. They have been living quietly in their diminishing underground kingdoms closeted from the troubles of the outside world. Their legacy to the world is one of stone and metal artifice, but their conflict with the Elves and their dark cousins continues to plague their reputation.
It has been suggested that the Dwarfs evolved from a race of troll like creatures forced into the western mountains of Danar when the Danari population expanded to across the low lands. The Dwarfs tell a different story, of how Madrog, the Realm Lord of Strength, breathed life into statues carved in his own image creating the first of the Dwarf race.
Whatever the truth of it nothing was known about the race until long after the fall of the Danari. With the loss of the low lands to encroaching dessert the Danar tribes who would eventually become the Elven races moved into the mountains and encountered the Dwarfs for the first time. At first the the two races co-existed. There was no competition for land, trade was plentiful (the Elves were skilled in the more ornate crafts whilst the Dwarves were even then unparalleled smiths and masons) and the two races fought together against the monstrous creatures also living in the mountains (orcs, trolls, etc.). For many years they lived peacefully.
It was the rise of Dark Elves from the deep caves and the lack of support from the other Elven Houses that spelt the end of co-existence. Even before then tensions were growing as the Elves population expanded along with the areas they claimed as their own. The Dark Elves started advancing intot he lower reaches of the Dwarfen caverns, something to which the Dwarves took offence. There was bitter fighting before the Dwarves finally forced the Dark Elves out of their realm. The cost was high. The Dwarves were powerful warriors, but they had little ability to fight the dark magic of the Elves. A significant portion of the race was killed (the scars of which still make the oldest dwarves distrust magic). Throughout the conflict the Dwarves sought aid from the Elves, but with the threat ‘out of sight’ they choose to keep it ‘out of mind’ and declined the Dwarven request. Enmity between the races grew from that point, hostility and several small wars followed. Eventually disillusioned with the morales of the outside world and unwilling to engage in all out war they closed their doors on the Elves and the world above.
Although these events occurred so long ago they are practically legend even to the long lived Elves the Dwarves are still mainly closed off from the world above, but they are not beyond venturing out to tap a newly discover vein of ore or when good money is available for their skills as craftsmen. The old enmity with the Elves still exists, but has been dulled by time.
The Dwarven Lords have refused to become involved in any of the threats to the world above. They are untouched by the necromantic wars the Melnonian invasion and the recent Daemon rampages. They sit smugly in their mountain fortresses. Only when the fighting has encroached upon local Dwarven interests were arms taken up ‘for the greater cause’.
The emergence of The Dark Elves (House Tazine) from the deep caverns recently has caused many a beard to bristle in the mines and taverns of the Dwarven Holds. It has bought up old memories of the last time the Dark Elves were abroad which in turn brings up memories of ‘the troubles’ with the Elves as a whole. Concerns of a more practical nature are also linked with the Dark Elves. If they are once again seeking trade with the outside world then it is through the Dwarven kingdoms that their goods must pass. Few believe the Dark Elves will see things this way and unease could rapidly escalate once the talk turns to taxes.
Outlook & Attitude
The Dwarven race has a reputation for being violent, grumpy and distrustful, which is in essence true.
They believe their kind have been treated shabbily by those of the surface world and jealously guard their lands and peoples against further abuse. Amongst their own kind and those fortunate enough to earn their trust the Dwarve’s are a very loyal and reliable race. They will risk much to aid a friend without thought of personal loss or danger. They have a strong sense of family and tradition which is extended to their clan/guild. They are extremely practical and down to earth. They won’t stand for nonsense, won’t be rushed or bullied, but will always be the first to stand up for something they believe in. This practical side (historically) extends to money and their tendency to hoard it. They don’t hold with loans or debtors or indeed cash on delivery (unless it is the Dwarf who is taking delivery!). They appreciate the value of magical items, but their is still lingering distrust amongst the race left over from their conflict with the Dark Elves so long ago. On balance they would rather have the money! In fact ‘The Crown’ is not a sufficiently stable commodity for a Dwarf. They would rather have solid reliable GOLD.
They are immensely proud of their elaborate beards and will brook no joke at a beards expense. Some of the oldest running feuds (and Dwarve’s can ‘really’ hold a grudge) are over slights or imagined slights to the facial hair of a Clan. The Dwarfs somewhat ‘dated’ ideas of loyalty make them the butt of many jokes. Which is unwise given their fearsome reputation as warriors. Dwarve’s have a long association with the realms of Strength and Skill. It makes them most formidable warriors in the known world AND affords the less militant minded among them great ability as craftsmen and miners.
They like nothing better than relaxing with friends in a tavern putting the world to rights over a pint or two of mead, literally letting their hair down. They tend to over indulge when they get the chance as they seldom find themselves in the company of friends when away from their homes.
They may have the reputation as grumpy misers when in fact they are in fact a steady and loyal race, but if riled, death on two legs. If they have a motto it would be, “If something is worth doing it’s worth doing right.”
Despite what the name suggests members of the Dwarven race are not particularly short. They are all stout of build (most often around the belly area) and always have full long beards whether male of female. An average Dwarf can expect to live for three or four hundred years. They start off fairly weathered and wrinkly, with brown or granite gray skin and just become more craggy and rock like over time. The ‘weathered’ look is one sort out by younger Dwarve’s to make them more attractive to the opposite sex. Traditionalist dwarfs adopt attire often associated with ‘comedy vikings’ (winged helmets, drinking horns, lumpy metal armour). They favor axes and hammers as weapons (large, simple and reliable) and are historically not over keen on missile weapons (not much room to make use of them in their native tunnels). Dwarfs who tread a different ‘fashion path’ tend to pick practical hard wearing attire and favor large, solid tools over fiddly or complicated ones. Sock caps and miners tools are also fairly common!
The Dwarven race live in underground cities carved into natural caverns or worked out mine complexes. Although they spend most of their time beneath the earth they are not completely subterranean and their cities tend to be built in locales closer to the surface than the ‘Dark Elves’. In modern times Dwarven communities keep very much to themselves. They trade rarely with the outside world. Their strongholds can be found in most mountain ranges across the continent although the oldest and most highly populated cities can be found in the Mountains around the borders of Danar.
They have a very strong clan structure each tied to one of the numerous craft, mining or merchant guilds (of which there are many). Family is also important to them, but the clan always comes first. Each city or holding is ruled by the senior Dwarf of the most influential clan. Due to the straight forward and practical nature of the race Dwarven communities tend to be very well organized. There is occasional infighting (literally) amongst the clans, but even these brief and bloody encounters are handled according to time honored tradition. The Dwarve’s history with the Elves and their continual struggle with the various monstrous races of the mountains has instilled a healthy level of precaution. Dwarven communities are always fortified and always on a war footing. Every adult Dwarf has a role to play in the defense of the city even if they are not warriors.
Although mostly self sufficient Dwarve’s are not farmers and trade infrequently for ‘luxury’ foods (grain, meat). Dwarven industry (and much of it’s culture) revolves around mining in which they are unparalleled. In addition they are the best stone masons in the world, the best smiths, the strongest warriors. Dwarve’s rock!
Even after so long away from society at large Dwarven smiths and mercenaries are still highly sought after by the young and old races alike. A Dwarven community can live very well just hiring out a few of it’s smiths or miners to humans, which they do from time to time.
Those few Dwarfs who leave their native Holding tend to do so to make money rather than a lust for adventure or personal development. Obviously if adventure and personal development occur along the way to financial security then so be it. More often their path takes them down the route of Smith or Mason, occasionally the lucrative mercenary market. Any race will pay good money for the services of a well trained Dwarf, as long as they can put up with the grumbling.