Dwarves are a strong race, molded by ages of living beneath the earth, hard as stone, and just as stubborn. They are survivors, and have been forced to prove it in their long hard history. Driven from their homes in Ephyrne by the elves of Tyr, the dwarves grew their kingdoms in the isles but the hardships they faced making the move were nothing compared to the threat posed by a single dragon.
Dwarves have always been in contention with dragons. Their drive to mine up the riches of the earth makes them high value targets to wealth hording Wyrms. In 220 LD the Wyrm Immorashi lay waste to the dwarven kingdoms, leaving the population decimated in a bid for immoratility. The dwarves never recovered from the blow, their riches stolen, and the surviving clans forced to flee across the world in the hope that the Wyrm would not follow. Many of the clans have become lost to time as they became more seclusive and mistrusting of strangers.
Dwarves are slow to make friends, easy to upset, and always ready for action. They are masters of construction, skilled metallurgists, and expert geologists. Dwarven crafts are built to stand the test of time, just as the people themselves.
The dwarves are a strong and proud people, slow to open up to strangers and often come across as wary individuals. The test of time has hammered these lessons in to the surviving dwarven clans and clanless renegades. Their friends and family are held close, the bond between them as solid as stone. Strangers are to a guilty until proven innocent mentality, and trust must be earned through action. They are not beyond holding grudges, and will often hold them for centuries or through generations.
To those who are accepted by the dwarves will find stalwart souls, ever ready to lend a hand to a friend in need. They can be bullheaded and stubborn even with those closest to them, unwilling to take advice when a path seems clear to them. This is especially true with family and friends, to whom a dwarf will defend with every ounce of their being.
Dwarves hold a fondness for structures, armors, and ale. They refine metals with a nearly religious zeal always seeking to make things stronger and more durable. They mirror this in life as well, trying to strengthen the bonds between themselves and others. They are the most cheerful when there is a task to be done, and revel in the chance to show off their skills.
Dwarves tend to be short and stocky, built like barrels with muscle to boot. Their average height often lies between 4 and 4 ½ feet, and the bulk of muscle causes them to weigh in on average 200 lbs. This weight does vary based on the dwarf, with dwarven women falling nearer to 180 lbs and men between 200 to 220 lbs.
Dwarves have a dark complexional brought about from ages spent beneath in the hot portions of the earth and aside their forges. The actual tones tend not to stray far from a deep brown hue but black skin occasionally occurs as well. Black skinned dwarves are known as the Vott'Kin or Shadow Dwarves and are typically raised as bodyguards.
Their hair is often brown or red, but black is not unheard of. (A dwarven superstition states that dwarves with black hair grow to be powerful warriors and mighty kings). Their hair is often kept braided and wrapped. For men the presence of a beard is a sign of status, though warriors are known to keep them short, leading to the jest that warrior dwarves are women. Dwarven women use hair as a sign of status as well and rarely cut their locks (hair length is generally kept at waist or knee length). They wrap their hair into intricate designs that tend to be mimicked in human society, often leading the dwarven women to create even more unique styles to avoid copycats.
On average a dwarf will live between 300 to 400 years though 500 years is not unheard of. The majority of dwarves stop growing by the time they are 20 (with the exception of beard and hair) and do not show signs of aging until 380 years. Dwarves claim they are in their prime from 15 to 280 years, though they rarely show signs of slowing.
Dwarves tend to congregate with each other whenever possible, but this does not endear them to one another. The dwarves are famous for their squabbles and ability to hold grudges between clans. Such grudges have been known to outlast generations. Dwarven legend claims that members of the Yngard Clan and Sturrden Clan lasted so long that even their ancestors dried bones still bore a sneer if you mentioned the opposing clans name in the vicinity of their tombs (many races consider this to be a dwarven tall tale, but the dwarves seem to take it quite seriously).
Generally dwarf to dwarf relations are quite civil. Dwarves are often the most relaxed with their own kin or clansmen and rarely turn on one another (which is why when such an occurrence does happen, it leaves bad blood for ages to come). They enjoy trying to tell the bigger tale, and are not beyond outlandish stories of treasure and monsters. Dwarves embellish these stories to keep them fresh and interesting.
Dwarves are extremely family based, creating tight knit groups even among clans. These family groups watch out for each other, and step in to defend or chastise one-another as the situation merits. Looking out for the blood of the clan trumps all other allegiances. Such strong ties are usually the reason that clans break into smaller groups. Such splits are rarely violent, and allow the dwarves to further diverify their realms, seeking new territory in which they can grow. It also has the disadvantage of causing some of their knowledge to be lost in the process.
Dwarves rarely keep written record of the passage of time, preferring to pass the knowledge through tales retained by memory. Other dwarves believe their ancestors record it into the stone for them. Believers of the theory swear by that premiss and some have claimed be able to hear the earth speaking to them, recalling past event and current evens. These dwarves are known as Stonespeakers, and are highly valued by the remaining clans.
When the dwarven clans were crushed by Immorashi, the dwarven way of life changed drastically. Many of the dwarves tried to maintain a semblance of clan structure, but with so many shattered clans some dwarves chose to venture out into the world on their own rather than remain in the safety of the mountain homes. These dwarves became clan-less, best know as the Renegades. Renegade dwarves do not have many differences from dwarves in a clan, except that they do not feel the need to settle. They tend to be more paranoid and mistrusting of other races, but are quicker to warm to them based on their actions. Renegade dwarves are most at home alongside other dwarves, but their need to wander tends to land them in human populated lands. Renegade dwarves are an oddity among the other races who label them as outcasts, usually placing their lot with the rougher circles of society.
Dwarves are able to get along with most other races, but get along the best with gnomes and goblins. This comes as little surprise to those who know the creation story behind the dwarves, which claims that all three races where born of the same god (of the three race, dwarves stand out as the mediator and “older brother” in the middle, keeping the other two siblings from quarreling).
Dwarves also tend to trust ephryn sooner as well, thanks to ancient stories where the Ephryn were once their allies.
Humans fall somewhere in the middle. They are slow to gain the trust of a dwarf because their actions do not appear to have rhyme or reason. Dwarves believe that humans are guided by chaos and it is difficult to know when their moods or opinions might shift. As such, dwarves often come across as brutish and rough to many humans (which has lead to more than one bar fight).
Elves raise dwarven hackles so to speak, especially Tyran elves thanks to conflicts that have been fought between the two races. Any elf in general will earn the ire of a dwarf until they have more than proven that they are trustworthy. Dwarves who are quick to side with an elf are often labeled as blood traitors and cast out of clans. In dwarven society an elf is not a creature that can be trusted.
The dwarves homelands have undergone many great changes in their history. During the Vygn Period (VN) the dwarves made their home in the great mountain of Ephyrne; Kia Othran or Mountain of the Builder in both the dwarven and ephryn tongues. In those long passed times, the Ephryn and the Dwarves traded frequently. Trade routes from the depth of the holy mountain to the surface were well traveled. Goods could circulate among the tribal Ephryn, or be caravaned into the realm of the Elves in Tyr.
When the Worldshapers began the attempted genocide of the Ephryn race, the dwarves maintained an heir of neutrality and traded with both factions until the Elves felt the dwarves had betrayed them. Tyran scouts infiltrated the Stronghold beneath Kia Othran and set to work destroying it, creating a portal that streamed their Fireguard into the mountain's heart. Caught off guard, the losses to the dwarves were devastating. Having sent their message, Tyran forces withdrew from Kia Othran and closed the portal behind them. The dwarves cut their losses and sealed the doors of the mountain behind them, leaving the Ephryn to fend for themselves.
Underworld forces would press the dwarves for years to come, making them fight for every bit of mined space. With their domain shrinking the dwarves received a message from Sploron, urging them to leave the mountain and escape to the isles. From there, they were to ferry into the frigid wastes of Icecap. A vast majority of the dwarves fled (the exodus was called the Grackensmarc), but according to dwarven legend some stayed behind. Whether the dwarves still survive is a mystery for Kia Othran's secrets remain sealed and memory of how to open it has been lost to time.
During the late Rahsa Period (appoximately 3688 RS) the dwarves set upon the Isles. They discovered a realm rich in resources and mountains. The prospect of venturing down to the frozen domain of Icecap became extremely unappealing given the comfortable tropics of Ordinth Caphil and Tsol'Venim. A small group of dwarves extremely devout to Sploron continued Southward, but the bulk of the dwarves remained. There they cut themselves new homes, slowly digging out the mountains. By 1640 Calgan (CG) the dwarves began establishing trade routes with the Wayward Ephryn, ferrying goods all around the Isles and other dwarven clans.
The transfer of goods was not unnoticed, attracting the attention of several dragons and the unyielding greed of man. During this time, the kingdom of Man had grown and stabilized. A Golden Kingdom for the Golden Age, made all the more literal by men seeking to exploit the gold that flowed from the isles. Conflicts with man, dragons, and natural forces seemed to come to an end during the Dakat Period but gave way to a new threat. A Wyrm called Maxrettousk and his mate Astacourm began to wage war with the dwarves.
The two red dragons had been displaced from the Crimson Spire in Kaltreed, and sought new grounds to terrorize. They settled in on the Isles, taking full advantage of weak willed humans (the result of the presence of Nightmares), enslaving thousands to do their bidding. The Dwarves withdrew into their oldest, and greatest stronghold in the isles region, Raulistach. Over the years the progeny of the great Wyrms would force the bulk of the dwarves to retreat into Raulistach.
Once they had been herded together, Immorashi struck (220 LD). Her initial blows were against her Kin, but in an attempt to unlock the keys to ascension, she struck a mighty blow to the dwarven empire. The crushing defeat of the dwarves scattered the remaining near and far. Small clans have grown up since then, world wide with no true home. Their whereabouts are relatively unknown as they keep themselves hidden far more. The Renegades are among the few who represent dwarven culture outside of the hidden mountain homes, but they too lack defined borders.
Dwarves are followers of the god of Crafts, Sploron. They create and destroy in his name. Creation is the primary means of worship for a dwarf, and their greatest honor is to dedicate a structure or object to the god when it has reached its peak state of perfection. Perfection is not the ultimate goal of Sploron, but to the dwarves it is their duty to display their growing level of prowess to the god to ensure his pride in their race.
Dwarves do not have a dedicated clergy or temple in their cities to Sploron. Instead, each household has a room or shrine crafted to honor him. The same holds true for other deities worshiped. They are given their own space and gifts are presented to each god worshiped so that their blessing might be bestowed upon the gift.
Dwarves believe that when they die, their spirits are returned to the stone which they carved and their ancestors can speak to them when they work with precious minerals drawn out of the earth. It is said that the spirit lingers in the stone for a time before finally departing to join the father of crafts.
Dwarves speak Dwarven, also known as Stonespeak by some races (primarily the Ephryn) because of its gravel like intonations. The words often sound like a rumbling grumble, leading many listeners to perceive that the dwarf who is speaking is in quite the foul mood.
Notable Mountain Dwarves
+2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma: Dwarves are a hardy and wise people, but are prone to outbursts and can be difficult to deal with.
- Medium: Dwarves are Medium creatures and receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Slow and Steady: Dwarves have a base speed of 20 feet, but their speed is never modified by armor or encumbrance.
- Darkvision: Dwarves can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
- Craftsman: Dwarves gain a +2 racial bonus on Craft and Profession checks to create objects made from metal and stone.
- Greed: Dwarves gain a +2 racial bonus on Appraise checks made to determine the price of nonmagical goods that contain precious metals or gemstones.
- Hardy: Dwarves gain a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison, spells, and spell-like abilities.
- Stability: Dwarves gain a +4 racial bonus to their Combat Maneuver Defense when resisting a bull rush or trip attempt while standing on the ground.
- Stonecunning: Dwarves gain a +2 bonus on Perception checks to notice unusual stonework, such as traps and hidden doors located in stone walls or floors. They receive a check to notice such features whenever they pass within 10 feet of them, whether or not they are actively looking.
- Weapon Familiarity: Dwarves are proficient with battleaxes, heavy picks, and warhammers, and treat any weapon with the word “dwarven” in its name as a martial weapon.
Languages: Dwarves begin play speaking Common and Dwarven. Dwarves with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Ephyrn, Gnome, Goblin, Orc, Terran, Undercommon.