Alignment : good, neutral
Ethos : lawful, neutral, chaotic
Max Stat : STR: 21 INT: 18 WIS: 21 DEX: 18 CON: 25
Classes : Warrior, Berserker, Cleric, Blademaster
Size : Medium
Vuln : Water
Resist : Magic
Immune : None
Why are we here? What is our purpose in life? Who created us?
These are questions which many members of many different races ask themselves.
The dwarves, however, do not ask these questions. They already know the answers. The answers are written deep within their very bones, and recorded in their most ancient and well-preserved records.
According to dwarven legends (which any dwarf will devoutly proclaim to be history, not legend), in the early days of the world, when Aabahran was still young, its surface was flat and unshaped. For many years it remained so, until one day, Aabahran was visited by a race of godlike creatures whom the dwarves call the Forefathers. Delighted by the beauty of the young world, they tarried for some time, but soon grew bored with the flat terrain and decided to shape it.
The Forefathers sang to the stone-soul of the world, and mighty mountain peaks rose to the sky. They whispered to the flatlands, and the earth split asunder, forming deep canyons. League by league they reshaped the world, throwing up vast mountain chains, deep valleys, and rolling hills. Long did the Forefathers sing to the soul of the Stone, until no inch of the world remained untouched. Only then were the Forefathers satisfied, and only then did they rest.
The time would eventually come when the Forefathers would have to leave Aabahran. And yet, they were loathe to depart from what they regarded as their seminal work without leaving behind guardians to protect it. And so, one last time did the Forefathers sing to the stone-soul of the world, a beautiful, ndescribable song beyond words. And as they sang, a miracle occurred. Their song wakened the souls of the earth itself, as sentient creatures were suddenly birthed from the very Stone of the world itself. The Forefathers saw that these creatures were as hardy, durable, and tough as the stone spine of the world itself, and that they loved the mountains, canyons, and caverns as much as the Forefathers themselves.
Pleased with their final, penultimate creation, the Forefathers named these creatures ‘dwarves’, meaning ‘earth-children’ in their tongue. They made a gift of all the mountains and caverns of the world to their children, trusting that the dwarves would love and cherish it as much as they themselves did. They taught the dwarves a fraction of their stonecunning, enough to ensure that the dwarves would be good stewards of their creation, and laid down the laws of the Elder Codex, before finally departing from Aabahran, confident
that their masterpiece would forever endure. The Elder Codex forms the backbone of dwarven society as well as dwarven law, and also contains within it the history of the creation of the dwarves. The prohibitions within the Codex are few but strongly worded and thus rarely breached; when they are, calamity often follows. A famous one is the enjoinder against dwarves shedding the blood of other dwarves. Whenever this prohibition has been breached in significant numbers, disaster has always followed. The strongest of all prohibitions was the injunction against delving into the Elder Earth, and the greatest of disasters fell upon the heads of Clan Ranidon when it was broken (see the history of the duergar).
Over time, the thirteen largest families of dwarves worked together with the skills they were taught to build their famous mountain kingdom, Khoranduin. There, the founders of Khoranduin set up political-social groupings they called Clans, who became the rulers of Khoranduin, subject only to an elected dwarf-King or dwarf-Queen. In those early ages, the Ruling Clans of the dwarvenkin numbered thirteen, one for each of the founding families. But disaster struck Clan Ranidon, as discussed in the tragic history of the duergar, and the thirteen became the Twelve Great Clans, which have stayed in power to this very day.
Dwarves rarely grow to be much more than four and a half feet tall, with most averaging around four feet in height. A five-foot tall dwarf would be considered an incredibly rare freak of nature. Dwarves are however, incredibly dense, muscular, and stocky; despite being so much shorter than humans, only the smallest of dwarves might be outweighed by the largest of humans.
All dwarves deeply revere the Forefathers who first made them, and are known to swear oaths by the Forefathers, but do not worship them in the sense that they leave offerings or pray for aid. Similarly, although dwarves do have temples and priests dedicated to all non-evil deities, they remain, as a whole, a deeply pragmatic, self-reliant, and down-to-earth race. Kneeling and begging for intercession from the Gods is a sign of weakness and laziness; a proper dwarf is expected to make his own way in the world, with the aid of his kin and clan. As a whole, dwarves are quite close to being an entire race of agnostics; accepting the existence of deities and holding respect for them, but rarely allowing themselves to become reliant on them.
The dwarves do, however, venerate their ancestors, to the point where other, non-dwarven races might consider the veneration to be a form of worship. They set up elaborate ancestral memorial tablets for their deceased ancestors, to whom on ceremonial occasions they will pour heavy libations of liquor. Dwarves believe that the stone-souls of dead dwarves return to the Stone from which they were forged, but that these souls can return and bring the strength and determination of the Stone to their descendants. Consequently, dwarves may ‘pray’ for strength from their ancestors. This does not clash with the fierce ndependence and self-reliance which the dwarves are known for; in their eyes, it is nothing more than asking an old family member for some help, and there is no shame in accepting assistance from kin or clan.
Dwarves are humanoid in shape, and look nothing more than like short, incredibly muscular, bearded humans. Pound for pound, there are few things in the world stronger and hardier than dwarves. Their stocky, compact musculature does also mean, however, that they are not very nimble on their feet. Dwarves grow exceptionally long beards which they are incredibly proud of. The length of the beard denotes the dwarf’s age, and the way in which it is arranged signifies the dwarf’s rank. There is no deadlier insult than pulling on a dwarf’s beard, and no greater shame than having one’s beard shaved off. Female dwarves are bearded as well, and indeed, many non-dwarves find it difficult to differentiate from the two genders.
Dwarves are highly resistant to all forms of magic. This is speculated to be due to the fact that the dwarves have an innate connection with the earth and the stone of the world itself, due to the nature of their creation, which provides them with some degree of protection. Their incredibly robust constitution also provides them with incredible resistance to poison. This is also the reason why dwarves have such an amazing tolerance for alcohol.
Long ages spent underground have resulted in dwarven sight becoming so sensitive as to be able to perceive the infrared spectrum. Dwarves do have a tremendous aversion towards large bodies of water, which are not present in their native terrain. Consequently, dwarves are not skilled at fighting on boats or in water, and when they are forced to, do not perform as well as they normally might. In addition, they are more vulnerable than most to water-based attacks, be it magical water-based weapons or the spells of invokers.
Dwarves also often have infamously bad tempers, and fall more easily into berserk fury than most.
Dwarven society is clan-based and extremely hierarchical. There are twelve Great Clans, the lords of each of which maintains absolute, control over the dwarves in their respective clans without any interference. There are many minor Clans as well, some of which are quite powerful, but which do not have as wide an influence or as prestigious a history as the Great Clans. The clan lords are nominally ruled over by a dwarf-King or a dwarf-Queen, but the sovereign usually plays the role of mediator in disputes, rather than that of a ruler. When times of war or crisis comes, however, all of the Clans are expected to rally behind their King or Queen.
Each Clan is made up of many different families which share a common ancestry; in a very real sense, every single clan member is kin. Within the first fifty years of a dwarf’s life, he knows what his station in life will be, be it soldier, farmer, blacksmith, or miner. A skilled blacksmith is one of the most honored of dwarves, and for that reason, almost all dwarves possess at least some degree of experience with smithing, leading to their reputation as master forgers The social structure of the clans is very static; unless one manages to perform a feat of great valor or boldness, there is little to no social mobility. And, for the most part, that is exactly how dwarves like it, as they enjoy structure and reliability in life.
Dwarves are, however, an infamously rowdy bunch, and love to indulge in alcohol. Dwarven spirits is the stuff of legends, and the secret behind dwarven brewing techniques is guarded almost as jealously as their black- smithing skills. Where other races make holy water, dwarves often make holy beer instead.
On the whole, the isolationist dwarves, buried deep away within their underground palaces, have few contacts with the outside world. Although they are fond of halflings, whom they see as soft, harmless cousins, they consequently have few relations, be it positive or negative, with most races. Various individual clans have engaged in skirmishes or even the occasional outright war with other kingdoms (the so-called ‘War of Night’ against the ogres is an example of a disastrous one which resulted in the obliteration of the dwarven clan in question), but as the whole, the dwarven kingdom does not feel strongly for or against most races. The three exceptions to this rule are enumerated below.
The testy relationship between elves and dwarves is well known. Although both are generally considered goodly, long-lived races, the two are simply diametrically opposed in terms of culture and mindset. Where dwarves love caverns and stone, elves love the outdoors and the sun. Where dwarves value precious gems and minerals, elves treasure plant life and natural beauty. Where dwarves value stability, elves delight in flexibility. And where dwarves are deeply pragmatic and self-reliant, elves are often deeply spiritual and rely heavily on their grasp of magic. While these differences seldom result in outright war or violence, the mutual disdain the two races share for each other is palpable.
The duergar bear a grudge against the surface dwarves for the latter not coming to their rescue when the duergar burrowed into the Elder Earth. Surface dwarves feel duergar are fools for breaching the Elder Codex; the duergar consider surface dwarves cowards and traitors for not assisting them in their time of need. This resentment is similar to the hatred between elves and drow, although not nearly as profound. The duergar, after all, are still ‘deep dwarves’, and their relationship with surface dwarves is much akin to that of two estranged brothers; they may rail, rant, and genuinely hate each other, but in the end, will still acknowledge that they are of the same family.
Finally, the dwarves bear an exceptionally deep grudge against the drow, due to the many dwarves captured and enslaved by the drow in the early days of history. The wholesale destruction by the drow of Clan Mith, the minor dwarven clan which invented mithril-metal, is a point of particular fury for the dwarves. The dwarves have a long memory indeed, and their enmity is as implacable and unforgiving as the mountains themselves.