Though to anyone else a dwarf is a dwarf, bearded and bad tempered, they divide themselves into two types.
Hill dwarves do not live as high on the mountain side, and spend more time in the valleys and passes. While they might mine deeply, they do not live in their mines. Their focus is on craftsmanship, and they are canny traders. They are friendlier and are more willing to deal with the other races. When a warrior brags of a dwarven steel sword, that sword was almost certainly made in the forges of the hill dwarves.
Mountain dwarves consider themselves the true kindred. They live in the large dwarven cities below ground, and keep watch towers and sanctuaries on high mountain-tops. Mountain dwarves are more insular, and less welcoming to strangers. A mountain dwarf would rather fight than trade. Recently, however, the dwarven king has opened his court to ambassadors from the other races. There are rumors of large mountain dwarf armies, equipped with dwarven steel weapons and armor, below the Caribre Mountains.
Dwarves average around 4 feet in height, with the shortest adults being around 3 and a half feet and the tallest reaching as high as 5 feet tall. They are thicker and more muscular than humans, and are on average stronger. A dwarven male will often be as heavy as a human male, while being almost a full foot shorter. Dwarven females are usually shorter and slighter than the males.
The men grow thick beards that can require daily or twice daily shaving to keep their cheeks clear. Most don't bother shaving and grow some sort of beard. Dwarven skin tone can have the same range as humans, from pale to dark, and hair that is black, blond, brown or red. Mountain dwarves tend to be paler, as they spend more of their time below ground, and on the whole they are shorter and thicker. Hill dwarves are the taller and darker of the two types.
Dwarves are longer lived than any of the mortal races, with the single exception of the elves. They can live as long as 350 years, though these are considered venerable dwarves indeed. More often they live to 200 or so, if they don't die in battle or by accident. They consider a dwarf of 50 years to be an adult, and responsible for themselves.
There are a number of smaller towns and villages scattered throughout the plateaus of the Caribre range, and the deep cities can ramble and range with no clear beginning or end. There are two main dwarven cities in Calibran, however.
The Deep City of the mountain dwarves, and the seat of the dwarven king. It is a city and a mine both, with halls that follow old, played out seams of iron and silver that have been expanded and built up into the highways and lanes of the city. Khorduum is meant for dwarves, and is not very welcoming of other races, with ceilings that, while comfortable for the natives, are rather low for most of the other people of Calibran. In addition, usually only the most heavily trafficked public spaces are well lit. Most halls have only the light of the coldlight moss, which is sufficient for dwarven eyes.
The stone work of Khorduum combines simple, practical construction with an elegant beauty. Geometric shapes and graceful curves form doorways, arches, and the pillars that support the ceiling and above it the hundreds of feet of stone and dirt that make up the mountains.
Mil Dundohr Edit
This city is at least half mining camp, and the other half is mostly given over to trade. It is the home of the hill dwarves of the Caribre Mountains, and the hills around the valley are full of their mines and workings. It is built mainly of the low stone buildings that dwarves throw up almost as easily as canvas tents.
There is a small but significant population of humans in Mil Dundohr, mostly merchants who have come to trade with the dwarves. Minotaurs from the city of Kehlaktur are also common. Most only come for a short time before moving on, but there are a few who have made the city their home.
Fror and Floi are the twin gods of the dwarves.
Fror prefers the valleys and shallower mines. He is associated with hill dwarves, and covets precious jewels and valuable metals, and is a great craftsman.
Floi prefers the dark underneath the mountains, and works steel in weapons and tools. He is hard working and stolid. He is associated more with mountain dwarves.
Dwarven is a thick, guttural language, with more than its share of hard consonances and sudden stops. Other races who attempt to learn and speak it often find their tongues tripping over themselves.
The King's Speech is used regularly by those who have a lot of contact with other races and cultures. Likewise, most of the dwarven nobility is fluent.
Dwarves dislike the imprecision and vagaries of spells and incantations. They use runes, scribed in an ancient dwarven language, that when combined and empowered can cause magical effects.
Death of Ymfanath the Rapacious Edit
Driven by greed and the rumors of the hoards of dwarven treasure, Ymfanath went down into the Dwarven city of Khorduum. The dragon never emerged from the deep city, and it was assumed that the dwarves defeated and killed him. This was before the Battle of Farsalon, and Ymfanath was the second dragon to be killed by one of the lesser races, which helped to destroy their aura of invincibility.
Battle of Farsalon Edit
There is no mention of the dwarven cities sending armies to the battle, though they supplied many weapons and a great deal of armor.
Named and Important Characters Edit
Galin, King of the Dwarves Edit
Galin has been sitting on the dwarven throne for over a century at this point, and is beginning to reach late middle age. He has black hair and a long black beard, both streaked with gray. Galin has always been a strong and imposing dwarf, and was a mighty warrior in his day. Lately his stomach has begun to expand, and his ax has begun to slow, a symptom of too many days spent on his throne ruling. He has recently opened the doors of Khorduum to a select few outsiders.
Kilrim Whitendroth, Dwarven Tanist Edit
Kilrim is heir to the throne of the dwarves. The rules of dwarven succession means he has been chosen by the Dwarven Noble Council, and is no kin of Galin. He is stout, though he was never a warrior, and his beard and receding hair have turned completely gray, though he is Galin's junior by several decades. He is against Galin's policy of outside contact.
Naming Conventions Edit
Dwarven names reflect their language in often sounding guttural and harsh to outsiders' ears. Their names often have an excess of “G”, “K”, “H”, “R” and other hard sounds. They generally take family names from some aspect of the natural world they admire and would like to emulate, though a few of the older, more noble families have names in the old dwarven languages.
Notable Skills and Traits Edit
Dwarves are well known for their eyesight in the dark, second only to the dark elves in that regard. They do require some light to see, but even the least, most diffuse source will allow them to see nearly as well as full light.
Dwarves are inclined to technology, though not to the extent that humans are. Where many humans might use a machine or invention, a dwarf could probably find a rune to do the same thing. To them, runes are simpler and more reliable, and dwarves are nothing if not pragmatic.
Cultural notes Edit
The corridors of Khorduum tend to be lit only in the upper corners by coldlight moss. Fires are common in some public spaces, and in private quarters, usually fueled by a large, dense fungus. But, lighting the tunnels with torches would cause too much smoke and ash. The coldlight moss glows a dim green that provides enough illumination for dwarves to see. It is tended by the Mosswards, a company of dedicated dwarves who water and feed the moss regularly, as well as trim it back to prevent it from taking over the hallways completely. When dwarves join the Company of Mosswards, they renounce any affiliation or faction. Maintaining the coldlight, and thus the simple ability to see and navigate the halls, is considered to be one of the most important tasks.
Not a people well known for their culinary arts, dwarven waybread is considered by most to be inedible. This is just as well as it also considered to be tasteless, unattractive, and essentially indistinguishable from the rock from which it takes its name. It is soaked in water or preferably ale to soften it and improve its taste. It is gray, dense, and lumpen in shape. When it can be eaten, it is nourishing, and in any case keeps for months.
Mine diving Edit
A past time of younger dwarves with little else to do, it consists of building an arm or gantry over one of the deep holes they find occasionally exploring beneath the earth. A line of some elasticity is fastened to a net, in which the dwarf sits. The dwarf is then dropped into the hole, it being pitch dark and impossible to see. The sensation is said to be akin to flying, and those that make a habit of it often find the thrill addicting. Adding any safety equipment, or lights by which to see when dropping, is sometimes called 'elf dropping,' and is considered a cowardly alternative.