Dwarves

Phys rep requirements: Beard (yes, even the women. Actually being short is not a phys rep requirement)
Role in the Empire: Miners and master craftsdwarves
Maximum age: 150
Adult age: 30
How common they are: Rare

History in the Eternal Empire:

The role of the Dwarves in the Empire suited their natural talents and the peace that Elven rule brought allowed them to thrive through trade in armour, weapons and other metal-crafting, which they exchanged for grains and other food-stuffs. They kept mostly to their mines, which grew and developed to become wonders of architecture, containing some of the most incredible craftsmanship in the whole Empire; the relatively common perception that dwarven-made is best was well-earned.

After the Fall:

The Dwarves became isolated in the chaos that broke out, staying within their mines where they could best protect themselves and what power they had, guarding their crafting secrets and precious armouries. They left fighting for territory to the Humans, Orcs and Goblins. When one human, a former town guard sergeant, proclaimed herself Empress and lead her army to a dwarven mining hold to demand their fealty, the Dwarves weren’t best impressed and collapsed the entrance on the heads of the so-called Empress’s grand army; in the wake of the Empire, not knowing who else to trust, the dwarves trust only fellow Dwarves. Indeed, some Dwarves feel betrayed by the Elves, as they had believed that the Elves had always taken them into their confidence.

However, this all lead to a decrease in trade; their stocks of armour and weapons built up, as they did not want to arm a possible enemy, but they needed to replenish their stocks of grain. While there had always been some Dwarves who kept farms up in the mountains near the mines, these were few and far between and the rocky soil did not yield much. Over the years, as the fighting settled down somewhat, the Dwarves were eager to re-establish trading links with the villages and towns that had either survived or developed; which is why, while Dwarves are still one of the less numerous of the species, it is now more common to see them travelling away from their mines. Most of these are merchants, though some are hiring out as mercenaries or have decided to move to a local town for personal reasons. The Dwarves deeply miss the peace and prosperity that the Empire brought to them, which is why they are particularly proud of Tardof Mountainforger, who set up the large and prosperous mining town of DolMorgan.

Psychology & outlook:

Dwarves tend to be a stubborn, serious, literal-thinking, fiercely honourable, independent and determined species. Dwarven society is anarchistic with decisions made via noticeboard balloting; Dwarves find it difficult to compromise, so the parchment strips tend to overflow and tack on to each other. However, should something threaten a mine, they band together immediately to implement whichever action plan is best suited to the situation; Dwarven mines have plans to counter everything, including fire, flood, tunnel collapse, dragon-attack and siege. Just because there haven’t been any dragon-attacks in anyone’s living memory and dragons may even just be a myth is no excuse for a mine not being prepared for one, especially as the legends are specific on the point of dragons wanting the Dwarves’ stuff. They traditionally live underground, with many large meeting halls and common rooms linked by soaring, pillared corridors; dwarf-children tend to be raised by the whole community around them rather than by just their parents. Meals are a social occasion, with seating depending on whoever gets there first and portions depending on how much you decide to carry to the table. Their diet consists of ale and bread, which is usually liberally sprinkled with rock-salt to help preserve its goodness for longer. While they are famed for fighting with axes, they also typically use swords, shields and war hammers… or any other weapons that are to hand that they can use; there are rumours that in the close confines of mining tunnels, they forsake all such weapons and fight with the more traditional Dwarven battle bread instead, but there has yet to be a Dwarf found that would comment on this subject.

Tradition and clan are both highly important to dwarves; insult one Dwarf and you tend to insult them all. Dwarves believe in the passing on the responsibility of vengeance throughout the generations if necessary and they revere old treasures and ancient weapons. There are typically between three and seven clans per mine. Clan-names are generally descriptive, for example the Ironfists, or are patronymics based on their founder’s name, such as Delvigsson; in such cases, a Dwarven name missing the –son indicates that they been disowned by their clan.

Dwarven education emphasises the importance of arithmetic, record-keeping, smithing, negotiation, navigating in near-darkness, locating viable seams of ores, evaluating raw materials, weapons and armour and knowing the proud heritage and traditions of the Dwarvish species. While a young Dwarf of 27 who is not well-versed in the arts of quaffing and knee-capping foes is frowned upon, since the fall of the Empire young Dwarves are increasingly concentrating on different skills that will allow them to survive in the outside world. Young Dwarves spend their spare time either going mining-cart racing or in contests of stubbornness. Dwarves see industriousness and honesty as virtues; oath-breaking and stealing are both serious offenses. Forgery is an offense that often merits execution. When sending messages, they use either ravens or younger Dwarves who look like they’re not currently busy enough.

Stereotypes (and what isn’t):

Dwarves are known for their complete fixation on gold; this is not true, as they are quite possessive of any precious metals, hence the Human proverb “do not get between a Dwarf and something shiny unless you want to be used as a stepladder”. It is also rumoured that Dwarves have their own secret language; the other species happily presume that it includes many variations on the word “dark” and rather than having one word for “rock”, it has hundreds of separate words for each different type of rock (which is obviously silly; what if you need a fellow Dwarf to throw you the first rock that comes to hand so you can quickly throw it at an enemy or use it to shore up a failing defence wall?). The Dwarves have refused to comment; however, any Dwarf would know that there is a secret language that they record all their crafting secrets in. They would also know that should they ever disclose this fact, or any of the actual words, to a non-dwarf and are caught doing so, they will soon wish that their parents had never figured out which gender the other actually was, as their execution will neither quick nor painless. Smiths are expected to contribute any new discovery they make to the mine’s records in this language, so that if they die in a fight, the knowledge is not lost with them.

It is true, however, that other species sometimes have difficulty in knowing which gender any given Dwarf actually is; the Dwarves don’t see any need to help them understand, as what does it matter to them? So long as other Dwarves know the subtle differences, the Dwarven species will continue on. Dwarves will go to great lengths to avoid using any gender-specific pronoun in relation to another Dwarf, especially when non-dwarves are present. Occasional comments about “did you see the luxuriousness of the beard on that one” probably don’t help; indeed, both sexes do have beards. They also tend to dress fairly similarly too; many wear armour and brandish weapons, though this depends on their trade. Dwarves are nothing if not practical, so they tend to choose good, hard-wearing clothes in drab shades to allow them to better blend in with their surroundings and hide the stains from rock-dust, though younger Dwarves or those who have begun living in towns have started experimenting with brighter colours. Some Dwarves wear robes or even skirts, but may get annoyed when other species enforce their preconceived ideas on gender-specific clothing on them. There is a tradition among their smiths in trying to outdo each other on the magnificence of their armour, though any fighter worth his portion of bread knows that shininess and décor does not a trustworthy suit of armour make, though they’ll probably be enticed into buying such a suit for special ceremonial occasions. Smiths who actually know their business confine themselves to displaying their skill through fabulously crafted weapons and jewellery and plain but incredibly sturdy armour.

The best way to insult a Dwarven visitor is to present them with a high chair. Should you have Dwarven guests, there should be plenty of food on the table and enough beer to drown a small army, otherwise you’ll be considered to keep a poor table, which is regarded as highly embarrassing and will be commented upon for years.

Attitude to other species:

Wood Elves: “Why did they leave the peace and prosperity of the Eternal Empire? Were they made to leave? Had they done something wrong? Did they have an argument with the rest of their species? Did they have anything to do with the Fall? Was it jealousy of their more prosperous cousins? They’re hard to find, so we can’t just ask them. But we’ve been gossiping behind their backs for years, wondering what really happened.”

Humans: “Be wary and remember the saying: if you sell an axe to a Human, the first thing he’ll do is fell another Human with it – but just make sure he doesn’t decide to fell you with it instead. All we need is for one of them to get it into their heads again that our armouries would be good for plundering and we’ve a serious problem. Though collapsing a mine on their Empress’s army seems to have made a strong impression.”

Fae: “They make no sense and it is very frustrating trying to get a straight answer out of them. They talk in riddles and have their own language called “allegory and metaphor”, whatever that is. One of them tried to explain it recently and all I got was a headache. They can tell some terrifically good stories, though.”

Orcs: “Exceptional fighters who fought for their survival; maybe there are things we could learn from them rather than hiding away out of sight and out of mind? There’s not many of us left, not that we’ll admit that, but our peaceful trade with the humans might not last. Orcs are raiders though, so be careful to lock up when they’re around.”

Goblins: “Never turn your back on a Goblin in your workshop, unless you’ve already nailed everything down to the worktables… and even then they may just steal the nails as well. Remember to be careful what you say in front of them; they sell anything they can get their hands on, including information.”