The World of Valeria: Annals of the Third Era
THIS PAGE IS A WIP
“The difference between an acquaintance and a friend is about a hundred years.” -Oskar Boulderfist
Dwarves are often hostile, dour, and bear long grudges. Their skin is rumored to be a mixture of flesh and stone and iron. They are a tough, tradition-abiding folk known for their strong martial traditions and beautiful craftsmanship. All Dwarves grow thick hair on their heads and magnificent beards and mustaches (not just the menfolk!) and they value their beards highly and groom them carefully. Hair and beards are often used to display social status with certain stylings and braids signifying class or military rank and is most often worn long. Most Dwarves take the care of their facial hair to an extreme, carefully oiling and grooming it, with some adding perfume and ornamentations.
Led by their Thanes and Kings Under The Mountain, the dwarves govern themselves in their underground worlds crafting weapons, armor, and jewelry. They have many underground strongholds throughout Valeria, but perhaps one of the greatest is the First City, Ammarindar under the White Mountain in the relentless sands of Aysun’s Endless Desert. While most dwarven clans dig great keeps and kingdoms inside the Earth, there are several clans that build their kingdoms above ground.
All Dwarves worship their creator Moradin, the god of the Earth, and carry his power with them. Because dwarves have a direct hereditary link to their God, many find themselves to follow the orders of Clerics and Paladins.
Dwarves face the brunt of the “stubborn peoples” criticisms, but that’s simply because they show their face among the other folk of Valeria far more than the reclusive Elves. One who knows the true nature of both folk wouldn’t hesitate to say an Elf is more reserved, stubborn, and proud than any Dwarf. Dwarves can be reasoned with, and deep under their stony hides are big hearts and passionate spirits. Elves stand the test of time and have seen all, it’s not so easy to find common ground with them.
The first Dwarves were said to have come from the ancient sands of the Endless Desert in Aysun thousands of years ago. For this reason, Aysun is known as the Land of the Dwarves. Not being a shipbuilding or sailing folk, legends say the Dwarves carved magnificent tunnels underneath the oceans to travel to other lands that are known today as Eremor, Thelanis and Silvercrest. Others say that they simply emerged from the great deposits of stone and iron around all Valeria and went on from there. If you ask the Dwarves, though, they will tell you either Moradin created them all across the lands and not just in Aysun or they will say that it was because Dvergr the Firsthanded tossed his mighty hammer across the seas, ripping the Earth asunder and creating the gigantic mountain peaks where Dwarves of all kinds then blossomed from the bounties that lie within.
Subraces of Dwarves:
Dwarves are all children of Moradin, and have great big hearts filled with a natural desire for Good. Though they have rough and stony exteriors, this is simply a natural, cultural defense built over thousands of years of strife and hardships. Despite all that, their hearts were never broken and for that, the Dwarves love each other and their clans deeply and have come to call each other “Brother” or “Sister” as a sign of compassion, trust, and friendship.
The Dwarves are split into two subraces after some evolved to live closer to the surface or even above ground in the hills, whereas many others stuck to their great underground kingdoms living within the mountains and tunnels of Valeria.
These Dwarves come from the traditional holds and kingdoms deep in the mountains of Valeria. They are the most common Dwarven peoples. The Mountain Dwarves are on average taller than their Hill Dwarf cousins and tend to be bulkier and more muscular too. Due to their prolonged time underground they tend to be paler in skin and hair – though the Mountain Dwarves of Aysun tend to have very dark complexions due to the desert sun and the great heat. It is typical, though, for a Mountain Dwarf to have light skin that is fair or lightly tanned, sometimes even a pale brown or gray, and green or silvery blue eyes with long light brown or red hair, growing white or gray with age.
Mountain Dwarves appear cynical and gruff to the non-Dwarven peoples as they seem to take an isolationist policy towards other folk, fortifying their mountain homes and continuing their ancient ways, while the Hill Dwarves have been more adventurous, seeking their fortunes on the surface world. There are Mountain Dwarves who have also taken to the adventuring life, though, mostly to reclaim ancient strongholds or treasures long lost. A Mountain Dwarf found outside their clan is either one of the few adventurers who left home, an exile from a clan, or is seeking fortune through their craft – whether that is for personal gain or in the name of their clan.
Mountain Dwarves are thought to be the “True Dwarves” by other folk as they were the First that Moradin created, but Dwarves see no need to have such titles.
Mountain Dwarves are fine craftsmen, but more than among other Dwarven folk, their craft tends toward that of war. Mountain Dwarves accumulate a wide variety of arms and armor in the fight to defend their homelands, drawing upon hammers, picks, axes, halberds, spears, swords, and mauls as well. Mountain Dwarves typically equip themselves in heavy armor fashioned from masterwork steel. Mountain Dwarves tend to make their greatest weapons and armor from the legendary metal called mithral. It is extremely lightweight and even somewhat magic resistant, thus causing it to become one of the most coveted materials by Dwarves, Elves, and Men and is quite practically priceless. Mountain Dwarves and the High Elves are the only folk who know the secret of how to smith with it.
Hill Dwarves are the aloof, confident, and sometimes proud subrace of Dwarves who live primarily close to or above the surface. They are known to be particularly stalwart warriors, shrewd traders, and are thought to be guided by very deep intuitions. Hill Dwarves are stout, tough individuals like their Mountain Dwarf cousins, but are less off-putting and gruff in nature causing them to have better trade relations with non-Dwarven folk. Conversely, Hill Dwarves are often shorter and agiler as opposed to bulky and muscular. Hill dwarves are also distinguishable by their light brown or tanned skin, significantly darker than that of most dwarves, and their brown or hazel eyes. Gold dwarves have black, gray, or brown hair, which fades to light gray over time.
Hill Dwarves are a deeply materialistic folk who believe that the resources of the natural world exist only to serve the purpose of conscious beings. To a Hill Dwarf, there is no greater purpose than to fashion the minerals and bounties of the earth into things of beauty. Hill Dwarf guilds take great care in their craftsmanship, often spending centuries to perfect their work and mark it distinctively as their own, a practice which is carried down to even the most simple tools, marking such items with detailed runes and carefully shaped flairs. Hill Dwarves focus more on crafting tools, jewelry, statues, and other such objects as opposed to arms and armor, but that’s not to say their smithies can’t and don’t! While the Mountain Dwarves certainly craft arms and armor more frequently and perhaps better than their cousins, Hill Dwarves forge their arms second only to their mountain-dwelling cousins. Hill Dwarf warriors employ finely crafted weapons and armor, often enchanted with runes or prayers. Most commonly, Hill Dwarves employ weapons that can also be used as tools, such as axes, picks, or hammers.
Hill Dwarves most commonly raise Clerics among their clans and often have armies built half of Fighters and half of Clerics, as opposed the Mountain Dwarves with much fewer (though still just as devoted!) Clerics. The traveling Hill Dwarf may be outside of their home for the same reasons as the Mountain Dwarves, but most of them are Clerics who travel the world seeking to spread the guidance and love of Moradin.
Dwarves are a short folk, as their name implies, standing from 4’ – 5’ on average, with Hill Dwarves being a bit shorter than their Mountain Dwarf kin.
Dwarves are a long-lived race, though not so much as the Elves, and reach physical maturity somewhat later than humans. A dwarf was traditionally considered an adult once they reached age fifty. Dwarves aged much like humans but over a longer period of time, remaining vigorous well past 250 years. Most dwarves live to see their 300th birthday, and a few lived to be over 400. The oldest known dwarf (Moradin bless his stony heart!) was Rurtakgran Holderhek of clan Copperbeard, reaching the ancient age of 698. His last words were, “the damn bastard who makes it to 699 will have to wrestle me for the title at the Gates of Erackinor!”
Abilities and other Characteristics
Dwarves are unusually tough for humanoids, in more ways than one. Most dwarven stomachs, for instance, are resistant to many poisons and it takes less effort for a dwarf to get back on their feet than other folk. Dwarves also have dense bodies, with rumors of their skin being a combination of flesh and stone! They are difficult to push around and have the capacity to bear loads that other races might find hindering with little ill effect. Dwarves also have a sense about them that few peoples do, with a preternatural awareness of their surroundings useful for a subterranean folk as well as good judgment all-around.
Many dwarves are difficult to like and many seem to lack the charm of many other smaller peoples, such as halflings or gnomes, though this is not a trait common to all dwarves and some possess a great deal of charismatic power. Furthermore, dwarves are not entirely unsocial and more than a few have a natural knack for bartering or judging the value of an offer, something that sits well with their legendary crafting abilities.
Dwarves are also known for possessing a natural affinity for recognizing unusual patterns in stonework that seems almost supernatural at times.
Whether or not the legends that the dwarves were carved from the world’s stone are true, dwarves shared many qualities considered similar to the stone they live with. Strong, hardy, and dependable dwarves were polite, particularly elders, and possessed a wisdom beyond that of many other folk. Dwarves value their traditions, regardless of where in the wide world they come from, and looked for inspiration from ancestral heroes. Dwarves are also known for their stubborn nature and cynicism, traits widespread amongst the dwarves but which contribute to and are commonly offset by their bravery and tenacity.
Dwarven friendship is hard to earn, but is immeasurably strong once won. Naturally dour and suspicious, the stout folk are slow to trust others, specifically towards those outside their family, suspecting the worst of an individual until the outsider proves many times their good will. Once this trust is gained, dwarves hold their friends to it and view betrayals, even minor ones, with a vicious propensity for vengeance. A common gnomish oath, remarking on this dwarven sense of justice, was “if I’m lying, may I cross a dwarf.”
For dwarves, loyalty is more than a word and that it should be both valued and rewarded. Dwarves believe it a gift and mark of respect to stand beside a friend in combat, and an even deeper one to protect an ally from harm. Many dwarven tales subsequently revolved around the sacrifice of dwarves for their friends and family. Just as dwarves are known for their dependability as friends and allies, dwarves also harbor grudges far longer than many other peoples. This may be on an individual basis between a dwarf and one who had wronged them or against entire kingdom and its people, even if warfare with the enemy has long since ceased.
Dwarves are a careful and deliberate folk, with a more serious disposition than other poeples, who they sometimes view as flighty or reckless. A dwarf does all things with care and a stubborn resolve, with brash or cowardly behavior being unusual for their kind. However, dwarves can succumb easily to wrath or greed, which are known to be the most common vices of their people.
Dwarves who leave their homeland to become adventurers do so for a number of reasons. In part, a dwarf might have been motivated by simple avarice, given the dwarven love of beautiful things. As often, however, a dwarf might have been motivated by a drive to do what was right for others (particularly their clan) or a love of excitement for, as settled as dwarves were, they rarely tired of thrills. But even these wayward dwarves retained the spirit of their kin, hoping that their accomplishments abroad could bring honor to themselves, their clan, or both. Given that successful dwarven adventurers were likely to recover rare items or defeat enemies of the dwarven people during such challenges, this was a hope not entirely without merit.
Dwarves highly value the ties between family members and friends, weaving tightly knit clans. Dwarves particularly respect their elders, from whom they expect sound leadership and the wisdom of experience, as well as ancestral heroes or clan founders. This idea carries on to relations with other folks and most dwarves are deferential even to the elders of other, non-dwarven peoples.
Likewise, dwarves, perhaps moreso than most other folk, turn to their gods for guidance and protection. Dwarves looked to the divine for comfort and inspiration. Some individual dwarves may be faithless, but the species as a whole has a strong inclination for religion and almost every community maintains at least one temple or ancestral shrine to Moradin.
Most dwarven societies are divided into clans built along family ties and political allegiances. These clans are usually led by hereditary rulers, often monarchs of a sort and descended from the founder of the clan or a great hero of ages past. Dwarves strongly value loyalty to these rulers and to the clan as a whole and even objective dwarves tend to side primarily with their kin over other folk or communities.
Most dwarven clans focus on one or two kinds of crafting, such as blacksmithing, jewelry, engineering, or masonry. Many clans strive to avoid overspecialization by sending some of their youth as apprentices to other clans, which also helps to foster a unity among the dwarves. These apprenticeships might last decades.
Most dwarves prefer living in underground cities or great kingdoms built inside or around great mountains. These clans would then cultivate great mines that provided much of their livelihood. Carved into stone, these cities might take centuries to complete but were practically ageless once finished. Though dwarves are typically a martial race by nature, their cities often have civilian populations that are composed of about one fourth of the total population of which were made up primarily of the young, the elderly, or a few regular adults. Females compose as large a portion of the military as male dwarves do. If you can wield an axe and don mail, you can defend your home.
Dwarves could be found all across Valeria, although the greatest numbers are in the Infinite Desert of Aysun, the Northern Kingdom of Thelanis, and the various mountain ranges of Eremor.
In their own homelands, dwarves continuously carve out new living space, mining the mountains’ riches as they did so. Dwarves, in general, stick to these locales, disliking travel, particularly along waterways, but those who live in human lands generally make a decent living. Most who do make a living as mercenaries, smiths, or artisans of various kinds. Dwarves are eagerly sought after as warriors, for their reputation of courage and loyalty make them excellent choices for bodyguards.
Dwarves do not forgive past wrongs easily and the entire folk have more or less declared war on goblins and orcs as a whole, wiping them out where they find them. Many dwarves view the monstrous humanoids as a foul infestation of their mountain homes and take it as their duty to purge them of the world. Likewise, few dwarves have forgotten their ancestral hatred of the giants who once enslaved them thousands of years ago. Because of this, dwarves generally viewed related folk, such as half-orcs, with extreme distrust.
Dwarves get along pretty well with many gnomes, especially the rock gnomes, with whom they share a love of fine crafting, and passably with humans, half-elves, and halflings. However, most dwarves commonly believe that true friendships can only be forged over long periods of time and a common saying was that “the difference between an acquaintance and a friend is about a hundred years,” meaning that few members of the shorter-lived races ever forged strong bonds with dwarves. There were exceptions, however, and some of the strongest friendships were those between a dwarf and a human whose grandparents and parents were also on good terms with the dwarf.