Among all of the Olom’s legacy races, dwarves are the most mysterious. Created by the Olom to be the builders of their empire, the dwarves have mastered technological and alchemical arts that would baffle the greatest thinkers of any other race. Their miraculous machines have made it possible for dwarves to literally carve a place for themselves beneath the surface of Fartherall, in vast and uncharted realm known as Deepearth.
Dwarves are generally standoffish, borderline xenophobic folk, but they appreciate and respect people who are willing to engage in fair trade for the services only they can provide. Rare indeed is the surface artisan whose work could be mistaken for dwarfcraft, and the stout folk take advantage of this fact to barter their wares for the few luxury items they can’t produce themselves. The people with whom the dwarves trade seldom realize that the items they’re getting are usually considered antiquated and mediocre by dwarven standards, but the dwarves see no reason to point this out.
The alchemically-ingenious dwarves have managed to create a subterranean version of most any surface commodity. Blind albino cattle provide beef, and vast fungal gardens feed the empire of the Underkingdom. Alchemically altered cellulose known as deepwood, farmed in great subterranean forests, provides wood and non-stone building materials. The dwarves are, as a whole, unconcerned about life on the Surface. To them, “the world” means everything underground. The Surface is a dangerous and chaotic frontier with absurd open spaces, and holds no interest for much of dwarfkind.
Shorter and broader than men, dwarves are not terribly unlike bricks given flesh and beards. And oh, what beards! Males and females both grow facial hair, though the hair on the chin of a dwarfmaid is decidedly softer and more downy. They often style their beards with ribbons and glittering dust made from pulverized gemstones. The males grow their beards as long as they can, and use them as a sort of personal marquee. Medals and ribbons detail every personal accolade and notable accomplishment, as well as (and more importantly!) displaying their fraternity and standing therein. One can tell a great deal from a dwarf with a well-maintained beard: hometown, profession, fraternal alliance; great deeds and military honors; and standing in society. An unadorned beard is a mark of untrustworthiness — here is someone who is hiding their identity.
A beardless dwarf is incredibly rare, and almost always a felon who has received the ultimate punishment. Beardlessness in dwarfdom is akin to nudity, and is considered obscene. Dwarves who have dealings on the surface have grown accustomed to seeing people without facial hair, but any beardless visitors with dealings in the Underkingdoms — whether male or female — would be foolish not to wear a veil or mask to hide their facial nudity under the mountain. One could be arrested for public indecency for showing an unbearded adult face.
Most dwarves encountered above ground during the day will be wearing wide-brimmed hats at the least, and covered head to toe in thick fabric with specially crafted dusky lenses over their eyes at the most. If they have it their way, only their large noses and beards are visible at all. This is because of an intense racial allergy to sunlight. Long-term exposure can cut a dwarf’s lifespan to a third of what it might otherwise have been. All dwarves on the surface wear smoked goggles to dull the intense light of the sun.
Dwarven society is heavily paternalistic, with families deferring to the eldest male in all things, and that eldest male deferring to his fraternity, which in turn defer to the Underkings. The hearth is the central feature of the dwarven household, and is spoken of in much the same way a human would refer to his home. Dwarves stake a great deal of personal pride in the condition of this great central furnace. It is the duty of dwarfmaids to tend the hearth and raise up any dwarf children, and the duty of the menfolk to take up the family trade to make a living.
After the hearth, the most important structure in dwarven society is the fraternity. These secret societies are arranged by profession and trade craft: masons, carpenters, brewers, silversmiths, etc. All business conducted in the Underkingdoms must be done under the auspices of the appropriate fraternity; anything else is considered black marketeering. Membership is passed down through the generations to the first son. A number of brothers of first sons are allowed to join a fraternity depending on the rank in the fraternity of the father. Fraternal orders each have their own rituals and secrets and rules, and the Ruling Council that advises the Underkings are drawn from the ranks of the fraternities. Dwarves are not allowed to join more than one fraternity, and a dwarf who leaves a fraternity is not allowed to join another. Losing one’s fraternity or being exiled from it is a sign of great shame. Dwarfmaids are not allowed to join fraternities. The fraternities’ reach does not extend to the Surface — business done there is beyond their governance.
Dozens upon dozens of dwarven cities and trade outposts are scattered throughout Deepearth, and all are connected via their underground rail system. This means that all dwarves are subjects of the same great kingdom, and their traditions and values hold true throughout. It is thus possible for a dwarf to travel from the heart of the Underkingdoms in the Home Range to a trade post on the opposite side of the continent (and even pass under an ocean) without having to travel across the surface. Fraternities have guild halls in various cities and outposts, but never on the surface.
Dwarves never smile, much less laugh, in public if they can help it. Life in Deepearth is tricky and demanding, and expressions of naked emotion are nearly as taboo as naked cheeks. Laughter is considered a lack of self-control, and is embarrassing.
Threatening to shave a dwarf’s beard is the most dire threat someone can make, and they’d better damn sure make certain that the dwarf is properly restrained before they make it. A dwarf’s beard not only displays his accomplishments, but defines them. If he loses the beard, all he’s done to that point counts for naught until the beard is regrown — a process that may take years.
Now for a sensitive topic. Dwarfdom is a slave society. The dwarves built the Underkingdoms and the tunnels to its various colonies on the backs of the orcs. They see nothing inherently wrong with enslavement, as they consider slaves another form of livestock; the dwarves created the orcs, altering them to fit life underground in the same way that they’d created blind cattle and deepwood, and considered them their property, their trade craft. After the Red Exodus, when the orcs took their freedom and caused a hundred years’ worth of damage in the escape, the dwarves reconsidered their take on enslavement, but not the way the free races of the world would have hoped. Instead of creating a slave race from an intelligent people (as they did with the Ord), they raised one from a lower form of life — in this case, the trogol, a primitive people from the lower caverns of Deepearth. The trogol are docile and passive compared to the orcs; little else is known about them on the Surface.
Dwarves reach maturity at age thirty, and can live to the age of 300 if they avoid the Surface. Dwarves who have abandoned the Underkingdoms to dwell on the Surface will live to the age of 100.
Dwarves have the most contact with humans, and can appreciate their desire to engage in trade and (usually) honor agreements. They have little use for elves or gnomes, who they see as frivolous to a nearly offensive degree. Halflings, however, come to closest to finding what might count as a “soft spot” in the hearts of dwarvenkind. The hard working dwarves respect the diligence and care halflings take in their gardening endeavors (dwarves have never been able to create underhops that taste good, so the halflings are their main source of beer), and may be stirred to action if a nearby halfling settlement is facing peril — with the understanding that their aid will be paid for as soon as that peril has passed, of course.Ogres and orcs are attacked on sight.
Alignment and Religion (LN, Mountain) More than anything else, dwarves value tradition and the rule of law. This, along with their geographical tendencies, draw religiously-minded dwarves toward those who worship The Mountain. Cultists of The Deep, however, have no place in dwarven society and are driven out or executed after trial. Too many dwarves have been spirited away by things that lurk in the haunted places down below.
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