Tales of Viridia
The Dwarves are a short, stocky, hardy people. They have a strong affinity for craftsmanship and are known for their excellent architecture and smithing in particular. Aside from their crafting, the Dwarves are famous for their use of airships. They make firm, loyal allies, but many are prone to being stubborn, and their greed for exotic or high quality materials and crafts can get the better of them at times.
Mountain Dwarves: The Mountain Dwarves are the largest subset of the Dwarf people. They carve out majestic underground cities beneath the mountain ranges of the world. Their stonecrafting and smithing skills are unparallelled, and they produce the finest precious gems in the world.
Lowland Dwarves: The Lowland Dwarves were isolated to the eastern continent millennia ago after a large expedition to explore past the desert. Unable to navigate home, they established a colony which grew into its own civilisation. Lacking the mountain ranges of their former home, the dwarves adapted to life on the plains. Their originally ruddy skin became tanned and olive-coloured from the sun, and they built their cities above ground.
Deep Dwarves: The Deep Dwarves, also known as Duergar, live in the Underdark. Like the Drow, they have had to adapt to the harsh and dark environment, and are greatly sensitive to light. They are less concerned about trade and craft than their mountain kin. They look after their own, but are highly suspicious of outsiders.
Dwarves are humanoids that on average range from 4 to 4½ feet tall. What they lack in height they make up for in build. They are generally broad and muscular, easily weighing in excess of 250lbs. Since most of this is muscle, they are notably strong and durable. Their bodies are particularly adept at dealing with toxins.
Dwarven skin colour varies according to many factors, but mostly ranges from dark brown through to paler tones, the latter having a ruddier hue than what is seen in Elves and Humans. The exception to this is the Duergar (aka Deep Dwarves, Grey Dwarves) whose skin is a range of black to medium grey.
The Dwarves are well-known as a hairy folk, and this is especially true of the males. Common hair colours include black, going through brown, red and blonde. As they age, it turns grey and eventually white. Despite rumours to the contrary, female Dwarves do not commonly grow facial hair.
Dwarves are a long lived race, with a lifespan reaching 350-400 years. They physically reach adulthood in their late teens and early twenties.
As a result of living underground, most Dwarves have good vision in dim conditions. They also have an excellent innate sense of direction in underground tunnels and caves.
Dwarven society centers around families known as Clans. Loyalty and honour to their Clan are of utmost importance. Each Clan is extremely proud of its history, culture and trade. One of the most important rooms of any Clan’s household is the library, in which they keep many volumes of their history, both as a family and individuals. Even the smallest Dwarven households are likely to have at least a small bookshelf of such tomes. Tradition and the histories and lessons of their forebears are very important to the Dwarven people, and such matters are taught as soon as youngsters can speak and read.
The Dwarves’ greatest vice is their greed. Not for power but for material wealth and objects. They greatly admire metals, precious gems and fine crafts, and it is the acquisition, production and trade of these items that drives Dwarven society. Dwarven goods are among the sturdiest and finely crafted in all the world. Dwarves fill their homes with beautifully made furniture and collections of exquisite trinkets and materials.
Dwarven politics are a complex, high-stakes power game. Each Clan is constantly vying for wealth and influence among the others. Marriages and alliances are often more about business than they are friendship and companionship. Each Clan has a long history full of such deals and relationships, and they are very particular about the details and observance of all these matters. However, the game can be a ruthless one. Bitter rivalries and jealousy are common, and it is widely accepted that Clans will go to any lengths necessary to get ahead. Anything goes, provided they don’t get caught. If a Clan can remove a rival leaving no public proof of their activities (whatever those may be), they are silently congratulated and respected by the others for their discretion, and the skill and power required to pull it off. If they are sloppy enough to botch their attempt, they appear weak, incompetent and vulnerable.
Each Dwarven city is typically ruled by a council consisting of a few of the most powerful Clans that live there. Many of the oldest Clans have holdings in several cities, but most only have a stake in one or two.
The majority of Dwarven social gatherings are related to family and trade. Family and business gatherings typically involve large feasts, followed by singing, dancing, and sharing stories of personal and family events past and present. Meetings of tradesmen and colleagues tend to take place in taverns and the like, with conversation about family, history and craft shared over a round of ale and light entertainment. Gambling and games are common at such establishments.
A Dwarf makes for a loyal companion but a ruthless enemy. Those who do right by them will have a dependable friend for life. Those who cross them make a dangerous enemy that does not forgive or forget easily.
The Dwarves are less likely to be as fanatically religious as other races, being more concerned with physical earthly matters than the divine or spiritual.
Gond is the most well-known deity of the Dwarves. His domains are the arts and crafts, and every Dwarf who takes pride in their creation is looked upon favourably by him.
Waukeen is also widely respected and worshipped by Dwarven society, being the goddess of trade and merchants. Many pay respects to her or pray to her for guidance before embarking on business journeys, trade meetings or new ventures.
Each Dwarven city usually has a number of temples, chapels and shrines to these and other minor deities, tended to by priests of those particular orders.
The Dwarves are perhaps the most aware of their extensive history, keeping records dating back the establishment of their most ancient holds. The oldest of these were built into the mountain ranges that would later collectively be named Kharnbaduhr. Some of these still stand today, having grown into sprawling underground fortress-cities full of magnificent halls and buildings. Others lie abandoned or worse, infested by foul creatures.
One of the more notable events on Dwarven history is the Estrangement. Several thousand years ago, a grand expedition of thousands of Dwarves set out from Kharnbaduhr to cross the desert of Khabesir. The overland trek was arduous, many did not survive the hostile conditions of the desert. By the time they reached the grasslands on the other side, almost half had perished. Exhausted and defeated, they decided to settle before exploring this new land any further. By the time they had established a few small towns, they no longer felt the need to explore this new land, instead being content with their new lifestyle. Unlike before, they had built above ground instead of into it, and had adapted many aspects of their culture to this new environment.
Centuries later, the humans would also cross the desert, setting up a chain of cities to make a safe route across the sands. Upon reaching the other side, they made contact with the Dwarves who had made the crossing, who by then had become the thriving nation of Thumria. They re-established contact and links with their ancestral home, bringing an end to the Estrangement. After a short and difficult period, the two Dwarven societies now exist as siblings of a sort, similar and closely bonded, but quite different in many cultural aspects.
Although they have occupied the mountains for thousands of years, the Dwarves have not explored or settled much of the area, at least by human standards. Their expansion is always slow, deliberate and carefully considered. Every few years the Clans will send out expeditions to seek new areas rich in minerals in which to establish outposts. Those that find great wealth grow into thriving settlements, those that don’t tend to be abandoned when it runs dry. Some prove to be dangerous due to nearby tribes of Orcs, Goblins, Kobolds and other hostile creatures. A few succumb to the ancient lurking terrors of the deep unleashed by the Dwarves digging too far, always a dark chapter in the pages of Dwarven history.
The Dwarves are generally on good terms with most other societies they are in contact with.
Humans and Dwarves tend to get along well. Dwarven crafts are highly prized for their workmanship and durability, and the Dwarves are ever eager to trade these for exotic materials from far-off human lands. Although they see the Humans as being overly passionate, hot-headed and impulsive, this rarely leads to any serious lasting conflicts.
Dwarves and Elves have little in common culturally, but no strong disagreements either. In general, they politely acknowledge each other’s existence but rarely cross paths.
Of all the races, the Dwarves are closest to the Gnomes. When Dwarven craftsmanship meets Gnomish inventiveness, great advances take place, the most significant of which in recent memory being the development of airships. Culturally, they both share a strong sense of ambition, an affinity for underground homes, and a love of fine material things, although this is far less strong in the Gnomes. When the Gnomes were exiled from their ancestral home, a great many fled to the Dwarves, who gladly accepted them into their society.
Orcs and Half-Orcs are not well trusted by the Dwarves. Millennia of war against Orcish tribes and invasions has cut deeply. Although not always outright hostile to the Half-Orcs that integrate into society, it takes much for a Dwarf to come close to respecting them. As such, those with Orcish blood are almost never found where Dwarves are the dominant race.