Dwarves in the Taer
“Cameron Incanus once asked me, ‘What is like to be a dwarf?’ And I said, ‘What is it like to be weak, short lived, easily burned by fire, frozen by ice, to live in a house with no roof, to never long for stone, to grow a pathetic beard?’ Cameron then replied, ’I’m not sure what you are asking…’ to which I replied, ‘Well the opposite of what I asked is to be a dwarf…’” — Stvan Kosziv, the deepcaller.
Dwarves are hardy, dwarves are tough. Dwarves view the world with their own lens, and their vision starts well below the surface. Dwarves consider themselves the firstborn. Long before Elves woke to the stars, the dwarves were in the deep, doing what dwarves do best, digging and forging. The dwarves believe that a dwarven child is born with an axe, pick or hammer in their hand. Work is respected along with fun (which usually includes ale). Not as long lived as elvenfolk, a dwarf’s lifespan is several that of menfolk, merfolk, or halflings. Dwarves are born to build, and even the most destructive dwarf will have forged the axe he uses to cause destruction.
HistoryWhat is known of dwarven history to the outside world is that the dwarves started deep beneath the surface of the Taer. As most races are of the Taer, the dwarf is in the Taer. The deep dwarves believe that Torin the Ironmonger was the first of their kind born; cut from the very rock by Horvath ki Kovivash, (Literally Stonecutter the Earthfather). Torin organized the dwarf fathers and mothers (the original band of dwarves) into the first society. It was a golden age, and the dwarves created large warrens that extended thousands of leagues in every direction. mithril, adamant, platinum, gold, silver, copper, and gemstones poured into the dwarven kingdom. These riches were bartered with the surfacers (primarily the elves) for the secrets of ale making, tobacco, and wood for their furnaces. But this peace was shattered by the coming of the goblins, and the delving of the deep. From what is known, the dwarves began to be greedy in their tunneling, and they went deep into the earth, unburying the secrets of the gods. When Torin (then a very old dwarf) commanded his followers to open the heartshaft and tunnel deep into the heartstone they discovered an ancient evil called Dakvus the forge death, or Dakvus the tunnel silencer. Dakvus lead an army of goblins and kobolds against the dwarven army that had assembled to stop him. With Torin at its head, the dwarves fought for days against the unrelenting hordes. But Dakvus was too strong, Torin was too old, and the dwarves too splintered. Clans turned on each other during the struggle, and brothers fought each other. Dakvus smashed the king’s army, and destroyed the King and his clan. The horrors of Dakvus and his army spread through the dwarven tunnels. The chieftains of the clans closed their massive fortresses, and the great kingdom fell apart.
The survivors of the warrens who were locked out of the fortresses were dispossessed, and made their way to the surface, outcast from the deep society. These survivors quickly formed two separate groups, the surface dwarves, and the barrow dwarves. The Barrow Dwarves sought to rekindle the deep traditions, while the surfacer dwarves rejected those traditions.
Society, Religion and Culture
In the deep.
Not much is known of deep society. The only kingdom (a term that is used loosely in dwarven society) that has any contact with the surface is that of the kingdom of Ottr. The Ottr dwarves trade infrequently with the surface, and their society is closed to outsiders. What is known is that the deep dwarves worship Horvath, as all dwarves do. They seem to live as long as surface dwarves, although it has been argued they live longer due to their easier lifestyle beneath the surface. They have a king, Hreidmar II the Unforgiving, but other than his name, not much else is known.
In the BarrowsThe dwarves of the Barrows are primarily what other races consider prototypical of dwarven society. The barrow dwarves live in (oft times) constructed hillsides. They have simple traditions and their society tends to be clanlike or tribal. Primarily patriarchal, there have been noted matriarchs of some clans. A barrow dwarf reaches adulthood around forty years of age. They usually marry around adulthood, but unlike elves marriage is not for life but for the convenience of the couple. Dwarves are known to divorce and remarry, although how accepted this is varies from clan to clan. Dwarves experience old age around three hundred fifty years, with no dwarf living longer than five hundred years. Dwarves choose traditional professions, but are not obligated by any custom. Barrow dwarves revere Horvath, and usually the priest of Horvath doubles as the local smith. Hewing stone, and forging are considered holy professions, and are highly prestigious in their local communities. Dwarves have a fondness for ale, and as such there is always a tavern in a dwarven settlement. Dwarves are bound to their community by familial ties, but often times will strike out on their own. Other than a chieftain or elder dwarven settlements tend to egalitarianism, and dwarven social status is more of a reflection of their settlement rather than individual dwarves.
Barrow dwarves look at deep dwarves with a mixture of respect and hatred. They find elves to be confusing and are generally suspicious of elves. They generally like menfolk, and get along with men better than other races, despite their curiosity of the barrow dwarf. They are protective of halflings, which is not always appreciated. Look at merfolk as bizarre creatures, yet many a mer has gained their respect. Barrow dwarves treat lesser races with respect, but usually do not make friendships with them. They view Orcs and goblinkind as a nuisance, and will in general avoid Half-orcs, but dwarves do admire Half-orcs for their strength.