The War for Thamatra
Concerning Dwarves in Thamatra
Dwarves in Thamatra are descendents from an Elderkin race called the D’ren, who were great builders and makers in the Old World Days. Like their predecessors, dwarves are builders and makers, having great skills in engineering and construction, as well as metalworking and jewelry. Also, like their predecessors, dwarves prefer to dwell in the remote mountains and cold climate regions of Thamatra, usually in areas considered too rough for other races to survive in. However, unlike the D’ren, dwarves are reclusive, prefering to limit the incursions of other races to specific locations within their realms. Those few dwarf realms that are in proximity to other races tend to be more open, but as a rule a remote dwarf realm is a dwarf-only place.
Dwarven areas of influence include the major mountain chains in the Northern continent, ranging from the Volkstag Mountains in the north to the Southern Dragonspire Mountains, with some presence in the lesser ranges.
Dwarves are generally 4ft tall, of very stocky build (typically around 200lbs+), with wide shoulders, trunks and hips and short thick limbs. They have a higher density of muscle and bone mass than either elves or humans, and a skeletal structure that attests to the hearty constitutions and strengths of this race (due to their density, dwarves do not float on water; if dropped into deep water, they will drown. This may help explain why dwarves dislike ship travel). They are also hairy, from head to toe, and have a pecular musk that is sometimes noticeable by non-dwarves. Dwarves tend to favor clothing that reflect their preferences for rough environments, espically the use of leather and heavyweight fabrics like wool and felts.
There are few differences between the appearance of the sexes; to the untrained eye, male and female dwarves look and sound alike in manner and appearances (the fact that dwarf women sport facial hair helps add to the confusion). However, the typical dwarven wanderer is male (or at least appears to be so). Dwarven females are believed to be few in number, and are oftentimes put into “protective custody” within the dwarf-hall.
Dwarves are a mysterious race. Secretive but curious, dwarves are known to be tireless workers, master craftsfolk, and fearless warriors, although sometimes a bit gruffy and argumentive. They have built great cities and passageways thruout the various mountain ranges of the world. Their skills at stone and woodcrafts are renown and their workings of metals and gemstones know few equals. But little is known about dwarf society and culture other than what has been gathered thru limited dealings with this elusive folk. They like to make things; weapons, jewelry, furniture, gadgets and gizmos, and they like to build things, usually from timber and stone. They seem to have an appreciation of natural things, but usually have this appreciation due to what can be made from those things (trees are a good example; an elf sees a tree as a living, sentient entity – a dwarf sees a tree as a source of lumber and fuel).
Dwarves organize themselves into family clans, each with it’s clerics and a clan chief. If a clan becomes large enough, or if several clans join together, they will form a dwarf-hall, and elect from their numbers a hall-king to administer the dealings of the hall and allied clans within it. These dwarf-halls are usually fortified community centers at first, but tend to evolve, as the population grows, into a place of beauty, at least from a dwarven perspective.
Each dwarf-hall is in itself an exhibit of the capabilities of its inhabitiants, and the residents love to display their talent. The colums and supports are oftentimes carved with intricate detail, the veins of the rock exposed in such a way that the inner light shines thru, the underground waterways carefully crafted into cascades and jewel-lit pools, the fine touches and attention to detail are all trademark qualtites of the typical dwarf-hall. It is said that the beauty of some halls are equal to some of the elven cities on the surface world, but there is nothing known beneath the surface that can equal the dwarf-hall.
Dwarves are a religious people, who take their gods seriously. There are many tenets to their belief system that help keep the social structure in place, such as manners and honor of clan. They have a Code of Moral Conduct that governs most of the actions of a dwarf to fellow dwarves, and to the Other Peoples (as dwarves refer to the other races) in issues dealing with trade or alliances. Paramount is the issue of trust: dwarf trust is hard to gain, but once a dwarf becomes your friend, they are steadfast allies. By the same token, if a dwarf’s trust is violated, their hatred knows no bounds. Untrustworthy dwarves are considered to be an insult to their entire clan-families, and are usually exiled from their homelands, destined to become laborers, mercenaries or thieves until such time as they manage to regain their honor thru “heroic deeds” and “incredible feats” (and profitable undertakings).
Dwarves have very keen senses. The evolution of their race underground has given them sharp vision in the dark, and can sense changes in pressures; this helps them with their ability to determine depths, elevations and slopes, as well as a fine sense of touch in handling small intricate items. They also have a sharpened sense of smell and taste, which allows them to get a feel of what materials are in the surrounding enviroment (yes, dwarves can smell gold). Dwarves usually begin with good hearing, but this tends to be affected by the activities of dwarven life – mainly tunneling rock or beating metals. This, along with the mass/size issues of dwarven physique, usually makes it hard for dwarves to move quietly or hide in shadows, although they can manage the feat if they manage to keep their hearing and have suitable dexterity. The occupational hearing loss also seems in part to be the reason dwarves usually shout their words in conversation.
Dwarves have a very high resistance to magical phenomena, as well as to weather, poisons or disease. They also have a resilience to life/manna draining events and fire (although the hair will burn). They are resistant to lycanthropy, but not vampirism, and have as strong of a hatred for undead as do the elves. They do not have the spiritual sensitivity of the elves, but are aware of changes in earth energies, and can sense magic energies on occassion.
The dwarven diet consists of 4 food groups, beer, meat, cheese, bread – in that order, as much as you can give. The valleys around the dwarven strongholds are usually developed as farms, either for grains or for livestock, to provide for these staples of the dwarven diet. The skills of baker, brewer, and butcher are held in as high of a regard as the smith and warrior in dwarven society. In areas where the forests are still present, wildcrafted foodstuffs and wild game are also added to the menu.
Dwarves tend to be seen by other races as an overly serious, sometimes greedy people, espically in their business dealings. Dwarf merchants and traders are shrewd, argumentative, and difficult negotiators. Dwarf artisans are sticklers for detailed information and specifications; this is due to a desire to make exactly what the client wants/paid for. Dwarf engineers, by far one of the most sought after skills, are without equal in quality, but have “odd quirks” about specifications and innovations. Dwarf miners and masons are quick and efficient. Dwarf mercenaries are also considered to be quick and efficient. At peace or war, the dwarven view is business first, then pleasure, with the business being conducted as swiftly and meticulously as possible, with no distractions.
Dwarven pleasure, however is a different story. When at home in their surroundings or in other safe places, and especially surrounded with friends, the dwarves approach their idea of entertainment (eating, drinking, games of skill, more drinking, bawdy ballads, drinking, more eating, and more drinking) with all the seriousness they use in their business dealings. A dwarven feast is a sight not to be missed if one is so lucky to attend one. Unfortunately, the dwarven traveler who engages in such revelry outside of dwarven halls usually isn’t as appreciated by the host of such an event.
Dwarves see the other races as either potential customers/clients, potential allies, cousins (gnomes), or competition/enemies (espically the Goblinkin and Trollkin, as they share a common terrain preference). Due to some “misunderstanding” between the elves and dwarves, there is currently an animosity towards elves that may or may not be justified. This has strained relations beween the two races considerably.
Most adolescent dwarves (50+years) undergo an apprenticeship in one of the skilled crafts, be it metalsmithing, masonry, or any other of the skills that the dwarf-hall needs to function. Usually the dwarf can choose the profession, be it the family trade or a different skillset. Sometimes there are shortages in certain areas; when this occurs, the dwarf may not necessarily get a choice in the matter. All dwarves may become warriors in times of need.
Dwarves can be of any profession (class) except magic user. Due to the high level of magic resistance, the dwarf has a very limited capability for working the forces of arcane energies that make magic work. The few dwarves gifted with any magical aptitude are limited to being illusionists or alchemist (Alchemy is one of the few professions that a dwarf has an advantage; between their magical resistance and their constitution, they are usually able to better withstand the consequences from any experiments that may go awry). There are dwarven clerics; they operate as normal clerics, and some tend to be able to work a form of dwarven forge-magic under the right circumstances.
Dwarves in their homeland are either laborers, artisans, engineers, warriors, clerics, or merchants. Outside dwarven lands the wandering dwarf is usually a warrior/mercenary type, a cleric, an engineer, a laborer, a merchant, or a thief (Dwarven law forbids thievery amongst dwarves, so dwarven thieves work elsewhere, either by choice or edict). The wandering dwarf may have previous skills beside the current pursuit; the long lifespan allows for career changes. Warrior/engineers are in high demand in mercenary circles.
Dwarves are usually multi-lingual, speaking both common elf and common human tongues as a matter of trade and convenience, as well as a common dwarf. Each dwarf-clan has it’s own dwarf-tongue and writing system; these are usually guarded secrets, used only by the members of that clan or their most trusted allies.
Dwarves do not show any psionic capabilities, and are apparently immune to most psionic attacks.
Dwarves typically live up to 650 years, but can live for almost 1000 years in cases where the dwarf hasn’t died from battle or a hard lifestyle (i.e. “natural causes”).
Dwarven breeds in Thamatra are: hill, mountain, deep, dark. Dwarves are not known to be interracially fertile, except possibly between other Durinkin (gnomes and such). That does not preclude some interesting quirks about dwarf wanderers: there seems to be a reported fascination between some male dwarves and females of other races who are taller and clean shaven. There is also reputed that some dwarves, once away from the structure of their society, run amok, copulating with any thing that can’t outrun it. These are considered rumors, and the dwarf realms as a whole deny these things could ever happen.
Mountain dwarves are the most common dwarf breed, but isn’t necessarily the type of dwarf most encountered, due to their reclusive ways. Most mountain dwarves spend their entire lives in the mines and subterrainean cities they make their home, and rarely venture out into the surface world. When they do venture into the sunlit lands, it is usually in small bands of traders, although when it is a muster, a large force of mountain dwarves may be encountered.
Mountain dwarves are typically the miners, stonemasons and metalworkers of the dwarven peoples, oftentimes competing with each other to “see who is the master” of their particular skillsets (a competitive nature is common with all Durinkin).The metals and alloys that have been developed by the various dwarf-clans are each in their own right valuable and in demand in the surface world, some at very high values. These metals and the things forged from them provide the majority of economic stimulus in the mountain dwarf-halls.
Mountain dwarves are reclusive and mistrustful as a general rule. Even with their own people, there are limits as to how open they will be in their dealings. There are exceptions, such as trade partnerships that have proven well, but there is also a sense of rivalry between the various dwarf-halls over issues such as prestige and honor (and craft secrets) that discourages open dialogs between the halls. Dealings with the Other Peoples is usually much more reluctant and restrained. However the feelings, all interactions are usually performed with the appropriate respect and formality.
Mountain dwarves usually are engineers and craftsfolk, with strong warrior-like tendencies. Even the merchants and diplomats are fighters at heart, adding to the dwarves-are-badassess mystique. Usually wandering Mountain dwarves are mercenary fighters, with the occasional clerics on their missionary sojourns. Mountain dwarf thieves are rare; the dwarven people as a whole despise thievery amongst dwarves, and a mountain dwarf thief is usually an outcast who will try to pass themselves off as fighters in surface world societies. However, there are places in mountain dwarf society for “salvage and recovery engineers” which are essentally well-trained delvers of ruins and tombs, skilled in traps and locksmithing.
Mountain dwarves typically know common elf, dwarf and human speech, as well as their clan-tongue. Oftentimes they will also have an understanding of the Underdark tongues, espically trollish and goblinspeak.
Mountain dwarves are typically 4ft+ tall, the largest of their race, with the heaviest frame set and musculature of the Durinkin. Their facial features are typical dwarf, with a thick browline, large, round nose and lots of hair, usually brownish-red. Eye colors are typically brown, with an occasional blue or green. Mountain dwarves are the strongest of the dwarves, capable of carring large loads over great distances and of long hours of heavy toil. They also have the longest lifespan of the Durinkin, oftentimes exceeding 1000 years.
The current mountain dwarf population is unknown. Due to their reclusive ways, it is hard to tell even how many dwarf-halls are still occupied. Based on the Great Muster during the Last Wyrm War, the population was considerable, but due to the extreme losses during that conflict, it is believed the race is in decline.
Hill dwarves are the most familiar of the dwarven peoples, as they live in the foothills and other marginal regions that oftentimes acts as a buffer between the Other People and their mountain cousins. These dwarves are the friendliest of their kind, being more of the tempermant of the D’ren rootstock than their mountain-dwelling cousins.
Hill dwarves are typically the farmers, woodworkers, jewelers and crafts artisans of the dwarven peoples. Of special renown is their skills at gemcraft and working fine metals into jewelry. However, they are also known for being excellent weavers, potters and toolsmiths. The dwarves who pursue the agarian lifestyle oftentimes are farmers of livestock and foodstuffs needed for their communities, with the surplus destined to go to the dwarf-halls in the mountains.
The Hill Dwarf community usually consists of several smaller subterranean dwellings near the surface, interconnected by a series of tunnels to the central dwarf-hall, where all communial activities occur, such as councils and musters, as well as feasts for holy days. Oftentimes these dwellings serve as homes as well as workshops, farms or shallow mines. Usually the homesteads and the tunnels are fortified as lines of defense in areas where this is necessary. (A hill dwarf community strongly resembles the structure and layout of their smaller cousins, the gnomes,) The central hall itself is usually a multi-room dwelling fortified and defended, but also containing the feasthalls and foodstores of the community.
Hill dwarves are not as nearly reclusive as their mountain kin, often having dealings with the Other Peoples. This is espically true concerning the trading of dwarven tools and jewelry in exchange for gold, materials and foodstuffs. Since the hill dwarf is more accessible to the surface races, the economy of their communtites are driven by trading between themselves, the mountain dwarves, and the other races (which is usually human). Hill dwarves also prefer more color in their clothing than the basic brown of the mountainfolk; this is reflected in the dyes and weavings of the cloth they make.
Hill dwarves usually are engineers, toolsmiths, farmers and craftsfolk, but also have the strong warrior-like tendencies common in the Durinkin. Usually wandering hill dwarves are either travelling craftsfolk/merchants, or mercenary fighters, with the occasional clerics. Often hill dwarves will sell their engineering and building skills to communities of other races; these construction crews will travel in a group from place to place, either bringing along building materials or being capable of processing raw resources on-site, or both. Hill dwarves also have “salvage and recovery engineers” which, like with the mountain dwarves, are well-trained delvers of ruins and tombs.
Hill dwarf thieves are rare, but not as rare as with the mountain dwarves, since the hill dwarf thief has more opportunity to practice thievery on the other races. Although hill dwarves take an overal dim view of thievery, and an even dimmer view of thieving from other dwarves, stealing from the other races isn’t always inexcusable: if it’s an issue of the survival of the community or of regaining lost honor (or pride), it can see seen as a necessary, even heroic, act, although the “hero” is still considered a thief, therefore a person who has scarred their reputation of trust (sometimes this sacrifice of trustworthiness is what makes the dwarf a “hero”). This is different from the “thou-shalt-not” viewpoint of the mountain dwarves.
Hill dwarves typically know common elf, dwarf and human common speech. They also are usually fluent in gnomish, and may know some of the beast tongues, as well as their clan-tongue. Oftentimes they will also have an understanding of the Underdark tongues, espically trollish and goblinspeak.
Hill dwarves are typically 4ft tall, with a heavy frame set and musculature typical of the Durinkin. Their facial features are typical dwarf, with a thick browline, large, round nose and lots of hair, but the hair colors range from blonde to red to brown. Eye colors tend to be blue, green or hazel, with brown being unusual but not uncommon. Hill dwarves are not as strong or as durable as the mountain dwarves, but still stronger and tougher than most races, even those twice their size and stature. Hill dwarves also have a shorter lifespan than mountain dwarves, usually limited to 750 years or so.
The current hill dwarf population is unknown, but is believed to be strong based on the number of dwarf-halls there are in contact with the Other Peoples. There were severe losses during the Wyrm Wars, but this has seemed to have had little effect on the overall population of hill dwarves, but this could also be due to more contact with the Other Peoples due to losing areas of their homelands in recent times.
Deep dwarves are by far the most mysterious and reclusive of the dwarven peoples, having a distinct dislike for the surface, and of other dwarves, as well as any of the other races. Their limited dealings with other races have proven to be disasterous, usually due to some alledged treachery by either or both sides involved. The temperment of deep dwarves seems to be one that settles disputes in a violent fashion, and is known to be quite prone to disputes.
Deep dwarves are the delvers of the deepest places in the subterranean realms, going into regions not even the goblinkin will go, searching for the mineral riches that lie deep in the earth far out of the reach of the sunlit lands. There they build their halls in darkness, secret to all as to their whereabouts. Those who go looking for one of these halls either return unsuccessful, or they do not return. Deep dwarves tend to kill strangers, sometimes in long, leisurely fashions.
Deep dwarves are similar in appearance to the mountain dwarves, with the exception of very dark eyes greatly suited for seeing in the unlit realms of the Underdark. They are very sensitive to light, and have difficulty seeing in sunlight. They can move very quietly and hide in shadows well, and can be a deadly foe on their own ground.
Due to their disposition and the areas they inhabit, deep dwarves are sometimes referred to as dark dwarves.
Deep dwarves speak an abberation of D’rak, the ancient tongue of the D’ren.
Deep dwarf populations are unknown. It is known that they exist, but there is insufficient information available to determine their numbers.
The term “dark dwarf” is oftentimes applied to a dwarf of any breed who has decided to pursue the goals of greed and personal gain at the cost of his family clans honor, or of the dwarf-halls honor, or even at the cost of the hall itself. Dark dwarves generally do not care about their bretheren, instead focusing on their own desires and forsaking all else. Most dwarf-halls either will exile a dark dwarf, or kill them outright in the more secretive halls – dark dwarves are deemed to be entirely untrustworthy and a security risk if left to their own devices.
Dark dwarves tend to be thieves, assassins, or mercenaries while wandering.