Dwarves are short, stocky humanoids who live in great chiseled cities beneath the ground. They are generally considered incredibly ugly by races from above ground. Standing between 4 and 5 feet in height, both male and female are well muscled, hairy, and pale. Because they spend the vast majority of their lives underground, Dwarven eyes and skin are incredibly susceptible to sunlight. Without proper protection they may suffer permanent damage to their vision and their skin burns in mere minutes of being in strong sunlight.
Speed: 5 | Size: Medium
Strength (+18) | Constitution (+25) | Agility (+2) | Dexterity (+15)
Charisma (+2) | Intelligence (+10) | Willpower (+15) | Perception (+10)
Hit Points (+18) | Close Combat (+0) | Marksmanship (+0) | Focus (-10) | Natural Armor Value (+0)
Traits: Long Life (Minor)
The Duládrin, also called Mountain Dwarves, generally have very thin, pale skin stretched tightly over thick cords of muscle. Others tend to think they have a pallid look about them. When they were first discovered by the Elves, rumors spread that they had found the living dead, so taken aback were they by the Duládrin appearance.
Their hair is wispy and thin but grows in thick clumps. It is nearly always black with a blue, red, or purple sheen, and Duládrin take great pride in their hair, particularly their facial hair. They keep it well groomed and adorn it with braids, beads, and other trinkets. Females typically cannot grow hair on their chin or upper lip, but they still cultivate impressive cheek hair.
Because they cannot see color, Duládric fashions tend to emphasize symbolism and contrasting shades. Clothing and armor are usually adorned with all manner of runes, faces of great Dwarves of the past, and other meaningful symbols. Clothing is loose-fitting and of simple design but complex imagery and symbolism.
Speed: 5 | Size: Medium
Strength (+15) | Constitution (+20) | Agility (+5) | Dexterity (+15)
Charisma (-5) | Intelligence (+10) | Willpower (+18) | Perception (+18)
Hit Points (+18) | Close Combat (+0) | Marksmanship (+0) | Focus (-2) | Natural Armor Value (+0)
Traits: Long Life (Minor)
The Hulvorin, or Deep Dwarves, are found in the bowels of the earth and are even more disturbing to overworlders than the Duládrin. They are a somewhat slimmer race that the Duládrin, though still stocky by others’ standards, with the same penchant for growing very thick yet fine hair. However, rather than cultivate a civilized look, they generally adopt a more barbaric approach to appearance. In truth, they do not seem to comprehend the idea of appearance or smell affecting others’ reactions to oneself.
Often living a mile or more beneath the earth’s surface has had interesting effects on their appearance. Their skin is almost wholly transparent, granting onlookers a disconcerting view of their veins and muscles. Their eyes, even more sensitive to light than their Duládrin cousins, are almost completely black. Most odd are the tiny growths on the underside of their cheeks, barely obscured from their own vision by their cheekbones, which the Hulvorin is able to make glow faintly, granting just enough light for him to see even in the darkest of environments. These growths resemble a small hanging sac or large mole.
Hulvoric fashion is plain at best, consisting of loose-fitting skins or rough cloth sewn together into functional apparel. Armor tends to accentuate smooth curves with very minimal adornment or color/shade variation.
Dwarves live deep within the earth and have for as long as they have kept written histories; however, it is only recently that they have emerged from their chiseled halls to roam surface world. Ancient lore claims they were the children of the earth, born from its heart, and while this is seen by many as simple poetic license to a history lost to the ages, it is true that the Dwarven people once lived even deeper in the ground than their deepest cities currently lie. Shifts in the rock, flooding, and other disasters have caused massive collapse of their culture’s infrastructure, likely cutting them off from their ancient past forever.
This has not, however, quelled their spirit to start anew, and there are already numerous thriving cities and countless smaller communities buried safely, miles underground, connected by an intricate web of tunnels, chasms, caves, and subterranean waterways. Naturally occurring fissures are a common place to find Dwarven settlements, as they allow for much more rapid expansion and can often provide other useful services: providing fresh water or food, waste disposal, and warmth being some of the most important. Cities are a tiered maze of corridors and rooms built as much up and down as they are out. Though almost guaranteed to disorient overworlders, Dwarves seem to have little trouble navigating the twisting passages.
Populating these halls is a wide variety of Dwarves. The Duládrin and Hulvorin are the most common inhabitants in settlements near the surface, but many more ethnicities exist further down. Dwarven traits are based primarily on the deepness, warmth, and brightness of the individual’s ancestral home; however, one can find Dwarves of nearly any type throughout their realm.
Even in the comfort of their cities, life is hard compared to most other places in the settled world. Basic needs – food, water, waste disposal – are precious commodities. Cities are usually built near deep chasms or running water to provide for one or more of these needs, and the Dwarves have been forced to become a thrifty, practical people who never let anything go to waste. This has made them come off as a cold and uncaring race to many from the overworld, particularly because of their treatment of their dead. Rather than bury their dead, which would cause a terrible stench and take up a lot of space which is of much greater concern when almost all living areas must be carved out, Dwarves typically use their dead as fertilizer for the small plots of land with soft soil capable of growing plants. Only great heroes or the very wealthy ever see the inside of a tomb.
Unlike the overworld, there is little fertile ground deep in the chasms. Some areas near natural springs or rivers can grow varieties of small plants, but the land is often deficient and must be cultivated. Even poor land like this can sell for a premium and its ownership is generally a sign of immense wealth. Other sources of food include the mosses, algae, and fungus which occur naturally in many caves, insects, which are often grown in large quantities on bug farms, and what have come to be known as Goblin sprouts. It is well known that Goblin grow in damp areas underground, maturing for several months before crawling out of their cocoon-like sacs as nearly fully grown Goblins. From these sacs extend mossy tendrils which collect nutrients from the surrounding area. Dwarves long ago discovered that this mossy and the small mushroom-like sprouts which often accompany them are both delicious and nutritious. Harvesting the sprouts also has the side effect of killing the unborn Goblin, which helps to keep the Goblin population in check: an added bonus for the Dwarves who have fought many hard and bitter wars against their subterranean rivals. Some Dwarves (typically Hulvorin from the more isolated cities) have taken these eating habits further and actually allow the young Goblins to sprouts so they can be killed and eaten. Though many Dwarves disagree with this practice, one can not argue against the practice on nutritional terms as these Dwarves seem to be as healthy, if not more so, than the rest of their race.
The Dwarven realm – known as The Great Darkness, or The Black to many – is anything but unified, divided both by geography and familial bonds. There are many independent City-states, each comprised of numerous Clans. Some of the larger Clans, in fact, have members in several different cities. Things become even more complicated when one also considers that there are many Guilds as well which have operations in most of the cities but which are largely independent (at least in theory) of both the control of the city governments and Clan laws.
Each city has its own form of government, but it is usually some sort of Counsel comprised of the major Clan heads. Officials may be elected or chosen through familial hierarchy, but it is well known that the Guilds often play a large yet unseen role in who rules in any given city. Some have even suggested that it is the Guilds who actually rule the whole of The Black, but these are generally considered unsubstantiated rumors. Regardless, with the wide variety of the styles of rule, it is suggested that travelers fully explore their rights and expectations before staying too long in a Dwarven city.