Once a dominating and singular force beneath the mountains of Cairne, the dwarven people were fractured and changed when the Blight hit. These sturdy folk once lived exclusively in a subterranean kingdom that spanned vast distances, securing their dominion in the underground realms. They are fierce and strong by nature, with a shrewd intelligence that makes them remarkably efficient craftspeople and negotiators. Since the division of the dwarven people, they have gone on to dominate not only the depths of the world, but the skies as well.
The dwarves remain short in stature, and generally stocky, though over the years there have been many variances in this. The Culvarkt dwarves have become physically less reliant on their strength of arms and as such, living in the mountain peaks in one of the few locations where sun and fresh air are bountiful, they have become slimmer and more refined in their general appearance, adopting many of the beauty standards from their human allies. The Fouvienians, on the other hand, have endured centuries of unending war and hardship below the surface of Cairne, and remain the larger of the two factions physically.
Genetics and Reproduction
Dwarven reproduction follows most mammalian standards. Gestation lasts generally around twelve months and dwarven families tend to only bear a single child at a time, though there are rare cases of twins being born occasionally.
Growth Rate & Stages
A dwarven child matures into sufficient ambulatory and cognitive function usually by about five years, able to walk, speak, and manipulate most fine motor skills by this age. The child will continue to grow reaching puberty at around twenty to twenty five, and finally adult hood generally around forty. The males will begin to exhibit signs of beard growth as early as fifteen years.
Ecology and Habitats
Dwarves are resilient creatures and able to endure many extremes that would cause a great deal of discomfort to other species such as humans or elves. While they generally, as a rule prefer dry and cool climates, they are not terribly bothered by the cold. High levels of humidity and extreme heat does tend to weigh heavily on their stout frames however, and if possible, a dwarf will not settle in such a location if it can at all be avoided.
Dietary Needs and Habits
The primary diet of the dwarven people is a wide variety of fungus. While the dwarves that remain underground maintain large crops of the staples known to their people for centuries before the Blight, many strains have been either wiped out or corrupted to the point of becoming inedible. This has caused a tremendous decline in the variety of foods available to them but in turn has caused a remarkable boom in the manners in which they are prepared. The Culvarkt dwarves of the mountains on the other hand, have significantly expanded their diets with the freedom the locations of their cities and more importantly, House Skealt have provided. Their diets have expanded to include many grains and other tubers as well, potatoes becoming very popular among their society.
As a rule, dwarves tend to be isolationists. Their long lives and even longer memories causing them to hold some small degree of contempt for other species, and even among the divisions of their own people. While this remains an underlying aspect of both cultures, if does not stop them from working with other species and even enjoying friendships with them. Time has proven that the new world that has grown up since the Blight has little space for those who seek to forge their own path, and the dwarves, as stubborn as they may be, are intelligent and wise enough to understand this.
Dwarves are, if anything, loyal and dedicated to one another, which is what made the split into two factions such a painful experience for both, each feeling as though the other had betrayed them. They generally form into small families which remain paired for life barring any mishaps or acts of infidelity, and are very wary of showing emotional attachments in public, preferring such things to remain within the home. They generally have a rigid structure of governance, preferring the unified direction it brings to a group dynamic whether it be in a small traveling group or their society at large. They will adhere to this until the situation demands otherwise, or a source of greater authority comes to bear. Outwardly, the dwarves of both cultures generally appear closed off and in some cases, even unfriendly or rude, but this is just their way, and they do not see their outward behavior as such. Within their own culture, dwarves do not believe in lying or masking the truth to save the feelings of others, seeing that as inefficient and dishonest. They view acting in a way that does not hold the truth as the higher protocol as an insult to the person they are interacting with in fact, and are often confused by other species reactions to their attempts to show respect by offering unfettered honesty.
Dwarven facial structures generally contain broad features but vary a great deal in this. The males still take a great deal of pride in their facial hair, the Fouvenians preferring to wear their beard long and ornamented with braids, beads, and other accoutrements, while the Culvarkt have taken to wearing theirs more closely groomed to the face, mostly due to the influence of their human allies.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
Above and below the God's Teeth Mountain range are the primary settlements of the Culvarkt and Fouvienian dwarves respectively.
Dwarves are remarkably intelligent, and able to master many skills in their lifetimes.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Dwarves have extremely keen vision born of generations living underground and have impeccable Void Sight.
Civilization and Culture
There is little differential treatment between genders among the dwarves. Men and women are viewed as equals and able to maintain and engage in any task or position within the two existing societies.
Dwarves are one of the oldest species on Cairne, and one of the first to gain technological aptitude as well. Within their subterranean home they hosted a wide variety of wonders and marvels of engineering long before humans had even emerged from their caves and simple huts. The chosen people of Zevrhan , the dwarves have many stories of their revered god walking among them in those early years, building and excavating, and teaching them the secrets of stone and steel. Over time they developed powerful methods of not only manipulating the raw materials of their domain with tools, but how to directly affect them utilizing powerful magical means and techniques. These lost secrets allowed them to bend and shape the elements below the surface to their will, even calling them forth from the ground itself to be shaped and turned into magnificent structures of unimaginable detail and beauty. Their sprawling Kingdom of Underhome continued to expand as the centuries progress, the dwarves content to live in relative peace below the ground until eventually the expansion of the other species left no option but to interact with one another. The interactions with the other cultures left little influence on the dwarves cuturally, but did offer a great deal of opportunity for the growth of wealth and power through trade and sharing certain secrets. To this end, the elves installed am embassy in Underhome not far from the capitol of Grundhome where it is believed that the sibling gods of the two species met from time to time to discuss the futures of their people. These interactions brought a loose union of the two and resulted in an underground expansion of tunnels that led below the Gaul Do Shah forests and were deemed to be a joint territory that would allow their alliance to grow through trade and easier interactions. Not far behind them were the humans and The Sovereign Empire of the Bechtlarites , eager to expand their own reach and power through their newly established and rapidly growing dominion over the vast majority of the lands above. While the dwarves initially wrote off the short lived humans as an investment they believed would not return enough to warrant much of their attention, the human empire was persistent, and the further their reach of power extended, the harder it became to ignore their impact upon the world. Based upon their observations and the innovative and powerful technologies they had begun to develop, the dwarves found their interest in them changing from indifference to wonder, and in time, the developments of the humans came to rival many of those the dwarves were capable of. This realization led to trade deals and alliances being formed as all three of these Empires joined together in a union of trade and mutual peace. When the Seanachaisian Empire became a primary concern for their human allies, the dwarves paid it little mind, having had very little dealings with the Seanachaisians themselves, and seeing them as no real threat. The dwarves honored their agreements with their allies and joined the blockade around the Isle of Seanachai and even lent a significant force to defend the human naval deployment and to bolster the ranks of gathering mages and priests that the human Sovereign was amassing for a final offensive aimed at the island nation. The dwarves had no idea what was to come, though the matter had been discussed loosely. It was later discovered that the conspirators that manipulated the Sovereign has advised against his sharing the details of his plan for fear that the other allies in the endeavor might seek to undermine his authority and sabotage his efforts. The dwarves were caught completely off guard when the Blight hit. Their forces sent to reinforce the human efforts wiped out in a single stroke left them venerable to the black chaos that ravaged their kingdom below. Spilling in through the tunnels below the Gaul Do Shah lands and completely engulfing the caverns below the sea floor, the subterranean realms were overrun quickly and with tremendous violence and brutality. While the sturdy dwarves fought hard, they were outmatched by these new enemies that seemed to spill forth from darkness itself as though part of it. Many of their weapons were powerless against them, and thousands perished as the onslaught of shadows and horror spilled further and further into their domain. The dwarves numbers dwindled more and more with each passing day as they were slowly pushed back to their capitol, Grundhome. It was here that the last of the line of the great dwarven kings, Braun Grundhome fell, causing the remaining defensive line of warriors to shatter and retreat in a chaotic panic as the darkness of the Void overtook the location. The largest contingent of those that remained fell back to Harker's Quarry, a small digsite where they dug in and fought back with a tenacity that earned them their first small victory. As the dust settled and the battered warriors reinforced their location, desperately trying to prepare before the next attempted advance by the Blight Born horrors that had overtaken their home, Low Commander, Arguus Fouvienius, and his cousin, Jonathon Culvarkt began to argue over the future of their people. Jonathon seeing any attempts at holding their position and attempting to fight back an exercise in futility, and one that would end with the extermination of their entire species. Arguus on the other hand, saw it as their duty to hold the line and to push back. He saw their efforts here as a defense of not only their people, but those above and the world as a whole as well, understanding that, were they to fall here, nothing would stand in the way of the onslaught moving unhindered through their vast kingdom and using it as a staging ground to destroy all life above. .Neither of them at the time had any idea of the severity of what had happened, as no communication was possible at the time. Their heated argument was based on speculation, assumption, and fear for the well being of their people and the rest of Cairne. These heated disagreements led to the schism that separated the dwarven people into two factions, Jonathon taking those that would follow into the tops of the The God's Teeth Mountains to start over, and Arguus carrying on, refusing to yield to the Void. The rift still carries with it a great deal of disdain for one another, but as the cataclysm settled and the world began to rebuild, both found little reason to pursue further conflict and damage to their people. This ideal was further reinforced by the quick thinking and persuasive ways of the Hiversteadian Commander Chief who settled at the base of the mountain, Jorgan Panuk an ally to both factions, who grew weary of their bickering and forced the both to sign a treaty that guaranteed peace between the two.
While the Fouvienians remains stocky and muscular due to the lives they maintain, the Culvarkt have grown more lean and refined in their appearance.