Shield Dwarf Ethnicity in Faerûn | World Anvil

Shield Dwarf

Shield dwarves are the most populous of the dwarves in central, western, and northern Faerûn. Descending from the old empire of Shanatar, many of their ancient empires have since fallen to their enemies. Many of the modern shield dwarves live in (relatively) smaller fortresses, holding on thanks to their sheer stubbornness and refusal to give one inch. They have lived in a near-constant state of war for generations, causing them to be slow to trust, and excellent fighters.

Shield dwarves trace their history back to Taark Shanat, third son of the ruling clan of Bhaerynden. Also known as "the Crusader", he led a great migration of dwarves to the west, where they fought great battles beneath the surface. During one of these battles, Taark Shanat slew four blue dragons. The skulls of the dragons would be made into the Wyrmskull Throne by one of the dwarven gods, and the kingdom of Alatorin was founded beneath the Lands of Intrigue. This marked the First Great Age of Shanatar, and the eight sons of Taark Shanat would set out on their own to found their own kingdoms. These kingdoms eventually began warring against each other, and the empire of Shanatar would grow and contract over the millennia. However, it would slowly decline, eventually collapsing in around -1,800 DR.

Due to the long decline of shield dwarf kingdoms, they have a reputation for dourness and cynicism. This can be deserved, but shield dwarves rarely succumb to fatalism. They can be incredibly stubborn, refusing to give an inch unless there is absolutely no other alternative. However, shield dwarves can be trusted to keep their word, and are surprisingly quick to befriend other races.

Traditionally, shield dwarf society has been based around clans and class. Children are expected to learn trades as an apprentice as they near maturity, and book learning is common. Clan elders oversee the upbringing of children, but this aspect of society has diminished in favour of the immediate family over the past two centuries. Upon coming of age, adult shield dwarves are expected to support themselves and their family, as well as bringing honour and riches to their clan. In older age, shield dwarves are afforded great respect by their clan. In death, solemn funerals are held, with great tombs constructed for the most venerated of shield dwarves.

Shield dwarf architecture is renowned throughout Faerûn, as shield dwarf artisans build structures sturdy and to last. Many dwarf strongholds are several thousand years old, but are still capable of resisting attack. Their craft tends to be more utilitarian than their gold dwarf cousins, who prefer more artistic flourishes and gilding in their work. Shield dwarves also operate many of the mines across Faerûn, and they provide much of the metal of the surface world.

Shield dwarf society has long been divided between two camps - the Hidden and the Wanderers. The Hidden strongly believe in an isolationist policy, where they hide themselves away from the rest of the world and its dangers. The Wanderers believe that shield dwarves should instead go out into the world, and have created many enclaves in the surface cities populated by other races.

Centuries of warfare against orcs, goblins, and monsters has created a strong militarism within shield dwarf society. Every dwarf is trained in the weapons and armour of their people, especially hammers and axes. Shield dwarves are heavily armoured, with their extensive mines allowing them to produce metal armour in greater amounts and at lower cost than other races. Although expensive, shield dwarves have a particular fondness for arms and armour made of mithral.

Shield dwarves share a bond with their gold dwarf cousins, but regard the perceived arrogance of gold dwarves as naive. They have a particular hatred for duergar, who destroyed the old shield dwarf empire of Shanatar thousands of years ago. Humans are well-liked by shield dwarves, and many wandering dwarves find themselves desired as master smiths or crafters by human settlements. Elves, on the other hand, have a more rocky relationship with shield dwarves. Centuries of squabbling has led to a more dim view of each other, but they readily put aside their differences in times of crisis.
Encompassed species
Related Locations
Ability Scores: Con +2; Str +2
Size: Medium
Speed: 25 ft.
Natural Sprinters. Your speed is not reduced by wearing heavy armor.
Darkvision. Accustomed to life underground, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Dwarven Resilience. You have advantage on saving throws against poison, and you have resistance against poison damage.
Dwarven Combat Training. You have proficiency with the battleaxe, handaxe, light hammer, and warhammer.
Tool Proficiency. You gain proficiency with the artisan's tools of your choice: Smith's tools, brewer's supplies, or mason's tools.
Stonecunning. Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to the origin of stonework, you are considered proficient in the History skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Dwarvish.
Dwarven Armor Training. You have proficiency with light and medium armor.

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