dwarves Species in Scarterra | World Anvil


Physiologically, Scarterran dwarves are essentially the same as traditional D&D dwarves. They average between four feet and four and a half feet tall, and they tend to be quite broad so the average dwarf weighs about as much as the average human.   Some dwarfs travel far from home, and sometimes dwarf couples have children abroad, but the overwhelming majority of dwarves hail from Meckelorn, Stahlheim, or Mondert.   While the three dwarf groups are culturally distinct they hold some cultural traits in common. They value family and clan ties and practice filial piety. They value martial prowess and hard work. They value honor. Males tend to favor long beards.   A relatively small enclave of dwarves lives in Penarchia. Wheras the Meckelorners, Stahlheimers, and Mondarians have a common history and culture of sorts, the Penarchian dwarves are culturally distinct. The only other dwarves they have any limited contact are the Mondarians.

Civilization and Culture


Origin from the Great Stone: Nearly all Dwarves agree they were formed out of stone and given life by Hallisan though opinions differ on what purpose Hallisan had in mind. The most common story told by Dwarves is that Hallisan saw the Second Unmaking coming and wanted a race to staunchly defend the mountains and the underground realms.   A lot of non-dwarves state that if Hallisan saw the Second Unmaking coming, he should have done a lot more. While they certainly believe defending the mineral wealth of the world from threats was a factor, Hallisan probably just wanted a race close to his ideals. Almost every one of the Nine  had created a paragon race of worshiper for themselves by this point in history except for Hallisan.   The Great Stone is the central holy relic to dwarf culture and religion. The Great Stone is believed to be the very rock that the first dwarves emerged from. Not only does the Great Stone have religious and symbolic significant, but it also amplifies divine spell casting nearby. More importantly it greatly increases the fertility of underground fungi and plants within miles, making the area around the Great Stone the most habitable place underground.   Second Age History: A few elves took offense at this new race of "demi-elves" emerging, but elves were never especially fond of mountains but by that point, the elven kingdoms would covetously hold onto any land they could. The elves had the numbers to utterly crush the upstart dwarves, but when the dwarves emerged the elves were already in decline.   Hallisan was not the most commonly worshiped of the Nine by the Second Age elves, but he had some followers who were able to run interference on behalf of the dwarfs. Relationships between the newly emerged dwarves and the nearest elven nations were rough but they managed to at least avoid full scale war. The dwarves claimed much of the land around the Great Stone and christened their new nation Meckelorn.     Surviving the Second Unmaking: The dwarves were expecting a full scale attack by the elves and had been building up fortifications and stockpiling food and weapons. While the elves never invaded, the dwarves war preparations helped them against The Void Demons. Nevertheless, The Void Demons brought low many older stronger nations than Meckelorn. The dwarves suffered great losses.   Meckelorn survived largely because Hallisan intervened. All the Nine intervened where and when they could to help mortals that found their favor but they couldn’t save everyone. Hallisan bent nearly all his effort towards helping the dwarven people. Many dwarf favored souls were born at this time and many spirit minions of Hallisan arrived to reinforce the dwarves’ defenses.   Hallisan worship was far more common among Second Age elves than among Third Age elves. Some elven historians believe that the precipitous drop in Hallisan worship among modern elves is because Hallisan left his non-dwarven worshipers to fend for themselves. This is not something they usually have the guts to say around any Guardians .   Dwarf historians estimate over half of the dwarf population died during the Second Unmaking. While the loss was horrific, the dwarfs emerged from the Second Unmaking with proportionally fewer losses than nearly every other mortal race. Not only this, but their royal line was unbroken and most of the clan leadership was intact so the dwarfs did not have to reinvent their governments the way the surviving elves did.   Meckelorn had little contact with the Penarchian dwarves to begin with. During and after the Second Unmaking, what little communication they had dissappeared and the two dwarf enclaves both assumed the other group died off entirely and then they were mostly forgotten.     Early Third Age History: Meckelorn rebuilt its structures and population as the newly arrived humans debuted. Relationships between Meckelorn and the emerging human nations were peaceful, but not very warm. Relations with the wood elves of Codenya were even frostier but at the very least the two groups understood the others desire for privacy and isolation.   As Meckelorn grew to an even larger population than they had before the Unmaking, they began trading with humans even establishing a small colony in the southern mountains of West Colassia to help facilitate this. This colony was known as Stahlheim.   The Rule of Krnnic the Brash: Meckelorn’s kings were generally wise and fair until a greedy dwarf known as Kronnic the Brash, ascended to the throne. Kronnic was disliked both within and without his own nation. He raised taxes greatly and wasted money on selfish pursuits. He threatened war with neighboring nations over the slightest provocations.   Many of his subjects wanted to crown his much more level-headed younger brother, Monderious. Mondarious refused stating that to break the rules of succession would irreparably harm the Dwarf people for centuries to come. Despite his public refusal, Monderious faced at least one nearly successful assassination attempt believed to be the work of his jealous brother.   Monderious chose self-exile. He left with a small contingent of core supporters. The exiles sailed Scarterra for over ten years before settling on a chain of volcanic islands and befriending the local tribes of humans there eventually formalizing their friendship into the joint human-dwarven nation of Mondert. Monderious’ people then essentially removed themselves from dwarven history. It wasn’t until centuries later that anyone in Meckelorn was even aware that Mondarious’ exiles had survived, much less formed a new nation.   Meckelorn declined under the leadership of Kronnic. His son was if anything worse eventually being murdered with poison in his ale. Officially he was killed by a goblin assassin but many speculate that one of his own subjects likely did the deed. Kronnic’s grandson Arrarin took the throne but not come of age yet. The young monarch was ill prepared to face the challenges to come. He was not ready for Mordock.   Mordock the Scourge of Dwarves: Mordock was both a half-orc warrior and a sorcerer who managed to use flattery, bribery, intimidation and naked force to unite most of the orc and human barbarian tribes of West Colassia under his banner. In addition to these warriors, Mordock is said to have won the loyalty of three dragons and even rode a dragon into battle. Mordock’s army also included goblins and Giants. His coalition conquered the tiny northern nations of humanity and then turned his sights on Meckelorn .   Mordock is said to have had Greymoria's blessing. Whether or not he truly had her blessing, Greymoria had nursed a grudge against the dwarven people since their inception for shunning her and for shunning arcane magic. Greymoria created the derro to plague the dwarves and chose the moment of Mordock’s attack to unleash them. Whether or not Mordock actually conspired with the derro directly, the derro did choose (or were ordered) to strike at Meckelorn en masse from below while Mordock’s army attacked them from outside.   A combination of war casualties and assassinations left most of the royal family dead. Meckelorn ended with a contested throne between two shirttail relatives of the pre-war king. The contention had more to do with policies than bloodlines.   One royal contender, wanted to liberate Meckelorn as soon as possible and regrouped militant survivors in minor fortresses that were once on the frontier of Meckelorn. They began a guerrilla war campaign to reclaim the Great Stone and the surrounding areas.   The other royal contender wanted to rebuild for several years elsewhere then attack once total victory could be assured. He and his followers took refuge in the formerly unimportant colony of Stahlheim . Effectively this created two dwarven nations: Meckelorn and Stahlheim.   Liberation of the Great Stone into Today: Meckelorn’s declined slowly while Stahlheim’s population swelled, much to the consternation of all dwarves, Mordock died peacefully in his sleep at a ripe old age. Mordock’s grand alliance did not survive long past his death and the Meckelorn dwarves were able to slowly take their lands back bit by bit though losses continued. Once they had a sizable portion of their original kingdom back, Meckelorn stopped shrinking and managed to stabilize despite their continuing losses.   Much of Mecklorn’s continuing war losses were in failed attempts to liberate the Great Stone. At one point while Meckelorn’s army was licking their wounds from a particularly bloody failure, Stahlheim finally mobilized an offensive army and managed to recapture the Great Stone. The dwarves of Meckelorn wanted to reestablish their capital around the Great Stone, but Stahlheim refused to yield it. The two dwarven nations faced the prospect of war over their holiest site.   Stahlheim had the larger population and greater riches, but Meckelorn was geographically right on the Great Stone’s doorstep, so they wouldn't have to march their soldiers hundreds of miles to the objective. Due to the intervention of nearly every dwarf priest representing most of the Nine, the dwarves agreed not to profane the Great Stone with dwarfs shedding dwarf blood.   The Great Stone and the temple around it was declared its own nation, at least on paper. Neither Stahlheim or Meckelorn technically have jurisdiction over the Great Stone. Meckelorn agreed to give Stahlheim pilgrims (and the rare Monderian pilgrims) full access to the Temple of the Great Stone. Both nations would contribute soldiers to guard it.   The agreement is in place, but Stahlheimers and Mecklorners do not get along particularly well. While it’s very rare for Stahlheimers and Meckelorners to fight beyond the scale of a bar brawl, relations between Dwarves of the two nations are…frosty. They are still bitter about the divide of control over the Great Stone today. The Meckelorn Dwarves detest that the Stahlheimers ran away for centuries then came back at the last minute to claim the spoils of victory. The Stahlheimers look down on the Meckelorn Dwarves for needlessly throwing away Dwarven lives to fight for every inch of land rather than retreat and regroup. In their view, the Stahlheimers won the Meckelorners’ war for them, then the ingrates tried to muscle them out.   Many humans quietly joke that Stahlhemiers and Meckelorners hate each other because they are so alike. Culturally separated by thousands of miles and thousands of years, Mondarian dwarves are very different from their cousins in Western Colassia. Paradoxically though, they tend to get along well with their distant cousins. It is so rare for a Mondarian to visit the dwarf homelands or a mainlander dwarf to sail to Mondert that such meetings are cause for a celebration not suspicion.   Organization of the three dwarven Nations: It is widely held that Meckelorn is where traditional dwarves hail from, Stahlheim has picked up a small number of human practices and Mondert has picked up a lot of human practices. Meckelorn is very isolationist and is generally unwelcome to non-dwarf visitors, even if they bear valuable goods for trade. Stahlheim doesn’t let in many non-dwarf permanent residents but they rely on trade. They rely on nearby human nations to provide most of their food in exchange for metal goods. Mondert is a joint human-dwarven nation with humans and dwarves integrated together at every level of society.   Mecelorners are especially fond of fighting warhammer and battle axes. Some Stahlheimers favor warhammers and axes but many utilize swords and polearms when they feel they are more advantageous. Monderian dwarves find warhammer and battle axes inconvenient for their canoes. In fact the biggest thing separating Monderian dwarves from their cousins is their love of the sea. All three Dwarf kingdoms are headed by kings, the crown always passing to the eldest direct male heir. Meckelorn has a feudal system its lands are divided into lands ruled by hereditary Lords who all pledge fealty to the king.   Stahlheim also has a king, but below him are guild heads rather than feudal lords. Land parcels are held by families which sometimes but not always overlaps with guilds. Stahlheim’s king wields less absolute power than Meckelorn and he has to occasionally bend to the wealthier guild leaders. Monderia’s king is expected to lead his people in times of war, but he is mostly a ceremonial figure in times of peace. The Moderian clan elders run most of the day-to-day operations of the small nation. Also the Mondarians have a second human king, as human council of elders that is considered parallel and equal to the dwarf king and dwarf council.     Religion: Most dwarves view Hallisan as their preeminent deity, very few dwarves refuse to worship Hallisan entirely. Mecklorn Dwarves venerate the other deities but not very deeply. It’s not common to see many priests dedicated to gods other than Hallisan. Stahlheim has a plurality of Hallisan priests, but Phidas, Khemra, and Mera has a fair number of Stahlheim priests. Monderian Dwarves venerate Mera and Hallisan on equal footing with Korus close behind.     Dwarf Outsiders: Dwarves who do not fit in well with their own people for whatever reason find that they can find work as soldiers, adventurers stonemasons, smiths, engineers, or mining supervisors almost anywhere, so oddball Dwarves show up working for humans or other races around the world. Not every dwarf you see outside their homelands is an outsider or an outlaw. Many choose to work a few decades in non-dwarven lands to make their fortunes, then they return to their homelands with all the wealth they saved. This is a common practice for single men to gain wealth to attract a good match at home.   While not removed from dwarf society entirely, Stahlheim and Mecklorn herdsmen and the military scouts their culture periodically breeds are considered mavericks by their own people even though the service they provide is invaluable, providing both food and defense. To be fair though, a lot of dwarves who choose these professions find their own society somewhat stifling and choose to live primarily in the wilderness for the relative freedom it provides.   Both Penarchia and East Colassia have extensive mineral rich mountain ranges with no dwarf settlements. A lot of dwarfs think there should be dwarves in every mountain range on Scarterras but relatively few dwarves are volunteering to be part of a mass emigration movement. They still have not recovered their population loss since the time of Mordock.
Dwarf Character Creation Rules   Stalwart: -1 difficulty on all non-magical Stamina rolls apart from soak rolls, minimum difficulty 3. Dwarves receive an extra Bruised health level. Strength is treated as one point higher for the purpose of encumbrance and carrying capacity.   Stable: +1 difficulty for enemies to trip or grapple a Dwarf, maximum difficulty 10.   Magic Resistance: +1 bonus die when resisting magical attacks against the mind, including fear causing effects.   Stone Sense: -1 all Crafts difficulties when working with or appraising metal or stone. -1 difficulty for detecting for avoiding natural hazards or man made traps stemming from stone and earth.   Dour: +1 difficulty all non-magical Charisma rolls with nondwarfs   -8 freebie points   For additional tips and guidelines for making and playing a dwarf PC, check out So you want to play a dwarf?

Do Scarterran dwarf women have beards?

  No, at least not significantly more than bearded human women. With all my respects to JR Tolkien, I am not a fan of bearded dwarf ladies.

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Cover image: Cregor Redshaft by Eron12 with Hero Forge


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