To live as they live, to see the world through their eyes... I cannot imagine the misery of it. To the Duergar, nothing is sacred but their horrible god. To the Duergar, there is no beauty but iron, suffering and flame. To the Duergar, no one is deserving of respect and kindness, instead cruelty or supplication are all they can offer. Each one of them is a blight I intend on erasing and I couldn't be more happy to do it.
The culture of the Duergar is divergent from that of their dwarven kin that they seem almost alien by comparison. Their beliefs and cultural cornerstones all originate from the Castigators' Guild of Ghal Ankhar. This organization's purpose was to manage the punishment of criminals and manning of the prisons. Often known as the Drudgers, these dwarves were stern, dour and deaf to the pleas of those they incarcerated. Yet, it was not their grim work that earned them exile from the mountain homes of the Ankhar Mountains but rather their treacherous alliance with The Autumn Queen and the armies of her Shadow Court. When their gambit failed and they found themselves on the losing side of the Fae war the dwarves mercifully chose to exile their kin rather than execute them. Many historians suspect there was more to their motive than mercy though. It's believed that the Castigators had allies in the other guilds, clans and even the King's court and exile was the bargain struck in exchange for silence. Whatever the case, this decision is what led to the birth of the Duergar and their culture.
Further deviations arose as the the Duergar established themselves in the Ash Plains of Cinderstone. The unforgiving environment had punishing effects on their anatomy, survival became an uncertainty and only through struggle and supplication to their new god, Ephias would they be spared. Life became a particularly cheap commodity to them and only by pleasing your superiors could you buy yourself another day. Early Duergar culture took this very literally, relying on the strongest of their people to protect the rest and scour away those unfit for survival. As time went on and Cinderstone's infrastructure evolved so did the culture. Daily survival became more of a guarantee so long as the theocratic tenants of the Chain Maker's cult were adhered to.
Much of Duergar culture was engineered by Ephias and his cult with the goal being to feed more and more zealous veneration to the Chain Maker. The Queen's Rebuke made Ephias' connection to Tairos exceptionally tenuous and only grand acts of devotion would be enough to anchor him here. To that end the Duergar became a very pious, superstitious and intolerant people. Each and every good fortune that befalls them is a blessing from their god and every slight against the Chain Maker and his chosen was seen as nothing less than a heretical declaration.
Today, the culture of the Duergar people is a surprisingly well defined social hierarchy despite the outwardly simply appearance of being theocratic state of slavers and diabolists. Church rankings, caste-like duties, divine providence and demonstrations of faith all factor into the identity of members of Duergar society.
Common Examples- Mognae, Tumabel, Ephiasa, Grulda, Ghalyn
Common Examples- Ephiasion, Lundour, Marshrak, Xandrokhar, Khestan
Common Examples- Ghedd, Hagnir, Khel, Zhakhar, Maul, Orlok and Xhundrhakam
Major language groups and dialects
All Duergar speak an offshoot dialect of traditional dwarven that has deviated considerably since their exile. This language acts as their common, day-to-day tongue. Many in the Cult of the Chain Maker speak with each other using Balespeech , the language of their god.
Shared customary codes and values
Faithful worship of Ephias, demonstrations of dominance, obedience to one's superiors
Average technological level
Duergar technological advances are similar to those of their dwarven kin though because of a lack of access to durable metal deposits their creations are less durable then those of Ghal Ankhar. They make up for this with their demon harvesting forge technique known as Hellforging. Their armor, weapons and war machines have strange, diabolic traits that make up for their fragility with overwhelming magical aggression.
Common Etiquette rules
Acknowledgment of the superior station of other Duergar is a must and most greetings are made with reference to Ephias' glory, bounty, wisdom or beneficence in some way. Any denigration of Ephias is expected to be punished or reported to the priests. Many simple greetings do exist such as "Hallowed are the chains that bind", "Blessed are his chains", "By flame are we made pure" and the more casual "Cinders, ash, embers and chain." (in reference to the symbols of Ephias).
Common Dress code
Duergar are often said to prefer only drab grey and black but this is by necessity rather than preference. Emberweed can be woven into clothing and in fact this is what most of their garments are made of but it is always some chromatic hue. Color is actually especially prized, especially orange, red and yellow which the priesthood use to make their holy regalia. These colors come from the saps and flowers of spindle plants when they can be found in bloom. Otherwise, blood is a frequent alternative.
Funerary and Memorial customs
Fire is the preferred means of funerary honors. The Duergar believe the ash and bone embers that are picked up on the wind are in fact joining with the breathe of their god and becoming one with the land. While most are simply burnt on funeral pyres the most honored among their people are blessed and then lowered into the caldera of Mount Chardoran.
Many believe that the Duergar only see beauty in suffering and religious supplication but this is a very narrow view held by their enemies. In truth the Duergar find beauty in a great many things. Like their kin they find the deep places in the earth to be beautiful. Cinderstone has few of the subterranean wonders that the Ankharan mountains possessed so there is a yearning/aching/longing nature to the beauty they see in such places.
Most believe they shun art but this is simply not true. Duergar art is deeply religious and depicts representations of their god, their bitter exile and the chains by which they bind lesser races. Demonstrations of dominance are as beautiful to them as a moving poem might be to others.
Physical beauty ideals are more in line with those of other races and their own dwarven origins. Pale skin, well kept hair/beard and pleasing physical features are all things that draw their attention. Along with that tattooing, branding and scarification are as beautiful to others as they are meaningful for the one Duergar who bares them. These markings generally have religious significance but will often just display loyalties to a house, prowess in battle, war machines forged or slaves owned.
Duergar have no particular expectations placed on males or females. Both are expected to play their part in Ephias' grand plan. Both are expected to take part in growing the race and birthing healthy new Duergar.
While some couplings are arranged by the priests of the Chain Maker to ensure strong Duergar births most are left in the hands of individuals. Duergar courtships involve suitors presenting their potential mate with objects of beauty which are rare in the Ash Plains. This may involve finding Spindle Plants or Emberweeds that are in bloom, the rare black diamonds and volcanic glass formations. Duergar with slaves will often grant their finest servant to their potential mate or will dedicate a ritual sacrifice in their name.