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The Stout Folk

The tight-lipped miners, craftsman, and warriors rule the Giantshield Mountains from their mighty fortress-cities. The dwarfs have a reputation for a cold and hostile demeanor, but the loyalty of a dwarf (once earned) cannot be quickly broken, nor can their implacable valor. From the rocky peaks, they shirk most of the ways of men, including their magic and deities. Their nearly-theocratic society is based almost entirely around the teachings of the Ironbender. The Ironbender himself is a stern warrior-god who created the dwarfs and brings fire to all the world’s forges. Their strict adherence to their own pantheon has not made them particularly popular among other races, nor has it done much to improve their tolerance of others.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

  • Examples of male names include: Adrik, Boot, Dworic, Eberk, Fargrim, Gilthur, Grog, Harbek, Kildrak, Morn, Orsik, Rangrim, Tordek, Ulfgar, and Vondal.
  • Examples of female names include: Baerdryn, Diesa, Eldeth, Falthra, Gilyd, Helja, Ilde, Kathra, Kristryd, Moranna, Ovina, Riswyn, Tordrid, Vistra, and Werwyd.
  • Dwarven surnames are typically composed of two words partial to their culture. The prefix-word is their greater clan-name, while the suffix-word is the name of the dwarf's immediate family. For instance, Adrik Stoutmead would be born of Clan Stout-, and the son of the -Mead family. He might, for example, have a cousin named Baerdryn Stoutaxe, of the same clan, but a different family.

Major Organizations

The center of dwarven political power is in the Dwarfholds of the Giantshield Mountains. The Dwarfholds are fortress-cities of varying size, typically at least partly subterranean, and ruled by Clan Elders. Each Hold has only one dwarf-clan living within it, but may have dozens or hundreds of families, and outsiders are rarely invited to stay permanently. Dwarf-clans are different from one another in almost every way, save one: their reverence for the Ironbender. The Dwarfholds maintain an almost theocratic-element, with priests of the Ironbender holding considerable political sway.

Beauty Ideals

  • Dwarfs adore gold, cut gemstones, and polished rock. They tend to carve them with intricate geometric patterns, celebrating their skill and craftsmanship as much as the natural beauty of their precious resources.
  • They rarely see beauty in living things; they have an eye for detail that belies any imperfection whatsoever.

Gender Ideals

  • Given the lack of mention of female dwarfs in history, one might assume it is a deeply patriarchal culture, rife with chauvinism. But in reality, the dwarfs are one of the most egalitarian peoples in the Free Kingdoms, mostly due to the fact that male and female dwarfs are indistinguishable, and easily conflated by non-dwarf historians.
  • Females have the same build as males, and grow beards as well. Dwarves don't really distinguish between males and females of the species, and find gender a strange concept. Discrimination is made that much more difficult, leaving dwarfs to rely on deeds and impressions to make judgments.

Courtship Ideals

  • Dwarfs, simply, do not court. They consider it a strange and pretentious ritual, when it is witnessed among other races. Love and romance are basically lost on the dwarfs, and they mate only to procreate.
  • Marriages are almost always arranged by parents and Clan Elders, mostly due to the fact that dwarfs are often unable to tell the men from the women.
  • Attraction is considered strange and rare, and their romantic relationships are expressions of familial loyalty, rather than love between two people.

Major Language Groups and Dialects

  • Dwarven is a runic language that has changed little since its inception. It seems to be related to Giant, although any good dwarf would contest that Dwarven came first. Due to the lack of distinction between male and females dwarfs, their language lacks gendered pronouns.

Culture and Cultural Heritage

  • The greatest cultural virtue among the dwarfs is placing the needs of social units before the needs of oneself. Dwarfs take great pride in their Clans and families, their religion, and any organizations of which they are apart. Honoring them requires diligence and skill in one's duties and a rejection of individualistic thinking.
  • Dwarf society is separated into a caste system, determined by lineage.
    • The highest caste consists of skilled artisans such as blacksmiths, stonemasons, and gemcutters, the oldest and most skilled of which become Clan Elders.
    • Soldiers and clerics make up the middle class.
    • The lower class is composed of miners, laborers, and those who collect food (fungi-collectors, fishermen on underground rivers, etc.)
    • The single lowest caste in society are known as "surface dwarfs", and designate those who work above ground. This includes shepherds who tend to flocks of mountain goats, as well as merchants or emissaries, who are not treated with nearly as much respect as they would be in human society, despite their wealth or prestige.
    • Outside of the Dwarfholds, non-dwarfs are treated as second-class citizens. They are generally not allowed to own property and are denied free access to certain goods and services. Dwarf criminals and exiles are also placed into this caste via banishment.
  • The dwarfs of Thunder Keep have rejected many of the more commanding strictures of their culture.

Common Taboos

  • Shaving one's beard is the greatest single taboo among the dwarfs. Dwarven beards are extremely difficult to cut -- as the legend goes, this is due to the fact that their hair contains strands of precious metal, spun by the Ironbender himself. A shaved beard is a punishment reserved for those who have committed serious offenses against the Clan, usually accompanied by exile. Their beards take decades to grow, and once lost, a dwarf cannot expect to cultivate another beard of similar size or luster in his lifetime.


The dwarfs are the oldest culture that hails originally from the Free Kingdoms. It is said that the Ironbender crafted them from the earth, and first taught them how to shape metal and stone. It is through these secrets that they were able to build the first advanced society in the region, before it was invaded and conquered by the elves of Alphos. Since then, the dwarfs have struggled to reclaim even a vestige of their forgotten glory from their mountain home.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Dwarfs have a disdain for nearly all of the Six Races. They bear their strongest grudge against the elves, for the destruction of their ancestral home. Likewise, they view the orcs as savage and dangerous, and the pastoral Small Folk have yet to earn the respect of the industrious dwarfs. They seem to like men the best, but have no strong love for them. All of the Six Races despise the Goblin-Men, but dwarfs seem to reserve a special hatred for the Fallen Folk. This is probably due to their geographic proximity.

Dwarves reach maturity around 20 years of age, and have lifespans roughly comparable to humans, although they commonly live as long as a century. Their bodies tend not to atrophy at all until around 75 years.
Average Height
Dwarves stand between 4' and 5' tall, with little different between males and females of the species.
Average Weight
Despite their small size, dwarves are quite stocky, and typically weigh between 130 and 180 pounds.

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