"A Rollicking Band of Adventurers We"
Dwarven males are short and wide-shouldered, standing only four feet tall and weighing about 140 Ibs. Female stature is equal to that of their husbands and sons, but they are far less stocky, averaging 100 lbs. Males have full and luxurious beards, and women generally wear their curly hair long and loose whenever possible. The natural lifetime ranges from 100 to 150 years. After two millennia upon Heled, the strong dwarven stock has changed as slowly and deliberately as their mountainous homeland. Dwarves of the hill clan have tan skin, ruddy cheeks, and bright eyes. Their hair is brown, black, or gray, worn in respectable trim around the ears but long and bushy in beards and mustaches. They prefer fur-trimmed sheepskin boots, large meals, and evenings spent around the hearth. Although dwarves have deep, resonant voices, the dwarven men refrain from singing, reciting, or even composing songs and poems. The hill clans were legendary throughout the realm of Heled for their epic verses and haunting choruses before the Demon Wars. Such was their loss when the orcs crawled up from the depths of the earth and ravaged their homeland, they vowed never to compose any art save the art of battle.
Preserving dwarven heritage falls to the women of the clan. Out of respect for slain poets of old, the lineage chants are no longer sung in full, but to remember their ancestors the women are the honored protectors of the original harmonies to which their songs were sung. It is the solemn responsibility of every young girl to learn wordless melodies passed down from mother to daughter, to one day be reunited with beautiful verses recounting the noble history of the children of the mountain. On holy days, when the ancestors are honored priceless clan heirlooms, a silent record of happy days in the past, which are kept by the women of the clan, are brought forth to remind their kinsmen of where they come from. The ancient melodies are intoned flawlessly by crystalline feminine voices and the written family line is read silently. It is a cold heart indeed that is not moved by these aural memories, and it is the only occasion on which a dwarf may weep openly without reproach.
Mountain clans dwell in lofty strongholds carved into the rugged granite heights of the Nordlonde mountains. They have light tawny skin, smooth cheeks, and bright eyes. They prefer elaborately embossed leather and wool clothing in rich fiery hues. Mountain dwarves once were renowned for their unmatched sculpture and architecture. The mountains of Nordlonde are covered with the weathered feats of engineering that the ancestors wrought. Today, their pensive nature is due to collective pride and sorrow for days long past. Until the orc defilers have been entirely uprooted from their sacred home, only warcraft will be perfected by this somber race of warrior poets.
The great halls of the mountain kings today are tended by the noblewomen, who alone study the artifice of their ancestors. They are scholars of art and architecture, writing historiographies and holding colloque to explore the genious of high dwarven civilization. Matriarchs oversee cleaning and restoration of the great halls by dwarven maidens who apprentice in the arts of stonework, smelting, metallurgy, gemcraft, and classic engineering. The construction of new bastions, artillery, armor, and weapons are always overseen by dwarven mistresses who inform and guide warcraft with their command of the old knowledge. Senior matriarchs spend their twilight years as curators of the grandest structures and public works of the old kingdom. When the war is over, and the time for battle has past, they will guide their people to even grander feats than the wonders of antiquity.
Passion: Dwarven tempers can flare like a forge or smolder like embers. Despite their taciturn countenance and yearning for ancient peaceful times, they are passionate folk. They live intensely, with little patience for frivolity. Their work is serious and their play is serious. They are roused by grand battle hymns rife with percussion and deep-bellied horns. But a tender oboe, harp, or pipe can bring them to their knees. A dwarven chorus, on a battlefield or in the mead hall, sings at the top of its lungs.
Comfort: Although dwarves are not greedy, they like their creature comforts. “A good chair may outlast a good friend,” says one dwarven proverb. Their industry and cleverness win for them many comforts and much money. And they indulge themselves. With a lifespan that exceeds a century, dwarves are natural-born collectors. They ornament their dwellings with weapons,tapestries of memorable victories, and trophies of war. Hard work: Dwarven children learn about responsibility at a young age. This training in self-discipline takes years, with responsibility building incrementally. Work becomes instinctual, and therefore, is rarely performed with complaints. Dwarves lose themselves in their work for weeks or months until the task is completed, then binge for days to celebrate their success. When dwarves work, they never slack off or delay; they achieve constant, focussed motion. Dwarves never retire; they only take up less strenuous work as they mature.
Isolation: Dwarves tend to be suspicious of races other. They turn inward to their clan or their work rather than outward to the politics and deeds of the world. Dwarves recognize their own sheltered lifestyle; they cherish bittersweet memories of a happier world gone by. Although they exercise great control over their own labors, they see the march of history as something beyond their influence. In the face of international calamities, dwarves often say “these things happen!’ They rarely take setbacks personally, making them tenacious survivors. Dwarves see themselves as Krom and Dirgach’s custodians
All dwarves see better underground than humans do, essentially allowing them to see in dim lit corridors and valleys. Dwarves are the children of the earth. The ancestors’ blood was brewed from the warm blood of the mountain, and their bones were forged conglomerates of chalk and coal. So, their decendents are hardy folk, with bodies tougher than man or elf, but also slower and more deliberate in motion and reflex.
Creation: Before the Warlock Strife, the Elders raised great fortresses on mountain summits above Nordlonde by means arcane. Below the mountain, deep within the earth, the Aesir brothers Krom and Dirgach toiled to fuel the fires of Heled and raise mountains ever higher and higher so that the wind and the rain would not sweep away the fertile valleys and plains upon which the Elders depended. .The sea serpent Jörmungand came to them and told them it had seen a giant sleeping deep below the sea and asked the brothers if they knew him, if he was an Aesir as well, and why did he sleep so deep below the sea?. Krom and Dirgach told the serpent that most of the Aesir are gone, and there are none sleeping below the sea. Jörmungand, said then this giant must be a devil, and is so large it will be hungry when it wakes, and it will come to shore to eat everything upon the land.
So, the brothers set to work crafting the duergar, the first born dwarves, from the most primordial stone and fires of Heled. To these creatures they gave hammers, mattocks, and spades and instructed them to dig their way up to the surface.
“It will be many years before you reach the surface, and so you must dig halls for yourselves and live in them when you are not digging. Teach your children your craft and make more tools from the metals of the earth so that they may dig halls above those you have dug, continue to dig up to the world. When your grandchildren find it, there will be a fat giant there sleeping, for he will have eaten all that lives on Heled. Tell them to forge heavy chains and bind him while he sleeps, then drag him back to us so we may ask him who he is and if he is a devil.”
So the duerger began digging, and dug out the great hall Niðavellir, and above that hall their children dug the great hall Muspellheim, and above that their grandchildren dug Svartálfaheim. The duerger died before their grandchildren had finished their great hall, and had forgotten to tell their children why they were digging. So, their great, grandchildren dug the many halls of Dwarrowheim and from there they broke out onto Midhjard, the western continent. There they met a Nordhring man who asked them where they were going. They responded that they were told by their ancestors to dig up through the earth, but now they have run out of earth to dig. So, the Nordhring asked them why they were to dig up until there was no more earth to dig. The dwarves replied that they did not know, and so they walked back into the earth to find the twin Aesir and tell them they had forgotten why they must dig.
When they arrived in Niðavellir, Krom and Dirgach asked them if they had dug up to the world. The dwarves replied that they did. The Aesir asked them if there was a fat giant sleeping there. The dwarves replied that indeed there was a giant, and indeed he was very fat, but he was not sleeping, he was walking a path. The brothers instructed them to return to the surface and sieze the giant, bind him in strong chains, and march him down to Niðavellir so that they may ask him who he is and if he is a devil. And, so that the dwarves would not forget, Krom and Dirgach told them to chant what they must do over and over until they had finished, and taught them to write in stone, so that their children would also remember what to do when they reached the surface.
They did this and returned to Midhjard, but when they emerged they were very old and the world was dark. They made strong chains and searched for the Nordhring man but could not find him, nor anyone else. They dug more halls above Dwarrowheim and wrote everything that had happened to them in stone. They taught their children to sing songs and instructed them to go out into the world and do as they were told. Their children wandered very far and entered the realm of Aelfheim, where they met the Faerie. They asked the Faerie, “Our parents told us to find a giant who would eat everything in this world and fall asleep. Do you know where we might find him?” To which the Faerie replied, “That was no giant, but a great devil named Dargeshaad, and he would have eaten everything, but a dragon came and ate him instead.”
So, the dwarves returned to their home in the mountain and composed a song recounting everything they had seen, that the giant was named Dargeshaad and he was, in fact, a devil. They returned to Dwarrowheim and sang it as loudly as they could, which echoed deep into the earth. The Aesir heard the song and were satisfied, so they continued to fuel the fires and raise the mountains.