Dwarves, Lords of Stone and Circle
I’m going to get back to some Temir stuff soon, but I realized I’d spent a few wiki updates talking about elves without ever talking about dwarves. These are the dwarves from the meta-setting, and to be honest, they’re a little generic, essentially the kind of Scottish vikings one normally sees in games like Warcraft, with some completely unpronounceable fantasy words. I wrote them eight years ago, and they were a fixture in the setting, but next week we’ll get to the dwarves of the east, who are more interesting.
Dwarves, the short version.
Pun intended. Dwarf actually means “Stone Person” in Dwarven, but the world has taken it to mean “Short person”. Still, they don’t seem to mind. They’re small but strong, a proud people with a long heritage. They have many allies and few enemies, but tend to keep to themselves, mostly due to their reluctance to get involved in other races’ affairs. Dwarves have three bastions of civilization in what the eldest call the New Country. Mattock, fortress on the northern frontier where dwarves and humans have banded together to claim territory from the giants that dwell in Stahlrim. Cea’attille is a city that lies hidden under the Ament mountains in Vedder, guarded from attack by a pact with the human tribes that live around it. The jewel of dwarven engineering though, is the capital of Krakkarakakkaraz, which sits amid the ocean, far to the west of the mainland. The dwarven homeland, Tir’Laoch, which the elves call Albion, has remnants of the dwarves-that-were, but is only home to a few hundred of the stone people.
Dwarven society can be summed up in three words. Duty, family, and circles. Every dwarf has a duty, every dwarf has a family, and dwarves love circles. Seriously. They like circles more than elves like trees. A dwarf lives in circles; his family is a circle, and he owes duty to circles. To dwarves, everything is connected and contained by circles. A dwarf has a duty to his comrades, who fall within an immediate circle. Outside that lies his family, which includes his comrades, and imposes a greater duty. Outside that is clan, then nation, then world, with each including the other. This outlook creates the strong bonds that dwarves are famous for. To betray a true comrade is tantamount to betraying the nation sometimes.
With that in mind, their society unfolds. A dwarf obeys her family elders, her clan elders, her king, and the elders of any other circle she may have joined, such as the circle of mages or the circle militant. Such is the way it’s been for thousands of years. Age doesn’t necessarily beget wisdom, but it does afford a greater understanding of duty.
Dwarven religion is a circle, like most other things in their lives. The gods are ruled by Gohba and Fiachra, brothers who watch each other from opposite sides of the circle, the Forge and Fire. Arrayed around them is their family, each god or goddess with a counterpart. In the centre sits the Mhór Rioghain, sometime queen of the gods, opposed in some way by both Gohba and Fiachra. The circle itself is a god, Cian, who is the father of the two brothers.
Dwarves accept good and evil as necessary parts of a whole, both of them ultimately working to make the world stronger. Good unopposed becomes complacent, and evil unopposed becomes cruel. As such, they embrace and honor their evil gods as much as their good ones. Besides, it’s never a good idea to leave one of the gods out, especially when he’s known for having a temper.
Dwarves come from Tir’Laoch, where they lived alongside elves and fought with the orcs that resided there. Several thousand years later, after the exile of the orcs, an elven expedition discovered the island that would become Krakkarakakkaraz. The elves offered to purchase the homeland of the then cramped for space dwarves, trading them the island, with its natural defenses and rich resources, and the dwarves accepted. Since then they’ve expanded slowly, first establishing a mainland colony, and then building the cargo tunnels, finally establishing the fortress of Mattock as a frontier for their young men.
Dwarves at War:
Seldom do the dwarves feel the need to go to war. Their conflict with the giants of Stahlrim can’t quite be said to be a war. It’s more of a testing ground with side-benefits, really. Not since the orcs were at their doorsteps, and they were faced with obliteration, have the dwarves gone to war in earnest. They, and the world, hope it never happens again. Dwarves are family, and a family angered is a terrible thing to face. Every dwarf has a place in a war effort as their society slowly becomes an engine of destruction. Dwarven scholars have noted similar traits in the human kingdom of Graceterre, and suspect dwarven influences in its infrastructure.
Magic in Krakkarakakkaraz and the outlying colonies:
Dwarves are slightly magic resistant, and are thus a little disdainful of magic-use in open combat, but they won’t hesitate to use it outside. The great tunnels could never have been dug without the aid of magic, and they have a healthy respect for power of any kind. Most dwarven wizards go and study with the elves of Liras Tiniel, while clerics go to Mattock to give aid on the battle lines. Dwarven druids are common amongst the hills and dales of Tir’Laoch or the mountains of Ament, and dwarven bards bring their sagas all over the world. Alternate magic users are fairly uncommon, but it isn’t hard for them to find a role in society. As every elder mage has said at one time or another, “You use the tools you’ve got and magick is just another tool.”
Clans and Elders:
Dwarven clans are dynasties that are often founded by dwarves who distinguish themselves through great deeds, or from larger clans of the latter sort fragmenting. The largest clans are about five thousand dwarves strong, while the smallest are sometimes only thirty or forty dwarves. Often, clans will have a signature trade or sign, with the next generation taking up the mantle of the last. Clans are ruled by a Thane, who is selected by the the elders of the clan after they consult with the gods, the earth, and the other members. The Thane takes council from the elders, and it is generally expected that they or their second remain in the capital to attend the Althane when it convenes. The Althane is a parliament of all the Thanes, where they discuss policy and grievances with the twenty Jarls, who are the Thanes of the Great Clans. Later, they will have a Jarlmeet with the King, who is elected from among the Jarls, and discuss the events of the Althane, making policy and laws that bind all dwarves.