On the Shoulders of Heroes
According to the Wegge, the book of Dwarven laws, the first Dwarf was created when the mountains collided with the sea to shape the land. Whether this is true or not, the fact is that Dwarves have been living on Bellög long before humans came to it and they show no signs of weakness of yet. City Dwarves form a core of craftsmen and smiths. Rural Dwarves live in small, underground villages. Though they seem like fortresses to outsiders, they depend on exports, hunting and agriculture.
Dwarves grow about half the size of adult humans and almost as broad. Men wear their hair in long, often decorated beards, females shave. Showing off is frowned upon and simple, durable clothing in earthen tones is customary.
As long as the stone slabs date back Dwarves have kept strictly to their traditions. For an equally impressive period they have fought bloody wars against Goblins and Orcs, which competed for shelter in the same stone tunnels. They have also battled the Giants that try to plunder their mountain homes. Fighting enemies on endless fronts the Dwarves were on the back foot, driven back into the bowels of the earth. They were in desperate need of an ally and found one in an unexpected corner: man returned to Bellög. Humans, with their impulsive, warlike personalities proved ideal allies against the endless stream of evil. Weapons, armour and expertise were traded for manpower and the two peoples soon became blood brothers. With the combined strength of man and Dwarf the evil was dispersed and eventually vanquished. Dwarves kept to their mountain homes, but soon the more adventurous types started living among men. On the other hand a lot of men were drawn into the saved dwarven cities to become apprentices to the master smiths.
Dwarves still have a strong, prosperous empire in the eastern reaches. Although most of their enemies no longer pose the threat they once did, Dwarves still live in their traditional fortress cities. They have also spread amongst human society where they take on the role of capable craftsmen, dockworkers and miners. Although Dwarves have always been slightly xenophobic and careful with other people, sometimes even hostile, their combined war effort with men has opened their society to new influences. Dwarven beer is among the finest in the world and their music receives highly dubious reviews from non-Dwarves, although it is said one never forgets a Dwarven song.
The trust of a Dwarf is hard to earn, but once won, it is granted for life. They are a notoriously stern and conservative people. They praise productivity over creativity, tradition over development. Honour is held in very high regard. Dwarves make little distinction between men and women. When Dwarves age the two genders even start to look identical: it is very hard to see the difference between the elderly. From a young age Dwarven youths are taught to respect their elders, gods, environment and most of all the Wegge. This ancient book, transcribed on the walls of wisdom in every fortress city, contains over fifty Dwarven laws which, if broken, blemish a man’s honour.
Physical strength, patience and modesty are highly praised dwarven values. Both boys and girls receive guard training and both are expected to serve and protect their people when need arises. Clans co-operate in a large fellowship that shares military command. This army, the Stone Fist, is used for border protection and rule enforcement. The general that receives the honour of being supreme commander, or Obsidian Sword, receives his own personal regiment of bodyguards, lead by the former Sword. This honour is taken extremely seriously and the guard changes every twelve years.
Crafts are the cornerstone of dwarven society and the making of tools is deemed very important. Jewellery and precious stone are only of limited value, while crafting materials, especially magic steel, are valued more highly than gold and other less durable “precious” metals. Smiths who specialize in working this material are always in high demand.
Dwarven villages are often located near rich veins of metal, as the Dwarves believe these places to be blessed. When mined and processed these ores are traded with the other common peoples. Every few generations a mine is depleted and the most promising members of the tribe are tasked with finding a new home, while the elders usually stay. Especially the larger towns have been depleted for hundreds of years although they still prosper today.
The Dwarven god is Ilmarinen, god of metal and creation. He teaches about hard work and happiness. Despite being a god of smiths he instructs his followers to never believe welfare comes with possession. He is the builder of the dome of heaven. He also worked his way into the human pantheon, where is regarded a hero smith.
The symbol of Ilmarinen is the hammer and the mountain, or a broken coin. These coins are worn on necklaces. On traditional holidays and weddings a hot coin is shattered on an anvil and the shards are distributed among guests, who keep them in small decorated boxes.
- +2 Constitution, –2 Charisma. Dwarves are tough but gruff.
- Medium: As Medium creatures, Dwarves have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Dwarf base land speed is 20 feet. However, Dwarves can move at this speed even when wearing medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load (unlike other creatures, whose speed is reduced in such situations).
- Darkvision: Dwarves can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only.
- Stonecunning: This ability grants a Dwarf a +2 racial bonus on Search checks to notice unusual stonework, such as sliding walls, stonework traps, new construction (even when built to match the old), unsafe stone surfaces, shaky stone ceilings, and the like. Something that isn’t stone but that is disguised as stone also counts as unusual stonework. A Dwarf who merely comes within 10 feet of unusual stonework can make a Search check as if he were actively searching, and a Dwarf can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can. A Dwarf can also intuit depth, sensing his approximate depth underground as naturally as a human can sense which way is up.
- Any Dwarf who has Weapon Group (axes) is also proficient with the Dwarven waraxe and the Dwarven urgrosh.
- Stability: A Dwarf gains a +4 bonus on ability checks made to resist being bull rushed or tripped when standing on the ground (but not when climbing, flying, riding, or otherwise not standing firmly on the ground).
- +2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison.
- +3 racial bonus on saving throws against arcane spells and spell-like effects.
- +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against Orcs and Goblinoids.
- +4 dodge bonus to Armor Class against monsters of the Giant type. Any time a creature loses its Dexterity bonus (if any) to Armor Class, such as when it’s caught flat-footed, it loses its dodge bonus, too.
- +2 racial bonus on Appraise checks that are related to stone or metal items.
- +2 racial bonus on Craft checks that are related to stone or metal.
- Arcane Rejection: Dwarves can not cast arcane spells, their body is an unsuitable funnel for the arcane flow.
- Automatic Languages: Dwarven. Most Dwarfs learn at least one of the common languages as well.
- Favoured Class: Cleric.