The Dwarves are the third eldest race on Yarthe, though they have only recently come into contact with humans. The Dwarvish Nations spent the first age living below the ground, in cities carved into the hearts of mountains. Their crofters kept small Dascha on the surface, farms where they grew vegetables and grain, and grazed their flocks, but they did not live there or build dwellings. At most, a Dascha might include a small hut or barn as shelter form unexpected storms – but a more likely shelter would be a cave or a hollowed out hill reached by a hidden door. In Europa, even now, small groups of Dwarves live on the surface for the summers, herding their flocks of goats, sheep, and ponies through the high mountain pastures before retreating to their underground kingdoms for the harsh winters.
Even the Strix do not know when the Dwarves first started carving out their underground cities. The oldest of the Dwarvish artefacts still kept and in use date to well before the fall of Mu, although there are no surviving Elvish records regarding the Dwarves. There is some indication in the old legends of the Dwarves that they came from another world, having lived for generations as servants to the gods. Their creation myths indicate that they were made by these gods to be their servants and companions, but fled a conflict amongst the gods which threatened their survival. The old gods mentioned in these legends are, for the most part, no longer worshipped.
There are six major Dwarven Kingdoms in Europa: the Apeneit Kingdom, the Douros Kingdom, the Carpathian Kingdom, Rhon, the Kola Kingdom, and the Volga Kingdom. Almost all of the Dwarves of Europa claim allegiance to one of these kingdoms; the only Dwarves not included in the kingdoms are the monastic orders, whose monasteries owe allegiance to no mortal kings or lords, and who can claim aid or assistance from any of the six kingdoms. The Apeneit Kingdom and the Rhon are the Dwarven Kingdoms best known to the human population of Europa, although some of the Dwarves of the Douros Kingdom have made their way north and east on diplomatic and trading missions.
The Dwarves of Douros and Rhon are constantly either at war or in a state of cold war detente with the Ghost Elves, due to their proximity to Malnibos. Dwarvish ethics do nto allow the keeping of slaves, and as slaves are central to Ghost Elf culture, this causes constant friction between the two groups. The Dwarves are one of the few races of the Deep which successfully resisted the Ghost Elves when they began their conquest of the Deeps of Europa after the fall of Mu. There is some unofficial trade between some of the Dwarvish clans (sometimes called the ‘Grey’ clans, and regarded by other Dwarves as being ethically ambiguous) and the Ghost Elves, but most of their interactions are less than friendly. Many of the major roads through the Deeps were built and are maintained by the Dwarves, and as such are only safe to travel with the permission of the Dwarvish clans who control them – such permission is freely given to friends and allies, and may be bought for a toll by others, including the Ghost Elves. The tolls are a source of bitter resentment and enmity from the Ghost Elves.
Although they have a reputation among humans as a dour and humourless people, in fact the Dwarves have a subtle sense of humour and a warm and supportive culture. They are thoughtful and imaginative artisans, and capable engineers – always always willing to experiment, and inclined to fix a thing rather than replace it if they can. Their culture has a word for a thing which has been broken and then fixed, and is now more beautiful for being less than perfect – and this word can be used for interpersonal relationships which have gone sour and then been mended as well.
Honour and tradition are very important to the Dwarves, and they have a complex cultural system of social standing and social capital which almost no non-Dwarves understand. They may take some time to judge if a person is worthy of their trust and loyalty, but once given, their friendship knows no bounds. The rare non-Dwarf who becomes the trusted friend of a Dwarf also becomes an adopted member of that Dwarf’s clan, welcome to all gatherings at any time, and included in clan celebrations. They gain the right to wear the clan tartan and braid their hair using the clan patterns, and to claim or the clan’s hospitality in the home of any clan member – or of any other Dwarf not at war with their clan.
Male and female dwarves pride themselves on the length of their hair, and men often decorate their beards with a variety of clasps and intricate braids. The various clans can be identified by the patterns of the braids in their hair and beards, as well as by the patterns and colours of their traditional clan tartans.
This content is released under the Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC-SA license. You are free to use the content for any non-commercial purpose, and to modify it and make derivative works provided those works are shared under the same license.