Credit: Fireinthedust

Dwarves: The first dwarves were fey, one of the immortal races that lived in the Other World. There they served as master craftsmen for the nobles of the Other World, producing the greatest treasure hordes for the kings of that realm, the finest weapons and magical treasures imaginable, of such quality that the powers of the universe would go to the dwarves for their mighty artefacts of legend, and no other. It is said they wove stars on strings of silver and crafted notes of music, that the ancient dwarves could forge a summer’s day or the waves of the ocean. They cared not for conquest, though their arms were unquestionably up to the task; rather, their joy was in the making of things, their function and craft, which they mastered beyond the wildest dreams of their patrons. As a result of seeing their treasures leave their hands rather than stay in their vaults to be admired, the dwarves began to hide themselves away.

The Dwarves themselves had always lived between the two worlds, for while the mysterious nature of the Other World gave power to their enchantments, the materials they so loved were found only on the material world. Over time their people simply left the Other World behind, their fortresses and homes built in mountains in the mortal world. They forged for themselves great halls of stone and laid enchantments there to trade their immortality in the Other World for immortality so long as they dwelt in their strongholds of stone. They delved deep into the magic of making, and for the many eons they crafted their goods while secreted away in their deep homes. Legendary weapons and armours were made, and literal oceans of gold kept in hordes beneath their mountain homes.

What the full nature of the fall of Dwarven history is not even the dwarves know. The history of the world, for the most part, passed them by because they didn’t care to leave their forges and workshops to join it. Some few did go out to explore, and brought back tales with them of their travels, but as far as any living sage now knows there are scant mention of dwarves in any annals of the ancient world other than these. This understood, when the Great Fastnesses of the Dwarves fell, their people scattered and their lore lost, it shattered the dwarves and scattered them about the world, apparently all at once. For how long they lived between the ancient days and their emergence, none can tell.

Dark powers had conspired against the dwarves, and all at once their protections against the rest of the universe fell, while evil creatures were drawn towards them. Some myths speak of a traitor, seduced by dark powers during the lost age into betraying his people’s secrets, but whether betrayal or otherwise, the result was the destruction of all the ancient dwarven strongholds. The lost homes of the dwarves were taken by various forces one by one. Dragons, for one, claimed their hordes, as did dark fey the dwarves had angered in ages past. Giants captured and enslaved their people, while goblins harried others through the mountains and into the realms of men.

Scattered and lost in the strange new world, and now ravaged by time outside of their homes, the dwarves swore revenge against their enemies. Having turned their backs on the Other World, the elves could not help them. The human rulers were glad for their craftsmanship, but often the work was menial and beneath their skill. While most crafted new homes for their clans, others still wandered the world, looking for their lost homes or revenging themselves upon their enemies.

Dwarves are now a humbled people, living throughout the world as craftsmen, merchants and warriors. They often collect in extended family groups, forming a guild in a particular city, especially blacksmithing, mining and stone carving professions. Others remain alone, perhaps having lost their family or simply wandered the world until they found themselves a village to stay in until more of their kind found them. They may have lost much of their ancient lore, but their hard working spirits and love of craftsmanship never left them.

All dwarves pass on songs now of the ancient days, and struggle to keep their culture alive in a hostile world. Dwarves still mark the bloodlines of kings, and even a common village blacksmith may have a noble title passed on to their heirs, and have travelling relatives arrive for them to minister to in their customs. Retaining their social structure has been a feat, but the dwarves remember and honour their ancient households, though such humbled households must live without the vast wealth of days of old. Respect for one’s family and clan is important, as in a very real way it is all the dwarves have left. If this has made dwarves dour or taciturn to the younger races, it is understandable.

Pieces of ancient craftsmanship are highly treasured, as are even scraps of ancient lore. Dwarves are known to undertake quests for even rumoured objects of dwarven history. An ancient weapon or artefact, or even the full text of a piece of dwarven history or a family oath, may be the subject of a lifelong search. Should any dwarf find proof of the existence and location of one of their ancient homes, dwarves across the world will leave their workshops to take up arms in a great crusade. Young nobles who seek recognition among their peers undertake such quests, either with other dwarves or even companions of other races.

Also of value are heroes who protect their way of life, especially against their ancient foes, including Dragons, Giants, Goblins, Dark elves, and the powers of evil that dwarves believe cursed their homes to their destruction. While obviously survival is paramount for a race as reduced in number as the dwarves, those dwarves who are able to slay such foes are considered great heroes and highly honoured. The only way for a dwarf of common birth to marry one of a noble line, other than finding a great dwarven treasure, is to prove themselves against one of their ancient foes. This is more than simply fighting one goblin, or even many, but includes slaying ancient dragons, giant chieftains, or goblin kings and their armies. Even then it is the right of a parent to refuse any suitor, which the hero must accept or lose face and their place in dwarven society, which only a king can restore.

Honourable conduct, perhaps more than anything else, is demanded of dwarves, even in the greatest adversity.

Dwarven adventurers are typically warriors, who seek especially battle with ancient foes, or clerics, who travel from settlement to settlement keeping up with and passing on the ways of their people and the Founders, gaining their powers from their traditions. Rogues are not unknown among merchants, but theft and trickery is frowned upon in everything but finding lost dwarven treasures. Rangers and Barbarians are not infrequent among wandering dwarves, or those whose ancestors were enslaved by foes and reduced to berserker fury before escaping to the world, respectively. Other classes are much less frequent, with clerics serving the role of bards among the dwarves, and other classes being more the result of lone dwarves raised in non-dwarven cultures. Arcane lore was largely lost with the ancient homes, which is a great sadness for the dwarves, who less often enchant their own crafts now; while some do take up wizardry (for preference of other types of arcane magic, which often smacks of their foes), especially abjuration, the style of magical learning of the other races is not agreeable to the dwarves, who were always more interested in craft and artifice than spell casting.

Dwarves may select Lesser Runic as one of their bonus languages available from high intelligence.