The dwarves have coalesced from a series of scattered clans into a mighty nation, capable of defending itself against all enemies. Children of the Dragon of Fire, they worshipped him in the deep places of the world where magma provided the only light, and in return they were taught the secrets of the forge and the hearth.
At first, the other races were not even aware of the dwarves. Not until the Wars of Fire (28-41 ASD), when the dwarven warbands joined with the others to resist the demons, were they recognized. Once the fighting was over, they returned to their homes under the mountains and had little to do with the other races for centuries. Slowly tunnels were dug between the various dwarven cities, connecting then into a honeycomb deep beneath the earth.
All that changed when the first Dark Elves settled on the dwarves’ borders. A steadily deteriorating situation turned into the War Under the Mountain, in which the dwarves, led by Hathor Deepstrider Orlandsson, crushed the Dark Elves and drove them out. The Dark Elf dwelling places were collapsed, and the dwarves considered their borders secure.
Today, the dwarves still keep a watchful vigilance up. They watch their borders, and no one moves on their lands unseen. They befriend a precious few, and expand their kingdom carefully.
Note that most of dwarven history is actively hidden from the rest of the world. The dwarves have lengthy sagas, eddas, and histories concerning their deeds, wars, and adventures, but these are not shared with the outside world. The things they have seen and battles they have fought within their own domain remain mysterious, at least for now.
Internal / Social Organization:
Each dwarven city has its own king, with a council of advisors from the wealthiest and most industrious families. The King Under the Mountains is the king of kings among the dwarves, and it is he who sets policy and summons them to war. Kingship is not hereditary, though it is a lifetime post. After each king’s death, the council convenes and elects his successor. At such times, the tunnels are filled with both celebration and intrigue, as various candidates court voters and attempt to discredit – or eliminate – rivals.
Dwarven culture is very much male-driven – though women are neither bearded nor as rare as one might think.
Social structure is based around three relationships: family, fostering and fighting. There is a complicated web of apprenticeships that serves to train up young dwarves and cement relations between clans. These ties are precious – a single unworthy apprentice can poison an alliance that has existed for centuries.
While there are numerous ties that bind the kingdom together – race, family, city – the most important by far is the clan. The six dwarven clans are:
* Deepflame – Rune Priests, the religious leaders of the Dwarves
* Grimsteel – a fierce clan noted for its famous warriors
* Stonefist – the clan responsible for mining and building the great underground cities
* Stronghammer – artisans and blacksmiths, creators of the Dwarves’ famed handicrafts and weapons
* Hearthguard – a clan of magistrates and administrators, slow and serious
* Winterwind – the beastmasters, accustomed to the outdoors and friendly with other races.
Clans and families are not the same thing. Families are different lineages within a single clan, with each clan having its own name, battle history, customs and so forth. Ultimately, dwarves always fall back on their clans. While a single city may house families from a half-dozen different clans, at important times, such as the election of a new king, dwarves fall out along clan lines before anything else.
The dwarven warbands are one of the most feared fighting forces in the world. Featuring unparalleled ferocity and iron discipline, they can be mustered on a moment’s notice. In combat, warbands from various cities try to outdo each other in terms of enemies killed, banners taken and the like – war is a game, and this is a way of keeping score. On the other hand, dwarves never, ever surrender. They fight to the death, even when the odds are hopelessly against them. The best death a dwarf can hope for is one in battle, against impossible odds, with a witness who will someday make a song of their deeds.
While they prefer fighting underground, dwarves do occasionally muster on the surface. In the tunnels, where large bands are less useful, they build complicated defensive fortifications and traps. Dwarves who explore unknown tunnels are called Delvers, and they are often the first line of defense against an incursion by dark elves, necromancers and the like.
The dwarves use runes to tame and use fire magic. Their link to the Fire Dragon manifests in gouts of flame, fireballs, and explosions.