|Subraces||Aldor, Ruin-Khuur, Dredgers, Saendr, Greborrin.|
|Languages||Common, Dwarven Dialect|
|Naming Customs||Scandinavian, and very loosely Tolkien-Fantasy Dwarven names.|
|Distinctions||Stout, mountain-dwelling folk who show unerring skill with finecrafting, jewelcraft, smithing, cooperative fighting, woodworking, and engineering, with a unique familiarity and skill in metallurgy and weapon crafting.|
|Maximum Age||200 years|
|Eye Colors||In order of rarity: brown, grey, black, emerald, and piercing blue.|
|Hair Colors||Blond, brown, black, blue, red, and (when older) grey or white.|
|Skin Tones||Pinkish Pale, Ruddy Brown, and Light Grey.|
The Masters of Stone, keepers of ancient treasures, creators of momentous artifacts of power, the Deep Folk, the Fallen People, and the Stout Kin; the Dwarves of Aloria are known by all these names and many more. The Dwarves have a history officially dating back to the founding of their First Hold, Olovomm. From this Hold the Dwarves would grow to found many others, some to fall quickly, some to suffer a long decline, and some to last until the present day. In the mountains of Ellador one will find little obvious evidence of the Dwarves; their strongholds and smaller settlements are often disguised using the local terrain, expertly carved stone staircases leading up a mountain path, or clever doors that do not open to those who do not know the proper means of entry. Much like finding their homes, understanding a Dwarf well enough to befriend them is a trial few can bear, for Dwarves can be a judgemental, harsh, bitter, and greedy lot. But the Dwarves are also known to be a loyal, fiercely protective, and merry people, dearer to their friends than any of the other Races, and as well the mightiest craftsmen, second perhaps only to the Altalar. Their success as a people comes in far shorter bursts than they, and no true golden age has ever existed for very long amongst the Dwarves. Rather, for every great height and victory the Dwarven people achieve, they often make a fatal error in greed, hubris, or plain old bad luck that leads to yet another downfall. The Dwarves are a people permanently wronged by their own actions and the terrors of the world, but who soldier on in pursuit of returning to a time no living Dwarf may recall, but all feel deep within their heart. A time of shared prosperity, bountiful merriment, and a truly peaceful age.
Dwarves are a stout and stocky people. Standing from 4’2” to 4’11” in height, their men are usually a little taller than their women; they typically have ruddy faces, with short limbs that are usually knotted with muscles. A Dwarf’s face seems to pop out of their head ever so slightly, with exaggerated noses, brows, and mouths. Beards are common on any male Dwarf over the age of 20, and these can be braided, tied, and dyed in a variety of colors and styles. Conversely, about half of male Dwarves tend to go bald in their 70’s, with the rest following around their 120’s. Female Dwarves have softer features, with a tendency to braid their hair, and both male and female Dwarves will often be found wearing jewelry, especially necklaces. Some among the women are capable of facial hair, and this is considered normal in Dwarven society, though most do not possess any. Dwarves tend to weigh nearly the same as humans, carrying a heavy, bulky build. All Dwarves have hearty stomachs and the appetite to back it up. It usually takes twice the amount of alcohol to inebriate a Dwarf when compared to most Ailor, and poisoning a Dwarf is even more challenging. Even the more Ailor-looking Dwarves tend to be hardier than most. The offshoots from this general description of Dwarfkind are many, with differences in anything from height to body build and more. Regardless, most Dwarves tend to have brown, black, or fiery ginger hair. Brown, hazel, black, emerald, and silvery-blue are, in descending order of rarity, the eye colors of the Dwarves, though there are also a scant few Dwarves that seem to be born with a faint purple eye color, seemingly occurring naturally. Lastly, the body hair of a Dwarf seems to depend largely on the Dwarf in question, though even the most Ailor-like Dwarves sport a little more body hair than normal, especially on the tops of their toes and feet.
Half-Dwarves inherit some of the stout nature of their Dwarven Parents, but their non-Dwarven parent usually results in them standing anywhere between 4'2 and 5'2 in height. Half-Dwarves, outside of their height differences, have most of the same physical characteristic as their Dwarven Parent. While Half-Dwarves tend to be stockier, they also can inherit slightly pointed ears, different body-hair colors, and other minor features from their non-Dwarven parent. Half Dwarves do not pick a subrace, and have their own unique set of Racial Abilities.
“If given the choice to befriend a Dwarf or lift a giant boulder, at least find one with smooth edges.” So goes the Dwarven proverb, and with good reason; Dwarves are a bitter, jealous bunch by nature, and severely mistrustful of outsiders of any sort. This is not to suggest a Dwarf is bloodthirsty or violent against any particular people, even their dreaded Isldarrin enemies. A Dwarf will always keep their manners and their wits about them, right up until a fight is unavoidable. Dogmatic in their ideals of honor, hard work, and loyalty, a Dwarf can be the finest and most reliable of friends, if you can convince them you are not going to plant yet another knife in their back. However, this isn’t to suggest Dwarves are an altruistic sort. Their greed and lust for power make them capable of terrible acts, and they have a particular disgust for the bestial Races, rooting from their conflicts with the Dakkar. Dragons are a sworn enemy to Dwarfkind as well, and Dwarves have slain and used the corpses of Dragons in horrifying displays of pragmatic cruelty. To a Dwarf, there is always another beast or betrayer around the road to be confronted, and so friendship with the unknown is a business best left to the foolish. Dwarves have a mental fortitude that matches their physical constitution, but it is built up and supported by an ever-present stubbornness. A Dwarf admitting fault is a rare sight, but a bit of quiet bluster and an eye to the ground is a common way of saying “I am truly sorry” from one of the stout folk. They are decent enough company, if you don’t come to expect too much of them.
Dwarf types are fairly homogeneous by height, but differ in body build, origin, culture, and integration into other peoples. Generally speaking, a Dwarf has a subrace and also a Hold of origin which affects their profession or outlook. Aldor have diverged the furthest from the Dwarven standard, with Saendr being the next most different, and the other three types of Dwarves being nigh impossible to visually distinguish from one another– to non-Dwarves at least. A Dwarf, on the other hand, generally retains the ability to tell who is from where. When two Dwarven parents of different subraces have a child, the child is either one or the other.
The Aldor are the Dwarves who have integrated the best and the most into Ailor society, even adapting portions of their bloodline to make themselves more aesthetically similar to their host cultures. They are short and thin in stature, not as stocky or durable as their brother subraces, and typically resemble smaller Ailor with a softer, less pronounced version of Dwarven facial features. These features were generally moderated according to Ailor standards, creating a middle look that comes off as neither truly Dwarven nor completely Ailor. That said, they fit rather well into the Ailor lands they journey to, especially in the Regalian Archipelago, where there are a large number of Aldor. The price the Aldor pay for this ease of integration is that they are strongly disliked by other Dwarves, especially the Ruin-Khuur and Greborrin, whose traditional mindsets clash severely with what they perceive as a selling-out of their national heritage and total abandonment of their homeland.
The Aldor adhere to a philosophy of easy-going living. Mistaken by other peoples for laziness, this concept is in fact to the Aldor more an acute understanding that engaging in frequent stress ruins one’s life. They are some of the most laid-back people in Aloria, because rather than worry over specific issues, they always seem to effortlessly dance around them and find a method to continue on their way with their lives. There is no such thing as a worried Aldor. In turn, this makes them the polar opposite of other Dwarves in that they have no uniting concept of a Grudge, and their society has little to no family-based cohesion. Aldor are unconcerned party people at heart, easy to speak to, and easy to befriend. Their clean severance from the rest of their Race means that they are not caught up in their messy and fatalistic politics, and can enjoy themselves free of responsibility and duty.
Ruin-Khuur are very mercantile in their behavior, often making excellent traders and craftsmen. It was a Ruin-Khuur who first invented modern Dwarven airships and gunpowder techniques. Despite being narrowly focused on finance and business, Ruin-Khuur are among the most pious and religious Dwarves, often taking sustained time away from their business to pray and give worship to their Founder God. The Ruin-Khuur are traditionally stocky and muscled Dwarves, and possess uniquely stern expressions; the facial muscles of Ruin-Khuur Dwarves are arranged in such a way that their lips always seem to be pressed into a dour, unfeeling expression. When they smile, it comes off as more of a leer, with the flash of their teeth imparting hostile intent even if there was none to begin with. Ruin-Khuur Dwarves can, like the Aldor, be found scattered all across Aloria and even within the Regalian Archipelago in significant numbers. The difference is that the Ruin-Khuur are blunt, uncompromising, and mean, and do not give up on what (to them) makes them Dwarves to settle in other lands.
They are a very sternly-minded people, with little patience for the games of the Aldor or the excessive hatred of the Greborrin. A Ruin-Khuur Dwarf is concerned with the little things he can do in the immediate moment to advance himself or his peers. This means that many of them are vendors, merchants, or craftsmen, who take their profits and send them back in packets to their families or liege-lords in Ellador. Despite this commercial tendency, the Ruin-Khuur are far from silver-tongued, and are where the Ailor stereotype of the rude and arrogant Dwarven shopkeep comes from. They tend to arbitrarily refuse business to people whose character they do not trust, including outright not speaking to those disliked by the local Dwarven community, and are in general a very tricky sort to work with. That said, the magnificence and beauty of their crafts and reliable nature as tradesmen keep their business partners coming back to them for a relationship they know will never cheat or fool them.
Dredgers are sea-traveling Dwarves, especially skilled with steam and coal technology. Along the coasts of Ellador, they sail massive coal-powered barges and land vehicles that strip mine the coastal caverns of minerals, stone, and most importantly fuel to continue their journey. In this way, they exist in a continuous cycle of raiding and refueling, by which to maintain such a large fleet in the uncertain seas of the North they are forced to pillage new materials to burn. The Dredgers are a patient people who live by the saying “dry a mine before you strike a new one”, especially repeated among those who come to Regalia. Those who live in the Holy City tend to be content remaining there without engaging in their usual nomadism, as long as they can find new things to keep themselves interested and busy. That said, they do retain a tendency to rotate between fields that still use the expertise they possess. What this means is that a Dredger who is very skilled in the art of smithing and who has produced sets of armor for fifty years might suddenly decide that he is done with armor, and start making buckets instead. The main skills of a Dredger are often very cross-disciplinary for this reason; so that they can retain the ability to change on a whim and find something novel and exciting to do.
The Dredger people are societally afflicted by wanderlust. Ever since the destruction of their original Hold many years ago, they have lost the ability to stay in one place. It is said by many that they will be this way until the day comes when they can reconstruct their ancestral home once again, although as time passes, that seems more and more unlikely. What sets Dredgers apart from other Dwarves is that they are much more informal, and abandon the stiff language and accents of their brethren for a simple and calmer tongue which loses its harshest affectations. Dredgers are good shipmates, trusty for banter and cheer. A notable diaspora of them exists through the coastal cities of Anglia, where they make their homes next to the superheavy Anglian shipyards and assist the local Ailor in devising new maritime designs.
Saendr are easily recognizable by their bronzed skin and darker hair colors. Breaking away from the traditional Dwarves, Saendr can often be found reading or writing. Craftsmen are relatively few among the Saendr, with record-keeping and intellectual discourse being the more common trades among the Saendr peoples. Saendr have a particular affinity for Soul Magic (and are often referred to as the “Soul-kissed” for this reason), mirroring that of the Qadir. Thus, they get on with little discrimination in Qadir society.
The Saendr are, as a people, scientific. From their relatively comfortable and secure positions existing in a symbiotic relationship beneath the Qadir pearl-cities of Farah’deen, they have evolved from dour and reclusive Dwarves into something more open and debative. While they still retain the affinity for the creation of constructs and feats of mechanical engineering, the works of the Saendr are always meant for science and discovery. They struggle to output anything meant to kill or function as part of the military. For this reason, most of the other Dwarves like to call them ‘useless,’ and they in their academic mindset prefer to associate with the Qadir instead.
Greborrin are a traditionally militaristic lot, with tempers as quick as the swings of their weapons. Greborrin are among the most numerous Dwarves on the Ellador mainland, and hold a special hatred and resentment towards both the Isldar and Regalian Government; the Isldar for their ancient Grudge, the Regalian Government for always failing to come to their aid. Ailor politics are alien to the Grebor, as they share a sense of common purpose and loyalty, and approach their problems in a straightforward, honest manner. Lying is a rarity among Greborrin, far preferring to threaten or fight their way past any problem in their path.
The Greborrin Dwarves are consumed by all the Grudges and enmities that their people bear. They tend to be unable to ignore these enmities, even for a but a moment, and will never cease to pursue their resolution. This means that the Greborrin Dwarves end up living like the enforcing arm of Dwarven society, incessantly striking at its foes. While it is the calm and stoic Ruin-Khuur who go about indicating the enemies of Dwarfkind, it is the Greborrin who more often than not punish them by ganging up together and setting out with vengeful intent. The famous Tehl-Humm Hold was for most of its history entirely Greborrin, and their militant streak shows in its consistent production of dedicated and fervent warriors.
Summary of Racial Abilities
The Common Abilities of the Dwarven Racial Kit, are shared by all Dwarven subraces. Half Dwarves have the Common Abilities of the Dwarven Racial Kit, but not the Founders Racial Abilities.
|Ability Name||Ability Type||Ability Range||Ability Description|
|Honed Skill 1||Constant Passive||Self||Grants the user Honed Skill 1|
|Home Upgrade 1||Region Enchant||Player Region||Grants the user Home Upgrade 1|
|Shrewd Insight 1||Control Power||Emote Distance||Grants the user Shrewd Insight 1|
|Great Force 1||Constant Passive||Self||Grants the user Great Force 1|
|Gate Smash 1||Trigger Passive||Direct Touch||Grants the user Gate Smash 1|
|Honed Skill 4||Constant Passive||Self||Grants the user Honed Skill 4|
Founders Racial Abilities
The Founders Racial Abilities are Abilities unique to the Dwarves bestowed on them by the blessings of their Founders. Due to the connection of the Founders existing most strongly with the Mundane, and their general doctrinal dislike of Afflictions, Dwarves lose access to all of these Abilities if they are infected with any Affliction, or acquire any other form of Magical Abilities (such as Sorcery, Magic, etc.) with the exception of Artifacts.
|Ability Name||Ability Type||Ability Range||Ability Description|
|Founders Gift 1||Primal Power||Direct Touch||Grants the user Founders Gift 1|
|Founders Gift 2||Primal Power||Self||Grants the user Founders Gift 2|
|Founders Gift 3||Primal Power||Self||Grants the user Founders Gift 3|
|Founders Gift 4||Primal Power||Self||Grants the user Founders Gift 4|
|Founders Gift 5||Primal Power||Self||Grants the user Founders Gift 5|
|Bunker Down 1||Toggle Passive||Self||Grants the user Bunker Down 1|
Age of Beginnings
Recorded Dwarven history begins with the founding of the Olovomm Hold, settled in the central northern mountain-chain of Ellador, a few miles south of the icy tundra. Under the widest of the mountaintops, a small stone door was cut away, and down the tunnel behind that door lay Olovomm proper, a gargantuan hall of stone and iron. Many tunnels shot off up and down the mountain range, leading to smaller cities and openings at the bottom of the mountainsides. By 500 BC, the Dwarves began taking detailed records with ink and parchment, constructing a written language of runes and markings that is still used today, but no records remain of their history before the founding of Olovomm in 700 BC. King Tharain Blackhammer was stated to have settled Olovomm, and his son King Throm would begin the detailed record-keeping of every weapon, armor, or jewelry forged from Olovomm, as well as where they were traded. These so-called “Olovomm Records” are highly valued as collector’s items to this day, especially by adventurers searching for long-lost treasures. Records would indicate the Dwarves were unaware of the presence of the Isldar at the time of their arrival in Ellador in 450 BC (at the time known as the Cult of Drogon Altalar, but who may sometimes be called Isldar to avoid confusion), instead prioritizing mining and expansion operations from the interior of Olovomm.
Soon after, the Dwarves began to expand further. Spreading from their ancestral Hold of Olovomm, they annexed the surrounding lands and found suitable positions to found new Holds. The expeditions creating these new outposts of Dwarven society were founded by often quasi-legendary figureheads with caravans of hopefuls following them, giving rise to a host of ancient epics and legends. The Skorr, Ostrey, Tehl-Humm, and Aethramm Holds were founded this way, all of them around the year 400 BC. It is also in this period that the Dwarves first made contact with the Altalar Allorn Empire and its dignitaries. The initial Altalar lost absolutely no time in informing whichever Dwarven king or Hold-lord they could find that large groups of ‘dangerous, evil’ separatists who were not to be trusted had fled their nation, onto the Dwarven continent of Ellador. Initially, the idea that a foreign presence was near them did not necessarily disturb them. After all, the Holds of the Dwarves were underground- let whoever lives above do whatsoever he or she wishes. But the more the Altalar dignitaries whispered into the ears of the local rulers, of Wyverns and Violet Night Dragons and other foreign things, the more agitated they became. After enough poking and prodding, the sentiment that these unwelcome interlopers of the Cult of Drogon should be driven out grew until it could not be contained, and the Dwarves began to muster their armies.
Age of Strife
The Dwarves would fight a total of three Dragon Wars against their Drogonite enemies. Not all of them would be fought in by all Holds, for various reasons, and not all of them would be with the support of the Allorn Empire, whose forces came and went in response to the unrest within its lands. The First Dragon War began with Olovomm and Skorr together with a large allied army of Altalar against the Drogonite settlers. It started in 346 BC, and would last for a total of four years. Isldar guerrilla tactics decided the First Dragon War, as the Altalar-Dwarf armies could not find a way to openly and properly confront them. Instead, they were slowly whittled down until they had to leave and resupply. Eventually, the attrition became so bad and the civil situation on Daen worsened so thoroughly that the Dwarves permitted the Altalar to withdraw and return home to deal with their issues. However, the Dwarves were not entirely unsuccessful– their people learned quite a bit about large-scale war, something which would serve them well in the many conflicts to come. After a brief period of rebuilding came the Second Dragon War in 312 BC. Spurred on by the partial success of the First Dragon War, many Dwarven Holds armed themselves and joined in, including Olovomm, Skorr, Ostrey, and Tehl-Humm, as well as the returning Allorn armies. This time, the Altalar brought with them a plethora of hellish Alchemical and Arcane concoctions, scorching the countryside to drive their Drogonite enemies out of hiding. Unfortunately, this did not prove enough to triumph over them, and after the second bout of conflict with little to no results, all parties withdrew again in a repeat action.
After this fruitless effort, the Dwarves were rather tired of pointless wars against an enemy who they were not entirely sure they even wanted to fight in the first place. Withdrawing behind their doors, they focused on internal development and progression of their realms, delving deeper into the mountains and creating greater feats of engineering. The Dwarves consider this their golden age, because compared to the endless lists of tragedies lining the rest of their history, nothing especially terrible happened for a substantial period of time. Politics and court-culture flourished, and the ambitions of each individual Hold-King only grew. In 300 BC, the Skorr Hold split into two separate Holds, Brollo and Fummd, connected by one passage through the closest mountain. This was the result of irresolvable issues between two sons of the ruler, Bathador and Khazain Ironhand. The former is known as the founder of Brollo, while the latter is known as the founder of Fummd. Throughout this golden age, even the Hold-Kings themselves were astonished by the sheer amounts of mineral wealth which they managed to dredge up from the depths of Ellador. Gold, gemstones, Silver, Iron; it all came flowing in quantities previously thought impossible. Most of the Dwarven Artifacts which drift around Aloria today were created in this period, either commissioned by foreign rulers to grace their courts or by Hold-Kings to fill a slot in their endless armories. Legendary smiths founded guilds whose names are still known in the modern-day, and poets and bards wrote songs of their ancestors’ past and the first two Dragon Wars which still sit engraved on the stone walls of the remaining Holds.
In time, Tehl-Humm Hold, famous keep of the warriors, became so overfull that it permitted a caravan to depart and found a new Hold a short distance away. This Hold was called Frannam, and it would soon split due to an internal dispute. The arrogance of its initial leaders, as well as endless disputes between the work-crews meant to finish digging it, led to a chain reaction of important figureheads declaring Grudges towards each other. Eventually, it came to a point where blood was spilled and they could no longer reconcile their differences, leading to the creation of the two separate neighbor-Holds of Hammum and Grebor. This occurred around the year 150 BC, sometimes considered the height of Dwarven prosperity. Unfortunately, this prosperity would only lead to more and more Race-wide arrogance, as the powerful and well-rested Dwarves toyed with the idea of bringing the fight to the Drogonites lingering on their continent once again. This did not spring from sheer malice, however, as the Drogonites had been kidnapping their merchants and slaughtering them in horrific displays of cruelty, generally committing dark actions of revenge for previous conflicts. However, each time the unified Hold-Kings tried to secure the aid of the Altalar, they could not. The representative of the Allorn Empress on Ellador continually denied their pleas due to the horribly unstable situation in his home country. The stormy Dwarves took this as a betrayal and threw the dignitary out before he had the chance to repair the situation. This is considered the beginning point of the Dwarven Grudge for the Altalar, which runs deep, and has still not mended itself.
Age of Tragedy
After light preparation, the Dwarves rushed forward into what would be their final pre-Cataclysm war against the Drogonites. They unleashed their built-up reserves of manpower and technology, dogmatically moving from Spire City to Spire City with trebuchets and automated drills, boring into Wyvern Nests and interior keeps, slaughtering anything with pointy ears. Beginning in 114 BC, this Third Dragon War saw large Dwarven armies successfully assaulting large cities and leaving no survivors wherever they went. For an unknown reason, this early offensive has been noted to have taken the normally prepared and alert Drogonites by total surprise. The Dwarves avenged whatever past cruelties they had been dealt, using the bodies of Isldar and Wyverns alike in malignant displays of justafixion and mockery. Step by step, they burned their way across the continent, more often than not overwhelmingly victorious. But before they could reach the Isldar capital Hold of Assalya, they were stopped by a desperate last stand at a mountain called Udillin’s Foot. What occurred there was nothing short of cataclysmic for the Dwarves. While their artillery was effective at massacring the Violet Night Dragons and their creation, it is held that when they were about to down the final Dragon, Frisit, something occurred, a spell woven by her Primal Magic. The Dwarves write that “In a snap of Frost, All that was, Now ceased to be.” Their records indicate that of the 200,000-man strong army, not a single Dwarf came home to tell the tale, only observers at distant posts guessing at what had happened. Reeling from this event, the Dwarves withdrew into their Holds without knowledge of what had happened to their enemy, locking the doors.
In the 20 years following Udillin’s Foot, the Dwarves assessed their new reality. The once green and fertile Ellador was frigid and bathed in ice, and they adapted as best they could, creating thick coats of fur and lighting great bonfires to keep their Holds warm. Around the same time, the Aldruin Hold was founded by settlers from Frannam, and warily began to recover. While they had written off the Isldar as vanquished, now Isldar proper and not Drogonite Altalar due to Frisit’s spell, the Isldar had not written the Dwarves off, and would return to have their vengeance. In 53 BC, Isldar Mages cast a catastrophic spell that dropped the internal temperature of the Olovomm Hold to minus two hundred degrees, wiping out almost the entire populace in a matter of hours. The surviving Dwarves reacted with shock and anguish to the loss of their oldest Hold by sealing themselves away ever deeper, trying to forget about the outside world as much as possible. It is because of this that they entirely missed the Cataclysm, the Void Invasion, the Wildering, and all related Arcane and natural disasters that had washed entirely over them. The Dwarven annals barely even bother to refer to this world-altering event, noting sarcastically that they had “already had their turn.”
However, this quip would prove ill-placed, as the tragedy was not yet done with Dwarfkind. In the year 26 AC, the Skorr Hold dug too deep and breached the under-caverns of the Dakkar. A monstrous Race of rock and magma, they considered this an invasion on their people and holy land, and swiftly began to assault upwards against the offending Hold. Skorr would be destroyed within the year, unable to resist the sudden onslaught of stone men. A year later, in 27 AC, Fummd Hold would fall as well, but not before giving a desperate warning to all other remaining Holds to resist the enemy and prepare for war. They did whatever they could, but it would not prove enough, as low population and other woes would cause Ostrey Hold to fall to the Dakkar in 76 AC, a magmatic expanse flooding its upper and lower levels alike. However, the Ostrey population would escape and survive in more significant numbers due to their construction of a great flotilla of steam-powered barges, coming to be known as the “Dredgefleet” and spawning the Dredger culture, named for it. These people, once inhabitants of the Ostrey Hold, now rove the seas and coastlines of the North, illegally strip-mining every coast they touch.
Age of Desperation
For roughly a century after the fall of Ostrey Hold, the Dwarven people slowly dwindled in population as they kept the Dakkar at bay, with those few Dwarves who departed their Holds finding some small success. In 176 AC, Aethramm Hold was destroyed by the Dakkar in turn, falling to a renewed offensive. Most of the population made its way to the Ailor states of Hedryll and Kausis, where they found a surprising welcome at the hands of the piratical Velheim and xenophobic Ohrneti. Two years later, Brollo Hold was also destroyed by flows of magma and endless armies of enraged Dakkar. Though they attempted to repeat the trick of the Ostrey Hold and sail away, their ships were powered by sail rather than steam, and the winds blew them far off course from their intended target. Rather than landing in Silbrae, they landed in Farah’deen, where the entire refugee party was promptly enslaved by the Songaskians. In 180 AC, Tehl-Humm Hold, the legendary home of the peerless warrior clans, suddenly fell silent. All of its underground passages closed, and since then it has never been heard from again. Rather than submit to extinction, the Dwarves continued to innovate, inventing the so-called ground-powder technology in 190 AC. They combatted the Dakkar with this novel creation, depth charges designed to burrow deep into an enemy formation and then detonate. The handicraft of an unknown Dwarven craftsman, this invention led to the so-called Great Fiery Peace of 200-270 AC, during which the conflict between the Dwarves and Dakkar ceased.
During this Peace, the surviving Dwarven peoples kept in Songaskian servitude were liberated by Qadir raiders. Having little remaining cohesion to speak of, they accepted these raiders’ invitation to take up residence with them in the great Qadir city of Al-Alus. The Dwarves and Qadir quickly found a rapport with one another, as whatever the Dwarves mined from the ground could be used to fuel the Clockwork constructs of the Qadir, in exchange for ownership of lands below the soil to construct a new Hold within. This led to the foundation of the first Hold outside of Ellador called Konrak-Al, situated just under the surface of Al-Alus and populated by those Dwarves now called Saendr.
The Great Fiery Peace ended with a volcanic eruption destroying the Hammum Hold, rumored to be the work of the Dakkar. Most of Hammum's population was destroyed, with those who remained fleeing to Aldruin and Grebor. Hammum would be the last Dwarven Hold to suffer destruction, with Aldruin, Grebor, and Konrak-Al remaining more or less intact in the present day. However, as the Dwarves of the time had no way of knowing this, a number of them fled Aldruin Hold in a panic, not wishing to be next. These Dwarves, known as the “Leavers” to all others, eventually became known as the Aldor Dwarves, intermixing with the Ailor societies they became dispersed within. Those who remained would become the Ruin-Khuur, opening the doors of Aldruin and leading to its status as a trade hub between Humans, Dwarves, and all other North Belt Kingdoms friendly to the stout folk.
Some time later, in 290 AC, Grebor successfully deployed a Deep-Set-Siege tactic, blowing open massive caverns around their Hold. First among Dwarven Holds, their last stand against a relentless Dakkar assault succeeded, and they repelled them in early 291 AC in what would be called the “Battle of the Khaldor-Bridge,” wherein the titular bridge saw King Regorn of Grebor slay 20 Dakkar single-handedly and win the day alongside a massive counterattack. The population of Grebor, fearing another Dakkar offensive, significantly militarized. They remain war-like and have a particular hatred for Isldar, ever remaining wary of further assaults to follow upon their people. However, in regards to the Dakkar, their worries were unfounded: crippling disease began to spread among them like wildfire, and before the Dwarves could even register the strategic situation, their enemy of three centuries was gone deep beneath the surface again, to caverns that they would have the wisdom not to disturb a second time.
In 305 AC, the Greborrin hatred of the Isldar was validated as they declared open war on the Dwarves and hastily laid siege to Grebor. The Isldarrin declaration was that Ellador belonged to them and them alone, and the Dwarves responded harshly to the latest in a long string of threats to their independence. In contrast to the defensive and measured war against the Dakkar, the war against the Isldar was fought recklessly and offensively, armies throwing themselves on the Isldar in the hopes that brave sacrifice could keep them away from what few Holds remained. Nearly half the armies of the Dwarves perished, many dragged off in chains to the Spire Cities of their ancient enemy. Grebor continues to maintain contact with Aldruin through a webway of silver-spun bridges stashed deep below Ellador’s surface, permitting a few Greborrin Dwarves to flee their Hold and preach the plight of their people to foreign governments in the hopes that someone would take up the call to battle the Isldar alongside them. More recently, the Isldar have begun to occupy what Human colonies exist in Ellador, but the Regalian Empire which rules them has shown little interest in helping them. The efforts of the Dwarven diaspora to win aid for their homeland have seen little success over the past few years, but hope remains that the Empire will step in to lift the siege.
Dwarves model their societies and personal identities in three forms. The Family is the primary form for a Dwarf, and serves as the basis for all their decisions and duties. Sometimes referred to as Clans, a Dwarven Family operates as a tightly knit unit with each member taking on specific duties under the guidance of the Patriarch, and all families residing primarily in a Hold that carries their namesake. Older families (usually those dating back to the founding of a Hold) may stylize their Patriarchs as “Kings” of their Clan, but this is rarely done nowadays out of respect for the general turmoil and struggle their kind has undergone. Beneath the Patriarch, Dwarven society is split based on working occupation and skill more than anything else, functioning as a well-behaved meritocracy; the most skilled of the Blacksmiths is recognized by the Family, with very few disputes over who is more fit to lead a particular Family or occupation. Dwarves are a practical lot, and that is reflected in how they effortlessly organize themselves based on what will be best for their family. It is worth noting that Dwarves greatly value all blood relations, treating a Cousin with as much loyalty and service as they would a sibling. The secondary form of a Dwarf’s identity is his Hold. A Dwarven Family may have ties to the Frannamar Family but may reside primarily in Aldruin or Grebor. They acknowledge their home Hold in this way, and so the idea of Hold and Family can be both distinct and the same for a Dwarven family, depending on where they find themselves.
Perhaps the most important single concept espoused by Dwarven society is the concept of a Grudge. This concept can be boiled down to when someone wrongs me, I will write it down, and avenge it later. Grudges have led to entire families dying out from infighting, and are oftentimes responsible for a reality wherein lineages of Dwarves die out fighting the Isldar because a Drogonite bowman threw an ice shard at their grandfather. Different Dwarven societies have different interpretations of how one holds a proper Grudge and records it, but the idea is shared between all of them except, notably, the Aldor. Dwarven Kings and lords like to make a show of keeping a book of all the grudges of all their subjects, but this is near impossible and mostly for flair and posturing. However, each Dwarf does tend to keep somewhere in a pocketbook on him, scrawled in pencil, the names of the people who have duped or insulted them and how they are to be served their just desserts. Grudges can be held on the individual level, but also the communal or racial level. The Dwarves hold two racial-level Grudges: one against the Isldar, and a lesser one against the Altalar. The Altalar Grudge can be honored by insulting or belittling the ancestors of the Altalar in light of their failure to aid the Dwarves when it mattered most, a technique which never fails to ruffle the feathers of the equally lineage-obsessed Altalar. The Isldar Grudge can be honored by treating Isldar as perpetual enemies, denying them refuge and peace of mind at any turn possible, and offering them nothing but hostility at any turn. Not all Dwarves take either Grudge at face value, and there is room for flexibility and pragmatism behind closed doors.
When a Dwarf has a Grudge, he will seek out other like-minded Dwarves to fulfill that Grudge with him. There is nothing more stubborn, churlish, and resolute in Aloria than a band of Dwarves seeking to resolve a common Grudge. Most of the time, this takes the form of a band of short men on the warpath smashing up a Dragon Temple or beating a stray Isldar. Those who trifle with the livelihood of one of the Stout Folk would do well to tread with caution, or next thing they know fifteen of them might show up at their door, clubs in hand and scowls on their faces. Unfortunately, serious Grudges tend to end with the death of the Dwarf in question, because pursuing a Grudge is not a business that can be resolved with a monetary or verbal apology. Those who have gotten on the bad side of the Dwarves tend to pay with their blood, but not everyone lies down and just takes it. Just as many Dwarves have died over petty insults and squabbles as non-Dwarves have, a fact which a Greborrin on a rampage would never admit. Despite being a destructive force that inherently handicaps the advancement of Dwarven society at its base, Grudges are also an unparalleled driving power that allows Dwarves to commit themselves to a goal with absolute certainty and not doubt the faith and conviction of their comrades.
Another fact shared between Dwarves is their tendency to use Hold Slang in place of Common words when it suits them, when they want to be particularly obtuse, or when they are in the company of other Dwarves in the know. What this means is that they enjoy randomly inserting words from the Dwarven language to replace proper nouns and basic concepts where they feel they should be replaced. Oftentimes, this means that when a Dwarf spins off into a list of insults, it sounds something like ‘’Tarûkhal a-mâruhad kårar ûkhnelgi!” and is frequently unintelligible to those who are not intimately familiar with their linguistic tradition. Of course, the intent remains perfectly discernible even if the words are obscured, because a shouting Dwarf with a red-colored face and a raised fist can mean only one thing: that a fight is surely on the doorstep. Players are free to make up their own Dwarven slang as long as it does not excessively conflict with the lore and as long as it does not replace an obnoxious number of words. The occasional substitution here or there is fine, but please do not go overboard.
Dwarven fashion is simple and utilitarian. As a people, they have an affinity for straight lines and harsh edges, with many layers and fur bits added on to shield against the cold. Of special pride to the Dwarves are their ornately worked belts, often engraved with detailed metal embellishments meant to detail the achievements of the wearer’s ancestors and the symbolism of their lineage. Moreover, as many a Dwarf has joked, these double as great impromptu weapons in a time of great trouble, as their decorations give them a leaden weight. Generally speaking, a Dwarf can be said to wear what is most comfortable to him or herself. The Ailor inventions of modern slippers and bathrobes have struck a certain chord with them, and it is not out of place to see a rugged, burly-chested armorsmith donning a pair of innocent bunny slippers in the comfortable confines of his home, as comical as it sounds.
Dwarven leisure is manifold but commonly involves the consumption of alcohol. All sorts of parties, dares, bets, and dances, enhanced by the corrupting influence of liquor, are instant hits among their halls. While slow to become intoxicated, this does not stop them from drinking until they have had their fill, and making themselves the unavoidable center of every single party they are in. When not inebriated, Dwarves have a preference for leisure that can be done while working or to develop something pragmatically useful, such as singing in cantos that follow the beat of a blacksmith’s hammer, or throwing axes in the barracks-room to prepare a useful skill for potential future military conflict. This has led to them being disdained as somewhat uncouth and rowdy by other peoples, but the Dwarves do not care, as anyone who says this about them does not know what a good time means or doesn’t have the stomach for the drink involved.
Dwarven art is hyper-focused on stonework. They are master sculptors, having a strong rivalry with both Imperial Culture Ailor and Fin’ullen Altalar for dominance in this sphere, and taking any chance they can to proudly one-up either of them. Their schools of master carving date back hundreds upon hundreds of years, as they are quick to remind anyone who even tangentially inquires on the topic, and are matched by few to none. A favored style among them bears some resemblance to the Ailor concept of a tapestry, except it is entirely graven into the wall of a Hold, with the text being narrated in runes underneath the slowly progressing visual imagery of the depicted story. When they create busts, they are more appreciably abstract, lacking the direct attention to detail and smooth edges of an Ailor or Altalar creation. Rather than communicating the exact portrait of a subject, the Dwarven style emphasizes the feeling their presence conveys, with harsh and bold lines for imposing kings that make anyone looking at their statue understand what it must have been like to stand before them.
One might expect the Dwarves not to have a cuisine worth appreciating. And in a sense, they would be right. However, the Stout Folk are skilled in preparing a wide variety of mushrooms and other subterranean agricultural products, knowing what exactly should be cooked for how long, and just the right way to include it in a stew. Indeed, Dwarven stews have achieved a level of culinary fame outside of Ellador, with the filling mixes of meat, potatoes, cave-lichen, and mushrooms having a certain earthy texture and filling satisfaction that is hard to match. Overwhelmingly simple, Dwarven cuisine is all about what will fill you up here and now so you can get the work you need to do done for the next few hours, with little patience for things that spoil quickly or require elaborate recipes to create. This puts them famously at odds with the Ithanian Ailor, with one courtier having been said to have broken into tears upon witnessing a Dwarven recipe for ground sheep gallbladder and mushroom-stuffed potato fries.
Dwarves have always had a particular affinity for blacksmithing, craftsmanship, and stonework. Even the lowest Dwarf is capable of using a hammer and pick, with the most revered of Dwarven craftsmen being able of metal and stonework that rivals the finest Altalarrin works. Dwarven artifacts and treasures are eagerly sought after by adventurous types, and the metalwork creations of a Dwarf fetch a high price anywhere. Stonework is their more common primary export, as are ores, gems, and jewels from their expansive mining systems. Dwarves tend to prefer to set up mining operations in large expansive caves, and begin tunneling excavations at a downward slant, ensuring any Dwarven community has bountiful access to coal, copper, iron, and other basic materials, as well as more rare treasures beneath Aloria. As expansive and glorious as their underground systems may be, the Dwarves are no slouches when it concerns surface-business. Above ground, Dwarves are skilled in woodworking and forestry, and sawmills are a common sight near their Strongholds. In more recent times, the Dwarves have traded more than ever before in a bid to keep their food stores stocked in Grebor, and to gain allies in the fight against the Isldar. With that said, it is worth noting the Dwarves have a long tradition of avoiding selling certain goods to other races, believing that any Dwarf-made treasure falling into another’s hands without the character of the buyer being assured is a shameful and risky business. Still, Dwarves tend to be skilled in bartering when their greed and pride is kept in check, and are quick to strike up trade agreements and deals in their favor. After all, when dealing with people who can seemingly craft the finest of treasures and shape the course of Aloria itself with their hands, it is difficult to turn them down.
Combat and Warfare
A Dwarf rarely fights alone. Their combat techniques and strategies all revolve around the idea of a group battle, as to be caught without allies is to be caught off guard, and a Dwarf is never off guard. Their synergy in combat is matched only by the most elite Tenpenny regiments, but their individual striking maneuvers are judged by the other peoples of Aloria as being very simplistic and predictable in nature. There is a simple parable that dictates Dwarven fighting styles: “The hammer is for the front of the knee, the axe is for the back.” They prefer to form large shield walls and attack the lower bodies of their often far taller and lankier opponents rather than separate and try to fight alone. In addition, the height of a Dwarf is deceptive when it comes to their strength; they have the muscle mass of an Ailor despite being rather short, and pack quite a bit of heft behind their blows.
All Dwarves who serve in the militaries of the Holds are trained in the School of Karutûk, which involves the usage of a shield, oftentimes a large round shield with a bossed center. Besides this, there is the choice of a main weapon, oftentimes either a halberd or other kind of polearm for longer-range combat or an axe for shorter-range combat. However, the favored weapon of Dwarven self-styled heroes and generals is a warhammer. Not all Dwarves are trained in the wielding of this culturally significant and extremely heavy weapon, and when one encounters a Dwarven army in the field, it is a bristling wall of spears that is to be expected, backed up by the latest in a line of increasingly complicated steam-powered innovations. Technology thus also plays a critical role in Dwarven warfare. The Dwarven armies of Ellador are famous not necessarily for their infantry, which is not half bad either, but for their sappers. Frequent use of field fortifications, tunneling, and rudimentary explosives with airship scouting capabilities means that the combat effectiveness of Dwarven forces tends to be far higher than their often low numbers might suggest. It is their technology that has always been their critical edge against their numerous foes, and when innovation lags in the Holds, it is said to be bad news for the fate of Dwarfkind. But having invented Airships and being at the forefront of steam technology, it does not look like progress will be lagging again anytime soon.
Religion and Holds
Within each Hold, there is a sort of “Founder God,” along with their associated Artifact that is credited with giving the Dwarves of said Hold their resilience and power. Olovomm is looked upon as the Great Founder, and as such is revered more so than the others, but each Dwarven God has a specific set of strengths and duties on behalf of the Dwarven peoples, and as such all of the Pantheon are known to the Dwarves. They do not necessarily revere their Gods or pray very often, turning instead to the practical use of each God’s Dogma which is usually recited verbally as a Dwarf calls upon their God. While the verbal component is unnecessary, a Dwarf will call upon their own Soul when accessing their respective Racial powers, and use that concentration to defend, attack, craft, or otherwise serve as their God’s Dogma demands. These Souls are based on the Hold a Dwarf primarily calls Home. Each Hold also has a particular Artifact or treasure that their God was known to carry in their mortal years, and they are highly sought after by the more adventurous Dwarves, even though records of their existence are very scarce.
- Dwarven Artifacts are highly sought after by both adventurers of other races, and the Dwarves themselves. Many bloody conflicts have come between greedy adventurers and proud Dwarven families, over the long lost relics of the past.
- Some Dwarves have considered Grudging the Regalian Government on a level similar to the Altalar, for the exact same reason. While this movement does not have the societal approval to take hold, it enjoys a worrying popularity among the Greborrin, and may soon become a reality.
- Ancient carvings and scattered records found deep within the Olovomm Hold indicate the existence of other Dwarven subraces lost to time. Only one name survives into the present day. The Smiluanr are depicted on ancient tablature as being a dwarf rising high above the mountain. No other knowledge or references to the Smiluanr have been discovered.
- Dwarves are susceptible to the same Afflictions as Ailor. It is noted that any Affliction in a Dwarf means complete and total societal rejection by all Dwarves, even the more accepting Aldor and Ruin-Khuur.