History of Dwarves
History of Dwarves is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.
A History of Dwarves
Delving into the Past and Forging Ahead
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Chapter One - The Second Age
- 3 Chapter Three - The Age of Chaos
- 4 Chapter Four - The Southern Clans
- 5 Chapter Five - The Wandering Clans
- 6 Chapter Six - The Mountain Clans
- 7 Chapter Seven - The Northern and Western Clans
- 8 Chapter Eight - Dwarves and the Modern Age
- 9 Chapter Nine - Dwarven Characteristics
Deep within the halls of the schools of Ta'Illistim, it is a tradition that the scholars therein go forth and walk the Lands. Some do not travel far, and others never return, but all gain wisdom as result of their journey. In the tongue of the ancient scholars, this practice is referred to as "Raen utuva nole" (Wandering to find wisdom).
My name is Lutiernse Angalamor, and I am of Ta'Illistim. My mother was a scholar of magics, and my father served as an officer within the forges underneath this great city. Throughout my years, he always spoke of the great skills of those called dwarves, and deep within my heart I silently lamented that so little was known of this race. Ten years ago, I was finally ready to take the walk of the scholars, and I have just returned.
After many years and many long nights of song and story (and ale), this traveler has been able to chronicle the tales told with other events in Elanthia's history, and therefore can give the curious reader the most comprehensive dwarven history that has ever been recorded. My hope is that future scholars will know to continue this history in their tomes, and add to the libraries of knowledge.
The history of the dwarves will never be complete. As a race, they are amongst the most private of all mortals. Little is known of the dwarves prior to the war with Despana. They were known merely as miners and merchants. They were seen to be fierce of heart and known to be strong of spirit. Barely sharing words amongst each other, they used mostly simple, inflected grunts to communicate their basic needs. When alone and gathered together, free of the prying eyes and ears of other races, they would share their tales in the form of song and stories, told over ale and camaraderie - celebrating their heartiness and brotherhood, and educating the future generations at the same time.
And Eonak walked slowly in the sunlight, Paying less attention to his steps Than to the piece of rock he found Deep within the earth… As the breaking of day heralded forth, so too, Came a soft breeze from the West, Causing a swirl of dust to push away from Eonak's simple garb - A knowing smile to play across The Arkati's hardened features… Eonak's eyes surveyed the lands around him, For as much time as he spent deep Within the bowels of the earth, the Strangeness of the valleys often captivated him. Eonak's thoughts turned inward, and who Among Mortals can say what, or who, inspires an Arkati? He pulled a small gem-cutting tool from within his pouch, And set his sights upon the stone in his hand. And time unmeasured passed, As inspired artists do not take note of such matters, With the eyes of Eonak steadfast upon his creation, On that day walked forth the first dwarf. --From ancient dwarven tavern lore
Chapter One - The Second Age
As the Arkati's rebuilding and influence upon the scorched earth faded, it would be the elves who would rule much of the Lands, establishing influences over hill, valley, forest, glen, and even the ocean. And from this new beginning, the dwarves established a much smaller realm of influence, deep in the heart of what is now known as the DragonSpine Mountains, where they were free of the politics of the Elven Houses and the rulers they did not regard.
Deep within the UnderGrounds, the dwarves made their home in channels of hewn rock that had lain dormant for centuries - geological shifts, former underground rivers, melting glaciers and the like. The dwarves were blessed with a stout build that made travel in underground caverns simple compared to taller races, and a heartiness that soon came to match that of the solid rock that was now their home. The need to survive became the teacher, and soon the dwarves knew all the mysteries of the rocks that gave them shelter.
As the elves above spread their domination westward, the DragonSpine would become a natural refuge for the dark beasts driven away from the civilized lands. These beasts, whether trolls, orcs, goblins, kobolds, or even more powerful creatures, soon came to find the vast tunnels and caverns that were occupied by the dwarves. It is believed that the dwarves were almost extinguished during their first 10,000 years underground. The orcs were a mighty foe: they had primitive instinct and well-adapted night-vision. They were the most intelligent of the dark beasts, and they grew lusty for the vast lands beneath the Elven cities (presumably to reclaim the lands that they had been driven from). They did not, however, anticipate the hearty spirit of the dwarves, or their ferocity. The dwarves' stature made them nimble in the narrow caverns, and their natural strength proved to be much more than an orc could manage alone. This did not stop the orcs from attempting to claim the tunnels, but it did limit their successes considerably.
This conflict would become the never-ending battle beneath the mountains. The orcs would gain minimal successes, on occasion, and drive the dwarves from an area of caverns. They would then create rough alcoves within the rock, no more than 10 feet high, with webs of tunnels from one alcove to the next. Orc caverns could be identified by their lack of shape, by the multiple passages in and out, but mostly by the foul stench and lack of any degree of civility. Carcass remains, feces, half-decayed corpses that have been stripped of anything of value: these were the things found deep within an orc's underground lair.
On the other hand, the dwarves grew quite skilled in their rock carving after years of practice. Towering pillars, intricate stairways hewn of stone, ornately curved niches and alcoves within the rock, and carefully planned tunnels from one series of caves to another - these were the markings of dwarven architecture. The best miners and artisans would proudly carve great statues to Eonak within the caverns of their family and kin. Among the varied styles, there was one aspect common amongst dwarven cavern sculpting - secret exits. The constant threat from orcs and other beasts seeking to take the great tunnels from the dwarves, created the necessity for hidden passageways that would lead to certain areas of safety - some deeper within the earth, and others to the lands above.
The deeper the dwarves explored the great UnderGrounds beneath the DragonSpine, the more they discovered. At first, they discovered the common metals, such as iron, silver, and gold. With the passage of time, the dwarves developed an uncanny vision for the subtlest variances in qualities of ore. They learned that some metals deep within the mountain had their own unique properties. The dwarves would experiment with these newly found metals, in jewelry, carvings, weaponry, armor, tools and more. Some of the wiser amongst the dwarves identified that some of these metals contained magic. Mithril was the first magic metal discovered beneath the mountain, given that name from the scholar's words for gray and brilliant, as the metal could be polished to a much greater shine than any other they found. And because of the magic within the metal, only certain of the most talented dwarves could work with it - they would come to be known as the Mithrenek Clan. For thousands of years, the secrets of mithril stayed within the Mithrenek Clan. Eventually, however, other clans and other races learned to handle the power of the magical metal. To this day, though, the finest mithril creations still come from the hands of a Mithrenek dwarf.
Despite the versatility of mithril, a need for other materials existed. Many other metals were found beneath the mountains, such as iron, gold and silver.
There was need for lumber to fortify the mines as they were carved deeper. Many a fine pickaxe would be made from a hilt of the finest wood available. Some dwarves did not mind too much traveling above to the forests and procuring assorted lumbers. Others would take their newly forged weapons and hunt the wild beasts in the forest. It was the way of things, an evolution, as the dwarves developed into an advanced culture. However, it was these traveling dwarves that would create a market for trade, and open the door for great wealth amongst this race.
Over time, the dwarves learned which metals had more value to the other races, and they learned to craft beautiful pieces using the diamonds, rubies, sapphires and other gems that were found deep within the mines. The best finds, of course, they kept for themselves, crafting absolutely stunning family heirloom pieces, in the form of armor, weapons, trinkets and of course, drinking steins. And, by the nature of trade, two things came to pass: One, is that the dwarves found a way to survive by performing the craft they preferred and at which they excelled; and two, other races came to know of previously unknown magic metals and precious gems from the depths of the DragonSpine. Using this knowledge, the dwarves mapped the material resources within the DragonSpine, and the clans began to specialize in working with the ores and gems that were found in their location. The clans already existed, as families, back to the founding of the race. But over time, the location of the familial caverns began to influence their work. Each clan increased its skill in mining and crafting the local ores, and their knowledge grew beyond compare. They taught their art to their children over the generations in the UnderGrounds, and while all dwarves had certain basic skills, these "family specialties" evolved into the defining characteristics of each bloodline.
Under the constant threat of attack from the orcs under the Earth, some clans of dwarves focused on the secrets of the forge, creating weapons and armor of far greater strength and durability than that which had been previously known. Their skills in the forge, and with weapon and armor mastery, made them the most skilled of all the races in Elanthia in such matters.
Thus, Kalaza grew. It started as the simple central location to the vast tunnels of mines throughout the Mountain. A few clans were actually quite skilled with the crafting of lumber and ore together, and they began to create simple buildings under the guidance of their Dwarven Overking, Khazi Khazar, to facilitate the trading of silvers, gems, ores, weapons and armor from one clan to the next. (The dwarves who possessed this skill of construction would later fall under the leadership of the Ragnak Clan.)
Another cavern was created within the earth, where the dwarves would gather to both share stories of the day's events (and strange things found), as well as to offer protection in the case of an orc invasion. The great hall of Kalaza was said to be 15 dwarves in height, with pillars so wide, it took six dwarves to reach around the circumference. And, so it was for centuries ... the dwarves amassing great wealth and riches and developing their brotherhood deep within the earth, while the elves fought and bickered amongst themselves upon the topside.
Dwarves will recount the tale of Gerthak Roramnoak, an old and tired lumberjack, who had wandered a bit too far to the east in his search for a new forest, and stumbled across a crew of Elven woodsmen hard at work felling trees and preparing lumber. Expecting to be attacked on sight, Gerthak wearily grabbed his well crafted mithril pickax and his hand-carved mithril shield and grunted his annoyance at having to battle when he'd much rather relax with an ale. Recognizing that Gerthak was no Elf, the woodcrafters spoke quietly in Common to this would-be intruder. Gerthak had been around enough to speak some of the Common tongue, and he realized they weren't going to kill him, just yet.
The elves were immediately taken by the craftsmanship of the dwarf's gear: he was bedecked mostly in leather and mithril, with faceted gems adorning the joints of his armor, and the hilt of his axe. Gerthak had never put much thought to such matters - there were younger dwarves who had spent months crafting quite fancy garments. In fact, those who claimed to know Gerthak would say this was his least favorite outfit: after all, he was just going to cut trees, not meet his favorite lass for ale and laughter. It did not take the wise old dwarf very long to realize that the pointy-eared lumberjacks had never seen such things as the common stuff he bore.
Scanning the area, he saw wheelbarrows full of fel, modwir, and thanot lumber, already split and readied for use. The ancient tale ends with a very scantily clad Gerthak returning back to the mines with several carts of lumber and a wide grin upon his face. The twinkle in his eyes as he celebrated that eve suggested that this was just the beginning of a hearty trade venture between the dwarves and those of the lands above.
After thousands of years, the number of orcs grew to be quite troublesome underneath the vast DragonSpine Mountains. This was a time when the extinction of the dwarves was a real possibility - already several families in remote mines had been lost to the invading beasts. There grew a need for the dwarves to communicate with each other across miles of rock deep within the earth, as many battles were lost because those in the deepest mines could not be warned or called in time.
It was Khazi Khazar, shortly after the loss of his mother and father to orcs, who crafted two things that would change the life underground forever. He forged an iron bell and a steel horn, both twice the size of the average dwarf. Each day, before the dwarves arose from their slumber to set about their daily tasks, he would ring this huge bell and all those within all the caverns would be awakened by its tone. As to signal those who traveled above (trading, chopping lumber, and hunting for food) to return from their day's journey, he would climb up the granite stair and sound the steel horn. This signified the time to gather and rest. In gathering together in great numbers in the halls of Kalaza, the dwarves were safe from loss to invasion.
For this seemingly simple idea, the dwarves named Khazi their first Dwarven Overking, rewarding his good sense and concern. Soon, horns and bells were used throughout the UnderGrounds to signify safety, arrival, and departure. Three blasts from the horn meant danger, and three strikes of the bells would answer the call to arms. Always, a single blast from the horn or a single strike from the bell meant that all was safe to return home. And although the dwarven clans were spread throughout much of the DragonSpine range, it was the simple brilliance of Khazi Khazar that kept the dwarves ultimately unified as a race.
Chapter Three - The Age of Chaos
The traveling clans brought word of Despana to the dwarves in the UnderGrounds. At first, the dwarves were hesitant to involve themselves in the Elf battle. However, the humility and sadness from the loss at Shadow Guard, and the ensuing Elven request for help, prompted Overking Gerfroth Khazar (a descendant of Khazi Khazar) to send forward 2,500 brave dwarves to lend aid against the threat. It was hardly a victory at Maelshyve; of the legion of fully armored dwarven troops, less than a quarter returned. While the survivors sang of great victories over the undead, and the strange and powerful magics of the elves, they also mourned the loss of so many kin.
With the stories of triumph, and mourning for loss, came a great plague. The Red Rot, believed to be some last strike or seed of Despana's magics, infected strong and weak dwarves alike, even Overking Khazar himself. Very little is said of the plague. The eldest dwarves speak of it in whispered tones, and nervously. It was a treacherous disease, causing the skin to bubble into bleeding sores. As the plague progressed, the victims of the Red Rot would cough and spit blood, as the disease affected the organs inside as it did the skin outside. Those affected would spread the disease unintentionally, as others tried to cure them. There was no cure found, even among the most learned of the stout race. Nor was there much time to find one, as the fierce plague swept through the confined caverns of Kalaza in a matter of weeks, destroying nearly half of the dwarven population.
It soon became apparent that no cure would be found, as more and more dwarves became ill. Some believed that the plague was in the cavern air itself, and staying within Kalaza would mean certain death. Faced with the threat of extinction, and unable to find a cure, the dwarven spirit was tested. There were some dwarves that were not affected, whether immune to the plague, or simply lucky. Rather than risk facing the same fate as their brethren, they decided to quarantine the city beneath the mountain. They worked diligently and destroyed the tunnels and mines leading from Kalaza, and buried the entrance to the great city under an avalanche of rock, never to look back. According to myth, a simple rune marks the entrance to Kalaza, a rune that only a dwarven miner would recognize, one that means simply, "Farewell."
Mournful of their loss, but persevering in their spirit, the dwarves left Kalaza forever, traveling to where they thought to find the most comfort, safety or profit, with those that remained of their clans. Some of the established mines were already a great distance from Kalaza, and others instead sought new areas to re-establish their families. This was called the Great Emigration, and it was this terrible event that caused those clans that dwelled in Kalaza to migrate and become even more widely dispersed throughout the DragonSpine.
Chapter Four - The Southern Clans
Most of the emigrating clans would travel north, west or east of Kalaza during the Great Emigration, but there were several that headed south as well, to the southernmost regions of the DragonSpine. It was during this time that the Dhe'nar dark elves had begun to rebuild their underground city of Sharath in the jungles south of [[[Rhoska'Tor]]. Lacking the numbers and necessary skills, they sought out members of other races to assist them with the construction of their city. The Dhe'nar were far less diplomatic than other elves in obtaining the help they needed. They captured and enslaved hundreds, including those dwarves who had emigrated too far south. Those dwarves (and members of the other races) who tried to escape were quickly re-captured and put back to work, deeper within the ground under Sharath.
Eventually realizing the futility of escape, the dwarves set themselves to what they did best. Time made it clear to their captors that their skill exceeded that of any of the other races held captive under the earth. The Dhe'nar eventually set the other races free, and gave the dwarves a small degree of freedom to mine the caverns of Sharath. This decision paid off well for the Dhe'nar. Once freed of constant oppression, the dwarves, led by Clan Leader Greetok, rebuilt Sharath and founded two cities of their own deep within the earth. The dwarves settled into their skill, and uncovered vast veins of magical metals and numerous caches of precious gems, deep underneath the foundation of Sharath.
The Dhe'nar were quite pleased with this discovery, and the dwarves were content to be left alone to ply their trade; thus a mutually beneficial relationship was reached between the captors and the slaves. The Dhe'nar would come to treat the Khanshael dwarves with great respect, and over the centuries of exposure to the magical nodes deep within Sharath, these dwarves would develop physical traits resembling those of their employers. And though originally of dwarven blood, this isolation from the other dwarven clans makes the Khanshael dwarves an entirely unique entity within the race.
Chapter Five - The Wandering Clans
Of the dwarves that left Kalaza, there were a few clans that never settled into a new city. Instead, they moved across the lands of Elanthia, settling into human towns, or staying in the wilds. In traveling free, they stayed unified as a clan, and took the name of the family that had ruled them in the UnderGrounds for centuries prior. And those that had not already established a familial distinction soon did so.
The Toktrog Clan came to be known for their skill in establishing trails. They were one of the very few clans of dwarves that openly studied magic. They learned, within their travels, how to harness the spiritual magics of the forests and rivers. Prior to the emigration, magic was not commonly studied in the UnderGrounds. While magical metals were handled carefully, no actual incantations were learned. However, the skilled eye of the Toktrog dwarves enabled them to forage resources from the lands with ease. Their knowledge of metals and weaponry made them a welcome sight amongst other "wanderers." Until the incantations were learned within the clan, they exchanged skills and knowledge for these new spiritual spells, with whomever they could find to trade.
In a similar fashion, the Ralgrenek Clan specialized in Imaera's domain, mastering the study of herbs and vegetation. Many of the Ralgrenek Clan discovered, for the first time amongst dwarves, the healing properties of the vast plant life in Elanthia, both in the lands above and in the caverns beneath the earth. To this day, the Ralgrenek Clan boasts the most skilled of the dwarven empaths. As these skills are somewhat uncommon amongst dwarves, the other clans always welcomed them, and the Ralgrenek Clan never found a need to build cities unto themselves. It was the Ralgrenek Clan who also contributed greatly to spreading the knowledge of the healing properties of the lichens, mosses, toadstools, and other herbal growths deep within the mountains.
The Roramnoak Clan settled into three cities, and were considered wanderers only by virtue of the constant travel of their merchants from one city to the next. Zul Roram was built on the east side of the DragonSpine and is considered the main exchange point for trade with elves and giantmen. Trade with those outside of the Turamzzyrian Empire was done mostly through Khazar's Hold, on the west side of the DragonSpine. In later years, the Roramnoak negotiated to build Dhu Noakfhar, a vast underground holding beneath the city of Krestle, where the dwarves do a majority of their trade with the Turamzzyrian Empire. Zul Brechinzm, in the hills west of Mestanir, was built in later years. The Roramnoak Clan was the most significant contributor of dwarven products into the hands of other races throughout Elanthia.
Chapter Six - The Mountain Clans
Clan and Mine Location
In the emigration from Kalaza, the mining clans began searching for caverns where they could begin their lives anew. South of Kalaza, deep within the DragonSpine, a river of lava cut across the caverns, deep below the mountains. The elves called this "Luineghash," but the dwarves called it "Eonak's Belt". The Kazunel Clan, the Reznek Clan, and the Smaelton Clan all built their cities along the smaller flows of lava, harnessing the power of molten rock to aid their forging efforts. The streams of lava would be put to use in later years.
In Gezunel and Grentok, the smiths there created "fire forges," from the thin streams of lava trickling through the town. They carved tunnels into the existing lava flows, and created their forges right on top of them. As the heat was unbearable, only the most skilled dwarves of these clans, or those working with the strongest of magical metals, were able to actually work upon the powerful "Naurathrad." In later years, mages were invited, under close supervision, to add their elemental magics during the forging process. Many powerful weapons and armors were created upon the Naurathrads, the skill of the dwarves combined with the magics of the mages.
In the center of the DragonSpine, the Grevnek Clan settled into a series of caverns that would come to be known as Zul Logoth. The Grevnek dwarves were specialists in all aspects of general mining. As demand for dwarven product reached both sides of the DragonSpine, the Grevneks decided to capitalize upon it. They built an intricate cart system along the tunnels built by the Grenroa dwarves, linking the west to the east, and more specifically, the two Roramnoak towns on both sides of the DragonSpine. Their knowledge of mining became quite renowned, and they became known as the "trouble shooters" of the dwarven miners. Strange ores, minerals and gems that were found deep within the DragonSpine were brought to Zul Logoth for inspection, if their properties were not immediately obvious. (After all, with the carts in place, Zul Logoth was not only the easiest place to reach within the DragonSpine, but also the quickest way to the east and west, should the traveling dwarf decide to sell or trade for whatever he had found.) The temple to Eonak within Zul Logoth also contains a small model of the Naurathrad. Many dwarves claim that Zul Logoth has become the modern day Kalaza. The casual visitor would not see this, however, because city guards restrict access to much of the city. Zul Logoth strikes the careless observer as rather a small place.
The Mordrakam Clan built the city of Mordram in the deepest caverns of the DragonSpine, near to several iron mines. Unlike most of their kin, who wielded pickaxes, or war hammers and other blunt type weaponry, the Mordrakam crafted mostly blades. The stout nature of the dwarves had some bearing on this craftsmanship, however, as these were no ordinary blades. Many races were already familiar with the practice of refining iron, to make steel. The Mordrakam, though, specialized in invar, also called dwarven steel. Invar is created through a complex method of refining standard steel, and intricate forging and smelting methods. Though this process is duplicated elsewhere in Elanthia in the modern day, the finest Invar creations are generally of the hands of a Mordrakam dwarf. Invar, they discovered, added an edge to a blade unlike many of the other metals, but it was still quite light. Claidhmores, after a fashion, became the weapon of choice for the Mordrakam Clan dwarves, and many an orc faced the wrath of this unnaturally sharp blade.
The tales of wealth buried deep within the earth were endless, when the dwarves spoke of Zul Sharzen to the west (home of the Sharznekgren Clan) and Ghareschnek towards the northeast (near one of the largest gold mines in Elanthia, and home of the Schneckgren Clan). Equal to the tales of wealth, however were the tales of the great traps of those two clans. The Sharznekgren were well known for the boxes of wealth they carried, but moreso for the traps that protected the contents within. The deadliest trap they referred to wryly as the troll hug. It is a small vial of sulfur leaning against a flint strike. If a lockpick is inserted into the trapped lock, it pushes the flint against a tiny piece of stone, causing a spark. The spark then ignites a tiny fuse to the vial of sulfur. The results are pretty deadly and can destroy a man within moments. The gold mines of Ghareschnek were rumored to be protected by deadly traps, as well: one misstep and a horrible fate awaits the careless traveler. The most common of these traps are simple holes in the cavern floor, obscured by a thin layer of wood and some rubble. Unwelcome travelers step unknowingly onto such a hole and find themselves missing a leg, or more, depending on the ferocity of the dwarf who built it.
The city of Mithrenek became the home to the remaining members of the Mithgrek Clan - an intricate statue of Rhorkee Hammerfyst Mithgrek, a hero of the war at Maelshyve, crushing the head of a banshee with a solid mithril war hammer marks the entrance to the city. The Mithgrek Clan still maintained their role as the most talented mithril crafters of the dwarven clans, even after the emigration. Over years of specializing in this metal, they became equally skilled in crafting weapons, armor, jewelry and sculptures, all of mithril. Long after a Mithrenek dwarf is able to handle stronger weapons and armors than Mithril, they still wear an item made of mithril, usually a heirloom passed down through the centuries, to show the honor of being a member of one of the first Clans.
Far to the North is the white city of Rockmelderam. Home of the Gotronek Clan, the great halls of this mining town are carved in pure marble. The city itself is much like a modern day museum, with great marble statues denoting events in the history of Elanthia, and moreso of the dwarves. In the great hall of Rockmelderam, there stands a pure marble depiction of Eonak and Imaera, surveying the lands with their hands clasped. In their shadow stands the likeness of Khazi Khazar, a peaceful smile upon his face and a stein of ale in his hands, as many dwarves believe that Khazar sits with Eonak and Imaera in his afterlife. The Gotronek dwarves are well known for their intricate statues, marble creations and mastery of dwarven art.
The Grenroa Clan traveled deep within the DragonSpine for 3,000 years, connecting all the dwarven cities with hidden passages and corridors, before settling towards the north and building the great labyrinth known as Chiostilis. With Stone walls nearly six elves high in some places and over 500 mapped alcoves and rooms, this tremendous maze daunted even the heartiest of navigators, leaving the Grenroa dwarves to live in relative peace, and able to focus on the task of maintaining the vast miles of tunnels deep within the DragonSpine.
Overview - Age of Chaos
The greatest population of the dwarven Clans did not venture too far from their old mines. These clans stayed within the DragonSpine range, and settled upon spots where good mining veins were found. Without the guidance of an Overking, the dwarves maintained their isolation, even from each other, focusing instead on where their hearts and mining picks would lead them. Each Clan would eventually build a small mining town; most of them underground, but equally self-sufficient (with help from trade with other Clans).
These clans also continued their constant battle with the orcs, and moreso with the trolls: tall and powerful beasts that were born of strange magics. The trolls were able to heal themselves, and although less intelligent than the orcs they proved an intimidating foe, capable of offering at least as much threat as the orcs. Despite the isolation of each of the Clans, during these battles the dwarves would unite, each lending their expertise to the other, and fending off the common enemy. Thus, even though the orcs, trolls and other beasts did prove to be a threat to the dwarves, they never gained significant advantage.
As a result of the continuing battles, the clans here became the finest of the dwarven metal smiths, crafting intricate and powerful weapons and armor against the minions. The dwarves worked passionately at their mining and forging efforts, and over time once again gained solidarity and dominion over the vast UnderGrounds of the DragonSpine. Eventually, this would also lead to great wealth amongst the elder dwarven families. The mining clans, who had no need or desire whatsoever for interaction with the other races, cherished the trading posts. While many Clans maintained their isolation in the UnderGrounds, the few Clans that did travel established a dwarven presence in the lands of the other races.
As the Elven Houses became less unified, more and more the dwarven products were looked upon with envy. The Elven Houses had grown rich during their rule of the civilized lands above, and were more than happy to spend their vast wealth on having armaments and trinkets alike, of the rarest materials known. And although the elves too, had their own crafters, and some access to the mines of the eastern and northeastern DragonSpine, they generally had no desire to crawl under the ground to mine ore themselves. They were happy to let the dwarves do such "dirty" work, and the dwarves were just as satisfied to take their silvers. The elves preferred to craft the metals, and it is certainly true that their skill rivaled that of the dwarven crafters.
Tharifor Irunfete Smaelton is credited with overseeing the construction of the renowned "Beleganto" smelting vat, the pride and joy of all those who reside in Eregrek. This was (and still is) used for melting tremendous rocks or metal into liquid form. The "drake's belly" sits over a small pond of molten lava. Intricate bridges lead around and up to the mouth of the vat. Underneath, different levers built within the side of the vat allow the isolation and release of the contents of the giant drum, depending on their weight and density. Chutes leading from Beleganto, known as the "drake's fingers," pour into holding cylinders for cooling metal work.
Chapter Seven - The Northern and Western Clans
Not all dwarves built cities underground after the emigration. Zhindel's Post, on the east side of the DragonSpine, was the town of dwarven lumberjacks, specifically the Krenlumtrek Clan. Zhindel's Post is often called, "The Gateway to the DragonSpine", by the many elves who dare not travel underground. The Krenlumtrek dwarves did a lot of trade with the mining dwarves to the west, and a fair trade as well with some of the elven travelers passing through the renowned Whistler's Pass. These dwarves also made a living by creating and repairing wooden hafts and hilts, and attaching them to metal weaponry. (One Krenlumtrek was overheard joking that only a dwarf could make silvers from the fact that elves had soft hands.)
Several Clans, embittered by the plague and their losses at the hand of Despana's minions, headed far north into the peaks of the DragonSpine Mountains, some as far north as modern day Aenatumgana, but mostly to the lands east of there. These clans were also specialized, developing new aspects of their skills in the new environment. Winter months in the North made mining too treacherous; frozen caverns near to the surface would collapse without notice from the weight of the snow and ice above - avalanches above would be followed by collapses deep beneath the earth.
A couple clans ventured south or west to lands populated with humans and other races, seeking underground Mines and smaller mountain chains to make their living. Betting on the desire of the other races to be as eager as the elves to trade ore and gems for food and clothing, these Clans flourished but were also involved in more disputes and battles than all the other Clans combined.
The Parkshnuum Clan, the largest of the western clans, built two cities. The clan leader resided in Eregendu Dzu, near the northern iron mines. In Parshillam Dzu, the iron miners taught the secret of the forge to any who could afford the lesson. Thus some, but not all, secrets of the forge came to be learned by members of all races. Although this is still the largest public iron forge, there are many smaller forges in modern Elanthia, where the Parkshnuum dwarves teach the forging process to all who share their interest in the craft.
The Krethuum Clan of Vaslavia Meadows became herders of roltons, goats, caribou, gaks, and more, using their hides to create clothes for the other local clans. Of course, the meat from these beasts makes many a fine meal for the isolated locale.
During the winter months, the Gulroten Clan abandoned their mine near Zul Golorot and lived in the small town of Bortrazo's Canyon. There they studied the fierce winds of the northeastern peaks and experimented with the unusual metal they had traded for with the elves. This metal, called veniom, was exceptionally malleable, and in the right hands it could be rolled into a thread and stitched into the leather of armor or mining packs to make the items lighter. Although the elves maintained control of most of the veniom finds in the northeast, occasionally the Gulroten find some of their own. Mostly, however, they traded with the elves of the north for the metal.
Near to Bortrazo's Canyon was Lake Jostallim, the home of the Kikthuum Clan. Using the resources near to them, the Kikthuum dwarves crafted all types of watercraft. The passage of time and the discovery of veniom by the neighboring Gulroten Clan eventually led the Kikthuum Clan to create the first of many submersibles. Unfortunately the secrets of these designs are held closely to this day. Rumor suggests that a few renegades of the Kikthuum Clan became pirates in the seas to the west, but none would speak more of this.
Zherarkal Gulroten became the first "flying dwarf" one winter day. According to tale, he had been working in Bortrazo's Canyon, smoothing out a great flat piece of veniom. This was the method used before rolling it up and selling it to the stitchers, who paid a great amount of silvers for the magic metal. As he picked up this sheet of veniom, a great wind blew from the North, and lifted Zherarkal off the ground and high above the city. He screamed to the dwarves below, who could do nothing but gawk at this dwarf who was easily fifty feet above their heads.
Not to be bested by some piece of metal, Zherarkal tugged and pulled at the sheet, causing him to dip and roll in the air currents. The other dwarves believed this was the intention, and started cheering for the frustrated flying dwarf. A few unintentional maneuvers later, the wind subsided and the weight of the dwarf was too much for the veniom. Zherarkal plummeted to the ground with a ker-plop. As the other dwarves ran over to make sure he was unharmed and to offer him ale, the dwarf sat there, dazed, with a silly grin upon his face. He quickly took to his new nickname of the Soaring Gulroten.
This strange incident became the keynote event for the creation of the great flying balloons, which are now the trademark of the Gulroten dwarves.
Around this time an elder dwarven lady, Korliandra Mirvorlin of the Krethuum Clan, created "Gwartilpo," the first wheel for spinning metal thread. It was this ingenuity that made silver, gold, and veniom threading as workable as it is in modern day.
Chapter Eight - Dwarves and the Modern Age
Giantman-Dwarf War - Approximately 2000 Years Ago
The summer of 3945 was a particularly barbaric season as the mountain clans fought off hordes and hordes of orcs and trolls deep within the Earth. The Toktrog Clan, led by Kerzoth Mithhawk, had been asked to keep their eyes on the lands during their travels, and to lend aid where possible to the Mountain clans. The mining dwarves had grown frustrated with the recent series of attacks. The Toktrog dwarves, of course, were the best trackers of all the dwarven Clans, equally able to sight an enemy camp, a new vein of ore, or a wealthy town. They would often work hand in hand with the Grenroa Clan, finding paths while the latter built new tunnels, to link mines and towns deep within the earth.
It was a young Toktrog who first saw the huge armies of giant, pale beasts moving above. At that eve's gathering of miners over ale, he spoke of what he had seen. Ale flowing through the young dwarf, he had decided that these were indeed White Trolls, and that they were preparing to set up a camp from which to attack again the mountain dwarves. The dwarves quickly gathered themselves. They would not wait to be put on the defensive by these strange beasts that the lad described. Throughout the caverns, horns were sounded, and by morning, the mining dwarves had organized by Clan, and made their way to the mountaintop by first light. Without warning, they began to attack these White Trolls.
At first, the trolls laughed at them (which struck the dwarves as a bit odd, since trolls are not generally so emotive.) But, those scouts in the mining clans noted that these giant beasts spoke a language, and that it was not the trolls' tongue. The fighting continued all summer. These foes were clever, but no match for the organization and skill of the gathered dwarven Clans, wizened by centuries of underground fighting with the endless orcs and trolls.
As night fell each eve, the dwarves and their opponents would stop fighting, and retire to their separate camps for ales and laughter. During the days' battles, neither side took losses, and neither side could push the other off the mountain. It soon occurred to the dwarves how very odd it was that trolls gathered for ales and laughter, as the dwarves did, each eve. Plus, their prowess in battle was unlike that of any trolls seen deep in the caverns of the UnderGrounds. Finally, it was a Roramnoak dwarf who identified the White Trolls as giantmen, noting that these large people were often wandering in the hills of the DragonSpine, though nothing had ever been traded with them. And by the end of the summer both sides realized their folly and that, indeed, they would make better allies then enemies. The mining dwarves were not very familiar with the other races (except to note that elves had pointed ears, and halflings were shorter than they were.) The pact made between the dwarven clan leaders and the giantman tribes was called Sunfist, for the peak upon which the fighting had taken place. This pact still stands today and most battles involving dwarves or giantmen will find the other race lending aid. It also made the mining dwarves realize the need to get out and wander into the Lands on occasion, so that this mistake would not be made again.
The discovery of rolaren is attributed to this battle as well. Shortly after the war, the dwarves invited some of the forgemasters of the giantmen into the UnderGrounds, proudly sharing their complex smelts and forges with their new allies. The giantmen, too, had some knowledge of forge and weapon smithing, and together they discovered rolaren, a highly durable and malleable smelting of mithril (the pride of the dwarves) and some of the unusual ores that the giantmen had learned to work with in their travels.
Solhaven Bay - Approximately 1900 Years Ago
Some clans continued to thrive amongst the other races, driven further west by the desire to find new mines, and new profits. In 3925, a Clan-mixed group of dwarves discovered a series of caves near the beaches of Solhaven Bay. Deep within these caverns, they found unusual gems and ore striations, and quickly set upon establishing a small mining operation. In the meantime, they sent word to the mining clans of their discovery. The location--near to the water, far from Mountains, and so far west--did not draw many of the other dwarves to this new area. For fifty years, quite a bit of profit was made from the riches buried deep within the sea caverns.
On a cool morning in the fall of 3975, a group of Toktrog dwarves came across the beach mining village, to share some ale and meat from their hunt up on the plateau. They found death instead. The entire village had been attacked and only a few dwarves had survived. Those who survived were so stricken with fear they could not speak of what happened to the village, managing to express only a few syllables of horrified gibberish. The Toktrogs tended to the survivors, and set quickly to honor the slain dwarves. The caverns were sealed with a massive boulder, and the nearby falls were forever after called "The Cascade of Tears." None would speak of that day, and the survivors were quickly taken to their mountain clan families to the east. The mysteries surrounding the attack would not be brought to light for nearly 500 years.
The dwarves moved away from that area. With the growth of the Turamzzyrian Empire, the area nearby grew into a fishing village. The strange attack that slew the dwarves in 3975 befell the human villagers in later years. Kraken were discovered to be the cause of those strange deaths, and the humans began to excavate the sands, in hope of destroying the birthing ground of the foul beasts.
Traveling Roramnoak dwarves sent word to the clan leaders of the potential discovery of the sealed entrance, and the dwarven leaders agreed to send one from each Clan to make sure that the memory of their fallen brethren was maintained and respected, and not defiled, during the excavations. A human messenger approached the clan leaders, resting in the iron-mining town of Parshillam Dhu on their way to Solhaven Bay. According to the messenger, the sealed entrance was already found, and the dwarven seal was recognized upon the boulder. After some debate, the clan leaders decided it best to share what was known, and told the messenger the tale of what had happened hundreds of years earlier.
The messenger returned to Solhaven Bay. The next day the dwarven clan leaders arrived at the excavation site, somber, speaking of this "Vorn Ahvis", and the sadness of the loss of their brethren. In a surprising act of diplomacy, the local baron of Solhaven Bay extended full respects to the dwarven clan leaders, welcoming them back to the caverns they had founded, and seeking their approval for further excavations and research. Some local priests of Liabo were brought to the site, to ensure the caverns were cleansed correctly. The dwarves asked only that Eonak's priests oversee the rituals, and the local diplomats agreed.
Several days of rituals and ceremony took place under the watchful eyes of the clan leaders. Afterwards, the clan leaders returned east to their respective clans, sending in their place a few miners to assist the humans with the city's construction and the connecting tunnel ways. The clan leaders looked upon this extension of respect with pleasure, and they silently acknowledged amongst each other a new respect for humans as a result.
Hendor / Talador / Jantalar Conflict - Approximately 900 Years Ago
In the early period of the Modern Age, the Turamzzyrian Empire fought mostly with themselves, and occasionally with the elves, as they struggled to expand their rule under various leaders of neighboring provinces. Throughout the power struggles, the dwarves remained neutral, seeking their comforts and homes deep within the earth, and in the small mining towns and trading posts they had developed over hundreds of years. Certain towns in the human lands were friendlier to other races, and, although most of the animosity was directed toward elves, the dwarves found more profit where there was less racism. These areas were where the Western Clans congregated to trade metals and stories. Such was the case in Hendor, founded in 4288.
King Thurbon of Hendor was wary of the impending conflict with the other local human rulers, and he made good use of the influx of skilled dwarves. He paid them well and fortified the city's defenses considerably as a result. For years to follow, the local dwarven artisans managed to profit and keep their business interests safe, mostly by keeping Hendor's soldiers in the finest of weapons and armor, as Thurbon warred with neighboring human provinces.
Trade in the West suffered in 4310, as some humans started to enforce a policy known as Chaston's Edict, which treated other races as less than equal to humans. However, the dwarven products were still highly desirable. More opportunities existed a bit to the east, an area that lay beyond the reach of the human laws. Hendor eventually ended the war with the Turamzzyrian Empire, and the dwarves saw profit from the influx of citizens who sought to be free of the overbearing human laws. It took 20 years until Immuron, the leader of the Turamzzyrian Empire, signed a new peace treaty, easing the strained relations with Hendor. Hendor's increased strength allowed for expansion northwards against orcs and the other beasts in the mostly uncivilized lands there. Many dwarves hired on as mercenaries in these battles.
In general, this was a good period for the Western Clans, in spite of their official status as second class citizens - they were treated much better than the elves who sought refuge within the town. The expansion of Hendor saw increased attacks from northern hobgoblins, ogres, trolls and the rival orcs. Interested in protecting their own interests, the Egrentek Clan and the Parkshnuum Clan dwarves, with other clans lending aid, built Doggoroth Keep in 4519. Doggoroth Keep was a source of great pride to the dwarves, who prior to this did not build such immense fortifications above ground. They were accustomed to moving about, and keeping their buildings simple. The Keep served the dual purpose of a trade location deep underneath the fortifications, as well as a watchtower for invading evil beasts. Doggoroth Keep was in the area of the major local silver and iron mines, and only a short journey from modern day Talador, and some of the smaller human communities within Hendor's province. The Keep held strong for 60 years. In 4579, however, a strange breed of orcs attacked the Keep. These orcs came in tremendous numbers, and although the dwarves could easily fell the beasts, the sheer numbers brought their defeat after a hearty stand. Unable to comprehend the loss to their rivals, the surviving dwarves fled into the familiarity of Hendor. The event convinced many dwarves of the need to learn more of magic. Mages were invited to a few of the dwarven mines, to work closely with the forgers and metal smiths. This was the beginning of an era marked by the creation of great armors and weaponry, not only crafted of the most powerful of metals, but also bearing the mark of elemental magic.
Shortly after the Witch Winter of 4628, Hendor was lost to Queen Issyldra, the Ice Witch. Those dwarves that did survive took to the underground mines with the bulk of their clansmen. The dwarves stood with the humans against the Ice Witch, but her power and minions drove all the defenders back for nearly two years. During this time, seven magical blades were crafted to defeat the Ice Queen, crafted from the very flows of Eonak's Belt. Before the blades were finished, Issyldra was defeated by the humans, but her minions remained and scattered about the lands. The blades were given to the seven strongest warriors of all the dwarven miners, and in a great battle, Issyldra's remaining minions were defeated, but the seven warriors were killed. In the process, however, the dwarves reclaimed their lost mines, and the humans retook the northern lands.
Under the new leadership of the Turamzzyrian Empire, the dwarves were treated as second class citizens, in spite of their efforts against Issyldra. Once the mines were reclaimed, the dwarves reverted to their clan-specific ways, crossing through the human lands only for trade and rarely taking residence in the human cities, unless those cities were particularly lenient in their enforcement of imperial law. At this point, the humans were too engaged in battle with the elves and in southern exploration to pay much attention to the non-elven, non-human races. An uneasy trading relationship continued. By 4862, more and more humans had made their way into Talador, which was mostly home to the Egrentek dwarves, and adjacent to the mine at Zul Zybrano. In spite of the increasing human presence within Talador, most of the dwarves continued to offer trading privileges to those humans of Vornavis - as part of the silent agreement made hundreds of years ago by the clan leaders at the time of the excavations of Solhaven Bay. Jantalar's soldiers often beleaguered dwarves traveling from Talador to Hendor, wanting to be offered the same goods as their neighbors in Vornavis. The dwarves disregarded the soldiers as nothing more than jealous, and took no heed of them. Occasional skirmishes broke out, but no battles of any significance.
By the early 4900's, the humans had established a noteworthy presence in the mining of the DragonSpine, after 600 years of effort. During this century the racial tensions relaxed a bit, as thousands of centuries of experience still made dwarves the premier metal smiths and gem artisans throughout the lands, including the Turamzzyrian Empire. During the early 50th century there was a decline in the mines near Talador, and by 5030, and the local Clans relinquished much of their entrepreneurial interests in the town in favor of other, more lucrative areas. Talador remained part of the Roramnoak Clan's trade routes, as many good trading alliances had been created there. The local mining clans, however, moved their interests elsewhere, maintaining their control on a local silver mine only. In recent years, Hochstib of Jantalar had taken over Talador and the local mines, at one point enslaving dwarven miners as well as blocking trade with Vornavis. In a show of power, Hochstib destroyed part of a mine in 5094, killing hundreds of miner dwarves trapped within. Embittered Parkshnuum Clan dwarves destroyed the rest of the Talador mine shortly thereafter. The other clan leaders made no official statement against this retaliatory attack, as it is well known that dwarves do not take well to any type of slavery. Those Egrentek dwarves that escaped Hochstib's attack participated in this raid as well. It was the boldest attack in a hundred years of minor skirmishes with Jantalar soldiers, and it saw the greatest amount of casualties, as the mine was well guarded by Hochstib's soldiers. However, with the mine destroyed and both sides suffering loss, the conflict was deemed futile to pursue. The Toktrog Clan located an alternative trade route to Solhaven Bay via the frontier town of Wehnimer's Landing and assisted the Vornavis humans in building a trade route around the blockade set up by Hochstib. This was completed in 5098.
Teras Isle - Approximately 200 Years Ago
In the late 4900's, word of the humans finding their own mines and tales of the Turamzzyrian Empire expanding northward, reached the clans of the north. Ghorsa Borthuum, of the Gulroten Clan, began to gather other dwarves of his clan, of the other local clans, and even some of the mining clans further south. He had heard stories of the lost cities of Kezmon Isle and was curious to explore what lay there. He promised the dwarves who would join him "freedoms from the threat of human expansion" and "safety from the deadly northern winters" that the clans had endured for years. Certainly there would be untapped resources that would bring wealth to any who would join him.
Traveling in one of the largest air balloons heretofore known to the Gulrotens, Ghorsa and others traveled west. They never did find Kezmon Isle. They found instead a small volcanic isle that seemed uninhabited. Spying a large mountain, they landed the balloon there, calling this spot "Stormbrow" for the circle of black clouds that surrounded the small isle.
They climbed down from the mountain and established themselves quickly on the previously deserted Teras Isle. The dwarves celebrated their find: untouched caverns and caverns of volcanic rocks and untold gems deep within the caverns of Stormbrow. This new Borthuum Clan, complete with the skill sets of the various dwarves that followed Ghorsa, rapidly established the town of Kharam Dzu and closed the borders to all but the occasional trader or visitor. Ghorsa believed strongly in sharing the untold riches only with those who had joined him, and to this day the Borthuum Clan of dwarves remains the most exclusive of all the dwarven clans. After settling in, the dwarves decided that the best profits would be gleaned from trading. Ghorsa devised a system by which a small percentage of profits was redistributed equally among all the members of the Borthuum Clan.
Eventually, a human merchant ship forced west by the threat of krolvin slaver ships discovered their location. Ghorsa negotiated with the human sailors, showing off the clan's skill at crafting products from glaes and the fiery gems found deep within the volcanic isle. Glaes was the primary malleable volcanic glass found deep within the volcanic caverns. Although somewhat heavy, its strength was unmatched by any metal found prior to this time. His first trade with the humans was for a ship, which Ghorsa and the skilled dwarves of his clan refitted and aptly renamed "The Glaesen Star," in honor of the magic material found deep within the isle's belly.
The Ragnak Clan - 150 Years Ago
The Ragnak Clan's history is short compared to the other dwarven clans. Formed circa 4950, the clan has been under the leadership of Kanzar Ragnak since its beginning. Kanzar's origin has never been revealed outside of dwarven society, but some suspect he might have been a member of the Borthuum Clan. Popular rumor states that Kanzar was expelled from the clan for differing views on the direction the Borthuum Clan was taking in the early settlement of Teras Isle.
Kanzar recruited the best tradesmen from the other clans. Carpenters, masons, metalworkers and other masters of their trades were hired for their excellence in their respective crafts. Many were outcasts like Kanzar.
Kanzar's stubbornness has held the clan together through several construction projects and the other clans have come to respect his ability to get a job done well and on time. This respect has been strong enough for even the Borthuum Clan to hire him for construction projects on Teras Isle. Kanzar has even purchased space in the new Kharam Dzu meeting hall for a headquarters for the clan's future projects.
Chapter Nine - Dwarven Characteristics
While working in the mines, under threat of orc and troll attacks, the dwarves developed a subtle but intricate form of communication. The foes were skilled enough to discover the source of spoken voices, which gave them a chance at finding the dwarves amidst miles of underground tunnels. Cavernous environments will cause voices to echo, whereas grunting is absorbed into the rock. It was equally clever and necessary.
Over the centuries, influenced by climate and chosen craft, the dwarves developed physical attributes that set them apart as clans. The northern clans are usually of a paler complexion. During the summer months, when the sun is warm, they work deep beneath the mountains, mining veniom and other metals. During the winters, while they ply their craft, dark clouds hide the sun. Their beards tend to be very thick and unkempt, due perhaps to a need for additional warmth-though perhaps their isolation from other races contributes to the cause. Unlike the other clans, these dwarves will be found to practice more magic and to wear more furs and pelts, as opposed to the metal armors characteristic of most dwarves.
The mountain and mining clans tend to have a heartier appearance. Thick muscled and ruddy skinned, these dwarves spend easily eight to twelve hours a day in the mines. They are the fondest of ale and dwarven brotherhood and are also the least patient in matters of war. Hardened by centuries of threat from underground beasts, the Mountain clans are slow to trust, they make the most loyal allies because they regard the bond of brotherhood as the true essence of their race, the source of their unquenchable spirit. Most of the mountain clans do not practice magic, needing only the magic found within the metals they mine. Some may learn simple incantations, simply to ease the task at hand, but many more will frown upon magic as the tool of the self-destructive races.
The Wandering and the Western Clans are the most entrepreneurial of the dwarven clans. Traveling where profits can be made from their skill, they are far more likely to leave a town once its mine is no longer viable, or when their skills are not in demand. Not particularly trusting of the other races, they are nonetheless receptive to the wealth to be made from them. Of all the Clans, these dwarves have the benefit of living closer to large cities and therefore are a bit more refined, as dwarves go. Their beards are often neatly trimmed, and their garments are often lavishly accessorized with intricate metal and gem work. Their weapons and armors are meticulously kept, decorated with ornate detail and lavishly set with gems.
Still as hearty as their mining kin, these dwarves will often be found within a town's local pubs, comparing notes on the day's profits and grunting jokes about those sitting nearby. Many more magic users are found amongst these Clans, having more exposure to wealth, and therefore access to the higher-ranking officials of a given town. (The Western schools in the Turamzzyrian Empire where magic is taught often charge exorbitant fees to teach non-humans incantations. Often the dwarves gain access to these exclusive schools by their "merchant" relationships with the local Barons.) Others of these Clans are more likely to join the local militias, bands of pirates, clergies and other such affiliations where their skills are not only needed but also valued - and, of course, where a profit can be made.
Eonak is considered the Patron of the dwarves. The dwarves consider him their only true deity, above any and all other Arkati. It is common in most daily tasks to give praise or thanks to Eonak, and in moments of great need, to call to Eonak for assistance. The dwarves attribute their survival, their skill and their strength to Eonak's blessings. While some may study paths of the other Arkati, it is rare to find a dwarf that does not have the most reverent respect towards Eonak. Most dwarven cities contain monumental temples, altars and libraries dedicated to the Arkati of the forge. Many of those cities, too, will contain a smaller temple or altar to Imaera as well, as she is oft regarded as Eonak's companion.
There are some dwarven priests who have intricate ceremony and rituals to Eonak. But, for the most part, Eonak is not considered imperious, and while it is suggested that respects should be paid, the impression left with this scholar is that basic respect and thanks is satisfactory to the dwarf's Arkati.
Clan / Family Life
The physical make up of dwarves is such that it is impossible for dwarves to have children with any other race. (There is no doubt in this scholar's mind that such things have been attempted, considering the flow of ale throughout the dwarven cities, but I could find no proof of any half-dwarfs in all my studies and travels.) There is little difference in stature between a dwarven male and female. Within the cities themselves, the females work beside the males in the mines, in the shops, and so forth. A dwarven female is no less stout or spirited then her male counterpart.
In dwarven families, the task of raising children is split between both parents. They will alternate days or weeks away from their professional tasks to tend to their children. Dwarves are a passionate race, and some families boast as many as ten children in the relatively short life span of a dwarf. It is very uncommon to break marriage vows, as the dwarves are a loyal race. They will often marry young, and take unto them a "life partner" - someone they share all their tasks with, whether mining, forging or going forth into battle.
The nightly gathering of dwarves in a Great Hall is considered a mandatory practice, especially amongst the Clans in the UnderGrounds. It is here that the children are taught the tales of their Clan, as the parents and the other adults share brotherhood and camaraderie. The dwarven affinity for ale transcends all things. There is rarely a dispute amongst dwarves that cannot be settled over a stein.
Individual families within each Clan will usually possess one or several heirloom items. Once a dwarf reaches maturity-that age when they are considered fit to marry and to go to work in the mines-the family holds a great festival to bestow the "Manhood" or "Womanhood" heirloom to this new adult. This gift is accompanied by a small ceremony honoring Eonak, followed by a tale of the history of the particular heirloom. Depending on the clan, the heirloom might be a shield, a weapon, a suit of armor, or an ornate piece of jewelry. To insult the family or clan by disparaging one of its heirlooms will likely result in your death.
To this day, especially in the UnderGrounds, dwarven towns boast what remains of Khazi Khazar's legacy: the "Vardaras" (great horn) and the "Tholtinco" (great bell). The Clans still respond to the signals they produce by waking, or gathering, or arming for war. These simple instruments tell the tale of what sets the dwarves apart from all other races: A clear ringing faith, strength, brotherhood, and an unmatched spirit that transcends battle, hardship, and politics.