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Dwarves, sometimes called the Stout Folk, are a natural humanoid race common throughout parts of Toril as well as Abeir. Dwarves are a tough, tradition-abiding folk known for their strong martial traditions and beautiful craftsmanship.
Dwarves are a short race, as their name implies, standing between 4'3" and 4'9" on average, with gold dwarves a bit shorter. What dwarves lack in height they make up for in bulk; they are, on average, about as heavy as humans. A dwarf can weigh anywhere from about 160 to 220 lbs. Dwarven males are a bit taller and heavier than their female counterparts. Like humans, dwarves have a wide variety of skin, eye, and hair colors, typically pale among shield dwarves and deeply tanned or brown amongst gold dwarves. Hazel eyes are common throughout the race, with blue eyes more common amongst shield dwarves and brown or green eyes found amongst the gold dwarves.
Male dwarves are often bald and grow thick facial hair sometimes used to display social status. Unusually for humanoids, both sexes naturally grow ample facial hair though the majority of shield dwarf females shave their beards off. This hair is often dark in hue, though among shield dwarves blond or red hair is just as common. Gold dwarves take the care of facial hair to an extreme, carefully oiling and grooming it, with some adding perfume and ornamentations.
Dwarves are a long-lived race, though not so much as the Tel-quessir, and reach physical maturity somewhat later than humans. A dwarf is traditionally considered an adult once he or she reaches age fifty. Dwarves age much like humans but over a longer period of time, remaining vigorous well past 150 years. Most dwarves live to see their bicentennial and a few live to be over 400.
Dwarves are unusually tough for humanoids, in more ways than one. Dwarven stomachs, for instance, are resistant to virtually all poisons and it takes less effort for a dwarf to get back on its feet than other races. Dwarves also have dense bodies and are difficult to push around as a result, as well as having the capacity to bear loads that other races might find hindering with little ill effect. Dwarves also have a sense about them that few races do, with a preternatural awareness of their surroundings useful for a subterranean race as well as good judgment all-around in general.
Many dwarves are difficult to like and lack the charm of many other smaller races, such as halflings or gnomes, though this is not a trait common to all dwarves and some possess a great deal of charismatic power. Furthermore, dwarves are not entirely unsocial and more than a few have a natural knack for bartering or judging the value of an offer, something that sits well with their legendary crafting abilities.
It is occasionally believed that dwarves possess the ability to see in the blackest darkness, like a drow, and there is evidence that this may be true though it is also possible that the tales are misheard recollections of duergar, who are often mistaken for dwarves. However, many dwarves do have an affinity in other ways for the caverns in which they live, possessing a natural affinity for recognizing unusual patterns in stonework that can seem almost supernatural at times.
Whether or not the dwarven claim that they were carved from the world’s stone is true, the dwarves share many qualities considered similar to the stone they live with. Strong, hardy, and dependable dwarves are polite, particularly elders, and possess a wisdom beyond that of many other races. Dwarves value their traditions, regardless of the subrace they come from, and look for inspiration from ancestral heroes. Dwarves are also known for their stubborn nature and cynicism, traits widespread amongst the dwarves but which contribute to and are commonly offset by their bravery and tenacity.
Dwarven friendship is hard to earn, but is strong once won. Naturally dour and suspicious, the stout folk are slow to trust others, specifically towards those outside their family, suspecting the worst of an individual until the outsider proves many times their good will. Once this trust is gained dwarves hold their friends to it and view betrayals, even minor ones, with a vicious propensity for vengeance. A common gnomish oath, remarking on this dwarven sense of justice, is “if I'm lying, may I cross a dwarf.”
For dwarves, loyalty is more than a word and that it should be both valued and rewarded. Dwarves believe it a gift and mark of respect to stand beside a friend in combat, and an even deeper one to protect that ally from harm. Many dwarven tales subsequently revolve around the sacrifice of dwarves for their friends and family. Just as dwarves are known for their dependability as friends and allies, dwarves also harbor grudges far longer than many other races. This may be on an individual basis between a dwarf and one who has wronged him or against entire races, even if warfare with the enemy has long since ceased.
Dwarves are a careful and deliberate race, with a more serious disposition than other races, who they sometimes view as flighty or reckless. A dwarf does all things with care and a stubborn resolve, with brash or cowardly behavior unusual for the race. However, dwarves do succumb easily to wrath or greed, which are the most common vices of the race.
Dwarves who leave their homeland to become adventurers do so for a number of reasons. In part, a dwarf might be motivated by simple avarice, given the dwarven love of beautiful things. As often, however, a dwarf might be motivated by a drive to do what is right for others (particularly their clan) or a love of excitement for, as settled as dwarves are, they rarely tire of thrills. But even these wayward dwarves retain the spirit of their brethren, hoping that their accomplishments abroad can bring honor to themselves, their clan, or both. Given that successful dwarven adventurers are likely to recover rare items or defeat enemies of the dwarven people during such challenges, this is a hope not entirely without merit.
Dwarves highly value the ties between family members and friends, weaving tightly knit clans. Dwarves particularly respect elders, from whom they expect sound leadership and the wisdom of experience, as well as ancestral heroes or clan founders. This idea carries on to relations with other races and dwarves are deferential even to the elders of another, non-dwarven race.
Likewise, dwarves, perhaps moreso than most other races, turn to their gods for guidance and protection. Non-evil dwarves look to the divine for comfort and inspiration, while the wicked look to their divine overlords for methods through which to obtain power over others. Individual dwarves might be faithless, but the race as a whole, regardless of subrace, has a strong inclination for religion and almost every community maintains at least one temple or ancestral shrine.
Most dwarven societies are divided into clans built along family ties and political allegiances. These clans are usually led by hereditary rulers, often monarchs of a sort and descended from the founder of the clan. Dwarves strongly value loyalty to these rulers and to the clan as a whole and even objective dwarves tend to side primarily with their kin over other races or communities.
Most dwarven clans focus on one or two kinds of crafting, such as blacksmithing, jewelry, engineering, or masonry. Dwarves strive to avoid overspecialization by sending some of their youth as apprentices to other clans, which also helps to foster racial unity. Because of the long age dwarves exhibit these apprenticeships may last decades.
Dwarves do not forgive past wrongs easily and the entire race has more or less declared war on goblins and orcs as a whole, wiping them out where they find them. Many dwarves view these races as a foul infestation of their mountain homes and their duty to purge them. Likewise, many dwarves view drow and grimlocks with a similar hatred and few dwarves have forgotten their ancestral hatred of the giants who once enslaved them. Because of this dwarves generally view related races, such as half-orcs, with distrust.
In regards to their distant cousins the azers, duergar, and galeb duhr dwarven opinions vary. Many view their distant relations with sympathy for their prior enslavement. On the other hand, duergar and dwarves have long been enemies and many dwarves view them with little more love than they do the drow who share the Underdark with the duergar.
Dwarves get along pretty well with gnomes, with whom they share a love of fine crafting, and passably with humans, half-elves, half-eladrin, and halflings. However, most dwarves commonly believe that true friendships can only be forged over long periods of time and a common saying is that “the difference between an acquaintance and a friend is about a hundred years,” meaning that few members of the shorter-lived races ever forge strong bonds with dwarves. There are exceptions, however, and some of the strongest friendships are those between a dwarf and a human whose grandparents and parents were also on good terms with the dwarf.
Like many races, the exact origins of the dwarves are lost in myth and legend. While many non-dwarven scholars believe that dwarves are not native to Abeir-Toril or its successor worlds, most dwarves believe that their ancestors came from the heart of the planet itself, given life by Moradin and being made by the All-Father’s hammer in the Soulforge. These legends hold that the dwarves fought their way to the surface world, overcoming the dangers they faced below through strength of arms and skill.
The first known dwarven settlements on Abeir-Toril originated from the mountains of Yehimal. These dwarves settled underneath the junction between the continents of Faerûn, Kara-Tur, and Zakhara, and migrated in all directions from there, spreading across the face of all the planet, except for those who migrated northwards and came to rest in the mountains of Novularond, becoming the ancestors of the arctic dwarves. Those who turned westward to what would eventually become the continent of Faerûn settled in what is now Semphar. The dwarves then migrated westward from there founding many settlements. The first great kingdom of the dwarves is Bhaerynden, beneath the Shaar. The exact time of these events are unknown, but it was before the split of Abeir and Toril into separate worlds, since dwarves are also found on the continent of Returned Abeir.
The dwarves in Bhaerynden settled beneath the future plains of Shaar prospered for centuries but gradually began to endure schisms and fractures, which drove the dwarves apart. The first of these schisms occurred twelve millennia ago when Taark Shanat, the so-called “Crusader,” led a westward migration from the caverns of Bhaerynden. The descendants of these dwarves would eventually become the shield dwarves and forge the vast empire of Shanatar as well as the urdunnir, who moved deeper into the earth and faded from common knowledge.
Some time after this Bhaerynden fell to the drow shortly after their exile following the Crown Wars and these southern dwarves were driven into exile, ending the ancient kingdom. Their descendants would become known as the gold dwarves and would return millennia later with the collapse of Bhaerynden into the Great Rift, forming a new kingdom. Another dwarven subrace emerged from some of these southern dwarves, who instead of continuing their civilized ways and returning in future millennia, fled to Chult and embraced the ways of the jungle, becoming the wild dwarves.
The last dwarven lineage would form from shield dwarves of Clan Duergar. These hapless dwarves who lived beneath the Shining Plains were in time captured and enslaved by the illithids, becoming the separate but related race known as the duergar. Over the ages the twisting of illithid psionics and the infusion of diabolic blood would cause the duergar to grow more and more distant from their kin, until they could no longer be properly called dwarves.
Over the centuries dwarves have entered into a long decline and most of the ancient kingdoms that once stood are now fallen. The shield dwarves have seen parts of the north overrun and conquered by the orcs of Many Arrows while to the south the gold dwarves have been primarily driven from their underground kingdom in the Great Rift towards the surface world. In spite of this, the dwarves remain a proud and hardy people, unshaken by the pitfalls that have befallen them.
The most significant event in recent history for the dwarven peoples has been the Thunder Blessing, from the year of the same name, in which, after centuries of demographic decline, a sudden boon in fertility occurred, resulting in the births of many twins amongst the dwarves. The Blessing is widely believed to have been the work of Moradin, possibly as the culmination of a quest by a dwarven heroine or as part of some grander plan of the All-Father. One of the consequences of this sudden boon was, other than a demographic resurgence that helped bring the dwarves out of their decline, was a sudden shift in culture. The so-called thunder children were radical in comparison with their parents and during their lifetimes over the Era of Upheaval, dwarves took a more active role in the world and abandoned some of their oldest traditions, such as the ancient fear of magic and the arcane.
Most dwarves prefer living in underground cities near the surface and above the Underdark, built around mines that provide much of their livelihood. Carved into stone these cities may take centuries to complete but are practically ageless once finished. Though dwarves are typically a martial race by nature these cities have civilian populations that compose about one fourth of the total population and which are made up primarily of the young, the elderly, or a few regular adults. Females typically compose as large a portion of the military as male dwarves do.
At present, dwarves can be found all across Faerûn although the greatest numbers are in the Underdark, the North, the East Rift, and the Cold Lands.
In their own homelands, dwarves continuously carve out new living space, mining the mountains’ riches as they do so. Dwarves in general stick to these locales, disliking travel, particularly along waterways, but those who live in human lands can find make themselves quite comfortable. Most who do make a living as mercenaries, smiths, or artisans of various kinds. Dwarves are eagerly sought after as warriors, their reputation of courage and loyalty making them excellent choices for bodyguards.
SubracesEditThere exist several dwarven subraces. The best known are listed below.
Squat and hardy dwarves from the isolated northern reaches of Faerûn.
Strong and muscular dwarves with tanned skin from the south, largely in the Great Rift area.
Tall dwarves, by comparison, who populate the northern reaches of west and central Faerûn.
Stocky and muscular dwarves living in the Underdark.
Primitive dark-skinned dwarves primarily from the jungles of Chult.
Degenerate creatures with human features.
Duergar are a closely related race of humanoids, but separated from generations of divergence, slavery under the illithids, and the infusion of diabolic blood. They hold themselves to be a separate race completely, and are often insulted if compared to surface dwarves.