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Gold dwarves, also known as hill dwarves, are the aloof, confident and sometimes proud subrace of dwarves that predominantly come from the Great Rift. They are known to be particularly stalwart warriors and shrewd traders. Gold dwarves are often trained specifically to battle the horrendous aberrations that are known to come from the Underdark.
Gold dwarves are stout, tough individuals like their shield dwarven brethren but are less off-putting and gruff in nature. Conversely, gold dwarves are often less agile then other dwarves. The average gold dwarf is about four feet tall and as heavy as a full-grown human, making them somewhat squatter than the more common shield dwarves. Gold dwarves are also distinguishable by their light brown or tanned skin, significantly darker than that of most dwarves, and their brown or hazel eyes. Gold dwarves have black, gray, or brown hair, which fade to light gray over time. Gold dwarf males and some females can grow beard, which are carefully groomed and grown to great lengths.
Gold dwarves are both materialistic and ritualistic, valuing themselves and others by what they possess and by the reputation of their family. Gold dwarves are deeply conservative, rooting their values and beliefs in traditions that have survived for millennia even as the world changed around them. From infancy, gold dwarves are taught that their life is determined by tradition, from what their profession shall be to who they shall marry. Gold dwarves who lack faith in the old ways or who go so far as to challenge cultural taboos are seen as dangerous deviants unworthy of friendship or trust by the majority of gold dwarves, creating an enormous social pressure to conform.
In part because of their conservatism and staunch belief in their own cultural superiority, gold dwarves rarely venture outside of their homelands. The Thunder Blessing was the first event in a long while to push the race out of their conformity, forcing young dwarves to seek their fortunes outside of an overcrowded Deep Realm. Other than such demographic pressures, the only motive for adventuring deemed rational to the average gold dwarf is the desire to seek out their fortune in unclaimed lands, perhaps to build a stronghold of their own.
Gold dwarves who do become adventurers are most often fighters, though clerics, paladins, rangers, rogues, or even arcane spellcasters are not unheard of, particularly sorcerers, many of whom are distantly descended from dragons or elementals. Experienced gold dwarf adventurers might become battleragers, particularly those who find the tradition-bound strictures of their society oppressive. Other gold dwarves might train as dwarven defenders or divine champions.
Humans who wander into the gold dwarven strongholds may be surprised to find a people far more confident and secure in their future than most dwarves. Whereas the shield dwarves suffered serious setbacks during their history, the gold dwarves have stood firm against the challenges thrown against them and so have few doubts about their place in the world. As a result, gold dwarves can come off as haughty and almost eladrin-like in their pride, believing themselves culturally superior to all other races and lacking the fatalistic pessimism of their shield dwarven cousins.
Gold dwarves speak a distinctive dialect of Dwarven known as Riftspeak, which is an archaic tongue largely unchanged since the days of Bhaerynden. However, gold dwarves, in spite of their cultural supremacism, often take the time to learn the languages of neighboring lands as well, such as Shaaran, Durpari, or Dambrathan.
Art and leisureEdit
Gold dwarves are a deeply materialistic race who believe that the resources of the natural world exist only to serve the purpose of conscious beings. To a gold dwarf, there is no greater purpose than to fashion the minerals of the earth into things of beauty. Gold dwarf guilds take great care in their craftsmanship, often spending centuries to perfect their work and mark it distinctively as their own, a practice which is carried down to even the most simple tools, marking such items with detailed runes and carefully shaped flairs.
Gold dwarf warriors employ a large number of finely crafted weapons and armor, often enchanted with runes or prayers. Most commonly, dwarves employ weapons that can also be used as tools, such as axes, picks, or hammers, alongside more specialized weapons like urgroshes. Some unique items of note crafted by gold dwarves are mobile braces, rope climbers, or drogue wings used for riding hippogriffs.
Gold dwarves enjoy the company of small lizards as pets such as the spitting crawler or shocker lizard. Deep rothé are frequently kept as livestock as well, alongside pack lizards and mules as beasts of burden, gold dwarf mules often bred specially from Lhesperan or Meth horses. For mounts, gold dwarves usually use riding lizards, war ponies, or, more rarely, hippogriffs.
Magic and religionEdit
Unlike most dwarven peoples, the gold dwarves are not particularly superstitious about magic and while still cautious in its use, are no more so than any wise human mage, and gold dwarves have even created a number of spells unique to them. In part, gold dwarves are open to magic because of their heavy used of enchanted arms and weaponry, but primarily this tolerance comes from the age of gold dwarven civilization, which through sheer longevity has given rise to several magical traditions.
Divine spellcasters remain more common among the gold dwarves, however, though gold dwarves are less fervent in their beliefs than the openly devout shield dwarves. Gold dwarves most commonly favor the worship of Moradin and Berronar, in part due once again to the age of the gold dwarf civilization, which stretches back to when many of the Morndinsamman had not yet become widely known. While the gold dwarves are not particularly devout, clerics of Moradin and Berronar hold great prestige within gold dwarf society, the clerics of Berronar in particular for their responsibilities as genealogists and guardians of tradition.
The most sacred site in gold dwarf civilization is the city of Thullurn, where the regional church of Moradin is centered. There, Moradin's clerics sponsors a rich culture of manufacturing and craftsmanship as well as serving as the city's executive and judiciary branches of government.
The gold dwarves are a proud race confident in their race's future after millennia of stability and because of this they have earned a somewhat deserved reputation for xenophobia and supremacism. Gold dwarves believe dwarves to be the greatest of all races and themselves to be the greatest of all dwarves, placing themselves at the top of the cultural pyramid. Gold dwarves in particular look down upon the Tel-quessir, whom they loathe in part due to their ancient enmity with the drow.
Of the monstrous races, the gold dwarves' opinion is even lower. Among many key differences between gold dwarves and their more common kin is that the traditional enemies of the gold dwarf are not goblinoids but aberrations and other creatures of the Underdark, against whom many gold dwarves have some defensive training. But this does not mean gold dwarves enjoy the company of goblins or orcs, whom they lump half-orcs in with.
However, gold dwarves do not see all races besides themselves with enmity. For instance, gold dwarves have an atypically high value of humans and their planetouched kin for non-human races, valuing the often profitable trading arrangements they've had with human realms going back throughout history. Similarly, gold dwarves are, as a rule, rather fond of strongheart halflings, seeing them as kindred of spirit due to the subrace's propensity for industriousness and honor.
Originally, all the dwarven peoples were part of a single nation, the empire of Bhaerynden. Established sixteen thousand years ago, Bhaerynden occupied a vast cavern beneath the dark elf nation of Ilythiir and claimed for itself large swaths of the then largely unclaimed Underdark. Other than a large exodus of dwarves led by Taark Shanat the Crusader in -11000 DR, the dwarves of Bhaerynden dwelt beneath the dark elves largely undisturbed for millennia. However, the transformation of the dark elves into drow at the end of the Crown Wars a millennium later would shatter the empire, as the newly displaced drow turned their rage and military might against the dwarves and within six centuries the drow had scattered the former occupants throughout the neighboring caverns and supplanted Bhaerynden with the empire of Telantiwar.
However, the drow dominance of Telantiwar was temporary. In -7600 DR the roof of the caverns that contained Telantiwar collapsed, creating what would become known as the Great Rift. Explanations for the collapse vary, with gold dwarves favoring the theory that Moradin himself brought the roof down while scholars of other races believe the drow may have weakened the foundations of the cavernous network. With their ancient enemies battered, the heirs of Bhaerynden returned to their homeland, establishing the Deep Realm. In the millennia that followed the inhabitants of the Deep Realm, now known as gold dwarves, spread throughout the Underdark, reclaiming much of what had once been theirs and building glamorous cities of fabulous riches, which they trade through history with the many human empires of the surface world, from Jhaamdath to the cities of Chondath.
Like the shield dwarves, gold dwarves were blessed with a surge in birthrate by Moradin in the The Year of Thunder. While the Thunder Blessing was seen as a boon to most dwarves, among the gold dwarves its results were less appreciated, the Blessing actually causing the previously stable population to actually swell beyond the capacity of the Deep Kingdom to support. In the years that followed afterwards many displaced younger gold dwarves forsook the isolationist policies of their elders and took to exploring Faerûn.
In contrast with their shield dwarven brethren, the gold dwarves have largely kept their kingdom, East Rift, intact and have held strong against the assaults of other races. Gold dwarves can also be found in the Smoking Mountains as well as the Giant's Run Mountains west of the Vilhon Reach.