The Dwarves in the World are the most unchanging of all the Fae. Set in their ways they hold to their traditions and customs while letting the outside world change to hold them. Interested mainly in the ways of the earth, they perfect the workings of metal and stone. Traditions and their ways are handed down from father to son in this mainly male society. Their language, which many Human scholars merely suspect exists, is a secret one, held close and never revealed to outsiders. They Work in runes when they commit things to paper, or more often metal and stone. Most of their writings are in the human or common tongue. Occasionally they use the Elvish letters when working metal. Their own Language is secret, revealed only to other dwarves in the fastness of their great holds.
Dwarves make for great miners and the greatest of smiths. Master stonesmiths and metalworkers they prefer to build with stone or enlarge their mines into subteranian keeps. Prefering to live in mineral rich lands they have settled in the largest numbers in the many mountain ranges throughout the world. When they do live outside of the mountains they prefer to live in stone houses or snug well built homes of hardwood. Usually they work as the smiths of many smaller towns, or travel looking for Dwarven maidens who are unattached and seeking a husband. Less than one Dwarf in ten is female, and as such females are prized in Dwarven society, and all doors of oppourtunity are open to her. If anything, dwarves tend to imbue respect upon female Dwarves without concearn as to wheather or not it has been earned.
More than a little suspicious of non dwarves they nevertheless respect their ‘elder brothers’ the elves. On the whole Dwarves won’t trust anyone they don’t know well. This occasionally extends to other Dwarves, but on the whole they’ll trust another Dwarf before any other people. Dwarves tend to be blunt people with an eye always on the bottom line. Although profit oriented as a people, they tend to be long term planners, which makes them (fairly) honest. When Dwarves are wronged they tend to be quite tenacious in exacting revenge, although they may not seek redress immediately; Dwarves have long memories…
Birth and Childhood
Oh for a Dwarven lass!
Be they made of sugar or sass
For a Dwarven lass I shall roam
Until the day I find my own
Dwarf females are revered, honoured, and protected more so than males, because female children are very rare.
“Playing Potato” is a game played by Dwarf children, where they bury themselves up to their chins in dirt.
Considered more important then their birthday, a dwarf’s naming day is held 10 days after their birth. Prior to naming day the dwarf is simply known as “Baby”. Following the ceremony a celebration is held. First-born sons and daughters are a cause for much larger party.
At age of 6-8 male dwarf children are fostered out to uncles or other friends of the family. The fosterer is expected to teach the child a trade. This practice allows more dwarves to participate in family life and takes the strain of raising the young off the married dwarves. The fostering of female children is rare but not unheard of.
These milestones are mostly recognized among the merchant class of dwarves, but exist in some form at all levels of dwarven society.
The First Apprentice – Is the day when a young dwarven boy becomes a man by being chosen by a master as an apprentice. This is the point where a serious study of their lifes work will begin. It is a joyous day.
The Master’s Path – This is a day when an apprentice is no longer an apprentice. The dwarf has created his first master crafted item.
Love and Marriage
Dwarven women are given a fair bit of freedom in choosing a mate. There is no expectation of celibacy prior to marriage but dwarves do believe in monogamous marriages. Although not common, some dwarven woman chooses not to marry. This is considered acceptable so long as she still has lots of children.
Dwarven men will often present themselves as suitor to single dwarven women. This often involves them formally declaring themselves to be a suitor and letting the woman know their qualifications as a husband. This might involve a demonstration of their skill or a gift as a demonstration of their wealth etc. Because of the low chances of finding a Dwarven wife, male dwarves will frequently court women of other races.
Since they usually have a wide selection of men from which to choose a husband, dwarven women tend to marry exceptional men. Married male dwarves are usually the leaders of their communities whether their leadership is political, artistic, military or in some other form.
Because of the relative rareness of dwarven women, weddings are a rare and much celebrated event. Prior to a wedding the community will get together to build a large house for the new couple. A ceremonial Axe is often made to “protect” the new house and may be decorated with symbols of the bride and grooms families. Fertility symbols of all sorts abound at dwarven weddings. Male friends of the grooms often stand and testify as to his suitability to be a husband. Following the ceremony, there is a large party, often attended by the entire community.
Death and Burial of a Dwarf
How Dwarves Age
Dwarves, like elves, have a longer live span then humans. A dwarf would consider their life well lived at a ripe age of 200, but some have been known to live to 250 or even 300. Unlike the elves however, possibly due in part to their beards, dwarves always appear to be older than they actually are.
Dwarves tend to bury their dead in catacombs formed by minded out tunnels. Not only does this create a use for these already created tunnels but also it creates the least fuss if the soul returns to the body from the land of the dead. In areas where catacombs are not available family crypts are commonly used. A dwarven funeral is a simple ceremony. They body is cleanned up and dressed in clean cloths and then taken to the catacombs or crypt.
Dwarves consider it impolite to pester the dead. Families will take whatever means are available to them to ensure that the sole of the dead dwarf can return to it’s body. But they will not send a seer to the land of the dead to ask if the family member plans to return.
Ceremony of Remembrance
When a dwarf dies their possessions are kept in trust for one year. A trusty will ensure that their possessions are safeguarded and if necessary will arrange for someone to take care of land, livestock or other perishables. If the sole of the dwarf has not yet returned to his body after a year, then a Ceremony of Remembrance is held. The dwarfs family and friends gather and tell stories and tales of the dead dwarf. They will frequently hounour his memory by participating in his favorite activity or capturing his memory in poem or song. Memorials may be raised. After this ceremony his belongings are then distributed among his next of kin.
If a female dwarf is widowed young, she is encouraged to marry again. However, it is considered extremely rude for anyone to court her before the Ceremony of Remembrance is held for her husband.
In The Mists, Dwarves have a well-structured monarchial government. The King of Dwarves sits at the top with a number of vassal Dukes beneath him. Below the Dukes are a group of Lords each with their lands. All of the royal families are tightly related.
The process of moving from The Mists to the human plane has disrupted this hierarchy. The King of Dwarves appears to have stayed in the Mists (at least for now), as have many of the Dukes and Lords. Many dwarves entered the human plain separated from others in their original communities. As they have settled on this plane, prominent families have taken on the roles and responsibilities of Lords although, only rarely have they taken the title and are more likely to refer to themselves as Governor
In The Mists, it is common for Lords to appoint Mayors and Magistrates to run each community. On this plane in smaller communities the governors are more likely to take on the role of mayor themselves. The mayor is responsible for the day to day running of the town. He has the ultimate decisions making power but is expected to consult with the townsfolk before making major decisions.
The most common form of the consultation is through a town meeting. At these meeting all members of the town have the opportunity to express their option on the decision required once. The opinions are given from the youngest member of the town through to the oldest member of the town by order of age. This is so the oldest townsfolk are heard from last and will carry the most weight. This can be a long process and in large dwarven centers, when controversial decisions have been required these meetings have been known to last for days.
During times of crisis when decisions must be made quickly the mayor will appoint a small group of advisors. However, the oldest advisor is still given the right to speak last.
Crime and Punishment
Most dwarven communities have a group of magistrates. These are usually older, well respected dwarves who sit in judgement over wrong doers. The magistrates are appointed by the Lord (or his equivalent) usually on the recommendation of the Mayor. The number of magistrates in a given community varies based on the size but they usually work in teams of three.
Magistrates have wide ranging powers and can act as investigators, mediators or judicatures as the situation appears to merit.
Decisions of the Magistrates can be appealed to the local Lord (or his equivalent) but are only rarely overturned.
Dwarves are very good at holding grudges. Since they are long live these grudges can last a long, long time. Dwarves are often patient at taking revenge for a perceived wrong against them.
Some grudges have been known to escalate into large-scale feuds between rival families or communities. Some of these have lasted generations until no one can remember or cares what the original grudge was about. While rarely violent, feuding groups will not speak, trade etc. with each other.
Work and Play
“There is a time to work and a time to play” and dwarves rarely confuse the two. Dwarves believe in hard work yet they recognize the importance of relaxation and take it just as seriously.
Among the fey, dwarves are known for making and building things. Especially things associated with stone or metal. This is not to say that every dwarf is a miner, smith or stone mason but as is true of so many stereotypes, there is more then a grain of truth to this perception.
Family businesses are common among dwarves. Often many generations will work together in one line of work. While most families do not insist their offspring join the family business, it is often expected, especially if the youngster does not show a particular aptitude for another line of work.
Dwarves aren’t much for slaves. This stems not so much from a belief in individual freedom as from a belief that forced work is rarely of high quality. Indentured servitude, however, is practiced and a dwarf who is deeply indebted or who is captured in battle may be indentured until they can pay off a set sum.
Dwarven comminutes often center around the homes of married dwarves. These homes are typically bigger then average to allow room for children. These homes will have external building to act as workshops or barns or storage. Single male dwarves will often share a small home with a brother or cousin in the same line of work. In many cases, their home and work will be in the same building.
Dwarves are known as a hardworking, serious race. However, when they decide to hold a celebration, dwarves apply the same tenacity to the art of having fun. Dwarven parties are not fancy affaires. The idea of fancy party cloths would be quite foreign to dwarves. Rather they tend to gather in a large group with lots of food and drink. There is often music and dancing. The average dwarf can consume more alcohol then the average human. Most dwarves would prefer a large mug of good ale to a tiny cup of fine liquor.
Dwarves participate in many forms of dance. Dwarven Interpretive Clog Dancing is a performance piece, which involves a dwarf reading a piece of epic poetry, interrupted with moments of clog dancing. This is done to either to mark a great occasion (birth of a child, victory in battle etc.) or as part of courting. The intricacies of this art are often lost on non-dwarves. Dwarven Line Dancing is a more popular form of dance for parties. Long lines of male dwarves form and there is much stamping of feet and clapping of hands in time to the music. This is the most popular form of dance among dwarves, as it does not require partners.
One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four
Yummy yummy taters, I want to eat more
Yum yum, potatoes, pop them in your face.
Grow, grow potatoes, grow all over the place!
Potatoes here, potatoes there,
Potatoes growing everywhere!
Yummy, yummy taters, nature’s perfect food.
Taters, taters, mm-mm, always lift my mood.
Dwarves love to eat potatoes. It’s their favourite food. No dwarven banquet is complete without some potatoes. “Potato day” is a special celebration that can be held anytime the dwarves feel like a party and there is nothing else to celebrate. “Playing Potato” is a game played by Dwarf children, where they bury themselves up to their chins in dirt.
Looking Like a Dwarf
Dwarves are recognized in an EPOCH game by their luxurious beards (the bigger the better). Female Dwarves have dainty goatees. Cloths tend to be practical and earthy colours. Most dwarves carry some sort of axe for personal protection.
Thinking Like a Dwarf
Dwarves tend to be blunt people with an eye always on the bottom line. Although profit oriented as a people, they tend to be long term planners which make them (fairly) honest. When Dwarves are wronged, they tend to be quite tenacious in exacting revenge, although they may not seek redress immediately. Dwarves have LONG memories.
Naming your Dwarf
Dwarven last names tend to be two dwarf sounding words concatenated together.
Good Words for Dwarven names would include:
For example, Copperlink, Ironblood or Goldhunter.
Dwarven first names tend to be short (two syllables at most) and practical.