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Dwarves! Help me out here....

Poe's Law

I'm an Imp of the Perverse
Validated User
Ok, so I am making my own fantasy game setting and I have dwarves in it.

The game period is roughly the year 1100AD. Not quite renaissance, not quite Rome... but perhaps with bits of each era mixed in for good measure... mostly they live in independent city lordships, every one of which crowns himself king...

They live along the coast of a great sea to one side and a great mountain range on the other. It's not the best soil for farming, but sheep, goats, and plants that deal with rocky soil do very well here.

I enjoy the Scottish themed dwarves, kilts, bagpipes and wotnot. I also enjoy the themes of dwarves being magnificent craftsmen of fine items from tools, to fantasy machinations to war machines and so on.

Lastly, there are no longer dragons in the world, they are all dead :( But the dwarves once loved and venerated them, so I want that to be a part of their past and culture too.

They do currently have a god they worship, the Forgefather, who blesses them with ingenuity and brilliant invention creation understanding. Their religion is in a cold war with the god of Knowledge, who wishes to steal the secrets of the dwarves.

These are the ideas I want to build upon, plus add more.....

I am looking for everyone to flood me with ideas on the following areas: Please help! :)

- Culture
- Holidays
- Infighting
- Politics
- Great fantasy dwarven heroes
- Interesting race quirks or details
- wondrous and mundane things they have master crafted
- any other ideas that you have!

Thanks!
 

Epengar

of the Clan of the Sweet Singers of Nakome
Validated User
Since they're on the coast, and venerate dragons...

I suggest that they are excellent ship-builders and good sailors, and their ships are armed with Greek fire projectors. Ship type will depend on the nature of the sea, if more stormy, then maybe cogs, knarrs, or longships a la Scandinavia, if calmer like the Mediterranean, then lateen-rigged dromons (a type of galley) and cargo ships. Might be more fun to give them a different ship-building technology entirely though. The Chinese were building mighty junks by 1100, Song dynasty traders went far. There were lateen-rigged multi-masted dhows sailing between Arabia and India at that time too.

Wood might be scarce in their rocky homeland, they might trade, raid, or colonize well-timbered areas nearby.

The coastal communities might worship a sea god along with the Forgefather, or maybe a bunch of gods, some learned about in their travels, and this might be offensive to inland communities that are more conservative monotheists.

Given the widespread herding of goats and sheep, I think they need a cheese-related holiday, in which round cheeses are rolled down steep hills, and people race after them, like this
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooper's_Hill_Cheese-Rolling_and_Wake
 

Poe's Law

I'm an Imp of the Perverse
Validated User
Since they're on the coast, and venerate dragons...

I suggest that they are excellent ship-builders and good sailors, and their ships are armed with Greek fire projectors. Ship type will depend on the nature of the sea, if more stormy, then maybe cogs, knarrs, or longships a la Scandinavia, if calmer like the Mediterranean, then lateen-rigged dromons (a type of galley) and cargo ships. Might be more fun to give them a different ship-building technology entirely though. The Chinese were building mighty junks by 1100, Song dynasty traders went far. There were lateen-rigged multi-masted dhows sailing between Arabia and India at that time too.

Wood might be scarce in their rocky homeland, they might trade, raid, or colonize well-timbered areas nearby.

The coastal communities might worship a sea god along with the Forgefather, or maybe a bunch of gods, some learned about in their travels, and this might be offensive to inland communities that are more conservative monotheists.

Given the widespread herding of goats and sheep, I think they need a cheese-related holiday, in which round cheeses are rolled down steep hills, and people race after them, like this
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooper's_Hill_Cheese-Rolling_and_Wake
Yes!

These are all great ideas!

Maybe I will try the very first protptype iron-side ship or some such...

Thanks!
 

insomniac

Registered User
Validated User
Maybe go with ironclads, rather than actual metal ships? The actual hull made of wood, but metal plating above the waterline, which was still enough to make them basically invulnerable to contemporary anti-ship weapons of the day when they premiered in the real world.
 

Poe's Law

I'm an Imp of the Perverse
Validated User
Maybe go with ironclads, rather than actual metal ships? The actual hull made of wood, but metal plating above the waterline, which was still enough to make them basically invulnerable to contemporary anti-ship weapons of the day when they premiered in the real world.
That is what I was thinking over actually, I simply used the wrong term :)
 

Poe's Law

I'm an Imp of the Perverse
Validated User
OK I have scoured these forums for ideas and here is what they are forming into....

Can you guys help me develop these ideas further?

Dwarves
History

The dwarves derive from the Dragonforged, the Drákos Plastá, a race of humanoid creatures made from the blood of dragons and the bones of giants. The Plasta were one of the races created by the true dragons after the creation of the Dragonlords. The dragons sought to evolve a race that was so tied to them they would be able to reap faith from them and challenge the might of Corelleon and the elves.

As creations by the dragons (of each brood), the part of Toril the Plasta were to shape and grow in faith from was dictated by the blood of the brood that clan of dwarves was evolved from (earth, wind, water, and fire). Although the Plasta was a successful creation at first, things would soon change. Corelleon saw the growing fates of these new races and cursed them with the Spear of Destiny. This affected the Plasta, causing them to evolve into the vicious monsters who are now cursed by their blood of dragons (trolls cursed for their fire blood, sahuagin cursed by their water blood, and wyvrens cursed by their wind blood). Only those who never saw the light of the sun, who lived in the belly of their dragon mother earth were spared the curse of Corelleon. But not all dwarves escaped the wrath of the Sun. Some, who did venture to the surface began to shift, slowly over generations. Becoming the hideous people known as the gnomes.

While the transformation turned their physical bodies into hideous flesh, they still maintained their mental affinity for the earth, along with their cognitive abilities. The gnomes found ancient magics that allowed them to spread this curse in varied and horrible ways to that of mankind and elf, but they still needed them for trade for all the things the underworld of mountains could not provide, namely – food. They made wondrous works of tools, machinations, and crafts that were unparalleled in the world, even to this day. And if any didn’t pay their price, they were cursed to share the gnomes hideous fate. The golden elves went on a purge of these creatures and nearly wiped them out. For exchange for the safety of the deep dwarven holds, the gnomes taught them a few of their secrets of crafts and toolsmithing.

The Gnomes are ugly makers of wonders. Titan gods, heroes, and kings alike come to them for items of vast power and splendor; crowns and swords that guarantee mystical sovereignty to a grand dynasty - so long as obligations to the Gnomes are upheld; weapons of immense magic, gates to hold back the end of the world. What things the Gnomes can make for others, are far greater than what they are able to make for themselves. For the cost of every item has a price, a promise to uphold, and every deal is as ugly and crooked and stunted as the Gnomes themselves, for the Gnomes are greedy and envious of the fair creatures who live under the sun. Should these promises be forfeited, terrible doom is wrought upon the holder of the item. And under hills and barrows the Gnomes wait, counting their coins and accepting their tithes, consumed with greed, jealousy, and spite - wise but twisted.

The dwarves were actually beginning to a return to the default subterranean being that the earth dragons typified. This had not been the dragon's intentions, thus they granted dwarves the blood of eternal slumber. As long as a dwarf sleeps he does not age. He enters a kind of stasis and wants for nothing. Dreams in this state of dragon slumber are varied and interspersed with ages of calm, black nothing.

When the Twelve Who Were Taken rose to power over 5000 years ago, the dwarves were discovered by the unbound demon Khans, and some of which, were enslaved to them to forge weapons and armor for their dark Sha’Ghul overmasters. It was not until the time of the Zodiac Braves that the dwarves of the Could Peaks broke free of this bondage by the defeat of Facetaker by Durlag Gígafoniás.

Initially the evolution of dragon blood along with other factors created several different kinds of dwarves. While the bloodlines of Wind, Water, and Fire were nearly fully mutated beyond anything but mindless monsters, a rare few may still yet live. Now days all dwarves are considered to be of the Earth Blood lineage, and there are superstitions that those dwarves born with red hair and beards are of the Fire Bloodline, and those who have the mightiest battle cries are of the Wind Bloodline, and those that can hold their breath or make the finest beer are of the Water lineage. While most none of these superstitions are true, they are none the less a part of dwarven culture.

Although the dragons eventually fell one and all to Corelleon, dwarves continued living in the Western Kingdoms and a scarce few in the Eastern Kingdoms where some say dragons still roam the lands.

The Clans
The dwarves and their progenitors' (the True Dragons) interaction with other races and kingdoms has been most related to the areas most near their strongholds. There are three such great strongholds in the world, though there are lesser holdouts in hundreds of areas across Faerun.

While the dwarves in Iron Fang Keep have stayed rather inactive and never ventured far away from Turmish, the dwarves fleeing from the Silver Marches after their keep of Citadel Felbarr was sacked by the Iron Fang Pack, have traveled across much of the world and interacted with many other races. Many of them settled in human cities as smiths or craftsmen of renown, but many continued on and settled in the land now known as the Dragon Coast (So named for the various coat of arms of the dwarven lairds there who rule those rough lands).

The clan of Cloud Peaks and the Fortress of Twin Towers was nearly wiped out by their enslavement to Facetaker. They have only begun to rebuild their subterranean cites, and do so in fear of the shadow of Amn they live under. For there are no wicked lord more despised than the vampire counts of Amn.

The Lost Clans
The Garada

The Garada live on and in a range of mountains, like most traditional Dwarves, but these Dwarves also practice agriculture grow corn on steps, like the Incans, as well as sweet potato and herding goats.

They worship the Dwarven gods (which they know by different names), but also have a new religion known as the Cult of the Griffin. They believe that Moradin once had a son with a mortal dwarf woman, who grew up to be the most brilliant engineer the Dwarves had ever seen. They credit him with the invention of many of their most sophisticated technological adaptations for high altitude living. One day he created a set of wings and attempted to fly into the heavens, but the sun melted the beeswax holding his wings together. Moradin, taking pity turned him into a Griffin, and he became the first Griffin. From then on the Garada believe that Griffons are sacred and are willing to ritually sacrifice the occasional goat to protect the rest of their flocks.

These dwarves mine salt, as there are no precious metals in their mountains, and build boats to sail over the high alti-plano lakes with their trade goods. They wear brightly coloured cloaks made from died goat wool, which they also sell as trade goods. They love stories and are frequent storytellers. They tell tales of the son of Moradin, who acccording to legend can turn back into a dwarf for one day every year, and his adventures. Many other dwarves consider these stories heretical. They braid griffin feathers, sometimes died in brilliant colours, into their beards.
They use short barbed stabbing spears rather than axes and use spear throwers and javelins as ranged weapons. Their shields, usually made of hard wood are often painted with an image of a griffin.

Desert Fremen Dwarves.
Long ago, some dwarves discovered that if you dig deep enough in the deep desert you discover water. They built careful underground aqueducts from the high ground to the centre of the desert and there they practised irrigation, while building deep underground cities to live away from the heat of the sun where they mined the psionic spice left deep underground by the passage of aboleths in eons past, for trade to all sides of the desert. (Think the Garamantes of the ancient sahara combined with underground cappadocian cities.)

Legends still speak amongst the human cultures of the desert rim of a hidden land of plenty somewhere in the deep desert, but it no longer exists. The ancient dwarves used more water than could be replaced and eventually their wells ran dry and the cities died. Some dwarves survived however, deep in the desert, living amongst the craggy rocky hills, growing sweet potatoes in small isolated oases, herding goats, raiding the occasional caravan and gathering water in wind traps. One day they hope to gather enough water to replenish their ancient aquifiers, and their cities will thrive again.

They travel the desert unseen through the ancient canal network (now dry) that still exists between the desert, so that they seem to appear and disappear like ghosts. Their chief god is Moradin who they know as Muhaddin, and they believe that all other Dwarven gods are but lesser aspects as Muhaddin.

War of the Three Anvils
The dwarves of the Dragon Coast were originally a part of the Felbarr clan in the Silver Marches. They later were divided into three factions: the Féasóg Créumha clan who controlled the coastal cities, the Casúr Fiáin clan who controlled the western foothills of the Orsraun Mountains, and the Iarann Dorcha clan who lived in the ‘shadows of the mountain’ – the Gulthmere Forest.

When the king of the Iarann Dorcha dwarves, Dimus Inneoin, died, violence broke out into a civil war which shattered the lands, sending brother against father, sister against sister. This resulted in the now many fiefdoms of the Dragon Coast, where many a dwarven Laird claims dominion over the land only so far as his eyes can see. And where there are still many feuds over property boundaries and river ways.

The Iarann Dorcha were bitter about the loss of their king and instead of invading cities to conquer, they became raiders, scorching the countryside and laying waste to any city of the Féasóg Créumha clan or the Casúr Fiáin. The warlord of the Iarann Dorcha, Thaur Dubhéasóg, led his army to Westgate, the capitol city of the Féasóg Créumha, and was ultimately defeated. Thaur's wife, Eithne, invaded Nathlekh the capitol of the Casúr Fiáin and used her magic to break through the gates and lay siege to the stronghold. Hardros Salvaxe, ruler of Nathlekh, slew the reaver queen and was victorious in saving his stronghold.

The Rannsachair League

The Rannsachair League, or Rannsachair Guild as it is also called, is a recent organization founded by dwarves seeking to uncover their past and relation to the dragons. Searching for dragon (and all other kinds as well, for that matter) artifacts and ruins, their dig sites and camps can be found all over Faerun - some are even stationed in the jungles of Chult. Information recovered is carefully analyzed and stored in the Hall o’ Duais in Starmantle. The shared duties of either being out on adventure, digging in the ground for lost treasures, or sitting home in Starmantle while filing reports and schedules have given the Rannsachair League an effective system of developing archeology. Information recovered increases all the time, and so does the league's members.

The Rannsachair League was founded shortly after the Third Crusade. The dwarves had followed the humans of Helm to Thay as soldiers against the Red Wizards, and in the aftermath of this war the dwarves discovered some dragon remains at Thay Mount. This excavation was, sadly, not long lived. As the Third Crusade was the one to fail the quickest and the dwarves were forced to abandon their mines below the mountain and flee back to Starmantle and the Dragon Coast.

Becoming a member of the league is not an easy task. It requires the applicant (which nearly always is a dwarf) to possess supreme skills in everything from the recognition of mines and minerals to map-making and geography. The league's most profound member is Brann Féasóg Créumha, a Dwarven explorer who has seen nearly all corners of the world, which has granted him quite the insight in the dwarves' past.

While the humans do not share as much motivation for this project as the dwarves do, the churches of Gond and Cyric still support and aid the organization. Not only does the league provide much information about distant areas and cultures, several goldmines have also been found during the league's excavations.

The Bonnair Guild
The money changing and lending guild….


Durlags Journeys

Chasing Facetaker across the world

The Wolf Who Was King

The driving out of the dwarves from the silver marches

Exodus and Betrayal
Humans lied to dwarves, offered them a home, then enslaved them

The Dragon Coast Lairds
The humble beginnings of the Dragon Coast

Physiology

Short, stout, cant breed with anyone but dwarves.

Dwarves stand around 4-5 feet in height, and have hard, ruddy red, craggy skin and thick dark hair and beards, which are often braided with metal rings and holy icons.


Dwarves are able to extend their lives by sleeping. When sleeping they don’t age, nor do they need sustenance or any such thing, it acts like a stasis for them.

Dwarves are fastidious about cleanliness, and thermal hotsprings and public bathhouses are often used as social gathering areas for people to gossip and catch up.

The Dwarvish dental and digestive system lets them draw calories from rough, fibrous foodstuffs; husks and stems of grain, chaff, even pine needles and acorns. Useful when you need to carve your farms out of the sides of freezing mountains. Thus, the notoriously awful and brick-like Dwarven bread. Conversely, a diet rich in dairy and animal foods, while highly desirable to Dwarves, gives them terrible gas and body odour.

- The Obsidian Soul: For most peoples of the world, the soul is a thing of light and fire. But dwarves are differrent. Like the glass born from the fire of mountains, their souls are solid matter and all facets of the world are solid and material before them. Their runes and enchantments are the same magic known to the wizards of any other race, but dwarven wizards shape it with hammer and anvil. The underworld is to them just another land of caverns and lakes, as easy to walk into as any other land that borders their realms. They are not immortal because they live forever, but because life and death, material and spiritual, are one to them. They are obsidian, the fusion of fire and earth. Through them, the fire and earth may touch - gods may reach followers, mortals may wield magic, and the dead need not be lost to the living.
o Basically dwarves can forge their soul stones into something to be used as a benefit to others or a gift to later generations… soulforge , soulforging, stuff gond would love, that only dwarves can do…

Culture
Art, architecture, food, beer, non-religious holidays

- Somehow I want to tie the dwarves back to the dragons, and to set up the re-emergence of the dragons.
o Could this cause a rift in Gond vs Dragon cults?
o Dragons cant reap faith, would this cause an alliance in Gond and Dragon cults?


Real dwarves use picks and hammers. Picks and hammers are common mining tools, and most dwarves carry them around much as a human frontiersman might carry a knife.

Dwarven warriors use short heavy spears, shortswords, and crossbows. Spears and swords are used with heavy shields, in close order formation to block off narrow tunnels and chokepoints. Crossbows and heavier emplaced versions are used to protect openings, cut down retreating/charging enemies, and counteract ceiling crawlers.

Dwarf weapons and armor are largely to entirely metal, very sturdy, and well forged. Even dwarven bolts are often solid metal, (though many an enterprising dwarf has modified their crossbow to also fire gravel or stones. As dwarves favor heavy metal boots, caltrops are a dwarven favorite - especially against their more barbaric opponents.
In fact, dwarves have everything down to a science. Everything from indoor plumbing to trains.

Seeing a Dwarven city is something you never forget. Seeing a Dwarven army is something you're unlikely to survive to remember.

Flaming oil, on the other hand, is held as a last resort - underground dwellers are not fond of risking asphyxiation from bad air.
Drwaves love the horn and drums and their battle marches move to the sound of heavy bass from trumpets and skins louder than even the footfalls of a thousand feet.
Heavily armed dwarven mercenary bands are a common sight in cities and siege warfare - anywhere, in fact, except the open plains - where missile weilding cavalry puts them at a distinct disadvantage.

Dwarves are naturally obsessed with family, death, mining, stone- and metal-working. Their religion is based around ancestor worship, and their most bitter enemies are the Undead, who's existence is seen as unholy and blasphemous. Offerings made to the ancestors at mealtimes and during festivities, with spaces laid for them at the table. The dwarves also hold a number of great mountains on the surface world to be sacred sites. These mountains are covered with prayer flags, and no dwarf is allowed to mine bellow them. The dead are mummified and left on the highest slopes to be consumed by the ice. The cold air of the high ice and the open sky is the realm of the dead for dwarves, the Mist Home, the mountains being conduits to this other world. A dwarf encountered above-ground is invariably sombre, so close is he to where his ancestors now reside.

Rulers
Kings, Lairds, family lines, dragon standards, kilts, wars, doomseekers and remembrancers

- dwarves are flourishing. They have turned warfare into a science. When a Dwarven legion shows up, best find a place to hide. More disciplined than any other army with steam powered engines of war, dwarves dominate the battlefield.


Dwarven laws are carved on the halls of their courts. It is hard enough to carve wisdom worth keeping for posterity, and even harder to change it once it's been carved.


They are a Roman Analog society. When confronted by a needed image or area, that is not covered by another write up, assume it is the least corrupt Roman option.

Imperial culture is one built of formal rules of law and duty. Everyone knows their place and what is expected of them. You are a patron of your lessers and a client of one of your betters. This interplay of obligations is the center of Imperial Culture. They are belivers in ORDER, DUTY, PRIDE in one’s self, ones patron, one’s people, and one’s city, and the skills to back up that pride. While hubris is frowned upon, proper belief is crucial to the Imperial Mentality. Thus it is a halmark of Dokoren thinking.

Dwarves are citadel kings, like the Inca. They build vast fortresses, and claim tribute from the surrounding lands, distributing goods along a series of roads with a fortified storehouse every day's march apart. The lords of the Dwarves are Counters, who take and distribute and trade their tributes to further their goals.

Imperial Culture had a rank system. Nobles were those of Power and Wealth. Now Imperial Magics were not the combat magics and odd spells that have survived the "Time of Ruin". They are practical magics used for building, communicating, summoning elementals for use, travel, and the occasional duel and crowd control. The Nobles had access to these powers and used for them for the good of the Community in general and their clients in specific. The clients then provided the nobles with things they needed.

Again, the dwarves take a very long view, and thus they build to last. Their cities are in the stablest of places with walls of incredible thickness and strength. Even rural family manors are great, sturdy keeps that could easily stand centuries without repair. All are proof against the fiercest of weather.

Dwarves are based on Roman history for government style and social structure

Family
Marriage, courtship, death, rivalries, lifestyle

Religion
Gond the Wonderbringer

Dragons
Ties to the old beliefs and how they mix with Gond
 

SimonJester

Hacking time...
Validated User
Okay, so there's this computer game. It's called Dwarf Fortress. And it can procedurally generate answers to so many of your questions that it is legit genuinely amazing.
 
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