The Nightmare Before the Dream
Dwarven priest of Marr Oarr
Dwarves are a hardy race, stout of stature and short on patience. They tend to live quite a bit longer than the average human but do not share the elves’ and orcs’ immortality. The works of dwarven artists and artificers are highly prized, even amongst the elves. It is recognized throughout the three kingdoms that there are no better smiths in the land, so dwarven crafted arms and armor are never compared to anything but the works of other dwarves.
Their amazing craftsmanship aside, dwarves are also known for their insatiable greed. There is nothing a dwarf values more than material wealth, be it money or possessions of any kind. Most dwarves are able to focus this avarice into their chosen trade, however more than a few fall prey to the race’s inherent gluttony. Those dwarves that succumb to their greed are recognized by all (even other dwarves) as dangers to society, for they’ll often resort to the most obscene and violent methods to secure their wealth. These dwarves are usually exiled from their mountain homes, but in the event that they have committed truly deplorable crimes, they’re executed.
History & Society:
Dwarves believe that they (and all other races) were brought into the world by a deity they know only as The Creator. The dwarves know that like all good tools, the elves, orcs, humans and even the roden served a purpose. However, the predominant belief amongst dwarves is that it is their race that The Creator built in his own image, and thus favored above all others.
According to their own legends, the dwarves’ time with The Creator was short. The deity was slain through treachery and guile by Vermin, god of the roden. It is said that Vermin, to hide his gruesome deed from the other gods, buried The Creator’s body beneath a pile of rocks on the continent of Sorand. This pile of stone became known as The Creator’s Grave and is the longest mountain range in the world.
The dwarves occupied the range, claiming the plentiful resources therein as The Creator’s last gifts to his chosen people. The roden, who made similar declarations in Vermin’s name, attempted to rout the dwarves from their newly established halls beginning a war that has persisted since those ancient times. Even during the fey dominion, the dwarves were focused almost solely upon the roden. Over the centuries the tunnels and caverns of The Creator’s Grave have changed hands too many times to count. This fact alone has lent to the dwarves’ (and the roden’s) reputation for being both talented and expedient engineers.
Dwarven cities occupy vast caverns beneath The Creator’s Grave and are connected by an extensive network of tunnels. Those paths closest to the dwarven holds are extremely well supported and many of them are wider than the surface roads of men. Ground water is as plentiful as ore in the mountain range but those lakes with fish and other sustainable resources are fiercely guarded.
The dwarves live under constant threat of war. Roden raids into dwarven territories, though rare in the last three decades, cost the stout folk dearly. As such, amongst the major nations it is the dwarves that keep the largest standing military. The dwarves tend to be conservative however, and rarely mobilize, preferring to keep their forces for defense. It isn’t uncommon for dwarven warriors eager to prove their strength against opponents other than the roden to join the Order Cerberus.
Religion is extremely important in dwarven society. Their priests hold positions of great importance and their words carry as much weight as their generals’. Dwarves believe in only one true god, The Creator. Though the dwarves accept that the deity was slain by Vermin, they also believe a small portion of The Creator’s power can be claimed by influential dwarves at the time of their deaths. To date, the dwarves know of only three of their ancestors who have earned The Creator’s reward of divinity – Tholand Azdukr, Marr Oarr, and Bthal Dwmek. The Three, as they’re known, represent everything and anything under their respective moral alignments. Tholand stands for good, Marr is neutral, and Bthal is evil.
Strict laws govern all aspects of dwarven society – especially those related to the dwarven economy. Most of the current laws are centuries old, indicating that changes take many years to resolve. However, the decisions and punishments handed down to those that violate these rules are swift. Theft is paramount to murder and those comitting one or the other are usually exiled. Those guilty of particularly heinous crimes are executed without remorse.
Magic is a rare thing in dwarven society, with most dwarves opting to spend their time pursuing other goals. Dwarves believe magic to be fickle and unpredictable, whereas stone and metal are far surer materials to master. The rare dwarven wizards and sourcerers tend to be talented fabricators of magical arms, armor and equipment, but hold no greater position of power because of their aptitudes.
Dwarves prefer to remain neutral in most conflicts. Almost all aspects of their lives and culture favor caution and indifference. Selling expertly crafted weapons and armor to both sides of a war, for example, creates tremendous profit. That being said, everything is done for the betterment of the Range, or a dwarf’s business, family, and/or friends. Though greedy, dwarves tend to be extremely loyal.
Dwarves and elves have lived side by side as the elder races of Sorand for centuries. Aside from a few long standing grudges against the elves for the creation of the fey, the two races get along well enough.
Dwarves see humans as excellent business partners, or at the very least, customers. Several dwarven businesses have secured presences within human cities, purchasing shelf space in countless businesses throughout the Kingdom of Man.
Those orcs with the coin to barter are welcomed within dwarven trade cities and enclaves. Indeed, only the roden and fey are despised and shunned by dwarven society. The dwarves refuse to deal with the roden and find themselves constantly at odds for territory. To the dwarves, the fey are a bad but distant memory.
- Ability Modifiers: +2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma
- Size: Medium
- Special Rules:
Slow and Steady: Base speed of 20 feet, but never modified by armor or encumbrance
Darkvision: Dwarves can see in the dark up to 60 feet
Defensive Training: +4 Dodge bonus to AC against roden enemies
Greed: +2 Appraise skill checks to determine price of non-magical goods that contain precious metals or gemstones
Hatred: +1 bonus on attack rolls against roden enemies
Hardy: +2 to saving throws against poison, spells, and spell-like abilities
Stability: +4 bonus to Combat Maneuver Defense when resisting “bull rush” or “trip” while standing on the ground
Stonecunning: +2 to Perception checks to notice unusual stonework, such as traps and hidden doors
Weapon Familiarity: Proficient with battleaxes, heavy picks, and warhammers and treat weapons with the word “dwarven” in name as martial weapons
Languages: Begin speaking Common and Dwarven, high intelligence allows dwarves to choose to speak Roden, Orc, Elven