Dwarves or Carrul as they call themselves, "Sons of the Stone" are the people of the mountains. Dwarf is the term Humans use to describe them, a term they accept from humans and other races, but never use among themselves. To the Dwarf mind it is better to accept the slightly derogative term, than explain themselves to scatha, or "outsiders". This is a typical point of the Dwarven view that they will allow misconceptions about themselves to flourish, even "play along" with them rather than reveal anything about their personal or private lives. A Dwarf never explains himself, never, at least to non-Dwarves. They are typified by a practical, taciturn view point, and a short stature. Most outside races never see real typical Dwarves, so never really know them. What is seen of Dwarves is those willing to brave the outside for the benefit of their people at large the taciturn men with few women and a lusty appetite for drink and song.
Dwarves are a people from the outside. Their ancestors fled a dying world in the legendary "Ship of Stone". About 500,000 years ago that ship came to Thindacairull. At first the survivors tunneled into rocks of the new world, and had no interest in what was outside the world. What minerals and caverns they could find are all that concerned them.
In time the outside came to them. The first reaction of the Dwarves was to push back these strange tall and slender people. For a short time, war was the usual state of meeting for Dwarves and the surface races.
Moradin Silverhand, later called the Soul-forger was the first Dwarf to consider that all things outside the caverns were not hostile. With his aid, peace was made, and peace has remained the way between the Elves and Dwarves since.
Dwarves are as a race, agoraphobic. Open spaces scare them. They much prefer to be in a tunnel whose sides are almost touching them. The average Dwarf will never venture to the surface of the world, and other races never see average Dwarves unless they travel to the places that Dwarves dwell.
Dwarves among their own kind are highly physical in demonstration of affection. Back slapping hugs, old married openly hold hands. Insert strangers and a wall of reserve drops like an ax. A Dwarf is still very much "in your face". The Dwarven idea of a reserved distance is about a foot away. Dwarves are extremely modest were bare skin is involved. This is done for the "comfort of others" rather than the "comfort of self". The show of bare flesh offends the viewer not the barer.
There are two Dwarven "ways of life". What is described is the more typically seen "Hill Dwarf" or Garscalla "those that deal with strangers", the more commonly seen, but lesser in numbers, of the two Edor, or major castes of Dwarf. The other Edor is the seldom seen but far more numerous Sarufend.
A Dwarf is born after a 14 month gestation. Childbirth is usually hard on the woman and is attended with diligence by midwives and priests. A birth is rare, and important in the community. Dwarves are born singly. So rare are multiple births of any kind that every case of twins where both lived has been recorded in the Great Tome.
Dwarves usually regard the birth of twins as an ill omen. Their religion holds that all things are balanced, and from mercy the Soul-Forger holds back the evil part of a man from being born. This explains the difficulty of birth, as the evil and good fight within the womb of the woman for control. Twins means a draw, and one of the pair is destined for destruction, but no man can know which. In cases of a child that grows up a wastrel, a criminal, or a burden to the family it is said; "He bettered his skill brother." Meaning that the evil half was born, not the good.
Dwarven childhood lasts 40 years. The child requires that full time to reach physical maturity. Childhood is the only care free time in the life of a Dwarf. Children, are seldom supervised, but lightly watched by the entire clan.
At 40 years a Dwarf comes of age. It is a time for a woman to marry, and a man to take his Father's trade. All Dwarves belong to a Searu, or caste literally a "Craft". Each male child is expected to follow in his Father's craft, and clan and community pressure ensure that in all but the rarest cases they do. There are only two socially acceptable alternatives to this, the Clergy, or the Magicians. One can seek position in either, the former is easier to get into than the later.
The third choice, adventuring is not socially acceptable. Those Dwarves that take up the profession are considered out caste by their families and clans. This is not to say they can never return home, but they are forever marked as strange and unacceptable. They can return with wealth (admittedly valued) and fame (worthless), but are forever marked by their journeys under the open sky. Ironically these Dwarves by their very outcast nature are sought by Dwarven Kings to represent their people among the outsiders. While the method of gaining knowledge of the outside is unacceptable, the knowledge is valued for the power that it is. Those Dwarves that have proved willing to face the stony disapproval of their elders and peers and are successful in spite of it, gain Influence and power. However, it is always in the courts of other races, but never at home.
The female Dwarf has little choice other than marriage, and her Mother will wheedle and deal and buy the best marriage she can. However, the woman is not bound by the limits of Searu or Edor as is the man. She can marry as well as her Mother can arrange. As deeper is better, few brides are left for the men of the Garscalla, and fewer still come willingly out of the Mountains.
A woman's only choice outside marriage is the clergy. Those women that break with tradition, and seek adventure themselves are a scandal. They need not come home.
By the age of 60 a man is settled into his trade, and rising fast, by the age of 100 he will be considered fit to marry, and can seek a bride. For this he must go to his Mother, who will bargain for him with the mothers of the brides, if he has no Mother an Aunt or Grandmother. Baring all other choices, the Clan Mother will speak for him. Never, never does the man approach a prospective bride's Mother, or even worse, the bride herself, himself. Marriage is an arranged institution for the propagation and protection of the Carrul. Love, is a reward for later, if you work for a good marriage. It has no consideration in the selection process.
The reward for tireless labor, and success seeking is a good family and children. It is the Dwarf's goal in life. If he grows in wisdom, and prospers in wealth (if you are not wise enough to get wealthy, you're not wise), he may be elected to a position on the clan Council. If he serves the clan well, he may become Clan Father, or even King.
Old age sneaks up on the typical Dwarf. The Crone comes slowly, and creeps into the bones, dims the eyes and ears. Reason does not fail unless other problems cause it, but the body's pain increases. An old Dwarf is forgiven if he indulges overly in drink, or other intoxicants. Life is long and hard, and he has earned it. When the Crone comes at last in person, she is usually welcomed warmly. The body is failing, the pain often and great. If the Dwarf has lived well, the passing will be mourned for years, even recorded in the Great Tome. The funeral feasts are finished. The body is laid to rest in the comforting stone. His life was good. His name will be passed on.
The foundation of the Dwarven community is the clan. A single clan may consist of from 6 to 6000 families. A community may consist of a single clan, or a dozen or more in the larger cities.
The family is considered the married couple and their children, but this is only one structure within the clan. All members of a clan are related, by blood or by marriage. An unmarried Dwarf is considered part of his or her Father's family even if they are 600 years old, and dad has been dead for years. In cases where the Father of a family is deceased, the Mother will speak for the family. In the cases where unmarried children remain after both parents are gone, the Clan mother speaks for them.
Clan Fathers are elected with each family in the clan having one vote. It is the responsibility of the Clan Father to see to the defense of the community, and deal with other communities. If a particular profession is needed in the town, he and the other Clan Fathers (if present) will see that someone is recruited to fill it. The Clan Father judges civil disputes that do not involve domestic matters and with the Clan Mother judges criminal disputes. When a matter crosses clans, the leaders of both clans will judge, with a Priest brought in to mediate and settle disputes between the Clan leaders.
Clan Mothers are also elected, but by all the married women in the clan. She oversees all matters of marriage and domestic tranquility. She also sits as half the panel at criminal trials with equal voice in the proceedings. She acts a surrogate female relative to all unmarried men that would otherwise have no voice in the community. Getting on the bad side of the Clan Mother is not a good idea.
Decisions by either Clan Father or Clan Mother are made with all due process. Both sides will be listened to, and once the principals have said their piece a decision is forth coming, always within three days.
Communities where more than one clan is numbered among the population will have a "King". This elder Dwarf must be skilled at war, and not the head of any one clan. By accepting the title of King he removes himself from his clan. He speaks only for the community at large, and not for any one part of it. His responsibility is to defend the community if necessary, and to deal with other communities and outsiders in the name of the community. He can appoint ambassadors and generals, and call up the militia. In times of war he has absolute rule of Law.
The King is chosen by the clan Council that consists of both Clan Fathers and Clan Mothers. A King can be removed by the council if he proves incompetent. The title is not hereditary.
In the cases where many communities are close together either physically or economically a "Great King" may be elected to deal with the affairs of all the localities that elect him.
The clergy is also not numbered among the clans. The children of priests do not become priests. They remain within the clan, with the Clan Mother speaking for them. A priest is considered above the politics of clans, and representative of the gods. Most priests do attempt to adhere to this ideal, but there are failings. The more obvious ones will find themselves removed to far places by church superiors.
Dwarven Art & Culture
Dwarven art comes in two flavors, decorative, and religious. Decorative arts are generally of a geometric nature. Good examples would be the rectilinear forms of Art Nouveau, or Art Deco. Dwarves find beauty in function. The more functional an item is, the more beautiful it is. Living creatures, either animal or sentient are seldom seen in any Dwarven decorative art. Religious art is the opposite in nature. Living creatures are the primary subjects. Inanimate objects take a secondary role, if any at all. Religious art depicts scenes from legend, from myth, and stories of moral lessons. Figures are usually in relief (full form sculpture is rare), and form follows strict rules of composition and meaning.
Dwarven music is always vocal. The low bass chanting that carries through the caverns and tunnels for miles, accompanied only by drums. String instruments have found a place in some Dwarven communities that have constant contact with the surface. The rare wooden objects are considered a sign of wealth. The soft tones are appreciated, and harps and lutes are working their way into the culture. To the surprise of many, brasses have no place in Dwarven music. The strident tone of the wind instruments is ill-suited to the echoing chambers where music is performed.
All Dwarven gods where once heroes of the people. The average Dwarf stands in awe of the accomplishments of his gods, while still understanding that if he puts forth the effort and sacrifice, he could do the same. The gods prove that these are improbable, almost impossible goals, but attainable goals. Still if one is willing to be the equal of the gods in word and deed, one has a chance to sit at their side as equals in respect and power.
Under no circumstance was the road taken by heroes become gods an easy one. A Dwarf holds these beings in awe for the depth of the dedication that they had to cause and deed. He seeks their approval and some times their aid, and attempts to hue to the harsh and difficult example they demonstrate.
There are two "races" of Dwarves, the two Edor as they are known.
Garscalla: Literally, a "spear against outsiders". This is the Edor of Dwarves that most other races see. They are sometimes called "Hill Dwarves".
Garscalla run from 3' 6" to 4"6" tall and are massively build compared to humans. It is said that most are as wide as they are tall, and it can be literally true. Body density is such to offset any combat minus due to height. Their skin runs from a nut brown to a rusty brown in color, hair is black, or brown, rarely red and readily turns gray or white as the Dwarf ages. Only males have beards. The legend of female beards comes from the habit of women disguising themselves as men when outside. Eye color is gray, black or brown, rarely green.
Sarufend: Literally "skill strong". The far more common Dwarf that seldom, if ever, sees the light of the sun. Sarufend have a much higher female to male ratio than the Garscalla, on the order of 56% female. Appearance is the main difference between the two "races". Mountain Dwarves, as they are sometimes called, run from 3' 0" to 4'0" tall and are massively built compared to humans. It is said that most are as wide as they are tall, and it can be literally true. Body density is such to offset any combat minus due to height. Their skin runs from a light gray to a red gray in color, hair is black, or brown and readily turns gray or white as the Dwarf ages. Only males have beards. Eye color is gray, black or brown. They have the same racial abilities as the Garscalla. Darkvision is to 250 feet. Sarufend are very sensitive to bright light. They suffer a -1 penalty to all attack and dexterity based saves when in daylight. In addition to the Garscalla abilities, Sarufend can judge depth below ground and judge the soundless of natural formations and caverns.
All player character classes are available for Sarufend.