Among the civilized true natives of Impernia, the dwarves are considered to be the elder race. Dwarven civilization once spread throughout the mountains but is now only found in the Western Shieldwall Mountains, though oral tradition tells that another great city once claimed the Eastern Ramparts as home.
According to oral history, the dwarves were the first race to establish a civilization on Impernia. The clans were once scattered throughout the mountains, each maintaining it’s own existence in modest, subterranean warrens. It is unknown what brough the clans together, but they all gathered beneath the banner of the Stormshield clan, a family that has lead the dwarves for generations. During this time of separation, each clan developed a rapport with the elements, a tradition that continues to this day.
Over the centuries, the dwarves have clashed with the orc tribes, the giants and their kin, and for a short time, with the eladrin of the Crystal Veil. The constant on-again, off-again conflict lead the dwarves toward isolationism and an honored martial tradition.
This isolationist attitude was finally breached when the humans first arrived at the foot of the Western Shieldwall. The Hearthlords of the dwavern clans were impressed by the industriousness of the strangers and watched from hidden tunnels as the men of Joryn began to break ground on what would be come Ironcrest.
The dwarves would not make contact with the humans for several years. When men began excavating the mountainside to construct their fortress, the dwarves saw the impending failure in their endeavors. Seeing the potential in the humans’ plans, the High King ordered emissaries to finally make first contact with the humans.
The fist meeting was tense, the humans having no idea whatsoever that the dwarves had been there the entire time. Once the Imperials recovered from the initial shock, officiall emissaries were sent from the human capital to negotiate with the dwarven king.
In the end, a pact of trade and mutual protection was agreed upon. Over the years, the dwarves and humans of Ironcrest developed a strong and lasting economic, military, and social relationship.
Dwarves are known to be a very stoic race but this is a common misconception. Because of their isolationist history, dwarves are very wary of revealing much to outsiders. Once a person gets to know a dwarf, and vice versa, it becomes apparent that dwarves have a vibrant love for life and the world around them. They also honor the value of skill and hard work.
When it comes to their role in society, dwarves are not expected to follow in the footsteps of their parents. Instead, dwarven children undergo tests prior to their coming of age to determine where their aptitudes lay. In this, dwarven society insures that they always have the right dwarf for the job, a fact that lends a strong hand to the reputation dwarven goods have across the lands.
Dwarves in general do not eschew ostentation but they rarely do not make big show of things that they did not make themselves. A jeweler may wear a large amount of jewelry made by his own hand as a mark of his skill and trade. A carpenter will probably not have near as much jewelry but her home will likely be filled with finely crafted furniture.
Dwarven marriage is normally arranged but it is not unheard of for two dwarves to marry for love. Arranged marriage is a fact of society because of the low birth rate and low population of the dwarves. It something of a eugenics program in order to develop children with much needed skillsets. As a result of their low childbirth rates, it isn’t uncommon for a dwarf to take multiple wives or husbands, especially in communities where there is a disparate number of males and females.
There is also an unusual practice among the dwarves known as stonemates. Often referred to as stone wives or stone husbands, these dwarves have taken upon themselves to help maintain a viable population. Many outsiders decry this practice as formalized prostitution or a breeding program. The reality is that the arrangements are very carefully coordinated, keeping track of bloodlines and aptitudes of both the stonemates and their consorts. Any children who are born of these unions are reared in communal creches by the stonemate houses and integrated normally into dwarven society. These arrangements are never made with married dwarves but with dwarves who find themselves away from civilization or communities for long periods of time, unable to dedicate time to raising a traditional family but with a desire to contribute to the future of dwarfkind.
Like all cultures, modern dwarven society finds it’s roots in the past. Prior to the founding of the dwarven kingdom, each clan made it’s own living. During this time, there were clan mystics who communed with the very elements themselves. These Callers maintained relations with the elements, calling on them to aid the clans in whatever way they could. The dwarves don’t have as much need of the elements as they did in the early generations but the Callers and their elemental companions are still very much revered and respected by dwarven society.
Although dwarves do not value warfare, they maintain an honored martial tradition. The denizens of the mountains have proven to be dangerous time and time again, requiring the dwarves to defend themselves. In order to reduce the amount of fighting and deaths to a race with an already low birth rate, the dwarves became masters of defensive tactics. Their mountain holdfasts are marvels of defensive engineering and their bulwarks are reinforced by the Adamantine Guard and Stonebreakers. The Hearth Guard also augments the defenses of dwarven settlements, dedicated to the protection of families and their children while the main army sees to war.
The Mithril Pilgrimage
Once ever twelve years, a phenomenon known as the Mithril Pilgrimage sweeps through dwarven lands. An inexplicable urge to travel eastward overcomes a small number of dwarves of all ages and genders. This event has occurred for centuries and the elders of the clans know to prepare for it in advance. When a dwarf begins to feel the desire to depart, they are first sent on to Stonegaard to receive blessings and equipment for a long journey. From there, they travel together as a group to protect each other from any dangers that may occur on their journey.
It is unknown where these dwarves go once they depart their homeland. Once a dwarf leaves on the Mithril Pilgrimage, they are never seen nor heard from again. In the past, families have tried to prevent loved ones from going, fearing the worst for the travelers. Dwarves who were prevented from taking the pilgrimage fell into deep depressions and often given up on life, turning into vegetables or dying outright. Now they are provided with whatever can be given before they leave the dwarven kingdom forever.
The dwarves are not as pious as the worshipers of human lands but they pay service to and revere their own pantheon.
Good and Lawful Good Deities
- Moradin, the Forgefather
- Berronar Truesilver, Lady of the Hearth, consort to Moradin – goddess of safety, truth, home and healing
- Mya, All-Mother, consort to Moradin – goddess of clan, family and wisdom
- Clanggedin Silverbeard, Banner Lord – god of battle and war
- Dugmaren Brightmantle, the Lorekeeper- god of scholarship, discover, and invention
- Laduguer, the Enchanter – god of magic, magic weapons, and artisans
- Muamman Duathal the Wanderer – god of expatriates and travelers
- Vergadain, the Trickster – god of wealth and luck
- Valkauna, the Inevitable – god of life, death, and oaths