Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for Dwarves

D is for Dwarves

I don’t tend to stray too far from source material in my campaigns. As such, my take on dwarves in the Haume campaign is pretty straightforward. They are short and stocky, often with surprisingly ruddy features for a race which lives primarily underground. Most dwarves live to the age of about 100, with those living into their 130s considered to be exceptional. And no…. female dwarves do NOT have beards.

Dwarves worship The Father, aka The Great Maker, aka Durrak (to the humans). They have few other deities, and the few they do have are thought to have been some of the first dwarves created by the Father. Curiously, dwarves do not have a highly organized religion. Dwarves have no inherent magical ability of any kind, supposedly because the Father was more interested in making a race that would be able to survive through their strength and their hands, not something as intangible as magic. While most dwarven settlements have small token shrines to the Great Maker, there is no organized priesthood. The dwarven race see the Father as being consumed with creating, and as such, isn’t terribly interested in interceding in the lives of his creations.

A by-product of the dwarves inability to use magic, however, is their utter fascination with magic items. Dwarves could care less about those who can manipulate magic, but as craftsmen, they are almost obsessed with how these magical energies can be infused into crafted items. As such, dwarves often appear greedy to other races, as they are constantly seeking to amass fortunes of precious metals and gemstones. However, dwarves are driven to this avarice because of their innate need to acquire magic items to study, in hopes of being able to replicate the abilities of such items through sheer craftsmanship. Dwarves are more interested in magic items that are both magical and beautiful… things like swords, armor, rings, jewelry, weapons, and intricate devices. Potions and scrolls hold little interest for dwarves. Because magic items are of more interest in being researched than used, it is rare that one will encounter a dwarf with numerous magical items, for dwarves find it difficult to overcome their natural tendencies to research a magical item and put it into everyday use. Often, dwarven strongholds will have sizable hoards of magical items which are being “researched” by dwarven sages, metallurgists and alchemists.

Most dwarves are serious and taciturn. They don’t trust elves because of the Faerie War (more on that later), and will be noticeable bristly around them. They tend to get along well with Halflings, when they encounter them, which is rarely. They tend to view humans with a combination of wonder and caution – wonder because humans are able to use more magic than any other race on Haume, but caution because of the sheer amount of violence humans have been responsible for in the past.

Dwarves are often found living in vast, underground cities in mostly inaccessible mountain ranges. A dwarven city will honeycomb an entire mountain, often with the smelters and forges of the dwarves found at the top of the mountain, which makes for easier venting of exhaust (and occasionally causing these cities to be mistaken as active volcanoes). The middle levels contain vast warrens of rooms and personal residences, as well as workshops. Dwarves are also known to employ vast natural caverns for raising a variety of fungus and vegetables, as well as herds of lizards and rodents which they raise for food. The bottom levels of a dwarven city contain the mines, where they acquire their raw material for construction. There is often limited contact between dwarven cities and the outside world – the notable exception is for timber products (although the dwarves have created miniature varieties of trees which thrive underground, nothing can compare to the lumber of surface trees). Most dwarves encountered in the surface world are either those who have been outcast from dwarven society for some crime, or those who are considered unfit for functioning in regular dwarven society.

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