Life Expectancy: 130-200 years Homeland: The Nether Average Height: 3’0”- 4’ 5” Average Weight: 45 = 125 pounds Preferred Classes: Artisan, Warrior, Thief Classes this race can be: Any Preferred Alignment: Neutral Preferred Weapons: Axe, hammer, short swords, daggers Aggression Level: Moderate-High Intelligence Level: Moderate-High Magic Rating: Moderate Strength Rating: Moderate-High Weak Against: Magic Strong Against: Melee Related Races: Hobbits Allied Races: Humans Enemy Races: None
The dwarves of Adrasteia have evolved along a surprisingly uniform genetic path; any differences in their appearance or physiology so minor as to go unnoted. What differences do exist, can be accounted more to the lifestyle adopted based on societal roles than on any true genetic divergence. Minor variations in hair coloration and texture are about all that differentiates the dwarves of one island commune and another.
Stockier, more muscular and taller than their hobbit cousins, many dwarves can become almost as tall as a short human, and thus have earned the sometimes affectionate and at other times derogatory moniker ‘little people.’ Characterized by bulbous noses and rounded cheeks, dwarven features are often covered in thick beards and mustaches and support heavy, and bushy ridged brows. Despite their shorter height, a low center of gravity and high muscle to mass ratio make dwarves a comparatively strong race, capable of wielding weaponry and armor of considerable weight. For spending much of their lives on the semi gloom of the Nether, they have evolved light sensitive eyesight, and are capable of superior vision in darker places
The Nether folk are a proud and isolationist race, not prone to interaction with other races except for purposes of trade or battle. Casual socialization between dwarves and surface dwellers for reasons beyond business is uncommon, though some individuals may choose to deviate from this pattern. Even amongst their own people, prejudice between classes and ranks is commonplace, and these attitudes extend and deepen in communities outside of the Nether. Among the more militant classes of the race, social prejudices are sometimes set aside for the sake of joining militias or other fighting forces in search of the thrill of battle. A few who find themselves outcast in their own society, also make the adjustment of living and working amongst the surface folk.
Dwarven society is rigidly entrenched in a rigid caste system that dictates everything from privilege, to wealth and opportunity. While some movements between castes is possible, a dwarf’s birthright can often dictate his destiny.
The Political Castes:
- The Dugaar : This is the highest political caste of dwarven society. Often limited to between seven and ten noble families per commune, this collective has maintained power for known dwarf history. Due to their wealth, assets, and long standing reputations, the families hold much power within societal structure both political and militarily as certain families even possess their own private armies of better paid, more rigorously trained soldiers. Many of the elder and more predominant members of these families also serve within the council, who are the second major political power within Dwarven society. The king of the dwarves will always emerge from the Dugaar caste, although he is elected by majority vote, and not defined by bloodlines.
- The Jergen Council: This is the second political caste of the dwarf society. Sometimes called the circle of elders, represent the predominant families and factions within Dwarven society, along with the common interests of all Dwarven people. The council is required to convene at least once a year so that the members may each put forth propositions for policy change and then vote on them along with other key issues before they will be passed to the king for final approval. At any given time there are no more or less than twenty eight members on the council, who each sit for a 'steintz' of fifty years, at the end of which they are either re-elected or replaced. The council are the only group in existence within Dwarven society able to challenge or oppose the king openly and if voted on unanimously the council even possess the ability to dethrone whichever king currently presides.
- The Dwergen Guild: The third dominant force among Dwarven politics is a far more secretive element, who hold no power nor even any ties to government openly, but influence nearly all of the council's decision making through bribery, intimidation, and political pressure. The Dwergen originally came into existence as a labor union of sorts, demanding power and higher pay for the Craftsman of Oort'mire. Smelters, armorers, weapon smiths, jewelers, all came together and threatened the council with a refusal to produce any more goods should they be denied the various demands they'd made. Since then the Dwergen have largely concealed themselves from public view and exist to the average citizen as a strictly ornamental agency devoted to craftsman pride and adjudicating in labor disputes. However, in secret they operate behind the scenes, influencing decisions and matters which come to the attention of the council, including the selection of kings. It is believed by some that this group is largely responsible for the deaths of various council members, kings, and political figures throughout the more than fifteen hundred years since their founding.
The Merchant Castes:
- The Vraken: The Vraken, make up one of the most prestigious circles of Dwarven society that you can reach without being born into it. Through centuries of practicing their craft these masters are considered some of the most skillful in all Adrasteia. They produce armor of great strength and flexibility. Weapons with edges so sharp that they can split a hair, and are guaranteed to never dull. Jewelery that sparkles so brilliantly it might be thought otherworldly by and average being lucky enough to see it, and it is the most sought after symbol of wealth or power in the land. It is this group which truly fills the Dwarven treasuries and makes Oort'mire a symbol of trade to the rest of Adrasteia. Their support or lack thereof can greatly affect political matters.
- The Krigen: A step down on the totem pole you will find the Kriegen, shopkeepers, traders, caravan runners, purveyors of fine wines and wares. The merchants of Dwarven society are a powerful group when united, as a large portion of the entire nation's wealth passes through their fingers at some point or another.
- The Sourgen: Below the Krigen, are the Sourgen, who act as the servants and aids to many Dwarves with more prestigious titles. If you were to approach a Dwarven goods stand in the capitol city of Oort'mire and make inquiries as to the wares sold there, it would be a Sourgen that would most likely respond. Members of the Sourgen are generally regarded as 'Jacks-of-all-trades' in the sense that most will do any and all jobs required of them. They are assistants, servants, cooks, maids, and attendants to some of the more powerful figures in Dwarven society.
The Common Castes
- The Grundlaug: Though looked down upon by those with more prestige, the Grundlaug are considered and even referred to as the foundation for all Dwarven kind. They are the workhorses, and few feats of Dwarven engineering have been completed without their aid. As such there is a sort of 'honor' in their caste, even though most strive to fight their way higher and avoid the toils of becoming a Grundlaug. It is from this caste that the Dwergen guild originally came to be.
- The Drecht: Those Dwarves who possess neither trade nor title are regarded as nothing more than filth by their peers, and make up the lowest levels of Dwarven society. It would be not at all looked down upon for a successful mason or councilman to push one of these Drecht as they are called, roughly out of the way or kick them for speaking out of turn. Such is life within the Dwarven capitol of Oort'mire, and interceding on the behalf of a Drecht is considered something akin to social suicide.
The Military Caste
- The Durganen: Separate from the castes, yet equally a part of Dwarven culture, is the military; Durganen. The military as an organization flies in the face of most accepted Dwarven social codes, in that they accept members from any and all levels of society, all beginning their military careers on the bottom. They are an order all their own, with their own rules, rites, rituals, and code of conduct. In the military all men are equal to others of their rank, and advancement is based on skill rather than wealth or prestige. It is in this way that members of the lowest castes can come to command men from even the noble families. For this reason, many Drecht show up for trials every year, where new recruits are selected from the large group who gather annually. In trials the many hopefuls are put through rigorous tests of both their physical and mental faculties which last for a full month. The trials range from combat, to being put through mock scenarios where they are placed in command of a mock squadron and forced to make decisions under pressure. There are no restrictions based on sex, wealth, status, or prestige and even a former councilman would be required to pass the series of brutal tests to qualify for placement.
The Dwarves are not known to be overly religious in nature, given their closeness to all things quantifiable. However, a measure of obeisance if given to Valdek, the god of craft and blacksmithing, usually in the form of the offering or preserving of the best and purest of their craftsmanship in an underground temple established for his abode.