The Dwarves

dwarf symbolThe Dwarves of Arboria live beneath the lands and about the mountains of Arboria. They are a short, stocky race with powerful, foreshortened limbs and hardy constitutions. Proud, isolationist, and distrusting of outsiders, their cross-cultural encounters have often made them appear to those unfamiliar with them, grumpy, loud, and sometimes obnoxious.

Formed from a loose conglomeration of allied dwarven clans, some of which are only known to other dwarves, the Dwarven Nation spreads throughout the depths of Arboria and even atop the mountain ranges, centered around the belly of the Spartak where Dvarnia's Hold, the largest source of Soniarium and home to Clan Dvarnia, exists. Most of the population and various underground cities and villages are focused around this area, although many fringe villages exist beyond the reach of the guiding influence of Zuan Fjornson and the other clan heads.

The dwarves of Arboria are a reclusive people whose secrets are rarely known outside of their own civilization. As such, much of dwarven life as it is circulated among the rest of Lyran Tal is hearsay, rumor, and ultimately myth. This wealth of misinformation is a dual source of distaste among the dwarven people, coloring their attitudes toward outsiders, as well as forming a comfortable buffer against those who intend to pry too closely.


A dwarf holds many of the same physical characteristics of humans, except for thicker, foreshortened limbs that form the source of a dwarf's comparable strength in comparison to other humanoid races. This gives dwarves the appearance of oversized extremities and stocky builds, although they often have the same bulk as humans and are quite capable of displaying almost as much agility. Other than these traits, dwarves display a wide variety of physical attributes.

Often considered a ubiquitous addition, a dwarf's beard is not necessarily an appendage as so many outsiders consider it to be. It has long been a symbol of virility, strength, and maturity, but within dwarven society it is common to see young males go completely without beards before attaining full adulthood and females to go without beards for their whole lives. What a beard does is tell a story. A dwarf's clan can often be identified simply from the cut of his beard, and the saying, "He seems to be cut that way" is a not uncommon reference to such. Also, the dyes, braids, and beaded decorations adorning a dwarf's beard can tell much more in-depth stories. These displays are not limited to beards, and the same clan bead pattern can often be seen on the same man's sideburns and hair.

Dwarven Maturity

Every seven years to a human is perceived as a single year to a dwarf. Because of this, a dwarf of seventy years appears to be only ten years old and a dwarf spends seven years in the apparent body of a compact one year old baby. This process of aging is not based on any magical process, and it is said that dwarves simply age so slowly and well because of their exceedingly high vitality and hardiness.

Dwarven physical maturity is not the only thing that is seven times slower than that of a humans. The time it takes for a dwarf to reach emotional maturity is also seven times slower. It takes a dwarf seven times as long to reach sexual maturity, developing slowly into adulthood between the ages of 110 and 140, but it also takes a dwarf seven times as long to grow out of infancy and toddlerhood.

This is not to say that a dwarf is seven times slower to learn. A day to a dwarf is the same as a day to a human. The difference is that, physically and emotionally, a dwarf develops slower. Because of this, a dwarven child is never allowed outside of the village.

During this time, most of a dwarf's skills are learned within the confines and safety of the village. Dwarves display a particularly unique dedication to their craft, becoming masters over time at whatever they put their focus into, excelling over most races, even the elves who they see as lazy and without dedication, because of the amount of time put into their crafts, from stone and metalwork to gemcutting and even brewing and combat.

It is upon reaching adulthood that most dwarves are seen venturing out beyond their homes. At this point, they are well into (some are even past) their studies and are testing their skills in the wide world for the first time. Consequently, because of the amount of time and focus put into everything they do, dwarves are seen as stoic (grumpy), confident (obnoxious), or even outspoken (riotous and loud) about almost everything.


Until adulthood is reached, both male and female children carry their father's name. A male child would have the name Gungru Bandcarver. At reaching adulthood, the male simply picks a new name that best suits him, e.g., the child of this example's new name would be Gungru Jadefist because he works specifically in jade. The father's surname would be kept as the middle name in full titles, as in Gungru Bandcarver Jadefist, or the entire name would be added to the end, as in Gungru Jadefist, son of Purt Bandcarver. The female, upon reaching adulthood, will traditionally keep the father's last name and later take on the name of her spouse (although contemporary subversion of male and female roles see unwed females taking their own adult names at times).

The Family

Dwarven households consist of a patriarchal father, who is most often the sole provider, and a mother who raises the children (usually one to four). It is extremely rare to see a married female working in any job other than as an assistant to her husband if he has his own trade.


Dwarven females are pregnant for a very long time compared to human women and often take five years to bring a child to term. Yet, dwarven mothers are rarely hindered by the process of childbearing and are quite capable of carrying out their daily tasks because of their natural strength and vitality.


Dwarven jobs are assigned in a semi-rigid caste structure. At an early age, dwarven children are taught preliminary skills such as mining, farming, and combat. The training for these skills becomes more and more complex, expanding into stonework, smithing, smelting, and gemcutting as the dwarves become specialized. When a dwarven child starts to mature, his affinity for stone and earth is tested and even more specialized areas of training are taught including runework, shaping stone, and reading rock. Because of this successive training in different but related areas of experience, most dwarves are capable of easily shifting between different tiers of jobs as the mood overtakes them and most have extremely varied work experience.

There are no elaborate ceremonies for dwarves who take jobs involving the Gift of Earth. There are simply too many dwarves who are capable of it. This is, the dwarves believe because the ley lines expand beneath the ground, making the Gift of Earth a part of every dwarf that manifests in some form or another, whether testing for the purity of an ore or knowing one's depth beneath the ground. The only thing they believe separates a rune master from a miner is preference. Because of this, there is no emphasis placed upon the Gift and no superstition surrounding it. A dwarf could be an incredibly powerful and skilled practitioner of the Gift without anyone knowing or caring.

History of the Dwarves

The society of the Arborian dwarves has undergone recent restructuring from its previous patriarchal dominance and it was not until two centuries ago when dwarven females were allowed the freedom of their male counterparts. Not long ago, dwarven positions were strictly assigned. While males were allowed the freedom to explore the extent of their skills in stone and metal craft, females were assigned agricultural jobs according to the capability in their regions.

In silent defiance arose the Sisterhood of Stonework and Metalcraft, referred to in underground circles as the Sisters of Stone. This secret society taught those females willing to seek them out and who displayed a skill at the male-dominated roles in society were further taught how to hone them. Since dwarven females in a society where they were not allowed to practice masonry and other earthworking skills would have been useless with those abilities, many of them grew their beards out and ventured into the lands beyond, to the surface world. Coincidentally, most of the original dwarven blacksmiths and stoneworkers found in human settlements were in fact females.

Noticing the atmosphere where dwarven females demanded increasingly more and more desires, concessions were made. First, females were allowed into a wider variety of jobs, apprenticing as blacksmiths at first, then further into merchants to sell their own wares. Eventually, the only skills they were banned from were mining and others that drew them from their homes. Among these were the ability to read the rock and bend it to one's will, the skills of the rockreaders and stoneshapers. With much of their members now free to practice in dwarven lands, the The Sisterhood of Stone Lore, focused unbeknownst to almost everyone on those few skills banned them.

Today, there is no enforced division in work between male and female dwarves. To celebrate the pioneering spirit of the females who came before, a few women grow beards in memory, but most still go without them even if they grow their sideburns particularly long. The membership in the Sisterhood took a dramatic turn more than a century ago. In their exclusive studies of what is known as Stone Lore, they discovered their own unique magic. It was in this time that curious male followers began to seek admittance and the Secret Society of Arcane Lore was born. They are mentioned now very rarely, as hushed whispers on nervous tongues. The name of the society itself, as it has always been over the years, is held as a tightly kept secret, so all that can be said of them is the name "Rock Witches."

Dwarven Brews

One thing of importance worth noting is that dwarves have such stern constitutions that it takes a lot to get one intoxicated. Because of this, most of their drinks are dangerous to humans and other non-dwarves in their regular amounts, often killing or causing sometimes permanent damage to those who would sample them. Because of this, a rating system has been placed next to each drink in accordance to the danger to non-dwarves.


  • Green Top Ale

    The most common ale found among the dwarven inhabitants of Arboria's hills, it has a rich gold color, an almost sweet taste, and a thin head.
    Rating: Stop (drinking it) or you'll go blind!

  • Sprucebur's White Ale:

    Among the inhabitants of Arboria's mountaintops, sprucebur ales are a delicacy. Named after the dwarven brewsmith Magdu Sprucebur, who proved himself a genius in the manipulation of texture, head, and taste by blending local plants with hillside grains. His white ale is almost completely clear except for an amber finish when seen in bright light. It goes down smooth with a faintly bitter aftertaste and just a hint of berry. Of his two most famous ales, it is the strongest.
    Rating: Stop (drinking it) or you'll go blind!

  • Sprucebur's Black Ale:

    Sprucebur's black ale is a dark brown the color of ebony, a mild head, and a heavy, waxy texture on the tongue. Although noticeably bitter, it clears the tongue immediately with no aftertaste.
    Rating: Stop (drinking it) or you'll go blind!

  • Brownroot Ale:

    Found most often in Arboria's deeps, brownroot ale is a generic term for any of a number of starchy roots from the same family. When fermented, they create a bittersweet ale with little head and a smooth taste.
    Rating: Stop (drinking it) or you'll go blind!

  • Pinetar Brew:

    This drink is brewed from the needle-shaped leaves of the boru, a coniferous tree found high in the Arborian mountains. The scaled, blue berries that grow among the cones of this tree have a faintly greenish paste within. When the paste is fermented in a cool place, it separates into both a thick glue and an amber liquid. The glue, known as pine mash, is used as an astringent. The amber liquid has a sour, malted taste which is cut by the pine needles, either ground or left whole to ferment with the drink to make for a smooth drink.
    Rating: Stop (drinking it) or you'll go blind!

  • Mockspider Mash:

    Not named after the four-foot wide, four-legged insect that inhabits the caves of Arboria's depths. From between the cracks of rocks in wet, dank, chill caverns grows a root whose split tips are blood-red or black like the feet of the mockspider. The fermented mixture of this root's brewed pulp is a bitter, spicy drink.
    Rating: A sip is enough to drop a horse.


  • Dirnia's Goblinsblood:

    A carefully kept secret among dwarven brewers, an odd legend surrounds this drink. It is said that the dwarven warrior Dirnia Warscreamer used to brew this drink in the emptied skull of a goblin before battle. What is strange about this story is that there have been no goblins in dwarven territory as far back as memory reaches, although Dirnia could have traveled abroad for such battles. The drink is clear with a strong astringent odor, but sweet, although the exact flavors are unidentifiable. Some rumors say the pinkish tint is imported goblin blood, although no one knows for sure. Drinkers are overcome by an intense battlelust and temporarily know neither fear nor pain.
    Rating: It's your funeral....

  • Negruh:

    Also known as dark mistress, this drink comes from the dun'dun, a high-altitude plant with deep purple veins on its leaves and a crimson flower whose bud is black before it blooms. When this black bud is pierced, it drips a dark purple fluid. To a dwarf, it comes across as a strong sedative, but it can be boiled down into a very sweet drink which even dwarves only consume in very small amounts. It can be addictive.
    Rating: Are you out of your mind?


For more information on Dwarves, contact:

Zuan Fjornson's player

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