The Dwarfs or the Dawi as they call themselves in their tongue of Khazalid, also called the "Elder Race" by Men, are one of the oldest and proudest intelligent mortal races of the Known World, with a great wealth of history and power that stretches back to time immemorial. They once held an empire which stretched from Norsca in the north to the jungles in the Southlands, and from Mount Silverspear in the east to the Grey Mountains in the west.
Yet the heart of the Dwarf empire, the Karaz Ankor as they call it, will always lie within the domains of the Worlds Edge Mountains that serves as a barrier between the Old World and the Dark Lands to the east. The highest mountain range in the world, it is filled with the magnificent halls and holds of the Dwarfen people -- a testament to the great feats of engineering and power once wielded by this ancient civilization.
Dwarfs are known far and wide as the greatest miners and tunnellers -- the ageless halls of Karaz-a-Karak are but one gigantic example of how huge their works can become. The Dwarfs are also highly proficient smiths and craftsmen, capable of producing works far more beautiful than the Elven metalworkers in far Ulthuan and hundreds of times more valuable than the trinkets of Men.
The Dwarf people as a whole are sturdy and strong, brilliant craftsmen and excellent warriors. Above all they pride themselves on their loyalty to each other or those they are indebted to. This strong bond of kinship has ensured that the Dwarfs stand as one of the most unified races in the world. Proud, honourable and enduring, it is said that the Dwarfs shall weather the horrors and misery of the world until its final bitter end.
The Dwarfen people are short and stunted in nature, but possess an extreme degree of durability, endurance, strength, immovability and stubbornness that many other races often mockingly compare to, or in the Dwarfs case, embody those of a stone or mountain. Most Dwarfs stand only a mere 3 to 4 feet in height, however, they are noticeably very stout in build, with strong thick arms, long broad shoulders and short but powerful legs. Female Dwarfs have a similar physique, though they are much more curvaceous.
These characteristics are advantageous in their underground homes, making their stunted yet stocky bodies well suited to the cramp environments of the tunnels. As you might expect, Dwarfs are also natural diggers and miners, with many Clans often lending their youths or "Beardlings" into the mines as miners or military warriors as a trial or passage to adulthood.
It is also customary, and in most cases mandatory, for all male Dwarfs to have a beard of some kind. Most Dwarf youths begin to grow their beards at a relatively early age and will continue to grow for the rest of their lives. These beards are an integral part of Dwarf patriarchal society, for it often dictates a Dwarfs personal age, wealth, or experience. The longer the beard, the more respect he gains from his peers and those of society. Rather than cultivating beards, female Dwarfs braid their hairs in much the same way as a sign of status and age.
The Dwarfs are also known widely as a race of alcoholic drinkers. Known famously for brewing some of the finest beers and ale in the known world, these Dwarfs would like nothing more than to sit down, have fun with their companions, singing songs and drinking beer until the rise of the morning sun. As such, the Dwarfen people have naturally strong livers, allowing them to drink vast quantities of alcohol without much repercussions. Indeed, Dwarf ale is actually nourishing to a Dwarf; a Dwarf is able to survive off of it alone for weeks and not suffer malnourishment for it.
Dwarfs and Magic
Another characteristic of the Dwarfs is their odd resistance to magic. Dwarfs are not able to feel or control the Winds of Magic like the other races within the Warhammer World. In fact, the Dwarfen race has grown such immunity to magic that they have become highly immune to all forms of common mutation, a severe and common side-effect that is often associated to those races that are affiliated with magic. Some have speculated that the Old Ones created the Dwarfs in an attempt to create a race that can resist the touch of Chaos and the uncontrollable magic it brings forth, but the results had made the Dwarfs noticeably shorter than other sentient races. As such, the only way a Dwarf will be able to use magic in any form is the use of Runes and the proper teachings of a Runesmith.
The Great Grudges
One thing that defines the dwarfs is their incredibly long memories and an endless capacity of bearing grudges for slights great and small and their history is sculpted around these times of great disrespect.
In a bid to cripple Ulthuans military and economic relations with the Dwarfs, Malekith ordered Dark Elven assassins and warriors to attack and slaughter Dwarf trade caravans travelling around the Old World in the year of -2005 IC. Believing these attacks to be perpetrated by the High Elves, many of the Dwarf Kings and Thanes began to ready themselves for conflict with the Elves. By this time, the crown of rulership was passed down to another Dwarf, High King Gotrek Starbreaker. Like his predecessor, Gotrek was a wise and thoughtful king and instead of heeding the call for war, Gotrek sent one last attempt at reconciliation.
The Dwarf people were a grim and straight-forward race, and once the Dwarf ambassador, cousin of the High King, reached the throne of Phoenix King Caledor II, son of Caledor the Conqueror, the Dwarf ambassador harshly demanded the Elves to find accountability for these atrocities and recompense the Dwarfs in gold for the lives lost and treasure stolen during the attacks. But the Elves of that time were arrogant and prideful and scorned by the Dwarf's accusation, the Phoenix King deliberately conceived an insult so grievous that no amount of gold could ever serve to recompense.
The Elves forcefully restrained the Dwarf and slowly cut-off his beard, compelling the Dwarf to go home shorn of his pride and honour and bearing the message that the only way the High King would gain a single gold coin of recompense was if he went personally to Ulthuan and begged before the Pheonix King himself. This became the greatest insult ever recorded upon the Book of Grudges, which would culminate in the greatest war ever fought between the two races.
The War of Vengeance
Enraged beyond reason or thought, the High King roared for his kings and thanes to gather their armies and prepare for war. Nearly every Dwarf clan was called up for this conflict, with each stronghold mustering armies numbering in the tens of thousands unto the growing legions of throngs already under Gotrek's command. At the very height of their power, the Dwarfs marched to war with a massive horde of heavily armoured warriors in what the Dwarfs knew as the War of Vengeance, and the Elves called the War of the Beard.
With the entire military might under his control, the High King led the Dwarfs into the lowlands and attacked the unsuspecting Elven colonies that were oblivious to the Phoenix King's actions. Colony after the colony had fallen under the Dwarfs brutal assault until finally Caledor II ordered a mass mobilisation of his forces and ignorantly emptied Ulthuan of all her soldiers leaving it entirely defenceless, a situation that Malekith had long anticipated and would soon exploit. The massive Elven fleet set sail with Caledor at its fore and made landfall upon the Port-city of Tor Alessi, where they repelled the Dwarf invaders from the city walls. This marked the first true engagement fought between the two civilisations, in a war that would last for nearly 400 years.
Blinded by their rage and overconfidence, the sudden arrival of Ulthuan's entire military caught the Dwarfs by surprise. Pushed back, the Dwarfs and Elves continued their battles within many area's of the Old World, the most prominent of which took place within the lands that would one day become Bretonnia. As the war began to escalate ever further, by the year -1974 IC, Caledor II was able to slay Prince Snorri Halfhand, son of the High King in single combat. The death of his son ensured that Gotrek would never stop until Caledor was dead.
In an act of vengeance for his lost kin, Prince Morgrim, cousin of Snorri Halfhand and nephew to the High King, led a Dwarf army against the Elves, forcing them to retreat back until they made a final stand at the Battle of Oeragor, where he and his army purposefully stood before the arrow storms of the Elven army as an act of defiance and courage. With their arrows spent, the Elves foolishly attacked the Dwarfs in melee combat, where the Dwarfs quickly gained the advantage. Finally, at battles end, Morgrim personally slew Prince Imladrik in single combat, earning him the title of Elgidum (translated as "Elfdoom"). Crowned a hero by his people, Morgrim continued to capture many Elven towns and cities across the Old World, the most prominent of which was the razing of Athel Maraya in the year -1948 IC.
Another mighty Dwarf leader by the name of Brok Stonefist lead the armies of Karak Azgul in a decisive campaign against the Elves by using his extensive knowledge of the tunnels to route their armies. For his heroic deeds, he was named Ungdrin Ankor Rik, or "Lord of the Tunnels" by his people. As the war dragged on, he met his greatest adversary, Lord Saledor of Tor Arche, and for the next hundred years he fought Saledor's armies in many battles such as the Battle of Blind River. Finally, it was during the Battle of Athel Maraya that the two adversaries found their ends in single combat, where they fought each other until the burning city devoured them both in the flames.
In a final push to end the war, High King Gotrek led his throng to drive the Elves back, besieging the walled city of Tor Alessi for the fourteenth and final time. At last, the walls were breached and, unable to flee, Caledor II was forced to face Gotrek in single combat. The duel that followed lasted for hours, but as the Elf King's fortitude failed, Gotrek shattered his foe's sword with a well-placed hammer blow. Defeated and disarmed, Caledor pleaded for mercy and forgiveness, but all hope of forgiveness was shattered the day Caledor had killed the High King's son. Hardening his heart, the High King swung his hammer and killed the Phoenix King.
In the aftermath, King Gotrek picked up the Phoenix Crown from the mutilated corpse and proclaimed the grudge settled, and that the Elves were welcome to come to Karaz-a-Karak to beg for the return of the crown. The remaining Elven forces withdrew from the Old World, their armies, like their arrogance, shattered in defeat. In their pride, the Elves considered upon one last suicidal assault against the walls of Karaz-a-Karak. However, news began to stream into the remaining Elven Lords that Malekith had once more invaded the Island of Ulthuan with one of the largest Dark Elven invasion fleets to that date. Swallowing their pride, the Elven Lords began a mass evacuation of all Elven citizens from all the colonies and gathered their forces to repel the Dark Elven invasion. Yet the Elves of Athel Loren refused instead, declaring independence from the Phoenix Throne of Ulthuan and over time these elves in turn eventually became the Wood Elves.
The Dwarfs rightfully considered themselves the victors of the War of Vengeance, as their foes had departed, driven from the very continent except for the small fraction of elves who refused to leave but could not be driven out. This hard-won situation should have ensured the Dwarfen dominion over the Old World for ages to come, however in their own arrogance, the Dwarfs were fully unprepared for the catastrophe that was soon to come.
Time of Woe
The long conflict that had lasted for nearly 400 years had bled the Empire of the Dwarfs dry, and the Dwarfs found their vigour and their population extremely spent. Before they had even begun to recover, their realm was beset by a catastrophe that rocked the foundations of the Warhammer World.
A tremor of an unknown and eldritch origin and of very nearly impossible power spread across the mountain ranges of the Old World. The Worlds Edge Mountains began to buckle under the relentless assault, as the surging energy crashed against the spine of the entire mountain range. Great tidal waves rose from the sea and crashed against the coast, consuming all in their path. Long dormant volcanoes erupted in the East and the land was scarred for all eternity by geysers, lava, and earthquakes. The great realm of the Dwarfen Kings became undone, as their whole kingdom was destroyed in front of their very eyes.
Every single settlement of the Dwarfs suffered a calamity, as walls collapsed, mine workings shattered and lower levels flooded by subterranean waters. The mountains themselves shuddered, and in some cases broke apart to send avalanches in sweeping waves that crushed the valleys and lowlands even the Ungdrin Ankor, the subterranean Underway of the Dwarfs, fell into partial ruin. Such was the devastation brought during that time that the Dwarfs remembered it simply as the Time of Woes.
The Goblin Wars
The catastrophe brought about during the Time of Woes created a chain reaction upon the World. With volcanic activity erupting to the east, the Goblinoid race migrated in unimaginable numbers towards the west. In response, tribes of Humans began to migrate into the Old World in ever-increasing numbers, trading gold and cattle to the Dwarfs as they tried to escape the rampaging hordes of Greenskins that were following just behind. With the permission of the new High King, Nurn Shieldbreaker, these Human tribes were allowed passage and faded into the forests of the Old World. The many invasions that followed began a disjointed series of wars and battles that the Dwarfs named as the Goblin Wars, for the Goblins were the most numerous of the enemies arrayed against them.
The first attack came just after the last aftershock was finished. Unidentified enemies infiltrated the Dwarfs underground networks in implacable numbers, and soon outposts and small strongholds came under attack. With the walls and gates of their once formidable fortresses now cracked open by the earthquakes, the scattered Dwarfs quickly became outnumbered and surrounded. The first to fall from this massive onslaught was the Dwarf stronghold of Karak Ungor.
Taking advantage of the chaos, a wave of Night Goblin tribes emerged within the very centre of the city, taking the Dwarfs of Karak Ungor completely by surprise. Using their speed and overwhelming numbers, the Night Goblins took deep after deep from the Dwarfs. Defiant to the last, knots of warriors and militia rose up to meet the invaders back to back, attempting to hold the Night Goblins off in key locations until the population could evacuate. The King of Karak Ungor, King Kargsson of the Stonehelm Clan lead a counter-attack that gave enough time for the women and children to evacuate. With all of the population accounted for, the King ordered to finally abandon the city and make their journey towards the strongholds of Karak Kadrin and Zhufbar. King Kargsson never made it, for he valiantly closed the tunnels behind him as the enemy began their final decisive attack.
With the enemies controlling both the surface and the underground tunnels, communication between the holds was lost. The next attack upon the Dwarfs came upon the mineral-rich stronghold of Karak Varn. Known famously for the largest deposit of gromril in the world, when the great earthquakes struck, the lower workings of the stronghold became flooded by the nearby lake of Black Water. Without any warning, Skaven armies coming from the city of Skavenblight attacked the lower workings while an army of Orcs besieged the city from above. Caught between two massive armies, the Dwarfs stood little chance. Despite the stout defences erected by the Dwarfs, after nearly a year of fighting, the city of Karak Varn was inevitably taken. Most of the stubborn population fought to the bitter end, with only a handful of clans managing to evacuate and reach the safety of Zhufbar.
After the fall of Karak Varn, a series of defeats were further inflicted upon the Dwarfs at many locations within the Worlds Edge Mountains. Columns of smoke rose high above the peaks as surface settlements and mines were put to the torch. Refugees that survived the attacks attempted to cross the mountain passes to reach the other holds, but these places were clogged with enemy armies streaming into Dwarf territory. As the war escalated, the Underway became a warzone between armies of Night Goblins and Skaven seeking to control the tunnel networks as their own.
To the south, the mines of Ekrund were sacked by an army of Orcs, driving the Dwarfs out of the resource-rich Dragonback Mountains. The Gold and Brynduraz ("shining stone" in Khazalid) mines of Mount Gunbad were also taken by a host of Night Goblins of the Red Eye Tribe. After being besieged for several decades, the stronghold of Mount Silverspear was lost to the Orcs as well. In time, the entire eastern edge of the Worlds Edge Mountains was lost to the Greenskins.
Several decades following the Time of Woes, the once dormant volcano within Thunder Mountain suddenly erupted violently, forcing a mass migration of Trolls towards the remaining Dwarf-holds. To combat these creatures, High King Morgrim Blackbeard, declared the Troll Wars and lead a 300 year-long campaign to reclaim lost territory.
However, the Dwarfs eventually lost three more major strongholds in the span of fifty years. Karak Eight Peaks, the second strongest mountain Kingdom of the Dwarfs fell to the ratmen in -513 IC. Karak Azgal was stormed and sacked by an Orc army in -493 IC, only to be forced out as a Dragon delved into the tunnels and claimed the hold as his own. Karak Drazh was attacked and captured by the Orcs the very same year, eventually becoming the new Greenskin fortress of Black Crag. After nearly a thousand years, the Goblin Wars were nearing their end, and should the Dwarfs not stop the Greenskins soon, nothing would stop them from conquering the whole of the Old World.
It was also during this time that many secrets to runic magic, as well as some smithing and building techniques were lost, never to be recovered.
Rise of Mankind
Following the loss of several major cities, came a mass exodus out of the Worlds Edge Mountains. Though it grieved them to do so, many Dwarf clans forsook their ancient homeland and began moving west. Led by the surviving clan members of Karak Eight Peaks, Karak Azgal and Karak Drazh, these expeditions fought their way through the forest of the Old World and into the safety of the Grey Mountains. There the clans rebuilt their lost society, resulting in the establishment of the new strongholds of Karak Norn and Karak Izor, with mines rich with mineral deposits of copper and iron in abundance. Though not as powerful or as wealthy as the strongholds within the Worlds Edge Mountains, these strongholds were nonetheless free from the depredation of their enemies.
Over time, the Dwarfs began to reestablish old trade routes that would connect and maintain communication between the strongholds of the Grey Mountains and Worlds Edge Mountains. As these Dwarfs began to traverse the wilderness of the Old World, they soon rediscovered a confederation of Human tribes that originally settled here following the outbreak of the Goblin Wars. They also learned that the emerging Human tribes were battling against the Greenskins for possessions of the forest and lowlands, and in them, the Dwarfs found a common ally against the ever-increasing Greenskin threat. The Dwarfs did all they could to encourage the primitive tribes of Men, resulting in the establishment of trade, good relations and the exchanging of weapons and armour. However, even with the aid of the Dwarfs, it became clear to them that the Humans were beginning to slowly lose this conflict.
Whether it was fate or the intervention of the Gods, the bonds of friendship that would be formed between the race of Man and Dwarfs on this historic day shall endure until the final days of this world's demise. A trading convoy that included the High King, Kurgan Ironbeard was ambushed on its way from Karaz-a-Karak to the Grey Mountains. The Orc army that attacked them was enormous, and although the Dwarfs slew the Orcs until their bodies lay in heaps, they inevitably failed and their High King was taken captive. Luckily for the beleaguered Dwarfs, this territory was the domain of the Unberogen tribe, a fierce and war-like tribe of Men who fought relentlessly to clear their lands of Greenskins. Led by the mighty warrior-prince Sigmar Heldenhammer, the chieftain's son, an army of Unberogen warriors fell upon the Orc army with great fury.
This meeting would be a turning point in Mankind's history. In the battle that transpired, Kurgan Ironbeard bore witness to this young, human prince facing down Warlord Vagraz Headstomper. Despite young Sigmar's mighty strength, every killing blow his bronze sword had made was turned aside by the armour of the Orc, and every blow from its flaming axe came all too close to ending his young life. Ironbeard broke free of his bonds and fought his way to Vagraz's tent, where he kept his pick of the Dwarf King's possessions, which includes the mighty Warhammer Ghal Maraz, the "Splitter of Skulls".
Kurgan threw the hammer towards Sigmar, cursing the Orcs with every curse known to Dwarfkind. Sigmar caught the ancient weapon and the tide turned for the Unberogen. Sigmar assaulted the Orc with mighty strikes of his hammer, the fury of his blows bringing the hulking beast down to a single knee. With the final strike, Sigmar smashed the Orc's skull to bloody shards. A mighty feat, even for a warrior wielding a weapon forged with Dwarfen skill. With the close of the battle, their holdings avenged, Sigmar attempted to return the hammer to the High King. In that moment, a historical act came about, one unheard of in all the annals of both Men and Dwarfs that forever forged an unbreakable bond of friendship between the men of the lands west of the mountains and the Dwarfen kingdom of Karaz Ankor -- King Kurgan Ironbeard gifted the ancient hammer Ghal-Maraz to Sigmar.
It was a unique happening for a unique weapon; for the power of Ghal-Maraz is old, ancient even to the Dwarfs, and it is said that the weapon possesses a will of its own, and it actively chooses those who are to bear it into battle. Indeed, as fate would have it, the hammer was always Sigmar's, and had been waiting for the day the warrior would claim it. The Dwarfen King looked upon Sigmar and saw within him power, honour, courage and nobility without parallel, and knew that Ghal-Maraz was rightfully his, and he also reasoned that an ancient runic weapon was fitting payment for saving the life of a Dwarfen king. From then on, the Dwarfen nations and the Unberogen clans were the most steadfast of allies.
With the mighty warhammer in his possession, Sigmar began his campaign to unite the warring tribes of Men against the unstoppable onslaught of the Greenskin hordes. As Kurgan Ironbeard returned to his seat of power within Karaz-a-Karak, it soon became clear that the Greenskins were growing near unstoppable. In the years during Sigmar's campaign of unification, the Dwarfs within their mountain kingdoms felt an invasion unlike anything they had endured since the days of the coming of Chaos. Holding the Greenskin hordes off as much as they could, and after nearly a decade, Sigmar finally united the Tribes into a single unified force, and it could not have come at a better time.
Envoys of King Kurgan Ironbeard arrived with news of an Orc horde of such monumental scale as to eclipse all those before it, marching towards the now-legendary Black Fire Pass, intent on destroying the races of both Dwarf and Man forever. This, Sigmar would not allow. He summoned all his brother-kings to the golden halls of King Siggurd for a grand meeting now known in the annals of history as the Council of Eleven. There, the kings conferred on how they would face this apocalyptic threat.
Some of the assembled kings realised that the only path was to unite into one great host, placing the overall command of the army under Sigmar. Others, however, would not bring themselves to relinquish command over their own warriors to another king, and remained obstinate. Soon, dissension and argument arose between the assembled warlords. Sigmar saw this and was filled with contempt, silencing the dissent with a word. He denounced the shamefulness of their squabbles while a lesser race stood united and poised to destroy humanity.
Sigmar implored the gathered tribes not to meet the Orcs and Goblins as they had in the past, standing apart from each other, refusing to lend aid and only combining their forces when needed--that would only lead to their defeat and deaths. His voice rising with a terrible rage that was felt throughout the gathering, Sigmar called on all the tribes of Man to unite and make their common stand with the Dwarfs, calling it the crucible of a new nation. As recorded in the Book of Origins, Sigmar's final shout of "To war!" was answered with a cheer so loud that the Dwarfs heard it as far away as Black Fire Pass.
History records that Sigmar's army arrived just in time, as the Orcs finally breached the wall King Kurgan had built across Black Fire Pass. Leading the charge from the chariot of Siggurd, Chieftain of the Brigundians, Sigmar fell upon the Greenskins as if he were the God Ulric himself. The force of the Human assault stopped the Orc and Goblin advance, then began pushing it back. The Dwarfs saw this as their opportunity and charged from their forts and towers and fell upon the Greenskins' flanks. Fear overcame the Greenskins and they began to break ranks and flee. Their leader, Warlord Urgluk Bloodfang, rallied his forces and made a counter-attack. Charging, he and his warband came face to face with Sigmar and his own warriors.
Sigmar and the Orc warlord entered into single combat, whilst Siggurd and his elite Brigundian warriors battled Bloodfang's Black Orc bodyguards. Hammer clashed with cleaver as the two struggled for advantage. After nearly an hour of fighting, Sigmar killed the Orc warlord with a mighty double blow, first breaking the hand that held the cleaver, then smashing Bloodfang's skull on the return stroke. The death of their leader was also the death of the Orc army, which broke and ran in utter panic.
The slaughter that followed was terrible to behold as the armies of Man and Dwarf fell upon their most hated foes. It is said that there has never been a greater concentration of crows in all the world than that which gathered to feast on the stinking and unburied corpses of the Greenskins at Black Fire Pass. So many died that day that it would be over a thousand years before the Orcs and Goblins could again raise such an army, even with their prodigious, if unknown, reproduction rates.
With the defeat of the Orcs at the Battle of Black Fire Pass, the security of the lands of the Twelve Tribes was assured. King Marbad was afforded the funeral rites of the greatest heroes, for such he deserved for saving the life of Sigmar during the battle, and was carried onto his pyre by his fellow kings and his heir. Not only was the race of Men saved, but so was the Dwarfen domain. In heartfelt gratitude, King Kurgan Ironbeard pledged that he would charge Alaric with the creation of twelve magnificent blades in thanks to the Empire for their shared brotherhood. These blades would later be known as the original twelve Runefangs, which continue to be wielded by the Counts of the Empire to this day.
After the Battle, Sigmar's fame spread wide and far, renowned as a hero of all Mankind. Upon the anvil of war and the fires of battle, at last his dream of a united empire had been realised. For men of all twelve tribes had stood together in the battle-line as brothers, and with the truth of their common enemy now made obvious, the old tribal hatreds had evaporated away, replaced only by iron-hard ties of brotherhood. With the victory, it is said that the kings, and then their tribesmen, all dropped to a knee within the pass before Sigmar, accepting him as their new lord.
Thus, at Reikdorf one year after the Battle of Blackfire Pass, the Ar-Ulric, high priest of the Cult of Ulric, placed a crown of gold and ivory, another gift from the Dwarfs, upon Sigmar's head and proclaimed him the Emperor of Man before the assembled representatives of the Human tribes. Before him knelt the tribal chiefs, who swore brotherhood to each other and fealty to Emperor Sigmar and the newborn Empire.
Contrary to popular beliefs, Dwarfs do not worship a certain religion or holy deity, but rather has a belief centred around the veneration and reverence of their ancient ancestors. They believe that the spirits of their ancestors are constantly watching over them, guiding their actions in order to fulfil a grander purpose for the benefit of all Dwarf kind.
Dwarf society is often built around these principles, where the oldest amongst their group are often held in higher esteem and respect within the community. Should a very old and highly respected Dwarf die, the community would carve out monumental tombs in order to venerate their deceased ancestors, with the oldest of relics and treasures being both the most highly valued and as a symbol of the ancient power the Dwarfs once wielded.
It is said in the oldest of Dwarf folklore that there once existed a pantheon of powerful deities who led the Dwarf people into their new-found homes within the Worlds Edge Mountains. Having many names with the Khazalid language, this pantheons is well-known by many outsiders simply as the Ancestor Gods. According to the Dwarfs, these deities were amongst the first of the Dwarfen race, carved by time from the rocks of the mountains, and birthed by the stone itself.
Rather than be worshipped in holy reverence like the Gods of the Old World, the Dwarfs consider these ancient deities as living ancestors. In fact, it is said that the High King is the direct descendant of Grungni and Valaya, two of the most important of all the Ancestor Gods. Over the years, these Ancestors eventually gathered a following of like-minded individuals, resulting in the creation of semi-religious Cults, the most prominent of which is the Slayer Cult of Grimnir.
The most important principles of Dwarf society are often summarised by three things: age, wealth, and skill. The more of these a Dwarf has, the higher you are in Dwarf society. Dwarfs do not boast of their family achievements, they merely set the record straight and proclaim their ancestors' greatness by their own personal wealth and skills. Unlike humans, Dwarfs live naturally long lives, with some growing as old as several centuries to even a thousand years of age.
When a Dwarf starts their lives off as young youths, they are often mockingly called by their elders as "Beardlings". As their name applies, these youths still have short beards which indicate their young age and will continue to be youths until they reach at least more than 70 years of age. Whilst they age, these youths would learn the basic skills of their Clans, such as mining or smithing. In addition, they would be required to participate for some time in active military duty.
The oldest Dwarfs within a community are the "Longbeards" or "Greybeards". Dwarfs never cut or trim their beards, as the length of a beard indicates age, and thus wisdom. As such, these older Dwarfs are highly respected within their communities and their peers, and are often looked to for guidance and leadership. Only a Dwarf who has reached the age of a hundred, or has a beard that is touching the very floor will he be readily considered a Longbeard.
Dwarfs also have an affinity for their peoples own past and tradition and would constantly seek to remember their forebears by repairing and maintaining their products. All Dwarfs know how to reforge an ancient blade and are constantly trying to incorporate ancient relics into their newer works. All of the most powerful of these weapons are forged by Gromril, the strongest, rarest, and most treasured metal known to their people.
Dwarfs also enjoy hoarding their hard-earned treasures and gold within massive Vaults. When a Dwarf dies, his wealth goes to his family and so passes down the generations. This process ensures the memory of the dead will always continue, as well as to secure a Dwarf's supply of money for a more desperate time. Often, a Dwarf will measure his security by how far off the ground they are when they sit on their treasures. Such is the greed that Dwarfs have for their treasure hoards that the supplies within a stronghold itself are so huge that it attracts hordes upon hordes of Orcs and Goblins, who are all willing to risk their lives by the hundreds all for the chance to earn some plunder.
Dwarfs have a rigid and unyielding sense of honour, which is centred around oaths or a promise. A promise does not die with an oath-maker, nor does treachery die with an oath-breaker. A Dwarf will be bound to an unfulfilled promise made by an ancestor, and will commit themselves to their fulfilment. Likewise, they will look to the descendants of oathbreakers for recompense. Serious breaches of faith against the Dwarfs are recorded in the Book of Grudges. This massive tome is kept in Karaz-a-Karak, the capital of the old Dwarf Empire, and constitutes something of a chronicle of Dwarf history.
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