Dwarves & The World Spine

The dwarves of Saas were not so much born as made.  Towards the end of the Elder Age the first child of the Goddess, the Elemental God Gor, awoke from his age-long slumber and found that he had grown strong again.  On the first day of creation the Goddess had bid Gor to make all the earth; the land and the mountains and the effort drained him.  His new strength surged through him and he longed to walk the world again as he had done, but he discovered that while he slept he had become a part of the earth and was forever trapped in stone.  Gor’s rage rippled across the world causing earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as he strove to wrest himself from his stone prison.  Yet he could not, for the Goddess herself had fixed her first son in the earth to give strength to stone and glister to gems.  After many days of rage the Goddess sent 3 of her younger children to speak with Gor; these were the Elder Gods of Constancy, Family and Riches.  These three gods went to the tallest of mountains (the dwarves call it Bhazrak, trans. The Towering King) and struck a deal with Gor; together they would create a new race who would embody the spirit of the Elemental God of Earth and allow him to see the world he had created.  Gor agreed and opened Bhazak to the 3 Gods.  At the core of the mountain they carved the first dwarves from Bhazrak’s very bones and with the permission of the Goddess the statues were imbued with life.

The new dwarves were completely unlike the elves.  While elves were tall and fair skinned, dwarves were short with skin like tanned leather.  Where elves were nimble and swift, dwarves were clumsy and sluggish.  But the most pronounced of all differences was one no elf could articulate; the dwarves were something entirely new to the world – they were mortal.  The combined might of Gor and the 3 Elder Gods, who became known collectively as the Dwarf Gods, was insufficient to duplicate the vital spark that existed in elves, eventually every dwarf ever born would grow old and die.  In the beginning the elves wanted noting to do with such transient and repulsive creatures, they called them Niadwoden (trans. Not Elves) and the dwarves were shunned.

Being awed by elven beauty and power they took this callous behaviour to heart and hid themselves away in the mountains far to the south of the Green Wood.  There the dwarves sought solace in the earth and dove deep, hiding their faces from the cruel elves.  It was there that the dwarves made the discovery that was to change their race forever, they discovered gold.  With a little experimentation they found this raw ore could be smelted and shaped to make items of great beauty, and more discoveries followed: silver, platinum, gems and eventually mithril.  Dwarf runesmiths soon learned to make tools out of metal and then weapons.  So it was that when the Elder Age was drawing to a close and the Elder God of Pride, known by then as Miradros Daldakkan, split the race of elves into light and dark, it was the dwarves that both elf sects came to seeking weapons.

The dwarves, who forget nothing, spoke to the representatives of both sects saying that the one who showed humility and apologised for the sleights against the dwarven race would receive what they requested.  The dark elves, being the children of Pride, scoffed at the idea.  Rather than humble themselves they drew up all their might and cast it against the city of the dwarves, intending to take what they wanted and shatter the upstarts, but Greathold (in dwarf it is Caer Da Bhazrak, trans. The Castle of the Towering King) had grown from a mountain and was secure against all assault.  Its heavy gates were never forced, its thick walls never breached, its tall halls never invaded, nor have they ever been.  Greathold was and remains unassailable at the very top of the world.  The dark elf armies crashed against the walls like a wave against a rock, and like the rock it remained once the wave was broken.  This was the true turning point of the war between the elves, for the dark elves expended nearly half their total strength against the dwarves.  When the dark elves departed, vowing vengeance, the elves returned and their leaders knelt before Greathold’s Gate and humbled themselves, for Pride was not their master, and the dwarves were satisfied.  Together the dwarves and elves forged a number of mighty artefacts in the cavern of R’Tepp and with the help of these legendary items the dwarves and elves drove the dark elves to the edge of the world, decimating them as they went.  Despite tensions down the centuries dwarves and elves have been friends since then, a friendship born of adversity and necessity.

Dwarves continued their mining and today their empire spreads throughout the immense World Spine Mountains and is still growing.  Dwarves are the artisans and merchants of Saas, their skill in forging items is legendary and their weapons powerful.  It was the dwarves who taught the skills of the smith to the elves and later to the race of man.  Science is also of great interest to dwarves; they are precise and exacting.  In addition to being the first race to measure time and develop a calendar, dwarves are pioneers in the fields of physics, biology and chemistry.

Dwarf Caers (trans. castles) often occupy entire mountains and Greathold is home to over a million dwarves living in homes carved deep underground.  Each Caer is ruled by a King (the word is dwarven and humans acquired it from them) who is master of all the dwarves who live there.  The King of Greathold is the King of all Caers, but seldom does he interfere in the affairs of other Kings.  Within each Caer the dwarves are organised into families; with the eldest male dwarf being the head of the family and extended families, sometimes running to as many as twelve generations and several hundred members, all live together with wives moving in with their husbands.  Law, order and punctuality are very important to dwarves and this has been a source of much strife between the dwarves who love timekeeping and contracts, and the elves who neither like nor truly understand time and prefer word bonds to written contracts.

Dwarf names are like family trees.  Dwarves have their own name first, then their father’s, then their grandfather’s, then their great-grandfather’s, then their great-great-grandfather’s and finally their great-great-great-grandfather’s name.  So, for example, the name of the current master of Greathold is King Aran XXXIV whose full name is Aran Bhezik Aran Aran Aran Khebin.  Female dwarves use the mothers’ names.  Dwarves are real sticklers for precision and custom and most dwarves will always use their full names when talking to other dwarves, but accept that other, less sophisticated races are unable to remember more than a few dwarf names without having to write them down.  When dealing with other races it is a common dwarf joke to adopt some ridiculous nom de guerre like the famous warrior scoundrel Brun Alburndema did (in dwarfish alburndema means “who has had carnal knowledge of my mother”).  So when an ignorant human said, “This is Brun Alburndema,” all dwarves nearby would erupt into laughter.  Dwarf humour is secretive to such an extent that most people fervently believe dwarves to be dour and humourless; a reputation the dwarves themselves do little to discourage.

While the race of dwarves is not immortal, it is exceedingly long lived, and the signs of old age do not set in until an individual reaches about 600 years of age.  After that a dwarf can still expect to live another 10 years for every point of constitution they have.  The oldest dwarf ever, Tarn Buluk Buluk Tarn Azhik Karradra the chief Runemaster of Greathold, is still alive at the age of 837.  Throughout their life, dwarves cultivate large braided beards whose cultural significance is lost to history, but which nonetheless represent status symbols among dwarf kind.  Particularly wealthy dwarves will display their affluence by braiding gold thread and jewelled periapts into their beards.

Dwarves were the first truly omnivorous people and they love food of all kinds: they created farming, herding, fishing, hunting and brewing to feed their appetite for flavours.  Due to their phenomenal constitution a dwarf can eat just about anything and occasionally do.  During a year of famine the glib dwarf king Aran IV said, upon being told that there was nothing to eat, “You say there is nothing to eat when you stand there wearing perfectly serviceable boots?  No dwarf can starve while he has warm feet.”

Creating A Dwarf

All characters on Saas have their abilities determined by a points system rather than dice rolling.  Dwarves have remarkable strength, constitution and wisdom and so have 86 points to spend, but their final scores must be within these limits, and the normal racial modifiers do not apply to this system.  Dwarves may elect to be any class except druids and mages.  Dwarves of Saas can be paladins and as such require only a 15 charisma.

Attribute: Min / Max

STR: 10 / 19

DEX: 3 / 16

CON: 15 / 20

WIS: 3 / 19

INT: 3 / 18

CHA: 3 / 15

Special Abilities

Dwarves have the following special abilities.

Phenomenal Constitution: Dwarves can subsist on any living matter, or anything that used to be alive.  They can eat fungus, wood, leather, rope, bone and a hundred other things that would kill rather than sustain a human.  Dwarves are completely immune to ingested poisons.  Dwarves also have all the bonuses described in the PHB, including bonus saves.  Regardless of their class, dwarves receive fighter hit point bonuses for high constitution scores.

Racial Abilities: Dwarves have all the other special abilities detailed in the PHB including depth estimation, etc.  All dwarves begin with the mining proficiency for free.

Sticklers For Detail: Dwarves can seem very pedantic to other races, but this is due to their precise memories.  All dwarves automatically remember all spoken words and written script they encounter.  Most dwarves will recall every detail of every contract they have ever signed, making it extremely difficult (and needless to say dangerous) to swindle a dwarf.  This only applies to words and script in a language the dwarf understands, in an unknown language a dwarf has no more chance to remember than anyone else.

Vital Race: Dwarves have the vital spark of divinity in them and because of this dwarf clerics do not require material components less than 100gp in value to cast spells.


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