Dwarves

OleanderSky

Artisan
New Hampshire Staff
Marshal
Diversity Committee
Dwarves dwell in a single heavily fortified city. Through pride in mastercraft and access to Elemental power, Hastvans utilize advanced constructs for defense and manufacturing. Loyalty and honor unify a people who maintain disparate social classes.

Legendary History

Dwarven written and oral stories tell of a time when Dwarves had a significantly different home and way of life. The details of when, why, and how everything changed are unclear and not entirely trusted as factual, but the Dwarves feel certain that their recorded history is close enough to the truth to hold meaning.

Long ago, the Land of Hastvan flourished, with farmland and hunting providing ample resources. Villages provided trading hubs and locations to gather in times of trouble, as well as a home for dedicated artisans and community leaders.

The capital housed both the highest and lowest of society. The Regent, along with their court and council, occupied a stonework castle near the center of the fortifications and within the high-class Eastern district. This marvelous display of stonework showcased the height of Dwarven pride in mastercrafting. Master craftspersons and scholars were the most numerous residents of the Eastern district, dwelling alongside shops, music halls, inns, and taverns. Residential and merchant buildings stood small beside the towers of an academy for scholarship in subjects from alchemy to zoology. An Earth Circle was protected behind the gates and stone walls of the academy and attended by scholars of Earth Magic. Miners and laborers occupied the Western district, with its less opulent accommodations.

Without warning or apparent reason, monstrous creatures began to attack the farmland’s populace. These invaders were more numerous and dangerous than the usual problems with gnolls, trolls, and other local threats. Soon after these creatures appeared, the fog banks now known as the Mists began to blanket the farmlands. Citizens who did not flee were often never seen again. Those who were engulfed but survived reported trying to walk out of the Mists only to find familiar roads no longer led where expected and they could walk in circles without ever thinking they turned. Residents of the farmland convened on the capital, seeking safety behind the fortress walls.

Though the fortress walls and archers held back monstrous creatures, the Mists began to roll in over the walls and sink into the city. The Mists slowly expanded and seemingly consumed those who entered, despite the walls behind it. Habitable territory shrank and condensed the refugees and residents into an untenably small space. Many retreated into the mines, though they could see this safe haven could not hold out once the Mists reached the entrance.

Ritualists called out to the plane of Stone for aid. They believed that Stone could help the Dwarves fortify their walls against the Mists, or perhaps expand and protect their underground refuge. A being of Stone embodied presented an artifact of great power. Not to be outdone a being of Lightning embodied presented another artifact of great power. The arcanists received instruction in use of these artifacts and warning that the Planes did not invest in mortal affairs lightly. The scholars understood that they were to appreciate these gifts and ask for nothing further.

The artifacts proved capable of granting the Dwarven city safety and recovery from the Mists. Elemental Lightning struck the ground and dissipated the devastating fog. Lightning was harnessed to power wards upon the gates and walls which kept the Mists from reentry. Elemental Stone enabled rapid excavation of deeper mines and development of cellars and tunnels beneath the city's structures.

Though safe living spaces were secured with room for refugees from the farmland, the fields and their crops were lost. The few city gardens and small animal backyard farms could not sustain more than a tiny fraction of the population. Hanging gardens were the first attempted solution. Soon afterward, Elemental Lightning was harnessed to act like sunlight in chandeliers and braziers below ground. Buildings were leveled and the space replaced with farmland, with the crops bolstered by Bountiful Harvest rituals. Though the Dwarven Domain lost much of its population and territory to the Mists, they have survived to this day through the power of the Elements and the knowledge of great arcanists.

Protection and Structure of the Realm

The power of Elemental Stone and Elemental Lightning continues to protect the Dwarven Domain. The fortress walls enclose an approximately 16 square mile territory. The walls and gates stand strong against the Mists, which are visible beyond the bars but cannot seep through due to protection provided by the Elemental Lightning-imbued runes upon the walls. Creatures attempting to assail the fortress enter the killing fields between the warded walls and second walls, and are repelled by ranged weaponry. Rune-covered elementally powered constructs stand guard upon the wall against all threats.

Stone buildings of long ago still stand strong. Some of the smaller buildings were expanded into four and five story structures to house the increased population. The Earth Circle remains within the academy walls. Balcony and hanging gardens flourish in the warmer months, cultivating plants that have not taken to the artificial lighting provided by Elemental Lightning. Many shops and residences have become farms for small livestock. Tunnels and cellars beneath the buildings provide residences, storage, and growing spaces for hardier crops.

The mining caves are permanently occupied and also remain in use for their original purpose. The largest cavern is approximately 2 miles long and a quarter mile wide. This cavern includes housing built into the walls, forges, and the many work spaces. Additional tunnels branch out and run varying distances before narrowing to impases. Stalagmites and stalactites stand or hang in the natural parts of the cave system, while the surfaces are smooth where the power of Elemental Stone cleared the area. A river runs through the depths of the caves, powering mills and supplying fish. Cave dwelling salamanders serve as part curiosities, part prey animals. Laborers mine ore and typically live closest to the mines.

Nobility and Law

Though the physical structure of the fortress has changed greatly from its long-gone past, social structure has not. The Regent remains a hereditary position of leadership held for life, currently occupied by Queen Ingrid the Second. The Regent, their advisors, and their court occupy the central castle. Knights take responsibility for sectors of the Domain of Hastvan, with their squires and deputies to aid them.

The laws of the Domain demand respect for life, safety, and property. Prohibition of theft applies to more than taking another's items. It is illegal to spy on the techniques of an artisan and apprentices must be taken on freely. It is illegal to forge a maker's mark. Each artisan must learn to improve their quality of work and earn their reputation honestly. To do otherwise is not only a crime, but also a dishonor.

Dwarves have learned that mages who cast Necromancy may report they do not feel entirely in control of themselves, or may act in surprising and violent ways. This led to the outlawing of Necromancy. The law of the Domain is consistent across all sectors, but the level of enforcement varies. A bar brawl in a miners’ tavern is often ignored, but violence is not tolerated in taverns near theaters.

Hastvans attempt to see the best in each other, even those who do not put their best selves forward. Knights aim to avoid harsh punishment for individuals who have committed crimes such as assault or theft. Prison or high fines are seen as skipping past the opportunity to teach a criminal a better choice and steer them back to a productive life. Some lawbreakers can be lead back to willingness to cooperate rather than to resentment or a prison cell. A squire or deputy is tasked with finding guidance for a convict's rehabilitation. Much effort is made to find people a lawbreaker respects, and to encourage these respected individuals to mentor the lawbreaker. Typical practices include asking why a person took an illegal action, and what lawful action was an alternative. A mentor is expected to commit to their task wholeheartedly, but they are not held accountable if their best efforts are not enough to rehabilitate the criminal in their charge.

A criminal who does not take their second chance to follow a vocation and the law is sentenced to service, imprisonment, execution, or a combination of these. The most dangerous or unpleasant labors in the Domain are performed by convicts. Sanitation, mine maintenance, and repair of dangerous machinery are often completed by individuals serving their sentence.

Social Structure

Modern Dwarven society takes after the divided classes of the past, though there are no longer distinctly separated districts and farmland. Differing compensation for work is the marker of social divisions. Miners perform hard labor and can afford a subterranean tavern's ale and musical entertainment. Academics with their clean hands patronize theaters and applaud actors who might frequent the same surface taverns as their audience, but order their spirits from the lower shelves.

While Dwarven society is clearly divided into classes, it is considered honorable to help a neighbor in need. Loyalty is another matter of honor. Devotion to one’s family and friends is paramount. It is not honorable to let one’s neighbors go hungry, when surely they can be helped through a trying time and taught to take care of themselves. Though some individuals do fall through the cracks, this is far from normal.

Scholars hold the highest social status after the nobility. Their great arcanists hold the closely guarded secrets of Elemental Lightning and Elemental Stone. Academic pursuit of subjects such as mathematics, physics, and alchemy is purportedly accessible to any Dwarf showing great aptitude, but in practice is dominated by the relatives of older scholars and the wealthiest artisans.

Master artisans of many skillsets are highly respected. Despite the lack of enemies that can pass the gates, the Dwarves retain great pride in their craft of weaponry. Martial skill remains practiced as both art and sport, and blades worthy of display upon a Regent’s wall strike against shining armor plates in demonstrations of swordplay. Artisans train apprentices, who are often but not always their own close relatives. Pride in work is expected, therefore resulting in the criminalization of forgery and theft of trade secrets.

Caretakers of both children and the elderly, farmers, and miners perform vital tasks, but this work is seen as low skilled. Their pay is meager, and they are unlikely to attract the attention of scholars for sponsorship at the Academy.

Modern Magic

The artifacts of Elemental Stone and Elemental Lightning are held in the possession of the Domain’s most knowledgeable and powerful arcanists. Celestial wizards study these artifacts so that if necessary, they could step up to maintain the Domain’s essential needs such as the Elemental Lightning-powered warding of the fortress walls. The power of Elemental Stone maintains many old stone buildings that would otherwise become weathered. The artifacts are also the foundation of Hastvan technology, which would be considered advanced by other societies.

Rune-covered constructs are made with Lightning and Stone combined into singular marvels of artifice. Elementalists sculpt stone and metal using Elemental Stone and animate the inventions using runes powered by Elemental Lightning. These constructs are powerful tools for the Dwarves with an array of functions in defending their Realm and in manufacturing. The printing presses of Hastvan differ from those in other Realms, while the cotton gin and spinning mule are unknown elsewhere. Due to the technology’s reliance on Elemental Lightning, these advanced constructs would not be able to function outside of the Domain of Hastvan.

Though the Elemental artifacts were used to drastically reshape the Domain long ago, they are no longer used for this purpose. Scholars know that an astonishing amount of power is required for maintaining past projects such as the Wards upon the walls, grand buildings that do not crumble, and tunnels that do not overtax their support structures. The most knowledgeable arcanists have observed a weakening of the artifacts when they are drawn upon for repairs and to create constructs. Scholars have determined that the artifacts regain power over time when they are not called upon for major projects. However, excavating tunnels or expanding the city walls are considered too risky. Taking a chance that the wards could fail is unthinkable.

While study of the artifacts is undertaken by only the most elite arcanists, study of battle and formal Magic is not limited to the Academy. Healing is needed throughout the domain, and so Earth Magic is commonly taught. A mining party without mages could easily suffer losses that a student of low-circle spells could prevent, and there is no reason amongst the Dwarves to deny this valuable knowledge. Celestial magic is rarely studied and often confusing. A person cannot feel the sky like the earth beneath their feet. While calling forth the elements has a place in combat arenas, Eldritch Force is rare and even Celestial-school protectives are uncommon. Arcanists who dedicate themselves to the Celestial arts are likely to gain admission to the Academy once they have mastered adequate ritual magic, where they may study the Elemental artifacts.

Culture

With a lifespan of approximately 500 years, a craftsperson’s first century is dedicated to learning their vocation. Even a prodigy does not move past their apprenticeship before this time; if their skill surpasses their teacher, it is expected that they will still have good habits to learn through observation. Though an apprentice may stay on past this age, especially if they were taken on older than most, an individual's centennial birthday is most likely the end of their training. Coming of age is less clear for scholars, who study throughout their lives and may never become teachers themselves. It is also unmarked for those with less trained professions.

A century is typically considered full maturity, after which a Dwarf who wishes to have children is seen as mature enough to do so. Extended families typically live within the same area and remain in contact; marriage is common and children are usually raised by their parents. Adopted family are no less valued than blood relations, and friends may become as close as relatives. Dwarves celebrate centennial birthdays with grand gatherings, good food, and good ale. The Regent’s centennial birthdays are marked by public festivals.

The Spring and Autumn equinoxes are both celebrated with public festivals. Tournaments for martial and magical skill offer competitive events which showcase not only a combatant’s skill, but the mastercrafting of the armor they wear and blades they wield.

While Dwarves are by no means without conflicts ranging from verbal to violence, efforts to focus on a sense of community are clear. Hastvans do not need a holiday to enjoy a celebration. A good day’s work is reason enough to raise a mug with a friend. Wednesday evening is traditionally marked as a day for a higher than typical quality dinner with family or friends, emphasising the importance of maintaining bonds.

Playing a Dwarf

Hastvans are by nature a loyal, insular people. Other cultures are likely to seem strange or silly to them -- Humans impatient, Chaosborn disorderly, Sarr violent -- but Dwarves rarely seek out conflict and may coexist well with those unlike themselves. Loyalty must be hard-earned by the other races, but once this occurs, Dwarves are steadfast friends. Conversely, grudges die hard, and an enemy is not easily forgiven. Dwarves take pride in doing all things as best as they possibly can. Though combat against outside forces has long been unknown in their Domain, warriors and battle mages have sought glory in the performance arena and will do the same in the world beyond their walls.

You might consider playing a Dwarf if you are interested in a character from a completely isolated culture that emphasizes loyalty and mastercrafting. You might consider an artisan seeking new techniques, a laborer seeking new fortunes, or an academic intrigued by new information.
 
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