The life of a dwarf, and their personalities, are strange when looked at from an outsider's point of view. While they may be easier to relate to than one of the aloof, slightly unsettling elves, it is nevertheless an unmistakable fact that dwarves, like elves, are as different from humans as can be. Dwarves are not immortal as elves are, but live to 350 years on average.
The dwarves and gnomes of Morus appeared very suddenly in the twilight of the world, though they did not reveal themselves to the ancient elves or to the fledgling humans and halflings of Leng until long afterwards. They emerged from mysterious constructions around Leng known as the Ancestor Forges. Conjecture amongst the dwarvish scholars universally agrees that the Ancestor Forges were created and placed by Moradin to usher the dwarves into Morus, but there is little agreement as to how, why or even when they were brought there. It is believed according to some historical fragments that the first dwarves who came up from the Ancestor Forges came from some other place and had full knowledge of why and how they had come to Leng, but even dwarvish history does not stretch back far enough for this knowledge to have been preserved.
After emerging from the Ancestor Forges, a great part of dwarvish history was based around carving out their kingdoms - starting with Zon Sacat, the First Mountainhome, carving their domains both deep beneath the earth and up to the surface. It was during this time that the great part of the so-called "War to the Death" occured, the great feuds and wars between the dwarves and the evil creatures that dwell beneath the earth - drow, duergar, goblins, orcs, and all manner of other creatures. The War to the Death was a war based both in principle and living space, a war between the dwarves and evil denizens of the ground for rulership of the ground. It continues to the present day and into the future, an endless and bitter war between the dwarves and their racial enemies which they will never drop until one or the other of them are dead.
It is important to remember that dwarves are completely and absolutely unyielding; they are quite possibly the most stubborn race on Morus. This can be a good trait, one of stability and solidity, comprising a dwarf who refuses to abandon their friends or compromise their principles. It can also lead to stubbornness, petty grudges, and lasting hatreds that are not forgotten over generations. These natural traits of a dwarf can be taken in either direction, and there is just as much variance amongst dwarves as any other race. Dwarves absolutely detest orcs, goblins, drow, hobgoblins, and evil giants. They have an ancient fear and hatred of dragons, who destroy dwarvish settlements as they please. Their hatred of these evil races is as old as dwarves themselves, and stems from their ancient battles over ownership of the underground regions of the world in times before dwarves were even known of to mankind, a hatred which has not and will never be forgotten. This hatred for the evil races that dwell beneath the earth is known to the dwarves as "Alniz Rus", the War to the Death.
Dwarves are patient and thick-skinned, which often confuses humans who assume that they will thus be slow to offend. Nevertheless, despite their rigid ways of thinking and their strong tradition, they are often willing to overlook the "immaturity" and "foolishness" of the younger races. However, if one does manage to anger a dwarf, it is unwise to let it sit, for a dwarf will never forget a slight felt, and can hold grudges long past the human lifespan. Dwarves have little patience for the ways of humans, who simply do things incorrectly. They are flighty and waste their strength, and no sooner do they accomplish something than their children wish to change it - they have no conception of the proper rhythm of the world. Elves, the dwarves feel, should know better, but they lack the simplest virtues of patience, diligence, and consistency. They are renowned for wasting their lives enjoying themselves instead of producing lasting goods.
The differences between elves and dwarves have led to many disagreements. This usually occurred because dwarves considered agreements to be binding until the end of time, while the elves thought they were to last as long as they were useful. Entire strongholds may have been threatened or destroyed because elves failed to honor a pledge. Perhaps some minor slight elves have forgotten, has been harbored and nurtured and passed on to the next generation.
As fellow underground dwellers, gnomes are looked upon more favorably by dwarves, though the gnomes' delight in black humor and practical jokes has caused friction. The gnommish people are on good terms with dwarves; however, their relationship - though amicable - is not a warm one, as the gnomes find the slow stubbornness of dwarves stifling, being a people inclined to innovation and curiosity.
Amongst dwarves, the clan is the most important affiliation. A dwarvish clan is a family group related by blood, similar in some ways to an extended family amongst humans when cases of nobility and royalty are taken into account. Where humans only pay attention to lines of blood when lineage and heritage are involved (such as for the line to the throne), each dwarf holds their clan above all else, and each clan can be traced back to a founder, the originator of the clan. In the younger clans, this may go back as little as a hundred years, while the older clans claim to be able to trace their lineage back to the Founders of Zon Sacat themselves.
Each clan historically specialises in one kind of craft or skill; traditionally, the focus of a clan is on craft and creation; dwarves love nothing more than to turn raw materials into a thing of beauty of functionality, and the focus of the clan reflects this. There are various clans do not conform to this, particularly the military clans; soldiers are drawn from each clan, but the military clans specialise and create such groups as the Hearth Guards, Sharpshooters and Beast Masters. It is not necessarily the case that each dwarf of a clan will follow the clan's trade, but the vast majority of dwarves in a clan will follow it. Loyalty to the clan is the highest consideration to a dwarf; the dwarf brings both honour and shame to his clan through his actions. A dwarf able to work is expected to do so, and few dwarves would consider shirking their duties; being seen as lazy or too weak to work is a great dishonour amongst dwarves. Despite this, the wounded, the weak and those too young or old yet to work are taken care of and looked after by their clans; it is its own dishonour for a dwarf to be abandoned by his clan, and reflects poorly on the clan.
Clans are not necessarily restricted to one locale - dwarves of the same clan may be found across Seneschal. Usually, when a party goes to make for themselves a new settlement, the dwarves who leave will either leave their clan and start their own at the new location, or will carry on the name of their clan into this new place. A dwarf who leaves his clan honourably is not the subject of disrespect, and it is likley that they will be able to call on their old brothers and sisters in times of need, but they cannot expect the assistance of their clan in daily business.
Clans are usually headed by the oldest of their clan, the Elders. Amongst dwarves, age is a chief symbol of rank, and their hierarchy of respect is linearly related to their age. While the Elders cannot force members of a clan to conform to their wishes, they command the highest respect within the clan. A disagreement between two Elders of a clan is a major event, and can divide a clan up, even resulting in the splintering of an established clan into two new clans. If a dwarf is dishonourably exiled from their clan, they are stripped of their clan name; if another clan is wiling, they can be taken under their wing, but otherwise they are a second-class citizen, a dishonoured dwarf, and are not welcome in the halls of any.
The clans are regulated in all things by the Guilds. They specify weights and measures, regulate the clans, their prices and their actions, resolve disputes and generally oversee and enforce the clans. For example, the Guild of Bakers decides the weight, price and ingredients of loaves of bread, and would handle a dispute over the quality of a baker's flour. Despite this, there is a great deal of variance between two loaves of bread for a skilled baker, and in any case each guild has a large array of accepted standards to choose from for any item. Although the Guilds control the business of the clans, they have no control over the clans themselves. Any clan that specialises in a trade is a member of the Guild related to that trade; the Guilds are headed by a Guild Council comprised of all of the Elders of all the clans who are members of the Guild, and as such the Guild Council tends to be very large.
If a dwarf enters into the priesthood, they are stripped of official affiliation and membership to their clan. Regardless, they retain their name and will usually remain on friendly terms with their former clan. Dwarvish priests hold no god above all others so long as they are "Priests of the Circle"; they worship and pay their respects to the entire vast pantheon of the dwarves, as well as to Durgeddin Axehame and Moradin, the leaders of the pantheon and the patrons of the dwarves. Their duty is a sacred one, for they honour the gods that ensure their livelihood remains profitable and that the dwarven people are protected and never fall into decadence.
Those of the dwarvish priesthood that prove themselves worthy will eventually dedicate themselves to one of the two high gods of the dwarvish pantheon, the leaders - Moradin the Forge-Father or Durgeddin Axehame the Questor. Those who rise high enough in their esteem may be granted the divine succor of their god, and be raised to the ultimate champion of their deity, to the position of cleric. A dwarvish cleric is one of the most highly respected and esteemed members of dwarvish society.
Each dwarvish settlement has a very clear power structure, led by one dwarf, whose title may vary. The leader of a Fortress is a Hearth Lord, the leader of a City is a Thane, and the leader of one of the Mountainhomes is the High King. The title is always hereditary, following the lineage of the founder of the settlement. A dwarf with no heirs can name a successor, who from thence on is considered to be a member of the leader's family and ascends to their title. A Hearth Lord or Thane can be replaced by the High King, but the High King can be replaced by none. The Hearth Lord, Thane or High King is the highest position, and oversees the Grand Council. At the Grand Council, all of the Elders of each clan, as well as the members of the Guild Council (usually one and the same as the Elders), meet and make decisions of the future of the settlement. The Hearth Lord, Thane or High King has the final say, and may overturn or mandate his own commands regardless of the decisions of the council, though it should be noted that acting against the wishes of the Grand Council is a gravely unwise decision for the leader of a settlement.
While the dwarves of Leng are much more widespread than the elves in their forests, they are nevertheless a small peoples compared to mankind. Their population tends to be strongly concentrated, as they dwell beneath the earth in great subterranean fortresses. Even those dwarf fortresses which can be seen above the ground are "tips of the iceberg", and often extend miles into the mountains from which they are often carved. These fortresses are the natural homes of the dwarves, who are the most skilled excavators and stoneworkers the world over. Their cavernous mountain homes are necessary to deal with the harsh environment, and with their many racial enemies whom they share it with; the great dragons in their eyries who sweep into to raze dwarvish settlements and carry off their precious gold and jewels, the goblin and orc hordes who rampage through the mountains living in caves of their own, seeking to invade and capture dwarvish settlements whenever possible, and the great mean-hearted giants who have ever been a dwarf's enemy.
For mountain dwarves, there is little distinction between a military fortress and a city; indeed, they look much the same. A city is merely a fortress that houses thousands of dwarves, rather than merely hundreds. The only true distinction is that of the mountainhome: each dwarven civilisation only has one mountainhome, and it is the place where dwarves emerged from the Ancestor Forges. This is the heart of their civilisation, where the king dwells; if it falls, the civilisation ceases to be.
Whether a tiny fortress of the expansive halls of the mountainhomes, every mountain dwarven settlement has a standing army of its own. Famed for being impervious to siege warfare, immaculately disciplined and better armed than any human military on Leng, the fury of a dwarven army is not something to take lightly. Perhaps luckily for the rest of Leng, the dwarves are a reclusive people whose armies are maintained mostly for defense - the only foes they march to war against are their hated enemies of dragon, goblinoid and giant-kin - which give them more than enough work to keep them busy.
The dwarven military is led by one or more Marshals, who do not generally go into the field unless a sustained campaign is taking place away from dwarven territory. Their most important responsibility is to advise the Hearth Lord, Thane, or High King on all military matters. The settlement's ruler himself possesses the rank of "Grand Marshal", and theoretically the Marshals only have the power to advise him. In practice, however, most duties are delegated. The Grand Marshal is responsible for deciding what will be done, and his Marshals decide which orders to issue to make this a reality.
In times of peace, the Marshals will decide how the military should be maintained - patrols, training, scouting missions, and so on. With the Grand Marshal's consent, they pass these orders onto Commanders, who put them into practice as they see fit. In times of war, they are responsible (along with the ruler) for making high-level strategic decisions. Their orders are passed along to Commanders either by courier or by magical means facilitated by the army's Clerist. As they have access to the settlement's records and maps, and are answered to by other organisations (such as engineers, scouts and spies), they are usually better placed to make broad strategic decisions than the Commander in the field. Specific tactical decisions on the field are usually left to the Commander's discretion.
Commanders occupy the highest officer rank in the dwarven military, directly beneath the Marshals. A dwarven army will have between 2 and 5 Commanders, who tend to be 6th to 9th level fighters. They are promoted based on experience in battle, leadership ability and honorable conduct. The army's Commanders are not directly attached to any unit, but have equal authority over the entire army. In times of peace, all Commanders issue orders with equal authority, and any disputes are resolved by the Marshals. In times of war, the Marshals will direct specific Commanders to take command of military units for the fulfilment of an objective. When the army is in the field, it is the Commander(s) who direct its course. They are responsible for all tactical decisions and all authority in the field ultimately comes from them.
For example, a military with three Commanders is at war with a neighbouring goblin tribe. The Marshals may direct one Commander to remain with half the army's forces and maintain the garrison. The remaining forces are divided between the other two Commanders; one is directed to strike at the heart of an outpost overrun by goblins and retake it. The other is directed to engage the goblins in the field and hold them off until the outpost is taken and can be fortified. The actual tactical decisions of how to accomplish these goals are decided by the Commanders, however.
Commanders are armed in platemail and a shield and have a 10% chance per level of possessing a magic weapon or armor.
The Clerist is a fighter/priest of Moradin - there is only one per army. They will generally be about a 6th level fighter and a 7th level priest. He is responsible for using the gifts bestowed upon him to guide the army's course through powerful divination magics. In battle, he is a formidable champion - wielding great martial skill, powerful divine magic and deadly magic items in equal measures. On the battlefield, the Clerist is responsible for maintaining the morale of the troops, neutralizing threats that the troops are not equipped to handle, and ensuring that commuunications are not disrupted. This last responsibility is made possible through dwarven magics that allow them to remain in constant communication with the Inquisitors, Commanders and Marshals of the army.
Although the Clerist is answerable to the Temple of Moradin rather than the Marshals, he is considered to be of equivalent rank to a Commander. Clerists are armed with platemail and a shield; they have a 10% chance per fighter level of possessing a magic weapon or armor, and a 10% chance per priest level of possessing a divine magic item.
The Inquisitors are two 4th-level fighter/priests of either Moradin or Durgeddin who are attached to the army as a whole. They do not issue commands but are responsible for healing, consecrating the dead, and ensuring that the Forge-Fathers are not angered. They answer directly to the Clerist, but this authority is usually only exercised when they overstep their bounds. Their most common role is as a "backup Clerist" when smaller detachments are sent out without the Clerist's support.
Like the Clerist, Inquisitors wear platemail and a shield. They have a 10% chance per fighter level of possessing a magic weapon or armor, and a 10% chance per priest level of possessing a divine magic item.
The dwarven cohort is the largest unit of the dwarven military. It is composed of 4 troops (160 soldiers); a dwarven settlement's army is composed of at least 2 cohorts (320 soldiers), but the greatest mountainhomes can field as many as 20 cohorts (3,200 soldiers). The cohort is led by a 6th-level Chief and a 4th-level Lieutenant. Both are armed in platemail and a shield, and have a 10% chance per level of possessing a magic weapon or armor.
When one or more cohorts march to war, they will be led by a Commander as noted above. If the settlement's commanders are stretched thin, they may instead be led by a Clerist or Inquisitor, or simply by the most senior Chief from the cohorts in question.
Whenever cohorts march, the Temple of Durgeddin also sends a fighter/priest of Durgeddin with them known as a Questor. They will be a 3rd to 6th level fighter and a 4th to 7th level priest. They are armed with platemail and a shield, and have a 10% chance per fighter level of possessing a magic weapon or armor, and a 10% chance per priest level of possessing a divine magic item. Although the Questor is a temporary rank that lasts only as long as the fighter/priest travels with the army, it is equivalent in authority to that of an Inquisitor. Like the Inquisitors, Questors answer directly to the Clerist.
Troops & Squads
Each dwarven cohort is composed of 4 troops, each of which contains 40 soldiers. The troop is led by a Captain, who is a fighter from 2nd to 4th level, who is armed in platemail and shield and has a 10% chance per level of possessing a magic weapon or armor.
Each troop can be further subdivided into four squads of ten dwarves each. Ordinary dwarven soldiers within a squad wear chainmail, carry a shield and usually carry two different weapons with them. Using the Monstrous Manual entry for mountain dwarves, they tend to be level 1, with 1+1 HD and a THAC0 of 19 due to the masterwork weapons they carry. One member of each squad is a Sergeant, who is armed similarly to his men but is a fighter between 1st and 4th level.
All members of the same squad will carry the same weapons - usually, but not always, dwarves within the same troop will also carry the same weapons. The weapons carried by members of a given squad are as follows:
|25%||Battleaxe and Warhammer|
|20%||Shortsword and Spear|
|15%||Shortsword and Light Crossbow|
|10%||Shortsword and Dwarven Greataxe|
|10%||Battleaxe and Heavy Crossbow|
|10%||Battleaxe and Footman's Mace|
|10%||Warhammer and Military Pick|
Mountain and hill dwarves are physically identical; the differences between them are wholly sociocultural. The hill dwarves are exiles from times of old, though not necessarily in the most negative connotation of this word. Whether they left of their own accord or were forced out, the ancestors of a hill dwarf originated from the Mountainhomes, and many - particularly those from clans that were forced out against their will - are very bitter about this. Despite their common origins, the two subraces of dwarf rarely see eye to eye, and regard each other with dislike and mistrust, though they are not openly hostile to each other.
Mountain dwarves consider hill dwarves to be pedestrian, "human-like", and believe that they have lost touch with tradition. Conversely, hill dwarves feel that mountain dwarves are stubborn cowards who are afraid of the world. While hill dwarves and mountain dwarves follow the Forgefathers, there are no runepriests amongst the hill dwarves - the structure of their society does not support it. Priests of the Circle and clerics of Moradin and Durgeddin can be still be widely found. To the hill dwarves, the clan is more like a human family than the power structure it is among mountain dwarves. Loyalty to blood and to the clan is held chiefly amongst the hill dwarves, along with the very human ideal of personal honour.
The hill dwarves of Leng live in Seneschal, Nirkivish and Dagoth. A number of them also live and fight in the Uncharted Lands, and matter of pride amongst them - while the mountain dwarves are a barrier and buffer against the enemies to the north, the hill dwarves are not afraid to fight above the ground, and build their fortresses in enemy territory - even if the giants and orcs tear them down again and again.
How visitors from the other races are received varies from kingdom to kingdom and from settlement to settlement. The mountainhomes, nestled deep within dwarven territory, are usually denied to all but dwarves and gnomes. Dwarven cities, on the other hand, may welcome traders and visitors who behave lawfully and with dignity - though usually only at certain times of year when the dwarves decide to open their gates. A dwarven fortress's reaction to outsiders may vary widely depending on where it is, what its purpose is, and whom the visitors are.
In any case, a non-dwarf visitor who comes to a mountain dwarven settlement that is not accepting visitors will receive a rude rebuffal. They will find the main gates sealed against them, and any side entrance so well hidden that they are difficult if not impossible to find. Continued encroachment may earn them a warning shot from a crossbow, followed by attack in earnest if they do not desist. If they attempt to sneak in and are caught, they are likely to be executed or imprisoned for the rest of their natural life - especially if they have learned anything the dwarves believe should remain secret. Dwarven justice is swift and merciless.
If a visitor wants to try to get into a closed settlement the "proper" way, there is a chance for them - but it is not an easy process. First of all, you need someone to vouch for you - either a citizen of the kingdom or a third party who has the respect and trust of the dwarves. If you don't have anyone to vouch for you, you can only hope that whoever is manning the gate is suitably convinced to do so themselves. This is enough to get you an audience with a dwarven emissary - usually a Runepriest or the Elder of a clan. At this point, you may have been granted admittance to the gatehouse or some outer tunnel, but you will not be allowed into the settlement proper.
You must then convince the emissary that you have a reasonable claim for entry. If you have brought a gift, they must deem it appropriate. If you have pressing business, they must deem it important enough. Failure to do will result in you being thrown out at the very least. If you are seen to have wasted their time, you may well be punished - and if you are seen as a spy, you are likely to be thrown into a dungeon. Assuming you convince them, however, you will be granted entry and given an audience with an important official - either the leader of the settlement or someone like a military captain.
It is only once you have convinced this figure that you will be granted entry. The official will decide the terms of your stay - anywhere from "a day" to "long enough to find your missing companion" to "as long as you wish". Visitors will be given a token of bronze or silver that marks them as a guest (or an "honored guest"), which will allow them to pass through the settlement without being challenged by guards or soldiers. This "runemark" is taken from them when the term of their stay has ended; while runemarks are specific to a settlement, the silver runemark of an honored guest in one city may help to convince the dwarves of another one that you have honorable intentions.