About the Dwarves

Dwarven society is deeply tied to its traditions which span back millennia. As a culture, they are slow to change, and cling to ideas which many other cultures find antiquated, absurd, and even offensive. One example of this is their society’s attitudes toward women. Dwarven society is patriarchal and all kin organization is by patrilineal descent. A dwarf’s clan membership is dependent on who his or her father is, not their mother. There are many other societies that have such organization but with Dwarves it is taken to an extreme degree. For example, when a dwarven woman marries a dwarven man, the ceremony involves her lying on a funereal plinth during the somber marriage ritual, and the creation of a tomb marker that is placed in her clan’s shrine to mark her departure from the clan. She becomes tied to her husband’s clan instead. She is expected to venerate his ancestors as they will be the ones her children must also learn to venerate. Ironically, dwarven children grow up to truly cherish their mothers and are often closer to her than to their fathers who may be distant or cold. Many a great dwarven hero has doted on his mother in her old age, going to extreme lengths to lavish her with gold, jewels, and other comforts. To insult a dwarf’s mother is to risk death.

Dwarven Legal System

The dwarven legal system is governed completely by clan membership. Those who are without a clan membership or affiliation are “clanless” and have virtually no real legal protections. The dwarves used this argument to justify their enslavement of the gnomes for example. This also creates an issue when a a dwarven woman becomes a widow. If she has no children, her legal attachment to her husband’s clan is dissolved. She cannot return to her original clan as she is legally dead to them (although she often does return, she has no real legal status). She is also not allowed to marry again. This results in clanless dwarven women sometimes taking up disreputable trades (according to the dwarves) such as prostitution. Others will leave the dwarven world to live and work amongst the humans. Finally, another option is to become Hearthsworn and join the Hearthguard.

The Hearthguard

The Hearthguard is an elite squad of dwarven women who find themselves in circumstances where in order to appease their gods and ancestors, take up arms and perform the most valiant, terrifying, and often suicidal attacks on enemies. This tradition is based on one of the oldest dwarven sagas that describe how the All-Father has a mighty contingent of them that acts as his personal guard and retinue. Often they eschew armor or shields and often run headlong into combat in order to prove their worth to the gods and ancestors.

The Moots

Each dwarven clan has an annual moot where all major intra-clan issues are resolved. Usually, local matters are settled by the local lord (Laird). However, if a dwarf feels aggrieved by the Laird’s decision, they can appeal to the clan’s moot. These moots are where the lairds meet along with the clan’s chief, who serves as a final arbiter of internal affairs.

The Great Moot

Every ten years, there is the Great Moot where representatives (usually the clan chieftains) meet to negotiate and resolve all inter-clan issues. While the Great Moot is called every ten years, it can be called earlier if their is some major crisis or issue that the dwarves must contend with.

The Dwarven Clans

There are currently 11 dwarven clans. Legend speaks of the “lost” 12th clan but little is known about the clan because nearly all references were redacted over a thousand years ago. Some human scholars have even argued that is merely a myth that is popular in part because of the dwarven aesthetic that values symmetry. Whatever the truth is, here are the eleven dwarven clans:

  • Darksilver
  • Flintbeard
  • Greyblood
  • Ironbeard
  • Ironhill
  • Ironspear
  • Oakbarrel
  • Rockshield
  • Stonefist
  • Stonehammer
  • Strongarm

The dwarven clans are further organized into three phratries: The Iron phratry (Ironbeards, Ironhills, and Ironspears), the Stone phratry (Flintbeards, Rockshields, Stonefists, and Stonehammers), and the Blood phratry (Darksilvers, Greybloods, Oakbarrels, and Strongarms). In the past these distinctions were more important than today, but they still consider members of their phratry as a little more closely related to a clan than other dwarves. Today this is mostly reflected in the tradition of marrying outside your phratry.

Dwarven settlements

Dwarven settlements range from minor holdings to the great dwarven citadels that are the seats of power for each clan. While each settlement may have enclaves of other clans within them, they are primarily of one clan.

During the Scourge (or as the dwarves call it, “The Collapse”) many dwarven settlements were destroyed, from small holdings to major cities. Three clans lost their capitols. These clans, sometimes called the “Cursed Clans” include the Ironhill clan who lost their citadel, Ironpeak, the Greyblood clan who lost their clanhold citadel Widerock, and the Rockshield clan who lost their clanhold citadel Highkeep. Now the three clans can mostly be found in the clanholds of their phratry-kin. The Rockshields have recently begun to openly support exploration and reclaiming of lost Rockshield holds.

The Remaining Dwarven Clanhold Citadels

Dwarven Clanhold Citadels and Great Ancestor

ClanClanhold CitadelGreat Ancestor
DarksilverEbonspireDelnus Darksilver
FlntbeardZaninkeepZanin Flintbeard
GreybloodWiderock (lost)Garidor Greyblood
IronbeardGriefhallTyrnus Ironbeard
IronhillIronpeak (lost)Fideus Ironhill
IronspearThe AerieJurnus Ironspear
OakbarrelKingsfortBrimlo Oakbarrel
RockshieldHighkeep (lost)Agmor Rockshield
StonefistStoneholdGrum Stonefist
StonehammerGreydeepVonkgus Stonehammer
StrongarmBlackgateGervek Strongarm

Dwarven Religion

Dwarves worship two deities: The AllFather and their clan’s Great Ancestor. While Dwarves often invoke the name of the Allfather, for personal needs and prayers, they direct their supplications to their Great Ancestor. The Allfather is rarely prayed to because the Allfather, creator of the world and of the dwarves, is not likely to answer a dwarf’s prayers unless they are the worthiest of the worthy.

A third figure that is deeply respected and whose name is invoked often at dwarven moots is that of Garidor Greyblood, Great Ancestor of the Greybloods. He is known as the Lawgiver. The Greybloods claim to have a closer tie to the Allfather and some Greyblood priests actively venerate the Allfather and prays to him.

Dwarven Rituals

Dwarven rituals come in five varieties.  The rarest ritual is the invocation of the Great Moot, where the leaders of all the clans come together to celebrate the Great Ancestors.  It occurs perhaps once a decade.  The next most important ritual is Clanfeast.  The Clanfeast is an annual feast that celebrates the dead.  Common rituals include Funerals, weddings and, most commonly, daily prayers.  Funerals are elaborate affairs where the dead are dressed in the finest armor, precious stones and ores as best the family can afford.  Some Dwarven communities practice cremation while others practice interment into ornate tombs. Weddings are rather informal.  After the Dowry is agreed upon a small ceremony mirroring the funerary ritual is performed.  The bride is dressed in finery and lies on a plinth in the husband’s clan’s shrine.  After the ceremony, the wife’s clan places a small stone grave marker in their shrine to mark her passing from the clan.
Daily prayers occur before going to sleep at night.  They are almost always requesting protection through the night.  Impromptu prayers may contain a variety of requests.

Dwarven Clan Stereotypes and Statuses

Dwarven Clan Stereotypes and Other Notes

DarksilverThe Darksilver clan is well known for their mastery of Runecraft and the Arcane Arts. Their clanhold, stormy Ebonspire is a foreboding series of towers atop the Eboncrag Mountain. While the Darksilver clan is well known for Arcane Arts, there are hushed rumors of diablerie and other foul acts. The Darksilvers dismiss this as idle gossip by the jealous however their brooding natures don’t help to dispel such rumors.
FlintbeardThe Flintbeards are a powerful clan with an impressive clanhold, Zaninkeep. The Flintbeard clan is known as keen negotiators, wily diplomats, ruthless businessmen and dangerous soldiers. The Flintbeards were the key slave traders until the liberation of the Gnomes. Their coffers have felt the sting of the abolition and they are resentful of the Ironspear clan for their efforts to free the Gnomes. As of late, the Flintbeards have entered into the mercenary business, selling their services to the highest bidder. Their military is feared because of their ruthlessness and their fanatical zeal. They are well known for their pyrotechnical savvy.
GreybloodThe Greyblood clan is one of the three “cursed clans” due to their loss of their clanhold Widerock, in the “Collapse”. They are few and far between, scattered amongst the other clanholds. There is a certain mystique surrounding them as they are known as especially attuned with the earth. They wear various shades of gray and their fanaticism is as strong as their mysticism. They are well known for their involvements in jurisprudential matters.
IronbeardThe Ironbeards are well respected in all the clanholds although they have a (usually) friendly rivalry with the Rockshield clan. Their clanhold in the Southern tip of the Graytooth Mountains is known as Griefhall. They are known as expert metal-workers and often have worked outside clanholds for money. Many other clans have criticized this practice however all concede it has made the Ironbeards very wealthy. Many Ironbeards are ruddy with dingy brown hair. If a human says they know a male dwarf who worked in a human settlement, they are often referring to an Ironbeard.
IronhillThe Ironhill clan are well known as the most conservative of the Dwarven clans. From the architecture of their now lost clanhold Ironpeak to their ways of dress and speech, ironhills are known for their obsession with tradition. They view themselves as the tradition keepers of the Dwarven race and their knowledge of lore is vast. Accomplished runesmiths, historians and scholars, these dwarves find themselves constantly battling the influx of non-dwarven beliefs and practices within clanholds. They are the third of the “cursed clans”, the “Collapse” filled their city with noxious and corrosive fumes and flame. The great library of Ironhill was destroyed and the remnants of the Ironhill clans scattered to safety in the other clanholds but the majority live in Greathall and to a lesseer extent, the Aerie. Recently, leaders are quietly attempting to find Ironpeak again, and reclaim it.
IronspearThe Ironspear clanhold is known as “the Aerie” and is a pleasant, sunny clanhold. It is both above and below ground like Zaninkeep and Ebonspire. The clan has the least isolationist position of the clanholds with frequent, long term relationships with their non-dwarven neighbors. They are often considered highly pragmatic however they caused great controversy when they pushed Gnomish liberation through the Great Moot. The Ironspears quickly rallied a coalition of Graybloods, Oakbarrels and Ironhills. These allies were reluctant, however the Ironspear clanleaders spoke words both strong and true that convinced the Great Moot; swaying the opinions of the Rockshields and the Stonehammers. The surprise defection of the Darksilvers to the cause led to the final vote to abolish slave system. This was contingent on the Ironhill provision however that also expelled the Gnomes from the clanholds. Ironspears are renowned for spear phalanx warfare and for their many successes against Goblinkind. They are renowned as marksmen with the crossbow.
The Oakbarrels are considered the most raucous, uncouth dwarves of all the clanholds, and also among the most cherished. The Oakbarrels have managed to keep above most clan arguments and feuds. They are always welcome with open arms at any clanhold they travel to. They vary in appearance but are considered by other dwarves as the comeliest, especially Oakbarrel women. Their clanhold is on Two Kings Mountain and it is called Kingsfort. Oakbarrels are known as master brewers which only improve upon their excellent reputation. They are known to laugh easily and to spread mirth where they go (especially when they bring their ale).
RockshieldThe Rockshields are a noble clan who have suffered greatly because of the “Scourge”. They lost their clanhold during the “Collapse” but many managed to escape. Because so many died in their clanhold of Highkeep in an unheroic way, the doomed became horrible undead that haunt Highkeep to this very day. They are now mostly located in Stonehold, Kingsfort and Graydeep. Many question whether the Rockshields had lost their way since fate has punished them so. There is an air of gloom that often surrounds Rockshields. Rockshields are fair of hair with tanned skin. They are renowned armorsmiths and often compete with Ironbeards in smithing competitions.
StonefistThe Stonefist’s clanhold is Stonehold, a deep natural cavern complex in the Red Mountains. This clan is renowned for their mining abilities and their wealth. Stonefists are stereotypically stern, hard working and miserly and are often the butt of friendly Oakbarrel jokes. Stonefists, however, have had to work tirelessly in order to achieve success and they aren’t about to lose all they had worked for. They have had to fight off encroachers to their rich veins from goblinkind and human alike. Their closest neighbors, the Elves, luckily aren’t interested in mining. Stonefists are short and wiry by Dwarven standards and also often remarkably strong.
StonehammerThe Stonehammers are among the oldest of the clans. They are powerful and influential across the clanholds. Their Clanhold is that of Graydeep in the Graytooth Mountains. The stereotypical Stonehammer is of pale skin and grayish hair. They are renowned masons. They also still practice the ancient entombment rite where widows are entombed with their husbands, although it is now limited to only the most noble lineages. In the past, many dwarven widows of Stonehammers would escape their fate by joining human society and often the female dwarves one found in human settlements was once married to a Stonehammer,
StrongarmThe Strongarm clan is one not to be crossed lightly. They can strike out from their impenetrable fortress Blackgate with great skill. A stereotypical Strongarm is a forceful leader and a dedicated warrior who is short of humor and highly competitive. The taciturn Strongarms along with Flintbeards were severely hurt by the liberation of the Gnomes. Whereas Flintbeards have resorted to mercenary incomes, the Strongarm clan has instead taken to military actions and raids against their non-dwarven neighbors. Their clan has of late become more militaristic in structure and nature. The political situation with the Ironspears is extremely volatile and any gathering of Strongarms and Ironspears is a tense one indeed.