2012-08-18

Dwarves of Jorth

The Dwarves of Jorth are a race in decline.  They have been steadily shrinking in population for centuries.  The combination of low birthrate and ongoing genocidal wars with Goblins and Orcs has led to diminishing numbers, social breakdown, and, in the end, vacant ruins where Dwarf kingdoms once stood.  The Dwarves of the current age are the inheritors of an ancient culture.  While they see themselves as the standard bearers of a civilization that values tradition, social order, religious devotion, and economic self sufficiency; outsiders tend to see them as a people who are hide bound, living in the past, rigid, overly pious, and greedy.  The Dwarves of Jorth are well known for their complex political/economic systems.  They have developed a wealthy and influential network of counting houses, money changers, mercantile banks, and money lenders, which help put the proceeds of the Dwarven mines to work in the world.  Most of the governments of Jorth have access to credit from Dwarven banks and hordes, in exchange, the Dwarves can exert political and financial pressure on the governments to help achieve their own ends.

Dwarves enjoy the company of other Dwarves, especially family members.  The stereotypical Dwarf kingdom, beneath a mountain, full of riches, is still found in many places across Jorth.  Over the last few centuries, another kind of Dwarf has been more common, the urban Dwarves who inhabit Human dominated cities and towns.  They tend to be outcasts among their own people.  Sometimes political or economic exiles from a great Dwarven city, other times they are the last remnants of a kingdom destroyed by war or disaster.  To outsiders, the Dwarves seem to be a single, monolithic culture.  To Dwarves, who are steeped in the historic and political differences, each Dwarf kingdom is as unique as a snowflake.

 Dwarves, on the whole, are a deeply religious race.  They honor many gods, including the Creator, but the main focus of their devotion is The Great Smith.  To the Dwarves, he is the ultimate pinnacle of Dwarfdom:  honorable, brave, strong, creative, and loyal.  Dwarf Clerics and Paladins are much more common than Dwarf Druids.  Dwarven spiritual practices also honor the Dwarf ancestors, though this does not rise to the level of true ancestor worship.  The ancestors are seen as intercessors with The Great Smith and Creator.

Martial Dwarf heroes are the most commonly encountered, especially Fighters.  Cultural and economic pressures, and near constant genocidal warfare with Goblins, Giants, Orcs, etc., require a steady stream of Dwarven warriors.  While the stereotypical Dwarf is a master of either the axe or the sword, Dwarf warriors utilize many different types of weapons, including pole arms, swords, maces, etc.  Dwarven specialist archers are a rarity, but it is a foolish adversary who does not prepare for missile weapons when facing a Dwarf warrior.

Arcane magic is not as well respected among the Dwarves as is Divine.  That being said, there have been some very powerful Dwarven arcanists throughout history, mostly Wizards.  Dwarven Sorcerers do exist, especially in the urban Dwarf communities, but they are not looked upon with as much respect among Dwarf traditionalists or Fundamentalist Smithites.