Ansalonian dwarves are short and wide-shouldered, standing only four feet tall and weighing about 140 lbs. Males have full beards, and females and youths have wispy whiskers that do not form full beards. On the whole, dwarves have tough, wrinkled skin, and most males begin going bald while still young (50 years old).
The natural lifetime of any given dwarf ranges from is 252 to 450 (2d100+250) for all dwarves except gully dwarves (see below). Male dwarves average between 44 and 53 (43+1dlO) inches tall, and females average between 42 and 51 (41+1d10) inches. Male dwarves generally weigh from 134 to 170 (130+4d10) pounds, and females usually weigh from 109 to 145 (105+4d10) pounds.
After five millenia upon Ansalon, the stout dwarven stock has splintered into various distinct races.
Hill dwarves, made up of the Neidar and Klar clans, gain their name from the foothills where they live. They have tan skin, ruddy cheeks, and bright eyes. Their hair is brown, black, or gray, worn in respectable trim around the ears but worn long and bushy in beards and mustaches. Their clothes reflect the drab colors of their lands: black, brown, gray, tan, and beige. On rare occasions (when feeling festive or scandalous), hill dwarves don a scarf of bright red or green. They prefer knee-high boots, large meals, and little work. Although Neidar have deep, resonant singing voices, cajoling a (sober) one to sing is quite beyond the capacity of most folk.
Mountain dwarves, unlike their Neidar kin, dwell below ground in the rugged heights of the mountains. The most ancient and prominent race of mountain dwarves is the Hylar, from which the Theiwar, Daewar, Daergar, Zakhar, and hill dwarf races descended. Hylar dwarves have light brown skin, smooth cheeks, and bright eyes. Their brown, black, gray, or white hair matches the color of their clothing. With wide vocal range, Hylar dwarves often form choruses and sing traditional songs in the resonate depths of their mountains. Gully dwarves, or Aghar, are not true dwarves but a crossbreed. They appear in their own section.
Other races accuse dwarves of miserly greed. Dwarves see themselves quite differently. Dwarves believe their hard work and drive make them worthy of riches. Those who would disagree are lazy and jealous. Among themselves, dwarves consider dogged work and opulent wealth to be two of life’s greatest pleasures. For these things, and for drink and history and song, dwarves harbor a passionate love. Around big folk (or elven folk), dwarves hide this passion, and therefore seem inscrutable, coarse, and oddly reticent.
Passion: Dwarves’ tempers can flare like a forge or smolder like embers. Despite their gray clothes and pessimism, they are passionate folk. They live intensely, with little patience for contemplation or idleness. Their work is joyful; their play is serious. They are roused by grand, earthy music that echoes with percussion and deep-bellied horns. But a tender oboe, harp, or pipe can bring them to their knees. A dwarven chorus, whether on battlefield or mead hall, sings at the top of its lungs.
Comfort: Although dwarves are not greedy, they like their creature comforts. “A good chair may outlast a good friend,” says one dwarven proverb. Their industry and cleverness wins for them many comforts and much money. And they indulge themselves.
With a lifespan that runs into multiple centuries, dwarves are natural-born collectors. They ornament their dwellings with tapestries, carvings, and statuary. They do not wear ornamentation except for heirlooms or medals.
Hard work: Dwarven children learn about responsibility at a young age. This training in self-discipline takes years, with responsibility building incrementally. Work becomes instinctual and is, therefore, rarely performed with complaints.
Dwarves lose themselves in their work for weeks or months until the task is completed, then binge for a few weeks to celebrate their success. When dwarves work, they never slack off or delay; they achieve constant, focused motion.
Dwarves never retire; they only take up simpler work as they mature.
Isolation: Dwarves tend to be suspicious of races other than their own, including other dwarf races. They turn inward to their clan or their work rather than outward to the politics and deeds of the world.
Dwarves recognize their own sheltered lifestyle; they cherish bittersweet memories of a happier world gone by. Although they exercise great control over their own labors, they see the march of history as something beyond their control. In the face of international calamities, dwarves often say “these things happen.” They rarely take setbacks personally, which makes them tenacious survivors. Dwarves see themselves as Reorx’s custodians: maintaining the past in the present.
Hill dwarves tend toward obstinacy; they remain above ground due to stubbornness rather than lack of suitable mountains to delve. Their coarse manners, crude aspirations, and conspicuousness to non-dwarves rile their underground fellows. Even so, hill dwarves partake of a savage nobility and rugged independence that the pasty-skinned earth-dwellers secretly admire. The persistent complaining of hill dwarves is generally calculated to disguise a pleasant and gentle nature.
Mountain dwarves have enough problems underground to keep them from venturing into the world beyond. The classes and clans in each community create dangerous splits that have occasionally resulted in civil war. Such tensions keep the dwarves busy whenever they are away from their forges and looms. Unless a problem directly affects them, mountain dwarves will ignore it. Of course, appeals to the higher dwarven nature can soften the aloof facade and force a dwarf to undertake most any worthwhile quest.
Government & Clan
Dwarves have always been divided into clans. Each clan is led by a thane — the clan ruler and representative to the Council of Thanes. The Council of Thanes is the ruling body for all dwarves upon Ansalon. Traditionally, the council has had nine thanes. Currently, only six thanes serve upon the Council: Hornfel of the Hylar, Realgar of the Theiwar, Rance of the Daergar, Gneiss of the Daewar, Tufa of the Klar, and Highbulp of the Aghar. The throne of the Neidar has been vacant since the Dwarfgate Wars in 39 AC. The eighth throne belongs to the Kingdom of the Dead — the nation of ancestors long past. This throne is perpetually empty. The ninth throne is that of the High King over all Dwarves. It has been vacant since the time of Duncan. A mysterious dwarven race called the Zakhar have never held a throne in the Council of Thanes.
Each of the following groups is considered a separate race.
- Hylar: This is the oldest and noblest dwarven race. Most of the great dwarven kings have been Hylar. The Hylar traditionally occupy the best accommodations a nation can provide and are great craftsmen.
- Daewar: This clan, loyal to the Hylar, have produced many of their own important heroes over the years. The Daewar fight fiercely; they led the defense of Thorbardin in the Dwarfgate War. In addition to battle, the Daewar champion public safety and public works.
- Neidar: These hill dwarves lived outside Thorbardin during the Cataclysm. They no longer have representation on the Council of Thanes — a situation many hill dwarves would like to remedy.
- Klar: These hill dwarves were trapped in the collapsing tunnels of Thorbardin during the Cataclysm. After a week and a half of clawing, they pulled themselves out. Many Klar have been unstable or insane ever since. Following the Dwarfgate War, the Klar were deprived of property and were subjugated to slavery because of their alleged sympathy with the Neidar. (In fact, many Klar fought with berserk bravery on the Hylar side.) Now they serve the wealthy dwarves of Thorbardin in menial roles. They seek a leader to deliver them.
- Theiwar: These strange, degenerate dwarves hate light: it nauseates them. Theiwar are dark dwarves. In their lightless caverns, they dream of world conquest and domination. Theiwar consider themselves the highest of the dwarven races. They work to topple the Council of Thanes and seize control, even by civil war if they must.
Unlike any other race of dwarves, Theiwar love magic; most of their leaders have spell-casting abilities. They use their magic to attack creatures that live in the light. They passionately distrust outsiders and will kill them if given the slightest chance. Their devious and shrewd nature provide them many such chances.
Theiwar have exaggerated, repulsive features: bulging and watery eyes, white and yellow skin and hair, and wiry bodies, which they drape in black, loose clothing.
- Daergar: These dark dwarves split from the Theiwar several centuries ago. Their culture has spread far and grown powerful. They exceed even their Theiwar cousins in murder, torture, and thievery. Their leader, the most powerful warrior of the Daergar kingdom, wins his post by slaying all opponents in a bloody spectacle. Daergar are hot-tempered, brutal, and utterly without hon- or on the battlefield. They never grant mercy.
Daergar have light-brown skin and smooth cheeks. Their hair is black or gray, their eyes deep brown or violet. They are somewhat stockier than other dwarves, averaging 150-180 lbs.
- Aghar: The gully dwarves are described in their own section below. They are represented in the Council by the Highbulp, a much-beloved genius among his people. Although his seat on the Council grants him great dignity, he often sleeps through meetings.
- Zakhar: Little is known of these strange dwarves who occupy the ruins of Thoradin. They call themselves Zakhar, or “cursed people” because they were infected by a terrible mold that almost decimated them. They call their land Zhakar, or “cursed place” because of its ruined halls. They work with slow diligence to rebuild their kingdom, making it as powerful as Thorbardin. The Zakhar have never held a throne on the Council of Thanes.
- Kingdom of the Dead: The old dwarven saying, “More of our kind dwell among the dead than among the living,” demonstrates the dwarven veneration of the dead. Dwarves consider the Kingdom of the Dead the 8th dwarven kingdom. Although the dead rarely enter into votes taken in the Council of Thanes, they continually enter the minds of the dwarves. Dwarves use various divinations — some real, some imagined — to converse with their ancestors.
- The High King: The High King rules all dwarves of Ansalon. The Council of Thanes chooses this ruler, who is then ordained by the people. The High King may come from any clan. Legends tell that the next ruler shall be the one bearing the lost Hammer of Kharas – the magical artifact used to forge dragonlances. Currently, the throne of the High King stands vacant.
Tools, Technology, and Weapons
Although dwarves cannot match gnomish ingenuity, in metalworking and mining crafts dwarves are peerless. Dwarves are the armorers and weaponsmiths of Krynn. They also engineer the great war-machines: catapults, rams, and siege towers — weighty juggernauts all.
On an individual scale dwarves prefer to use weapons made specifically for their stature. Dwarven hammers, battle axes, and swords are heavy, thick tools, counter-weighted at the tip to lend weight to their swing. Only dwarves and creatures Str 16 or higher can use dwarf-fitted weapons without penalty. Others suffer a – 4 penalty.
Hylar prefer mighty swords, long-hafted spears, weighty hammers, and light crossbows. They wear chain mail or plated armor over chain and carry shields of hammered steel.
Neidar prefer two-bladed battle axes, short swords, daggers, maces, short bows, and staff-slings. They wear studded leather armor and carry wooden shields.
Daewar prefer flails, iron-shod staves, picks, crossbows, and throwing axes. They avoid battle but in dire times armor themselves with breastplates or banded mail over padding. Daergar wield spears, war clubs, darts, and slings tipped with bone and teeth. They wear woven ring mail and breastplates of laced bone.
Theiwar, crafters of magic, attack only when they outnumber their foe. They wield barbed nets, hooked fauchards (curved and long-bladed spears with a hook at the back), and light, repeating crossbows (6 shot). They wear leather or carapace armor or furs and carry spiked bucklers.
Zakhar use uncommon weapons, including a razor-edged slasher mace, a sickle hook that can be thrown like a dagger, and a blowgun, which fires barbed darts. Zakhar wear beetle carapace beneath padded robes.
All dwarven player characters come from the Hylar, Daewar, or Neidar clans. The other dwarven clans are better suited to NPCs and villains.
NPC dwarves make sturdy bards, both in playing and singing. These concerts are best received by other dwarves, who can appreciate the dark and endless song cycles their clansfolk perform.
Dwarven distaste for stealth and petty trickery drastically reduces the number of dwarven thieves on Ansalon. When dwarves turn to thievery, they tend to do so openly: dwarven thugs take what they want by force rather than stealth. Dark dwarves commonly become highwaymen and muggers.
Dwarves also work as skilled fences for the black market. All dwarves but Theiwar fear and dislike magic; they are a deeply nonmagical race. No non-Theiwar dwarves are mages. Any enchanted artifact of dwarven make, such as the Hammer of Kharas, is powered by Reorx, not sorcery.