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Dwarves

Dwarves are set apart from other fays. As recounted in "The Races of Earth," they sprang where the blood of Eth struck stone and soil, not from any kind of flesh. They are also psychologically different from other fays:

If you tried to measure fays on the scales of human psychology, you would first find that they tended to extremes of the ranges, rather than to the middles. Next, you would note that most fays are Feeling types. Dwarves are the exception; they are most usually Thinking types. As a result, dwarves and other fays are almost more alien to each other than either is to humans.
















Dwarven Technology

While any fay breed can produce great crafters, dwarves are famous for it. They are also the technologists of Faerie. But dwarves did not go in for a lot of machinery until humans began to do so. They got the idea from us. Before that, dwarven crafts were centered on low-tech items such as swords, armor, shields, jewelry, garments, all made with superhuman skill and quality, and very possibly enchanted.

Most dwarvish magic is enchantment of their artifacts, or is ESP directed toward craftsmanship, e.g. various forms of dowsing and the Knack of Tools. Direct TK is usually craft-useful stuff like Tempering, Alchemy, or Firekey. Otherwise, TK is generally tied to an artifact -- glamour is bound to a ring, necklace, or cloak; levitation is bound to a cloak or boots; Fleshkey is bound into potions;  and so on.

Dwarves did not move out of this basic pattern until relatively recently, about the time of Greece and Rome, because of the massive inertia of fay immortality. When they saw human-made mechanisms, though, they immediately perceived two great advantages:

  1. In so far as an effect was achieved mechanically, you could save on magical effort and reduce vulnerability to disenchantment and magical detection.
  2. You could immediately show off your ingenuity just by displaying the artifact. You would eventually have to prove it worked, but it could be admired before it ever operated, or even before it was finished. Spells aren't like that.

Dwarven Technology took two great strides forward. The first was inspired when a book describing the works of Heron of Alexandria fell into the hands of the recently retired Steward of Northkeep, Barazurak of Aundoar. He was so fascinated by this book that he made a clandestine trip to the Earthly Plane, travelling from the Alps to Rome and thence to Alexandria. He returned with a wealth of classical Engineering, and for the next several centuries his folk designed and built complex and hugely powerful siege engines, immensely complicated locks, extremely clever cog-based calculators, magnificently plumbed caves and huge warships.

It was not until the time of the European Renaisance and the human invention of scientific engineering that high technology was embraced by dwarves in general.

Dwarven machinery often looks more primitive even when it is more effective than the human counterpart. Because of dwarven skill and enchantment, they do not fear moving parts; their moving parts do not break, rust, or jam, but are as reliable as chips, almost as reliable as atoms. Not that they dislike electricity; they especially like it if it glows.

 Dwarven Reproduction

People always wonder about dwarf women and whether there are any. Among the dwarves of Old Faerie, there are certainly women, though not many. Only one birth in a dozen or so is female.

Dwarf women are plump and stocky and look, on the whole, like about three or four feet high, like the men. They can be bearded depending on the dwarf race, but, because females are so rare, they are guarded carefully when they travel abroad and usually go disguised as males, the ones with no beards go with false beards.

They are nearly as strong as the males, certainly tougher, often more magical, and have much the same temperaments. They are not especially fertile and usually take a husband for a century of marriage at a time, during which there is only an even chance they will have a child.

This low birth rate does not mean dwarves are an endangered species. For one thing, their resurrection habits are regular and vigorous; a slain dwarf comes back sooner than most other kinds of fay, always reappears among his kin, materializes quickly after first manifestation (often in just a year), and recovers full embodiement with his emotions still fully engaged on whatever his cause of death was. This last feature has resulted in grudge matches stretching over geological epochs.

Besides being very hard to get rid of on a long time scale, dwarves use alternate ways of increasing their numbers, if they are magically powerful. They may take babies (by fostering, purchase, or theft) from other dwarves or humans; they may adopt animals; they may marry a non-dwarf; they may carve a son from rock or forge one from metal. Then, by powerful and repeated spelling, they not only transform (and, if necessary, animate) the child, but transubstantiate him, so that his true form is now dwarven.

By no means can all dwarf mages perform such major magics, but the ones who can, do so fairly often. The result is a fair number of manufactured dwarves accumulating over the ages.

The manufactures are not always perfect. A stone-made dwarf may petrify when exposed to sunlight. (He may also re-animate after sundown.) A beast-made dwarf may retain the ears, tail, or feet of its original form. Either by mischance or because the mother counters the father's efforts, hybrids with other fays may show mixed nature rather than pure dwarvish nature.

Hybridization is the origin of some tribes of halflings, and of kobolds, gnomes, and gremlins, these last three being hybrids of dwarf and petty fay. It may also be the origin of some tribes of trolls, but don't discuss that with dwarves.

Dwarven Communities

Dwarves are the most urban and industrialized fays. Most dwarves live in towns or cities carved into mountains. These form city-states, often grouped together in leagues or under a high king, but seldom forming nation-states.

Dwarven society is theoretically organized into a magarchy. Magical talent is a prerequisite for high position, but in practice, military prowess is just as good and political talent is generally even more important. On the other hand, as you reach the top of the ladder, magic comes to the fore again, and most dwarf-kings are able magicians AND warriors AND politicians.

Most dwarf cities are ruled by a king, who may be answerable to a high king. The High King of  Low Grachan , in Denmark, is theoretically chief of all dwarves everywhere, but he has not found it expedient to insist on the point.

Mountain cities are not good places to raise crops. Dwarves get their foodstuffs by trading with hunting and agricultural people, human or fay. They have an extensive system of underground canals running through caves and even into other realms.

If trade fails, many dwarves know a specialized spell or have a specialized charm to conjure dwarf-bread from gravel or sand, but it is notoriously unpalatable.

Dwarves willingly share cities with urban humans. Dwarven cities may include minorities of goblins, kobolds, and gnomes.

Makeup Requirements: men must be bearded and 5'6 or under, with gray or white skin and dark hair. Women must have beaded braids and be 5'4 and under, with gray or white skin and dark hair.

Description of Society: Mountain Dwarves are very similar to Hill Dwarves, only a great deal less widespread, and they tend not to be entirely fond of other races. Mountain Dwarves carve their homes out of the bases of mountains, and live almost exclusively in Hetome. They have an average lifespan of about 900 years, and are known to be talented weaponsmiths, as well as skilled warriors. Mountain Dwarves are fiercely territorial; so much so that whenever a friend or acquaintance comes to call, they must first ask the permission of the head of the household before they may enter. They also tend to be very superstitious, and distrustful of any magic other than Order Magic or Life Magic.

Habitat: Mountain Dwarves can be found mostly in Hetome.

Makeup Requirements: men must be bearded and 5'6 or under, with greenish skin. Women must have beaded braids and be 5'4 and under, with greenish skin.

Description of Society: Swamp Dwarves dwell in small mud huts in almost every swamp of the world. They are normally friendly toward other races, but rarely venture outside the swamps in which they make their homes. Most Swamp Dwarves are skilled trappers and herbalists, and they normally live in family groups, called clans. Swamp Dwarves have no solid form of government, and most decisions are made by the head of each clan, normally the eldest member. They tend to be free spirits, feeling that anyone has the right to do whatever they please, as long as no one is hurt in the process.

Habitat: Swamp Dwarves can be found in almost any swamp.