I met my first dwarf today, while seeking companions to investigate a ruined city northwest of the World’s Edge Mountains. Grymwudd claims his ancestors came from the very hold I seek to enter. By way of verifying his claim, he holds up his hammer, marked with a rune that, I admit, means nothing to me, though he bears it with pride and promises I will understand when we delve into the ruins. – Ioan Grell, Pathfinder
Physical Description and Physical Outlook
On average, dwarves stand about a foot shorter than humans, and tend to be stockier than even the burliest halforcs. They weigh about 100 pounds more than they appear. This is a result of their strong bones and tightly packed musculature.
Male and female dwarves pride themselves on the length of their hair, and men often decorate their beards with a variety of clasps and intricate braids. A clean-shaven dwarf is a sure sign of madness, or worse… Male dwarves pride themselves on the length and condition of their beards. Traditionalists festoon their beards with elaborate braids, small battle trophies, or beads commemorating important events in their lives. Shaving a dwarf’s beard is a terrible insult to the dwarf, his ancestors, and their gods.
Dwarven dress, as with all physical objects dwarves craft, favors function over form, but is never plain. Decorations serve practical purposes, such as fasteners, padding, reinforcements of seams, or the integration of pockets and tool-holding loops. The clothing of wealthy dwarves and those whose toils require am minimum of demanding physical labor stretch the definition of functionality with some oft their clothing, but even their fanciest outfits bear numerous pockets, loops, and attachment points – frequently made of gold, silver, or other soft but beautiful metals.
Dwarven history begins deep below the earth, where the first dwarves mined and smithed under the watchful eye of Torag, the Father of Creation. In the late centuries of the Age of Darkness, following a dictum of a series of ancient mandates handed down from a prophet of Torag, a relentless subterranean migration of dwarves called the Quest for Sky scattered hordes of orcs and goblins in a series of genocidal wars. After several unsuccessful centuries of toiling ever upward to reach the surface in an era marked by increasing war, the dwarves lost sight of their goals and splintered into numerous factions, called clans. These factions expended much of their energies fighting against each other and their orcish foes and spent little effort on the Quest for Sky.
After nearly 2 decades of these civil wars, the great general Taargick reunited the dwarves with the skilled combination of diplomacy, plain speaking, and judicious use of military subjugation. Taargick declared himself king of the dwarves and named his kingdom Tar Taargadth. Under Taargick’s leadership, the dwarves completed their push to the surface and established themselves as custodians of civilization across Golarion with the founding of the Sky Citadels.
All 10 citadels still stand today, but not all of them are in hands of their architects. Some lie in ruin. When the dwarves emerged upon Golarion they encountered numerous horrors of the Darklands they had driven before them. Tar Taargadth battled its ancient foes for millenia, waxing and waning in power and influence as the centuries passed. Even as dwarven power fluctuated, so too did the relative strength of the orcs and goblinoids. Unfortunately for the dwarves, at a point of ebb in their strength, orcish power surged, leading to a vicious assault on dwarven holdings. Under the overwhelming attack, the centralized government of Tar Taargadth collapsed, isolating the individual Sky Citadels and lesser cities across the world.
Most strongholds survived the savage onslaught, notably Janderhoff in isolated Varisia and Highhelm along the southern coast of lake Encarthan. The lairds of defeated citadels fled to Highhelm in shame, establishing the region around the mountains as the seat of the Gathering Council, the governing body of far-flung dwarfkind that convenes every 2 centuries. Over the millenia these conferences have grown more contentious and distrustful, with dwarves aligned to the ancient kingdoms both living and dead feeling increasingly ill at ease with one another.
The deposed monarchs of the fallen Sky Citadels established their rag-tag clans in the craggy fastness of what became known as the Five Kings Mountains. War, both among themselves and against the still-extant orcs hounding their borders, edged the dwarves toward decadence and defeat. After nearly 800 years of infighting, though, the Kalistocracy of Druma negotiated a hard-bargained peace among the dwarves with the Kerse Accord.
Despite the constant warring, the dwarves look back upon the era of the Five Kingdoms as the high point of dwarven civilization. In the millennium the FIve Kingdoms flourished, dwarven engineering, art, and mining advanced or evolved more than in any other era of equal time. In the lifetimes of the original five kings, the dwarves carved into five peaks the images of their founders, the least of which stands more than 250 feet tall.
Dwarven perspective tends to change with the climate. The rosy-cheeked warrior-skalds of Kalsgard in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings and the squat, hairless contemplatives of Osirion’s Ouat caste might share a common ancestral blood, but their cultures are strikingly different. Int this era of human and gnome and even elven cultural influence, what it means to be a dwarf remains more fluid than ever before, and the whitebeards of the oldest dwarven halls fear this disparity as a sign for what it is – the impending extinction of dwarf society.
The great distances between their mountain citadels account for many of the cultural differences that exist within dwarven society. Despite there schisms, dwarves throughout the world are best known for their skill at mining and crafting; their fierce determination in combat; and their stoic, almost mirthless demeanor. Indeed, they are characterized by their love of stone-work, their passion for stone-and metal-based craftsmanship and architecture, and a fierce hatred of giants, orcs, and goblinoids. They leave their mark on the world with their magnificent castles and fortresses, but they fought and died endlessly over every last one, ever since they first emerged from the Darklands.
All dwarves are driven by honor and tradition, and while they are often satirized as standoffish, they have a strong sense of friendship and justice, and those who win their trust understand that, while they work hard, they play even harder – especially when good ale is involved. Most dwarves are lawful good.
Dwarves have a certain obsession with being remembered for their accomplishments, and a peculiar method of establishing their reputations across the world. While younger dwarves refer to it as kangreddin (wall-marking), it is an ancient tradition, known to dwarves across Golarion as the Gladdringgar: the ritual of toil. It involves a dwarf using a hammer and chisel to carve his name-rune in the rock at the deepest point in whatever subterranean tunnels he is exploring. The deeper and lower the rune, the more prestige the dwarf gains among his fellows. Some dwarves risk their lives to leave their marks.
Dwarven warfare is characterized by tunnel fighting and rank-and file tactics.
Dwarves and orcs have long dwelt in proximity, theirs a history of violence as old as both their races. Dwarves generally distrust and shun half-orcs. They find halflings, elves, and gnomes to be too frail, flighty, or “pretty” to be worthy of proper respect. It is with humans that dwarves share the strongest link, for humans’ industrious nature and hearty appetites come closest to matching those of the dwarven ideal.
Dwarves prefer to worship deities whose tenets match their love for honor, work, and justice. Torag is a favorite deity among dwarves, and Abadar and Gorum are common as well. Droskar is worshiped by greedy, more evil-aligned dwarves.
Even now dwarven society and culture is fragmented through the lack of communication between the clans, Torag’s influence on dwarven culture guides and drives all of dwarf society, and most dwarves believe that, should they ever slacken their efforts, Torag will abandon them.
Dwarven adventurers are rare compared to other races, but they can be found in most regions in the world. Dwarves leave the confines of their homes to seek glory not for themselves, but for their clans. They seek wealth to enrich their fortress-homes, or to reclaim fallen citadels from racial enemies. Dwarves prefer fighters and barbarians as classes, and most spellcasters are clerics.
Dwarven adventurers usually seem reserved and conservative to members of other races, but through the eyes of their home they are seen as impetuous youths or shirking wastrels. Dwarves tend to view other races as soft, weak, or even degenerate. Elves, for example, are weaklings who abandoned the world and allowed orcish dominion during the Age of Darkness, and half-orcs are savage curs who need seeing to. No one holds a grudge as a dwarf. However, they are capable of overcoming ancient prejudices to make exceptions for his battle-tested friends and dwarves value friends higher even than the gems and gold that notoriously fuel their lust for adventure.
Language and Naming
Dwarves speak Dwarven, a language with its own alphabet (Dwarven). It is full of hard consonants, and few dwarven names include soft sounds. The letters Q and X do not appear in their alphabet.
Honorifics like “-gun” (son), “-dam” (daughter), and “-hild” (wife) are common. Dwarven family names seem to contain Common words, such as “hammer” or “gold”, but these are actually dwarven words, borrowed by Taldane.
Male: Alk, Dolgrin, Edrukk, Grunyar, Harsk, Igmar, Kazmuk, Losk, Morgrym, Nils, Odol, Padrym, Rogar, Stigur, Truddig.
Female: Agna, Bodill, Dalbra, Erigga, Gonild, Ingra, Kotri, Lupp, Porstra, Paldna, Rusilka, Stinna, Torra, Ulrikka, Yangrit.
Sources: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting