Dwarves were a stocky, barrel-chested people who preferred living below ground. The Forge Folk (everyone called them that because they loved the forge more than women, somewhat out of necessity, but I’m betting that would have held true even if they had ten times the womenfolk), were divided into clans similar in concept to the Elven tribes.
Physically, the Dwarves of most clans looked similar to one another. All stood approximately four and a half to five feet tall, except for the Hammer Dwarves and the decidedly shorter Deep Dwarves, and weighed maybe a hundred and fifty pounds on average. They weren’t fat, just round and muscular, like Danny Devito after six months with a personal trainer. Regardless of clan, the Forge Folk had dark brown or black hair and thick beards with one exception, the Mountain Dwarves, who tended towards flaming red hair. Make that two exceptions, the Black Dwarves, who weren’t really black, did have a gray pallor.
The clans shared many traits beyond appearance. Hard working and industrious, the Forge Folk labored constantly leading to little time for recreation in any of the clan halls. On a Saturday night, you’d find more entertainment in an Amish barn than in Caradar. Dwarves were efficient delvers though and made good use of Grandar’s largesse by inventing machines powered by earthsong to help delve. Dwarves also had an artistic side, and wrote music with short, simple rhythms and strong bass lines heavy on percussion. They worked out a system using drums to transmit messages between the clan halls faster than any weasel ride. They also possessed a knack for stonework and showed off their skill by sculpting beautiful statues and pillars to decorate the clan halls. And the Runesmiths, the artisans of the forge, smithed armor and weapons bedecked in jewels worthy of the Smithsonian.
Dar Highfather was the Firstborn of the Dwarves. After the Congress, he looked for his Secondborn in the mountains and found them inside Mount Tarnillar, sleeping in nine birthing chambers, one for each of the clans. There’s a lot more to the story than that. The details are in the Caradar entry, but for now suffice it to say that before finding the Secondborn, Dar was quite the busy bee.
Glistening gems lit up the Halls of Ruling like the Christmas tree a Rockefeller Center, enough to buy Google, Apple and Microsoft several times over, delighting Dar and the rest of the Forge Folk who shared his fondness for them and precious metals too. If it sparkled, glistened or gleamed, they liked it. Gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, you name it, their eyes grew wide as saucers at the sight of it. They didn’t hoard treasure in the traditional sense, they kept it proudly on display as ornaments braided into beards, wind chimes hanging from eaves, fine jewelry, and decoration on breastplates, axes, helms and hammers, pillars and statues.
Even more than gems and precious metals, the Forge Folk treasured honor and courage. Warriors born, they faced Erlik’s challenges without fear and running from battle was never an option. In the early years, before Elras met his doom, they were invincible. In groups of three, nine, or eighteen if many Dark Ones were sighted (it was always a multiple of three), they’d stalk them until cornered and then show them Dwarven justice with an axe. During the Battle of Unending Night (BUN) though, their invincibility proved imperfect. Thousands of Dwarves fell to the Dark Ones and some clans were completely annihilated. Caradar suffered greater ruin than the Elvenhomes during the BUN, which is appropriate, I suppose, since all the trouble started there. The Forge Folk’s greatest loss was the death of their king, Dar Highfather.
Population was always a matter of concern for the Forge Folk. Barely one in ten were women. Each woman was expected to bear children, but few had more than two. Most of the Dwarven women became infertile after their second child due to a form of genetic population control imposed at the Pool of Life. Food supply was the other factor limited the Forge Folk’s population. The Dwarves cultivated strains of fruits and vegetables that could grow in dark, subterranean caverns, but there were only so many places in Caradar where these Dwarven treats (that’s a stretch in some cases, the Dwarven palate was remarkably unrefined) could flourish. A few were considered delicacies by those who walked the world above. In Hali’s time, imported villgrass, a brown, nut–flavored lettuce, was often served in Tintammil. The Forge Folk also liked their drink and brewed many spirits using subterranean grown ingredients that you couldn’t find in any but the finest topside taverns.
In the Elder Days, marriage between the clans was quite rare. When a Dwarven maiden announced her readiness to marry, her parents would entertain offers from potential husbands. Suitors from other clans were discouraged, it was a matter of numbers and clan pride. Arranged marriages were not uncommon and were the easiest way to get a fair price for a daughter’s hand. Marrying for money, or to keep your parents happy, didn’t have negative connotations, it was how things were done. If the Forge Folk were asked to come up with a Letterman top ten list ranking their values, marital bliss might not have made the cut.
In addition to the Earth Mother, the Forge Folk also sought the favor of their patron, Grandar, in whose image they were made. Grandar had the vergar with him in Heaven and so he gave weasels, lesser cousins to the Vergar burrowing under Ak-Kidarrak, to the Forge Folk. Weasels of all sizes roamed Caradar’s tunnels – small ones for pets, mid-sized ones for delving (and sometimes eating, the Forge Folk had limited culinary choices), and huge ones for riding through Caradar’s wider tunnels. The Dwarves also had a preference for Garruth the Laughing God, who was a lord of the deep earth too, and whose bellows were often heard echoing from one clan hall to the next.