Dwarven Clans

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Clan overview

Before I get into the clan details, let me recap the titles and power structure of the clan halls.  It should lower your confusion factor.

Clan chief – this was the title of the clan leader.  Some clan chiefs were called King, some were not.

Clan priest[s] – this was the title of a Dwarven channeler.  Some clans had only one, some had many.  The lead priest was usually referred to as “the clan priest”.  The article “the”, in this case, denoted rank, not singularity.

Earthmage – dwarves with singular gifts who could hear earthsong anywhere.

Runesmiths – dwarves who could craft enchanted items on the clan’s Ring Forge.  Runesmiths were a special instance of Earthmage.

Forgemaster – a clan’s lead Runesmith, determined by his ability to draw power through the Ring Forge.

And,  a few rules of thumb:

A dwarf might be nearly any combination of clan priest, runesmith and earthmage.  All Runesmiths were considered Earthmages, some Earthmages were also Runesmiths.

Clan chiefs and/or clan priests built the Ring Forges.

Clan priests were responsible for maintaining the Stones

Forgemasters were responsible for maintaining the Ring Forges

The sacred obligation to the Earth Mother not withstanding, Dwarves generally held Forgemasters in higher standing than clan priests.

Clans of the Forge Folk in the Elder Days

Clan Chief Clan Halls Ring Forge Forgemaster
Black Dwarf Vaggir Askari Crucible of Life Vaggir
Blood Dwarf Grandig Redhaven Forge of Victory Graldar
Deep Dwarf Duglas Irondeep Maker’s Forge Danvarag
Earth Dwarf Tharigar Valdan Earth Forge Tharigar
Forge Dwarf Duvar Dakhavar Forge of White Flame Danvil
Gold Dwarf Goldarn Aurvald Viggult’s Forge Viggult
Hammer Dwarf Virdan Stonedan Ebony Forge Vindegar
Mountain  Dwarf Dar Highfather Halls of Ruling Daladorn Forge Daladorn
Silver Dwarf Garrad Silverstone Silver Forge Garaxin

 

Mountain Dwarves

The Mountain Dwarves, the clan of Dar Highfather, sat at the top of the Dwarven food chain and the other clan chiefs all swore allegiance to him.  Wouldn’t you, if you woke to a red-haired Dwarf with a shaggy beard swinging a massive hammer?  Dar claimed the Halls of Ruling for his clan and they built upon what he had begun, fashioning an underground city befitting Caradar’s capitol.  Delving and fighting were what the Mountain Dwarves did best.

The central features of the Halls were the Circling Path and the Seat of Stone, the throne from which Dar and his successors ruled which rested atop the Path, and lastly, the Hammer of Light.  The Hammer was twice as tall as Dar and glowed with the light of the Suns to illuminate the Hall’s nooks and crannies.  Even better, crystal nodules shedding light grew from the Hammer, like glow rods growing on the branches of a glow rod tree.  The Forge Folk could break off these nodules and use them to light the way when they delved.  When Dar swore that the Hammer would give the Forge Folk light so long as the Suns’ Full Radiance shone, he never dreamt that he was pronouncing Caradar’s doom.  He truly thought the Suns, and the Hammer, would shine forever.

The Halls covered several square miles and around the perimeter were the birthing chambers where Dar found the Secondborn.  Each clan built mansions near its birthing chamber for revered elders and delved outward from there to create the sprawling networks of tunnels and caverns that was the underground nation of Caradar.  Dar and his family lived in a palace next to the Path.  Like an iceberg, only the topmost levels were visible in the Halls, the rest of the palace down, beneath the halls.

Smith’s Way, a road, ran east to west, from the Circling Path to a bazaar across the hall where Dwarven craftsmen put stonewares, polished gems and jewelry on display.  An anvil-shaped temple to Grandar stood in the northern part of the city, circled by golden statues of Vergar and to the south, Tharigar’s Earth Dwarves tended mushroom gardens near the small lake that was the Hall’s primary water source.  Most of the city consisted of tightly packed home and workshops, connected by dozens of roads crisscrossing the Halls.

Daladorn, Highfather’s son, was a clan priest and Forgemaster of the Daladorn Forge, the clan’s Ring Forge, which he made early in the Years of Glory, before much of Caradar had been delved.

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Black Dwarves 

Not well named, the Black Dwarves were as black as African-Americans, which is to say not at all.  Grey Dwarves would have been a better name, their pallor was more grey than black, but c’est la vie.  They’re all dead and have been for a long time, so there’s no point in debating names. The Black Dwarves were healers, not warriors and wielded scalpels over hammers or axes.  Privately, the other clans snickered at the Black Dwarves, thinking medicine and doctoring wastes of time since everyone born into the Full Radiance had amazing recuperative powers courtesy of Finbardin.

Vaggir ruled over Askari, the clans halls of the Black Dwarves. A learned and accomplished Dwarf, he wore many hats – clan chief, Runesmith, Forgemaster and clan priest for Askari’s Ring Forge (the Crucible of Light, for those of you keeping track).  With so many responsibilities, it’s a marvel that he had time to sit on Dar’s councils, but he was one of Highfather’s closest advisors and always found the time.  Dar respected his peace-loving views, which weren’t always popular with the other clan chiefs.

The Dark Ones overran Askari early on during the Battle of Unending Night, but Vaggir escaped and took the other survivors to the Halls of Ruling where their healing skills were put to immediate use.  After that, the snickering stopped.

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Blood Dwarves

The Blood Dwarves were berserkers excelling in battle.  They lived in Redhaven and wore tattoos depicting battles as badges of honor that would have made any biker jealous.  When Dar woke the Secondborn, seven of the forty Blood Dwarves were female, making the clan wealthy in women.  Perhaps they had more women because they were warriors and more of them would fall.

When Blood Dwarves went into battle, Graldar the Forgemaster would speak beforehand from the Forge of Victory, like he was Mike Ditka in the locker room before the game.  By the time the battle was joined, the Blood Dwarves would almost be foaming at the mouth and near unstoppable, which could be a problem once they’d killed all the bad guys.  Sometimes, they’d keep swinging at imagined foes until someone slapped some sense into them.  King Grandig, a true terror on the battlefield, was as excitable as any of them and a great role model for the clan, as were his sons, Vagar and Gravar.  The princes proved their valor in the battle for Redhaven, fighting side by side with the vergar Grandar sent from Heaven.  They went down swinging, dying with as much honor as any Dwarf could wish for.

No Blood Dwarves survived the Battle of Unending Night, but a thousand years later, Dar III reconstituted them as an honorary clan, a Cooperstown for the Forge Folk’s best warriors.  His decision was unusual since by then the old clans only existed in memory, but fitting.  I thought it a good twist to balance the fate of the clanless.

Even in my day, tattooed warriors continued the traditions of Grandig’s ancient clan and the Eternal Guardian still kept watch for the Traitor from Garaspin’s peak.  Valdarag had been three thousand years old when he took on that responsibility, even though he was already eligible for retirement benefits, and had held his post for the entire Age of Man.  That’s longer than any Dwarf, or anyone, should have to live.  Eternal life gets old, trust me.  If I didn’t have worlds to watch over, I’d have died of boredom a thousand times over.   When Valdarag finally faced the Traitor, I think he was relieved as much as anything.

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Deep Dwarves

Coming in at under four feet on average, the Deep Dwarves were short even for Forge Folk, but that didn’t stop them from being the best smiths Caradar had to offer.  Maybe being a few inches closer to Spirit’s magik helped them, maybe not, but they did have a true gift for forge work.  They made tools you’d choose over Craftsman, jewelry to satisfy spoiled Elven princesses, and machines that could delve deep enough to breach the Darkhold.

The best work was produced using the clan’s ring forge (the Maker’s Forge, named for Dar) but that wasn’t the only game in town.  In Irondeep, the deepest of the clan halls, forges were as common as beards on a Dwarf and everyone had one in their back yard.  Still, the Maker’s Forge was the best of them and Danvarag withstood many challenges to retain the title of Forgemaster.

The Deep Dwarves pursued their craft by relying on inventiveness, sound logic, and attention to detail more as much as earthsong.  Early on, King Duglas forbid the clan priests from tapping the full power of the Maker’s Forge after Danvarag enchanted a particularly potent warhammer, which led to a scary encounter with a Maldok.  After that, the Runesmiths turned away from armor and weapons to more mundane (in the magikal sense only, the quality was superb) but equally needed tools and household items that taxed the chains binding Erlik less.

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Earth Dwarves

The druids of the underworld, Earth Dwarves were responsible for maintaining Caradar’s food supply, making them, you could argue, the most important clan.  Without food, the clans couldn’t have children and without children, they couldn’t expand the clan halls.  Yep, that was why they had kids, to create more delvers. Today, they’d turn it into an indie docudrama about the poor, short, fat children working in the mines and it would win an Oscar.

The Earth Dwarves didn’t have the overwhelming desire to delve like the other clans did.  Their jobs as farmers and herders gave them more satisfaction and they consistently ranked high in surveys, scoring near perfect in job challenge and job appreciation.  Some occupied remote caverns, tending to mushroom patches, fields of villgrass, trout pools, and herds of subterranean cattle, but most lived in Valdan, a cavern ten times larger than the Halls of Ruling and Caradar’s largest single food source.  Valdan was a giant grow house, complete with an artificial sun, Valdimma, to provide extra wattage. Tharigar, the clan chief and also priest, Runesmith and Forgemaster, made Valdimma on the Earth Forge despite the risk of drawing so much power.  Without a sun to speed things up, lack of food might have kept the Forge Folk perpetually close to extinction.  He thought Valdimma necessary.

No one understood the ecosystem undermountain as well as Tharigar, and his knowledge gave him a long view on things.  He wasn’t given to quick action and always put the safety of his people and Valdan, in that order, above any individual concerns.  When the Dark Ones struck, Tharigar was ready.  He’d prepared escape tunnels long ago and gave the order to retreat, abandoning the booby-trapped Valdan to One-Eye’s hordes.  Taking out so many Dark Ones was little consolation for the loss of his beloved home.

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Forge Dwarves

The Forge Dwarves lived in Dakhavar, near an underground sea of lava.  Dakhavar’s Stones, Garradarran (the only Dwarven Stones remembered by name) were on an island reached by crossing a stone bridge.  In the center of the Stones was the Forge of the White Flame, Dakhavar’s Ring Forge.  Duvar, the clan chief and Danvil, clan priest and Forgemaster, built the forge, which was the most powerful of the nine Ring Forges.  Got all that?  Good, there may be a quiz.

When it was time to make Caerycal, the Twice-Forged Sword, Elras went to Dakhavar for its white-hot earthsong and Danvil’s help.  Danvil was a rock star among Runesmiths and after cranking out enchanted armor and axes and helms and hammers for centuries, he’d gotten pretty good at it.  Between his smithing and channeling, and Elras’s sorcery, Caerycal was indeed a weapon fit to kill a god.  All that remained was the second forging, which happened much later and far from Dakhavar.

Danvil was willing to share his forge secrets with his clan, but with outsiders he hoarded them like gold nuggets, much to the liking of his clan chief, Duvar.  Now, Duvar was a nervous and suspicious Dwarf who thought Duglas and the Dwarves of Irondeep were trying to steal his clan’s reputation as Caradar’s best armorers and weaponsmiths.  Duvar was one hundred percent wrong, the Deep Dwarves were unwilling to risk weakening the wards, but no one could convince Duvar of that.  He pushed his Runepriests to outdo the imaginary competition, not that it took too much urging.  Forge Dwarves were utterly devoted to their craft and proud.  When they weren’t delving, they were at the forge and every time they drew too much power more Dark Ones crossed over, making the tunnels near Dakhavar one of Caradar’s more dangerous places.

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Gold Dwarves

Ok, I admit it, I debated at length whether or not to include this section.  After all, I’ve gone to great lengths to avoid mentioning this clan elsewhere, out of respect for Dar’s edict and to honor the Dwarves that fell, but in the end, I’m a historian and the truth must come first.  If you’ve managed to delve this deep into the archive, you’re about to be rewarded.

All Forge Folk had an appreciation for wealth, but the Gold Dwarves took this to an extreme, and their legendary greed won out over common sense all too often.  Gem hunters, jewelers, goldsmiths and gem cutters, they lived in the opulent clan halls of Aurvald, home of the clan chief, Goldarn, and his son, Prince Golvarn, an Earthmage with a talent for finding the earth’s hidden treasures.  With Golvarn’s uncanny gift, they became the wealthiest clan, and even the most recently delved chambers were draped in luxury.

Viggult, a Secondborn Runesmith, clan priest and Forgemaster, built the Ring Forge, which the clan named after him, and surrounded it with a lavish, gem-encrusted shrine to proudly proclaimed Aurvald’s wealth.  The other clans were jealous of Aurvald’s riches, but King Goldarn shared just enough to quiet their complaints.

But, when something seems too good to be true, it usually is, and so it was with Prince Golvarn and his treasure finding.  It turns out that Golvarn wasn’t doing it all by himself, he had help.  Golvarn had a secret lover hidden in the deep caverns beneath Aurald, a Mist Elf named Caeryn.  Golvarn didn’t care about Lillandra’s Ban, he thought only of her.  Well, you can see where this was heading – to love gone wrong.  I can’t go into everything Goldvarn did right now, that’s covered thoroughly in The Sword is Forged, but know this, it involved murder and betrayal, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  His descent into evil began with the murder of Prince Dorn, the architect of Caradar and son of Dar Highfather.  Golvarn, that lying sack of shit, convinced everyone that he was the hero, that he’d done everything he could to save the doomed prince, but everything he said was a lie.  After Dorn’s death, he was putty in Caeryn’s hands.  She used Golvarn’s guilt to manipulate him into setting the Dark Lord free.  I should add that Caeryn was not really a Mist Elf, Golvarn that’s just how she appeared to Golvarn.  Her true identity was too terrible to mention.  All I’ll say about her is that she came to Sangrar when Elras forged the Sword.  Yes, Elras was once again at the center of it all.  Making the Sword drew tremendous power from the ley lines, making them weak enough for Caeryn to enter the world.

When the truth came out, Dar took out his anger on Golvarn’s entire clan and named them clanless as punishment for Golvarn’s unspeakable treachery.  After that, neither the Gold Dwarves or their clan halls were ever mentioned again in Caradar.

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Hammer Dwarves

Master miners, The Hammer Dwarves excelled at finding new veins of ore, and their work took them to the deepest regions of Caradar where they earned Erlik’s special enmity.  Although short, they were exceptionally strong and Virdan their clan chief, could out arm wrestle any of them.  Of all the Forge Folk of the Elder Days, only Darig, Highfather’s grandson, was stronger.

The other clans chose chiefs based on leadership, wisdom, and command over earthong, but not the Hammer Dwarves.  They selected Virdan solely on the basis of his only real virtue, his amazing strength.  Virdan was the only clan chief without the powers of a Runesmith and that was not his only handicap.  Putting it bluntly, Virdan was about as swift as a rock.  He could be counted on to excavate much needed ore, but not much else.  With his limited intelligence, even basic planning for his people’s needs was out of reach.

Fortunately, his son, Prince Vindegar, took after his mother.  A wise and capable leader, clan priest, Runesmith  and Forgemaster of the Ebony Forge, Vindegar was everything that his father was not.  Before reaching his one hundredth birthday, he built the Ebony Forge from shiny black metal discovered in a forgotten shaft.  The metal was harder than diamond and impervious to harm.  The Forgemasters in other clan halls wondered how he’d shaped it into the Ring Forge, but Vindegar took that secret to his grave.  Kandol suspected that he shared Dar’s gift of making, on a lesser scale, but this was never confirmed.

Though he didn’t understand the magnitude of his son’s accomplishments, Virdan was proud of Vindegar nonetheless and, knowing his own limitations, delegated the clan hall’s governance to him.  Virdan was content to use his prodigious strength in the mines.  Working side by side with the clan chief did wonders for the clan’s morale and under Vindegar’s guidance, Stonedan prospered until the Dark Ones destroyed it in the Battle of Unending Night.

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Silver Dwarves

Like the Blood Dwarves, the Silver Dwarves were warriors well trained in the ways of war, but unlike them, they were master tacticians.  Individually, the Blood Dwarves were unmatched warriors, but they had no sense of tactics.  The Silver Dwarves, in contrast, planned their campaigns as carefully as a celebrity wedding.  Even the smallest of details was taken into consideration.

Brave and clever, the clan chief Garrad stood high in Dar’s councils and oversaw Caradar’s defenses.during the Battle of Unending Night.  Afterwards, many of the survivors called for his retirement.  It’s hard to argue that he did the job well after the Forge Folk suffered such heavy losses, but Dar the Wise shouldered the blame.  With so many clan chiefs dead, he wasn’t about to silence such an experienced voice.

The Silver Dwarves lived in Silverstone, the smallest clan hall and the one closest to the Halls of Ruling.  The Runesmith Garaxin (yes, that’s an X in his name, uncommon for a Dwarf) built the Silver Forge and became its Forgemaster.

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