There’s just not much to say about the Forge Folk when it comes to sorcery. The truth is, they just weren’t very good at it. Some thought it was because they were a subterranean people, that the ground blocked the Spire’s energy, but that wasn’t it at all. The source of sorcery was the Flame in the Void and if the Flame could cross the Void, penetrate the Girdle and flow through the Spires, then a few tons of earth and rock couldn’t stop it. The real reason goes back to Harnor, who gave them little to work with, or to Deridean, who planned the whole thing. If the Councilor had drawn up the Forge Folk as mighty sorcerers, none of you would be wondering whether the Spires energy could breach the ground. There is a third theory, one that used to be popular with the conspiracy theorists. They held that the Dwarves should have been stronger sorcerers, but Harnor gave the gifts planned for them to the Elves. Me, I don’t buy that explanation. Harnor was not good at following the rules, but neither Deridean nor Finbardin would have stood for that.
The Forge Folk could, of course, use the Spires to a small degree, every race except the Ravirs had a modicum of talent, but none of them could store enough energy to pursue a path of sorcery. A few ordinary tricks for household chores was about the best any of them could manage.
Let me start by admitting off the bat that most of what I know about earthsong came from Kandol, and the Elven approach to prayer was decidedly different than the Forge Folks. He told me enough about what happened between the Stones at Najahar to make me squirm uncomfortably. I was never married, but if I had been, it’s hard to imagine finding a human wife who’d be as understanding as Velora. Kandol didn’t know nearly as much about how the Dwarves fulfilled their obligation to the Earth Mother, a thimble full compared to his ocean of Elven lore. The only Dwarven Stones he could name were Garradarran, but to be fair, most Dwarves couldn’t name any Elven Stones. At least he could name all the Ring Forges.
Here’s a snapshot of how Elves and Dwarves differed when it came to the Earth Mother:
|Fair Folk||Forge Folk|
|Clergy||Primarily female||Exclusively male|
|Form of Prayer||Mostly sex||Mostly spoken, except for the gay ones|
|Stones’ center||Center Stone||Empty initially, then Ring Forge|
The first two were driven by the gender composition of the Forge Folk. Women were exceedingly rare, so it follows that their most of their channelers would be men. In fact, only men could channel. This was no accident, Aerdran made them that way on purpose at the Pool of Life. Lillandra was the one who figured it out at the last minute. She realized that with so few women, there weren’t any to spare for channeling. She explained it to Deridean right then and there and he pulled a Picard. “Make it so,” he said and Aerdran did.
It should be obvious by now why Dwarven prayers were spoken instead of … acted out. I was joking up above, there weren’t gay Dwarves, or if there were, they kept a low enough profile that Kandol never saw fit to mention it. Most Dwarven males practiced abstinence without ever blinking. They had a very low libido, one that kicked in only at the express invitation of a Dwarven female in heat. You can chalk that up to Lillandra too.
The last line in the table requires some explanation. The rings of Stones on the surface world had center Stones through which the channeler gathered prayers for the Earth Mother. When the Forge Folk delved Caradar, they also found rings of Stones where Spirit’s ley lines intersected, but these rings didn’t have center Stones. In all, they discovered dozens of lesser rings and nine great rings and in those nine, the clan priests built the nine Ring Forges. The names of the Stones have been lost, except for Garradarran, but the names of the Ring Forges remain. I suppose that’s appropriate.
Earthmages, you’ll remember, were people who heard the earthsong even when they weren’t standing between the Stones. Most Earthmages had unique gifts, ranging from simple to extremely potent, but once again, the Forge Folk did things differently. For one thing, they had more Earthmages than channelers, the only Elder Race with such an inverted ratio. Also, gifts of Earthmagery rarely repeated in other races, but with the Forge Folk, most Earthmages possessed gifts that, though not identical, were similar. A few singular gifts did emerge – Golvarn’s treasure seeking, Darig’s strength, Dar Highfather’s making and Tharigar’s green thumb were prime examples – but the Runesmiths (Forge Folk Earthmages possessing similar gifts of crafting), outnumbered other Dwarven Earthmages by a wide margin.
Smithing was the Forge Folks’s oldest and most popular profession next to delving, and the Runesmiths were the best of them. With earthsong, they could imbue armor and weapons with powerful enchantments. Some Runesmiths were better at hammers than axes, some preferred chainmail over plate armor, but they all had one thing in common – they could infuse earthsong into artifacts of their creation.
Runesmiths needed a Ring Forge to work their special magik. Using the Ring Forges, they could draw power from ley lines to fuel their enchantments, but doing so was not without danger. Channeling kept the Stones strong, but enchanting objects drained the Stones’ power and temporarily weakened the wall between the worlds, allowing Scarags, Jixari and other horrors to slip the confines of the Darkhold and roam the deep tunnels of Caradar.
The lead Runesmith at a forge was the Forgemaster, who might or might not have been a clan priest.
Making and shaping
I’ve mentioned Dar’s gift of making a couple of times. The Forge Folk were an industrious people. More than any other Elder Race, they enjoyed Grandar’s blessing in the Pool of Life and their greatest joy came from delving and making things. Their special talent was shaping, an extra little oomph to help their craft. Shaping allowed a Dwarf to pound the steel in a blade to tempered perfection, to make perfect right angles when delving a new clan hall, to cut the legs of a table the exact same height. Many Forge Folk could shape, it came naturally to them, but only Dar Highfather could make. Think of making as shaping on steroids. Dar’s making was a thousandfold stronger than any Dwarf’s shaping. Making allowed Dar to hew the Halls of Ruling by himself and create the Circling Path. As shapers, Dwarves could work with what was at hand, but Dar did them one better. To him, Dar the Maker, the earth was a giant jar of Play-Doh, waiting for his touch to give it form.