Dwarves!

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Dwarves!

Here's the first draft background for Dwarves as a race, courtesy of Sharpe. It's quite a collection of ideas at the moment, and these will be broiled down as we carry on.

Dwarves on the whole have a well-earned reputation for being an honest, forthwith, and extremely hard-working people. However, this is not to say that they are a dull lot, far from it. For every hour spent in the fields or the mines, most dwarves spend half again in taverns and pubs, as there are no finer drinkers in all of Echelon. Despite their honest nature, or perhaps because of it, dwarves tend to be fiercely competitive, and thus, inter-clan rivalries are incredibly fierce, occasionally even escalating to small civil wars. Dwarves generally tend to be somewhat suspicious towards magic, but most acknowledge it as a helpful tool, when used with discretion.

*** At some point in the distant past, it is theorized that a large portion of the Altelands was ruled over by the Elves. This is supported by heavy elven influences in certain settlement names, as well as the presence of dense ironwood forests towards the western portion of the Altelands, which would provide ideal living conditions for elves. These influences can still be seen in the nations of Eotid, Godthuldsten and Blawsiden, largely in their ironwood forests, and emphasis on farming and forestry. Originally these nations had very good standings, and regular trade with the elven nations of Calaer, as a result of their previous contact, but in recent years, such relations have been crumbling rapidly, and though they are not openly hostile, only Godthuldsten retains its strong ties to Calaer.

***

Dwarves were once ruled over by a single monarch known as an Overkonge, the equivalent of a High King. The Overkonge proved to be the uniting force for the myriad of rivaling clans and from them forged a single dwarven kingdom. Though all dwarves are ultimately loyal to the Overkonge, the individual sub-nations of the Dwarven Kingdom is generally managed by a Linjal, essentially the equivalent of dukes, earls and other ruling nobility. Below the Linjal are a group of leaders known as Thanes, which govern individual provinces within the nations. Individual towns are governed principally by the Ordforer. The hierarchy of command continues down, stopping only just above the lowliest of workers. By maintaining a strict chain of command, it ensures the utmost level of efficiency possible, while maintaining a manageable level of responsibility for each individual involved. In recent years, the Dwarven aristocracy has been very much fractured. Following the untimely death of Overkonge Erik, the kingdom was left without heirs. In the decades that followed, the Linjal were unable to come to a decision on who should succeed Overkonge Erik, and thus, have remained in an uneasy truce ever since.

***

Each individual dwarf has a long list of loyalties, generally starting with his foreman or supervisor, going all the way up to the Overkonge, or in the recent absence, to his Linjal. It is perhaps as a result of this political structure that the dwarves are famous for their fierce loyalty. Despite loyalty to the ruling forces of the Altelands, most dwarves place familial loyalties above all other ties. While it is not specifically expected of a dwarf, the vast majority of dwarves usually find a sweetheart of some sort and start families relatively early when compared to other races. These families can often grow to be very large, and in some cases, dwarven families have been known to take up entire towns, or span across nations.

***

In times gone by, the Storradet, the group that consisted of the major leaders of dwarven society would convene, once a year at Glenanny, in the Overkonge's capital, for a great meeting, involving the discussion of trade, harvests, metal and lumber production, births, deaths, feuds, declarations of war, and anything else of note in the dwarven kingdom. Such a meeting was known as an Innkallingen. During the Innkallingen, the Storradet would enter the great stone palace of the Overkonge, and pay their respects in turn. When every Linjal, Thane and Ordforer has arrived, great carved tables would be carried out, and the Innkallingen would begin. The Innkallingen would often proceed for days at a time, as it was forbidden to end an Innkallingen with unresolved issues. After every issue was heard and addressed by the Overkonge, servants would bring forth a generous bounty, and the dwarves of the Storradet would feast and drink for three days and three nights in celebration of the year's successes. Despite the absence of an Overkonge, the Storradet still convene each year for the Innkallingen. Without an Overkonge to maintain civility among the clans, recent Inkallingen have been extremely tense, with clansmen nearly coming to blows on more than one occasion over trade rivalries and perceived slights. The primary item at recent Inkallingen is generally the issue of succession. The discussion who should be Overkonge has long been a touchy topic, as there exist dozens of clans who believe it to be their right. More often than not, discussions of succession end in the adjourning of the Innkallingen, as they make no headway whatsoever.

***

While the original, united kingdom of the Altelands functioned as a single governing body, the absence of an Overkonge has divided the nations among their respective Linjal. Each Linjal now holds power essentially equivalent to a monarch in their respective spheres of influence. The nations have not yet come to war, but there has been a considerable rise in hostility among certain Linjal, as well as their respective nations. This hostility has only increased as the debate over the succession continues.

***

The Dwarves place great pride in practical abilities, a sharp contrast to the airy graces of the elves. Any dwarf with skills in craftsmanship is respected, almost to the point of reverence. Carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, even tailors are all highly respected dwarves in society. Even more respected than a dwarf's position as a craftsman, is his crafts. The vast majority of mighty dwarven heroes have been blacksmiths of their own right, their weapons and armour accruing nearly as much fame as they. During dwarven holidays, of which there are many, family units and close friends exchange gifts among one another, with the stipulation that the gifts must always be crafted by the giver's own hand, and thus, imbued with a piece of hisself.