From Tearsofblood

Once we were kings of the mountain-halls,
Masters of rock and stone.
Now we wander from place to place,
Selling our warrior's pride for our coin.
O, to return to our fathers' halls,
and restore their former glory.
Alas, so long an unremembered dream!

This article is currently under revision due to incomplete sections.

The Dwarves of Ursoule are a proud and ancient folk, stubbornly holding onto the legacy of their forebears even as they forge a new way of life as wealthy soldiers of fortune. Dwarven mercenaries can be found fighting in almost every conflict in the Feldarin Empire and the surrounding human nations. Although the tumultuous time of the Feldarin invasion severely disrupted their ancient ways, the stoic character and deeply ingrained work ethic of the Dwarves allowed them to quickly carve a niche for themselves as the most fearsome mercenaries in Ursoule. Even the devastation wrought by the Weeping has failed to halt the growth of their affluence.

But the Dwarves are not quick to take undue pride in these accomplishments. They measure their successes against the glorious achievements of their ancestors, and feel they aren't living up to the precedents set in days of old. To the Dwarves, the last five hundred years seem little more than a litany of devastating tragedies that have severed their ties to the venerated traditions of their ancestors, damaged the sacred halls of their forefathers, and scattered their clans across a war-torn continent. As their fortunes grow, they seek to reclaim and restore their age-old mountain citadels and subterranean galleries so that one day, perhaps, they can renounce their mercenary lifestyle and once again stand apart as a race answerable to no other.



Dwarves are profoundly traditional and believe strongly in following in the footsteps of past generations. They are stubborn to a fault, and will argue endlessly to defend their convictions. At the same time, they are unflinchingly loyal, and will stand by their clan and allies to the death. Furthermore, they are extremely honorable and feel compelled to fulfill obligations, pay fairly, and respect agreements, no matter how unpleasant it may be for them to do so. Dwarves are suspicious of strangers but generous to their guests, and among friends they can still reveal the legendary joviality and hospitality that made their bygone halls ring with merriment.

Physical Description

Dwarves are shorter than humans and Feldarin, with stocky builds and thick, well-muscled limbs. Their sturdy frames allow them to wear heavy clothing and even armor with apparent ease, and the rigors of their mercenary lifestyle means that pragmatic cloaks and martial equipment often take the place of fashion among them, although most clans maintain unique and easily identifiable sashes, capes, or kilts to differentiate themselves. Dwarves have hair of many varying colors, from fiery red to snowy white to obsidian sable. Typically, they prefer not to cut their hair except as a sign of extreme grief or shame, and take great pride in arranging their substantial locks in elaborate braids. Many clans use traditional braids whose secrets have been handed down for generations and are jealously guarded. Males typically allow their beards to grow unchecked, with particularly long and distinguished beards serving as signs of great age and status.


The unyielding obstinance of the Dwarves makes them difficult for other races to befriend, especially in such lean times when wandering vagrants are particularly unwelcome. Also, their pride tends to make them aggressive negotiators, demanding exorbitant (but not unjustifiable) rates for their military services. Still, they have carved out a niche for themselves as reliable mercenaries, and are employed often by human and Feldarin nobles who find themselves unable to raise a sufficient force among their vassals. On occasion, nations will hire entire Dwarven clans to fight for them. This sometimes leads to combat between Dwarves, which they feel is regrettable, but their sense of duty to their employer prevents any hesitation. Only when asked to fight others of their own clan will they recuse themselves from combat.

This vaunted loyalty and reliability has even led to the Feldarin throne retaining a force of Dwarves as its Imperial Guard, dedicated to the protection of the Imperial Personage and the environs of Port Conastinium. The Guard is drawn from all of the Dwarven clans, which provide replacements whenever a member perishes, such that the size of the force remains constant. Although the casualty rates of the Imperial Guard are so egregious that most consider the position cursed, no Dwarf called upon to serve it it would disgrace his clan by refusing.


Dwarves tend to favor Lawful alignments, given their strong inclinations toward unity, conformity, and adherence to duty. On matters of good and evil, they generally prefer to remain neutral, looking primarily to their own affairs and having little interest in either actively promoting benevolence or in selfish gain. Sadly, though, the desperate state of Dwarven affairs has led to many evil Dwarves achieving success as bandits and marauders, creating negative stereotypes among the other races that good-aligned Dwarves often have difficulty overcoming.


Before the arrival of the Feldarin, the Dwarves lived primarily in mountainous regions and the highest layers of the Beneath, expanding natural caverns and renovating the antediluvian ruins of long-forgotten races into magnificent subterranean cities. Unfortunately, competition for space in the Beneath is fierce, and the distractions caused by the Feldarin's surface wars resulted in many Dwarven clans being pushed back by goblinoids and other unsavory species. Some clans were evicted from their homes entirely, while others managed to retain a presence in the Beneath. To this day, the various clans struggle to reclaim lost territory, and due to the volatile nature of these efforts, at any given time a Dwarven city might contain halls that have never left Dwarven control for ten thousand years, passages and galleries that were lost but reconquered in the last five hundred years, and goblin undercastles cleared of their vile inhabitants only days before. Yet despite the progress they've made, many formerly Dwarven chambers have yet to be restored to their rightful owners.


The Dwarven culture is based largely on the traditions of their clans, which harken back to the earliest days of Dwarven folklore. Most clans have an epic story of their origins, usually centered around Dwarven heroes of great renown but dubious historical authenticity. The clans maintain a rich and colorful oral tradition that especially glorifies the legendary warriors in their lineage. Each clan's tales are treated with the utmost seriousness, and shared only with the most trusted and worthy of outsiders. Casting aspersions on a clan's history or ancestors is a sure way of earning their eternal enmity.

Although the clans are very fiercely independent from one another, intermarriage between them is very common. Often, marriages are arranged as demonstrations of friendship between clans. Often, clans that have been forced to fight on opposite sides of another race's war will arrange marriages between them as a sign that the conflict has not damaged the relationship between the two clans. Marriage tends to be seen as a social institution rather than an act of love, and Dwarves are generally expected to marry according to the needs of their clan, rather than in pursuit of selfish desires.

Although every clan has its own traditions, most are matrilineal. That is, family names are passed down from mothers to daughters, and sons are given away to their bride's family during marriage ceremonies. In cases of an inter-clan marriage, this means that the groom must integrate himself into his new clan's social and military hierarchy, which may involve tests of strength, tests of character, and ritual initiations. Clan tattoos or brands are a particularly common rite of passage for new husbands.


With rare exceptions, the Dwarves are pentatheists, with their own names and outlook on the Five Gods. Most Dwarves tend to approach religion with the same practical and absolutist attitude they apply to everything else. They honor the gods with as equal fervor in difficult times as they do in prosperous ones. Although they live according to their gods' commandments and pray often for help and wisdom, Dwarves prefer to rely on their own talents rather than waiting for divine intervention. Even when things are not going their way, Dwarves frown on cursing the gods, believing that it is impious to expect the gods to conform to the concerns of mere mortals. The most commonly worshipped deities are Aulay, God of War and Father of Dwarves, and Somerled, God of Travel.

Plague Casualties

Nearly a quarter of the Dwarven race was claimed by the Weeping, leaving the already devastated clans in dire straits. They take little solace from the greater casualty rates among the humans and Feldarin, who still vastly outnumber them. Many Dwarves were struck down by the Weeping while fighting far from home, and the devasation wrought by the Plague prevented many from being buried properly by their kin, which to the orthodox Dwarven mind is nearly as bad as death itself. Since the end of the Plague, the Dwarves have steadfastly set out to restore their race. Marriage pacts have become a top priority as depopulated clans struggle to revitalize their ranks.

Dwarves generally shun their Plaguetouched, whom they see as tainted and whose bloodline has been corrupted, making them unsuitable for marriage pacts. The Dwarven Plaguetouched have already begun to congregate itno makeshift clans of their own.


The Dwarven language reflects their commitment to pragmatism over poetry. While their unique and curious tongue can produce the occasional beauty in the form of epic sagas or bawdy drinking songs, it is sometimes considered uncouth by other races. The Vanimar in particular have difficulty tolerating its brusque tones and inflexible grammar. The Dwarves themselves see language as little more than a tool for conducting their day to day affairs, and find its lack of irregular forms to be extremely sensible.


Dwarven names reflect the value they place on their social arrangements. Their full name begins with the name of their clan, followed by their mother's family's name, and lastly a personal appellation. For most common usage, especially outside their own clan, most dwarves omit the family name, since it is only relevant to members of their own clan. For the sake of clarity, the suffix -clan is added to their clan names, to ensure the listener recognizes which word is the all-important clan name (in fact, the word clan among non-Dwarves is derived from this usage). Thus, for example, a complete Dwarven name might be Gaurfels-clan Steinholt Rutkoff, indicating a Dwarf of the Gaurfels clan, member of the Steinholt family, Rutkoff to his friends. Dwarves also very commonly translate their clan names to make them easier for non-Dwarves to use (and to prevent unnecessary mangling of the revered name).

Clan Names: Rockdweller, Foehammer, etc.

Family Names: Brosa, Ulfbane, Ormham, Skallesmaekker, Torkilsson, Halvnaese, etc.

Male names: Arn, Brage, Dagmod, Egil, Fulgrim, Gram, Halgrim, Ivar, Jalmar, Ketil, Ligulf, Malte, Nis, Orm, Pelle, Regil, Sigmod, Terkel, Ulfast, Vidfast, Yngve.

Female names: Alrune, Birka, Dis, Embla, Fenja, Gerda, Hyldis, Idis, Joerdis, Kraka, Lindis, Marta, Nora, Rikissa, Sigun, Tyra, Ulfdis, Vea, Ytta.


Many Dwarves in these troubled times find themselves among adventuring parties. Sometimes, an individual Dwarf will be sent out on his own to accomplish a specific task that is of interest to the clan. During times when mercenary work is hard to come by, mercenary companies may split up in order to find what work they can as bodyguards, caravan escorts, and treasure-seeking adventurers. In less happy circumstances, individual Dwarves may find themselves ostracized from their clans as punishment for crimes and forced to seek a living alone. And, worst of all, many Dwarves whose families or entire clans have been annihilated by the Weeping wander Ursoule in solitary misery.

Racial Traits

  • +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma: Dwarves are sturdy and hale, but lack social graces and believe strongly in minding one's own business.
  • Medium: As Medium creatures, Dwarves have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Dwarf base land speed is 20 feet. However, Dwarves can move at this speed even when wearing heavy or medium armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load.
  • Mercenary Memory: An ancestral memory grants a Dwarf a +2 racial bonus on Knowledge (History, Local, and Nobility and Royalty) checks to gain a tactical advantage over a foe, identify heraldry, or remember a historic battle.
  • Weapon Familiarity: Dwarves may treat Dwarven Waraxes and Dwarven Urgroshes as martial weapons, rather than exotic weapons.
  • Stability: A Dwarf gains a +4 bonus on ability checks made to resist being bull rushed or tripped when standing on the ground (but not when climbing, flying, riding, or otherwise not standing firmly on the ground).
  • +2 racial bonus on saving throws against spells and spell-like effects.
  • +1 racial bonus on attack rolls when fighting in a formation of 3 or more.
  • Favored Class: Fighter. A multiclass Dwarf's fighter class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.

Dwarves - Elves - Feldarin - Giantkin - Gnomes - Halflings - Humans - Orcs
Acquired Templates and Bloodlines
Fleshwrought - Plaguetouched
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