The dwarves of Eyressia are fairly typical for fantasy dwarves – they are used to dwelling beneath the ground, and are skilled artisans, smiths and miners. Though long lived compared to humans, often living to be a hundred or so, they are not immortal. They are short and slightly stockier than humans, though the most commonly encountered dwarves don’t have beards.
For a long while the dwarves lived in subterranean kingdoms deep beneath Eyressia, only coming to the surface about 300 years before the Devastation. They surfaced in the White Mountains when their city of Daozg, having been continually built upwards over hundreds of years, finally breached the surface. Over time, they traded with the elves, though the latter never quite gave the dwarves the respect that they felt they deserved, seeing them as potentially another servitor race.
When humans summoned down the Devastation and broke the power of the elves, many dwarves were living on the surface in the region around Daozg. The inhabitants of the dwarven city panicked though, and shut the gates, barring any of their surface dwelling kin from fleeing the horrors that descended upon them.
Abandoned on the surface, the dwarves split into two factions, which humans termed hill dwarves and mountain dwarves. By the time the city gates had been re-opened, there was little love left between the two nations of dwarves. The hill dwarves had by now made their home permanently on the lower slopes of the White Mountains, and in an area stretching to the north. They traded freely with the human nations, and had good relations with them.
The mountain dwarves on the other hand had remained insular, and though they retained their skills and access to great resources, were less willing to share those with their neighbours. The viewed the hill dwarves as having lost their ‘dwarvishness’, and to be less pure. Traditionally, dwarven males grow long beards, and the women have long braided hair. Though the mountain dwarves have retained this, those who stayed behind on the surface have long ago rejected those styles. Men tend to be clean shaven and bald, and women folk have short hair, with a pony tail if married. Both men and women favour tattoos, often on the face. Warriors often record their victories across their body, and neither men nor women are shy about showing these off if the weather is reasonable. Used to having to live in confined spaces beneath ground, dwarves have little in the way of taboos about nudity or privacy, though hill dwarves have picked up some habits from human cultures.
Even the mountain dwarves though aren’t the most extreme of dwarven kind. Deep below them are what humans term deep dwarves. They are pale skinned and wide eyed, and live far beneath the cities that humans are aware of. Though humans label all such dwarves simply as ‘deep’, there are in fact many factions and nations spread out across the under realms. They dislike the surface races, and shun contact with them, but apart from that little is known about them.
Dwarves cannot see in total darkness, though have much better night vision than humans and other surface races do. They light their cities with glowing gems which radiate a reddish light, and dwarves have become far more accustomed to this than normal daylight. Mountain and deep dwarves have some ability to see into infra-red, though it is not true heat vision, and doesn’t allow them to see in complete darkness. They’re just more used to the redder end of the spectrum.
To the far north, there are the ice dwarves, though there isn’t much difference between them and mountain dwarves, they simply dwell in a city up in the northern mountains.
The least well known of the surface kind are to the far east, where they have been fighting an seemingly unending war with the orcs. They have superior tactics and defences to the orcs, but the orcs breed faster, so for now the war has been balanced. It is thought that the more intelligent of the orc chieftains use the war as an excuse to send their less scheming rivals off into battle to die.
The eastern dwarves tend to have shorter hair and beards than their mountain cousins, but favour tattoos similar to hill dwarves. They are also the most magically inclined of the known dwarven races, and are known to be great students of human-style wizardry.
The hill dwarves around the White Mountains tend to speak several languages. They have their own tongue, which is typically known simply as dwarven by the various human nations. It is similar to Daozgan, which is spoken in Daozg, but has many loan words from human languages as well as a very different accent. Many hill dwarves also speak Daozgan, though the reverse is not true. In any case, both can generally mostly understand each other with a bit of effort. Hill dwarves also tend to speak any nearby human languages, to at least a reasonable level of understanding.
Subterranean dwarves have many languages, which vary by region. Generally, the deeper languages are considered older and more pure than those found closer to the surface. In reality, they’ve all diverged from some ancient root language.
The Ice Dwarves speak a different dialect of that spoken in Daozg, and they are both partially understandable to each other. The eastern dwarves have diverged enough that it is considered a different language.
The burial customs of dwarves can vary considerably. Hill Dwarves tend to leave bodies out on specially prepared flat rocks under the sky, and hold elaborate rituals to dedicate the deceased to their god which can go on for a week. Mountain and Ice Dwarves have rock tombs in which the deceased are sealed away, their names and deeds recorded in their books of the dead.
Which gods a dwarf follows will depend on their culture, but a few of the more well known (to humans) ones are listed below.
Darraba is the gate keeper, the patron god of the city of Daozg. He is depicted as a heavily armoured warrior with a tower shield and sword, that stands guard against the evils that threaten dwarven kind. He is the god of warriors and rulers.
Unna Eborta, which roughly means The Nameless, is a god of those excluded from society, the crawler in the dark tunnels. His worship is banned in most civilised dwarven settlements, but he can be followed by those who feel excluded or unwanted. His worship is viewed as being a sign of failure, for only those who have failed to achieve a worthy place in society would ever turn to him.
His cultists make dark pacts to him, and perform blood sacrifices of unwilling victims.
Arabak is the patron god of the hill dwarves, often depicted as a traveller who is not afraid of confronting change and new experiences. Most towns will have a small temple to him, which double as banks because he has also come to be seen as a god of merchants.
Urdao is the goddess of wisdom and knowledge, and worshipped by both mountain and hill dwarves. Amongst the hill dwarves, she often has a small shrine attached to a temple of Arabak, which doubles as a school, or sometimes a hospital. Teaching and medicine are primary tenants of this faith.
A warrior goddess of the Ice Dwarves, she is considered a wild berserker, and when her name is invoked then death and mayhem are sure to follow.