Dwarves - A History

Created by the Valar Aulë the Smith whom the Dwarrows revere as Mahal, their creator. Dwarves  (called Dwarrows in Dalish, the ancient tongue of Men of Rhovanion) are the only sentient race blessed by Eru, by not created directly by his hand. As such, they were granted different gifts than Men or Elves and excel at the things The Smith taught them - the deep workings of Arda - the working of stone, metal, and gem. 

According to their legends, the eldest and first Dwarrows were created by Mahal, and are called the Seven Fathers.  The records of Men concern themselves with only one  - the Eldest and most renown - Durin the Deathless, who built the oldest and settlement of Dwarves in Middle Earth - Khazad-dûm.  Nearly all of the Dwarves still in Middle Earth are claimed as "Durin's Folk" known as theLongbeards (Sigin-tarâg in Khuzdul) and claim lineage as his descendants to varying degrees. 

Those of his direct line, whom the writings of Men call "the House of Durin" in their own understandings of lineage serve as the Kings or Lords of their people - including Thrór, the last seated King Under the Mountain of fallen Erebor and the ruling Lord of the Iron Hills - Dain

Dwellers of the deep, Dwarves prefer mountainous ranges where the metal and stone they work is in ready supply and in such, come from a small selection of Halls scattered across Middle-Earth. Many such settlements exist nearly entirely enclosed within the bosom of the ground, with outbuildings stationed where they host and interact with Men as traders. The most prominent and most populated settlement to Laketown is the Iron Hills in the northeast hills at the tail-end of the Grey Mountains. 

Dwarves are fierce, stout, and long-lived with some of the most formidable armies in Middle Earth rivaled only by the immortal Elves. Axes, mattocks, and angular broadswords matched with shields are their preferred weapons in warfare. They find beauty in sharp angular shapes like the facets of gems and geometric patterns and their clothing, weapons, and indeed their Halls are often skillfully and beautifully decorated in such shapes. Their style of writing, known as Cirth is likewise runic in nature, designed with ease to be etched into stone as readily as it is written upon a page. Those Northern lines of Men that grew and developed in closest companionship and proximity to Dwarves in Ages past are generally those that utilize Cirth to record their own languages (the Men of Dale and the Men of land known now as Rohan are the most noted examples.)

Playing a Dwarf:  Quick Tips

Khuzdul is the ancient spoken and written language of Dwarves often referred to by Men as Dwarvish. It is recorded in carving or writing in the runic script known as Cirth. Taught to the Dwarves directly by their creator Mahal, they hold their racial tongue in high if not even sacred regard. Because their ancestors, the Seven Fathers were taught the language directly before they scattered across Middle Earth, unlike Elves or Men, the various tribes (or Houses) of Dwarves do not have different tongues or languages, thus all Dwarves regardless of birthplace can communicate. 

Perhaps because of this deeply shared trait, oaths spoken and songs sung in the ancient tongue are seen as having a latent power. To violate an Oath spoken inKhuzdul is not simply a mark against one's honor but is to denounce the very blessing and boon of Mahal and is to invite his wrath. 

Some words in the tongue and their meanings are known and understood by Men gleaned from what Dwarves have named their Halls and dwellings (or gleaned or assumed somewhat indirectly from what Elves have named the same locales) but overall the language of the Dwarves remains a total mystery. Indeed, regardless of how greedy, reckless, or otherwise uncouth an individual Dwarf might be otherwise be the idea of teaching Men (or worse an Elf or unspeakably an Orc) the sacred tongue is unthinkable. 

Note: A Dwarf PC player actively discovered to be roleplaying or requesting staff assistance in teaching Khuzdul to other race PCs will face serious sanctions up to and likely including the forced retirement of said PC. Doing so is a core violation of what it means to be a Dwarf, and as such is seen as an action that is severely Out of Character. 

In Khuzdul, khuzd is the single genderless term for a Dwarf.  Khazâd is the term for their people as a collective. These terms are some of the only words in Khuzdul ever heard in front of other races, and in the case of Orcs in particular, likely they last thing they ever hear, as they are heard in the common battle cry of the Dwarves:  Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!

(Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you! in rough translation)

A common oath made by Dwarves is "Upon my Axe" - it is a promise that all of the Dwarf's power, strength, and honor will go into completing whatever task or objective is being promised. To promise anything less than one's full effort  is to be purposefully weak or feckless, which is a mark against one's line and House and potentially a mark against Mahal. If the Smith had not intended the Dwarven people to be hearty and full of great promise, he surely would not have have built them as he did. 

- Dwarves hold the belief that Mahal built a Hall for their own kind in the afterlife, much as Mandos the Doomsman watches the Timeless Halls of Men. Here the spirits of Dwarves are reunited with their kin until they await until they will be called upon by Mahal to rebuild a timeless world at the end of all things. Individual Dwarves likely vary on their interpretation of what this place looks like though feasting, fellowship, and assisting Mahal at fire and forge are common imaginations of this afterlife. The true name of this place in Khuzdul is unknown, instead Dwarves (leastwise in the presence of other races, will simply refer to it as the Hall of Mahal. 

It is Dwarven belief that on rare occasion, Mahal will release one of the Seven Fathers from his Hall to return and lead the Khazâd in a time of great need. Indeed, it is their belief that every King of Durin's Folk hailed with the monikerDurin was the true reimbodiment both body and soul of Durin the Deathless. 

- The opposite of the Hall of Mahal  is the Abyssthe lowest depths of all of the world created by the great Eru. Here is nothing but darkness and gloom until the end of all things. Some interpret the Abyss and the Void where Morgoth is chained until the end of time as one in the same, and thus it is imagined one earns a place in the Abyss for committing similar infractions as the Dark Lord - Oath-breaking or working on the Dark Lord's service.  Many Dwarves imagined that once great their great Hall of Khazad-dûm fell to Orc and Balrog and was renamed Moria - the Black Pit, it was the incarnation of the Abyss in the living world. 

As such the Abyss is often utilized or referred to as a swear word by Dwarves in various incarnations or ways. "To the Abyss with you" isa particularly poignant phrase against someone they hold disagreement with as it implies a great deal against someone else while saying very little - that whoever the insult is against has committed some offense great enough to earn them a place in said Abyss.

- In Dwarven legend and interpretation of Mahal, one of the Smith's great tasks is to assist Eru - the Great One in tending the Secret Fire, the great source of all life in the living one and all one's beyond. Glimpses of theSecret Fire are said to be able to be created and fashioned into the world by the greatest of Dwarves blessed by Mahalusually in the form of particularly amazing gems. TheArkenstone - "The Heart of the Mountain" - heirloom of the Heirs of Durin is seen as one such gem.

Please see {LINK UPCOMING} for extensive information on Dwarven superstition and feelings about various precious stones and gems.

Dwarves recognize that other creatures blessed by Eru hold a portion of the Secret Fire within themselves - their Inner Fire. (A concept that Elves would call the fëa and Men often call the soul.) They recognize that Men and Halflings (and begrudgingly Elves)hold this blessing - other creatures that display great sentience such as the Great Eagles, Ravens, and Maeras the Great Horses also hold this blessing. 

Dwarves do not believe that Rakhās (Khuzdul for Orcs, singular - Rukhs) hold this blessing. Created out of Darkness and Shadow, they are soulless abominations who do not even return to the Abyss when destroyed.

- Stocky and short nature, Dwarves range in height no taller than five feet, with four and a half feet being the average amongst them. Their skin tends to be of fairer tone, given how as a race they oven live underground and outside of Anor's direct gaze. As such, those that do live above ground (likely to work or trade with Men) can quickly find themselves tending towards the tanned or even leathery side.  

Dwarven builds range from toned, thick, and brawny while obesity is common amongst them with weight-gain being quite an easy venture considering their voracious appetites for food and drink which is said to be matched only by the Men known as Beornings and rivaled only by the curiously boisterous Halflings who can seemingly eat without end. 

- Hair color ranges is often region specific, giving many a dwarf the ability to tell where their kin hails from solely by the hue of their hair in most cases. In many cases the hair coloring of the Dwarves of a land often seems to follow the appearance of the Men of that land, potentially because the Inner Fire of people peoples is tied to that which runs within the heart of the earth where they are born. It is unheard of for a Dwarf to have a beard that does not match the hair on his head, and they always grey or whiten at the same time. 

Red hair was once the distinctive mark of the Firebeards, a line of one of the Seven Fathers stemming from the Blue Mountains. Though with the great diaspora of the Dwarves throughout the Ages it is now most readily found in those stemming from the Iron Hills and in some of those of Firebeard line now resettled within the Blue Mountains.

Originally the mark of the ancient line of the Blacklocks clan of the Seven Fathers. Following the sundering of the Orocarni (Red) Mountains these people (and their close kin the Ironfists, Stiffbeards, and Stonefoots) resettled throughout Middle-Earth. Some resettling with the Longbeards in the Grey Mountains and later Erebor and their kin are now the refugees of Erebor found throughout Rhovanion and other realms of Men. Yet others resettled in the so-called Ash Mountains ofRhûn. Contact with these Southern dwelling Dwarves is all but lost to the Dwarves of the North. 

Fair-haired tones are found in those from the White and Blue Mountains, and were once the mark of the Broadbeams. 

Various tones are noted from the rather unsociable clans scattered among the Misty Mountains who are often of mixed heritage. Dwarves hair begins to grey as they approach older life, and a Dwarf whose hair has totally settled as white is a sign they have reached well past two hundred years.

- Dwarven eye color ranges though each would be described in terms of a gemstone-like colors with copper and bronze found in those of the Iron Hills while shades of green seem to accompany the long lines of Erebor. Coal, jet, and onyx are found in various lines. Blue tones are present only in the fair-haired dwarrows of the Blue Mountains. Golden-hued eyes are generally only found in female Dwarves and even then rarely, and are meant to mark that their offspring will be great crafters or have a great destiny. They are the Dwarrowdams least often left unmarried. 

- Beards represent much for a Dwarf while the lack of it means deep shame. Indeed, to be found guilty of a great crime among Dwarf-kind one is often forcibly shaved before they are exiled.  A beard is kept long and clean, groomed and braided. The shape of one’s beard can vary with the trends and area to which he or she lives in as very long and thick beards are preferred by those of the Iron Hills. Dwarrowdams are rumored to pamper and curl their beards as much as females from any other race might groom themselves.

It is considered a true mark of bloodline and virility to grow a beard to one's knees (which is then often tucked into one's belt) and amongst the true elders of the Dwarven race, to grow it to their very feet.

When braided, beards can sometimes be adorned with charms though these beard-charms generally have a meaning behind them such as courtship-beads which are most often an intricately-designed clasp worn in a way that pins the beard in some manner. Only those endeavoring in the romantic affairs of courting would dare to wear these. Other charms may simply dictate the dwarrows’ profession, heritage, feat or goal. Sometimes they are simply asking for luck and good fortune. Thrór, the seated last King Under the Mountain of Erebor was well-known for his own spectacular knee-length beard that he was known to proudly decorate with golden bands and set with gems. It was a thing of awe and splendor.

- Dwarves live on average around two hundred and fifty year. They are considered children unfit for industrious work until the age of thirty whereupon between then and ninety, they are often apprenticing amongst their kin; working most generally with metal or stone in fields such as metalcaft, weaponcraft, stonecraft, armorcraft or gemcraft. Dwarves are generally hearty and hale until they approach two hundred years where they slowly begin to age until they approach their two hundred and fiftieth year. Living past this mark is a matter of years and living past 270 is unheard of save for Durin the Deathless

-  Marriage and family is an uncommon goal for most Dwarves. The Dwarven population overall is comprised of two males for every female. This dis-balance is furthered by the fact that many Dwarves are simply more content to stay engrossed in their crafts. Dwarves also hold steadfastly to concept of a "One" - a concept that Men often call a "soulmate" - a true love that makes them whole. Some Dwarves simply never discover this and thus feel no other drive to marry. Others sadly discover that someone else has married their "One" before they gained the wherewithal to make proposal and they will have no other substitute. Dwarves are also rarely content to settle a family outside of a proper Dwarven Hall and settlement which they see as the only true measure of security and safety. As such over the long years of diaspora and exile many Dwarven Houses have faced their numbers grow slowly and dwindle. When they do marry, it is for the duration of their long life and should their companion die they do not marry again. There is without exception no belief in a second One. 

Typically, there are three children born to each married couple, with it being uncommon to bear less and extremely rare to bear more. Gestation is much longer than that of any other of Middle-Earth (about two years) and due to the preciousness of children – dwarrowkin children and their dams are never truly outside of the Dwarven halls where others might bring them harm. When a daughter is born, there is great celebration and feast where she is introduced to her kin and neighbors with honor and joy. For sons, this is only done for those born of the King or Lord. 

- Dwarves do not give their true name in Khuzdul to anyone outside of their own race - ever. Their true name granted by their mother holds a latent power as it is believed to be the source of their Inner Fire. They will not reveal the true name of any other Dwarf even for the noble purpose of another Dwarf's "true" name to be indicated upon their tomb.  As such, the names of Dwarves, even those of Kings and Lords that are recorded in the records of Men are not indeed, their "true" names. 

(Note: As such, the names of Dwarves mentioned in this doc and throughout this Wiki and indeed, in canon in general are understood to be their "outer names" known by Men. 

Those making a Dwarf PC are heavily encouraged if not required to make their "Outer Name" what is coded as their name - IE what is put into character creation and to place their "true name" in their PCs background. This better ensures that staff do not accidentally reveal your Dwarf's true name through NPC animation/echoes and that various coded systems such as posting boards or progs do not do so either. Saying your Dwarf's true name to anyone except in Khuzdul to another Dwarf PC or NPC will lead to the forced retirement of the PC - as assuredly their soul is now missing! )

Instead, Dwarves will choose an "outer" name that they use among the world of Men - generally chosen from the native language and naming convention of Men most prevalent in their locale. 

Dwarf PCs are encouraged to use Dalish the native language of Rhovanion (presented by Old Norse) if they stem from the Iron Hills are or Refugees of Erebor as the source of their "Outer Name" or Rohirric the native language of Rohan (represented by Old English) if they hail from the Blue Mountains. 

Please see the following for ideas:

Dalish: http://www.behindthename.com/names/origin/old-norse

Rohirric: http://www.behindthename.com/names/usage/anglo-saxon

Please avoid choosing obvious names with a heavy real life tie like Thor. 

As an augment to their "Outer Names" Dwarves often embrace the concept ofuppnefi like the Men of Rohan (whom their kin in Ages past more than likely taught the practice to.) These monikers are rarely if ever self-imposed but instead are granted by others in remembrance of a great feat- such as Dain Ironfoot- Lord of the Iron Hills.To be granted a true uppnefi is a rare boon, and is the mark of doing something truly great.

Dwarves who do not have an uppnefi will often simply introduce themselves as(Outer Name) son of (Father's Outer Name). Dwarves who are traders with Men may self-choose a sort of lesser uppnefi as their surname that relates to their line of work or trade similar to how many Men have an occupation-based surname as they find it more readily associates for Men their trade (and thus might increase business.) Dwarrowdams who interact with Men often choose a name based on their profession or work as default, and will present themselves as male.

Note: Dwarf PCs should fall into the second category. Though they might indeed potentially earn an uppnefi from others during their time in game through roleplay, they should first join us in game utilizing their father's name or something related to their profession as their surname.

- Dwarves have a long and complicated history with the other Elder Race - the Elves. Various Houses of Dwarves have been friends and enemies with Elves over the long Ages. The exact offenses and grievances are lost on most annals and memories of the Dwarves but the most common are skirmishes similar to those with Men over treasure and perceived theft and generally over funeral goods or most importantly gems. 

Of late, the Refugees of Erebor harbor some note of ill-feeling against the Elves of the Woodland Realm (Mirkwood) as the King of the Mirkwood Elves - Thranduil is noted to have rather publicly insulted Thrór, King Under the Mountain during a delegation between their two peoples, though the exact words that were exchanged are now only the stuff of legend and rumor and each telling of them makes them worse and worse. That the Woodland Realm refused any effort to help following the Desolation of Erebor only made the feeling worse. Whether that agitation is addressed to Elvenkind as a collective or particularly at the Elvenking is a matter of personal resolve for individual Dwarves.

Dwarves of the North also have no love for Easterlings, remembering the long history of their incursions into Rhovanion. This can make interactions between Dwarves of Rhovanion and Men of Dorwnion sort of a tricky affair. The fact that Men of Dorwnion trade their wine so readily to the Woodland Realm, and specifically the tables of Thranduil doesn't help matters. That Dwarves as a collective rarely see wine as a legitimate spirit compared to a proper whisky or dark brewed beer might be a factor as well.

Dwarves are known to make easy friends with the Halfling and Beorning traders leastwise in Laketown where they share a collective love of fine feasting. From the Halflings they pursue trade for various kinds of smokeleaf, and from the Beorning fine meads that Dwarrowdams are rumored to prefer or enjoy versus the harder drinks otherwise sought. 

- Dwarves as a collective actively avoid riding horses or ponies or other mounted beasts unless in times of dire need. They similarly avoid boats and water crossings, finding discomfort in something so outside of their preferred underground dwellings in the womb of the world. A Dwarf who would readily do either is either so set on a purpose that his discomfort is secondary to it's success or has likely spent a majority of his years living among Men (like the Dwarven traders stationed in Laketown.)

- Because they dwell underground, Dwarves do not grow their own food or keep livestock, nor are they given to weaving their own cloth. Hunting for wild game or fishing are considered hobbies of Dwarves considered adolescent by their kin (those under 30) as a way to hone their bodies and minds in fortitude and patience for harder work in later years, but it is not something generally done by Dwarves of respectable age unless the circumstances require such for the feeding of themselves. 

As such, Dwarves rely almost exclusively on trade with Men living in relative proximity to their Halls to provide them with their foodstuffs.  This trade has on occasion - particularly with Erebor and Dale and the Iron Hills and the nearby Redwater led to a mutually beneficial blossoming of the two peoples. Dwarves have a particular fondness for salted and smoked pork and wild boar but also enjoy more domestic meats like lamb, mutton, or beef with hearty breads and cheese the most commonly desired accompaniments. They have a fondness for strong drink that they known to brew and distill themselves particularly in the Iron Hills.  

- When living among Men, Dwarves are most prone to offering the labors they know best - masonry, metalwork, and jewel-crafting. Some may serve as guards or mercenaries if the pay is right, and others might practice the Dwarven craft of brewing and distilling. Those who hunted as youths might continue the practice or branch into furrier or tanning work as they age. Work in woodcraft, tailoring, or other crafts is unusual for Dwarves. 

- Dwarven artistry is very runic, geometric even, with angles and knotwork of a labyrinthine quality and prefer using metal, stone and gemstone to show off their unrivaled works in such. 

- Seven is believed to be the luckiest number amongst dwarrows, many quite prone to superstition. Seven is said to be born from the Seven Fathers. Three and nine are rumored to be unlucky as are repeated numbers (eleven, twenty two), etc. 

- Dwarves are prone to wearing leather at least as an outer layer because of it's durability and heat-resistance given their forgework. They will often heavily decorate such with embossing or inlaying with metal, stones, or gemstones. Overall Dwarven dress is full-fitting trousers, long-tunics, jerkins and vests, wide belts, and mid-calf boots and cloaks or long-coats often decorated with fur. Higher station Dwarves are known to often flaunt their wealth and standing in front of Men by wearing expensive Mannish fabrics as they are keenly aware of what fashion means to Men. Though Dwarven women are so rarely seen dressed and presented as female outside of Dwarven Halls story from Dale and the Redwater is that they dress similarly to traditional Rhovanion fashion in blouse, skirt, and overdress.  Most Dwarves are a walking arsenal, armed to the teeth with either tools or weapons, depending on their trade.

Dwarves of the North do not pierce their ears, nor their flesh, nor do they tattoo themselves. This is seen as Easterling behavior embraced by Dwarves of the Ash Mountains who are otherwise cut off from their kin. Instead of such bodily mutilations, dwarrows adorn themselves with beard charms, beads, brooches, clasps, and just about every piece of fine jewelry they might own. Things that glitter are appealing to them and often attract them.

- Sickness is not common among them as they are a hardy sort but they are extremely prone to obesity, a sight very common among their Halls and those that travel for trade beyond their walls.

- Dwarves greet one another with a hand-gesture which varies in whether or not they are kin, of a particular hall, or a particular rank amongst their people. When greeting Men, a dwarrow will afford them a nod and little else unless they know them more personally. While when greeting an Elf, they are more prone to offering little other than a squint and a keen, watchful eye of the tall, willowy creature before them. Such behaviors often attribute to the belief that Dwarrows have no manners, are uncouth or as rough and stolid as the rocks such outsiders believe them born from.

- When before one’s King or Lord should be the only time a Dwarf would kneel. Kneeling, not bowing, is a sign of supplication. To bow, is to mock a King. Truly, to bow, within the dwarrow culture, is a mockery. The only time it is ever done is by those few trade-dealing dwarrows when in the presence of one of the Merchant Families of Dorwinion and only done when the deal at hand is of such financial or political importance that long-term wealth is worth temporarily restraint. 

- Dwarrows have a deep-rooted belief in the meanings of gemstones and their uses in everyday things such as clothing and tools to jewelry and even weapons: {Insert link here to gemstones page] 

- Dwarves are likely to refer to refer to Laketown as Esgaroth. 

What Would Other PCs Know or Assume About Dwarves?

- Dwarves reside deep in the earth in dwarrow halls, each often ruled by either the King or a Lord. The more prestigious Dwarven Hall of note was Erebor, until it was conquered by Smaug the Terrible many generations ago. At present the Iron Hills are the strongest settlement of Dwarves in Rhovanion, ruled over by Lord Dain Ironfoot. The Iron Hills have a large presence in Laketown. 

- Ore, stone, gemstones, and minerals  are the most common exports from Dwarven halls into the outside world for it is they who dwell deep in the earth, mining her hidden secrets.

- Some of the world’s finest metalworks such as weapons, tools, jewelry and armor comes from the dwarrors. They are too known for their stonework and sculpting. These often come from Dwarven artisans and merchants little among Men as their own Halls are far less likely to directly trade such things. 

 - Dwarves are stingy, greedy, and even when wrong will yell the louder as though the bellow of their voice will change the ways of the world to make them right. They’re prone to arrogance, petulance, pride and prejudice. It is common to believe they lack manners or respect for anyone not a Dwarf.

- Dwarves are short, no taller than five feet and of a fair-skinned complexion. Their builds range from scrawny to very obese, typically with broad shoulders and bulky, stocky builds.

- Dwarves are bearded with a very rare occurrence of clean-shaven, it would be a shock to see a Dwarf without a beard. It would be all together natural to confuse a beardless Dwarf for the mythical female Dwarf or perhaps with a Halfling or a Man of Bree who are similarly given to be short, stocky, and beardless. 

- Dwarves are afraid of heights and water 

- Female Dwarves (known as Dwarrowdams or simply Dams in Dalish) are  rarely found outside of Dwarven Halls and lands and are not overall given to travel. Since the fall of Erebor and Dale as two linked communities where Men and Dwarves worked and lived in common cause it is now only the Iron Hills and the settlement of Men below in the Redwater where this unity is common.  As such, many Men, particularly those outside of Rhovanion have all manner of legend and rumor about how the Dwarven race propagates. Some assume they carve one another out of stone, or that they hatch from a stone egg of sorts from the earth. 

- Dwarves are hardy eaters and great imbibers of alcohol, probably the reason obesity is common amongst them. Dwarven alcohol from the Iron Hills is a thing of awe and highly desired by Men for trading. 

- Few can rival the workmanship or extreme focus of a dwarf’s love of their craft in metalworks such as smithing, weapons and jewelry or stone and gemcraft for that matter.

- The most commonly seen Dwarves in Rhovanion are those of the Iron Hills or the wayward, vagabond Dwarves of long-lost Erebor.

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