Whether it was Harmun's firm but nurturing touch to the world or the security offered by the Sentinel Mountains - no one can say for sure – but it was on the South Western Peninsula that the race of Dwarves first arose in our world. Unparalleled craftsmen and unwavering allies, Harmun was pleased at this unforeseen development in his budding utopia.
Dwarves are a stout and hardy people, originating from the Sentinel Mountains. They live in great Dwarfholds, mountain fortresses that tunnel deep into the mountains themselves. Dwarves are expert miners, able to procure metals and minerals from even the poorest of seams. They are also proficient smiths and stonecutters, creating mighty tools and weapons as well as shaping stone with ease. In fact, the Dwarfholds are mainly built by carving out buildings and edifices from the mountain itself rather than by mortaring pieces of stone together.
|Council and Clans|
There are currently two Dwarf realms, the Kingdom of Dur Azûl in the Sentinel Mountains, and the Freehold of Kerun-Hal in the mountains of Daratoul.
Dur Azûl, also known as the First Kingdom, is ruled with an iron fist by King Gundring IV of clan Stronghammer. The clans were first united by the legendary Roderik Stronghammer, who founded the kingdom. Dur Azûl encompasses most of the Sentinel Mountains with foothills both to the north and south. An area to the far northwest of the mountains remains contested due to a strong Orc presence that has thus far kept the Dwarven expansion at bay. The capitol of the kingdom is the great Dwarfhold of Azûl-Barak.
Dur Azûl is populated mainly by Mountain Dwarves and Hill Dwarves. The southern part of the foothills sports many Halfling villages and townships which have happily been part of the kingdom for a long time. These villages facilitate relations and trade with the large Halfling nation to the south. Some of the Dragonborn have also settled in the kingdom, mainly in and around Azûl-Barak, to do research and conduct diplomacy.
Dur Azûl maintains cool relations with their cousins to the north, the Kerun-Hal Dwarves. The scars of the massive civil war still linger, and mistrust toward the sorcerer-oriented society is heavy.
The kingdom includes a total of 12 smaller clans, ruled over by 5 major ones, all of which are subjects to the King. Below is a list of the clans, in order of size, with the smaller clans ordered as vassals below each major clan (bold).
|Clan name||Clan description|
|Clan Stronghammer||Royal House. Demesne: Azûl-Barak and surrounding valleys.|
|Clan Ironstar||Royal Guard. Specializes in domestic military duties, peacekeeping, policing and counter-espionage. Demesne: Ironstar Keep and surrounding villages.|
|Clan Firebeard||Royal Manufacturers. Specializes in smithing and engineering. Very influential, the clan owns several blacksmith compounds and manufacturies around the kingdom. Headquartered in Azûl-Barak.|
|Clan Stormshield||High Priests of Harmun. While the priesthood accepts Dwarves of any clan, the Stormshields have traditionally been very devout and most of them pursue careers in the temples. Critics to the king have often pointed out that he has the priesthood in his pocket due to the Stormshields being his direct vassals.|
|Clan Ragewater||March Lords of the Northern Hills. A powerful house that oversees the northern borders of the kingdom. Extremely untrusting of the Kerun-Hal Dwarves, as they suffered most of the damage during the war. Demesne: northern foothills and the Dwarfhold of Khal-Baraz.|
|Clan Brookwarden||River Lords. The Brookwardens maintain and operate the Ragewater River Navy. Their base of operations is at the great town of Riverdam, named after the massive dam used to create an artificial lake on the river.|
|Clan Oakbeard||Hill Wardens. Hill Dwarf clan that work as expert border guards, scouts, rangers and pathfinders.|
|Clan Steelbrew||Royal Brewmasters. The Steelbrew have a stake in every tavern, alehouse and brewery in the entire kingdom. They wrote into stone tablets the ancients laws of purity for Dwarven Ale, Beer, Stout and Mead. Demesne: Meadhome and surrounding valleys, as well as the south-eastern foothills.|
|Clan Bitterboot||Expert distillers. The Bitterboots craft the potent and extremely secretive Bitterboot Brandy, a firewater with near miraculous properties.|
|Clan Goldbarrel||Hill Dwarf merchants who travel far and wide to export fine Dwarven brews and spirits.|
|Clan Orcbane||Orc hunters, Warmasters of the West. A belligerent clan perpetually in a state of war with the aggressive and feral Orc tribes which prowl the south-western foothills and the narrow passes yet to be claimed by the kingdom. Domain: Kul-Darak, Broken Fang Keep, large areas of the westernmost part of the kingdom.|
|Clan Wildbeard||Berserkers of the West. Famed warriors who throw themselves into combat heedlessly, fiercely, without fear or mercy. They are a very feral breed of dwarves, with strange shamanistic traditions and superstitions that are frowned upon by the more cultured Harmun-worshippers.|
|Clan Ironhammer||Proud, disciplined and lethal heavy weapons masters employed by the Orcbanes in the war against the Orcs.|
|Clan Copperbelly||Masters of coin, trade, and banking. Financially proficient, this clan has gathered a huge wealth over the years through facilitating trade between clans and outside the kingdom, by founding banks and investing in enterprises, expeditions and expert craftsmen. They have ties to most of the guilds and are one of the loudest political opponents of the current King. Demesne: Several villages in the eastern mountains, around the Dwarfhold of Orobar.|
|Clan Stouthearth||Banking professionals. Stouthearth banks are seen as the safest in the kingdom, if not the world.|
|Clan Feltmaker||Do not be fooled by the name; these Dwarves are specialists craftsmen in many trades. The Feltmakers are famed for their very broad array of craftsmen schools, and Feltmakers can be found in pretty much any craft profession around the entire kingdom.|
|Clan Steelbeard||The militant vassal of the Copperbellies, these hardened guardsmen can be found watching over the banks, counting houses, trade halls and more lucrative businesses in which the Copperbellies have a stake.|
The Order of Harmun's Fist is also a significant force and political player in the kingdom. The Order was founded as a reaction to the rise of the Elementalists during the civil war; they are a monastic order of paladins and clerics of Harmun, employing their divine power to counteract the chaotic primal and elemental magics employed by their enemies. They have several fortress-monasteries around the kingdom from which they set out on whatever task the Grand Master or Chapter Masters sends them on. Their seat of power is the great fortress-monastery of Harmun's Hold, from which they rule the surrounding valleys. Their insignia is a golden hammer below a set of scales on a blue background, as seen below.
(Disclaimer: this is also the holy symbol of Tyr in Faerun, but it seemed to suit Harmun's followers well.)
The Freehold of Kerun-Hal is located north of Dur Azûl, in the mountain range surrounding the mighty volcano Daratoul. Kerun-Hal, which means Hall of the Lost in Dwarvish, was founded by clans that resisted Roderik Stronghammer during his unification of the clans, defeated in battle and exiled by the new king. Kerun-Hal has a strong alliance with the Goblins of the region, with representatives of both races living freely within the twin realms with equal rights to citizenship.
Due to the powerful primal forces unleashed into the mountains around Daratoul, the minerals and metals mined by the Kerun-Hal Dwarves often have magical properties, and as such they are able to craft powerful magical weapons, tools and devices. No substance, however, is as arcanely tuned as the Dragonite crystal. These crystals were discovered several centuries ago by the Kerun-Hal Dwarves and eventually refined into the first arcane focuses. Constant exposure to the magical energies began to slowly influence even the naturally resistant Dwarves, and over time magical abilities began to manifest in the Kerun-Hal Dwarves. More and more were born with a natural knack for spellcasting, further empowered by the use of Dragonite focuses. As the Dwarves began research into this new field, a new organization was born, called the Elementalists. As a curious side effect, many of the Kerun-Hal Dwarves have begun to exhibit a blue tint to their skin color.
Resentment toward the kingdom of Dur Azûl simmered in the Kerun-Hal Dwarves. It came to a point some decades ago when a massive war broke out between the two nations. Kerun-Hal was joined by their Goblin allies. Powerful elemental, primal and divine magics were unleashed and untold thousands perished. As a result, large areas of land between the two nations became uninhabitable, thereafter known as the Dread Wastes. Dangerous magical energies still linger, warping the land and creating wild spells that can slay the unwary traveler. After peace was finally established, Kerun-Hal renounced all claims and intentions toward the Sentinel Mountains, and was officially named a Freehold, given free reign to pursue their interests in the Daratoul area.
Kerun-Hal is ruled by the Elder Council, a group of respected individuals from the five main clans that originally founded the city. The Council is also attended by advisors from other organizations, such as the Elementalists, Archivists and various guilds. The Kerun-Hal clans and their current positions on the council are as follows.
|Clan Erudite||Lord of Internal Affairs, chairman|
|Clan Southryn||Lord of Trade and Industry|
|Clan Karnil||Lord of Foreign Affairs|
|Clan Isikev||Lord Marshal of Arms|
|Clan Borstrith||Lord High Justice|
The clans have intricate internal hierarchies that determine which member is named Elder and thus given the seat on the council. The Elder is not always the oldest living clan member. Clan members are generally free to choose the direction of their lives freely, and as such no clan has become dedicated to any one specific task. Each clan retains a legacy training program for their respective Council duties, to make sure a number of clansdwarves are always ready to take up the mantle of Elder if necessary.
The Elementalists are an arcane order who specialize in the research and employment of the elemental magics that originate from somewhere within Daratoul. Elementalists control the four elements; air, fire, water and earth. There is also a form of primal magic that only a few learn to control, it is a raw power of nature and creation that is still quite mysterious and poorly understood. The sigil of the Elementalists can be seen below, and is worn by each member upon their person or clothing.
The sigil represents each of the elements as well as Primal magic (the black circle). An Elementalist may choose to specialize in one element, and such mastery is signified by a badge of only that element's symbol and color. Those who master Primal magic are allowed to wear a black badge decorated with a piece of Dragonite.
The Elementalists have long been at odds with the holy order of Harmun's Fist, due to fundamental differences in how each view the world.
The Archivists are another organization of researchers that dabble in the arcane. A counterpoint to the more sorcery-focused Elementalists, Archivists prefer a more orderly, theoretical approach to magic. They record all knowledge they have gathered over time in a huge arcane library, known as the Archive, deep within Kerun-Hal. Experiments both successful and disastrous are meticulously recorded and their results deposited for later generations to learn from. Archivists also seek knowledge from elsewhere, and during their training they are sent on retrieval missions around the continent. Most Archivists are quite well-traveled and can speak most of the common languages. They speak for peace with the other races, as war tends to have quite a detrimental effect on both travel and knowledge-gathering. The Archivists' sigil is a blue eight-pointed star set upon a circle on a white background.
(Disclaimer: This is the holy symbol of Mystra from Faerun, but the Archivists would probably be her followers in the same universe).
Kerun-Hal archivists have access to the same natural affinity to magic as Elementalists, but their spellcasting does not revolve around it. Instead, they spend much time researching and thus have access to a far broader array of spells. One thing they have discovered, however, is a form of pattern magic. When combined with Dragonite, certain patterns of objects seem to draw forth a spell into existence. This has been studied extensively, yet no clear scientific explanations have yet been introduced as to why some patterns work and others do not; not even as to why the patterns and resultant spells seem completely unrelated to each other.
For example, to summon a basilisk, one must deposit a broken chair in a pit of gravel, then surround it with seven ivory masks. Once fine Dragonite dust is sprinkled over each of the masks in a clockwise direction, starting from the westernmost one, the broken chair will violently explode, and a basilisk appear in its place.
Some Dwarves believe that pattern magic is a way of tapping into the pattern of reality. Due to its rather mysterious nature, it has taken on an almost religious significance for many Kerun-Hal Dwarves, and as such pattern magic is often accompanied by reverent ritualistic behavior.