Dwarfs

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Dwarfs are a race of short, stout humanoids. They are proud warriors highly driven by honour that never forget a slight, and bear grudges like no other known creature.

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[edit] Homeland

Dwarfs are mainly in the mountains of the Old World where they have their strongholds. Their empire once ran as a series of holds throughout the mountain ranges joined by tunnels. Since the peak some strongholds have fallen and the tunnelways lost so the strongholds are more isolated. The loss of the holds has been to orcs and other goblins or to the Skaven. There is a reputed "lost" hold in the Southlands and to the north the Dwarfs there in Norsca have become a little less civilised and more separate from the main - the largest hold there is Kraka Drak. Substantial numbers of Dwarfs have settled in the human nations of the Old World, particularly the Empire where their technical skills are appreciated and some serve in the Imperial armies.

[edit] History

Little is known about early dwarf history. The Dwarf's god, Grungni, reputedly forged the first weapons and armour, while teaching the dwarfs to do the same. Then he forged the first magical runes, capturing the wild winds of magic and harnessing their power into them, creating even more potent weapons, axes and hammers, as well as runes that gave runic protection into armor and talismans. He armed the Ancestor God Grimnir with two axes and armor harder than the bones of mountains, and he and his first runesmiths armed the rest of the dwarves to do battle.

[edit] Chaos Dwarfs

In ancient times, some Dwarfs moved far to the east over the mountains, and were caught by the onslaughts of Chaos. Dwarfs are very resistant to the forces of Chaos, but these changed over time, becoming the evil natured Chaos Dwarfs. In many ways they are the antithesis of the Dwarfs that remained.

[edit] The War of the Beard

The War of the Beard was the cataclysmic war that took place between the dwarfs of the Old World and the elves of Ulthuan shortly after the great catastrophe. The war was started by Dark Elves, pretending to be High Elves, attacking dwarf colonies and trading parties. The war received its nickname after High King Gotrek Starbreaker of the dwarfs sent an emissary to Ulthuan, demanding recompenses, doubled, for the losses incurred by the Dwarves. Phoenix King Caledor II returned the dwarf minus his beard several days later. To lose one's beard is the ultimate insult to a dwarf and thus the war was known as War of the Beard to the elves while the dwarfs, not to take such things lightly, call it the War of Vengeance. The war culminated in the siege of the elf city of Tor Alessi, with High King Starbreaker killing the elvish Phoenix King Caledor and taking the Phoenix Crown as recompense, shattering the elven empire in the Old World and resulting in the elves eventual retreat to Ulthuan, save for those who would become Wood Elves.

[edit] Society

Dwarf society is mainly monarchistic and organised into strongholds each governed by a king. The kings of each stronghold are largely independent but during times of trouble or war it is The High King who takes ultimate charge. The High King can often be seen at the forefront of the battle, fighting on the front line and leading by valiant example. Outside of strongholds dwarves are organised into clans. Clans are like an extensive family group, all sharing common ancestry although mostly not directly related.

[edit] Physical Characteristics

Dwarfs are on average a good deal shorter than either men or elves of the Warhammer world making them ideally suited to the tunnels in which they live and work. Their bodies seem purpose built for manual labour, solidly muscled, broad shouldered and large thick fingered hands that belie considerable manual dexterity. Dwarfs are a very long lived race with lifespans that can run into centuries. As a dwarf becomes older so his beard becomes longer and thicker. Since dwarfs have a deep inbuilt respect for age it would be unthinkable for a dwarf to cut off or even trim their beards.

Female dwarfs are very rarely seen outside dwarf realms which has led many people to believe that dwarf males can have babies or that dwarf women have beards. However Gamesworkshop have released several models in the past depicting female dwarves, such and Blood Bowl cheerleaders and Queen Helgar. These models, like their male couterparts, are heavily built, armed and armoured; they are muscular and grim, but instead of long beards have long hair wound into similar braids, worn beneath the helmet which they treasure as greatly as males do their beard.

[edit] Magic

Magic in its usual forms is distrusted, and even loathed, by a great many of the Dwarfen population. The general consensus is that magic is too erratic and volatile to fool around with, let alone rely on in battle.

However, Dwarfs do place considerable emphasis on embedding magic within certain items e.g. axes, hammers, shields, and armour suits through Runesmithing. Aspiring Runesmiths will spend years and years as an apprentice to a Runelord who will gradually teach them to inscribe items with symbols that have great magical power.

The Anvil of Doom is used by only the most skilled Runelords to wreak devastating destruction upon any foe foolish enough to meet the Dwarfs in battle. Magical stones are placed upon the anvil and runic symbols are hammered into them which results in astonishing elemental power that can be directed against the Dwarfs’ foe.

[edit] Language

Main article: Khazalid

Khazalid is a deeply conservative language that has not changed noticeably in many thousands of years either in its spoken or written runic form. The Dwarfs are extremely proud of their tongue which they rarely speak in the company of other races and never teach to other creatures. To humans it is known as the ‘secret tongue of the Dwarfs’, sometimes overheard but never understood.

The Dwarf language includes very few words of obvious Elven or Human origin. By contrast there are many loan words from Khazalid in the tongues of Men, which suggests that Dwarfs must have taught some fundamental words to their taller allies. This is most obviously the case of words to do with traditional Dwarvish craftskills of smithying and masonry, skills which Dwarfs taught Men many centuries ago.

The sound of Khazalid is entirely separate from human speech and even further from the melodious sounds of Elvish. It is guttural tongue; comparisons have been drawn to the rumbling of thunder. All Dwarves have deep, resonant voices and a tendency to speak more loudly than is strictly necessary. Khazalid vowel sounds in particular are uncompromisingly precise and heavily accented. Consonants are often spat aggressively or gargelled at the back of the throat. Contrary to Men, whose dialect differs widely depending on Geographic location, the Dwarfs remain fairly consistent in dialect across the Dwarven Empire, although there are exceptions (notably Malakai Malakisson from the novel Daemonslayer whose "northern" dialect is represented as a Scottish burr).

[edit] Beliefs and mythology

Dwarfs venerate their ancestors and their deities are the Ancestor Gods which are said to have been formed from the very stone of the world itself. There are three main ones: Valaya, Grungni, and Grimnir.

  • Grungni is the patron of the forge and miners, and is depicted as the wisest of the Ancestor Gods
  • Valaya is the patron of Runesmiths.
  • Grimnir was a great warrior with two rune axes. It is assumed that he died defeating Chaos at the northern Chaos Gates.

[edit] Slayers

A notable aspect to Dwarf culture is the Slayer Oath. A Dwarf who has suffered a great shame, loss, or humiliation will dye his hair and beard orange, and cut it into a mohawk using pig grease to stick it in place. Before taking up his axe, they will get a blue tattoo on his face and over certain parts of his body. He will then go out into the world, seeking out an honourable death in combat, and in doing so undo his dishonor. Those who continue to survive their repeated attempts to get themselves killed (a Dwarf is psychologically incapable of either suicide or fighting to lose) become fearsome warriors.

[edit] Dwarven Technology

The dwarfs are by far Warhammer's most technologically advanced race, and are regarded as consummate engineers. They pioneered the development of black powder and steam technology such as cannons, handguns and Gyrocopters. They have shared some of this technology with Humans, but still consider the work of the 'Manlings' to be shoddy in comparison to good dwarven work.

The most innovative examples of Dwarven engineering are the Organ Gun, the Flame Cannon, and the Ungrim Ankor, a vast hub of mining tunnels connected to all the Dwarf Strongholds in the Old World.

[edit] References

Warhammer Army Book: Dwarfs; Rick Priestley Nigel Stillman; Games Workshop; 1993; ISBN 1 872372 66 X

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