Sunday, July 3, 2022

OSR: Dwarves, the Men of Stone and Metal

I posted about Dwarves before.  This post entirely disregards that former post and is inspired almost wholly by this post.

by Bogdan Tomchuk
Dwarves are creatures of the deep, stone and crystal forced into obedient shapes.  They have skin that is closer to clay in texture, soft to the touch but growing harder the more you press on it.  They have teeth and nails of cloudy crystal and hair of metallic wire.  A Dwarf with a patchy beard or thinning hair is hungry, a bald one is starving.  They have gemstones for eyes.  Their skin varies in colors, but ranges from slate grey to soft brown.

Dwarven Senses:

Dwarves, as they have gems for eyes, do not see the way Humans or Elves do.  Instead, Dwarves 'see' metal.  They can see ores in stone if they are near the surface and they can see metal that is removed.  Solid metal or metal-plated items glow brightly to their eyes.  Living creatures are harder to see, as the Dwarf can only see the trace metals in such creatures.  To a Dwarf, you resemble a wispy ghost, only solid around the metal blade you grasp in hand or the strong mail you wear to protect your chest. 

When going to fight Dwarves, carrying metal is generally a bad idea, especially if you're attempting some kind of sneak attack or stealth.  In lands near Dwarves, the ancient art of making bone and flint weapons is alive and well, as those tools are ideal for countering Dwarven senses.  However, it is still vital to carry metal weapons and armor, as Dwarves possess far greater knowledge of smelting and forging than humans.  And while leather armor and bone blades will prevent you from being spotted, they will not protect you from a Dwarven blade slicing through your flesh like paper. 

Inversely, Dwarves don't need light to see, so fighting them in their tunnels and underground cities is a fun way of mixing the childhood fears of the dark and being grabbed by monsters in one.  In such battles, Dwarves are known to fill the air with flammable or strong smelling substances so no human can sneak up on them, though often that was not necessary, as they could just follow the smells of burning torches and candles to find them. 

For this reason, generally if a battle takes place underground, the Dwarves will easily win it.  The one human "victory" that ever occurred underground, the Battle of Farkhrist, was only accomplished due to a genius maneuver by the Lord Vicanos which the Dwarves did not predict, and even then it was pyrrhic, as it required Vicanos to redirect an underground river into the city he was trying to capture, rendering it a wasteland that neither human nor Dwarf could survive in.

by Demented Ink

Dietary Restrictions:

Dwarves eat metal.  All other foods cannot nourish them.  This is a common fact, well known to all. 

Depending on what metals a Dwarf eats will determine their position in society. 

Aureans are the Dwarves who can afford to eat Gold.  Aureans are more intelligent than other Dwarves, with the possible exceptions of the Argents and the Occultins.  They also have more flexible thinking, excellent memories and reduced moral compunctions.  Gorging on gold will temporarily suppress the pangs of conscience, while boosting mental ability to far above a Dwarf's natural limits. 

The Aureans are the leadership caste of Dwarven society, and have arranged society so that they usually end up on top, (but more on that later).  But even in situations where the Argents have not rigged the game in their favor, they tend to quickly rise to the top of any hierarchy due to their intelligence, lessened scruples and ruthless determination. 

Aureans have hair and beards of gold wire, which they braid and style in intricate ways, often adorning it with gemstones.  In some societies, Aureans also tend to favor elaborate clothing made of thin fabrics, to indicate the fact that they do not have to work.  In other societies, where all Dwarves must demonstrate physical mastery, they tend to wear uniforms or uniform-like clothing.

Argents are Dwarves who can afford to eat Silver.  Argents display an enhanced sense of imagination, creativity and empathy.  A feast of silver can increase these effects to near-supernatural levels, but also inflicts upon that Dwarf rapid mood swings similar to bipolar disorder for the duration of the time the excess silver is in their system.  Argents have silver hair and beards.  They tend to dress either very plainly, or in daring, experimental fashions.  However, the former is more common, as Argents are one of the few types of Dwarves vulnerable to social pressure and self-reflection.   

Argents tend to become artists, craftsmen, priests and artisans.  Most delicate work is done by them.  They are also the type of Dwarf outsiders are most likely to encounter, beyond the Ferrics.  They are largely responsible for the stereotype that Dwarves love to work, as most Argents are pursuing crafts they genuinely love.  This is because, unlike with Gold, there is little advantage to consuming Silver.  Many would-be Argents must retire and return to a different caste, as unless they have a patron or are wildly popular, as it is difficult to afford enough silver to eat enough every day. 

Ferrics are those Dwarves who can afford to eat iron.  Iron numbs pain and emotion, making Ferrics blunt and rude in conversation, but very useful in high-stress situations.  Ferrics are the Dwarven military caste, so they tend to wear uniforms or simple robes.  They rarely need any identifying marks, as Ferrics are taller and more imposing than other Dwarves.  They have grey hair and beards.

Ferrics are the type of Dwarf most suited to combat, so Dwarven armies are primarily composed of Ferrics, with Aurean leaders and other castes acting as auxiliaries or support staff.  Yet in the end, the Ferrics will shoulder most of the burden of fighting.  They are most suited to it, not just because Iron enhances a Dwarf's strength and pain tolerance, but also because Ferrics are less sensitive to fear and other unpleasant emotions.  Ferrics are much less likely to feel despair or sorrow when faced with, or ordered to commit, atrocities. 

For this reason, many Ferric veterans will never change their diet, even at the risk of impoverishing themselves, for they do not wish to suffer the emotional fallout of what they did, especially after years or decades of suppressing and ignoring those feelings.

Impures are Dwarves who cannot afford mostly pure metal every day, or don't care about trying to climb the social hierarchy.  Impures gain no special benefits, with a few exceptions.

Tin Dwarves have enhanced senses.  They can detect even tiny amounts of metal, making them useful as sentries or lawmen, as they are easily able to catch thieves and runaways. 
Copper Dwarves have more stamina than almost any other type of Dwarf.  Coppers can easily find positions in all aspects of Dwarven society, though they tend towards mining.     
Bronze Dwarves are a mixture of Tin and Copper, with lesser versions of the same abilities. 

Alloyed are Dwarves who are transitioning from one caste to another.  This process takes several days and the Alloyed will have to deal with imperfections in their skin tone, cracks or rust-pimples.  Additionally, their hair will fall out and be gradually replaced by different colored wires.  Alloyed are most commonly known for their ugly hair wires, which are crude, distasteful fusions of both types of metal. 

Occultins are one of the rarest types of Dwarves, as they are Dwarves who eat occultum.  Occultum, while fantastically valuable and almost never found on the surface is much easier to find deep underground, though it is never common.  Occultins are Dwarves who eat this metal.  Sometimes, this causes a violent explosion and kills the Dwarf in question.  But in all other cases, surviving Dwarves have gained magical abilities.  This is the only reason Dwarves bother to even try eating occultum, as their are no natural Magi among their race. 

Occultins are almost always created from another type of Dwarf who is being sponsored by a wealthy Dwarf or a Dwarven clan, as occultum is still quite expensive.  These Occultins serve that house or patron, lending their magical abilities to their patron's goals.  Many Dwarven banks are said to employ Occultins.  Some say this isn't just to enhance security, but also to control the supply of occultum.  Only by reducing the supply of it in the world and releasing a small amount from their vaults is it able to command the extreme price it is sold at.

Occultins tend to have translucent black hair that subtly changes opacity, length and style when you're not looking.  Their gemstone eyes also sometimes glow with inner light, especially when they are agitated or casting spells. 

if an Occultin consumes more occultum than necessary, this either leads to a temporary, but impressive boost in sorcerous power, or a massive explosion.  There are also stories of how consuming large amounts of occultum can transform a Dwarf, granting immortality or a powerful new form, but much of the time, such tales are only stories.  And as might be expected, there are no Occultins who can (or will) confirm the truth of such rumors.

Mercurials are Dwarves who eat mercury.  This is not a Dwarven caste, rather it is a condition comparable to magical corruption among other races.  Mercurials are predators, gaining magical abilities alongside a unique trait.  Mercurials can continue to eat mercury, but they can also parasitize other Dwarves, draining the metals from their bodies and leaving them husks.  It is possible to survive a Mercurial's feeding, though such survivors can survive and incriminate a Mercurial, which is why Mercurials usually make sure to finish off their victims. 

Mercurials also gain magical abilities, depending on the length of time they've been consuming mercury.  Some can alter their appearance, shapeshifting to look like another type of Dwarf, while others can spray poisonous drops of mercury, create clouds of toxic gas or transform into pools of mercury, allowing them to penetrate even the most secure locations. 

For this reason, mercury is banned from most Dwarven cities.  Humans and others who enter them should beware not to be found carrying it, as the punishment for such a crime is always swift and brutal.

by zhengxin yang

Dwarf Clans and Society:

Humans will tell you that Dwarves are not born, but instead are mined out of the Earth or forged by Dwarven Priests in secret temples.  This is based on hearsay, wild speculation, but most notably, on the appearance of Ferrics.  While there is often a small minority of the population that remain as Ferrics at all times, during times of war, large chunks of the population will be drafted and switched to an Iron diet, transforming them into Ferrics for the duration of the war.  The sudden appearance of large numbers of Ferrics is likely the reason for this speculation about secret Dwarven temples full of sleeping soldiers, ready to be awakened in times of crisis. 

Instead, Dwarves are born the way humans are, through a male and female. 

What is notable is the Dwarven Clan.

A Dwarven Clan is not primarily a collection of individuals who happen to be related.  Instead it is a legal entity primarily geared toward making money, more comparable to a guild than a family.  Commerce is the life-blood of Dwarven society and the Clan enables this, allowing the Elders of the Clan to direct the members toward the most profitable ventures.  This is largely directed toward the acquisition of metal. 

An example for your consideration:

Clan Hammorsburith:

Is a Dwarf Clan of moderate prosperity. 

It is led by a Council of 13 Aurean Dwarves, who direct and manage the activities of the Clan, voting on how best to spend the Clan's resources.  These leaders make most of the day-to-day decisions of the Clan, but in times of grave importance, a Clanhold Meeting will be held and all shareholders of the Clan or their representatives will gather to discuss the matter. 

The Clan also has a few other Aureans, between 20 to 30, but these Aureans must purchase Gold using their shares or personal funds and do not receive an allowance of Gold, as do members of the Clan Council. 

There is a contingent of 20 to 60 Argents who handle the Clan's messaging, producing artistic works that glorify the Clan, as well as helping with the management of propaganda and image during the Clanmoot.  The number of Argents fluctuates depending on the Clan's prosperity and needs at the moment.  These Argents are sponsored by the Clan and can work on projects outside of it, but they must submit a portion of their earnings to the Clan's coffers.  Furthermore, they must give Clan projects and fellow Clan members priority in terms of commissioned projects.

Other Argents, who specialize in music, dance or theatre are instead employed to help direct plays and other entertainments to keep the Impures happy.

The Clan has a standing force of 300 Ferrics who act primarily as a security force, protecting the Clan from external threats, policing members of the Clan and helping to keep things peaceful.  If the workers were to ever rise up, the Ferrics would be sent in to crush them, though such an action is almost unthinkable.  Nonetheless, the Aureans are sure to make sure the Ferrics stay loyal to them.

However, if the Clan were to go to war, many of the Impures employed to work the mines would be drafted and transformed into Ferrics for the duration of the conflict.

The rest of the Clan is composed of the 1 to 3,000 Impures who work the mines, refine the ore and do other labor on behalf of the Clan.  These Impure are generally poor and put upon, but they the Aureans work to keep them happy, or at least, placated.  The Impure are not slaves nor serfs, instead they have a contract that impels them to work in exchange for a small wage equal to a share of the metals mined out of the Earth. 

Impure who work especially hard or make significant contributions to the Clan can be promoted to Shareholders, who are entitled to access to the Clan coffers, barring the Aurean Council's approval, of course, and are given a more significant slice of the Clan's earnings, instead of just earning a wage.  Shareholders are also entitled to votes at the Clanhold Meetings and help to elect the members of the Clan Council. 

For those who are not Shareholders, they are organized into smaller blocs, often based off heritage, with each Family Patriarch or Matriarch being granted the right to vote on behalf of their Family in Clanhold Meetings and petition the Aurean Council on behalf of their Family.  This position is often hereditary, though not necessarily, as Families have the right to remove their Matriarch or Patriarch and vote a new one into place. 

Elections to the Clan Council are held every 10 years and from among the Council-members, one is elected to the role of Chairvim.  These appointments last for the decade-long term, though in the case of significant stress, members of the Council or the Chairvim can be censured or removed from their positions and emergency elections held immediately.

And while technically there are no laws that say that only Aureans can sit on the Council, it is common for them to be the only ones at the table.  In the event that a lesser Dwarf is granted a position on the Council, they will be granted an allowance of Gold to elevate themselves to Aurean status.  Thus the Aureans collectively maintain their grip on the Clan. 

Yet despite this caste solidarity, the Aureans generally only present a unified front to other castes.  Behind closed doors they are as vicious and ruthless as one can imagine, relentlessly scheming against each other, vying for power within and without the Clan.

Contracts and Bureaucracy:

Dwarven society places a strong emphasis on honor and contracts.  It is honorable to take and fulfill a contract.  To do so otherwise is to be untrustworthy and will mean a swift loss of access to normal Dwarven society.  Such Dwarves are often censured or even expelled from their Clans and must take hard, dangerous or dishonorable tasks, such as farming or working on the surface.

This love of Contracts extends to all levels of Dwarven society, from the lowliest laborer to the Highest of the Priests.  Impure Dwarves sign contracts to work for a wealthier Dwarf or for a Clan for a period of time.  The Aureans of the Clan have a contract with the members and Shareholders of the Clan to ensure the Clan profits and protects them. 

The Clan has a contract with others Clans, exchanging material goods in trade in exchange for others or offering military aid in case of conflicts.  To a Dwarf, treaty, alliance and contract are all synonyms. 

The two greatest Contracts in Dwarven Society are the Pact of the Clanmoot and The Agreement of the Stoneskinned and the Starmetaled.

The Pact of the Clanmoot is a Contract from time immemorial, so old that it's origin can be traced back to the beginning of Dwarven society in it's current form.  It is the sister document of the Agreement of the Stoneskinned and the Starmetaled.  

Dwarven Religion:

The Dwarven Creation Myth-

Muradin is the chief of the Dwarven pantheon, the Creator of the World and of Dwarvenkind.  Muradin's Forge is the Sun and his workshop is the world.  The mountains are his anvil and the oceans his quenching barrel.  He created the world, sculpting it into it's current form.  Then Muradin created a trio of Gods to work under him. 

The other Gods were Grishum, God of the Earth, Wisesa [Wi-sey-Ah], Goddess of the Sea and Velleteia, Goddess of the Sky.  These three Gods set to work, helping Muradin with his creation.  Grishum helped him sculpted the Earth, Wisesa carved the whitecaps on the waves and Velleteia painted the dome of the world with a million colors, then poked a hole in the dome so that Muradin's forge would illuminate the world.  This was a good idea, declared Muradin, who praised his daughter's work. 

Yet this action and the praise it engendered caused the other siblings to grow disatisfied.  Grishum went to pout, hiding under the Mountains and refusing to come out.  He neglected the world and refused to come out, no matter what his Father said.  Meanwhile, Wisesa grew envious of her sister and thus shunned her, spending all her time with Grishum, when she did not hide in the depths of the Sea. 

But it was during one of these meetings between the siblings between Wisesa and Grishum that let her lead her brother out onto the surface of the world.  And to their surprise, they found that strange growths had formed on the surface of the world.  These growths were not metal or stone, but instead softer and more delicate, yet made of many colors and shapes.  These creations fascinated the siblings.  Grishum and Wisesa decided to use these new growths as material and filled their realms with many small creations, each small and fragile, but beautiful and delicate.  During this time, the siblings quickly grew very close, and began to love each other in a way that was not normal for siblings.   

Yet when they showed these to Muradin, he was disgusted with how they had altered his creation against his wishes.  So he sealed the hole in the dome of the world, preventing the light of his glorious forge from touching the world.  The creations of Grishum and Wisesa began to perish and this prompted rage from Grishum.  He went to Muradin's palace and pleaded with him to return the light of the Forge to the world.  Muradin refused.  So Grishum announced that his feelings toward his sister, knowing these would offend Muradin.  Muradin was indeed offended and demanded that the two of them stop seeing each other.  Grishum refused.  So Muradin killed his son and began carving up his body to use in various products. 

But Wisesa was clever, and feared that her brother-husband was in danger, as he had been gone too long.  So she crept into the palace and was horrified at what she saw.  So she stole her brother's genitals and used them to impregnate herself.  She then used his and her power mixed together to create new creatures of flesh, but these with the intelligence of Gods.  These were the first thinking creatures on the Earth.  She intended these as an insult to her father and it worked.  These first creatures were pale and strange, long of limb and pale of skin, born to a world without the light of the Forge.  They worshiped her and the other living creatures she had created and praised her as their maker. 

This enraged Muradin, who was tempted to destroy his creation.  But rather than totally lay waste to what he had made, he opted for a more measured approach.  So he took the remains of his son and transformed it into a new race, creatures of stone flesh and spring water for blood.  These he placed under the mountains to inherit his son's old domain and to take back his world from the strange and erratic creations of Wisesa.  These two races began to war, spilling blood and filling the Earth with pain. 

Seeing this, Velleteia went to her father and begged for him to stop this destruction.  He was Forge-Father.  Should he continue this, he would become a destroyer instead of a creator.  Hearing this, Muradin was touched.  He went to his daughter Wisesa and asked for her forgiveness.  He told her that while he could not resurrect her brother, he could create a new partner for her.  Furthermore, he would alter the world so that it would suit her new children. 

So Muradin created a new husband for Wisesa, Grazham, who became the new God of Earth.  Then, because he had learned the dangers of favoritism, created Tarthum to be a partner to his other daughter.  He then re-opened the whole in the sky to return the sun.  But as the sun was harmful to the pale folk that Wisesa had created, he made it so that his Forge would only burn for half of the time, while Velleteia created new holes in the dome of the sky so that even those pale folk could enjoy the light of the Forge.  Then, to ensure their compromise would last, Wisesa, Velleteia and their husbands joined Muradin in the creation of a new race, a living folk who were not as strong as his people of stone and metal, but more tolerant of the Forge's light than Wisesa's wispy pale folk.

The Tale of the War for the High Throne and the Breaking of the First Covenant-

After the Elves, Dwarves and Humans were created, they all lived in peace together and worshiped the Dwarven Gods.  But the Elves were whimsical and emotional and fell away from true religion, becoming dedicated to their own fancies.  They grew drunk on their own power, as they were the children of the dead Grishum and thus had a sliver of his power over the Earth, as well as some of Wisesa's power over growing things and the sea. 

The Humans were next, becoming so focused on their own accomplishments that they ceased worshiping Muradin and instead worshiped themselves.  This greatly displeased the Forge-Father, but his own creations, the Dwarves, were strong and resolute in their dedication.  They were strong and mighty, united under The Dwarven King, the Son of Muradin.  This King was the greatest Dwarf to ever live, closest in creative and martial skill, most pure of honor and most noble of heart than any mortal Dwarf.  For this, his Father honored him with rule over the whole Earth and all Dwarves.  And those others resisted his rule, he thought he could educate and enlighten the other races and return them to their earlier bliss. 

But upon seeing this, a being by the name of Unahara decided that this must not be. 


Unahara or Unahara the Unmaker, is a curious being from Dwarven religion.  He is depicted as a fiendish creature who works mischief and brings destruction and often seeks to overthrow Muradin or destroy his creation.  However, his origins wildly vary and no one is quite sure where he comes from.

Some say that he was created from the rage and hatred of Grishum that survived after the God died, while others claim that he is the incarnate jealousy and hatred of Wisesa.  She is said to have removed these feelings from herself, but as they were a product of a God's mind, they did not disappear, but instead became a new creature dedicated to hating Muradin and tearing down his works.  Others still claim that he is the true maker of the Humans, and that Muradin was actually tricked into helping make them.

Regardless of his true origin or his one in the story, Unahara simply appears in many Dwarven myths.  Dwarves take his presence for granted, but non-Dwarven scholars find this entity quite frustrating, as it seemingly springs from nowhere in their scriptures as if you're already supposed to know who he is. 

End Sidebar   

Unahara then went and began to speak to one of the King's sons.  The King had 12 sons, but none were more majestic than Lorkan.  Lorkan was almost the equal to his Father, strong, bold, courageous, skilled with sword and forge alike.  But he was vulnerable in other ways.  Unahara went to Lorkan and convinced him that his Father was planning on discarding him.  Lorkan was a threat to the King, Unahara told him.  He was only there because without him, the King could never conquer the non-Dwarves.  So Lorkan was convinced and rebelled. 

Lorkan convinced a number of his brothers to join his side and then began a civil war.  The civil war was long and bloody, but led to the destruction of the unified Dwarven Kingdom and the death of most of the Princes.  After the death of Lorkan at the hand of the King, the civil war fractured into a sprawling conflict where the heirs of the various Princes attempted to take the High Throne for themselves.  This fighting last for centuries, flaring up and dying down until all trace of the old order had been ground into dust and scattered to the wind. 

Finally, after oceans of blood were spilled, the majority of the surviving heirs decided that the fighting must come to an end.  So they gathered for a Conclave and crafted the Pact of the Clanmoot.  Here they promised that none among their number would seek the High Throne and that they would instead live together, but not under each other, as brothers.  The Dwarves were divided into 12 Kingdoms, each one further sub-divided into Clans. 

This Pact is the document that is used to justify the current state of Dwarven society, to legitimize it and explain it simultaneously.  And to an extent, the Pact has worked.  Fighting between Clans and Kingdoms still goes on, but it is much less common than it was.  Furthermore, since the forging of the Pact, there have been no serious attempts to seize the High Throne and crown a new King of All Dwarves.  There have been many attempts, of course, but these were done by dreamers, idealists and those horribly ill-suited to such a monumental activity.  Furthermore, such Dwarves tend to be swiftly and brutally crushed by alliances of Dwarf Clans or Kingdoms, to prevent others from using these Royal Aspirants, as they are known, as an excuse to invade and gain more influence over a rival.

The Agreement of the Stoneskinned and the Starmetaled is the charter that reaffirms the Dwarven Religion and establishes orthodoxy.  It is said to have been negotiated by the Priests at the end of the War for the High Throne alongside the Pact of the Clanmoot, when the Priests spoke to the Gods and asked them what should be done.  All Dwarven religion is based off of this Agreement.  And though each Kingdom has it's own unique religious structures and custom, all at least claim to be following the true Agreement.

Depending on how religious a Dwarf is, he might elevate the Agreement over the Pact, or argue that it was divine intervention that led to the end of the War for the High Throne.  If he places less emphasis on the Gods, he might not believe the Agreement was in fact, made between Gods and Dwarves, or that is perfect as the believers claim.  Nonetheless, even from a perfectly secular perspective, the Agreement is of supreme importance. 

Most Dwarven Priests are scholars of the Agreement and the 12 Books, a collection of writings that include the sayings and teachings of the Gods, whether in person or through their Chosen Ones, and the commentary of other scholars on the words of the Agreement and the later words of the Gods.  The debates over the scriptures are furious and often included in the commentaries themselves.  And these arguments are not just restricted to letters and books on sacred scripture.  It is not uncommon for Dwarven Priests, most of whom are Aureans or Argents, to be seen furiously arguing over a theological or rhetorical point in public or in one of the temples. 

by Eliana Johnson

Dwarves and Outsiders:

Dwarves consider farming to be work fit only for slaves and the wretched, as it produces nothing they can eat.  Dwarven farmers are always desperate folk with no better options.  They grow crops and raise livestock exclusively for sale, though every Dwarven Clan worth their salt will keep a store of food for non-Dwarves to eat. 

Dwarves consider all non-Dwarves to be inferior to Dwarves, as they are softer and weaker.  There are many terms for such people, but the most common are Milkmen, for their consumption of the milk of animals, or Salters, as Salt is the only minerals that outsiders can eat.  They are also called Rockchewers or Scrapers, for their failure to eat metal.  These are all said with a high degree of condescension and a pitying look in most cases.

by Alan Williams

Dwarven views on Sex and Gender:

Dwarves have two genders, Vim and Zee.  These genders, for lack of a better term, are voluntary and independent from sex.  When a Dwarf reaches a certain age, he must pick one to inhabit.  Switching is possible later, but all Dwarves must occupy one. 

Vim is the gender associated with strength, dominance and leadership.  Vims are expected to hold their emotions in check, be logical and take charge of any situation.  They are the ones who are expected to charge into danger to protect others and to shoulder the burden of leading society.  For this, they receive many privileges, such as being able to vote and speak on matters of politics, finance and the Clan or Kingdom. 

Zee is the gender associated with emotions, submission, subordination and nurturing.  Zees are encouraged to freely express their feelings, to be gentle and kind, to nurture life and spread joy and love.  Zees are to be protected by Vims and sheltered from as much of the cruelty and ugliness of the world as the Vims can permit.  Zees are often exempted from unpleasant tasks except in emergencies as well.  In exchange, Zees agree to do tasks that Vims are ill-suited for, as well as giving up their rights to speak in public, vote on matters of Clan or State and hold positions of leadership.  They also agree to obey Vims in general, except when the Vim is not suited to give orders, wrong or acting in a way that is inappropriate or immoral.   

As the genders are not connected to sex, the suffixes "-ha" for feminine and "-ho" for masculine are often appended to the title.  So Vim-ho is a male Dwarf who occupies the Vim gender, while Zee-ho is a male Dwarf in the Zee gender.  Similarly, Vim-ha is a female Dwarf in the Vim gender while Zee-ha is a female Dwarf in the Zee gender.     

These genders are self-assigned, but are subject to public opinion.  If you are failing to uphold your gender's role or mores, people will gossip about you or refer to you using the other title.

Generally, male Dwarves are Vim and female Dwarves are Zee, but this is not universal. 

In terms of Sex and Romance, Dwarves have three kinds of Romance of various degree of commonality/rarity. 

Vimshore is a romance between two Dwarves of Vim alignment.  It is characterized usually by being intensely sexual and fiercely passionate in private, but being very restrained in public.  The stereotype for this type of romance is that it is professional and feelings are rarely involved and this is almost never correct, though since both Dwarves are Vim, the break-ups tend to be sudden and almost unnoticeable. 

Vimzee is a romance between a Dwarf of Vim and a Dwarf of Zee.  This is the most common type of relationship among Dwarves. 

Zeelen is a romance between two Dwarves of Zee alignment.  They are usually characterized as being whirlwinds of romance that begin swiftly and end suddenly, often with bitter feelings on both sides.  This is a stereotype with more truth in it than most Dwarves are comfortable with.

Dwarves consider human perspectives on romance and love to be one-note and hopelessly dull.  Yet they understand we are more suited to such things, as no Human could ever understand the true breadth and depth of Dwarven romance. 

The Elves have a similar system to the Dwarves, except it includes 12 different genders and different terms and degrees for romances between them.  There are also dozens of permutations and modifiers that mean there are, at least theoretically, hundreds of possible types of romance between Elves.  At the face of this, Dwarves throw up their hands and just declare the entire Elven system to be total nonsense, a common, if understandable, response.      

Among Dwarves, marriage is simply another contract and is undertaken regardless of Gender Alignment.  The purpose of marriage is almost always for financial or political reasons, with the intention of producing heirs.  Additionally, the terms of such a contract can be negotiated when the contract is drafted.  Some demand exclusivity for the life of one or both signatories, but some permit the introduction of external romances, provided this does not lead to questions of illegitimacy or interfere with the production of lawful heirs.

by Stepan Kovalevich


  1. I love it when you take my post and make it better. :)

    1. That's sweet of you. Thank you for the idea in the first place.