Here to Raze Hell
Those who are naive or ignorant will tell you that the Dwarves are an all-male race and that they use magic to reproduce. This is a common belief to all who have had limited experience with Dwarves, except for soldiers. Soldiers who have fought the Dwarves often do not share these beliefs.
The educated classes, on the other hand, will tell you that Dwarves are an all-female race, and that since Dwarves have no Kings, only Queens, all important leadership positions are filled by women. As this is unnatural and is usually only permitted in civilized lands in times of emergency, Dwarves must be all-female, and what we assume to be male Dwarves are actually just female.
As usual, neither is correct.
Dwarven Reproduction and Society
The vast majority of Dwarves are male. Spending time among Dwarves, you will find this to be common and normal to them- the presence of women from other races is regarded by them as strange.
However, the majority of Dwarven males are sterile, barring outside interference. Instead of the whole population reproducing, only the Dwarven Queens do so. Dwarven Queens are massive, bloated creatures, nearly constantly laying the translucent eggs from which will hatch the next generation of Dwarves. A Dwarven Tribe that is small will only have one Queen, while others can have many, though generally only Tribes that are permanently settled have the resources to support more than one Queen.
As for how one goes about acquiring a second Queen, the first step is to acquire a fertile female Dwarf. Fertile females among the Dwarves are born somewhat rarely, depending on the material conditions of a tribe. These fertile females are called Princesses. A Dwarven Princess is generally taller and more muscular than her brothers. However, a Dwarven Princess' most important ability is her potential to become a Queen. For this, Princesses are revered by the populace and inculcated with the sense that she must do her duty and become a Queen. The process of transformation from Princess to Queen is simple enough. Once the Princess has reached sexual maturity, she must be found a fertile Dwarven male to marry.
Depending on the Queen, these fertile males can be more or less common, but generally they are slightly less rare than Princesses. These males are called Princes.
Once the Prince and Princess have been sealed in matrimonial bonds, they will consummate their union. The Princess will almost always conceive from this first encounter and often, the Prince will wither and occasionally, die. From there, the Princess' body will begin developing. She will begin having more and more children and she will grow in size until she reaches the size category of Huge. At this point, she has completed her transformation and will continue laying eggs until she dies, usually of natural causes.
Dwarven Queens themselves usually maintain their mental attributes from when they were Princesses, though they are obviously more limited in their physical capabilities. Some keep their minds busy by exercising political control over their many children or pursue other intellectual pursuits, while others lose themselves to a haze of decadence. Many Queens who do the latter end up introducing strange features into their Dwarves- that's how you get Dwarves with horns or hairy tails or third eyes. For while a Dwarven Queen need not mate more than once, she still has the desire to do so, so often they will demand the Princes they bore return to attend their conjugal needs, or for males of other species be brought in to do the same.
Dwarven Life Cycle and Gene-Castes
Dwarves, once they hatch, resemble a combination of Dwarf and caterpillar, with Dwarf-like faces but insect like bodies. These are called Wrigglers. Dwarven Wrigglers remain this way usually only for a short while, unless prevented from developing through the use of drugs or magic, eating voraciously to prepare. Once they have eaten enough calories, they spin their cocoons and pupate, growing into the normal Humanoid forms of Dwarves.
At this point, the Dwarves' caste becomes obvious. Dwarven Queens are not like females of other species, which must rely on Fortune and the will of the Gods to determine what their child will be, Dwarven Queens have some control. They can know and decide which type of child they wish to produce, whether that be Workers, Warriors, Prince, Princess, or Specialist.
Worker Dwarves are the most common type, the sterile males I mentioned above. Warriors are Dwarves designed for the defense of the Tribe and the Queen. Most Dwarven fighters you will meet will be Workers trained to use weapons and not Warriors- these ones are called soldiers, not Warriors. Specialist Dwarves vary from Tribe to Tribe and tend to be intended for some hyper-specific role. As such, Specialist Dwarves are only born when needed.
Finally, because of the Dwarven Queens, Dwarves have low genetic diversity. As such, while they do vary in appearance, as all species do, Dwarves of a similar tribe tend to look very similar. As such, the experienced can often identify a Dwarves' tribe by appearance alone.
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To generate a Dwarven Tribe (or a single Dwarf's) General appearance and traits, roll on the tables below.
This Tribe is...
3- Grey Skinned.
4- Has skin the color of Blue Roan.
5- Has skin that is light pink.
Most often, this Tribe's hair is...
4- A shade darker or lighter (50% of each) than their skin tone.
Some Dwarves (1d10%) belonging to this Tribe also have...
3- Short claws.
4- Longer fingers.
5- Three Eyes.
The Warriors of this Tribe are known to be...
1- Tall and lanky, with snake-like limbs that move with disturbing quickness.
2- Huge and broad, strong as bulls, corded muscle writhing beneath rubbery skin.
3- Short, but covered in layer upon layer of bony plates, skin barely visible except near the joints of their armor.
4- Multi-limbed, with 1d6 Limbs, rounding up to the nearest even number.
5- Delicate and winged, with the ability to spit balls of poison at long range.
6- Unarmed, their hands having been replaced with crablike pincers, their mouths flanked by crushing mandible
They also have...
1- Bone blades on their wrists, knees and elbows.
2- Jaws that could snap a spear shaft.
3- Tentacles growing out of their 1d6 [1= Beards; 2= Shoulders; 3= Backs; 4= From the back of their knees; 5= Elbows; 6; The top of their heads] that entangle and grab those near them.
4- Tails that 1d3 [1= Smash like maces; 2= Coil around weapons or limbs like bullwhips; 3= Enable them to hold a weapon while leaving their hands free.]
5- Stingers on their fingers, or if they have one, the ends of their tails.
6- They can spray acid from their mouths.
Princes of this Tribe are known to be...
1- Tall, toned, statuesque.
2- Short, delicate, well-formed and clean-limbed.
3- Hairy, with long, curled ears.
4- Incredibly tall, thin as a rail, with razor sharp features.
5- Large and muscular, with rocking gaits and squat builds.
6- Covered in dense fur, with a long, flexible tail.
Princesses of this Tribe are known to have...
2- 1d4 extra breasts.
3- Four arms.
4- Quills on their 1d4 [1= Tails; 2= Shoulders and tops of their arms; 3= Backs; 4= Lower Legs.]
5- 1d6 extra eyes on their shoulders and back.
6- A pharyngeal jaw concealed behind their flat teeth.
Dwarves are a highly collectivist culture. Since most Dwarves never reproduce, they think not of their own line, but of the Tribe itself. For since they all share the same Mother, if one of their siblings survives, they survive as well. This is a fact that is easily understood by the fact that Dwarves from the same Tribe refer to each other as "Brother". Dwarves from other Tribes who are allied with the Dwarves' Tribe are called "Cousins" and everyone else is considered an enemy.
Dwarves trust and love their brothers, but generally they do not trust anyone outside of the Tribe. Anyone not related by blood is considered an enemy, or at least untrustworthy.
To succeed in Dwarven lands, the secret is to build relationships. Only by proving yourself to be reliable, helpful and not a threat to the Tribe or any individual Dwarf can you find help with a Dwarf.
Additionally, Dwarves think collectively. A Tribe that was helped by a Human will be more likely to trust Humans (or at least Humans that resemble the one who helped them) in the future. Similarly, if a Human hurt a Dwarven Tribe, they will be more likely to distrust Humans.
There is a sliding spectrum within all racial groups of whether the sentiment is more aligned with the ideal of racial unity or sub-racial separatism. For example, the Orzane, a relatively small racial group who were conquered many times over their history before the Imperial era trasitioned from thinking of themselves as the inhabitants of their region or city to thinking of themselves as one people, regardless of where one was born. This feeling of union and pan-Orzanian solidarity only increased when the Imperial era dawned and matured. On the other hand, Humans are more aligned with sub-racialism, in that humans of different skin tones, language groups or regions do not instinctively band together unless under great stress, some even prefer to align with non-Humans over Humans.
Dwarves are definitely aligned more with the the latter ideal.
Dwarves of different tribes historically do not get along. The Dwarven Homeland is not united, but is instead split into the territories of many hundreds of tribes, who war and squabble amongst each other. Dwarven politics is thus, incredibly complicated, but is best defined as a series of resentments and bitter rivalries extending back thousands of years, if not to time immemorial.
Dwarven Tribes keep "Books of Grievances", which are long lists of the crimes that have been perpetrated against their Tribe in the past. Many Dwarves also keep an individual "Book of Grievances" to indicate those who have wronged them. This is especially common of Dwarves that must leave their homelands and travel abroad. When a Dwarf returns or meets some of his Brothers, they will compare books and write down any significant Grievances they have with those they encountered along the way, from the petty to the significant.
Books of Grievances are not just political artifacts though, they are considered sacred by Dwarves, so much so that a Dwarf from another Tribe will not touch the Books of another Tribe, for fear of being cursed by the spirits of that Tribe's ancestors or that Tribe's Gods.
If you return a Book of Grievances from a fallen Dwarf back to his Tribe or his Brothers, they will be immensely grateful. If you wish to ask for some boon from them, this would be a good way to do it.
Books of Grievances also include prayers in them, asking for an appropriate punishment to be doled about upon the offender, usually varying in severity depending on offense. The true sign of an unstable or evil Dwarf is if his Book of Grievances requests punishments that are wildly disproportionate. Though to most non-Dwarven audiences, this is extremely hard to discern.
Example Entry in a Book of Grievances:
Grocer Manz Hammond, the Frogling Innkeeper of the Blue Moon Tavern, denied me a room at his establishment. May his beard fall out and may he suckle on the teat of Misfortune.
Isow, Son of Jem, the Human Auxillary of the Orzanian Army, slew my Brother, Harzir. May he drown in war-blood and his corpse be despoiled by ravens.
Dwarves cut their beards into various styles to show their profession, status and accomplishments. A Dwarf's beard is his business card and all Dwarves want to make a good first impression. For example, rolls of coins indicate wealth, keys indicate political power and bells used to indicate honesty, before all the caravan owners started wearing them, now they are most associated with cutthroat business-men and being a merchant generally.
Dwarven females can also grow beards, but usually do not, out of feminine modesty.
It is commonly believed among non-Dwarves that a beardless Dwarf is a criminal, but this is only partially true. A beardless Dwarf looks out of place, so Dwarven criminals do not shave their beards. Rather, they remove all symbols of their rank and brush their beard straight, so it is harder to identify them.
A male without a styled beard will be looked upon suspiciously, as someone trying to hide something.
If caught, Criminals are often shamed, their beards styled in specific ways and dipped in plaster or stucco so it hardens. This leaves permanent stains on a beard to indicate the status of a Dwarf as a thief, murderer or etc.
For the greatest of crimes, Dwarfs have their beards shaved off and their chins burned, so no hair will ever grow there again. Thus, a beardless Dwarf is the mark of one who was exiled from the Tribe. This has a spiritual context as well as a physical one. Through their banishment, the exile is cut off from the blessings of his ancestors or the Tribe's patron spirits/God. This is the worsr punishment Dwarves have and for them, anything is preferrable. This is why Dwarven criminals often fight to the death, so they cannot be exiled.
The protection of the Tribe is the most important thing. For its preservation, any action is justified.
If something immoral is seen by others, it is a sin.
If something immoral is not seen by others, it is not a sin.
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