Dwarves

Height: Average: 4'/120cm, Range: 3'6"/105cm to 4'6"/135cm
Life stages:
Apprenticeship 10
Puberty 20
Graduation from Apprenticeship 30
Marriage 35-60, average 45
Maturity/Mastership 60
Eldership 85
Life Expectancy 120 (M), 125 (F).
Appearance Stocky and muscular; adult males bearded, adult females have long sideburns. Usually red- or black-haired.
Relations with Other Races: 
Centaurs: Employ in trading caravans as porter/guards.
Elves: Often in conflict over pollution, etc. in earlier times; avoid each other
Gnomes: Servant race.
Humans: Trade with for food and cloth; employ for caravan escort.
Origin: Ancient race
Location: Underground throughout the supercontinent.

In many ways - certainly economically and technologically - the dwarves are the most powerful race of the Great Land. They do not choose to rule the aboveground races, however, and they are dependent on trade with them to obtain most of their food. Dwarves' underground lifestyle and complete lack of agricultural interest or talent prevents them from growing or catching food for themselves (it's said that "the only thing a dwarf can grow is his beard"), and even the mushrooms and fish which are sourced within their underground homes are harvested by the Gnomes or Lizard People.
Dwarves are unparalleled crafters and have a powerful grasp of energy and matter magic.

Dwarves can see some way into the infra-red, though they can't perceive colours much above purplish-blue. They have 32 distinct colour names spaced across this spectrum, and can distinguish clearly between them, which is advantageous when heating things to precise temperatures. They use the blue (or as blue as they can see) to indicate "good" and orange to indicate "bad" on gauges and so forth.

The trading networks of the mid-continent are run by dwarves, not only to trade for food and other aboveground resources such as cloth and leather, but also to maintain the strict exogamy of their clans.

Dwarf clans are matrilinear, matrilocal and in many respects matriarchal. That is, a dwarf's clan derives from his or her mother, and the clan holding is defined as where the female dwarves of that clan live. At puberty (around 20), which coincides with the conclusion of his basic education, a male dwarf is expected to depart his mother's clan with a trading party, and not return until after his marriage (usually 15 or more years later), if then. Upon his marriage he enters his wife's clan, but has a dual tie to his original clan; an unmarried male dwarf will describe himself as "of Clan A", but a married one "of Clan A and B", A being his birth clan and B his wife's clan.

The (female) elders of the clan govern it in all non-craft-related matters, such as marriages, civil rewards and punishments and the overall policy and projects of the clan. They do so in what seems to outsiders to be an indirect and informal way. A female dwarf, on reaching approximately the age of 85, may (if she is considered sensible) begin to be consulted occasionally by the recognised elders of her clan, and also by her descendants. If her responses meet with approval, she will be consulted more frequently. This, and not any formal ceremony, constitutes her becoming an elder. The elders do not meet at set times in formal session with an agenda, but consult informally among themselves and mention their conclusions to their husbands and daughters. These are expected to transmit the rulings to the younger male and female inhabitants of the clan hold, respectively. This system supports a very stable (and intensely conservative) social structure.

A dwarf accused of wrongdoing will be shunned until he or she goes to the most closely related elder and either confesses, or swears an oath that he or she is innocent. In the latter case, the elder will investigate, informally speaking to witnesses and other elders, and make known a judgment. Usually this will consist of a recompense to be made to the victim or the victim's family (in the case of a false accusation, by the accuser to the accused). This may take the form of unpaid work, the crafting of a useful object or payment of existing treasured objects or simply of money. Occasionally for recidivist offenders (male and, very rarely, female) the sentence is of exile for a period. An exiled dwarf can easily get work among humans as a craft worker, and will be well paid, but as intensely clan-oriented people they usually feel the pain of exile keenly.

The other allegiance of a dwarf, besides clan, is craft. A dwarf's initial apprenticeship (age 10) is in his or her father's craft, though it is increasingly acceptable to move to another craft at a later time. All dwarves are given what is considered by dwarves "basic training" in the major crafts present in their clan hall of origin. This "basic" level is, by human standards, very competent (after all, a dwarven apprenticeship lasts 20 years, of which the first 10 are undertaken in the originating clan and the following 10 elsewhere, in the case of males). They are also given a thorough general education, strong in history, languages, economics and trade, magic, engineering, applied mathematics, design and technology.

At puberty the male dwarves set out on their travels, working in the trade caravans, getting experience of the above-ground world, learning skills and techniques from other clans and seeking a place to settle down and marry. The female dwarves remain in the clan hold their whole lives; it is considered scandalous for a female to go above ground, except when trekking in order to establish a new clan, and even then they travel in windowless carts.

At puberty also, the males begin to grow their beards. By craft graduation around 30, the beards reach the waist. At this point, the young dwarf may braid his beard. The braids become increasingly elaborate as the hair grows longer and the dwarf obtains more status.

After about another 30 years, the dwarf may attain craft-mastership and be permitted to vote on craft matters, such as the election of Senior Masters, who head up the subcrafts within a craft and together elect the Craft Master for their craft and hold. Both male and female dwarves have votes in this arena, and both can be Senior Masters, but the Craft Masters are traditionally male. In contrast to the elders, the Senior Masters meet in formal session, and have an elaborate ceremony to recognise the granting of their status. Their rulings are written down and transmitted to all clan holds where their craft is practiced (where they are regarded as advisory rather than binding). However, one specific clan hold, or sometimes several in close proximity, will usually be the headquarters for the most respected Senior Masters of a particular craft, and their rulings are taken very seriously by the Senior Masters of that craft in other clan holds.
The ranking within dwarf crafts goes as follows:

0 Any gnome regardless of skill or experience
1 Apprentice
2 Craftsdwarf
3 Mastercraftsdwarf
4 Senior Master
5 Craft Master

Most dwarf crafts are specialized by gender. The current craft organization is as follows:

  • Jewellers
    • Devicers M
    • Personal Jewellers and Boxmakers F
  • Engineers
    • Delvers, Builders, Stonemasons and Sculptors M
    • Enginemakers M
    • Metalsmiths, Weaponsmiths and Armourers M
    • Toolsmiths F
    • Blacksmiths and Ironfounders M
    • Alloyers, Coppersmiths, Brazers and Bronzers F
  • Mages
    • Matter mages M
    • Energy mages F
  • Substancers (chemists)
    • (formation of subcrafts currently under debate) M/F
  • Traders
    • No subcrafts M

The establishment of a new craft is tremendously political and may be preceded by years of factional fighting, maneuvering, deal-making and light blackmail. For this reason, some reasonably significant crafts are part of another craft.

Extensive turf wars are prosecuted between the various crafts; the debate on what size a device has to be before it is an engine has occupied the Devicers and the Enginemakers for decades. (The rule of thumb is that a device a dwarf can readily carry belongs to the realm of the Devicers, but the definition of "readily" is hotly argued.)

Working with any form of organic material (apart from a few substances used in jewellery, like amber) is considered gnomes' work, and not a "craft".

The dwarven trading caravans reach all parts of the continent, even those inaccessible except by ship, despite the well-known distaste of most dwarves for sea travel.

Once the Dwarven Railroads are built, the sea-travel problem is partly overcome around the Waist. The railroads include subterranean tunnels stretching for hundreds of miles, bypassing the impassable equatorial jungles and swamps. Consequently, travel between many clan holds becomes very much more rapid than formerly, and in some cases females can travel without having to go to the surface. This brings about social shifts with which the more conservative elders and craftmasters are uncomfortable, despite the fact that maintaining cohesion and communication between the clan holds has always been one of their primary goals. (See New Dwarves.)

Because of the trading, clan, craft and friendship linkages fostered between the various Dwarf Holds by the practice of requiring young males to leave their clan hold of origin and travel, there has not been a serious war of dwarf against dwarf for a couple of millenia. The Dwarvish Language and Dwarven culture is also highly unified.

Dwarven wealth has always been built partly on the gnomish underclass. See Gnomes. The gnomes are the equivalent of the ancient Elvish Copper caste (see Elves), but more separated. Dwarves are the equivalent of the Elvish Silvers, and there is a saying, "Dwarves have no Golds". This is true in the sense that there is no hereditary nobility, and decisions are made not by a governing caste but by dwarves who have won their positions by seniority.