Grimwyrd: Dwarves


Dwarves (singular: Dwarf ) are a race of sturdy, resolute, and stubborn people. The first creations of the Progenitors, they one wielded the mighty elder technology and weapons of their fabled forefathers. It has been a long fall since those mighty days, but the Karak-Keeps of the underfolk still ring with the hammer and anvil, the clarion call of a people built for glorious battle and mighty works.

Physiology & Culture

A dwarf stands, on average, four to five feet tall, and will weigh ten to fifteen stone (approximately 150 to 200 pounds). Both males and females grow encompassing body hair, sturdy builds of dense muscle, and proportionally squat frames. Dimorphism is slight, with thinner facial hair on women, and it would take a trained eye to tell the sex of a Dwarf at a glance. Humans tend to view this culturally as an excess of bravado or masculinity in the shorter folk, but they themselves see it as a fact of life. Dwarves were made for war, and their culture of exultation is a result. Deeds and crafts are valued, and lineage is tied to either son or daughter without consideration.

The Western reaches have always been their homes, carving homesteads from stone hillsides and canyons riddled with their warrens. Stoneworks also feature prominently in their art and craft, idle hands often taking up loose rock and smoothing or knapping at any loose time. Metallurgy , once hidden behind the veil of Magitek, has been explored at length by the entire population. Fine clockworks, sturdy armor, and sharp honed blades are all products of dwarven craft with apprenticeship through families reaching back dozens of generations.

Since their first steps under the mountain, dwarves have acted with purpose. They are a driven people, tending to stubbornness at worst and conviction at best. Habit and ritual are everyday parts of life, and even the least pious will find solace in repeatable daily efforts. This cultural struggle lends them to appear with a dour or severe disposition, the other races thinking them without humor or levity. Dwarven honor and justice are held with such a regard, woe be to an outsider who transgresses against them, for they would be dealt with swiftly and severely.

Dwarven Racial Template for GURPS 4th edition

Dwarf  20
Attribute Modifiers : HT +1 [10], Size modifier -1 [0]
Advantages : Dark Vision [25]
Disadvantages :
Dwarfism [-15]


The Dawn of the World: Dwarven Supremacy

The Progenitors were a race of supreme beings capable of shaping the very earth and skies. Their first work of life was the Dwarf, and they armed it to face terrible challenges. The spirits of the land were put to work powering eldritch devices, and the Dwarves were clad in formidable armors. Their weapons belched cosmic fire and tore the very bindings of matter aside. The hearts of mountains held their impenetrable redoubts, and the veins of magic bared the soul of the land to their thaumaturges. In the end, they faced foes who were nothing of this earth, whose skin shed steel and magic like water.

The spawn of the Darkness were nothing the world had ever seen, Nemesis to the living, and expanding their ranks with every kill. As the tide of evil rose, the dwarven Keeps fell to savagery. Brother turned on brother, butchery abound, stone halls slick with crimson ichor. In the last days of the empire the few colonies who survived only did so through obscurity; the unsophisticated border princes had not yet opened the gateways to the homelands, and were spared their horrifying end. The passages were sealed , never to be opened, the last lines of the dwarven lineage swearing to secret themselves from the horrors above until the time would come to rise up.


The Breach, The Derugar, & The Foundation of Ansible

After the fall of the surface world to the Ogre Magi and Demon Princes, the Dwarves carved themselves deep and dark, well below the surface. In the depths, the heart of the earth beat close, and the dwarves were a beleaguered people, the pulse strong enough to wear down even the  most durable people. Time drummed on, and slowly, inexorably, cracks broke the veneer of the invulnerable. Madness clutched axes stained crimson, triggers pulled in the dark, and in the aftermath the people of the earth were nearly entombed in their very homes. To cleanse the rot, the only solution was amputation. An entire room of the histories of the empire was sealed away, names struck from the calling of lineage, the Allfather’s Sons forgotten.

The remnants of the mad now called themselves Derugar. Their keeps were lost to history, but they lived on like macabre fetid pools of degeneracy. Their lives were now sworn to the Demons that nearly ended their lineage so long ago. Bindings of power capturing mortal engines of woe and misery. It was a dark time, but the race of Dwarf prevailed.

The call came to arms then in that dark hour. Fate intervened when the most desperate, vulnerable, and vengeful dwarves were in power. The Alliance was struck and the Ansible devised, and the Dwarves forged their mightiest mortal work. They poured their hatred, their rage, their absolute spite into the device. When the metal had cooled and the furnaces fired, hell itself seemed to scream along the drive. The mountain that housed the machination ripped itself aloft in defiance of the very laws of reality. The human mages tapped into the rivers of mana, siphoning the arteries of magical life of the land. The elves invoked the spirits. The engine turned. Reality protested, and was turned aside.

In the end, the only remnant of the Horned King and his army was their ashes, and the black stain spread throughout their homeland as a sign. This land was forever cursed.

And the Darkness found purchase in the hole left in reality. And grew.


The Modern Dwarven Empire

The modern Dwarven empire is a fraction of the size, with holdings in the far East of the original lands. The throne is held in Karak-Groldor, the largest of the dwarf-holds, with the various communities of the surface lands dotting the surrounding loch valley. Massive ram and oxen graze on the hills here, and fishing is unmatched in the cold dark waters.

To the valleys just outside the great crater, in the South is Karak-Poldark, guarding the border with the elves. The city is perched on the mountain edge, overlooking the vast plains, it’s highway switching back precariously up to the summit. Rover caravans do not brave the height, but perch in the hills below, unavoidable to the caravans that pass through. The guard of the Keep do not venture to the valley, allowing the trade to be harassed only due to a gentleman’s agreement with the chieftains of the half-elves. From above, the ring of covered wagons might sit like a pretty jewel in the crown of towers above, or fit like a noose on the neck below.

Karak-Kragg sits squat between two mountains, the springs above feeding mighty waterfalls that pass down icy cold to the dwarves. The most cultivated lands are held here, with vast forests of timber within easy distance of the keep. Below, fields of mushrooms and farms for the titanic insect cattle stretch into the darkness, caverns leading deeper to the earth. There are great warrens of communities here, with the highways passing through, over, and under hills and canyons. Many side-passages are closed and warded here as well, the highway patrolled, but the underways all but forbidden, as the fall of the Empire before left treacherous things in the dark. On quiet nights, one can even hear the scrabbling sound of scraping claws or chittering voices. Those who meet these phantoms face to face are not often around afterward to retell the tale.

In the far North the remote Karak-Uninbar sits, the land about it a parched grassland and scrub field. The farms and fields here the furthest reach of Greyhold, mingling with dwarven communities seeking privacy and seclusion. The border, while well defined on map, has been re-written by homestead and field by the two civilizations. The highway is secure with the iron-shod boot of pike-dwarf and lancers atop sturdy war-ponies. Banditry does however persist as the remote stretch of land attracts those who would escape the law of Greyhold or the Empire, alike.

The typical Dwarven citizen works as a farmhand or laborer, with a smaller group of more specialized technically skilled workers in stewardship. The practice of apprenticeship tends to leave the most skill-intense work to the most capable workers, but also leaves them labored with the task of managing as well. Each citizen is expected to drill in militia work, and the guard of each clan claims membership of nearly every living dwarf they protect. Spare time is rarely wasted, with idle dwarves seen as negligent in duty or responsibility. Even sport and play are given regimented rules and sport, the most common being unarmed hand to hand martial arts.

Within the clans, a leader is elected by free vote of the adult members. From those clan leaders the senate is populated, appointing civic responsibility among them as required. This senate answers to the Emperor, who passes their bills and works into law from his office. The Emperor is the honorable Allfather of his peoples, descendant of the first true AllFather of dwarves, Greatest of his lineage as recorded by the Historians of the Priesthood. These priests commune with the ancestors, keeping the best wishes of the lines true and pure, dispensing consultation and consolation to the populace.

The true Allfather was the pinnacle dwarf, the firstborn among his people, built by the Progenitors to serve their needs in the earliest times of the Empire. He is the ideal all dwarves struggle towards, reaching upward to climb the ladder of skill and ability, stretching higher and higher in station and power to serve as best possible to all. After the Breach and decline of the Empire as a whole, the histories of clans have been lost or discarded in the chaos of war. As all lineages can be traced back toward the first Allfather, the most “genealogically adjacent” heir is tracked by the Historians to serve as Emperor. The current records are incomplete, but the consultation of the Spirits points out they are as true as can be had without venturing into the forbidden deeps to recover any more true names.


About KentonBlack

I'm an avid gamer, computer troubleshooter, and all around dashing fellow. I blog After Action Reports on my gaming, running as the GM for several GURPS 4e games
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