Soul Star Travelers of Elven World

Soul Star Travelers of Elven World, Magick of Tuatha de Danann

Lord Of The Rings: Dwarves Only Book Readers Know

A Cultural Overview of Dwarves

This work is about the very down-to-earth, traditional dwarfish dwarves – bearded, gruff, and hard-working - as well as relationships with other races…

For a better overview, this essay is divided in chapters, which are about the most important aspects of dwarven life. I bolded some parts to make it easier to skim over this essay – often these parts will be explained elsewhere (in another chapter or in a separate essay) in more detail. Enjoy!

Philosophical Baselines/Characteristics

  • Dwarves favor everything with an earth, ground, rock, (or heavy metal – joke intended) or technology theme – hard, strong, and durable things (they used to have a constitution –bonus).

  • Dwarves rank technology above magic. They frequently use devices with moving parts, wheels (and rails) as well as fire. If they use magic at all, it is clerical magic (dwarves couldn’t be wizards in previous editions).

  • Dwarves prefer not to be looked down upon – so apart from other dwarves, they prefer to deal with gnomes or Halflings (hobbits) as opposed to elves and humans.

  • Dwarves are awesome miners, smiths, and craftsmen (not so good tradesman – they used to have a charisma-penalty).

  • Dwarves (just as elves) posses infra-vision. In their case, this is dark-vision.

  • Dwarves tend to lean toward law and order on the alignment spectrum.

Dwarven Subraces

There are Mountain DwarvesHill Dwarves, and Dark or Grey Dwarves, the Durgar. Oh, and the Gully Dwarves (from Dragonlance). The last ones are often shunned by the other dwarves.

Dwarven Society – and Female Dwarves

Dwarves are organized into family clans. They are decidedly patriarchal! Female dwarves were unheard of for a long time. Theories were that dwarves were “born from the rock,” or that female dwarves were bearded and indistinguishable from the males.

Let me suggest my take on it (which is obviously heavily inspired by Snow White and the seven Dwarves as well as Monty Python): the ratio of female to male dwarves is about one to seven. So, the females are usually excluded from dangerous or too heavy work like mining, exploring and smithing. When going outside, they usually wear non revealing clothing/armor plus fake beards (as a sign of their status equal to the males). So, they are indeed hard to distinguish from a male – even if they are often a bit taller than their male counterparts.

Often, a female dwarf is married to up to seven brother dwarves, who practice a kind of wife-sharing. Since they share other things like their mines (claims), their wealth, and most of their duties, this comes kind of natural to them… The oldest of the dwarven-brothers is the head of this core-family. The female has a lot of influence as well – just not a lot of freedom. Most female dwarves arrange with this custom with the typical dwarven sense of responsibility, duty, and tradition. (Dwarven society can afford to lose some males easier than females.) But some very few may rebel and seek more freedom – perhaps even a life as an adventurer.

Dwarven Homes

The overwhelming part of dwarven settlements are underground – with the occasional stone structure above ground. Dwarves think practically and like their sleeping quarters close to their work-place. Those homes are usually cozy, with sufficiently high ceilings for dwarves (5’). The interior is sturdy stone or wooden benches and tables, some metal objects, and a fireplace (or even some kind of central-heating).

Dwarven Names

Dwarven names are often short with a rolling “r” and pronounced through gritted teeth. And they usually have a meaning: Ambros Duran (ambos, hard); Dursun (hard as stone); Glod (misspelled gold – Discworld inside joke); Granz (grumpy); Krupp (steel); Kurz (short); Tarkas Grumbarts (fortress greybeard).

Often a dwarf adds to his short name his father’s name (followed by –son or in the rare case of an emancipated female dwarf –dottir) and his clan.

So, a typical dwarven name would be Duran Glodson of Clan Ironhammer.

Dwarven Diet, Drink, and Farming

For a start, dwarves prefer to concentrate on mining and crafting, and let the farming be done by others – for example (garden) gnomes and Halflings (hobbits). But since dwarven mines and dungeons are like fortresses, which have to be self-sustaining there is a wee bit of farming as well…

Dwarves prefer things that grow in or directly on the ground: potatoes, onions, carrots, turnips and all kind of cabbages (hardy stuff that keeps well underground), in addition there are mushrooms that actually grow underground (on wood or fecs) without light – even when a continual light is clerical magic and relatively low level (could look like the modern indoor-farms and vertical gardening). Dwarves are very economical, not to say tight/stingy.

For meat dwarves prefer pork (pigs can live off leftovers/dregs and love to dig in the ground), but they are not above eating pony meat (both pigs and pony are used as work or riding animals by the dwarves). And in case of the Gully dwarves or Terry Pratchett’s Discworld dwarves there are always rats, which can be a plague in dwarven underground settlements.

The only kind of fruit that is hardy and well enough to store for a dwarf’s taste are apples.

Dwarves are also well-known as beer-brewers and drinkers as well as distillers. Often, you can’t trust the water in the mines, plus they need something stronger than water to wash down their hardy meal of lots of salted/pickled pork and Sauerkraut. (Kraut provides the much needed vitamin C – but can ferment and give you stomach-ache and diarrhea when consumed with water). Even baby-dwarves get something like root-beer after their mother-milk. And I figure, the (in)famous dwarven-spirit is distilled from potatoes or sugar beets, (possibly other leftovers as well) making it a kind of Vodka.

Dwarves preserve foodstuff by salting it, (pork, Sauerkraut) smoking it, (ham and sausages) or baking it (dwarven bread). (Salt is often mined by dwarves as well and there are usually fires burning, not only in a smithy.) Dwarven bread is the subjects of many jokes since it is so hard and durable that you can use it as a blunt-weapon. The infamous way bread of the dwarves is consumed as a last resort only (probably beaten to bits with a hammer and then soaked in beer).

I could go on about regular dwarfish dishes: roasted pork with onions and mushrooms, potatoes (cooked, mashed, roasted or as dumplings) plus Sauerkraut or red cabbage. Or turnip-stew with carrots and smoked ham and sausages in it. I think you got the idea…

…a dwarfish kitchen usually has not only a fireplace, but an oven as well as lots of copper-kettles and iron frying pans (and all the tools you would expect in a well endowed kitchen).

Dwarfish Weapons, Armor, and Warfare

Dwarves like to use weapons that developed out of their tools of trade (and are still usable as such) like the hammerpick, and axe – weapons that can profit from their strength. Their favored distance weapon is the heavy crossbow (remember their affinity for technology). Back up weapons are short swords or daggers. And some dwarves even carry pikes (spears) for formation–fighting.

Since they are miners and smithies, iron and steel are easy to get for them, and they use the best armor that won’t slow them further down. Chainmail is not rare – even plate mail is found often. And dwarves use shields more often than not! (Dwarven armor weights as much as a human sized set, but has higher durability according to some old rules)

Dwarves use formation fighting as well as many tools and war machines. Imagine that a bit like the Roman army, of which it was said, they win with their spade and not with their sword most of the time. Mining and counterminingfortifying a position, and building infrastructure are all part of dwarfish warfare. Dwarves prefer to collapse a mine/tunnel before a chokepoint when faced with overwhelming odds (orc or goblin hordes) and dig their way out again. And dwarven engineers are almost as inventive as gnomes when it comes to war machines...

Dwarven Mining

Dwarves mine for precious gemstones like diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, opals and so on, precious metals like platinum, gold, silver, Mithril, and copper, but also more ordinary ones like iron, tin/pewter, zinc, lead, and others. And they mine for fossil coal (for heating their blast furnaces and smithies), salt and some minerals like sulfur. They also come across mineral oil, tar and gas, though the latter is more of a hazard underground, just like water.

Water in mines is a daily nuisance you have to get rid of. The pumps are often powered by a watermilltreadmill (for dwarves or animals) or in magically advanced communities (rare) by elementals or golems. It is up to you, if the dwarves are so technically advanced that they have steam- engines, or if you keep those for the gnomes.

By mining, the dwarves also learned that wagons on rails have an advantage – and building roads, tunnels plus bridges for toll - roads, especially through (below) dangerous, mountain regions (as an additional source of income). The dwarfish tunnels and vaults are Romanesque as opposed to Gothic in style.

Dwarven Products

Dwarves may sell the raw materials they mine, but they have learned that the profit is greater with finished goods. Dwarven forged weapon and armor as well as iron toolscopper pots and kettles, jewelrysecurity items like locks and chests, and sometimes even children toys or beer (the famous Stonedwellers Best, anyone?). It is said the dwarves discovered how to make glass in an attempt to produce small containers for their beer.

They may hire themselves out as miners, smiths, and stone-mansions. Dwarves first and foremost trade with other dwarves for mined goods, other small folk like gnomes and hobbits (for livestock and food). Humans sometimes act as the middle man for them, especially when trading with elves, who they perceive as arrogant and fickle.

This is another reason for the dislike between elves and dwarves as well: dwarves chop down trees for support beams, construction material, sometimes furniture, barrels, and burn charcoal for their smithies (when it is easier and cheaper then fossil coal). And last but not least, they collect wood or plant matter for their mushroom farms. To them, a forest is just another resource to be exploited. The elves even frown upon the dwarven mining – to them, it feels like raping Mother Earth…

Dwarven Script and Culture

Dwarven writing is set in stone (or rather chiseled) - sometimes in thin copper or gold sheets – in rare circumstances, for quick notes it is imprinted in clay (to be later dried or baked/burned). So the script consists of straight lines, which are easy to engrave, with no curves or elegant flourishes.

Dwarven Humor

One of the short**-comings** of the dwarves! There are a lot of dwarf-jokes around, but those are almost always jokes and puns about dwarves – not from dwarves! The explanation is probably that in the dangerous mining-environment of the dwarves, there is simply no room for humor.

Dwarven Music

Not much here – dwarves like it loud –rock music and heavy metal! Their instruments have the earth-theme, so drums and other rhythm-instruments apply. (I still fondly remember my dwarven-berserker simply known as Drummer)

Dwarven Body Hygiene

Many would joke this chapter shouldn’t exist, as indeed many an adventuring Dwarf is quite grimy (but so are other adventures as well, who don’t resort to magic to solve the problem). In addition, most dwarves don’t like water: as mentioned earlier it is a frequent nuisance if not hazard in mining. And dwarfs have a hard time to learn swimming: for one thing, they miss the opportunity, but they also have such a dense and heavy bone structure, that swimming becomes difficult (not to mention their fondness for armor, which makes it outright impossible). So dwarves distrust deep water for a reason…

The dwarves found their solution, however: they invented saunas and steam-bathes. (They have the fires going anyway). This kind of Spa relaxes their muscles after work as well.

Dwarven Funeral Customs

According to dwarven creation myth, they were made from stone – so they should go back to the earth (or preferably stone or rock) after their death. So dwarves would bury their dead, but they prefer cairns or a solid stone sarcophagus – especially for clan elders. The bodies of the later are even sometimes turned into stone with a Flesh to Stone spell (if available to clerics), to preserve them.

Dwarves are also a bit special about their tools (or weapons) – so these are usually buried with the dead, if they didn’t pass them on in their lifetime.

*****

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Multi Dimensional Reality

The world as you know it - all that you see, taste, feel and touch, comprises only about 5% of all of the stuff of the universe. The other 95% is what we have considered "nothing" or the "firmament"  or dark matter or the heavens or mystic Other Worlds. This 95% is multi-dimensional and consists of potential realities that may be perceived.

A single thought...a mere whisper, ...... barely upon a breeze that catches a spark... all is tinder before the firestorm... and yet.
ONLY that whisper
ONLY that thought
 the world is forever changed beyond the fears and dreams of cardboard men.
Freedom and change starts within:
It is encouraged by truth and courage of people who love
Built by the respect of true beings standing as one before each other.
Lets us cross every man made borders
without fear stare into eyes and hearts of all our brothers and sisters: within our words without shouting,or force to hold each to our truths; and let us without fear freely share what works...

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