Dwerrow (vulgar: Dwarf/Dwarves pl.) are one of the two Elder Races. Stocky and bearded, with strongly built bodies and low voices, they are distinguished for their height, which is universally shorter than that of a humans. A matriarchal society of simple and direct manners, they are sometimes seen as grumpy, stubborn and greedy, but also are known to be doughty and gregarious individuals; renowned for their keen business sense and love for a good fight. Their sense of professionalism and honour means a contract once struck is a binding sacred oath till completion out or death. Amorica is the dwerrow’s seat of power, famed for it’s architectural marvels and great canals and from whence their ‘League of Ten Thousand’ is based. Many dwerrow also live in human cities, for theirs is a easily adaptable race and taking to new neighbors easily, something that cannot be, unfortunately, said about a large part of humanity. Despite historical persecution, and even bloody pogroms, the coexistence with dwerrow goes a lot better than with elves. Their flair for trade and craft makes them excellent merchants, bankers, smiths and armorers earning them grudging acceptance from human society.
As previously noted, Dwerrow are one of the Elder Races. They were once a dominant race, along with Mankind. Their city-strongholds dotted the Watchtower and Trondeheim mountains; wonders of marble and granite that reached deep into the mountains from which they were carved. Deep they delved in search of gold and jewel. Mines criss-crossed the peaks and under-mountains as they filled their coffers. Soon their wealth was unrivaled in the known lands. Many wars were fought with covetous man over this wealth, but the dwerrow were secure in their mountainous fasts. Ever safe, it was a golden age.
It could not last…
Late in the third age (422 ta/1123 pl), the Great Wyrms came down from the north in a great flood of fire and death. They scoured the mountain city-strongholds of life, blackening their once white pristene walls with the ash of its once living inhabitants. And the fabled strength and stubbornness of the dwerrow came to naught and in just two years, their once great empire fell to ruins; its people reduced to a mere fraction of its former numbers. This time became known as the ‘Burning Times’. A great diaspora from the mountains occurred and they looked to their former allies and enemies mankind for succor. A service humanity readily agreed to… for a price. For years the peoples of the stone wandered. Stripped of their wealth or forced to live in ghettos or as indentured ‘citizens’, they plied their trades for coin to buy their freedom and many chose the life of the mercenary forming the traditions that proliferate to this day.
After nearly a thousand years, a dwerrow mercenary captain, Anya Stonesdottir and her band, was granted a portion of the marshlands southeast of Wael around the Vulgayr delta as payment for services rendered in the War of Three Kings. The Lord, Fortias III (ever after called the ‘liberator’ in mockery), was honour bound after a offhand remark ended in a contract with the dwerrow mercenaries to award them for the retaking of the Red City walls; a feat never duplicated or before achieved. Fortias II give it to them knowing the marsh was impossible to build upon and thus unprofitable or usedful to his empire. After the war ended (which Fortias III lost), took his fellows and any dwerrow who wished to come to his ‘New Republic’. It was a land of waterlogged fens and mires but the delta proved to be incredibly fertile and rich in metal and mineral deposits. It was also perfectly placed to receive trade and redistribute to all corners of Aeryn. Utilizing all their ingenuity and creativity they laid the groundwork for the aqueducts, canals, and other architectual marvels that would become Amorica Magni and eventually the League of Ten Thousand.
Over the next hundred years, the dwerrow created a vast trade empire that branched out to include, by purchase or plunder, much of the islands at the mouth of the Adra Amaranthine and many smaller principalities joined the League to share in their fortune. A new and remarkable society had emerged in southeastern Aeryn; rich, mobile, expanding, with a mixed aristocracy and new burgher class, interested in urban institutions and infrastructure.
Though their homeland is Amorica, beyond the league, dwerrows have assimilated well and many now live in human cities. They run businesses and are often wealthy, although they still sometimes meet with disdain and distrust.
Amorica Magni is a great port, built by natural deep-water harbours within the Amorican Delta. Its reputation as a friendly port with ready markets for all manner of cargoes draws traders from many parts of the globe. Its quays are usually crowded, and, among the assortment of merchantmen, one can occasionally catch a glimpse of a strangely rigged craft from Arabi or even further afield. Amorica Mgni’s reputation is well-deserved, for no pirates are tolerated here, and the Amoricans maintain a strong presence in the Arda Amaranthine and other League holdings. They are fair, honest traders, and, over the years, have grown to be rich ones. The Amorican delta forms a natural fortress, and the dwerrow control all the land thereabouts, including the Vesslos archipalego where no less than six massive fortresses guard the approaches to the bay, the and serve as its beacons.
The merchants of Amorica trade goods from the north, as well as the natural produce of their lands, including true silver from the Dragon Spire Mountains to the east, while the courts of Cerace and Aquilonde are two of the larger markets for imported silks and spices.
Dwerrow are on average a good deal shorter than either Men or Elves. The average height being estimated to be at approximately 4’5"-5’0"). They are immensely strong and resilient, with bodies seemingly purpose-built for manual labour, with solidly formed muscles, broad-shoulders and large thick fingered hands that are capable of considerable manual dexterity. This physical toughness allows them to carry heavy loads and endure many hardships and work for long lengths of time without tiring.
Dwerrow are a very long-lived race with life-spans that can run into centuries, or rare occasions even into a millennium. As a dwarf becomes older so his beard becomes longer and thicker. Due to the importance dwerrow place on their beards, moustaches, and hair; a rather large industry surrounding their fashion and accessories has developed. Dwerrow appear to become stronger the older they get, though there appears to be a breaking point where their general health rapidly declines, signaling the last few years before the dwerrow dies of old age.
Female dwerrow are fairly similar to their male counterparts in that they are broad shouldered and heavily built, but instead of long beards they have long hair wound into similar braids, which they treasure as greatly as males do their beards.
In terms of mental ability, Dwerrow are incredibly determined. Their mental strength, in combination with their physical abilities, makes them steadfast fighters who will often fight to the last rather than admit defeat or run away.
The Dwerrow have little knowings of magic as it is practiced by Elves and Men, as well as having no wizards. They distrust, and even loathe, the chaotic power and unpredicitability of magic in its usual forms; the general consensus is that magic is too erratic and volatile to fool around with, let alone rely on in battle.
However, Dwerrow do place considerable emphasis on embedding magic within certain items through their skills of craftmanship. In particular weaponry, such as axes, hammers, shields, and armour suits, can be enhanced through their knowledge of rune lore and the skill of runesmithing, through which magic is entrapped into a rune and placed upon an object. The Dwerrow who practice this skill are the Runesmiths, under the influence of the Runesmiths Guild at the Arsenal. Aspiring Runesmiths will spend many decades as an apprentice to a Runelord who will gradually teach them to inscribe items with runic symbols and powers, for greater runes are often expensive and take years to make, even for the most experienced Runesmiths.
The Dwerrow Navy and Legions
To protect their trade, the dwerrow maintain a strong navy, often hiring Cerace and Stormlander ships and crews to fight alongside their own tireless galleons and Triremes. Hostile shipping is mercilessly sunk, whilst pirates are hounded and captured whenever possible and their crews brought back for public execution in the great market place. Seven major fleets of galleys, galleasses, triremes and caravels located at the Arsenal, Vesslos, Bragos, Taros, Dragonhead, and the Lighthouse, with others beyond the borders of Aeryn to facilitate the transportation of the legions. The Sea Houses of the League and of other coastal cities also provide corsairs; heavily armed privateers who use fast caravels and galleons for raiding and scouting and are the scourge of Caliphate and foreign sea traffic.
Amorica Magni is also the headquarters of the storied Amorican Legions. The Legions are the only standing, full time army in Aeryn. It is also by far, the best equipped. and trained. The standard Legionaire is equipped with a laminated three-quarter Dragon Copper harness with anime cuirass over pourpoint with leather gauntlets and boots, and a burgonet. Weaponry depends on the service unit they are trained with as well as pike, lance and shield, and Matchlock. All are also trained in at least one hand or great weapon as well as wrestling; a holdover tradition from dwerrow mercenary history.
A period of legion service is required of every full House citizen, and a legion at full strength stands at just over 3000 legionares, cycling from different active duty postings to reserve status; the generals of the League currently have 24 active legions at their disposal and 6 legions in reserve (65% of which is composed entirely of dwerrow).
Dwerrow venerate their ancestors and their deities are the “Ancestor Gods” which are said to have been formed from the very stone of the world itself. Chief amongst them is Hul (pron: hoo-l) the stone god. Hul is a grim and unforgiving god, ever watching from atop his mountain in dark clouds and obscuring mists, ready to pass a disapproving judgment on any and all. He is also said to value courage and tenacity in his mortal children, even if the dwerrow ultimately proves too frail to succeed. Worshipers of Hul claim that he grants his followers strength and endurance and has little patience for weakness. It is commonly held that Hul does not answer prayers and disfavors weakness, therefore the name of Hul is typically only invoked during an oath or curse.
The other Ancestor Gods are:
- Sigrun, goddess of war and victory; the first matriarch and warchief of the dwerrow
- Njordr the Seafarer, god of fortune and the seas; builder of the first ship
- Borri Bitterstout, god of harvest and contentment; discovered fermentation & beer
- Anya Stonesdottir, goddess of perseverance; founder of Amorica Magni