Dwerrowen Clans by Anghel Gabor
Merchant by trade, Scholar by Happenstance
The Dwerrow, what we call Dwerrow are a close-knit bunch, all right. Make no mistake, entire families carrying out the same trade. It’s almost unheard of for one of them to take up a different trade from that of their clan. They like to keep things in the family. Most of them don’t differentiate between their clan and their guild.
The Dwerrowen like to keep things tightly regulated. Every product has a fixed price and a time assigned to making it. Trying to bargain with them is like trying to batter down one of their strongholds with your head. No give and take. No matter how many of them you try to deal with, the price is always the same. Take it or leave it. It’s the worst kind of restrictive trade. Still, I’ll say one thing for them; you know you’re getting quality goods every time. They never try to sell you anything shoddy or have inferior quality. It’s a matter of pride for them.
Dwerrow clans are family groups that are all related to one another. All the members of a clan trace their lineage back to a common ancestor. This could be the founder of a stronghold, but it may go back only as far as the previous generation. With the current political climate the latter these days seem to be the more common.
Each clan specializes in a particular craft or skill: blacksmithing, mining, and weaponsmithing are examples, however that does not mean individual Dwerrow find skills outside of their clan specialty. Different clans usually live close to each other so that they can trade skills among themselves. The relationships between clans are complicated and interdependent. The blacksmith clan needs to eat, so they trade with bakers and butchers as an example.
In major strongholds, each clan practices its own craft. In smaller ones, a clan may practice a number of crafts. Out of preference, Dwerrowen practice one craft only, and that one skill may be honed to a higher level than would be possible if two, three or four skills were practiced.
Dwerrow priests are drawn from all the clans in a stronghold and may be the only Dwerrowen who are not tied closely to their clans. Many priesthoods, like those concerned with arts and crafts, are a part of their clans and closed to all others. The priests who serve the Fathers Forge, for example, would be the spiritual leaders of their clan. While the lore keepers or traditionalists might serve Dugmoren for his knowledge. While there are no clans specific to the study of the Elemental Magic’s, some of the strongest Elemental Mages to visit the Arcanum have come from the Dwerrowen Kingdoms. Dwerrow tend to gravitate toward the elements of Fire, as evident by the rage that can over take them, or Earth. However, you will rarely find one that studies wind…and almost never Ice. its to close to water.
Clans and Guilds
The clans are regulated by guilds that legislate all matters of trade. Guilds specify weights and measures, quality, and the pricing of items, within their Kingdom/Stronghold.
For example, the Guild of Bakers establishes the weight, price, and ingredients of loaves of bread. All clans conform to these strictures. Those of other strongholds will have different strictures imposed by their guilds. This leads to situations where Dwerrowen from one baker’s clan will get into heated arguments with a baker’s clan from another stronghold over which one’s loaf is of the correct weight. This, combined with their stubborn nature and inability to compromise, is why Dwerrow are so wary of each other. One view is always right, and all others always wrong. Note, however, that this does not mean that Dwerrowen slavishly adhere to narrow production standards. Within the limits established by the guilds is tremendous room for individual expression. In fact, two loaves of bread that conform to the same guidelines may appear completely different to the uninitiated. And each guild typically has a bewildering array of accepted standards to choose from for any specific type of item.
Guilds are made up of the elder of each clan. Even though the guilds control the business of the clans, they may not control the clan politically. This is left to elders who handle marriage arrangements, housing, and political dealings with other clans. The elders are the oldest Dwerrowen in the clan. Some may be guild masters, but this is not a requirement. When this does occur, differences between clan and guild become even more blurred.
Clans and Society
A sick or injured Dwerrow will be fed and cared for by his clan. Those in good health are expected to work in order to maintain the welfare and reputation of the clan. No Dwerrow would ever do otherwise. Someone who cheats or doesn’t pull his own weight earns the disapproval of his fellow clansmen. He will be warned and pressure will be brought to bear to ensure that he does not bring the name of the clan into disrepute. If he does not heed the warnings, he will be ostracized. An ostracized Dwerrow loses all benefits provided by the clan. The clan’s guild will prevent him from working and confiscate his tools if it can. If he shows a desire to mend his ways, he will be allowed back into the clan, and the guild will lift the ban. If not, he will be left to himself and even his family will shun him.
To an outsider, Dwerrow clans appear very complex, and the relationships between them highly convoluted, because they are. Dwerrowen would not organize their lives any other way. They know where their loyalties lie: first to the family, then to the clan, the guild, the stronghold, and then to any other strongholds to which the clan is allied. Dwerrowen are a proud race and maintain their loyalties. They are willing to defend each other, often to the death. An insult against one Dwerrow is considered to be an insult against all Dwerrowen.
Most Dwerrowen choose life underground. Even after the rending of Norgrirn many Dwerrow look to the Earth as still being their home. They are constantly striving for the day when they will be able to avenge the deaths of their clansmen and families at the hands “of those that are not Dwerrowen” as well as the Wargs and Orcs working for their ancient enemies the Queen. Most Dwerrowen strive to put down the Wargs as being abominations that can’t be saved, and have an ages old animosity with Orcs. “We” refer to the dark skinned cousins of the Dwerrowen that betrayed them to the Queen as not Dwerrow and most Dwerrowen will attempt to kill the “those that are not Dwerrowen” on sight.
During the war against the Queen the Dwerrowen proved that they themselves where as hard as the stone in which they lived in. Many of the queen’s troops took heavy losses in every encounter with the Dwerrowen, the only race that compared to the Dwerrowen in battle where that of the elves who would form an uneasy alliance. Dwerrowen have a grudging respect for the Elfin, the destruction of Norgrirn nearly extinguished the Dwerrowen from existence. Had they the numbers they would have continued to help the elves when the other races gave up. But in crushing Norgrirn, the Queen crushed a whole race.
Dwerrowen are expert craftsmen not out of some god-given ability, but because they serve long, exacting apprenticeships. Dwerrowen traditionally serve a 25-year apprenticeship, which begins at the age of 25. To Dwerrowen this is part of life. “A job worth doing is worth doing well.” This attitude is deeply ingrained and explains why Dwerrowen love to create beautiful objects and lavish so much time on them. They seek to create that which will last until time’s end, and they have difficulty comprehending why other races consider work a chore rather than an act of artistic expression to be savored and enjoyed. Dwerrow craftsmen, because of their skills, produce weapons, armor, and other goods more quickly than other races, yet of superior quality.
Dwerrowen and Humor
Dwerrowen are viewed as humorless, if not downright grumpy, by other races. This is a fair assessment. They do not often tell jokes, and have no appreciation of practical jokes. Society is based on law, order, and a respect for one’s fellows. A Dwerrow does not abuse that respect by ridiculing another’s dignity. That’s not to say that Dwerrowen are humorless, they have a very black humor concerning their racial enemies, but their sense of humor is very different from that of humans, for example. They do not find jokes about personal suffering or failure funny. They do find those based upon clever stories entertaining. The problem is that Dwerrow jokes tend to follow a standard narrative pattern. Because of their great length, endless genealogies, and catalogs of Dwerrowen concerns, it is difficult for other races to maintain any interest in them.
The Dwerrowen concept of wealth is different, as well. Dwerrowen are attracted to objects for their intrinsic beauty, not for any commercial value. They prize fine workmanship, but know that craftsmen only augment what the earth has provided.
Gold has the greatest significance to them, not for its value, but for its natural beauty and pliability. In the hands of a master craftsman, gold can be heated and poured into molds, beaten with a hammer, drawn into wires, or carefully filigreed with a chisel. Well-made golden objects are treasured for workmanship and beauty. Poorly made objects are melted down to be remade as coins or other objects.
Dwerrowen are aware of the scarcity of gold, and of its value. No Dwerrow has ever sold gold at less than its current value, a fact that has led other races to see them as mean and avaricious. The Dwerrowen’ passion for gold is well known, as is their love of gemstones. They love to possess these treasures of the earth; polishing and cutting them into brilliant shapes that catch the light perfectly. Each stone is seen as a shining example of the beauty of the earth. To those who have left their underground homes, they are reminders that true beauty comes from within the earth.
Dwerrowen are well aware of the value of gems. Where others value stones by weight and scarcity, Dwerrowen value them according to their beauty. Gold and gems are their greatest loves, but other metals are important to them too. Silver is easy to work and holds its shape better than gold. Its color is not as desirable, but it has its own appeal. Copper and other metals are also considered beautiful. While other metals are more common than gold, their comparative rarity lends them value. Iron ore is crucial to the Dwerrowen. With it they make weapons, armor, forges, and tools. Iron ore veins are seen as the bones of the earth; bones bequeathed to the Dwerrowen to be used for their own purposes. When forged with carbon, Dwerrowen transform iron into steel that is durable and hard without being brittle.
It is considered bad manners to flaunt accumulated wealth. Such behavior is offensive and has caused Dwerrowen who travel in the surface world to be deeply insulted. Wealth, particularly gems and precious metals, are for personal delight. They should be carefully hoarded and displayed for one’s closest family or cherished friends. It is a mark of acceptance and friendship among Dwerrowen for one to reveal his wealth. By doing so, he is not only sharing the joy of his possessions, but is saying, “You are my friend, whom I trust not to steal from me.” The exception to this, of course, is wealth displayed through excellent craftsmanship in utilitarian items. A beautifully crafted and gilded axe with an inlaid gem or two is not ostentatious if it is functional. Dwerrowen claim this is not a subjective distinction, but most other races find it hard to follow the reasoning.) Other races, and elves in particular, find this attitude very strange. Humans and elves delight in the display of their wealth, allowing others to admire its beauty. No Dwerrow would do such a thing. It’s no surprise that Dwerrowen are considered mean and greedy by races that cannot understand their motivation.
Though they would love to work exclusively with gold and gems, Dwerrowen are a practical folk. They know that iron and steel wear hard and are infinitely more practical as tools. Therefore they work extensively in iron and steel. Dwerrow craftsmen produce some of the finest weapons, armor, and tools in any world. These goods, because of their quality, bring higher prices that are gladly paid for Dwerrowen craftsmanship. All crafts necessary to ensure the strongholds are places of beauty are also worked.
Even though law is important, Dwerrowen are fairly individualistic. They have personal views that they often make known to others, in loud and boisterous tones. This proved to be a very difficult problem in the early history for the Dwerrowen. Most Guild or Clan Council meetings would become nothing more then shouting matches or physical fights with one Dwerrow trying to get his point across to another one, after all every Dwerrow thinks they are right. This led to an ages old custom coming into the council halls called the Hammer. In one such encounter a clan elder bashed a table to bits with a newly forged hammer trying to make a point about metal quality. This actually made the whole council chamber take notice, and as long as he held the hammer, he was the only one talking. The Council made this a practice for all meetings and it serves the Dwerrowen well, even into modern times. So in council the only one ever talking is the Dwerrow with “the hammer”.
A private people, Dwerrowen often have difficulty expressing emotion. Their society is structured to make displays of anger, envy, jealousy, and hatred unnecessary. They are capable of harboring grudges and hatreds, but these are usually directed outside of the stronghold. Dwerrowen rarely insult or distress each other, but other races distress them greatly. Not giving them the respect they demand, enquiring casually about wealth, or making them the butts of jokes, are guaranteed to make Dwerrowen angry. But this anger will normally only show itself as a scowl or a contraction of the brows. Other races have concluded, therefore, that Dwerrowen are humorless, not realizing that Dwerrowen do not release their anger. They allow it to simmer and increase until they explode, becoming their own stereotypes grumpy, taciturn, stubborn, and unyielding. Dwerrowen often despair at the extremely poor manners of other races.
The Dwerrowen’ desire for isolation should be no surprise. However they know that such views would not allow them to survive a war against the Queen. So they have begun to rely on the outside world a bit more. They still find the other races uncultured and boorish to deal with, but being the practical people they are they realize that it is needed for the races’ continued survival.
Dwerrowen families are called hearths, a term which means “the place where children are born and raised.” The hearth is the basic unit of Dwerrow society. A clan may be composed of two to a hundred or more families, depending on its strength. A hearth includes grandfather and grandmother, their children, and any offspring of their children. Family members share the same dwelling and are extremely close-knit. Unlike human or elf families, the Dwerrowen hearth is not an insular unit, but part of a larger clan. Hearths within a clan are united by blood, and this links the clan together, making it more than just a collection of individual families. A hearth has a single line of descent. Cousins, aunts, and uncles are not part of the hearth but, as members of the clan, are close to the family. In some ways the hearth is a convenient social organization rather than an important entity in its own right. Its primary purpose is to create a legal and social environment into which children may be born and to provide a stable environment in which children may be nurtured and educated in the rudiments of Dwerrow beliefs and conduct. At the core of the hearth is the institution of marriage. Married Dwerrowen are not romantics. Clan elders arrange the vast majority of marriages. Their main concern is to secure the continuation of the clan by ensuring that children are properly raised. They select suitable males from eligible candidates and ensure that the family has a warm and secure place to live.
Dwerrow society is about one-third female. Dwerrowen are monogamous, and marriages are entered into for life. That, along with the fact that males outnumber females about two to one, means that many males do not marry. A woman who loses her spouse will, after a year of mourning, remarry. Grandparents play as important a role in child rearing, as do parents; elders find mates for widowed grandmothers. Divorce does not exist in Dwerrow society. Couples who have grown distant from one other will continue to share the hearth and the responsibilities of child rearing. Only death can end a marriage.
Life Cycle of the Dwerrowen
Dwerrowen reproduce very slowly compared to humans and orcs. The birth of twins is rare and triplets and quadruplets do not occur. The majority of families have only one or two children to care for. This is seen, as a virtue because it allows them to lavish their time and care on one child, and give that child a better education than would be possible with several.
Until the age of 10, young Dwerrowen are cared for within the hearth. During these formative years, they learn to speak and are taught the traditions and history of their clan and stronghold. The children socialize with others daily, often in a special clan nursery, while their parents and grandparents are at work. In the nursery the children are taught the rudiments of their clan’s craft. Children from an armorer’s clan will play with miniature suits of armor; those from a baker’s clan will play with scales and bread dough. They are allowed to follow their natural instincts and are provided toy tools and allowed to dig tunnels and “hidey-holes” in the nursery. At the age of 10, more formal education begins. For eight hours every day the children learn runes and local history. Training in crafts begins with basic techniques and skills constantly drilled into them. Their education continues until their 25th year.
On their 25th birthday, great celebrations are held to mark the coming of age. The whole clan assembles to witness the event and join in the fun. The climax of the celebration arrives when parents deliver the youth to the clan’s guild master and apprenticeship begins. Males and females both serve the same apprenticeship, with no differentiation based on sex.
Once the apprenticeship begins, the youth leaves his family hearth and goes to live in the apprentices’ dormitories; if apprenticed to individual craftsmen, to the craftsman’s hearth. They may return home for one day a week, otherwise they are busy learning their trade. Dwerrowen apprenticeships are served for 25 years. At the end of the apprenticeship, celebrations are held to mark the Dwerrow’s entry into adulthood and the acceptance of adult responsibilities.
Once Dwerrowen have attained adulthood, they are eligible for marriage. Most female Dwerrowen are expected to marry at this time. Females from military clans, such as Hearth Guards, frequently delay marriage until later in life. Few young males have much hope of marrying soon, as the clan elders invariably choose suitors who have plied their craft for at least 10 years after apprenticeship. Males, achieving adult status, will spend their time honing their skills and amassing wealth. Those from military clans may leave their strongholds to go adventuring, in the hope of acquiring wealth and reputation enough to enhance their chances of marriage.
Adult Dwerrowen usually work 8 to 12 hours a day. Those with children are limited to 8 hours a day and are expected to spend the rest of the time with their children. Female Dwerrowen work the same hours until a month before they are ready to give birth. Pregnancies are 12 months long, and tradition dictates that the month preceding the birth be spent preparing the hearth for its new member. After working hours, the time of unmarried Dwerrowen is their own. For the first few hours, unmarried Dwerrowen usually seek their own solitude, and an opportunity to count their wealth. Then they will visit the hearths of married relatives. Around the hearths stories are told, songs are sung, and children play. Single Dwerrowen often congregate in one of the clan’s great halls to feast and swap stories, and to be amused by entertainers with juggling, acrobatics, and other displays of skill. After an evening’s amusement, they sleep 8 hours before rising to work.
Dwerrowen enjoy a wide variety of food, with a preference for meat. Hill, mountain, and sundered Dwerrowen keep cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, and fowl. These animals are grazed above ground on upland meadows or plateaus. Sundered Dwerrowen keep their livestock close to home, hill and mountain Dwerrowen allow their stock to roam. Although meat is a staple of their diet, large quantities of grains are also consumed. When possible wheat, rye and barley are grown close to the stronghold. They are harvested and kept in underground granaries. Many who live close to humans buy large quantities of grain to supplement their own production. Dwerrowen who live in the deep earth substitute various types of fungi for grains. Like the giant lizards and beetles, many of these fungi have been carefully bred to produce a wide variety of flavors to excite the palate. Most are very careful about the kinds of fungi they eat. Dwerrowen cooking also makes use of vegetables for flavor and variety. They do not eat spicy or heavily seasoned food, and consequently Dwerrowen cooking tastes bland to humans and elves, but the food is wholesome, consisting of thick stews served on broad slices of bread. While they are not voracious eaters, few humans or elves can eat as much as a Dwerrow in a single meal.
Dwerrowen clothing tends to be heavy, somber in color, and serviceable. Made from thick wool or spun strands of fungi, it is designed to keep the Dwerrowen warm in the unheated places in their strongholds. To the untrained eye, colors are uniformly drab grays and browns. Dwerrowen languages have over 500 words for rock, and almost as many to describe different rock hues. Particular shades of gray and brown reveal much about the clan and status of Dwerrowen, if one has the eye to see.
Boots, belts, and hats are usually made by the leather guilds of tanned leather from the hides of cattle or giant lizards.
Day 1 of the Ice Moon – Chanter’s Day/Day of the New Year -The beginning of the New Year is celebrated with a traditional chant, a chant in which the entire settlement participates. This is a ritual that Dwerrowen children start learning shortly after they learn to speak. This chant last the entire day, sunrise to sunset, and is designed to echo throughout the caverns and mines.
Day 15 of the Second Cycle of the Lover’s Moon – Mid-Year’s Day -Mid Year’s Day is marked by a large festival. Each hearth in the settlement will create a dish or entrée that will be part of a massive potluck party that will start at sunrise and end at sunset. There will usually be games of skill and chance, feats of strength, and so on. This is also the day on which male and female Dwerrowen children who have reached their twentieth naming day in the past year will celebrate the reaching of manhood or womanhood. They are at a marriageable age after this day.
Day 14 of the Silent Moon – The Day of Mourning -This is the day that commemorates the Destruction of Norgrirn and other Dwerrowen settlements by the Dark Queen and her armies. Any Dwerrow that has fallen due to the war with the Queen will be mourned on this day. Dwerrowen mourn by wearing grey clothes – all grey or black. Their faces are completely covered for the entire day, and from sunrise to sunset, no mourning Dwerrow will eat or drink anything. After sunset, however, the mourning becomes a wake for every Dwerrow who has fallen, either in battle or not. Heavy drinking and eating mark the wake.
Day 1-3 of the Harvest Moon – Celebration of the Craftsman -The first days of the Forge Fathers moons are spent in celebration – a three-day party of harvesting, eating, drinking, and fun. Like the Mid-Year’s Day celebration, there are games. Unlike the previous party, there are also prizes for the best craftsmanship, crops, and so on. The judges actually begin deliberating on the eve of the first day, and will not make a decision until the eve of the third day.
Day 29-31 of the Second Cycle of the Harvest Moon – Fathers Faire -The last days of Forge Fathers moons are spent in a similar fashion to the Celebration of the Craftsman, except for the harvesting. A feast is prepared with a portion of the settlement’s harvest (never more than a tenth) that is donated by all within the settlement – whether it is foodstuffs or money to purchase foodstuffs, or even crafts with which to barter for foodstuffs. In this way, all members of the community have participated equally in providing for the feast.
Day 31 of the Frost Moon – Day of Silence/Last Year’s Day -The last day of the year is spent in silent contemplation. Similar to the Day of Mourning, no member of a community will eat or drink until after sunset. They will silently contemplate the passing of the last year, and what the coming year will bring. No work is to be done – this in the only day of the year on which every forge is cold, every kitchen is silent, and every distillery is empty. After sunset, each Dwerrow will eat only one loaf of bread (usually with meats and cheeses baked into it) and will drink only water.