Dwarves, sometimes called the Stout Folk, are a natural humanoid race common throughout parts of Toril as well as Abeir. Dwarves are a tough, tradition-abiding folk known for their strong martial traditions and beautiful craftsmanship.
Dwarves are a short race, as their name implies, standing between 4'3" and 4'9" on average, with gold dwarves a bit shorter. What Dwarves lack in height they make up for in bulk; they are, on average, about as heavy as humans. A dwarf can weigh anywhere from about 160 to 220 lbs. Dwarven males are a bit taller and heavier than their female counterparts. Like humans dwarves have a wide variety of skin, eye, and hair colors, typically pale among shield dwarves and deeply tanned or brown amongst gold dwarves. Hazel eyes are common throughout the race, with blue eyes more common amongst shield dwarves and brown or green eyes found amongst the gold dwarves.
Male dwarves are often bald and grow thick facial hair sometimes used to display social status. Unusually for humanoids, both sexes naturally grow ample facial hair  though the majority of shield dwarf females shave their beards off. This hair is often dark in hue, though among shield dwarves blond or red hair is just as common. Gold dwarves take the care of facial hair to an extreme, carefully oiling and grooming it, with some adding perfume and ornamentations.
Dwarves are a long-lived race, though not so much as the Tel-quessir, and reach physical maturity somewhat later than humans. A dwarf is traditionally considered an adult once he or she reaches age fifty. Dwarves age much like humans but over a longer period of time, remaining vigorous well past 150 years. Most dwarves live to see their bicentennial and a few live to be over 400.
Dwarves are unusually tough for humanoids, in more ways than one. Dwarven stomachs, for instance, are resistant to virtually all poisons and it takes less effort for a dwarf to get back on its feet than other races. Dwarves also have dense bodies and are difficult to push around as a result, as well as having the capacity to bear loads that other races might find hindering with little ill effect. Dwarves also have a sense about them that few races do, with a preternatural awareness of their surroundings useful for a subterranean race as well as good judgment all-around in general.
Many dwarves are difficult to like and lack the charm of many other smaller races, such as halflings or gnomes, though this is not a trait common to all dwarves and some possess a great deal of charismatic power. Furthermore, dwarves are not entirely unsocial and more than a few have a natural knack for bartering or judging the value of an offer, something that sits well with their legendary crafting abilities.
It is occasionally believed that dwarves possess the ability to see in the blackest darkness, like a drow, and there is evidence that this may be true though it is also possible that the tales are misheard recollections of duergar, who are often mistaken for dwarves. However, many dwarves do have an affinity in other ways for the caverns in which they live, possessing a natural affinity for recognizing unusual patterns in stonework that can seem almost supernatural at times.
Whether or not the dwarven claim that they were carved from the world’s stone is true, the dwarves share many qualities considered similar to the stone they live with. Strong, hardy, and dependable dwarves are polite, particularly elders, and possess a wisdom beyond that of many other races. Dwarves value their traditions, regardless of the subrace they come from, and look for inspiration from ancestral heroes. Dwarves are also known for their stubborn nature and cynicism, traits widespread amongst the dwarves but which contribute to and are commonly offset by their bravery and tenacity.
Dwarven friendship is hard to earn, but is strong once won. Naturally dour and suspicious, the stout folk are slow to trust others, specifically towards those outside their family, suspecting the worst of an individual until the outsider proves many times their good will. Once this trust is gained dwarves hold their friends to it and view betrayals, even minor ones, with a vicious propensity for vengeance. A common gnomish oath, remarking on this dwarven sense of justice, is “if I'm lying, may I cross a dwarf.”
For dwarves, loyalty is more than a word and that it should be both valued and rewarded. Dwarves believe it a gift and mark of respect to stand beside a friend in combat, and an even deeper one to protect that ally from harm. Many dwarven tales subsequently revolve around the sacrifice of dwarves for their friends and family. Just as dwarves are known for their dependability as friends and allies, dwarves also harbor grudges far longer than many other races. This may be on an individual basis between a dwarf and one who has wronged him or against entire races, even if warfare with the enemy has long since ceased.
Dwarves are a careful and deliberate race, with a more serious disposition than other races, who they sometimes view as flighty or reckless. A dwarf does all things with care and a stubborn resolve, with brash or cowardly behavior unusual for the race. However, dwarves do succumb easily to wrath or greed, which are the most common vices of the race.
Dwarves who leave their homeland to become adventurers do so for a number of reasons. In part, a dwarf might be motivated by simple avarice, given the dwarven love of beautiful things. As often, however, a dwarf might be motivated by a drive to do what is right for others (particularly their clan) or a love of excitement for, as settled as dwarves are, they rarely tire of thrills. But even these wayward dwarves retain the spirit of their brethren, hoping that their accomplishments abroad can bring honor to themselves, their clan, or both. Given that successful dwarven adventurers are likely to recover rare items or defeat enemies of the dwarven people during such challenges, this is a hope not entirely without merit.
Dwarves highly value the ties between family members and friends, weaving tightly knit clans. Dwarves particularly respect elders, from whom they expect sound leadership and the wisdom of experience, as well as ancestral heroes or clan founders. This idea carries on to relations with other races and dwarves are deferential even to the elders of another, non-dwarven race.
Likewise, dwarves, perhaps moreso than most other races, turn to their gods for guidance and protection. Non-evil dwarves look to the divine for comfort and inspiration, while the wicked look to their divine overlords for methods through which to obtain power over others. Individual dwarves might be faithless, but the race as a whole, regardless of subrace, has a strong inclination for religion and almost every community maintains at least one temple or ancestral shrine.
Most dwarven societies are divided into clans built along family ties and political allegiances. These clans are usually led by hereditary rulers, often monarchs of a sort and descended from the founder of the clan. Dwarves strongly value loyalty to these rulers and to the clan as a whole and even objective dwarves tend to side primarily with their kin over other races or communities.
Most dwarven clans focus on one or two kinds of crafting, such as blacksmithing, jewelry, engineering, or masonry. Dwarves strive to avoid overspecialization by sending some of their youth as apprentices to other clans, which also helps to foster racial unity. Because of the long age dwarves exhibit these apprenticeships may last decades.
Dwarves do not forgive past wrongs easily and the entire race has more or less declared war on goblins and orcs as a whole, wiping them out where they find them. Many dwarves view these races as a foul infestation of their mountain homes and their duty to purge them. Likewise, many dwarves view drow and grimlocks with a similar hatred and few dwarves have forgotten their ancestral hatred of the giants who once enslaved them. Because of this dwarves generally view related races, such as half-orcs, with distrust.
In regards to their distant cousins the azers, duergar, and galeb duhr dwarven opinions vary. Many view their distant relations with sympathy for their prior enslavement. On the other hand, duergar and dwarves have long been enemies and many dwarves view them with little more love than they do the drow who share the Underdark with the duergar.
Dwarves get along pretty well with gnomes, with whom they share a love of fine crafting, and passably with humans, half-elves, half-eladrin, and halflings. However, most dwarves commonly believe that true friendships can only be forged over long periods of time and a common saying is that “the difference between an acquaintance and a friend is about a hundred years,” meaning that few members of the shorter-lived races ever forge strong bonds with dwarves. There are exceptions, however, and some of the strongest friendships are those between a dwarf and a human whose grandparents and parents were also on good terms with the dwarf.
Most dwarves prefer living in underground cities near the surface and above the Underdark, built around mines that provide much of their livelihood. Carved into stone these cities may take centuries to complete but are practically ageless once finished. Though dwarves are typically a martial race by nature these cities have civilian populations that compose about one fourth of the total population and which are made up primarily of the young, the elderly, or a few regular adults. Females typically compose as large a portion of the military as male dwarves do.
In their own homelands, dwarves continuously carve out new living space, mining the mountains’ riches as they do so. Dwarves in general stick to these locales, disliking travel, particularly along waterways, but those who live in human lands can find make themselves quite comfortable. Most who do make a living as mercenaries, smiths, or artisans of various kinds. Dwarves are eagerly sought after as warriors, their reputation of courage and loyalty making them excellent choices for bodyguards.
There exist several dwarven subraces. The best known are listed below.
- Gold dwarves (Hill Dwarves)
- Strong and muscular dwarves with tanned skin from the south, largely in the Great Rift area.
- Shield dwarves
- Tall dwarves, by comparison, who populate the northern reaches of west and central Faerûn.
- Duergar (Gray Dwarves)
- Duergar are a closely related race of humanoids, but separated from generations of divergence, slavery under the illithids, and the infusion of diabolic blood. They hold themselves to be a seperate race completely, and are often insulted if compared to surface dwarves.
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