Dwarves are among the wisest and longest living races of Qairn. Stout, traditionalistic and steadfast in their never-ending desire to progress and advance, much of the world’s knowledge, science and industry was captained by dwarves. If the dragonborn of Arkhosia brought the light of civilization to Qairn’s dark corners, it was the dwarven people who lit the flame.
Dwarves average about 4 1/2 feet in height and are very broad, weighing as much as an adult humna. Dwarves have the same variety of skin, eye and hair colors as humans, although dwarf skin is sometimes gray or sandstone red and red hair is more common among them. Male dwarves are often bald and braid their long beards into elaborate patterns. Female dwarves braid their hair to show house and ancestry. Dwarven attire, equipment and architecture are decorated with bold, geometric shapes, natural gems and ancestral faces.
Although they reach physical maturity at roughly the same age as humans, dwarves age more slowly and remain vigorous well past 150 years of age, often living to see 200.
Proudly proclaiming they were made from the earth itself, dwarves share many qualities with the rock they love. They are strong, hardy and dependable. They value their ancestral traditions, which they preserve through the ages as fiercely as they defend the carved structure of their mountain homes.
At the same time, however, dwarves are natural crafters, forgers and inventors, constantly seeking methods to improve the world the world around them. They were the first true artisans, designing and producing many of the engines and technology that drive life in Qairn today. Dwarven mentality, while upholding the old tradition, is often obsessed with creation – discovery and construction are the two pillars of dwarven society. By this token, all dwarves share a love of knowledge, of gossip, secrets and lore. Dwarves delight in discussion, research and debate and are clearly recognized as the most scholarly of the Qairn’s free people.
In ancient times, the dwarves were a far more penitent race, seeking guidance and protection from the gods. They once looked to the divine for strength, hope and inspiration, or they sought to propitiate cruel or destructive gods. Nowadays, however, the more modern sensibility of the progressive dwarf has turned many of the stout folk away from their patron deity, Gad the Earththinker and towards the gods of science and invention. Some dwarves, notably House Amethyst, still revere the ancient traditions of respect and contemplation of the earth but they are a dying breed.
The dwarves of Qairn organize themselves into many House, tightly-knit political and familial organizations with more in common to a corporation or a guild than a true clan. While there are nearly Houses in total, the four most powerful control much of the wealth and influence in the wake of Arkhosia’s fall. House Amethyst, as mentioned, upholds the spiritual and ecclesiastical traditions of the dwarven people. House Onyx in the wealthiest and reputed for their extensive mining practices all across the globe. House Jasper is the most scholarly, having founded some of Qairn’s most prestigious universities and given birth to some of its brightest minds. House Topaz, finally, is the vanguard in the emerging science of clockwork artifice – the mechanical wonders designed by the dwarves of House Topaz are centuries beyond the technology of many other races.
Dwarves speak Dwarven, though most of them are equally as, if not more, proficient with Common. The dwarven alphabet, reputedly based on the giant alphabet, forms the basis for both the Arkhosian and Common alphabets.
Among Qairn’s civilized races, the dwarves are perhaps the most culinary. Famed for favoring small, soft meat, such as dog, goat and snake, dwarven cooking is an art form and, most agree, an acquired taste. They have a great love of spicy, piquant flavors, as well as the brewing of tea and the smoking of weed.