The Dwarfs are an ancient and proud race, although not quite as old as the Elves. In the distant past they ruled a great empire spanning the whole range of the mighty Worlds Edge Mountains. Their empire fell to the invasions of Orcs, Goblins, Skaven and other malign races, and today what has remained of their once-interconnected fortress cities have become isolated and scattered, and the Dwarfs themselves vastly reduced. Ever since these invasions, the Dwarf civilisation has remained threatened by total destruction as they fight a bitter never-ending war against these same enemies.
Many Dwarfs can now be found living in the cities of men. The Dwarfs who continue to live in the ancient Dwarf cities are known as Imperial Dwarfs, and comprise a deeply secretive, insular, chauvinistic kindred of the Dwarf race, and are the most feared and powerful of all Dwarf warriors.
As well as defending their own besieged realm, Dwarfs have often given their support to other races against common enemies. Their closest ally is The Empire.
The Dwarfs are masters of the forge and of metal working, where they make use of many minerals and metals including their famed Gromril.
Dwarfs are short, powerful and squat. They are highly resistant to the effects of magic including the corrupting effects of Chaos energy. One part of this means that outside of rune smithing, they have no ability to use magic.
The Dwarfs are an ancient race with a long history. Dwarfs divide their history into a number of distinct periods:
- Time of the Ancestor Gods, the era of migration - led by Grungni, Grimnir and Valaya, the Dwarfs migrate northwards, slowly colonising the Worlds Edge Mountains, and reaching as far as Norsca. The first strongholds are founded.
- Coming of Chaos, the disappearance of Grimnir.
- Golden Age, the founding of the Dwarf empire - Karaz-a-Karak is established as the capital of the Dwarf empire. Dwarfs and Elves meet for the first time, establishing trade to their mutual benefit. In the Elf/Dwarf Alliance both races rid the Old World of Chaos and other evil races.
- War of Vengeance - Elven treachery and Dwarven stubbornness leads to war which devastates both races. The Dwarfs inherit the Old World but their power is severely weakened.
- Time of Woes, the age of darkness - volcanic activity shatters the Dwarf empire, and precedes a massive migration of the Goblinoid races, who besiege the Dwarf empire.
- Goblin Wars, an age of unrelenting struggle between the Dwarfs, and the Goblinoids and other foul creatures.
- Silver Age, an age of reconquest - aided by Sigmar Heldenhammer and the united human tribes, the Goblinoids are driven from the Old World. Several strongholds are retaken by the Dwarfs.
- Chaos Wars, Men and Dwarfs fight side by side once more in the Great War against Chaos.
Dwarfs are organised into strongholds each governed by a king. The kings of each stronghold are independent but all swear allegiance to the Dwarven High King.
Each stronghold is home to several Dwarf clans. Social ranking is based on clan. The lowest ranking are the disgraced Clans who are often outcasts from the holds. The next lowest are the Clans which have no home hold, and instead wander from hold to hold as traders, as well as work in the cities of the Empire. The middle ranking class are the respectable clans who dwell within the holds. The top ranking clans are the clans which engage in the most respected trades, such as goldworking, weaponsmithing, runesmithing, and engineering. The ruling class is the royal clan, whose members are the nobility, one of whom is the king of the Hold.
Dwarfs keep titles simple, and with the exception of the King and his heirs, the princes, simply call their nobles thanes.
Dwarf clans are extended families who can trace their ancestry back to a founding ancestor who may have settled a specific valley, built a strong hold or founded a mine. The fact that the Dwarfs are exacting craftsmen and would never simply mass-produce their crafts means that their work remains rare and in high demand. Consequently, prices for Dwarf work are always high.
Dwarf clans are made up of many families, all of which share a common homeland. Often the clan has long lived elsewhere, as the original homeland has been lost or destroyed, although the clan has never given up the dreams of one day reclaiming their homeland and building it anew. The ancestors of the clan are highly honored, and part of this honor involves singing their sagas and maintaining their tombs and relics.
Each Dwarf hold is a self-contained economy. Most are at the centre of a network of smaller holds which operate their own mines, farms and workshops. Trade exists both within this network, and with the outside world.
Dwarfs trade the raw materials and finished goods for food and other goods they cannot easily acquire. The skills of the Dwarfs at working materials have not, however, declined like their empire, meaning that their goods will always attract a high price. Good farming land is scarce in the mountains, and Dwarfs do not make good farmers, but they are enthusiastic hunters and often feast on the meat of beasts they have killed while roaming the mountains around them. Grain and fruit are brought into the mountains by traders and are bartered for metalwork and gold.
Age, wealth and skill
The most important principles of Dwarf society are often summarised as three things: age, wealth and skill. The more of these that you have, the higher you are in Dwarf society. Dwarfs do not boast of their family achievements, they merely set the the record straight and proclaim their ancestors' greatness by their wealth and skills.
The other important part of Dwarf culture is their beards. Dwarfs never cut or trim their beards, as the length of a beard indicates age and thus wisdom. Those with the longest beards are looked to for leadership.
Dwarfs have an affinity for the past and constantly seek to remember their fore bearers by repairing and maintaining their products. All Dwarfs know how to reforge an ancient blade and are constantly trying to incorporate ancient relics into their newer works.
They also enjoy hoarding their hard earned treasure and gold. When a Dwarf dies, his wealth goes to his family and so passed down the generations. This process ensures the memory of the dead and secures a Dwarf's supply of money for a more desperate time. Often a Dwarf will measure his security by how far off the ground they are when they sit on their treasures. Often the supplies of the stronghold itself are so huge as to be a massive attraction to Orc and Goblin hordes willing to take the risk of death to gain huge amounts of gold.
Dwarfs have a rigid and unyielding sense of honour, which is centered around the bond or promise. A promise does not die with an oath-maker, nor does treachery die with an oath-breaker. A Dwarf will be bound to an unfulfilled promise made by an ancestor, and will commit themselves to their fulfilment. Likewise they will look to the descendants of oathbreakers for recompense. Serious breaches of faith against the Dwarfs are recorded in the Great Book of Grudges. This massive tome is kept in Karaz-a-Karak, the capital of the old Dwarf empire, and constitutes something of a chronicle of Dwarf history.
The Dwarf language is called Khazalid. It is an ancient language that has remained unchanged over many thousands of years both in its spoken and written runic form, absorbing only a few words from Elven and human languages. Khazalid is kept a secret language, and is rarely spoken in the company of other races, except for their feared and infamous battle cries.
Khazalid includes very few words of obvious Elven or Human origin. By contrast there are many loan words from Khazalid in the tongues of Men, which suggests that Dwarfs must have taught some fundamental words to their taller allies. This is most obviously the case of words to do with traditional Dwarven craftskills of smithing and masonry, skills which Dwarfs taught Men many centuries ago.
Khazalid well reflects the nature of the Dwarfs. There are a relatively large amount words for things such as different kinds of rock, underground tunnels and precious metals. It is said there are over a hundred words for "gold" in Khazalid, each subtly different and describing its lustre, color, purity and hardness. On the other hand, there are few words for abstract concepts. Words for physical things are also used for concepts which the Dwarfs perceive as related. An example is the Khazalid word for mountain, which is also used to denote concepts such as unyielding, enduring and permanence.
The sound of Khazalid is guttural. Dwarfs have deep, resonant voices and a tendency to speak more loudly than is strictly necessary. Khazalid vowel sounds in particular are uncompromisingly precise and heavily accented. Consonants are often spat aggressively or gargled at the back of the throat. Contrary to Men, whose dialect differs widely depending on geographic location, the Dwarfs remain fairly consistent in dialect across the Dwarven realm, although there are exceptions.
Dwarfs are well-prepared for war as each is already a battle-hardened warrior. In times of war, members of the clans will form regiments of Warriors, Quarrellers, and Thunderers under their own leader.
The superior Dwarven craftsmanship and engineering skills give their armies the most advanced technology including superb armour, black powder weaponry such as handguns and cannons, and powerful war machines. Dwarfs tend to prefer close combat where they are more than a match for most other creatures. Dwarfs do not make use of the wild winds of magic in the form of wizardry but instead rely on the powerful runic magic of their Runesmiths.
Dwarfs are not suited to riding beasts, let alone horses, but occasionally ride in their advanced Gyrocopters through the sky to attack their foes with a small cannon. Occasionally Dwarfs are mounted on Dwarf-drawn thrones if they are of sufficient rank and power.
- Alaric the Mad
- Josef Bugman
- Burlok Damminson
- Thorgrim Grudgebearer
- Byrrnoth Grundadrakk
- Gotrek Gurnisson
- Sven Hasselfriesian
- Kurgan Ironbeard
- Ungrim Ironfist
- Malakai Makaisson
- Snorri Nosebiter
Notes & sources
- ↑ Grudgelore, p. 85
- Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs, 1996
- Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs, 7th Edition, pp. 26-27
- Warhammer Fantasy Battle, 3rd Edition, p. 213