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 they call Karak Ankor (translated as the Everlasting Realm)[1c], 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 remains 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. They extract minerals, metals and precious stones from the earth beneath their mountain homes which creates a labyrinth of delvings and caverns reaching ever deeper. [3a]
- 1 History
- 2 Physiology
- 3 Society
- 4 Language
- 5 Warfare
- 6 Famous Dwarfs
- 7 See also
- 8 Sources
The Dwarfs are an ancient race with a long history. Dwarfs divide their history into a number of distinct periods [2b]:
Time of the Ancestor Gods
According to one account in the Book of Grudges, that most ancient of all Dwarf books of lore, the Coming of Chaos rent the earth and sky, and tore the very mountains apart. The sky darkened and turbulent winds of multi-colored magic clouded the air. It was evident that something terrible was occurring. The Dwarfs watched the sky, uncertain of what happening.
The Dwarfs themselves maintain that it was Grungni who warned of the Coming of Chaos, and showed them how to delve deep into the mountains. There deep in the mountains they took shelter as Chaos scoured the world. In their wake, the winds of magic settled as a fine layer of dark magic mutating and corrupting everything. The Dwarfs huddled in their caves and mines as everything on the surface was tainted by Chaos. Eventually the tempest passed and the Dwarfs were able to emerge into the daylight again. They found the world had changed and terrifying monsters and daemons roamed the lands in broad daylight.
The Dwarfs were not defenseless. The ancient tales tell of how Grungni taught them how to inscribe magic runes onto their weapons and armor. He armed Grimnir with two powerful axes and armour harder than the mountains themselves. From the underground strongholds they sallied forth to do battle with the hordes of Chaos. Valaya protected the Dwarfs against the dark and corrupting magic of Chaos and Grimnir slew many daemons. They did not have the numbers to turn away the hordes of Chaos, but at least they kept the mountains clear of their evil.
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.
The 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.
The age of darkness: volcanic activity shatters the Dwarf empire, and precedes a massive migration of the Goblinoid races, which besiege the Dwarf empire.
Aan age of unrelenting struggle between the Dwarfs, and the Goblinoids and other foul creatures.
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.
Men and Dwarfs fight side by side once more in the Great War against Chaos.
Dwarfs are short, powerful and squat. They are highly resistant to the effects of magic, including the corrupting effects of Chaos energy. The corollary of this resistance is that, outside of their own unique power, rune smithing, Dwarfs have no ability to use magic. Needs Citation
Dwarfs are organised into strongholds each governed by a king. The kings of each stronghold are independent but all swear allegiance to the Dwarfen High King.
Age, wealth and skill
The most important principles of Dwarf society are often summarised as three things: age, wealth and skill. [3a] 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 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. [3a]
Dwarfs have an affinity for the past and constantly seek to remember their forebears 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. [3a]
They also enjoy hoarding their hard-earned treasure and gold. When a Dwarf dies, his wealth goes to his family and so passes 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. [3a]
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.
The standing of individual Dwarf women is usually taken from their husbands, or former husband in the case of widows. Dwarf fathers look to their daughters to marry above their station and hence raise the status of her family. [2a]
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.
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.
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.
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 (unlike their empire) have never declined, 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. [3a]
To even ask for a hand in marriage, a prospective groom must be able to wrap his beard around his brides waist at least once. [2a]
As Dwarf women are so rare, the grooms father pays a dowry to her father - its size calculated by the nuptial scales using a formula that takes into account the weight of the bride, the wealth of her clan and that of the clan she is marrying into. [2a]
A plump, healthy bride is considered most desirable - wide of girth, round of hip and heavy of bosom. Some brides spend upto a month feasting before their marriage. [2a]
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.
Females are much rarer than males, with only 1-2 of every 10 births being female and consequently a daughter is seen as a blessing from Valaya. Dwarf women on average live upto fifty years longer than the men, and there are records of female Living Ancestors - also known as Daughters of Valaya. In general they run the household and raise the children but some have served on the Council of Elders or ruled as Queens - however this is usually only until they marry. [2a]
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.
- Dwarf Warrior - Warriors will form the backbone of every dwarf clan and every throng in every engagement. These uncompromising warriors hail from one of the many clans within a Hold, which consist mostly of youths barely a hundred years of age.
- Quarreller - Since the Dwarf first came to the World edge mountains the crossbow has been the dwarfs favorite range weapon. It will easily beat the goblins weak bows, and it is even capable of dropping a heavily armored Black Orc dead in its track.
- Longbeard - A Dwarf Longbeard is the oldest, most experienced warrior within a Dwarf Throng, a fact evidenced by the length of their beards. These ensure that they receive the proper respect from other Dwarfs, who have been taught quite rightly to always respect their elders.
- Ranger - Rangers are Dwarfs who serve as scouts, and hunters to a Dwarf Karak. Rangers spend most of their time in the surface to keep constant vigil over the Karaks borders, hunt game, and map the land, eventually becoming a Dwarf Kings eyes and ears to events happened in the outside world.
- Dwarf Miner - When a Dwarf hold goes to war, many mining clans will send their warriors to battle. As a gesture of pride in their profession, they will tend to carry picks rather than axes, but such is their skill with them that this is no disadvantage.
- Ironbreaker - In a labyrinth of tunnels the Ironbreakers stand guard. The protectors of all that is sacred, the Ironbreakers battle tirelessly to prevent the desecration of their homes.
- Hammerer - Hammerers are forged in battle and selected for their bold and courageous nature. Renowned for their elite fighting skills and steadfast loyalty, Hammerers are the preferred bodyguards for many Thanes and Lords. As their name suggest, these warriors are equipped with massive warhammer that are imbued with Runes, making theirs swings and attacks all the more powerful. Hammerers act as a Dwarf King or Thane's bodyguard.
- Slayer - Slayers seek death in combat in order to atone for some wrongdoing. Although they seek death, Dwarfs are incapable of deliberately fighting to lose, and so always enter the fray to win. Therefore Slayers spend as much time as possible improving their warrior skills.
- Irondrake - While in times of need, Ironbreakers must deploy drakeguns - mighty weapons that belch chemical fire upon tightly-packed enemy formations. Such is the power of the drakegun that only a few Ironbreakers are capable of wielding its flesh-scorching punishment.
- Dwarf King - A King is the highest ruler of a dwarf hold, they have absolute authority and power, but swear aligence to the Dwarf high king. Kings are a rare sight on the battlefield, they join battle only on the most dire of need, such when their hold is under siege and defeat is certain.
- Dwarf Lord - Dwarf Lord are those Thanes whom have been promoted to lead a dwarf throng into battle as the supreme commander. When a Dwarf King send an army to defeat the enemies of the dwarf race, defend his hold, or to send missions and expeditions, the King appoint several clans and their extended families to answer the call of battle.
- Runelord - Revered by their holds, the Runelords are the greatest of all the Runesmiths. As custodians of ancient lore they are naturally suspicious and jealously guard the secrets and rituals of their hammercraft. On the battle field Runelords dampen and channel the magic of their foes, rending it harmless. They alone have the ability to forge magical items using powerful runes – a skill passed on to a worthy relation, or taken to the grave.
- Dwarf Master Engineer - these Dwarfs are one of the highest ranking members of the Engineers Guild who are tasked by the Guild's leaders to help a Dwarf throng into battle by means of repairing and directing batteries of artillery. These Dwarfs are expert tacticians, inventors, and doughty warriors in their own right, and while they are used more in the creation of complex fortifications or designing new mines, these Dwarfs are more than capable of fighting in the front lines.
- Dwarf Thane - Thanes are the patriarchs of a dwarf clan. In times of war Thanes lead their clan to battle in every dwarf army. Thanes fight at the front of their clan leading his friends and family behind him. Some clans have their own personal heraldry and colors and these will be carried by Thanes as battle standards of their clan.
- Runesmith - Runesmiths are the closest thing Dwarfs have to magic users in their culture. Runesmiths learn the ancient crafts of working metal and magic into Runes of power. The oldest and most respected of them are the Runemasters. The Runesmiths are members of the Guild of Runesmiths, which is said to have its origins in the days of the Ancestor God Grungni.
- Dwarf Engineer - Engineers, as the name suggests, are the Dwarven masters of technology and gadgets, continuing a long tradition of engineering craftsmanship. They employ their expertise to great effect in combat, shooting blunderbusses, throwing grenades at the enemy and even calling down artillery bombardments. In melee, they employ even more explosives or pummel their foes into submission using their engineering spanners and other assorted tools.
- Alaric the Mad
- Josef Bugman
- Burlok Damminson
- Thorgrim Grudgebearer
- Byrrnoth Grundadrakk
- Gotrek Gurnisson
- Sven Hasselfriesian
- Kurgan Ironbeard
- Ungrim Ironfist
- Malakai Makaisson
- Snorri Nosebiter
- Crazed Khargrim
- Gotrek Starbreaker
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (8th Edition)
- 2: Grudgelore
- 3: White Dwarf 152 (UK)
- 3a: The Dwarf Realms by Nigel Stillman, pg. 51
- Warhammer Fantasy Battles (3rd Edition), pg. 213
- Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (4th Edition), Needs Citation
- Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (6th Edition), Needs Citation
- Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (Revised 6th Edition), pgs. 26-27, pgs. 32-37
- Dwarfs: Stone and Steel