Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pellatarrum: My Dwarves are Different

The most important thing to know about Pellatarran dwarves is that they're happy. This doesn't mean they're cheerful and whistle all the time, or that they can't be cranky bastards (they frequently are), but they aren't the pointless, doomed race that so often crops up in fiction. They live in a paradise of their own making, an unassailable continent-sized city-state of endless crafting, filled to the brim with other dwarves who know everyone else's business. They have a purpose to their lives, and that gives them joyful hearts. If they are not mining, crafting, or building, they are exploring the depths of the Underdark, which is where most of their warriors learn the art of combat.

Fully 90% of all dwarves live in the Dayspire. Of the rest, 5% are either colonists or splinter sects who have set up a home in other places of rich mining. 4% are either traveling merchants or diplomatic representatives of some kind. The remaining 1% are criminals, exiles, adventurers, or insane (sometimes all of the above.)

The best way to imagine dwarves in Pellatarrum is to compare them to ultra-orthodox Jews of Germanic descent who are now living in Israel. Think Fiddler on the Roof, but with mining and battleaxes.

If anyone on Pellatarrum has invented gunpower, it is the dwarves, and that technology would be considered a state secret and guarded with fanatical jealousy.

The specifics of the dwarven language are discussed here

Pellatarran dwarves are still short and stocky as per usual, but their hair is made of ultra-fine threads of metal (so when a dwarf has the name "Copperbeard" he almost always has a beard made from actual copper). These are typically precious metals like gold, silver, copper, or platinum, or useful metals like iron, lead, nickel, or tin, but every so often a dwarf is born with a truly rare or unusual hair type like titanium, vanadium, or cobalt. These dwarves almost always have great destinies.

Only truly destitute or outcast dwarves would ever consider selling their hair for money, as it is a symbol of their clan and is representative of their family's fortune. It is a great degradation to un-beard or otherwise shear a dawrf against their will (equivalent to rape*), and those who do such a thing -- assuming they were tough enough to win the fight in the first place -- will be hunted down by the victim's family and butchered without mercy.

While it is rare for dwarves to cut their own hair, it does happen. Typically this is done between lovers or family members, who will grow out a special strand, cut it, and then weave or smelt it into jewelery. These tokens of devotion (whose name in Dwarven translates to "a piece of me, for you") are considered priceless family heirlooms.

Dwarven eyes are similarly odd. Instead of the usual pupil-iris-sclera found on humans, dwarven eyes have just the pupil on a sclera the color and consistency of semi-precious opaque stones. According to legend, the Shapers of dwarven lore had actual gemstone eyes: emerald, ruby, diamond, sapphire.

With the exception of the quartz, all of these are acceptable dwarf eye colors.

When dwarves die, they do not rot; they petrify. Dwarves are never buried with their armor, weapons, or other treasures, for those belong to their families. Instead, they are buried within tombs or sarcophagi of stone, where their flesh and blood can become one with the earth from which the root of the dwarven race sprang.

*Shaving the body of a dead dwarf is seen as disgustingly perverse, a la necrophilia, and no decent dwarf will engage in it or countenance its usage.

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