Tuesday, January 21, 2014

the Dwarves of Kcaltsim and Grethwrav

Click on the images to make them bigger.

Dwarves are found in the northern plains, deserts and wilds surrounding the Kcaltsim mountains. They are a short but tough race, standing about four-and-a-half feet tall, stocky and muscular. They have light gray skin and dark eyes, usually hazel or brown colored. Both males and females typically shave their heads bald though the men will grow out thick black beards. They are a long-lived race, surviving for two or three centuries.

They were once subterranean, but have mostly abandoned the caves of their homeland. They are known for their hunting rituals, strong agrarian traditions, and beautiful craftsmanship. Those Dwarves who are not farmers or hunters have great proficiency with metalcrafting or woodworking. Rarely seen outside of the lands surrounding the Kcaltsim mountains, those that do travel are usually solitary and keep to themselves. When they travel with others, they hire their services out in exchange for protection or have enough coin to outfit their caravan with the best mercenaries silver can buy.

Dwarves have an animistic view of the world and believe that hunting an animal is a sacred blessing, not a birthright. If a Dwarf can hunt and kill an animal then they are considered that animal's equal. If a Dwarf can stalk and catch an animal with their bare hands then they are considered that animal's superior. The leadership of the Dwarves is based on this tradition of receiving a title from hunting. Those who cannot hunt become farmers. While farmers make up a lower caste of Dwarven society, they are regarded as an essential part of the community and Dwarves have many feast days to celebrate the bounties of harvest.

Dwarves use a form of rune magic that they developed when they still lived underground, it is used to mold and enhance stone and metal work, but also to protect locations and people. They do not rely on the magic since the runes fade after a period of time. Wild Weargs and wolf packs live throughout the Kcaltsim mountains, and can be seen living among every Dwarf community. Dwarves have an innate telepathic bond with Weargs and rarely travel unaccompanied by one. Visitors that have proven themselves friends to the Dwarves have been known to report being guided to oasises of water or food by Wearg packs.

There are also Dwarves living on the Grethwrav Peninsula, the Svarth. These Dwarves still live in underground complexes in the mountains of the peninsula. They look exactly like their northern cousins but have luminescent red colored eyes. The southern Dwarves, the Svarth, are adept magicians and do not appear to age, they credit their immortality to a deity who they regard as the only god worthy of their worship. Calling him by name is considered blasphemy, when they speak of him they call him the Sleeping Lord. Amongst the Chiryƍ, Nymeniens and Noblei, he is called the Sleeping Bastard.

The Sleeping Lord has given many gifts of power and magic to the Svarth of the Grethwrav Peninsula, and in exchange demands complete servitude from them, but rarely appears before them or intercedes into their lives. The Grethwrav Dwarves use a magic given to them by the Sleeping Lord that is powered by blood and pain, not necessarily the caster's. With this they have developed a soul harnessing ability, and they can steal souls from fallen enemies and use the pain of those trapped souls to power magical items.

A rumor about these Svarth is that the Sleeping Lord also made them unnaturally immortal. In the same time period as the Collapse of the Wuunrlan cities, the Sleeping Lord blessed (or cursed) the southern Dwarves who worshiped him so that when they die as long as their bodies are not utterly destroyed they are returned to life one night later. Most of the Svarth from the Grethwrav Peninsula no longer age or sleep or eat. They never volunteer information about this and treat it very secretly, but accept it as the way they are.