The free dwarves of Brittanis
are refugees and the children of refugees. At roughly the same time the Tiberian Empire abandoned Brittanis a century ago, the last dwarven King of Valyngaard was murdered by his youngest brother. The brother had made a pact with the forces of the Abyss , trading servitude for power. The Red Prince, as he is known now, commanded magic that enslaved his fellow dwarves’ minds and bent them to his will. Loyalist dwarves attempted to defend their fallen kingdom, but the infernal magic of Ironhall proved stronger than the scattered resistance could counter.
Instead, many dwarven families fled Valyngaard and settled among the lands of the other races. Now the Free Dwarves live in isolated pockets, struggling hard to keep their traditions and culture alive in the midst of terrible odds and encroaching cultures not their own. They strive to remember what it is to be dwarven, to maintain their clan and honor the gods in the ways that dwarves have for centuries untold.
In the deep heart of each and every Free Dwarf burns the knowledge of what they have lost and that fire smolders into a life of adventure for some. Many seek out the treasures of the past in hopes that power gained there can help the dwarven people. Others seek personal power to lead their fellows into prosperity.Others serve themselves, amassing strength in an effort to not be like their ancestors and pushed from yet another place of safety. The betrayal of Valyngaard is a shadow looming over every Free Dwarf.
Four Things to Remember about Free Dwarves:
- Keywords: Traditional, earthy, solid, iron, stubborn, militant, disciplined, uncompromising
What Free Dwarves are NOT
- Tradition and Custom are EVERYTHING. In the century since the Iron Dwarves broke the royal line of Valyngaard, the Free Dwarves have been a people without a homeland, adrift and scattered among the communities of other races. They have been cut off from the eternal stone of their forefathers, and today the dwarves cling hard to the traditions, customs, tales and memories of their lost glory.
- Loyalty is like stone. The Red Prince broke his oath of loyalty to his brother the King, and Valyngaard fell as a result. Especially as a people in exile, the Free Dwarves take loyalty especially seriously, in particular the oaths of loyalty binding a lord and vassal. They regard such things with an almost religious zeal, and woe unto those who break an oath to a dwarf; they can hold a grudge for a VERY long time and have been known to pass oaths of vengeance and retribution down from one generation to the next.
- Words are like wind. For years before his betrayal the Red Prince spoke honeyed words to his King, all the while building a base of power to slay his family and enslave his people with infernal magic. This betrayal has greatly affected the dwarven outlook on verbal promises and speech in general. Though they still believe that oaths should be spoken true and with honor, they have first-hand seen the results of such treachery. Thus, while an honorable dwarf holds the oaths she herself has made with utter devotion, when it comes to others—even other dwarves—the assumption is not the same. A dwarf looks to see how a person acts and behaves to judge whether they hold to their oaths, not the words they say. Likewise, the belief of the dwarves is that feelings, emotions and thoughts on a matter are not positive or negative; it is entirely possible to be violently angry at someone and not act to to cause them harm. It is only when thought becomes behavior or action that it becomes good or ill.
- Reclaim the Lost; Rebuild the Broken; Refuse Despair. This simple chant forms the core of many dwarven lives. They have firmly planted their feet in the earth and, though dealt a horrible blow by the corrupt dwarves of Ironhall, refused to go quietly into the growing darkness rising across Brittanis. They have dedicated themselves to slowly, methodically reclaiming that which has been lost in the last century—the knowledge, magic, and settlements of Valyngaard as well as their own racial pride and esteem. Until that final victory is achieved, the Free Dwarves construct communities of their own, rebuilding in new places the strength and glory of the dwarven people. And as each Free Dwarf stares at the horizon towards fallen Valyngaard, they refuse the despair that threatens the heart of every dwarf—the despair that corrupts and twists their people into the pitiless, infernal Iron Dwarves.
- Scottish. Despite the masterful performance of John Rhys-Davies in Lord of the Rings,dwarves are not Scottish. Don’t feel like you have to affect an accent in order to play one. You can if you choose to, though.
- All bearded. Dwarven males pride themselves on their beards, and dwarven females take similar pride in long, luxurious hair plaited or braided into intricate knots and styles. However, males are not ALLOWED to grow a beard until they have achieved the age of majority and females likewise must wear their hair unbound until they are considered adults. It is POSSIBLE to play a dwarf male without a beard or a dwarf female with short hair, but you will beconsidered an adolescent by any other dwarf you meet. DWARVEN FEMALES DO NOT HAVE FACIAL HAIR.
The Free Dwarves are a people under siege; the loss of their homeland threatens to take all that they hold dear away from them. As each generation away from the Mountain Home passes, more of the traditions and lore of the dwarven people are lost, more ancient artifacts of power forgotten or corrupted by the Iron Dwarves, and less chance they will actually reclaim Valyngaard. As such, they stubbornly hold on to ancient traditions and ages-old customs in hope that when they eventually return to their ancestral homes they will still be the same dwarven people who were exiled a century ago.
Most Free Dwarves dwell in freeholds,communities of dwarves from various families and clans that ended up in the same place after the destruction of Valyngaard. Freeholds are often nearby to or part of another community belonging to other races—a dwarven freehold may have been built against the walls of a human city or within sight of an elven village, just down the road. This allows the dwarves to have their own laws and traditions within their own walls, but still benefit from the trade and support of the larger settlement. Some call dwarves parasites for this behavior, but most realize the benefits a freehold brings to a community.
Freeholds are always built with defense in mind, regardless of the surrounding community. A freehold built against the walls of a city will also have solid defensible walls or battlements, whereas a log palisade or sturdy wooden wall surrounds more far-flung settlements. Whenever possible, Free Dwarves build into the earth, digging and mining in the ground and making subterranean halls, dwellings, and fortifications.
Freeholds are linked by a common sense of purpose and destiny—to rebuild the glory of the fallen kingdom of the dwarves. They pride themselves in a strong sense of community—families often work, eat, and train for battle together and can form devastatingly strong units on a battlefield in defense of their homes and families.
It is said only half in jest that every dwarf, no matter what their calling in life, is part soldier and part priest. The dwarven struggle for survival in the last century caused a massive shift in dwarven thought and spirituality. Valyngaard,for all its glory and pride, had also become decadent and slothful—traits that allowed the Iron Dwarves to fester and grow and eventually conquer. Nowadays,the Free Dwarves hold tight to their military and religious traditions because it is those things which allowed them to survive and prosper after the exile. Every Free Dwarf pays homage to the gods and trains for battle. Even those visiting another settlement are required to train with the locals for one day out of the week.
The Free Dwarves value community greatly; the understand that in order to preserve their way of life there must be groups and settlements of dwarves working together for the benefit of everyone. Selfishness is considered the worst vice; putting your own good ahead of the good of the community a terrible crime. The dwarves of Valyngaard were well-known for their greed and avarice for material wealth. While this trait still exists for the Free Dwarves, large portions of individual wealth is put toward the good of the community and rebuilding what was lost.
Male dwarves are famed for their beards, though younger generations have adopted the habit of clipping them short. Regardless, a dwarf’s beard is always neatly kept and cared for. Contrary to popular belief, female dwarves do not have beards, though female dwarves are required to keep their hair bound and braided by ancient custom, and decorate their faces with tattoos designating their social status. Their weapons and armor are always well-kept and maintained.
Dwarven adventurers are held in particularly high esteem in the freeholds; they often donate large portions of their accumulated treasure and wealth to their home communities. When they retire from the adventuring life, it is not uncommon for the Moot (council of the eldest and most respected dwarves of a freehold) to elect that retired adventurer to the position of clan chief or some other position of respect in return for their donations to the community.
- Free Dwarf Look and Feel
Be sure to check out the Brittanis Pinterest page for Free Dwarves HERE!!
(If you haven't seen Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies and The Hobbit movies, do so now. It's just easier that way. Their visuals for dwarves are just astoundingly beautiful.)
- Free Dwarf costume is focused around two things: expression of dwarven culture and functionality. Every dwarf keenly feels the loss of their homeland, even 100 years later, and as such they seek to recreate just a bit of that lost glory and honor by dressing in such a way that reminds everyone who sees them of old Valyngaard. The geometric patterns of dwarven art and architecture are everywhere in their clothing: cut of a garment, decorations of embroidery or trim, quilting or augmentation of fabric, etc all express the look and feel of what was lost for all to see.
- Likewise, dwarven clothing must be practical. Long or flowing garments, wide sleeves, and fragile fabrics serve no purpose and deteriorate quickly. As such they are only found in the formal attire of nobles and the ceremonial garments of the clergy. Rather than display their wealth and status with impractical, frivolous garments, the Free Dwarves honor their ancestors with exquisite decoration of fabric and beautiful dwarven-crafted jewelry. Likewise, it is considered dishonorable for a dwarf to carry weapons or armor not crafted by his own people; a dwarf would rather do his people honor by carrying an iron battleaxe crafted by a dwarven smith than a human-made longsword of supposedly higher quality. This DOES NOT apply to magic items and artifacts, however; these items are considered to be powerful boons reclaimed by the dwarven people for the benefit of Valyngaard. Dwarves who acquire magical treasures and donate them to the freehold gain great honor ad status within the community.
- Lastly, it is a particular quirk of Free Dwarf society that the stylized faces of dwarves feature prominently in their art and architecture. It is believed that these visual homages to the ancestors of the dwarven people serve as guardians and protectors to those who wear them or live in buildings adorned with their faces. Thus is it extremely common to see at least one graven image of a dwarf-face on the garments, weapons, armor, or home of a Free Dwarf. These faces most often appear in items of stone or metal, but embroidered faces are not uncommon either.
Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings (Gimli, Moria) & The Hobbit (dwarves); Warhammer Fantasy Dwarves
- Colors: Dark colors and rich earth-tones, as would be expected, are most common: forest green, midnight blue, deep purple, blood reds, burnt oranges, etc. Every shade of grey, brown, and black known to exist flourishes in dwarven fashion, and they often use gold or silver metallic accent to contrast the dark colors.
- Materials: Leather is the most common dwarven material for outer garments such as aprons, coats, or over-tunics. But the tunnels and mines deep underground have surprisingly good temperature regulation, so dwarves wear a variety of other materials under the protective outer layer—cotton, linen and fine wool are all worn in combination. For particularly wealthy dwarves (of which there are few now), rich brocades are most common. Velvet and silk are considered flimsy and only used for ceremonial garb.
Dwarves craft and armor themselves in some of the heaviest, most complicated armors known to Brittanis
. They are masters of plate armor, and even their light armor is made in the same thick, protective styles as their plate. When mobility is needed, small plates of metal are affixed to a flexible backing in a lamellar style; it is believed that the Khemri
learned this technique from the Free Dwarves.
Weapons & Shields
- Regardless of the type of armor, geometric patterns dominate dwarven armor styles: parallel lines, exact angles, and a distinct lack of curves define the style. These shapes and lines reflect the crystalline structure of the metals the dwarves work and the crystals and minerals they mine. These materials are often inlaid or worked into the armor, and the dwarves were the first to learn the secrets of masterwork crafting and the quasi-magical powers of such materials and gems.Because of this angular, faceted look, a dwarven regiment in polished armor going into battle is a shining, glitter sight to behold from a great distance.
As mentioned above, the stylized faces of a dwarf’s ancestors are often worked into the motifs and geometric patterns that adorn dwarven armor. To go into battle in plain, un-decorated armor is to invite disaster, for you are deliberately shaming your ancestors and your people by not representing your race. Intricate engraving, precious metal inlays, and runic enhancements are so common as to be expected from dwarven armor.
- Battleaxes, picks and hammers are far and away the most common of dwarven weapons. These tools and implements of their trades translate well onto the battlefield, using the same muscles and techniques that mining, crafting and smithing do. Indeed, the very word “battleaxe” comes from the Free Dwarf tradition of having two matching copies of a single weapon made; a heavy, working tool stays behind at home and is used by the dwarf at his forge or place of work and the other, usually lighter weapon made for war goes with him off to battle. Thus, a “battle-axe” is literally the copy of your "working" axe you take with you to battle. This is one of the reasons dwarves wield their weapons like extensions of themselves, and why so many tales of tireless dwarven warriors exist.
- Swords and other weapons do exist, and the dwarves who use them are often the most dedicated and dangerous fighters in the freehold—the tunnel fighters who focus on keeping the mines and warrens clear of monsters and invaders and who need those shorter, close-in weapons where the room needed to properly swing a hammer or axe might not be available. Nearly every dwarf carries a heavy dagger or long-knife, however, for just such occasions. Usually it is worn strapped horizontally to the small of the back for easy access.
- Like their armor, the weapons of the Free Dwarves use geometric and angular patterns for their weapons. These simple but beautiful designs make dwarf weapons simple to care for and sharpen as well as repair if needed. The stylized face of a warrior ancestor of hero from a dwarf’s clan is often found on the weapon as well as decoration—and a constant reminder both of what is at stake for all dwarves, as well as the heroism and valor of their forebears.
- Shields are almost as common as axes: it's almost comically difficult to injure a fully-armored dwarven warrior who is skilled at the use of a shield. Like their weapons, shields are decorated with the stylized faces and geometric patterns of the dwarven style. Square or hexagonal shields are common, as are variations of the pentagonal "heater" style shield of the Britons.
Players of all Dwarf characters must wear a brown armband on their left forearm no narrower than 4 inches wide. Male dwarf players should have a beard or wear a costume prosthetic (see above note), and female dwarf players should keep their hair completely braided and have face-paint depicting an angular or geometric design in brown, black, or dark red.
Costuming Note: All racial identifier bands (or simply “race bands”) should be a pure representative of their color. Therefore the yellow race band worn by Sun Elves should not be mustard, orange-red, fluorescent yellow, pastel or any other variation. All effort should be made to keep it as purely YELLOW as possible. This armband should contrast the character’s costume and should be obviously a marker of the race and not a costume item. This ensures that it is easily identifiable on the battlefield and keeps “What race are you?!?” to a minimum. Help your fellow players out.
- Naming Conventions: All Free Dwarves cling tightly to the naming conventions of their ancestors, just like they cling to the rest of their culture. Male names are two syllables, usually with a strong F, B, or TH sound in the beginning syllable. Female names tend to have more length, and make much use of the same kind of sounds as male names, but do so associated with a vowel, such as ISS, YLLA, and so on. Sample names and resources can be found in Appendix A.
- Homeland: Free dwarves have no homeland--their ancient kingdom of Valyngaard was broken and usurped by devil-worshipping cultists and has been renamed Ironhall. Each and every Free Dwarf is a refugee or the child of refugees. As such, they have integrated themselves into other races’ cities and settlements, forming close-knit, even xenophobic communities of dwarves. It doesn’t matter what family or clan settles in an area—under all but the most extreme circumstances the dwarves of an area will congregate and work together.
- Religion: Dwarves were exposed to the White Court through the Empire, but to date no dwarven Church dedicated to the entire pantheon exists. The single-minded dedication of the Free Dwarves means they focus themselves on a single deity entirely. The three gods traditionally revered by the dwarves are Ghorn and his children Dagmar and Emrys. Aenryia and Sarai are given honor due to their status as mother, but the dwarves revere the House of Ghorn first and foremost.
- Racial Abilities
Free Dwarf characters gain the following Racial Traits: Hero, Dwarf, Free Dwarf.
- Sturdy: Dwarves gain +1 Vitality per tier.
- Bound By Tradition: Dwarves typically do not engage in the arcane arts; likewise, due to their struggle to maintain their cultural identity, they rarely become Primal characters, either. Dwarves pay .5 extra CP for all Arcane and Primal skills. This only applies to the Source skills themselves—Class header skills do not have this penalty.
- Oathbound: You are bound by your oaths and must be very careful before you make an oath, give your word or make some other formalized promise. Although casual conversation or expression of intent is not enough to cause this disadvantage to take effect, taking a formal oath or making a formal promise is binding. Whether by Fate, the will of the gods, or some other force in the universe, if you break your word or directly fail in an oath or promise you will be cursed by the spirits of your ancestors. Tales of these curses are always dire, and each is different. Some dwarves have the chance to atone, and some not so. None of their stories end well.
- Master Crafter: Dwarves pay .5 CP less for any skill within a Crafting Header (Alchemist, Enchanter, or Artificer).
- Cultural Weapons: Free Dwarves pay 1 less CP for all Blunt and Axe skills.
Free Dwarves may choose THREE of the following skills without paying CP at character creation, and can purchase others during character advancement with CP like normal skills.
Dwarven Constitution (2, 2, 2 CP, Day):
Whether from your love of strong drink, or a trick of body chemistry, you are less susceptible to conditions that assault your body.
Stand Your Ground (3, 3, 3 CP; 1 Stamina; Battle)
- Once per day, you may call “Resist by [Heroic Trait]” against an effect with a Metabolic Trait.
- 2nd Purchase: Usable 2/day
- 3rd Purchase: Usable 3/day
: Dwarves are notoriously stubborn and hard to move when they don’t want to be moved. Having such a low center of gravity doesn’t hurt, either.
Earthbonded (2, 2, 2 CP; Watch):
- Once per battle, you can spend 1 Stamina to call “Resist by [Heroic Trait]” when you are the target of a Slow, Root, or Slam effect.
- 2nd Purchase: Usable 2/battle
- 3rd Purchase: Usable 3/battle
Your mystical link to the stone allows you to resist its effects.
Armor Familiarity (3, 4 CP):
- Once per watch,you may call “Resist by [Heroic Trait]” against any effect with the Earth trait.
- 2nd Purchase: Usable 2/watch
- 3rd Purchase: Usable 3/Watch
From a young age, adolescent dwarves are taught how to move, work, and fight in armor.
Tireless Body (3, 3 CP
- When wearing a full suit of armor (legs, arms, torso), you add +2 to the TOTAL armor points gained.
- 2nd Purchase: You gain a bonus to the TOTAL armor points equal to your Tier.
):Your physical health is nearly supernatural.
Nemesis (3, 3 CP):
- When you are the target of an attack with a Metabolic trait, you need only rest 1 minute instead of 5 to end the effect.
- 2nd Purchase: You need only 30 seconds of rest.
Your people have sworn an undying hatred for all things Infernal; they in return have done the same for you.
Forgeborn (3, 3, 3 CP; Watch):
- You can spend 1 Stamina to point at a target and call, “By My Gesture, Expose Infernal by [Heroic Trait]”.
- 2nd Purchase: You call +1 to all damage verbals greater than 2 when attacking Infernal creatures.
You grew up in and around the underground forges of the dwarves, where coal and steam and red-hot steel were your constant companions.
Weapon of Choice (2, 2, 2 CP, 1 Stamina, Battle)
- Once per watch you can call, “Resist by [Heroic Trait]” to an Effect with the Fire trait.
- 2nd Purchase: Usable 2/watch
- 3rd Purchase: Usable 3/Watch
- When wielding a weapon from the Cultural Weapon list, a Free Dwarf character may make 2 melee or missile attacks for “X Damage,” where X is the character’s Tier+1.
- 2nd Purchase: Usable 2/battle
- 3rd Purchase: X is Tier +2
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