Ok so there were a couple weeks off there. Had to have time to enjoy other aspects of life before getting back to this fun.
So in World Building 106 I started to talk about the races of this world I am making and the cultures that they have. I started with Goblins and now I am going to move into another fantasy staple, Dwarves.
In most fantasy settings dwarves are rather isolationist, somewhat greedy, and talented miners and workers of stone. Their metal work is usually considered superior to most other races, save occasionally for elves. They are also usually portrayed as some of the biggest pessimists and drunks that you could imagine.
In this setting dwarves are some of those things.
In this world dwarves have a deep connection to the physical world. They were the second of the mortal races that were created by the gods. And they take pride in that. The number two is considered sacred to them and when they look at the other races they see (cultural bias here) that the first race created was obviously flawed and that their creation was the gods getting it right. Every race that came after them are shadows of what should have been. Essentially more dwarves. In this they were the first of the mortal races to see the gods as flawed. This ends up being reflected though in how they work. They never expect things to be perfect the first time. But when you have to do something more than twice you have failed.
These dwarves are very clan and family centric. Every family strives to specialize in something so that they can stand out. The head of the family runs the family forge, and gets the power to approve or deny any projects that would happen in that families work. The head of the clan also has a clan forge that is used for multi-family projects and they also have the power to approve or deny. While this kind of structure might seem to lead to inter-clan conflicts, fighting over specializations, who’s work is better than someone else’s, is does not usually. Recognizing superior work and effort is also a part of the dwarven make up. Be it weapons, tools, art, or any other made product dwarves actually take pride in having items made by the best of the best. Even when it is not from their family or clan. This mutual respect gives the dwarves a kind of racial unity that most others lack.
The dwarven families are divided up into castes based on the work that they do. At the lowest caste you find the miners and the farmers. The next caste forges items. The highest caste is responsible for developing alloys that are used in the forges. You will note that there is no religious caste, no warrior caste, no servants who cook or clean. Every family is expected to fulfill those duties. However should a dwarven army march you would be able to tell the caste by the weapons they use. The lowest caste will use picks and shovels and occasionally swords. The mid caste uses hammers. The highest caste uses pole arms and weapons that combine two or more other weapons into a single device. Now then dwarven culture also shows respect to warriors and cooks just as much as those doing any other duty. Dwarves will freely admit when the best warrior is from the lowest caste. And higher ranked families may even offer him or her the chance to advance through marriage. I plan on including a story into this world about a cook who ended up becoming a high caste clan leader because of their skills.
You may think with all this focus on work and caste that dwarves would have no culture, no music or humor. They do however. Their version of art and music and humor is all based on precision. Finely crafted things that my seem delicate but are not. Songs that take two hundred years to write. Jokes that only have to be told once because they are that precise.
For a culture that is so willing to wait and to look for precision they are very frequently frustrated with other races and see them as being slipshod. They marvel when, to dwarven eyes, they actually get something right. This has most of the other races seeing them as, well, assholes. And they really can be. But if someone actually understands their culture and deals with them in a manner they find respectful, dwarves are more than willing to accept someone who puts in the effort. Not as an equal mind you but as a respectable individual.
With their specific tastes and looks I had been thinking that a dwarven city would have winding tunnels as the dwarves follow veins of metal and precious stones. With buildings, alcoves and chambers for entertaining built in places that perfectly suit the purpose of the building. To an outsider it may seem a little haphazard, but in reality it is more about finding the correct place for everything. That sense of precision coming up again. I was also thinking that for attire and design aesthetics that it would be a good kind of difference to see the dwarves having a new cultural theme. I actually like the idea of a Shogunate era look for the dwarves. Formal kimonos and the like for entertaining and relaxing. Worked leather for work clothes. Very meticulous carvings for buildings and even things like an alloy metal worked to paper thinness that is used to separate rooms and even to make doors.
Now then I know that this last paragraph may have some people thinking “Ohhh he is being so racist” “He is being disrespectful of Japanese culture” and other such things. However that is not my intent. Not at all. I enjoy the style and the trappings of the Shogunate era. I enjoy some of the classic stereotypes that developed about the Japanese and that era. And I think tying it into so unlikely a place is actually a good way to show it off. Like it, don’t like it, its up to you.
Ok so one last thing to talk about here. You may have noticed that I did not put any gender restrictions on any of the dwarven roles in life. And that was on purpose. Other races do have them, and that confuses the dwarves to no end. Male and female are part of the whole. that sacred two thing. And if two parts make the whole they must be equal. So yes. Both male and female dwarves have equal roles in the culture. Both can be workers, cooks, religious types or leaders. Skill and drive are what the dwarves respect. And gender bias in other races just makes them sad.
So that is the brief on Dwarven culture. Not massively different from other dwarves but the specifics can give you room to pause and a reason to think about them differently.
Coming soon to the blog, another game review and then more world building. Hope everyone is having a great new year so far, and that it only gets better.
Now gimme the dice, I gotta figure out what culture to do next…