Templore Campaign Setting
“From the ground we came, and to the ground we return. As we complete our task in the earth, so too does our god in his divine forge.” —The Toth
Ancient, proud and industrious, the dwarves spend their lives toiling away underneath great mountains or in deep subterranean tunnels. They are master craftsmen, ingenious inventors, meticulous builders and hardened fighters. While they enjoy song and drink as much as any other folk, they never allow it to interfere with their chosen professions. They have an iron will that grants them a reputation of stubbornness.
The stout folk, as they are called by the elves and humans, are the undisputed experts of technology and industry in Templore. It is believed that the very essence of craftsmanship was hammered into them by their god Montrizem, when he forged the bodies of the first dwarves from the earth.
“The more flesh you have, the more the worms will eat.” —Ofir Kavinky, man-at-arms
Dwarves boast a number of adaptations that assist them in their survival underground. They possess enourmous guts that not only absorb as much water as possible from their food, but also efficiently purify heavy metals and toxins allowing them to pass through them safely. Dwarves are significantly husky and muscular, possessing very long arms, large hands, thick limbs, and marvelously sturdy bones. This gives them not only impeccable strength and an almost mole like ability to dig, but allows Dwarves to survive deadly falls and the crushing pressure of soil or stone from cave ins. They are natural shock-absorbers. Their hardened bodies also act as a grounded conductor for magical energies.
Dwarves also possess a number of other heightened senses: Dwarven foreheads and inner-ears are susceptible to magnetism that allow them to know where “up” is at all times, but also assist in maneuvering through the underground without getting lost. Dwarven barrel chests and large nostrils more efficiently breathe within low-oxygen environments as well as scrutinizing and siphoning off harmful gases and airborn particulate. Dwarven eyes are capable of dark vision, and quickly adapt to more comfortable low-light vision, but in true darkness they rely on the sensitive hairs, beards, and moustaches they grow to sense their surroundings. Both men and women grow and wear facial hair, though women’s hair tends to grow sparser on the chin and more on the cheeks or upper lip.
Dwarves do not typically handle the surface world very well because their low-light vision makes them nearsighted and their “inner-ear” is usually adapted for a life underground where magnetism typically dictates what is “up” and “down”. Dwarves suffering from Cave-adaptation experience nausea because discrepancies between what they sense and feel gives them the experience of constantly falling.
A typical dwarven diet is made up primarily of subterranean vermin, cave fish, fungi and fermented matter. Various kinds of lichen and fleshy, tasteless fungi grow near magma and geothermal vents, which feed off of the natural minerals they grow upon. These mostly tasteless organisms are common enough to be a staple food. A variety of beasts that dwell underground are hunted or sometimes raised for meat. Most cities also maintain small farms above ground which produce mainly root vegetables and grains. Spices are usually traded for, and at times can be a rare luxury. To most other races, dwarven food would taste bland and in some cases even inedibly bitter. One thing which almost anyone can find palatable, however, are dwarven beers and spirits. Being a subterranean race, the dwarves long ago embraced and mastered the process of fermentation, both as a way to preserve and flavor food. This lead them to become expert brewers, and dwarven beers are famed across Templore for being among the best available. A variety of beers are brewed for as many occasions; there are beers to be had with breakfast, beers to be had with dinner, beers to be shared with guests and to be drank on holidays. Some particularly dark beers are rich enough in nutrients to be drank in place of a meal. Alcohols other than beer are not as commonly made, since ingredients such as grapes or sugar are difficult to grow or obtain, but are nonetheless as finely crafted.
“I returned and saw that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, yet they are all the same when a time of disaster falls upon them.” —Baruk Menchen, historian
All dwarves in Templore today may trace their lineage to one place: Mount Zakhar. Thousands of years past, the dwarves lived only under this one great mountain. They built an enormous, labyrinthine city at the heart of the mountain, and was the largest city of its kind ever seen in Templore before or since. As the dwarves began tunnelling deeper and deeper into the earth, searching for more minerals, they began tapping into large veins of lava coursing through the earth. Eventually their digging would go too deep, triggering a cataclysm which would ultimately cost the dwarves their home.
It is not known exactly what happened during this time, but tales passed down through the generations claim that the dwarves awoke something deep within the earth. Something terribly powerful and malicious. It crept up from the bowels of the world, bringing with it a host of demons and other fiends, and flooding the halls of the city with lava. The dwarves were forced to flee their home, leaving behind much of their knowledge and culture. They would take to roaming the land, looking for other places to settle, forever remembering their ancient fatherland, and the evil which took it from them. This evil once was given a name, but has long since been forgotten, having been stricken from all records. Dwarven priests and scholars claim that the name spoken aloud is a bad omen, and was left to the shadows of time and memory.
It is rumored that great vaults containing unmeasurable wealth still lie hidden and unopened within the mountain, as well as vast libraries holding the collected knowledge of ancient dwarvenkind. The city itself has been mostly ransacked by the fiends which now inhabit its halls, at least what remains of them that have not been submerged by lava. Some dwarven sages believe that parts of the tunnels may have collapsed during the cataclysm, however, and entire districts of the city may have been locked away. If so, these tunnels, sealed for centuries may hold priceless secrets or treasures.
“Say little and do much, and receive all men with a cheerful face.” — Shomon Zadgiel, tavernmaster
Clans or dwarves that are not of noble birth comprise the lower rungs of the social ladder, with wealth and influence waning further down. The absolute bottom social tier are the casteless; dwarves who for one reason or another have been exiled from their castes. Casteless are beggars, criminals, bastards or all of the above, and are treated with utter disregard by even the poorest of “proper” dwarves.
Facial hair plays a special role in dwarf society. All dwarves wear facial hair of some sort except in particular circumstances. To do otherwise is viewed as improper or even taboo. This is in part due to the way facial hair assists them with living underground, but there are also guidelines included within the Toth which state that shaving is an unholy act. The exact reason for this is debated by scholars.
The state of one’s beard is an immediately recognizable indicator of wealth, profession, and power. Wealthier dwarves adorn their beards with ornaments made from metals and gems, whereas a poorer dwarf may wear stone, bone, or other materials. Dwarves that work in a physically demanding environment will likely not decorate their beards, or may style them a certain way (smiths, for instance, often wear their beards shorter, and fork them or wear dampened leather covers over them to prevent damage by the heat and flame of the forge). Dwarves belonging to scholarly or political castes will often have richly-laden beards.
Politically most dwarven cities are run by an odd combination of oligarchy and monarchy. A royal family, lead by a king, oversees the governing of the city, who is assisted by a council of the heads of each caste. As with human monarchies, when a royal family bloodline is halted, many factors can determine who next succeeds the throne.
Dwarven marriage is viewed as an equal partnership between the bride and groom. Both participants are expected to give and take as their partner requires. Some marriages do not even form out of love, but rather necessity, if a particular clan or caste needs more members, a married couple is expected to bear offspring. All marriages are expected to last until one or both of the partners die. To divorce from a marriage for any reason other than death is considered disrespectful to the clan, and can lead to a dwarf being demoted or even exiled from his clan.
In times of war, all dwarves are expected to defend their country. Most nations have soldier castes for such things, but most all dwarves receive basic combat training as part of their education in case they are needed for battle. Dwarves almost always clash with monstrous humanoids like orcs and goblins, and especially giants, who tend to inhabit the same mountainous regions that dwarves do.
Not all dwarves adhere to these old ways. Some live in nomadic clans in the hills, making dwellings on the surface made of earth and stone. These barbaric dwarves are war-like, and have forgotten their love of the earth, living only to rove and raid anyone unfortunate enough to venture into their territory.
Other dwarves, called deep dwarves (from the dwarven expression “gone deep”, meaning to lose one’s senses) have altogether abandoned the surface, and have lived underground for generations without venturing upwards. These dwarves have shorter beards and lighter skin than their cousins, and are exceptionally superstitious and xenophobic, going so far as to shun their kin and even their god. They subsist primarily on a diet of fungi, strange subterranean creatures, and mineral-tainted water, which may contribute to their mental instability.
“A good man is not good because he is faithful. He is good because he is too busy with his work to do evil.” —Yaniv Zilbren, Mofet
Dwarven religion is monotheistic, while bearing elements of polytheism. They worship Montrizem, who they believe is their creator, who crafted the first dwarves from the raw materials of the earth. When a dwarf dies, it is believed that his body and soul return to the earth. His skin becomes metal, his bones become stone, and his spirit becomes a precious gem. Because of this belief, burial in the earth is the only true way for a dwarf’s soul to find rest. Cremation, mummification, or in any way preventing a dwarf’s body from being given back to the earth is sacrilegious. The exception to this are the Kaddash, paragons of dwarven society who achieved some great work or accomplishment in their lifetime. Only these dwarves are allowed to live on after death in the halls of Montrizem.
While all dwarves pray to Montrizem, Kaddash are payed homage to when needed for their particular domain. The Kaddash of brewing, for instance, would be prayed to when seeking inspiration for a new beer recipe. Technically speaking, all dwarven clerics are followers of Montrizem, but they typically choose to emulate a particular Kaddash, which will determine which domains they have access to.
“Do not be scornful of anyone, or doubt that anything can happen, for there is no person without his hour, no thing without its place.” —The Toth
Dwarf adventurers tend towards the martial arts, being fighters and rangers. A dwarf ranger specializes in slaying the enemies of his people, such as giants, orcs, goblinoids, and the vermin which inhabit their homes, and conquers the rocky terrain of his homeland. Rogues who prefer the subtlety of sneaking and subterfuge are unheard of in dwarf culture except in fringe society, as most all dwarves view skulking in the dark as a cowardly act, and thieves are punished to the extent of the law if proven guilty. Spellcasters of any sort are a marked rarity for dwarves except perhaps for clerics. Clerics and the blessed powers they command are an important part of dwarven society. Virtually all dwarven paladins and inquisitors belong to an order dedicated to the eradication of fiends and other evil creatures, having sworn a vow to cleanse Mount Zakhar and reclaim their homeland.
Dwarf adventurers are not rare, but uncommon. Dwarves are loathe to leave their underground homes and venture on the surface, but they would be foolish to completely cut themselves off from the overworld. Dwarven merchants sell their masterfully crafted wares in exchange for much-needed commodities they cannot acquire. Mining parties are also frequently dispatched to seek new sources of ore or to scout potential locations for settlements. Some mofets make great pilgrimages to holy sites, or if they have been blessed with divine powers, may travel from city to city to improve the lives of all dwarvenkind. Others, like the casteless, may leave the underground permanently to seek a better life above.
Adept: Adepts in dwarf society are typically mofets who have achieved some small grasp of divine power, and are much more common than characters of the cleric class. For all intents and purposes they fill the same role (see the cleric description below).
Barbarian: Dwarves of the barbarian class are rare among the dwarves which dwell underground, who prefer a more disciplined approach to combat. But the dwarven clans who have adapted to the surface and live in the hills of certain parts of the world are much more likely to have barbarians in their ranks.
Cleric: Dwarven clerics of Montrizem have several reasons for travel, as discussed above. They can be found as part of other dwarven excursions, helping to bolster the faith of dwarves away from a temple, or to use their miraculous powers. They may have a higher calling in mind, journeying to the shrines of the Kaddash to pray. In some cases they may even actively pursue and destroy enemies of their faith, such as the fiends and monsters which inhabit the blasted wasteland around Mount Zakhar.
Fighter/Warrior: A dwarf who has skill with a weapon is more than useful to his people. Dwarven warriors are city militia, caravan guards, and the like. Dwarven fighters are militia captains, personal bodyguards, and the trained elite.
Rogue: Rogues are not
All dwarves possess the following race features, listed below. Otherwise, dwarven racials vary from region to region, also detailed in each individual sub-race’s entry.
Ability Score Racial Traits: Dwarves are both tough and wise, but also a bit gruff. They gain +2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, and –2 Charisma.
Size: Dwarves are Medium creatures and thus receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Type: Dwarves are humanoids with the dwarf subtype.
Base Speed: Dwarves have a base speed of 20 feet, but their speed is never modified by armor or encumbrance.
Return to the Earth: A dwarf who has died cannot be raised from the dead through any means, except through a Wish or Miracle spell.
Mountain dwarves: Mountain dwarves are the most common type of dwarves in Templore, and are the dwarves primarily discussed in this race segment. Mountain dwarves possess the following race features:
Languages: Mountain dwarves begin play speaking Dwarven. Dwarves with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Giant, Goblin, Orc, Gnome, or one appropriate human language.
Hardy: Mountain dwarves gain a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison, spells, and spell-like abilities.
Stability: Mountain dwarves gain a +4 racial bonus to their Combat Maneuver Defense when resisting a bull rush or trip attempt while standing on the ground.
Darkvision: Mountain dwarves can see perfectly in the dark up to 60 feet.
Stonecunning: Mountain dwarves gain a +2 bonus on Perception checks to notice unusual stonework, such as traps and hidden doors located in stone walls or floors. They receive a check to notice such features whenever they pass within 10 feet of them, whether or not they are actively looking.
Weapon Familiarity: Mountain dwarves are proficient with battleaxes, heavy picks, and warhammers, and treat any weapon with the word “dwarven” in its name as a martial weapon.
Craftsman: Mountain dwarves are known for their superior craftsmanship when it comes to metallurgy and stonework. Dwarves with this racial trait receive a +2 racial bonus on all Craft or Profession checks related to metal or stone.
Deep dwarves: Deep dwarves have delved further into the earth than any others of their race, and have abandoned most of the ways of their mountain-dwelling cousins. They have adapted wholly to permanent life underground, and as a result have become exceptionally xenophobic and mentally unstable.
Dimdweller: Whenever a deep dwarf benefits from concealment or full concealment due to darkness or dim light, they gain a +2 racial bonus on Intimidate, Perception, and Stealth checks.
Magic Resistant: Deep dwarves have spell resistance equal to 5 + their character level. This resistance can be lowered for 1 round as a standard action. In addition they take a –2 penalty on all concentration checks.
Minesight: Deep dwarves increase the range of their darkvision to 90 feet; however, they are automatically dazzled in bright light and take a –2 penalty on saving throws against effects with the light descriptor.
Slag Child: These dwarves are commonly banished or ostracized; they are forced to eke out a living at the fringes of dwarven settlements or in bleak wilderness areas. They gain a +2 racial bonus on Stealth and Survival checks.
Xenophobic: Isolationist dwarves despise non-dwarven humanoids. They speak only Dwarven and do not gain any bonus languages from possessing a high Intelligence score. In addition, they learn only one language per 2 ranks of Linguistics they possess. However, their untrusting nature gives them a +1 bonus against mind-affecting effects, except for fear affects.
Viscous Blood: Deep dwarves take 1 less point of hit point damage, ability damage, or ability drain (minimum 1) from bleed and blood drain. They can attempt Heal checks to staunch their own bleeding as a swift action each round.
Hill dwarves: These dwarves have taken to living above-ground, usually in hillocks or rocky terrain. They associate more often with humans and other races, and also clash more frequently with monsters and surface creatures.
Languages: Hill dwarves begin play speaking Dwarven. Dwarves with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Giant, Goblin, Orc, Gnome, or one appropriate human language.
Defensive Training: Hill dwarves gain a +4 dodge bonus to AC against monsters of the giant subtype.
Greed: Hill dwarves gain a +2 racial bonus on Appraise checks made to determine the price of non-magical goods that contain precious metals or gemstones.
Hatred: Hill dwarves gain a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against humanoid creatures of the orc and goblinoid subtypes because of their special training against these hated foes.
Healthy: Hill dwarves gain a +2 racial bonus on saves against disease and poison, and they need one fewer consecutive successful save (minimum 1) to be cured of diseases and poisons.
Low-Light Vision: Hill dwarves possess low-light vision.
Relentless: Hill dwarves are skilled at pushing their way through a battlefield, tossing aside lesser foes with ease. Dwarves with this racial trait receive a +2 bonus on combat maneuver checks made to bull rush or overrun an opponent. This bonus only applies while both the dwarf and his opponent are standing on the ground.
Rock Stepper: Hill dwarves can skillfully negotiate rocky terrain. They can ignore difficult terrain created by rubble, broken ground, or steep stairs when they take a 5-foot step.
Surface Survivalist: Hill dwarves have dwelt so long above ground their adaptation to extreme environments allows them to treat wind conditions (when determining whether or not they are checked or blown away) and either hot or cold climates (choose one) as one step less severe.