The War of Night
The dwarves are unique in Ustalav. They have two City States, but they function as extensions of each other. One is the military arm of the dwarves and the other is the clergy. Nominally ruled by the same King, in reality, the King rules in Ardagh and the Patriarch in Berus. The reason the two cities function together so well is the the King and Patriarch are twins, brothers, bound closer than other races can possibly understand through the ties of blood, honour and tradition.
Dwarves are known throughout Ustalav as the finest craftsmen of weapons, armour and magical versions thereof. They work with metals other smiths can only dream about having access to, the time to craft with and the skills to mold the precious metal into something truly special. Both mithril and adamantine are extremely rare, and the dwarves are the only ones who know how to work these metals. They are also the only people with access to the metals, giving them a monopoly on the trade.
Dwarves trade happily with anybody with the gold to pay. They travel between their own cities, the Gnomes of Thrushmoor and all three human cities. The elves and dwarves see very little in common with each other and the elves being very closed as a City State means little trade is done between the two races, although there is the occasional trade with Redleaf.
The dwarves are in decline. They have been for centuries. A slow decline since the start of the undead started to own the night. There used to be three dwarven cities, and now there are two. Each city, while busy, holds less than half the population they had several hundred years ago.
Dwarves are a stoic but stern race, ensconced in cities carved from the hearts of mountains and fiercely determined to repel the depredations of savage races like orcs and goblins. More than any other race, dwarves have acquired a reputation as dour and humorless artisans of the earth. It could be said that their history shapes the dark disposition of many dwarves, for they reside in high mountains and dangerous realms below the earth, constantly at war with giants, goblins, and other such horrors.
Dwarves are lovers of history and tradition, and their long lifespan leads to far less in the way of generational shifts in attitudes, styles, fashions, and trends than shorter-lived races exhibit. If a thing is not broken, they do not fix it or change it; and if it is broken, they fix it rather than replace it. Thrifty as a rule, dwarves are loath to discard anything unless it is truly ruined and unable to be fixed. At the same time, dwarves’ meticulous, near-obsessive attention to detail and durability in their craftsmanship makes that a rare occurrence, as the things they make are built to last. As a result, buildings, artwork, tools, housewares, garments, weapons, and virtually everything else made by dwarves still sees regular use at an age when such items would be relegated to museum pieces, dusty antique shelves, or junkyard fodder by other races. Taken together, these traits create the impression that dwarves are a race frozen in time.
Nothing could be further from the truth, however, as dwarves are both thoughtful and imaginative, willing to experiment, if always keen to refine and perfect a new technique or product before moving on to the next one. Dwarves have achieved feats of metallurgy, stonework, and engineering that have consistently outpaced the technological advances of other races, though some non-dwarven races have used magic to supplement and perfect their own creations to achieve the same ends through mystical rather than mundane means. They are also a race typified by stubborn courage and dedication to seeing tasks through to completion, whatever the risks.
These traits have led dwarves to explore and settle in extreme environments that would cause other races to quail and retreat. From the darkest depths of the underworld to the highest mountain peaks, from rusting iron citadels along desolate rocky coasts to squat jungle ziggurats, dwarves have established their enclaves and redoubts, holding them against all comers or perishing to the last and leaving only their enduring monuments to stand as their legacy.
While it is said that dwarves are not venturesome or inventive, it would be more accurate to say that they maintain a focus on and dedication to each task they undertake and every change they adopt, vetting such changes thoroughly before adopting them wholeheartedly. When faced with new circumstances and new needs, they react by applying tried and true tools and techniques systematically, using existing methods whenever possible rather than trying to invent novel solutions for every situation. If necessity requires, however, they throw themselves with equal vigor into developing the next perfect procedure for demolishing the obstacles that get in their way. Once their desired goal is obtained, they focus on consolidating each new piece of territory or conceptual advance. Dwarves thus rarely overextend themselves, but they also may miss opportunities to seize the initiative and maximize the advantages they create.
Dwarves are a short and stocky race, and stand about a foot shorter than most humans, with wide, compact bodies that account for their burly appearance. Male and female dwarves pride themselves on the long length of their hair, and men often decorate their beards with a variety of clasps and intricate braids. Clean-shavenness on a male dwarf is a sure sign of madness, or worse—no one familiar with their race trusts a beardless dwarven man.