Dwarves Are Complicated.
I am a servant of the endless fire.
I am a guardian of the hearth that holds it and the forge that tames it.
All consuming, to burn forever.
The flame is the world, and I feed it with my life.
— Induction oath of the Order of Eternal Flame, second stanza
Dwarven society is often defined by its long traditions. Their history gives context to the present and serves as a guide for understanding and dealing with modern events.
Dwarven settlements have long had both underground and surface components, often for the protection and exploitation of resources. As the so-called cavern culture of building fully underground spread, some dwarves found they could not abandon the stars and open sky. Many settled in client communities, supplying the rapidly expanding subterranean settlements while they got on their feet in return for protection and mineral resources. Many of these villages and towns remain to this day, supplying primarily agricultural products. Still other dwarves moved on, drawn to a life less confined and—as numerous contemporary sources describe it—less fearful.
The mountain dwarves fluctuate between treating the surface dwellers as misguided bumpkins and barely literate sources of food and timber. The hill dwarves vacillate between thinking of their subterranean kin as overly focused on tradition and their own problems and over-fed blowhards with too much free time. The constant tension in this mostly cordial relationship has influenced much of dwarven society ever since.
The surface dwarves lacked the control over their environment of their underground cousins. They could not simply re-sculpt their surroundings, so they adapted to them. By contrast those underground, lacking access to the abundant resources of the surface, found that they could not simply ignore the sunlit world or their distant brethren still there. The differences between these two have only increased with time.
A dwarf’s greatest pleasure comes from a job well done, whether that job is crafting an intricate broach, mastering a difficult melody, or carousing with friends all evening. If they’re not throwing themselves into their endeavor, they’re not really enjoying it. This does not mean that dwarves aren’t occasionally frivolous or half-hearted or even lazy, but they’re rarely wasteful, especially with their time.
This is also part of their frustration with other races; from the dwarf perspective, none of them expend the energy necessary to really excel at or enjoy what they do. Lunar Elves casually toss off beautiful weapons. Just imagine what they could do if that actually applied themselves. No one, it seems to them, can be bothered to put in the effort to make even a simple party worthwhile.
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