Dwarves - actually, they call themselves ''dorfs'', but for various linguistic reasons very few people call them that - are a contemplative folk whose kingdoms stretch from the lowest depths to the highest peaks. They culturally tend towards a philosophy based on "the harmony of opposites". Fire and water, air and earth, light and dark, good and evil; all are important in the grand scale of things. Neutrality is the ultimate, concordant opposition to all other viewpoints. In practice, few follow it that strongly, but duality is a theme that often pops up in dorf language and culture. Many revere the archomentals (the duality of elements appeals to them), and some have trouble not seeing the world in black and white.

They have an unusually low number of women, compared to most races; dwarf women are allowed to select multiple husbands and are more inclined towards the arcane arts than their martial-oriented male counterparts. They do not have beards, but they style their hair like crazy. Some sages speculate that they are actually two races in a symbiotic relationship, but other sages speculate that this is crazy talk for crazy people who are also dumb.

Dwarf Philosophy

Dwarves believe in a concept they call the harmony of opposites. A full discussion is tricky (dwarves feel that something is lost in translation when they explain it in non-dwarven tongues) but the basic tenets are:

  • Everything is defined by its opposite - dark and light, high and low, etc.
  • Opposites are naturally connected. One naturally arises from the other, and both are important.
  • The perfect state of the world is harmonious balance. A neutral outlook is the ultimate, concordant opposition to all other viewpoints.

Traditionally, concepts of morality (good and evil especially) are not included in the harmony of opposites, but in a world where gods of good and evil are a thing, most modern dwarves follow a version called Khordalism which does attach a moral dimension. Dwarves in general, especially Traditionalists, tend towards "good".

Though the harmony of opposites is their main thing, dwarves are big on philosophy and there are plenty of other popular concepts - some of which even challenge the harmony of opposites. The more well-known ones include:

  • Rule of Three: Three is a very important number, one which even appears in the harmony of opposites. Good/Neutral/Evil, the (technically) three dwarf kingdoms, et cetera. Early philosophers struggled with the presence of ''four'' elemental planes, but that changed with the philosopher Nosro the Smug, whose answer was to point out that the multiverse as a whole is divided into the Elemental, Material and Outer Planes and then insinuate that the asker was a jackass. Rule of Three dwarves are big on numerology.
  • Make this list longer Ettin: Seriously, goddamn

Dwarf Religion

Dwarf Clans

Dorfs usually identify themselves with one (or sometimes more) clans. Naturally the three major clans correspond to the three dorf nations:

  • The surface dwarves (dallgar) are the ones which interact most with the other races. They're known for being honest, hard-working and direct, with a love of song and beer. Many dallgar think that's kind of racist. Most of them are definitely some of those things, though, and they are totally down with being called dwarves. The kingdom of Dall which encompasses the mountains and caves near human lands is their natural homeland, though dallgar love to mingle in other lands to check out new cultures. Dall is ruled by the Middle King (or Queen), who theoretically rules the other nations as well but in practice has the same relationship with them that the Queen of England does with Australia.
  • The high dorfs (asigar) mostly interact with other races through eccentric merchants, monasteries and the occasional tourists, but are a generally friendly clan with a heavy emphasis on philosophy and arcane magic. They are seen as more contemplative, thoughtful and powerful than their kin, and they certainly produce the lion's share of great dwarf philosophy. Asigar are the dwarves with a huge cultural love of beer, something they find far more amusing than the surface dwarves. Asigar live in scattered communities on the tallest mountains united in the nation of Adhihava, led by the Council of Grand Philosophers who are also advise the Middle Queen.
  • The low dorfs (vanigar) live in deepest Subterra and do not get out much. Low dorfs are an incredibly diverse bunch; while they have made the fewest new contributions to dwarf philosophy they certainly do the most arguing about it, and their "nation" has split into at least six different loosely-allied ones with different political systems ranging from presidential democracy to meritocracies to anarchism. They like precious stones and metals, good craftsmanship, trading with other nations, and arguing. Most prefer to be called "dorfs" and believe "dwarf" is kind of rude. They don't get along with elves much, seeing as the drow are trouble for them and the elves responsible don't help much.

There are also several minor clans:

  • The deep dorfs (''duergar'', spelled with the same dorf characters used to spell ''necessary evil'') are fiendish-tainted dwarves descended from low dorfs who dug too deep and discovered portals to the evil realms in lowest Subterra. They claim that the harmony of opposites proves they are necessary - as most dwarves do good things, they need evil dwarves to balance things out and do the things no other dwarf can do to protect the world from the forces of true evil. Non-duergar, in turn, posit that this is bullshit. They draw power from dark gods and capture other races to use as slaves and sacrifices when they can get them, but other dwarves grudgingly admit that they do a great job destroying fiends when they aren't summoning and binding them. Duergar are ostensibly welcome in most dwarven lands, but they're not very popular. A common duergar saying (originating from their bargains with devils) is "I don't like you and you don't like me, but…"
  • The earth dorfs (''orvgar'') are a mystery known to few non-dwarves. These tattooed dwarves seemingly revere the elemental forces of Earth, and have an innate ability to swim through solid rock as easily as others might through water. They mostly seem to use this ability to avoid having to build any tunnels to their homeland, and not even other dwarves know where their elusive kin live or what they're up to. It's assumed to be one of the sealed Vaults at the very bottom of Subterra, but the low dorfs are too polite to pry.