Race : Gold Dwarf
Dragon Coast, Dwarf (gold), Unther, Western Heartlands. Gold dwarves native to the Great Rift should select the gold dwarf region.
Found largely in the South in the immediate vicinity of the Great Rift, gold dwarves are the dominant southern branch of the Stout Folk. Renowned not only for their smithwork and craftsmanship but also for their military prowess and legendary wealth, gold dwarves have maintained their empire for millenia, unbowed by the passage of time.
For generations, the Deep Kingdom of the gold dwarves has stood unconquered, dominating the surface lands and subterranean caverns that surround the Great Rift. As their numbers never declined in the face of endless warfare like their northern cousins, the Thunder Blessing has actually filled the great caverns of the Deep Kingdom beyond their capacity. As a result, for the first time in many years, large numbers of gold dwarves are setting out to establish new strongholds across the South and the rest of Faerûn, including the Smoking Mountains of Unther and the Giant's Run Mountains of the Shining Path.
Like their northern kin, gold dwarves harbor a great deal of pride, both in their own accomplishments and those of their ancestors. They also share a philosophy that anything worth doing is worth doing well, and that the natural world is but raw material to be worked into objects of great beauty. Unlike the long-beleagured shield dwarves, gold dwarves have not faced a serious challenge to their way of life for thousands of years. Confident and secure in their isolated realm, gold dwarves do not share the pessimism of fatalism of their shield dwarven brethren. To the contrary, having seen the rise and fall of countless elven, human, and shield dwarven empires, their endurance has fostered a deep-seated belief that their traditions and culture are superior to those of all other races.
Averaging 4 feet tall and weighing as much as an adult human, gold dwarves are stocky and muscular. The skin of a gold dwarf is light brown or deeply tanned, and her eyes are usually brown or hazel. Both genders wear their hair long, and males (and some females) have long, carefully groomed beards and mustaches. Hair color ranges from black to gray to brown, with all shades fading to light gray as time progresses. Gold dwarves have the life expectancy, age categories, height and weight defined for dwarves in the Player's Handbook.
Gold dwarves measure others by how much honor and wealth each individual garners as well as the status of his or her bloodline and clan. To gold dwarves, life is best lived through adherence to the ancient traditions of the Deep Realm. The very persistance of their own way of life indicates that other short-lived cultures are inherently flawed. As such, those who lack a meaningful cultural tradition or reject their elders' dictates are untrustworthy and possibly dangerous.
From birth, gold dwarves are taught to conform to the traditional strictures of their society. Every important decision, from choice of profession to their mate, is dictated by the circimstances of their birth. Those who do not act honorably in their dealings are shunned from an early age, breeding a tremendous societal pressure to fit in.
Gold dwarves lack the longstanding tradition of adventuring found in their shield dwarf cousins in the north. However, population pressures including the Thunder Blessing have given birth to a new generation of gold dwarf adventurers. Most gold dwarves who wander beyond the familiar confines of the Deep Realm do so in order to found new strongholds of their own, but many find the lure of adventuring hard to ignore once it has entered their blood.
Relations with Other Races
Confident and secure in their remote home, gold dwarves have a well-deserved reputation for haughtiness and pride. They look down on all other dwarves, even shield dwarves and gray dwarves whose achievements and kingdoms have matched the glory of their own. Gold dwarves regard elves and half-elves with suspicion after generations spent battling their deep-dwelling cousins. Gnomes, particularly deep gnomes, are well regarded and welcomed as trading partners. Their impression of halflings is shaped by the strongheart inhabitants of Lurien, whom gold dwarves find to be suitably industrious and forthright.
Gold dwarves know little of half-orcs, but usually lump them in with the rest of orc and goblinoin scum. Gold dwarves are very cautious in their dealings with humans, having found great variability in their dealings with Chondathans, the folk of Dambrath, Durpari, Mulan, Shaarans, and halruaans. Planetouched are almost unknown but are usually viewed in the same light as the Mulan, since most planetouched the gold dwarves encounter are either Mulan aasimar or earth genasi followers of Geb.
Race : Gray Dwarf
Dwarf (gray), The North, Turmish, Vaasa, Vilhon Reach. Most duergar characters have little contact with other cultures and choose the gray dwarf region.
Dwelling in great subterranean cities in the Underdark, the gray dwarves are deep-dwelling cousins of shield dwarves, known for their cruelty and bitterness. Like their surface-dwelling kin, gray dwarves are famed for their smithwork and craftsmanship, but unlike their brethren in the Realms Above, the duergar are grim and cheerless, living lives of endless toil. Like their gold and shield dwarf kin, the duergar have forged great empires, founding such realms as the Deepkingdom of Gracklstugh and the Steel Kingdom of Dunspeirrin in the endless darkness of the Realms Below.
Gray dwarves are consumed with bitterness, feeling their race has forever been denied what was rightfully theirs. The duergar expect and live lives of never-ending drudgery. While their work rivals that of shield and gold dwarves, they are relentless perfectionists who take no pleasure in their craftsmanship. Only cruel jokes and petty torments bring a moment's smile to most gray dwarves, and they delight in tormenting the weak and the helpless.
Averaging 4 feet tall, gray dwarves weigh as much as an adult human. While other dwarves tend to be round-bodied and stoutly muscled, duergar are wide of shoulder but wiry and lean, their limbs corded with tough muscles. The skin of a gray dwarf is light or dark gray, and his eyes are dull black. Both genders are usually bald, with males having long gray beards and mustaches. Gray dwarves have the life expectancy and age categories defined for dwarves in the Player's Handbook, but use the following random height and weight characteristics instead of those.
Gray dwarf, male 3'9" +2d4 110lb. x (2d4) lb.
Gray dwarf, female 3'7" +2d4 80lb. x (2d4) lb.
Gray dwarves view the world with bitterness, convinced family, clan, other dwarves, and the rest of the world have cheated them of their birthright and their due. They see life as nothing more than endless backbreaking labor, a torment from birth through death. The duergar evince little mercy for the helpless or the weak and enjoy tormenting those they can prey upon. From a young age, gray dwarves are quickly schooled in the harshness of the world, taught that their lot in life is nothing more than never-ending labor accompanied by betrayal and then death.
Gray dwarves rarely adventure out of choice. Those who are exiled or flee imminent banishment often gravitate to the life of an adventure simply in hopes of surviving. Adventuresom duergar are usually focused on the acquisition of material wealth, caring little for the plight of others.
Relations with Other Races
Dour and suspicious of outsiders, gray dwarves have uniformly bad relations with all other races, including other dwarven subraces. The duergar regard their shield dwarf cousins with particular bitterness, dating back to the shield dwarves' failure to succor Clan Duergar during the Mindstalker Wars. The Kin Clashes forever cemented the mutual animosity between the two dwarven subraces, a hatred that continues today. Gray dwarves regard their gold dwarf cousins as arrogant rivals and potential threats, but trade is possible between the two groups.
Gray dwarves view the surface-dwelling races - elves and half-elves, gnomes, halflings, half-orcs and planetouched - with suspicion but willingly trade with those who are foolhardy enough to venture into the depths. The duergar harbor a longstanding hatred of their subterranean rivals, the drow and the svirfneblin. Nevertheless, they regularly trade with both groups, pitting them against one another whenever possible.
Race : Shield Dwarf
Damara, Dwarf (shield), Impiltur, The North, Silverymoon, Vaasa, the Vast, and Western Heartlands.
Found largely in the northern reaches of western and central Faerûn, shield dwarves are the dominant northern branch of the Stout Folk. Renowned for their smithwork and craftsmanship, shield dwarves have endured a centuries-long decline in the face of never-ending wars with orcs, goblins, giants, and trolls.
Shield dwarves are descended from the founders of Shanatar, a legendary dwarven empire that once ruled the caverns beneath modern day Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan. After Shanatar fell, the shield dwarves migrated north, founding kindgoms such as Ammarindar, Delzoun, Gharraghaur, Haunghdannar, Oghrann, and Sarbreen. Although those kingdoms have largely fallen, the Stout Folk of the North endure. The Thunder Blessing has served as a welcome reprieve for the beleagured shield dwarves, giving hope that the descendants of ancient Shanatar may one day reclaim the glory of their forebears.
Shield dwarves keep to their word, whatever the cost, and are incredibly stubborn, unwilling to concede an inch unless there is absolutely no alternative. Such intransigence has enabled dwindling shield dwarf populations to hang on to ancient strongholds with just a fraction of their original defenders. However, it has also led to clan fueds and long-standing misunderstandings with other races that have sapped the strength of the Stout Folk. Shield dwarves love worked beauty, seeing the world as raw material to be forged and shaped into something more than the original.
Taller by half a foot than their gold dwarf cousins, shield dwarves average 4 1/2 feet tall and weigh as much as an adult human. The skin of a shield dwarf is fair or lightly tanned, and her eyes are usually green or silvered blue. Both genders wear their hair long, and males (and a very few females) have long, carefully groomed beards and mustaches. Hair color ranges from light brown to red, with all shades fading to silver or white as time progresses. Shield dwarves have the life expectancy and age categories defined for dwarves, but use the following random height and weight characteristics instead of those described.
Shield dwarf, male 4'2" +2d4 145 lb. x (2d6) lb.
Shield dwarf, female 4'0" +2d4 110 lb. x (2d4) lb.
Despite their centuries-long decline and deserved reputation for dourness and cynicism, shield dwarves have never succumbed to fatalism. Shield dwarves have traditionally been divided into two camps - the Hidden and the Wanderers - although such divisions have begun to fade since the Thunder Blessing. While members of the former group have literally hidden themselves away from the outside world, content to pursue their traditional way of life, members of the latter group have gone out into the world, unbowed by their race's relentless decline.
Shield dwarves are traditionally slow to trust and slow to forget slights, but a dawning realization of their race's plight has left many willing to seek out new ways of doing things unconstrained by traditional prejudices or practices. Shield dwarves have a long and proud tradition of adventuring, and many shield dwarves follow this route simply in hopes of equaling or exceeding the deeds of thise who have come before. Others seek to recover long-lost strongholds and treasures that have fallen to orcs or other beasts. Since the Thunder Blessing, the question for many young shield dwarves is not why they should become adventurers, but why they should not.
Relations with Other Races
Shield dwarves get along well with most other dwarven subraces, although they regard gold dwarven arrogance as naive and have little understanding for their barbaric wild and arctic dwarven kin. Shield dwarves have a longstanding enmity for the descendants of Clan Duergar, dating back to the Kin Clashes that marked Shanatar's final chapter, and they attack duergar on sight.
Despite centuries of squabbling with elves and half-elves, shield dwarves have always managed to put aside their differences with the Tel'quessir in the face of outside threats. Shield dwarves have always gotten along well with gnomes, particularly rock gnomes and deep gnomes. Colored by their experience with lightfoots, shield dwarves find halflings to be somewhat unreliable but easy to get along with. Shield dwarves get along with most humans, particularly Illuskans, Tethyrians, Chondathans, and Damarans.
Shield dwarves see half-orcs as letter better than their hated brethren, although exceptions do exist. The Stout Folk of the North associate most planetouched with the horrors of Hellgate Keep and view them with suspicion. Earth genasi are a notable exception and are commonly welcomed in dwarven delves across the North.