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 Codex Entry: Dwarves

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RATTJAR
The King
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PostSubject: Codex Entry: Dwarves   Thu Mar 31 2011, 03:26

Dwarf



Dwarves are one of the main humanoid races of the Dragon Age setting, and one of the three playable races in Dragon Age: Origins. They are a race in decline, once boasting an underground kingdom spanning much of Thedas, but devastated during the First Blight and still losing both lives and territory to the darkspawn every day. In the dwarven language, they refer to themselves as the dwarva.

Dwarves have an innate resistance to magic, preventing them from becoming mages; dwarven
characters can still be either warriors or rogues, however.

History
Before the first Blight the dwarven empire expanded as much underground as the Tevinter Imperium did above, and maybe far grander as there is some evidence that suggests trade relations with the ancient elves of Arlathan (See trivia). The first Blight, however, severely crippled the empire as Darkspawn flooded the Deep Roads that connected the countless Thaigs and cities, pushing the dwarves to the brink of extinction. In order to preserve the remnants of their kind, Orzammar closed its gates to any survivors and became the only bastion of dwarven culture until the rediscovery of Kal-Sharok and other dwarven cities centuries later, though because of their coldness and anger over Orzammar's drastic act of isolation, any chance of restoring the dwarven empire in all its glory is bleak. Not taking into account of course, the constant threat of invasion by the ever present darkspawn hordes that still haunt the abandoned halls and strongholds of the dwarves. So long as Orzammar stands however, so do the dwarves, though more and more lives and territory are lost every year to evil.

Culture
Unlike many other cultures in Thedas, dwarves do not worship anthropomorphic god(s). Their beliefs are more akin to ancestor worship, and they also hold a sacred reverence for the stone that surrounds them throughout their entire life. Dwarves who lead a strong and noble life are said to strengthen the Stone when they die, becoming Ancestors. Those who are ignoble or disgraced would weaken the stone and are therefore rejected by it for all eternity.

Every once in a while there's a dwarf who is declared by the Assembly, a sort of ruling council, to be particularly noble. These dwarves become Paragons, and are worshipped during their lives and long after their deaths. When a dwarf is declared by the Assembly to be a Paragon, a noble house is created which bears their name. The deeds of a Paragon are carefully recorded in the Memories, which record the lineage and deeds that help determine what caste a dwarf is born into. The word of a Paragon is held in such esteem that it is sometimes equal to even that of their king.

The social structure of dwarves is broken up into castes. The casteless are the lowest rung of dwarven society: outcasts in their own city, unable to take up work even as servants among the higher castes, nor to defend their honor in the Provings. Dwarves who are exiled or born on the surface are also considered by the Shaperate to be casteless, but with an increase in the number of dwarves from high ranking castes choosing to live on the surface, it is becoming more difficult for some surface dwarves to be considered permanent exiles. The average dwarf will never see the surface, and often will have superstitious beliefs concerning surface-life (such as falling into the sky, or the sun falling to the ground). Those dwarves who are most commonly seen on the surface tend to be merchants, or on occasion smiths, but amongst the dwarves they might have been thieves, murderers or worse.

Surface Dwarves
In Orzammar, dwarven society is divided into rigid castes with houses that compete for power and prestige. But all that is discarded when a dwarf abandons the Stone for the surface. Under the open sky, everyone is equal. Or so the story goes.

Dwarves of Orzammar

The dwarves of Orzammar are quite unlike those found in most human cities. Although Orzammar derives its vast wealth from trade with human kingdoms, all dwarves who come to the surface to trade are stripped of their position in society. Dwarven merchants are so ubiquitous in human cities that many people labour under the impression that all dwarves are merchants, or that their whole race worships coin and trade. But these surface dwarves are atypical creatures, the ones willing to give up all their ties to their kin and sacrifice their rank in order to conduct business.

Below ground, the dwarves are a people obsessed with honour--their own, and that of their family. Most dwarf nobles incorporate chainmail even into formal gowns, because slights and insults often turn deadly. They are a people who revere excellence and strive to achieve it in all things. Even members of the Servant Caste have been elevated to Paragons, usually posthumously, in recognition of remarkable service.

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