Dwarfs are shorter and stockier than humans, nearly always bearded, and live to about 300. Despite this, the dividing line between dwarfs and humans seems somewhat blurred, and. It may be moot, as Dwarfs see their dwarfishness as a matter of culture rather than genetics or height.
Both sexes have beards. Female dwarfs are common, but are traditionally indistinguishable from males at all times. Dwarfs prefer not to spend much time on the subject; the dwarfish language has a gender neutral pronoun, usually rendered as "he" when speaking human languages. Dwarfish courtship is an incredibly tactful affair, primarily concerned with finding out which gender the other dwarf is. Despite the awkwardness that comes of this, it is traditionally considered rude to discuss female dwarfs in conversation.
Most dwarfs are intensely literal-minded and have absolutely no sense of metaphor or allusion. This is primarily a practical survival trait". The exceptions, such as the great playwright Hwel or the romantic Casanunda, tend to channel this focus into other habits. Despite their mistrust of outright metaphor, the dwarfs do have a deep love of word association, as long as such associations are direct. For instance, their word for "smelter" is also their word for a police investigator, since the two are said to be performing the same task, separating out the dross to uncover the pure truth beneath. The senior advisor to the Low King is called an "ideas taster," and in their language, if someone "sees the light", he has been blinded by the morals of surface society.
==Culture and society==
Dwarfs tend to be miners. They have a natural fascination with minerals (especially iron and gold) and feel more comfortable underground. Dwarfish society is Anarchistic. Decisions are made and information is spread by different groups of miners exchanging representatives. The closest thing to a leader dwarfs have is a dezka-knikor chief mining engineer, a title loosely translated into comman as "king". All dwarfs owe allegiance to the Low King, who is selected by council in Khazhad Dûm by dwarf city of Kalbarag. The current Low King is Volklar Ragnarok, son of a small coal-mining clan in Llamedos. The Low King acts as a final court of appeal in disputes.
The primary weapon in dwarf culture is the axe, which is often used even when the frequently confined spaces of underground tunnels make them impractical. A traditional dwarfish axe is multifunctional; one side is a pickaxe used for prospecting, and the other side is a battle axe used if someone tries to stop them. Axes are so important culturally that dwarfish Guardian members are allowed to use them instead of the regulation swords, and both male and female dwarfs typically carry a (decorative) axe to social functions. There is a tendency among dwarfs, who in their native mines are often soft-spoken, filial and respectful, to suddenly transform into beer-swilling, brawling, axe-waving clichés when they go abroad. It's noted that a lot of (that is to say, all of them except "hi-ho") dwarf drinking songs seem to comprise the single word "gold" repeated in singsong. Some dwarfs attempt to project greater machismo by carrying more and larger axes, and wearing heavier and more elaborate armour than standard. This is known as "clang"
When dwarfs are married, it is customary for the debts to their parents (consisting of all the money spent on them before they married, such as for food and lodgings) to be paid off by their partner. However, it is then common for the new couple's parents to turn around and present them with a wedding gift even larger than the debt, so this may be seen as ceremonial—though still necessary.
Dwarfish society has no religion, but does have gods "just in case". Their creator god, called Tak, is believed by the dwarfs to have fashioned the races from a geode. Tak is said to have "written the Laws," and "written the world", in that order . For this reason Dwarfs place a very high value on words and writing, and the destruction of a word is seen as a reprehensible crime by more conservative dwarfs. Despite this, Tak is not worshipped; he left after creating the world and demands little from his believers. "Tak does not require that we think of Him, only that we think." Further details of these gods are not known, with the exception of the trickster, Agi Hammerthief. Dwarfs do not believe in demons or similar either, but traditionally bury their dead with good weapons in case the demons don't know about the fact.
In place of gods and demons, they do have several dozen different words for "dark". Many of these are highly mystical and dangerous, such as the "closing dark," the "calling dark" and the "waiting dark" (the dark that waits to fill new holes). Worst of all is the "Summoning dark", which is said to have a mind of its own and to seek out and corrupt certain victims susceptible to it. Its only defeat was at the hands of The Guarding Dark.
In the past, a significant part of dwarfish culture was the "Knockerman", who went into mines ahead of the other dwarfs to check for firedamp. The Knockermen wore leather armour, designed to be shock-absorbing, and conical leather hats. The ones who returned were respected for their bravery, and told stories of hearing the hammering of dead dwarfs trying to tunnel back into the world and Great A'Tuin's heartbeat. They became advisors and lawmakers. If dwarfs had a religion they would have been considered priests. It is possible that these are the "grags" , though they would be more akin to rabbis or imams than priests.
Knockermen were made obsolete in the Ramtops when a dwarf in Balrakich invented the Davy lamp. The Khazhad Dûm dwarfs, however, felt the Knockermen were too important to be replaced by a device, and this caused something of a rift between the two groups. Many traditionalist Khazhad Dûm dwarfs now refuse to come to the surface at all and, if they must, wear the Knockerman's outfit to protect themselves from the sun. They are calleddrudak'ak, which translates as "they don't get out in the fresh air enough". In Common they are called "deep-downers".
Another recent development is the trend for young dwarfs in Khazhad Dûm and elsewhere to be openly female. The trend seems to have been picked up in the Ramtops (where some dwarfs already had names like Gloria Thogsdaughter), but is something else found offensive by Khazhad Dûmtraditionalists. The swear word "ha'ak" is used by such dwarfs to indicate their disapproval, and is considered an extremely offensive term. Since, historically, the "typical" dwarf was not actually assumed to be male (it was more the question being deemed irrelevant) this is a curious reaction, except inasmuch as the disapproval is of dwarfs not (in the drudak'ak's opinion) acting like dwarfs.
It is not yet known what the effect has been on dwarfish society of certain strong hints byt he Low King that he is, in fact, Low Queen Rhys, and may be getting a dressmaker. This may, however, be one of the many reasons (s)he is regarded with little respect by the drudak'ak, in addition to the schism between the modernist and traditionalist dwarfs, Rhys being regarded as a conservative member of the former group.
This movement appears to be in reference to feminism and/or the LGBT subculture
Bread is also a significant part of dwarf culture throughout the world Dwarf bread is like hardtack, only more so. It will enable you to survive for days (by making you realise you are surrounded by things that look more edible) and never goes stale, possibly because it was always stale. Its primary use is as a weapon (although it is also used as a kind of currency), and it is made in many different types. These include boomerang biscuits, drop scones (a reference to real drop-scones) and close-combat crumpets. Reportedly the process of "forging" a loaf of dwarf bread includes gravel as part of the recipe, and kitty litter is apparently a preferred seasoning.
The Low King sits on an (apparently) ancient loaf of dwarf bread called the Scone of Stone
Besides dwarf bread, dwarfish cuisine consists largely of things found underground, such as fungi, rodents and bits of rock. Rat is a staple of the dwarf diet, provided it is completely covered in ketchup or a similar sauce to hide the taste. Khazhad Dûm’srich abundance of rats is one of its main
selling points to potential dwarf immigrants. Dwarfs are also known to eat dog, but only if there is not any rat.
The language of Dwarfs (Kad'k) bears a superficial resemblance to the Russian language , in that it has a lot of guttural k's and z's. Drudak'aktend to converse entirely in the language. It is not spoken much in front of humans in general, possibly because humans themselves find it difficult to master. Dwarfs who speak Common invariably translate any meaningful parts of their name when doing so.
Kad'kis famed for having no words for rock. It has hundreds of words describing different kinds of rock, but not a single word that simply means "rock", much like the Inuit language supposedly has many words for different kinds of snownShow a dwarf a rock and he sees, for example, an inferior piece of crystalline sulphite of barytes
Known words and phrases, besides those mentioned above, include:
AaDb'thuk- "Okay" (literally, "All correctly beamed and propped")
Bura'zak-ka- "Town hall"
Bad'dhakz- "Yeast bowl"
B'tduz- A game in which two dwarfs stand a few feet apart and throw rocks at each others' heads.
B'zugda-hiara- "lawn ornament"; a deadly insult, unless used by a very close friend
D'hrarak- "Not dwarfs", seems to refer to dwarfs who have been cast out of dwarfish culture
Dr'zka- "Not really a dwarf", refers to dwarfs who do not obey all dwarfish traditions, but are not quite d'hrarak.
Drudak'ak- Dwarfs who don't get out into the fresh air often enough. The traditionalists.
Fresh" is a loose translation. Dwarfs who have just married and have had their debts paid off are said to be in a state of G'daraka. This means they are "free, unencumbered, new dwarfs."
Gr'duzk- "Good day"
Ha'ak- Exact translation unknown, but it is an offensive term for an openly female dwarf.
Jar'ahk'haga- Literally "ideas taster". This is the title of the senior advisor to the Low King
K'ez'rek d'b'duz- "Go around the other side of the mountain",
all aspects of dwarfish culture.
Sh'rt'azs- A family name, translated as "Littlebottom" (and, when pronounced, sounds like "shortarse" in non-rhotic forms of English).
T'dr'duzk b'hazg t't- "Today is a good day for someone else to die." The famous well-thought-out dwarfish battle-cry.
Zadkrdga- "The one who smelts". Also, as explained above, "investigator". One who finds the pure ore of truth in the dross of confusion.
The (admittedly small) lexicon of Dwarfish words reveals only 15 letters: a, b, d, e, g, h, i, j, k, n, r, s, t, u, and z. The capital "D" in AaDb'thuk may be a separate letter, or it may simply be a differently inflected "d."
The wordHnaflbaflwhiflsnifltaflcould be a Dwarfish word, but since it is obviously derived from the Hnefial nd since it contains a number of letters (f, l, w) not found in any Dwarfish words and lacks any of the diacraticsone would expect in a Dwarfish word that long, it is probably of human, rather than Dwarfish origin.
-akor-'akappears to mean "not," and generally to indicate the opposite of something.
Dwarfish last names are, as mentioned above, usually translated into when speaking other languages. Knowing what the name means is part of knowing who the dwarf is. They can be descriptive clan-names (Littlebottom, Rocksmacker) or patronymics(Albrechtson), although these can be based on relations other than the father (Snoriscousin) and even get recursive(Glodssonssonsson).
Dwarfish first names are usually either the same as humans of the region (Rhys, Bjorn, Gloria), mono- or duo-syllables reminiscent (to a greater or lesser extent) of Tolkien's dwarf names (Glod, Gimlet, Timkin, Hwel), or emotional descriptors
While dwarfs are noted for gossip, they can also be taciturn even amongst themselves. "Minesign" is how they convey their feelings to other dwarfs. Like real-world hobo code, minesigns can be scratched or drawn on any available surface, and generally refer to the different kinds of dark referred to above. They are described as an unofficial ballot, voting by graffiti, to show your view on what is going on in your mine. There are many signs, and presumably they can convey a range of ideas; but only a few, ranging from neutral to negative,.
One basic minesign is the Long Dark, which merely announces the presence of a mine. It is a circle with a single horizontal line through it. (
The minesign for the Following Dark is a circle with two parallel diagonal lines slashed through it, making it resemble a No symbol. This is not a good sign, and can result in grags in a mine sitting surrounded by candles (as mentioned in Thud). It translates as "we await what follows with dread", or, more loosely, "Repent, ye sinners!".
The minesign for the Summoning Dark is one small circle enclosed by a larger circle with a tail - or an "eyeball with a tail". Dwarves believe that enscribing it is like a curse that brings the Summoning Dark down on the area. Dwarf lore holds that it is very dangerous to leave any of these in the dark.
Due to a volcanic eruption, the Dwarves have been driven from thier historical kingdom. They have fled to the surface and conflicts have arosen with the orcs that had been living on thier land.