Between a Devil and a Blue Abyss
The dwarves of Golarion are a humanoid race of dour warriors and craftspeople. They excel at jobs other races find tedious, but also have a great love of exploration and discovery. Taller races sometimes refer to dwarves as runts, although they find this extremely offensive.
A dwarf is a stout humanoid, usually a head shorter than their human counterparts, but much broader. They have thick, heavy bones, tightly packed muscular sinew, and stability unmatched by other races. This bulk also causes dwarves to weigh as much, if not more than human men. Their coloration varies, with the dwarves of Garund being deeply tanned and weather beaten, while the dwarves of Avistan tend to be paler, especially those who dwell in the far north of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. Dwarves have wide range of eye color, with brown and grey being the most common, though some possess shocking blue irises. Their hair is usually worn long, and dwarven men expend considerable effort growing, maintaining, and embellishing their long beards. Popular beard decorations among more traditional dwarves include complicated braids, small trophies of battle, or other objects that are tied to significant life events. One of the worst offenses to a dwarf is to shave his beard. as it is considered not only a deadly insult to the individual, but also to his ancestors and family.
Dwarven dress mirrors the items they so carefully craft, elevating function over style, but they are never plain. Most decorations also serve a practical purpose, such as special fasteners, reinforced seams, useful padding, or loops for holding weapons or tools.
There is dramatic sexual dimorphism in dwarven physiology. Males tend to be quite noticeably broader, though not as much taller comparatively, they have slab-like torsos and heavy eyebrows. Most males grow facial hair at an alarming rate, and as such almost all dwarves keep a beard, with the exception of the Ouat caste of Osirion.
Dwarves rarely forgive a wrongdoing done to them or their families. Despite this, they are capable of seeing through ancient prejudices to value a battle-tested friend. True friendship to a dwarf is worth more than all the gold and gems they seem to crave.
According to their own myths, the dwarves were forged by Torag in ancient times.6 They lived and worked in their forges and cities in Nar-Voth, fighting against the orcs and goblinoid races and among themselves for eons.
Quest for Sky
Late in the Age of Darkness (ca. -5133 AR) they followed the dictates of a prophet of Torag to leave their Darklands home and migrate to the surface, an event that would later be termed the Quest for Sky. This massive societal upheaval caused a terrible civil war between the clans that ground the migration to a halt, until they were united under General Taargick. The Quest for Sky renewed, the dwarves inadvertently herded their ancient enemies, the orcs, before them, and finally emerged onto the surface around -4987 AR. Once they established themselves, they built vast and magnificent fortified cities called Sky Citadels, and crowned Taargick the king of the newly established kingdom of Tar Taargadth.
Dwarves can be found throughout Avistan and Garund, although the vast majority inhabit the Five Kings Mountains on the borders of Druma. Of particular note are the city of Highhelm in the Five Kings Mountains, whose inhabitants consider themselves the heart of dwarven culture and life, the Sky Citadel of Janderhoff in Varisia, the Ouat monks of Osirion and the wild warriors of Kalsgard in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings.
There exist even lesser known clans of dwarves in Garund, among the southern peaks of the Shattered Range, are the desert dwarves. Hardy nomadic warriors who dwell in rough caverns by day and travel above ground by night. And in south-west Osirion are the Pahmet or sand dwarves, proud xenophobic warriors who believe that they once held safe the greatest secrets of the ancient pharaohs.
Dwarves are great lovers of tradition, but with the waning of their culture and the rise of non-dwarven nations around the world, dwarven society is becoming more heavily influenced by human, gnomish, and even elven culture all the time. This makes the older dwarves quite nervous, as they see the more porous nature of dwarven society today as a prelude to its extinction. Despite these changes, dwarves still spend most of their time crafting, fighting, or building fortifications, mainstays that have not changed since Torag breathed life into the first dwarf.
Most dwarves venerate Torag, the God of the Forge, above all others, although Cayden Cailean, Gorum, and Abadar are also given great respect. Torag‘s teachings still guide most of dwarven culture and thought, as they believe he will abandon them should they ever fall slack in their duties. In addition, there is a small collection of gods worshiped almost exclusively by dwarves. These are mostly related to Torag and are generally not worshiped individually. Torag’s relations include Angradd, his younger brother, Folgrit, his wife, Bolka, their daughter, Grundinnar, their eldest son, Kols, the middle son, Trudd, Grundinnar’s youngest brother, Dranngvit, Torag’s half-sister, and Magrim, his older brother. The only god in the dwarven pantheon not related to Torag is the Dark Smith, Droskar, the chief deity of the duergar.
Dwarves speak the Dwarven language primarily, although most are also fluent in Taldane. Dwarven shares its runic alphabet with Terran. Dwarven names are full of harsh-sounding consonants, and rarely include soft, or sibilant sounds. Honorifics are common in given names, such as “-sun” (“-son”), “-dam” (“-daughter”), and “-hild” (“-wife”). Family names sometimes contain words in Common such as “gold” or “hammer”. Also, the letters Q and X do not appear in Dwarven.
Gladdringgar is the dwarven tradition of carving one’s personal rune in stone on the deepest cave or tunnel one has explored. It literally translates as the “ritual of toil”, although younger dwarves have begun to refer to it as kangreddin, or “wall-making”. Dwarves are obsessed with leaving a mark and being remembered, and great respect is given to the dwarves who risk their lives to delve in their race’s ancestral home in the Darklands.
Attitudes Towards Other Races
Dwarves are incredibly hard working, dedicated, and tough, and see other races who do not share these traits as being frivolous at best, and weak and degenerate at worst. Elves are considered to be the ultimate examples of this, in addition to being labeled cowards and weaklings for abandoning Golarion for thousands of years following Earthfall. Half-orcs are generally considered little better than their full-blooded orcish relatives, and are always regarded with suspicion.