The Dwarves

A short but hardy race, the dwarves inhabit the regions of the northern mountains in increasingly dwindling numbers. Legend says the dwarves were created by the Aspect of Order, and as such the dwarves enjoy a special relationship to this god and are especially dedicated to his worship. In ancient days, during the Age of Myth, the dwarves comprised a mighty empire. Their capital city served as both center of their political and military might, as well as protecting the way to the Heart of the Mountain, the Temple of Earth, the resting place and home of the Guardian of Order. The death of the Guardian began a centuries long decline in their empire’s might. Today this once powerful race is on the brink of extinction due to a steadily decreasing population.

The curse was first discovered some five generations ago when dwarven leaders, studying birth records among their people, realized that children in recent years were twice as likely to be male as female. Since then, this rate has rapidly declined even further so that today only one in twenty births produces a female dwarf. Their rarity has given the females in their society special practical and spiritual significance. The “curse” has resulted in a society dominated by rapidly aging and single men, most of whom will never have the chance to marry or produce children of their own, and has created an atmosphere of doom and frustration.

The order of Earthmothers governs all female dwarves, keeps them separated from mainstream society for protection, and carefully selects male dwarves to pair and mate with each female. Men are selected based on an elaborate set of criteria which the Earthmothers believe will help maximize the probability that the resulting offspring will be a girl. With so few females, the competition to become a father is intense, with only the most capable, respected, and influential dwarves having any chance to gain the approval of the Earthmothers.

Dwarven men have been forced to cope with this lack as well as they can. Some have thrown themselves into their work, with the result of a recent surge in dwarven blacksmithing, stonecutting, and exploration into the deep mountains. Others have dedicated themselves to the religious caste, devoted to the Aspect of Order and Earth. Same-sex couplings are becoming more common, and life-long relationships between men are an acknowledged, if not always accepted, part of the new dwarven society.

The Dwarves

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