The World of Kinin
The proud and noble dwarves of Kinin are the keepers of the realms of earth and stone. They live in great cities and halls carved deep in the earth. They are the miners and makers of Kinin.
Many see dwarves and dour and taciturn, and mostly this is true. In reality they are pragmatic and prefer to look to their own ways. Dwarves find joy in the making and crafting of fine things. They covet gold and jewels, not for their wealth, but for what they can make with them. This has created a belief that dwarves are greedy. As traders they are ruthless in their unwillingness to barter a sale, but will heavily argue a purchase.
There are two great kingdoms of dwarves on Kinin, as well as many smaller settlements.
In the south is the great ancestral home of the dwarves, some say all dwarves on Kinin, Thorbardin. This massive mountain realm digs deep into the earth and rises to the highest point of the mountain in which it is elaborately and beautifully carved.
Centuries ago, after a great conflict and civil war, a group of dwarves headed north, along the Spine of the World, and settled a new kingdom, Narbardin. Many dwarves, for whom the civil split was only a couple of generations ago, the grudges and wounds of this time have not been forgotten and certainly not forgiven.
Narbardin is newer, only half a millennia old, but it too is a marvel of construction. Founded on newer technologies, there is less of an “old sector, new sector” feel to it. The Narbardin dwarves are more progressive (for dwarves) and have greater contact with the outside world, which is still to say, not a great deal, but more than Thorbardin.
The subraces of dwarf, are usually found together, save for the dark and mysterious Duergar. Any hold may be either Hill or Mountain dwarf at its core, but may include the other subraces.
Mountain dwarves live in deep mountain holds, burrowing deep into the earth. They are dwarves of hammer and pick. Miners and metal workers. Hill dwarves prefer to live closer or on the surface, they are dwarves of axe and plough. They are farmers and crafters of wood.
Deep dwarves, are those that shun the outside world. They even consider some Hill Dwarves too gregarious. Dour and lovers of the deep, they see their “world” as the mysterious and treacherous Underdark. When not dealing with the denizens of below, they trade with mountain dwarves, who in turn take their goods to trade with the surface.
Lastly there are the Duergar, a race born of the Underdark, Deep Dwarves that have become selfish and cruel. They live away from most holds, coveting their wealth and even at times, attacking their cousins. Duergar are spurned by the other dwarves, and would likewise be treated by most surface folk, if they ever saw one.
As a side note, while not a subrace unto themselves, it is believed that some Dwarves are touched by something wild and dangerous. They are known as the Klarragen or Troll Slayers. These mad berserkers are renown for the savagery and their bright colours, as well as their devastating battle rage. There are no barbarian tribes of Dwarves, but many Clans and Holds have Trollslayers in their midst.
Dwarven craftsmanship in steel and stone is unrivalled in the Land. Even the great elven weaponsmiths use dwarven steel to alloy with the rarer metals of Mithril and Adamantine. No other race can match the dwarven process for the smelting of iron, and the production of steel. As for dwarven architecture, probably the greatest secret kept by the dwarves, for so very few non dwarves enter their hallowed halls. In a quarter of the time it would take men, dwarves can span a stone bridge across almost any gap, and their carving of stone is so perfect, their walls rarely need mortar, instead are carved to interlock and match perfectly. So much so, that from a distance, the wall seems a single seamless piece of stone.
The Left Side of Your Tools
For a dwarf, there is the right way to the use a tool, that is to use it for its intended purpose in such a way as it produces the intended product. There is the wrong way, in which it is used for any purpose for which it is not designed, and fails to do anything well. Then there is the Left way to use a tool. The left side of a tool is where it is adapted for another purpose. Primarily this tends to mean the its use as a weapon. The right way to use a hammer is to bang on things, to shape stone or steel. The left way is to smash opponents bones to meal. The right way to use an axe is to split wood, the left, to split skulls. This concept also transpires to other tools. Dwarves on Kinin are often proficient in the javelin. A dwarf attempting to scale a shaft, will make a javelin too long to span the gap, then attach a rope to the midpoint and hurl the dual pointed weapon up. The javelin then lodges both ends in the wall anchors in place, allowing the dwarf to climb up to it. With two javelins on a rope, a dwarf can climb a shaft indefinitely. On the battlefield, the arm that can throw a javelin straight up a shaft, can be dangerous when throwing laterally.
Slings too were originally developed to hurl weapon up and down mines. Dwarven sling stones are significantly larger than most, or are made from spiked balls more likely seen on a morning star.
It is for this reason that many dwarves do not like to use the sword. It has but one purpose, and cannot be used to create anything. A dwarf who uses a sword is likely not someone who has learned a trade and then how to fight. That dwarf’s trade is fighting.