Oh umber-bearded dvergr, wandering the Vale,
With walking stick, so far from den, across the twilight pale.
What tales have ye, what song to sing, what golden finery bear,
With twinkling silver, rascal eyes, and richest tenor blare?
Came ye from under yonder rock, or passed by rooted braes,
And did amongst unearthly oaks, to ancient river say?
Oh keeper of faye secrets old, oh bring thee granite tale,
Please tell me of the foggy wold, along the Sullen Vale.
Dwarves of the Sullen Vale are keepers of rock and stone. Living among the endless shadows of its twilight hills and forests, they are seldom seen by mannish eye. Under root and hill, they learn and trade secrets known only to the earth itself, and it is from the earth that they derive their mysterious magics.
Great lovers of precious metals and stones, dwarves are notoriously greedy, and will often trade ancient secrets for the right bauble. Dwarven metalworking and craftmanship are the stuff of legend, and many an ancient mannish king is said to have been bedecked in dwarven jewelry or outfitted with dwarven sword.
Among these legends, however, are many a fable in which those same kings have been tricked by dwarves, often unwittingly bartering away their kingdoms or becoming forever beholden. Great caution is advised when dealing with these clever, wise creatures.
Dwarves range between four and five feet tall, and are wiry of build, weighing between one hundred and one hundred-fifty pounds. At home in the forever-fall of the Sullen Vale, their skin tone is generally olive and swarthy, and their thick hair runs the panalopy of the colors of high autumn. Dwarven eyes are remarkably bright, and often the color of gold, silver, and gemstone.
Male dwarves wear magnificent beards, often braiding them, decorating them with precious metals, and shaping them with bees wax and comb. Fond of flaxen and wools that blend with the forests and hills, dwarves are never seen without their caps or hoods, nor without their walking stick.
Dwarves of the Sullen Vale are quick, agile, and adept at stealth, having learned such arts in their eternal struggle to survive the malicious trolls, giants, and other creatures that wander the Vale in search of prey.
Dwarves are, by reputation, an interesting mix of personalities and motivations.
They are famously courteous, taking care to use proper title and manner no matter the situation. Though their homes are a secret to men, dwarven hospitality is legendary; once invited to drink in the hall of a dwarf, guests are treated as nobilty and are regailed with as much song, tale, and food as possible. A dwarf will never expel a guest without great cause.
They are notoriously greedy, both with knowledge and secrets as well as with gems, jewelry, and other crafts. They are not, by nature, outright robbers. However, dwarves are well known for crafting all manner of clever schemes to part a traveler from his gold. Such schemes often include complex contracts, games of riddles and tests of wit and other mischief.
Traders in, and keepers of, many of the earth's secrets, dwarves are deeply inquistive. They are quite curious about men and their ways, but are more interested in the nature of the earth itself and often wonder as to how the Vale came to be. It is difficult to predict that which a dwarf may covet more: gold or knowledge.
As already explained, dwarves have a great fondness for gold, silver, iron, and gems, into which they work mysterious magics and from which they craft beautiful jewelry, adornments, coats of mail, arms, and furniture.
Dwarves share the elves' love of poetry and song. Their voices, rich in bass and tenor that belies their slight stature, can sometimes be heard ringing in the cold hills of the Vale. In fact, song and poem are the major media by which dwarves inquire of things and share news with one another.
Adventuring & Combat
The dwarven love of treasure, along with their natural inquisitiveness, make them natural adventurers. They often wander alone, with their walking sticks of blackthorn and greenwood, in the hills and valleys of the Sullen Vale, seeking things out and learning as much as they can from the rocks, trees, and birds.
Being of small stature, and surrounded by the endless nightmare of the Sullen Vale, dwarves are not prone to outright combat. This is not to say that they are cowardly, however. Quite to the contrary, a dwarf can make a tenacious martial opponent. Using their natural aptitude for stealth and magic, dwarves will not shy from harrassing and killing opponents several times their size. Well told are many tales wherein a single dwarf has battled a mighty troll for the prize of his treasure.
Dwarves tend to wear little or light armor, and, when outfitted for battle, carry small pole axes, long knives and dirks, and their ingeniously designed crossbows, which allow them to harry opponents from a distance.
The deadliest weapon in the arsenal of a dwarf, however, is his magic. Dwarves have access to spells of the earth that are beyond the ken of men, and can weave illusions and bend the forest to protect themselves.
Sam Crow's Random Musings
Dwarves of the Sullen Vale are fond of wine, which they make themselves in their halls.
Dwarven halls are found under the roots of ancient trees, in hillsides, and under mighty rocks. They are larger on the inside than the outside, and are formed of rough timber, mortar, and granite. The entrances thereto are perceptible only to the dwarf and his guests.
A dwarf will take a wife, but will not sire children. After all, dwarves are born of the earth itself. Dwarves are otherwise solitary.
Dwarves are fond of sheep, which can often be found around their burroughs. Dwarves will protect the sheep in exchange for wool, which dwarven women spin into fine flaxen and fleece garmets.
Dwarves despise goblins, the latter of which descend from those dwarves whose greed has overtaken them. Thus, goblins are omens of the dangers of dwarven covetousness.