The Unification Wars
Dwarves are as you would expect. Dwarves are much longer lived than humans, reaching species maturity at the same time as humans, yet are considered youths until they are around 50 years of age. They can live to be 500 years old, although the average lifespan is 350 years. Dwarves are known to be stoic, sturdy and loyal, having strong work ethics and community bonds, they are courageous and fierce when it comes to battle with their enemies.
Dwarves are master miners and smiths, creating some of the finest masterwork weapons, jewelry and armour you could hope to find, and their eye for detail makes them some of the best traders around. Dwarves are typically granted their names by a clan elder, with their last name (clan name) hearkening back to a great ancestor. Bringing shame to the clan name may have their name stripped from them and exiled from their community. They are known to be slow to trust other races, with friendships gained over decades of getting to know others. This is especially true of the shorter-lived races, as often by the time a Dwarf has made friends with a race like humans, their friend is in their advanced years of their life, and some Dwarves see this as both an example and excuse to not get involved in the affairs of the other races.
Dwarves’ origins are unknown, but it is believed by the Dwarvish people that they were constructed by the Gods out of the earth. This is reinforced by the presence of their gemhearts. Each Dwarf at the moment of conception begins to develop a heart made of minerals found in the surrounding area as well as in the blood of their parents, which can outwardly be seen through the colour of their eyes. Based of this heart, Dwarven society often follows a strict hierarchy.
Coalhearts are considered the lowest caste in Dwarven society. They are relegated to the role of miners and servants, which results in more Coalhearts being born from their meagre and dusty surroundings. Coalhearts are recognised by their dark black irises.
Ironhearts and Steelhearts, known for their hearts of the only metals in the caste hierarchy. They have dark and light grey eyes, and are the warriors of their society. Sometimes placed higher in cities that have more war, these gemhearts fit a variety of roles, from guard to warlord. As is expected, all their time spent with weaponry and armour gives rise to many more of their kind.
Sapphirehearts are the artisans and crafters of their societies. They have hearts of solid sapphire, and brilliant blue eyes. They surround themselves with luxurious wares, and are often very well off compared to other Dwarves, relaxing with a laid back attitude with their lives.
Rubyhearts are the bureaucrats of the Dwarf caste. Eyes of red and hearts of ruby, they match this colour with the burning ambition and litigation they use to uphold and protect Dwarf society. They are impulsive to a fault, always at the forefront of a debate, and help royals come to any decision they need to make.
Diamondhearts are royal. Being born with a heart of diamond and eyes that reflect white light are automatically joined to the royal family. They rule clans, kingdoms, and empires from within their mountain homes.
This hierarchy is stable for the most part. Lower castes are promised that coal can form diamonds with enough pressure, and there have been instances where a Coalheart has birthed a Diamondheart. However the opposite is also true, and before trying for a child, many Dwarves surround themselves, their diets, and their beds with gemstones of the heart they wish for for their child. There is also the odd occasion where a Coalheart is born to two Diamondhearts. Protocol says that the child should be sentenced to a lower station, but some gemhearts have found that using magic, through a caster or potion, or recently invented lenses for the eyes have the effect of masking the colour of the eyes. This has caused public outcry on some occasions where it turns out a Coalheart or Ironheart has been ruling a clan.
Gemhearts are kept a closely guarded secret amongst the Dwarves, as they are fearful that outside knowledge of their hearts made of solid jewels would result in a rabid hunting and enslaving of their entire species.
Dwarves originally lived separate to other societies and stayed within their mountain kingdoms dedicated to their clans and their traditions, however with the passing of time, several sub-races of Dwarves have emerged, each with their own distinct differences.
City Dwarves have come down from the mountains to live among the other races. They are craftier than their isolated cousins, having adapted to life in the big city, and have gained a natural resilience to the danger that hides around every street corner. They have shed many of their traditions having become accustomed to life under the stars, and it is not uncommon to see a City Dwarf without a beard. Almost all of these Dwarves pay no attention to the cast system, and are often Coalhearts, though a few higher gemhearts are known to exist, especially amongst Dwarves who become jewelers.
Mountain Dwarves have stayed contained in their fortresses, interacting with outside races only as necessary. Due to life in the mountains, they are more proficient when it comes to wearing lighter armour for maneuverability on dangerous mountain passes, and have a natural heavier strength to them from working deep in the mountains. These Dwarves are very big on tradition, often adventuring to reclaim honour to their clan, or to search out an ancient relic of an ancestor. Mountain Dwarves pay a huge amount of attention to their gemhearts, and nearly all Mountain Dwarf settlements follow the strict gemheart hierarchy.