Eos: the New Age
Old as the mountains and sturdy as bedrock, dwarves have been a part of Eos longer than any can remember. Dwarves are known for their strong work ethic, loyalty to friends, ability to hold grudges through generations, unswerving stubbornness, and love for craft and artifice. They are intensely loyal to family and clan, usually willing to sacrifice their own lives for the honor and protection of their respective groups, and it is well known that an injury to one is an injury to all as far as dwarves are concerned. While usually outwardly gruff and stern, a dwarf is likely to laugh loudest and become incredibly jovial when around close friends or when a few ales have been emptied. They are generally considered a spiritual race, having strong inclinations to the worship of deities, primarily Tolmek, though some are known to venture into primal spiritualism and many converted to Aionicism when the church was born. Having a past shrouded in ancient mysteries has led them to become a very curious race when history is concerned, and they are often at the fore of expeditions to uncover new ruins and artifacts.
The ancient history of dwarves is largely unknown, as it is unclear when exactly what is today known as a “dwarf” first came into being. It is known that a race of proto-dwarves known as the “dverg” existed at one point as slaves to the titans, and that during the Deitomachy the dverg were shattered as a race into several different groups. While some of the dverg went on to evolve into the Azers, Galeb Duhr, and other people influenced by the raw elemental power of the titans and their Primordial masters, at least one group escaped the elemental taint and was left alone deep in the bowls of Eos. There in the Underdark, the dverg underwent a change that took many thousands of years, eventually becoming true dwarves.
The dwarves built vast kingdoms under the earth, carving from the Underdark precious stones and ores and learning to work stone and metal with unmatched skill. Official estimates vary, but it is believed that the dwarven nations spanned the entirety of Galotte’s Underdark, and may have stretched towards other continents as well. Familial clans began to rise to prominence as an early form of governance, eventually producing thanes that mediated disputes between these clans. Sometime around -2000 IC, explorers began finding ways to the surface. Initially wary of this new world, the dwarves approached further exploration with caution, and did not make contact with humans until nearly two centuries later. Upon successful communication and an establishment of goodwill with the human empire of Dhejarm, the dwarves began to move their settlements closer and closer to the surface to encourage trade, learning, and exploration.
While many clans welcomed the new allies found in humans and eventually elves, some were cautious to the point of paranoia. This faction eventually produced a leader, Duerg Blackforge. In -1725, Blackforge overthrew his thane and took the crown for himself, declaring that the clans under his authority were enemies to the surface world and that his race should war with and conquer the soft-skinned, light-dwelling races. A civil war broke out, with Blackforge leading a separatist faction and the newly-formed Dawnstone clan at the fore of the other side. As a matter of pride, the dwarves did not allow their human or elven allies to aid them during the War of Broken Hammers, and eventually the dwarves siding with the Dawnstone clan found victory. In -1717 the Blackforge Accord was made, decreeing that those clans who had sided with the separatists during the civil war were relegated to the deepest reaches of the Underdark and prohibited from returning to the cities closer to the surface; in effect, this was the greatest insult manageable by the victors, as to dwarves exile is far worse than death. Thus the separation between dwarves and duergar began, and the blood hatred between the two cousin races has never faded.
Following the War of Broken Hammers, a great number of city-states began to rise all over the surfaces of Galotte’s mountains, and dwarves slowly began to lose their abilities to see perfectly in the dark. Their homes deep in the earth were slowly abandoned as they began to favor the fertile surface, and their population began to explode. Trade flourished with the human nations, and together the two races began developing newer and better methods of architecture, metalworking, and other crafts. As the population of dwarves grew so too did the size of their cities, and eventually it was agreed upon by the thanes of each city that some form of central leadership was necessary to maintain order. In 402 IC, the loose alliances between city-states and their thanes were unified into the Confederation of Iron, with Thronehammer as its capital and Norik Silverbeard as its first High King.
Centuries passed by the dwarves without any major upheavals, and their culture grew and flourished. Several minor wars with goblins, duergar, orcs, and giants mar this otherwise peaceful period in dwarven history, but none of them posed any significant threat to the order and stability of the Confederation. The year 1470 changed this, however, when Narek Spearbreaker rose to power among the orcs and led a unified horde down into the lands of Alcadia. The Kohl Khan Horde was the greatest threat to civilization ever seen on Galotte, and the dwarves were quickly brought into the war against the brutal would-be conquerors. Songs are sung about the war to this day, and so this Encyclopedia will not venture into retelling how the alliance of civilized races barely managed to push back the savage orcs and secure victory, though it should be stated that without the aid of the steadfast dwarves, victory would have been nearly impossible.
Today dwarves exist much as they have for the last several hundred years, residing in their mountain cities, occasionally warring with old enemies, and keeping communications strong with old allies. The Confederation remains a strong unifying force for the dwarven clans, and while the Goldbraid and Frostrage clans of Khom Gorl split from the whole in 1533 IC due to ideological disagreements, the division was bloodless and largely viewed as a good option for all parties.