Dwarves (Golden Legacy Supplement)
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Dwarves generally stand no greater than 4’9”, but have a stocky build and usually weigh more than an average human. Aside from an enlarged liver and additional kidney, dwarven interior physiology bears strong resemblance to that of humans. It was previously believed that dwarves existed as a race without gender; however, research has revealed that this was a misconception, as dwarves of both genders are equally bearded.
As an interesting fact, dwarven beards are fireproof. While this doesn't protect them from any more than a few stray sparks, it has made for an interesting burial tradition. Dwarves cremate their dead with a process which leaves only a bearded pile of ash. Beards collected after this process are hung in the Hall of Beards of their home fortress.
The Tome of Mining and Tunnel Engineering is the closest thing dwarves have to a sacred text. No one actually knows how many volumes comprise the Tome, but 49 separate books are known to exist, although some appear to share material in common. Each text is nearly priceless, carefully guarded and lovingly maintained. These books have been hand-copied again and again, with delicate negotiations and huge ransoms taking place when one community allows another to copy one of their volumes. A wealthy and prestigious Dwarven settlement often reflects its wealth and prestige by the number of different volumes accumulated; a few cities are known to have as many as a dozen assorted volumes of the Tome.
While the Tome does contain practical advice on mining and architecture, this advice takes the form of archaic and obtuse verses, perhaps originally written so as to confound outsiders (or overly-ambitious apprentices) who might read the book without the guidance of elders. In the current era, dwarves consider readings from the Tome akin to philosophical parables and revelatory religious teachings. In a typical volume of the Tome, the original verse takes up only a small part of the center of the page, with layered margins containing interpretations, musings, and other commentary by famous Dwarven philosophers. Dwarven scholars frequently seek for their writings included in a version of the Tome, and some spend the greater part of their lifetime examining and debating the meanings of these commentaries in the Tome.
Some Dwarven settlements touched by the golden empire have abandoned the Tome of Mine and Tunnel Engineering and come to worship Byakko, the Ivory Tiger of the West. Those who have forsaken their heritage are deemed [insert heretic pun here] by their former Dwarven brethren, and are usually unwelcome in orthodox fortresses.
Magic and Technology
Dwarves have been using metal tools and weapons for the entirety of their written history. This is thanks to, in part, by their having invented steel before developing a system of writing. Given their non-offensive (but heavily defensive) style of civilization, dwarves have had gratuitous amounts of time to spend developing their nefarious devices. The common man of the Golden Empire would likely expect that thousands of years spent inventing would yield deadly weaponry; however, dwarves know that when one takes his inventions out to battle his enemies, those enemies often gain the technology used to destroy them. For this reason, dwarves have opted to ignore the elven advancement of firearms, knowing that any design improvements would only be stolen and mass-produced by the elves. Their weaponry favors hammers, axes, crossbows, and siege weaponry loaded with whimsical ordinance.
In the field of magic, dwarven advancement has been only in efforts to augment their mechanical contraptions with magical runes. Those unfamiliar to rune magic or geometry magic frequently find themselves baffled when attempting to decipher dwarven magical texts (provided they don't fall victim to the explosive runes or glyphs of warding present throughout the spellbook of any proper Dwarven mage). Such inventions as the mechanical energy storage wheel, AKA Urist Newton's Revenge, were made possible only by rune magic.
Dwarven engineering favors creative problem solving of all sorts. For example, the dwarves have perfected their bearded ax to function as the multitool of Dwarven infantry (for more information, read 1,001 Uses for a Dwarven-Made Bearded Ax, by Urist Axebeard). Creative problem solving often translates to traps as well, with the most famous Dwarven trapsmith being known as "Grimtooth," a name which will forever send shivers down the spines of any adventurer who has ever attempted to loot a Dwarven fortress.
In the current era, rumors and reports of giant stone titans roaming the Dwarven lands have been hypothesized to be the terrible product of millennia of Dwarven engineering.