The face of Wu-Yu, as it stands today, owes more to the dwarves than any other race. More than a millennium ago they started civilization, pushing out of their homeland in the West and conquering the goblinoid tribes in the East, thus establishing the Empire. They invented writing and currency, and introduced law. Dwarven culture has influenced other races to such an extent that it is impossible to disentangle Dwarven ideas from non-Dwarven ones. This long and glorious tradition is a source of great pride for dwarves today. Most of what is called “Imperial” culture these days, they are quick to point out, is actually Dwarven culture.

Not all look on the Dwarven tradition with admiration, however. The Empire brought civilization but also softness, technology but also forgetfulness, order but also a rigid caste system. The last five-hundred years saw a succession of emperors little concerned with their subjects. The warriors degraded into bickering aristocrats, and the commoners complacently lived off Goblinoid labor. Even the Templars, those Dwarven warrior-mystics of many a legend, who once championed the ill-fortuned against a hierarchical society, lost the trust of the people they served. By the time of the last Dwarven emperor, many were disenchanted with the Dwarven rule.

Today, the Dwarves are a defeated people. Many of those in the highest castes committed bodhi-yama (“enlightened death” or ritual suicide) when the holy city of Bara-xi, the last Dwarven stronghold, fell to the orcs. Dwarves are still numerous and proud, but they are forced to accept a diminished role in the Empire. To cope, many Dwarves have adopted stoic philosophies, accepting their loss as a necessity of fate. Other Dwarves have gone back to their roots, re-discovering uniquely Dwarven traditions more or less preserved in the Western Provinces. The belief is widespread that the Dwarven race is on its last breath, and the task at hand is to let the race die with honor and grace.

Once, Dwarves were quite long-lived creatures, their longevity maintained by special spiritual rites. Over the millennia, however, the true meaning of the law-scriptures grew muddled under layers of interpretation, and those few with insight enough to conduct the rites of longevity committed bodhi-yama. Without the rites, Dwarves live little longer than Orcs or Humans.

Dwarven adventurers are all too common. The aristocrats have lost their lands but, since honor demands death before disgrace, many still try to eek out an existence as wandering warriors. Commoners are a little more secure, by and large maintaining their life of ease supported by Goblinoid labor. But Goblinoids have been made politically equal, and more and more are starting to realize their new power. Not uncommon are traveling Dwarves, bereft of servants and seeking a new source of stability. Also appearing are philosophers and spiritualists who seek to re-discover the true meanings of the law-scriptures. Gurus who claim to have such knowledge are plentiful, but those who truly know are exceedingly rare.

Other races see Dwarves alternately as nobles of a lost golden age, or lazy and ruthless exploiters of those beneath them. Their bearing is proud, too proud for some races. Those of them who observe the old ways, especially the caste system and superstitious customs surrounding the handling of metals, appear old-fashioned and quixotic.

Dwarves are shorter than orcs, standing at 4-5 feet. They generally have stocky builds, and both sexes grow facial hair. Their skin is fair to tan.

Sex Some common names
Male Bandara, Chandra, Gandahara, Kirta, Ramapandra, Thaumalahandra
Female Asli, Bandi, Chandiri, Ditiri, Lindari, Kiri, Mani, Sahali

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