The Deep Dwarves

Five thousand years ago, a human dominated empire reached its peak. Today, few public records of it exist. It was founded upon daemon worship, and it spurred the formation of the Order of the Heartflame. Its destruction resulted in the sea between Carona and Azhidar. Legends tell of dwarven clans that joined this empire rather than resist it. As they were in the northern part of it, they escaped the Drowning. However, these dwarves disappeared, if they existed at all, perhaps fleeing into the Underworld when their protectors’ power was effectively shattered. More recent tales tell of short beings, pale, gaunt, and wearing baroque armor adorned with symbols painful to look at appearing to attack isolated villages and spiriting the inhabitants away. What happens to the captives, no one knows. The most disturbing rumors tell of massive underground fortress-cities, constantly worked on by armies of slaves, some of whom are taken for use in vile rites.

These rumors are horrifyingly true. The attacking humanoids are the twisted descendants of the ancient clans. Their skins are pale, and most are bald, though many of the men have impressive beards. Though they are as broad-shouldered as surface dwarves, most are so thin that they appear to be on the verge of starvation. The dwarven ability to see in the dark is exaggerated in them, and they are no less resilient than their cousins. They are arrogant and selfish, as greedy as dragons and almost as ill-tempered.

The deep dwarves live in large underground settlements, separated into four kingdoms, ostensibly along the lines of the ancient clans. Each settlement is as heavily fortified as the Citadels of their Bozhestvennayan cousins, and covered in ornate carvings. There is little to no light in them, other than the light of forges, foundries, and bio-luminescent organisms. The deep dwarves themselves are not very numerous, as the Underworld has much more limited food sources and has not done their health much good. Their society is therefore founded upon two things: slavery and trafficking with daemons.

Deep dwarf settlements are carved out of the rock by carefully directed slaves, taken from the surface to labor for cruel and callous masters before dying in the dark of grief and overwork. A dwarf is judged by his compatriots by how many slaves he owns, how much work they do, and his personal power. Slaves are used as a valuable trade good, usually being worth many favors from other dwarves, which are the true base of their economy. A slave with many desirable qualities, such as strength and obedience, is treated far better than other slaves, usually being used as breeding stock. After death, a slave is rendered down into a gruel and fed to the other slaves, though infants are prized as a delicacy. None go to waste.

Daemons are not truly worshiped by the deep dwarves. They do not deny the existence of the Great Powers. They simply treat them as a means to gain more power. Daemons are viewed as powerful tools. The true name of even a Lesser Daemon is worth many high-quality slaves. Wars have been fought to gain the use of a Daemon Prince’s true name. Warlocks, those who have bound daemons to themselves for eldritch powers, are the most respected members of their society. Imps are summoned for communication, and Minor Daemons are summoned as soldiers and added muscle. Daemons are bound to arcane devices to greatly enhance their power, and the most inconvenient criminals are Possessed so the city’s Overlord can still make use of them.

Deep dwarves are all trained to fight. They favor crossbows, warpicks, warhammers, short thrusting swords, and heavy plate armor, much as surface dwarves did for much of their history. However, many deep dwarves wield magic weapons and armor, made by warlocks or daemonic smiths. In times of war, slaves are armed and sent before the dwarves. They are offered their freedom at the end of the war if they fight well. The survivors learn that it was a lie, of course. The dwarves gain their combat experience in their raids against the surface, which have grown bolder and more common. This constant martial readiness is as necessary as their intimidating fortifications; far worse things lurk in the deep…

Game Stats

+2 Constitution, +2 Charisma, -2 Dexterity.
Medium size.
A dwarf’s base land speed is 20 feet. However, dwarves can move at this speed even when wearing medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load.
Darkvision out to to 120 feet.
Light Sensitivity: Deep dwarves are dazzled for one round when they enter an area in bright sunlight or within the radius of a daylight spell.
Stonecunning: This ability grants a deep dwarf a +2 racial bonus on Search checks to notice unusual stonework, such as sliding walls, stonework traps, new construction (even when built to match the old), unsafe stone surfaces, shaky stone ceilings, and the like. Something that isn’t stone but that is disguised as stone also counts as unusual stonework. A dwarf who merely comes within 10 feet of unusual stonework can make a Search check as if he were actively searching, and a deep dwarf can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can.
Elevation Sense: A dwarf can intuit altitude and depth, sensing his approximate depth underground or elevation as naturally as a human can sense which way is up.
Weapon Proficiency: Deep dwarves are proficient with shortswords, war picks, and warhammers.
Stability: Dwarves are exceptionally stable on their feet. A dwarf has a +4 bonus on ability checks made to resist being bull rushed or tripped when standing on the ground (but not when climbing, flying, riding, or otherwise not standing firmly on the ground).
Educated: Deep dwarves are automatically literate.
+2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison.
+2 racial bonus on saving throws against spells and spell-like effects.
+1 racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs and goblinkin (including goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears).
+4 dodge bonus to Armor Class against creatures of the giant type (such as ogres, trolls, and giantkin).
Automatic Languages: Trade Pidgin, Uroghshen, Undercommon. Bonus Languages: Dwarven, Dìguó Yǔyán, Elven, Giant, Goblin, Orcish.