On the origins of dwarves
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"On the Origin of Dwarves"
Long before our times, during the times of yore when great beasts stalked the darkness and tore civilization’s forebears asunder, there came to this world a strange new race: the dwarves. The ancestry of the dwarves is muddled and confused, often times contradictory, impossible, incestuous or all three. This can mainly be contributed to the dwarven tendency to keep their history through the use of engravings, rather than books or even oral tradition. Dwarves, being a subterranean people, rarely create paper and lack the memories to pass down stories of their ancestors in any reasonable fashion; this inability is mostly blamed on their near constant state of inebriation. Also unfortunate to would be historians is the dwarven tendency to place these historical engravings 60 feet underground and surrounded by all manner of deadly traps, questionable architecture and various slavering beasts. If one didn’t know better it would seem as though they are deliberately hiding their past.
Through what can be recovered the origin of dwarven kind (according to their creation myths) is as follows:
Once, long ago, a particularly ugly and foul tempered mountain goat raped a particularly hairy and insane Mandrill atop a pile of stones and vomit. From this coupling was born the first of dwarven kind, the Mountain King. He was born with a battle axe and bottomless tankard clutched in his tiny hands and his body was covered in such copious amounts of hair that he might easily have been mistaken for a bearded bear cub. The Mountain King was raised by a Granite Boulder and grew strong upon a diet of booze, cave mushrooms and the blood of his enemies. At age 4 he killed a bear in a staring contest and at age 7 he domesticated the first wagon. Upon his ascendancy into manhood he destroyed the boulder which had raised him and reshaped it into the first anvil, proclaiming:
“Reg limar, abod ber, avuz thol, or mabdug, nokor buket!”
These words would echo forever through dwarvenkind, though it is said that another phrase was within this motto. The lost phrase is said to have been:
“Gatiz emar agak.”
Though what this phrase means has been lost to us and inquiries to dwarven historians often end in violence. What little can be gathered is that it seems to relate to animal husbandry.
His childhood behind him, the Mountain King set about founding the first Mountain Home, digging out most of the mountain by himself using only his bare hands and frighteningly calloused manhood. His lavish home now complete and balanced entirely upon a single pillar he set out to make his name known and to find a wife worthy of bearing his fuzzy offspring. The first civilization he came upon were the elves, a race of naked and eternally beautiful feyfolk who abhorred the use of trees or animals for any means. It was said that when they met the Mountain King, he was in the process of beating a mountain lion to death with a wolf. The elves, in their kindness, attempted to persuade the Mountain King to follow their naturalistic ways. In response the Mountain King tore off the head druid’s face and promptly began using it as his undergarments. Before the shocked elven masses he announced:
“Etar linem etes gubel lor."
Which, roughly translated, means:
“Your king blows my bulbous tool.”
Since this epochal meeting the relations between the elves and dwarves have continued to be tense, often times ending in massive forest fires, rampant cannibalism, horrifying dismemberment or, worst of all, crossbreeding. His duty done, the Mountain King continued his journey through the primal world. He next came upon the goblins and was delighted to find that their skinny limbs and necks broke with even the gentlest of hammer blows. After a brief campaign of recreational genocide the Mountain King grew bored of his new playthings and continued on, leaving the goblins broken and scattered, connected only by their intense hatred of small, bearded people. This hatred continues to this day, resulting in nearly constant goblin raids against dwarven settlements. Unfortunately, goblins' limbs and neck still snap with the ease of twigs, making these valiant efforts more or less meaningless.
The last race which the Mountain King discovered was that of Humans, still in their fragile and frightened infancy. Taking rare pity upon the gangly and awkward race, the Mountain King gifted them with weapons, armor and booze, ensuring a stable business and war partner as well as drinking buddy for generations to come. It was after finding this last race that the Mountain King realized he was still without a wife and was beginning to feel the effects of his decades of celibacy. After a tour of countless brothels and leaving a swath of broken pelvises and dislocated jaws behind him The Mountain king finally returned to his home. Determined to have his bride, the Mountain King built a tower to the heavens themselves and petitioned Armok, God of Blood, to grant him a wife. Armok agreed, on the condition that all their descendants from first to last be cursed with a tendency to die horribly. The Mountain King gladly agreed.
The wife which he was given, The Queen of All Stone, was truly a rightful receiver of his seed and wore a beard that could match his own. It was from these two that all dwarven kind sprang (or walked, being that dwarves don't really spring, hop, jump, skip or do anything that means removing more than one foot from the ground).
From this common ancestor onward the genealogy is scattered and unsure, engraved upon bars of soap and metal beds across the world. Many believe that the first child of the Mountain King was a girl by the name of Urist. Records become scarce beyond this but what little can be found indicate that she was notorious trickster and prone to paranoid mania, preferring to remain isolated. From this point on we can only guess.
Dwarves are, by weight, 40% Body hair, 30% alcohol, 6% calluses, 12% anger, 7% muscle, 1% skin and 4% miscellaneous. Their blood does not have different “types”; rather it has a variety of “proofs”. Their bone structure is not unlike that of a man, though much stouter and more dense. The exceptions to this comparison come mostly from two places: the legs and the head. Dwarves, for whatever reason, lack knees and are therefore incapable of things like hopping, skipping, running in a dignified manner or bending down without falling prone. Dwarves, however, seem to prefer it this way and regard anything requiring knees as being the actions of “elvish silly nannys”. Several of the other strange anatomical designs are centered in the head and the curious structure of the dwarvish skull. A dwarf’s beard is actually connected directly to the bones of his jaw and palate and is comprised of a thick mane of hair like cartilage growths. These growths are actually quite sensitive to certain stimuli and allow a dwarf to detect things like an abandoned pigtail sock, even from miles away.
The dwarven skull is composed of only two very thick bones, one being the mandible and the other consisting of the entire rest of the cranium. This strange configuration seems to be an adaptation to generations of cave-ins and the popular dwarven drinking game “Smash rock with face”. Unfortunately the thick and solid skull compresses the dwarven brain and induces a species wide mental syndrome not unlike severe bipolar disorder. This means that dwarves are highly susceptible to sudden and often violent mood swings, shifting between murderous rage and enthralled stupor with only a particularly nice sock or table as the cause. Another interesting anomaly, or lack of anomaly, is that of the dwarven liver. Dwarves, as a race, are dependent on alcohol from birth; it has been proven that it is not simply conditioning but that the dwarven body is actually dependent on alcohol to perform at its best. While the exact process that makes them dependent and why it is so necessary is still unknown, it does appear as though the dwarven body is paradoxically not equipped to deal with the massive amounts of alcohol it must imbibe. The dwarven liver is by no means more effective or efficient when it comes to filtering the massive amounts of booze that a dwarf drinks, leading to liver failure to be the leading cause of death among dwarven kind (followed closely by “bludgeoned to death by enraged soap maker”).
Beyond these obvious abnormalities are the less known and harder to distinguish differences in dwarven anatomy. Dwarves are a methodical and stubborn race to the point that every aspect of their life is directly influenced. Dwarves work, party, drink and sleep in marathon-like stints, often times continuing a single party or drinking binge for months on end and their inherent stubbornness makes it nearly impossible to change tasks quickly even if their lives depend on it. It is far from unknown to hear of a dwarven fortress falling to invading hordes simply because the fortress guard were in the middle of a 6 month nap or drinking themselves comatose. This tendency has lead to the adage “oblivious as a dwarf on break”.
Beyond their stubbornness dwarves also exhibit a variety of odd behaviors, some of which seem to be related to their physiology while others are more idiosyncratic. A dwarf’s chosen profession seems to influence his thought patterns in radical ways, often leading to specific phobias and reckless behavior. Non-military dwarves, for example, seem to universally develop a crippling fear of all animals, even the most harmless. It’s not uncommon to see panicking works-dwarves running in abject terror from things like mountain goats and perturbed llamas. Military dwarfs, on the other hand, seem to completely lose their sense of self preservation and run heedlessly into battle, ignoring tactics in favor of fanatic yelling. So removed from their sense of fear are the warrior women that they often carry their children into battle, a tactic which often ends in tragedy; It should be noted, however, that there are few sights more frightening then a dwarven woman, bare from the waist up, holding a suckling newborn in one hand and a battleaxe in the other, charging toward you.
The debate on the subject of dwarven depression and anger is a complex one at best and is hard to study without significant risk to life and limb. It’s a well known fact that dwarves are particularly mentally unstable and subject a great many psychoses. One, as yet unproven, theory asserts that this tendency toward madness is actually a inborn limiting mechanism to control the number of dwarves occupying a certain area. It is a documented fact that, as a dwarven civilization grows in population the risk of insanity and depression also increases. Indeed it is impossible to walk into a thriving dwarven civilization and not see at least a handful of raving mad-dwarves screaming at the walls. The Theory asserts, however, that these harmless, though insane, individuals are not the purpose of the madness, merely a unforeseen failing. The true purpose of the madness is to limit population numbers through murder, suicide and random dwarfslaughter. Indeed it does seem that large dwarven civilizations are often brought down by internal subterfuge, mass suicide and ritual murder (or by poor architectural planning).
This inherent tendency toward insanity, whatever its cause, seems to have given dwarves an odd sense of art as well as particular building talents. Dwarves are known world over for their proficiency in metal working and weapon crafting as well as mechanical skill, however it is their decorative arts that are perhaps the most interesting. Take for instance a random piece of dwarven armor, a copper gauntlet in this case. Its construction is of the highest order and it is menacing with iron spikes, however perhaps the most frightening thing is its decoration. Recreated in painstaking detail is an image of a horse. The horse is screaming. Often times things such as dining room walls and children’s toys are adorned with images of violent slaughter, terrible holocausts and the occasional giant mushroom. Its not known exactly why dwarves would decorate their homes in such manner, but the scenes of violence actually seem to stave off fits of madness and violence, perhaps acting in some sort of primitive cathartic manner. Or perhaps Dwarves just genuinely enjoy images of bloody dismemberment and triangles.
"War, Peace and Fell Moods"
The dwarven society is a complex and puzzling one, when compared to our relatively simple human society. Where as we seem to be guided mostly by instinct and desire, dwarves are driven by an entirely different kind of morals and ambitions. For instance, it is still completely unknown, even by the dwarves themselves, where their orders come from. Despite the existence of nobles within their society dwarves seem to act independently yet, paradoxically, also as a whole. For the non-informed imagine it like this. One dwarf may decide to mine out some stone, while another may decided to cut stone blocks and yet another may decide to assemble these blocks into a wall. These dwarves do these actions without the knowledge of what their fellow dwarves are doing and they seem only to do this on a whim. Theories of hivemindism abound, but perhaps the most interesting theory is that, in line with dwarven creation myth, the dwarves are being influenced and semi-puppeted by Armok, the dwarven god of blood, or His helpers. However, these speculations remain simply blind guesses.
A brief glance at dwarven society reveals it to be something like Feudalism, with many settlements under the ultimate control of a Monarchy. However, in depth study reveals that the tiny fraction of nobles actually seem to have very little to do with anything outside of trade relations. The prevailing opinion of the dwarven working class is that nobles are slightly touched in the head and their orders border on delusional. Its common for nobles to attempt to restrict the trade of items that do not exist and often can not exist in a specific settlement; they're also known for their strange obsessions over seemingly random objects and will demand their manufacture, much to the annoyance of the general masses. Some believe that nobles are simply dwarves which have some how escaped whatever force binds and orders the rest of the workers, leading them to be unreliable and mentally unsound without the external control. In this situation the Aristocracy is seen more as an aggravating and demanding elephant graveyard, a position that the worthless and potentially dangerous of dwarven society are “promoted” to, in order to keep them away from weapons or heavy machinery.
The possible exceptions of this rule lie within the dwarven justice system, specifically with the sheriff and the Hammerer. Dwarven law is seemingly draconian in many ways, but is also rather progressive. Dwarves put a great emphasis on the lives of living creatures (so much so that they consider the killing of a tame, non-food animal equivalent to murder) and as such have no capital punishment. What they have instead though, could be said to be even worse. Dwarves have three forms of punishment: Imprisonment, beating and Hammering. The first two are relatively minor, with even the harshest of beatings generally resulting in only minor injuries, it is the final punishment which is the most feared. The Hammering is doled out by the Hammerer, the dwarven equivalent of an executioner who wields a war hammer rather then an ax or sword. Hammering is simply that, the condemned receives repeated blows with the war hammer until either the sentence is carried out or the criminal is dead. While death is not the express purpose of the hammering it is often a side effect, with the other outcome usually being serious, crippling injury. Unfortunately one of the crimes which can possibly net this debilitating consequence is that of failure to comply with work orders, meaning that innocent dwarves may have their heads caved in for their inability to make glass in the middle of a frozen tundra. Its not surprising that nobles tend to meet their ends under suspicious circumstances and are often found under mysterious cave ins or floating face down in the moat.
Despite their warrior mentalities and fierce personalities dwarves have shown themselves to be passive aggressive at best (and aggressively passive at worst). While they are known for their fighting ability and boastful nature they rarely conduct war as an invading force, preferring instead to let the foolhardy enemies break themselves upon the fortresses' walls. A common dwarvish saying that of “The best place to insult your enemies is behind forty feet of stone.” Its not to say that the most famous dwarven conflicts were those between dwarves and other sentient beings, far from it in fact. Perhaps the greatest example of the, ahem, quirkiness of dwarven culture is that the grand fortress of Boatmurdered. Boatmurdered endured the normal hardships of a dwarven settlement, namely constant raids from goblins and an inherently unstable society, but there was one main difference: elephants. It is, to this day, not known as to why the settlement was founded so close to the forest of “Tuskydeath”, but the outcome was nothing less then horrifying on all sides. For years the dwarves and elephants traded blows, usually resulting in the brutal impalement or trampling of dwarves or the imprisonment or death of the elephants. This conflict culminated in the creation of a “doomsday device” which was used to halt aggressive flooding as well as to flash boil most of the wildlife. Since the final fiery end of Boatmurdered a fragile truce seems to have been enacted between the elephants and the dwarves, if only to prevent such slaughter from ever occurring again.
Unfortunately one creature that continues to be a continuous hazard to dwarven kind is that of carp. The official myth of the dwarves is that Armok created the carp out of river rocks and instructed them to mutilate random passersby. Regardless of their origin carp are considerably dangerous to dwarves, fisher dwarves in particular. Its not uncommon for fisher dwarves to be dragged into the river by swarms of these blood thirsty beasts. Some dwarves die as they are snatched off bridges or while gathering water and are never seen again, at least in one piece. Worse than river carp are the popularly named “death pool carp” or carp that have become trapped in murky pools. These pools are death traps and can be fatal to anything which wanders too close. Perhaps the most terrifying is the idea of what dwarves refer to (in hushed tones) as skeletal carp. These creatures are the remains of carp, animated through dark means, and are reported to be “faster than a beak dog and stronger than an ogre” as well as nearly immune to any sort of conventional weapons. There are reports of hordes of these strangely animate corpses galloping across the bleak and blasted wastes, tearing apart anything which gets in their way. Exactly how a fish, undead or not, can gallop is something beyond this writer's comprehension.
The Book of Job(s)
Dwarven culture is one dominated by toil and greed, leading most dwarves to be little more then glorified workhorses for the vast majority of their lives. It was once remarked of a dwarven miner that “there has never been a life as cruel or mercifully short as his”. In general dwarven labor is separated into two categories, crafting and hauling things about. For instance, a carpenter is considered a craftdwarf, as he creates useful objects from a raw material; a woodcutter is considered a hauler because his job consists mainly of chopping trees and lugging them around till he inevitably dies during some sort of animal attack. Almost all known dwarven professions have been complied and documented here for the sake of…well, record keeping.
Mining: The noble, humble and very crushable miner is a job of both great importance and great ineptitude. On one hand the lives and livelihoods of all other dwarves depend on their ability to carve away the mountain and protect their comrades from the harshness of outdoor living. On the other hand their only discernible skill is the ability to swing a pick and (usually) not get crushed by falling rocks (maybe). It should be noted that, though both the job and the worker are relatively simple, the work does tend to produce sculpted, muscular dwarves ripe for military usage. Let us not forget the tales of dwarven work camps being defended by Herculean miners, their massive arms bulging as they embed pickaxes into elven hearts and minds.
Wood cutting: The wood cutter is much like his miner counterpart: essential to many facets of the modern fortress and yet requiring the rough mental equivalency of a wagon wheel. However the wood cutter faces many more dangers in his line of work, from braving the horror of the wide open sky to battling the various forest creatures (sometimes including elven assassins). Unfortunately the woodcutter gains even less recognition than the miner, probably because the material he harvests only has a small set of uses within a well established fortress.
Carpentry: Carpenters make various things out of wood, a practice that was deemed “Dangerously elf-like” many generations ago. Because of this carpenters are viewed either as outcasts (if they enjoy their job) or as unfortunate souls doing a terrible duty out of necessity (if they don’t like their job). While it is grudgingly acknowledged that some wooden things are necessary, at least early on, this does not mean that dwarves have to like this fact. In the grand scheme of things dwarves view carpentry as somewhere between manure shoveler and rapist on the scale of social agreeability.
Generally Carpenters and Wood cutters are tolerated as essential for the sheer fact that they make elves cry.
Masonry: A mason has a strange place within dwarven society. They're generally seen as respectable by most, their job being one of the more useful and in demand; however they are also sometimes seen as heretical and dangerous. This belief stems from a common dwarven idea that the mountain and natural stone are all around better than anything that they or any of the other races could throw together; as such it’s seen as rather impertinent that a mason would try to “improve” on the natural rock by making unnatural things out of it. However the groups that truly think this tend to be small fringe groups, many of which also believe that the masons are a world spanning cabal intent on taking over the world and then carving all the mountains into giant cheese statues.
Stone detailing/Engraving: Engravers are an odd bunch, perhaps the most innately subversive group in any dwarven fortress. During times of relative calm they enjoy carving things like triangles and mushrooms, perhaps in an attempt to create some sort of weaponized boredom. However, in troubled times they delight in covering every flat surface in an endless array of disturbing images; it's not uncommon for dwarven bedrooms to be adorned with mosaics of the inhabitant’s loved ones being gored by elephants or trampled by goats. Engravers are often described by their peers as “arseholes”.
Animal training: Despite the job title this dwarf seems to have the perplexing task of randomly releasing various terrifying animals from their cages and promptly getting mauled. It seems that occasionally they may accidentally domesticate one of these snarling beasts but this can probably be chalked up to chance. Very rarely they also teach dogs to bite goblins where it hurts.
Animal care: See Butcher
Health care: See Burial
Fish cleaning, small animal dissection, fish dissection; Dwarves with any of these jobs seem rather unbalanced and are prone to fire starting and bed wetting. It’s advised that one should keep at least ten feet from them, for a variety of very good reasons, not the least of which being that they are coated in the internal fluids of untold house pets.
Butchery: The butcher serves essentially the same purpose a human butcher does, though dwarven butchers seem to prefer battle axes to meat cleavers and enjoy their job a great deal more. While dwarves can live quite healthily on a diet of Plump Helmets they are renown for their delight in all manners of carnivorousness and as such the Butcher is seen as a welcome friend, a bloody and wide eyed bartender. The difference here is that the drinks are undercooked and made from cats.
Leatherworking: Dwarves have a code of morals surrounding animals that is strangely familiar. They abhor the torture or mistreatment of their furry companions but seem to have no problem slaughtering, skinning, and eating them wholesale as long as it’s done in a specific manner. This means that there is often a vast amount of usable leather from various beasts and house pets just laying around the fortress, making leatherworking a stable job indeed. Dwarves seem to possess a strange affinity for elf leather products, perhaps a hold over from the leather thong of their great forefather the Mountain King.
Tanning: This is the middle man between pet and sock, the great equalizer of life and upholstery. The tanner has the glorious job of taking the semi-rotten skin of various animals (and occasionally people) and transforming it into fine leather to be used as a raw material. It’s unknown how dwarves go about this process, as the human method of tanning requires large tracts of time, various foul chemicals and generally produces an odor that is noticeable for miles. The dwarven Tanneries are, by comparison, tiny workshops often located next to living quarters or even within kitchens. When questioned about this perplexity dwarven tanners whistle and attempt to look uninterested
Farming: Dwarven farming takes two paths, the normal above-ground farming which we are familiar with and more exotic underground growing. Dwarves seem to prefer the act of farming underground, even if they occasionally delight in the exotic brews made possible by above ground plants. Beyond the dwarven nutritional staple of booze the farms serve a lesser purpose of producing food and raw materials. Dwarves seem unconcerned about what they eat in most cases and can easily live out their lives subsisting on a diet of Dwarven wine, plump helmet and the occasional side of cat meat; This leads to an overwhelming majority of plump helmet farms which in turn leads a dwarven farm to resemble a scene from Alice in wonderland, albeit a dark, dank, vomit reeking wonderland populated by manic-depressive midgets.
Fishing: Depending on the area the job of a fisherdwarf can either be a luxury or a death sentence. In most areas the work of a fisherdwarf is dangerous only because of its need to be outside, amongst wild animals and horrible sky. However if carp are involved this normally menial job becomes a game of roulette, with every moment being just another chance to die. From the few historical carvings we have we know that the dwarves once had a 4th punishment, in addition to their current triad of prison, pummeling, and pounding; this fourth punishment entailed forcing the condemned to fish in a carp infested river till he was finally set upon by the beasts. This punishment was eventually banned, partially because it was deemed too cruel and partially because it tended to have a mortality rate of 4 or 5 rather then the intended 1 as guards and spectators were also dragged to their fishy end.
Soap making: Strange does not begin to describe this particular labor, The strangeness of it stems from the fact that dwarves are seemingly incapable of using soap for its intended washing purposes, choosing instead to stacking it about or simply trade it away. The soap maker himself seems perplexed by his creation yet continues to make it. Various men have tried to instruct the dwarves in the use of their creation however they remain seemingly mentally blocked from comprehending its purpose. However, men have also tried to teach the dwarves the meaning of being on fire and were equally unsuccessful, so perhaps there is simply some sort of cognitive dissonance involved.
Furnace operating: There is a saying which goes “When a dwarf and fire are wed, the former will inevitably end up dead.” This, above all else, accurately describes the dwarven relationship with things hotter then body temperature. As such it’s surprising that furnace operation is such a safe job, indeed there are no reports of fatalities directly relating to the furnace operator’s job (unless being caught in a cave in counts). How this record is maintained appears to be a complete mystery to all involved, including the Operators themselves. However, since it seems to take the average Operator something like a week to do even the simplest of tasks one could surmise that the record is the result of extreme safety measures or simple cowardice.
Wood burning: Wood burners lead a charmed life, revered as heroes for their use of fire to destroy the scourge that is above-ground nature, yet constantly hunted by elven assassins for the same reason. Wood burners are often local celebrities and are the pride of a fortress but the position is rarely volunteered for. The elves, in their endless attempts to destroy dwarven values, have singled wood burners out for death. The term of a Wood burner is usually ended when he his found face down with an oak arrow embedded in his spine.
Lye making/Potash making: This labor includes letting ash float in water and then letting that water dry out (maybe). It also includes setting one’s hair on fire in a desperate attempt to liven up one’s bleak, ashy existence.
Weaponsmithing: The act of making a hammer with another hammer, creating the paradox of “where did the first hammer come from?” Weaponsmiths are often hulking brutes of considerable strength, perhaps second only to dwarven accountants in sheer muscle mass. Their job mainly consists of lifting something heavy and smacking it against something hot till something sharp is made. They are considered the backbone of the army, both for their skill in weapon creation and for their general propensity to cave in goblin skulls with their hammers.
Armoring: The rival of weaponsmithing, it’s not uncommon for inter-fortress arms races to pop up as weaponsmiths and armorers compete to one up each other. (in this case however I’m referring to the ancient dwarven tradition of “arms races” in which the participants drag themselves around the fortress using only one arm.) The armorers say they are more valuable because you only need one weapon, but many items of armor.
Blacksmithing and Metalcrafting: The work that doesn’t fall into either armoring or weaponsmithing is relegated to the humble blacksmith. The Metalsmith makes the much more mundane objects needed by the fortress, including cups which no one uses and coins that generally have no value.
Gem cutting and Gem setting Gem cutters are the jewelers of the dwarven world and are known for their flamboyant nature and sequin cloaks. They are often found, prancing about the tunnels with small hammers, gathering the raw material for their labor before returning to the shop to gently chisel away. While not a particularly proud part of the fortress gem cutters are tolerated for the vast wealth they bring in. Curiously they’re all named Shirley. Gem setters are a fair bit more dignified, even if their casual attire is a jewel encrusted codpiece.
Bonecarving: A habit most pick up in jail is actually a time honored tradition within dwarven society. It’s well known that dwarves prefer to use just about every part of an animal (not because of any sort of ethical ideal, but because it increases profit) and that they have a vicious sense of ironic humor; as such the act of turning elephant bones into arrows with which to shoot more elephants is seen not only as cost effective but as a genocidal good time.
Stonecrafting: One thing that dwarven society is never short of is spare rocks and it is the stoneworker’s job to turn all this useless debris into equally useless trade goods. Some of the strangest things a stonecrafter can make are stone musical instruments. How exactly one is expected to play a stone harp is lost on this author.
Woodcrafting: Like carpenters, woodcrafters are often the object of ridicule and anger. They do, however, have one talent which brings them some social standing: the ability to make wood bolts for crossbows. As mentioned before dwarves have a love of poetic justice and as such greatly enjoy killing elves with wooden arrows. A famous dwarven general once said of a particular conflict with the elves: “They demanded to know what we had done with all their precious trees. So our archers showed them.”
Glassmaking: Dwarves have a perilous relationship with glass. On one hand it’s fragile, a quality dwarves detest. On the other it’s shiny and involves fire in its creation, both qualities which they love. Regardless of their opinions on the substance glass tends to have few if any practical uses within a fortress, being that windows aren’t exactly a necessity a mile beneath the earth. Much like the stonecrafter the glass maker seems to focus his efforts on building things like Goblets which dwarves never use and toys which will invariably shatter into some child’s hands and eyes. However, unlike the stonecrafter, the glassmaker’s raw material is time and resource consuming to create. This leads to the common impression that dwarven glassmakers are insane.
Siege engineering and Siege operating: Merchants of death on a grand scale, Siege engineers create the dwarven weapons of mass destruction: the ballista and the catapult. Regarded as talented though a bit off, as they tend to test their wares on migrants and unsuspecting wildlife, much to their own delight.
Mechanics: The dwarven mechanic is usually considered one of the most intelligent of dwarven society, capable of constructing everything from power generators to deadly traps. Oddly enough they require only one type of mechanism to do this, though the number of these mechanisms varies from machine to machine. Humans have for years tried to discover the method by which such complex apparatuses can be constructed with only 2-3 parts and have in-so-far been unsuccessful. Another mystery is the way in which mechanics can mechanically connect two objects, even across massive distances, with only two of these mechanisms. When we questioned a dwarven mechanic by the name of Hertz about this seemingly impossible phenomenon he merely shrugged and replied “Ich habe keine Ahnung, aber es ist recht interessant.”
Weaving: While the task of weaving is usually relegated to the women of other races dwarves hold no such sexist policies. Instead they have much more dangerous policies, like capturing enormous spiders and feeding them a constant diet of crippled goblins in order to harvest the spider’s web for high value silk production. It should be noted that the dwarves also do not discriminate who to feed to said spider based on sex, race or age; in other words it’s equal opportunity murder all around.
Dyeing: A favorite activity of dwarves, especially those near volcanoes or cliffs.
Clothes making: Dwarves are a simple race when it comes to clothing; many wear and in fact prefer to wear simple clothing. Of course this simple clothing invariably degenerates into rags, prompting the creation of new clothing. After all, spending is better then mending. Counter-intuitively, though, the post as clothier is rarely filled, meaning that the demand for new clothing often goes unanswered. When asked why so few are willing to become a clothier most dwarves will simply scream and run, while the few braver souls will recount stories of horrible carnage and destruction. It is believed, after careful study, that the loom is actually a distant cousin of the Wagon; however, unlike the wagon, the loom is capable of moving of its own accord. Loss of life and limb is rife.
Milling: Dwarves tend to do this when they should otherwise be working.
Hunting: In theory this is the practice of bludgeoning, stabbing or shooting various wildlife to death in order to use their carcass as food or raw materials. In reality it’s the practice of wandering into the forest, getting trampled or gored and then dragging one’s crippled self back to the fortress where one then occupies a bed for the rest of one’s natural life.
Brewing: Brewers are loved above all others in their community and in the cases of exceptional brewers almost worshiped. A master brewer will often have a harem of comely young women (or nubile young boys) along with substantial treasure and fame. However a brewer who disgraces the practice by brewing sub-par drinks will be ridiculed and despised, or in some extreme cases publicly lynched. It should be noted that many of the aforementioned actions and decisions happen while the participants are extremely inebriated on said brewers beer. This has lead to the adage “Madder then a Dwarf on Sewer Brew”
Plant gathering: The act of tearing various plants out of the ground for various purposes, the favorite of which is “just to annoy the blasted elves”. The brewers do thank the gatherers - sometimes.
Milking: Dwarves are quite odd in their choice of which animal to milk. While all manner of mammals are available to dwarves, including the cow, camel, ox and goat, dwarves instead choose a insect as their only source of milk. Beyond this they chose a maggot that many dwarves find detestable and that can only be milked once a season. When asked why they would do something so counter-intuitive most dwarves look embarrassed and attempt to change the subject.
Cheese making: Because milk is a rather rare commodity in dwarven society, for aforementioned reasons, the prospect of cheese is rather dubious. Because of this dwarven cheese is actually extremely valuable, equal to dragon meat. This author wonders if the choice of “dwarven” cheese rather then “purring maggot” cheese has something to do with this, though dwarven cheese implies rather disturbing things in and of itself.
Cooking: Dwarven cooks are only grudgingly accepted into society, mainly because they are seen as an unnecessary step between the raw meat of the butcher and a potential meal. The dwarves are not particularly unreasonable in this either as it is a well documented fact that dwarven cooks do not, in fact, cook anything. Raw meat, plant products and Minced wine are simply mixed together to create “roasts” and “biscuits”. While these names may sound appetizing the reality of the matter is that they are gelatinous masses of grayish moist unhappiness. While many outsiders think that the miasma found around kitchens is the result of rotting food, it is actually a byproduct of successful cooking.
Trapping: Imagine, if you will, a great and grizzled mountain man with a long flowing beard and eyes shining like two great lumps of coal. Imagine this man holding a bear trap. Imagine this man chasing a mouse with this bear trap. This is the basic scenario of dwarven Trapping.
Architecture: The dwarven architect is often uneducated and inexperienced, sometimes picked simply because he is the closest to the current construction job. Thus thrust into his new position the unfortunate victim usually fails terribly, often ending in the deaths of several masons and the stranding of many more. In order to avoid embarrassment the project foreman has the architect jailed and supposedly executed. However, rather then actually executing him the foreman simply gives the victim a false beard to wear over his real one and then reintroduces him into society. By the end of his life time the average dwarf is reported to be wearing no fewer then 3 false beards over his real one.