- "We sons of Grungni may have drunk deep from the bitter waters of misfortune, but we yet survive. Whilst a single Dwarf draws breath, we will fight the evils that assail us, and we will never, ever give up."
- — Hengist Stonebelly, Dwarf Longbeard.[3a]
The Dwarfs, also called the "Elder Race," (or the Dawi as they call themselves) are one of the oldest and proudest intelligent races of the Warhammer World,[1b] with a great wealth of history and power that stretches back to time immemorial.[2b] They once held an empire which stretched from Norsca in the north to the jungles in the south, and from Mount Silverspear in the east to the Grey Mountains in the west. But the heart of the Dwarfen realm, the Karaz Ankor as they call it, will always lie within the domains of the Worlds Edge Mountains.[1b] The highest mountain range in the world, it is filled with the magnificent halls and holds of the Dwarfen people - a testament to the great feats of engineering and power once wielded by this ancient civilization.[1e]
The Dwarf people as a whole are sturdy and strong,[1l] brilliant craftsmen and excellent warriors.[2b] Above all they pride themselves on their loyalty to each other or those they are indebted to.[2a] This strong bond of kinship has ensured that the Dwarfs stand as one of the most unified races in the world.[2b]
They are known far and wide as the greatest miners and tunnellers[2b] - the ageless halls of Karaz-a-Karak are but one gigantic example of how huge their works can become.[1e] The Dwarfs are also highly proficient smiths and craftsmen, capable of producing works far more beautiful than the Elven metalworkers in far Ulthuan and hundreds of times more valuable than the trinkets of Men.[2b] Proud, honourable and enduring, it is said that the Dwarfs shall weather the horrors and misery of the world until its final bitter end.
- 1 History
- 1.1 A New Beginning: Time of the Ancestor Gods
- 1.2 The Great Collapse: The Dawn of the Time of Woes
- 1.3 The Silver Age: Reconquest and Prosperity
- 1.4 Age of Reckoning: The Reign of Thorgrim Grudgebearer
- 2 Biology
- 3 Foreign Dwarfs
- 4 Government
- 5 Religion
- 6 Language
- 7 Society
- 8 Economy
- 9 Dwarf Holds
- 10 Military
- 11 Notable Characters
- 12 Gallery
- 13 Sources
The history of the Dwarfs is an enduring one. It stretches from the very creation of this world to its final days. Dwarfs revere their ancestry above all. The tracing of lineage is of the utmost importance to the denizens of each and every Karak. For most, the long history of record keeping stretches back to when bands of Dawi moved north into the Worlds Edge Mountains.[1d]
It is said that the Dwarfs, like many other races that have lived upon the world, were created by the benevolent god-like beings known as the Old Ones. Powerful and immensely intelligent beyond mortal standards, it was said that these beings were the ones who seeded the first forms of life upon this otherwise barren planet after using their immense god-like powers to terraform the planet and brought it closer to the sun. There they planted the first seeds of life, and from this life the first Dwarfs were created, and thus the Gods of the Dwarfen Pantheon.[1d]
According to Dwarf legends and traditions, these first Dwarfs were carved by time from the rocks of the mountains, birthed by stone itself. Whilst the Dwarfs lived about their earliest days, the Old Ones continued their masterful work, ensuring that this world would be a paradise for all beings. Whether they had a higher purpose for this world or the Dwarfs remains unknown, for none other then the Old Ones knew the full extent of their Great Plan.[1d]
A New Beginning: Time of the Ancestor Gods
Millennia before the founding of the Empire or the rise of Grand Cathay in the East, the ancestors of what were to become the Dwarfen people lived in the mountains of the Southlands, little better than beasts. They lived in caves and ate berries and wild game which they could catch with their bare hands. However, with the invention of flint and basic stone weaponry, the Dwarfs were able to conquer their quest for food and indulged in other pursuits. As their numbers grew, the Dwarfs began to migrate northward, splitting off into different Clans, each lead by one of the Ancestor Gods. As the foundations of their people were set, many great deeds and sagas were recorded, such as the Tale of the Forgefather, which tells of how their god, Grungni, Lord of Miners, had begun his grand quest to master the arts of metal and steel, or the mysterious and forgotten War against Dragons, which was said to have created the great mountainous region known as Black Fire Pass. With the teachings of Grungni passed down upon his people, the now war-like people of the Dwarfs were led by their Warrior God, Grimnir the Fearless, on a magnificent campaign of conquest all across the mountains of the Old World. One of the most notable deeds of Grimnir was his famous slaying of Urmskaladrak, the Father of Dragons. As Dwarf society grew, it was Valaya, Goddess of Hearth and Healing, who taught the Dwarfs the first traditions of their people, and the structure that holds Dwarf society together.[1d]
As they reached the domains of the Worlds Edge Mountains, it was here that they found gold, silver, iron and gromril in unimaginable abundance -- much more than will ever been found in the rest of the world put together. With all these resources at their disposal, the Dwarfs built their first holds (or "Karaks" as they are called in the Dwarf tongue) in the southern mountains, leaving behind clan after clan to claim stewardship to these holds whilst the rest of their people continued northward. Some of the largest and oldest holds, like Karak Eight Peaks and Karak Izril (called Karak Azgal in later years) are built around the remains of these ancient dwellings. As the migration carried on northward, following the veins of ore up to where the great range just stopped, the Dwarfs reached a desolate area they appropriately named Zorn Uzkul (translated as the Great Skull Land), a barren plateau stretching out past the eastern horizon.[1d]
Many Dwarfs turned back southward, disappointed by the lack of mineral wealth that could be gained in this venture. Others moved west, into what would one day be the lands of Norsca, founding a handful of strongholds, of the most prominent was the fierce Hold of Kraka Drak. Others expeditions made progress through the lands to the East and made holdings upon the foothills of the Mountains of Mourn. With the creation of these settlements, the Ancestor Gods and their people named their great civilisation The Karaz Ankor, (translated as "The Everlasting Realm" or "The Mountain Realm" as the Dwarf word for mountain and extreme durability are the same.) Contact between clans had been maintained for many years, but this fragile string of communication was suddenly cut when Chaos flowed through the world.[1d]
The Coming of Chaos (-5500 to -4119 IC)
According to the account in the Great Book of Grudges, (the most ancient of all Dwarf books), it is recorded how Chaos began to consume the world in the Imperial year of -5500 IC. It was also during this time that the Ancestor Gods had begun to tell the woes of this new phenomenon, telling their naive kinsfolk about the dangers this unstable flow of magic coming from the north would do to all those that stay above. By then, Lord Grungni taught his people how to delve deeper beneath the mountains to avoid the Chaos that stirs upon the surface. Hidden in safety, the world was engulfed in clouds that poisoned the surface with layers upon layers of fine black warpstone dust. Communication with their eastern kin was lost, and in time the Dwarfs of the East began a dark and murderous path towards the worship of Chaos. For many years these events took place, until finally the foul tempest at last passed and the Dwarfs emerged once more into the light of day. But the world was changed forever, for upon the lands, the mutating Winds of Magic had already corrupted every living thing it touched. Terrifying monsters roamed the mountains and daemons walked openly in the daylight.[1d]
Needing powerful weapons to defend themselves from these dangers, Grungni taught his people the craftsmanship of more sophisticated weapons and armour, and how to inscribe magical Runes onto them. Meanwhile, Valaya used her protections to ward off the dark magic of their enemies. To lead them against these foes was Grimnir, equipped with two mighty war-axes and armour harder than the bones of the mountains. With the blasting of horns, an army of millions sallied forth from their strongholds and fought the daemonic hordes of Chaos that had spilled over the lands, fighting a war that many call the First Chaos Incursion.[1d]
It was during this campaign to rid the mountain realms of Chaos taint that the Dwarfs first came into contact with the Elves of Ulthuan after Lord Grimnir was leading an army into the lowlands, chasing a band of Chaos marauders all the way to the coast. The Elven Fleet under the leadership of Caledor Dragontamer was blown off-course when they came to the Old World in hopes of finding out the source of the Chaos magic that seeped through the world. They were met with mixed suspicion and respect, but when a larger force of Beastmen arrived, they were promptly smashed between Caledor's magic and Grimnir's axe-wielding troops. Because of this they knew they were on the same side in this conflict. From Caledor, the Dwarfs learnt of the great Phoenix King, Aenarion the Defender, and his struggle to free the far lands of Ulthuan from the grip of Chaos. From Grimnir, Caledor learnt of how the great tempest from the north had preceded the coming of Chaos.[1d]
With this information, Caledor realised that a Chaos Gate had opened somewhere within the Old World in the north and only when it was closed could the tides of Chaos be stemmed. Caledor thanked Grimnir and returned to Ulthuan, to consult with the Phoenix King and hatch a plan that would stop the Chaos incursion. Before each of them left, as a sign of friendship and goodwill, they exchanged gifts, Grimnir presented the wizard with a runic amulet of colossal power, and in return, Caledor gave the Dwarf God the glistening Crystal of Fire which still today resides in the vaults of Karaz-a-Karak.[1d]
The respite won by Grimnir and his innumerable armies was hard-won and a brief calm was instilled throughout the Old World. But as Grimnir headed back to his home within the mountains, the sky grew dark and ominous once more and from these potent signs, the Second Chaos Incursion abruptly began. This time, however, the Winds of Magic had grown to critical levels, and soon daemonic hordes beyond counting began to spill relentlessly across the lands of the Old World. Even with the millions-strong throngs of Dwarfs under his iron-fisted command, the Warrior God and his armies were forced back into their mountain strongholds to weather the incoming daemons with stout bravery. In time, many impenetrable holds were crushed under their horrific advance and, in grim determination, the Warrior God decided to take a more direct action. Though Grungni had told him that should he go upon this journey, he would surely die, the stubborn Grimnir snarled at his remark and said that it was worth the risk should it help to save their people.[1d]
The great warrior god ritually shaved his head, save for a single defiant crest that would later be adopted by the fearsome Slayer Cult many centuries later. Leading a small group of hardened warriors, Grimnir fought through many dangers until they reached the foothills of the Middle Mountains. It was here that Grimnir commanded his followers to return home, and bestowed upon his only son Morgrim, one of his legendary Axes. There, they at last turned back, watching in awe as Grimnir pressed onward, his form dwindling into the shimmering haze of that poisoned and corrupted mountain. It was said that Grimnir stood upon the third Chaos Gate within the heart of that very mountain and fought the numberless hordes of daemons back until the Vortex upon Ulthuan was finally completed, saving the world from the threat of Chaos for centuries to come. Grimnir was never seen again.[1d]
The Golden Age (-4119 to -2005 IC)
In the end, the creation of Caledor's greatest work, the Great Vortex within the Inner Sea had drained the massive influx of Magic from the world. In unison, the Daemonic armies all screamed to the stars as their dark essence were flung to the dark corners of the world. In that instant, the daemonic siege upon the Dwarf Kingdoms was suddenly stopped, and from the darkness of the deeps, the Dwarfs emerged from their strongholds into the light of the rising sun, the start of a Golden Age.[1d]
It was during this time that their gods, Grungni, Valaya, and other lesser deities disappeared from the Dwarf realm. It is popularly believed by the majority of the Dwarf people that they delved into the mountains' hearts, and returned from whence they came. In the Worlds Edge Mountains, the Dwarfs once more prospered beyond imagination, and within a matter of centuries, trade flourished throughout their realm.[1d]
In this grand age, the strongholds of the Dwarfs were strengthened and deepened, expanding their domains into massive underground cities all connected by long subterranean highways of tunnels called the Under Way (or the "Ungdrin Ankor" in the Dwarfen tongue). Seeking to expand their domains as well, the Elves of Ulthuan sent ships and colonists upon the shores of the Old World and expanded their colonies into the lands of what would one day become the nations of the Empire, Tilea, Estalia and Bretonnia. Seeing an opportunity for gold and profit, the Dwarfs of the Worlds Edge Mountains established trade routes towards these new colonies, creating an age of peace that lasted for nearly 2,000 years.[1d]
With the departure of their Gods, the rule of the Dwarfen realm fell upon High King Snorri Whitebeard, eldest son of Lord Grungni himself. Snorri presided to reign over his people after a successful campaign of extermination and eradication against the remnants of the Daemonic Legions, climaxing in the victorious Battle of Karag Vlak, where the armies of Snorri Whitebeard and Prince Malekith fought side by side for the last time.
Unbeknownst to the Dwarfs, by -2700 IC, the Elves within their homeland of Ulthuan were consumed in a destructive Civil War following the assassination of Phoenix King Bel Shanaar by none other than Prince Malekith himself. This event, coined by the Elves as the Sundering split the Elven people into two factions, with the High Elves still controlling Ulthuan and her colonies under the new Phoenix King, Caledor the Conqueror, whilst the Dark Elves preceded to reign over their new-found kingdom of Naggaroth with Malekith as their new Witch King.[1d]
In a bid to cripple Ulthuans military and economic relations with the Dwarfs, Malekith ordered Dark Elven assassins and warriors to attack and slaughter Dwarf trade caravans travelling around the Old World in the year of -2005 IC. Believing these attacks to be perpetrated by the High Elves, many of the Dwarf Kings and Thanes began to ready themselves for conflict with the Elves. By this time, the crown of rulership was passed down to another Dwarf, High King Gotrek Starbreaker. Like his predecessor, Gotrek was a wise and thoughtful king and instead of heeding the call for war, Gotrek sent one last attempt at reconciliation.[1d]
The Dwarf people were a grim and straight-forward race, and once the Dwarf ambassador, cousin of the High King, reached the throne of Phoenix King Caledor II, son of Caledor the Conqueror, the Dwarf ambassador harshly demanded the Elves to find accountability for these atrocities and recompense the Dwarfs in gold for the lives lost and treasure stolen during the attacks. But the Elves of that time were arrogant and prideful and scorned by the Dwarf's accusation, the Phoenix King deliberately conceived an insult so grievous that no amount of gold could ever serve to recompensate. The Elves forcefully restrained the Dwarf and slowly cut-off his beard, compelling the Dwarf to go home shorn of his pride and honour and bearing the message that the only way the High King would gain a single gold coin of recompense was if he went personally to Ulthuan and begged before the Pheonix King himself. This became the greatest insult ever recorded upon the Book of Grudges, which would culminate in the greatest war ever fought between the two races.[1d]
The War of Vengeance (-1997 to -1600 IC)
Enraged beyond reason or thought, the High King roared for his kings and thanes to gather their armies and prepare for war. Nearly every Dwarf clan was called up for this conflict, with each stronghold mustering armies numbering in the tens of thousands unto the growing legions of throngs already under Gotrek's command. At the very height of their power, the Dwarfs marched to war with a massive horde of heavily armoured warriors in what the Dwarfs knew as the War of Vengeance, and the Elves called the War of the Beard.[1d]
With the entire military might under his control, the High King led the Dwarfs into the lowlands and attacked the unsuspecting Elven colonies that were oblivious to the Phoenix King's actions. Colony after the colony had fallen under the Dwarfs brutal assault until finally Caledor II ordered a mass mobilisation of his forces and ignorantly emptied Ulthuan of all her soldiers leaving it entirely defenceless, a situation that Malekith had long anticipated and would soon exploit. The massive Elven fleet set sail with Caledor at its fore and made landfall upon the Port-city of Tor Alessi, where they repelled the Dwarf invaders from the city walls. This marked the first true engagement fought between the two civilisations, in a war that would last for nearly 400 years.[1d]
Blinded by their rage and overconfidence, the sudden arrival of Ulthuan's entire military caught the Dwarfs by surprise. Pushed back, the Dwarfs and Elves continued their battles within many area's of the Old World, the most prominent of which took place within the lands that would one day become Bretonnia. As the war began to escalate ever further, by the year -1974 IC, Caledor II was able to slay Prince Snorri Halfhand, son of the High King in single combat. The death of his son ensured that Gotrek would never stop until Caledor was dead.[1d]
In an act of vengeance for his lost kin, Prince Morgrim, cousin of Snorri Halfhand and nephew to the High King, led a Dwarf army against the Elves, forcing them to retreat back until they made a final stand at the Battle of Oeragor, where he and his army purposefully stood before the arrow storms of the Elven army as an act of defiance and courage. With their arrows spent, the Elves foolishly attacked the Dwarfs in melee combat, where the Dwarfs quickly gained the advantage. Finally, at battles end, Morgrim personally slew Prince Imladrik in single combat, earning him the title of Elgidum (translated as "Elfdoom"). Crowned a hero by his people, Morgrim continued to capture many Elven towns and cities across the Old World, the most prominent of which was the razing of Athel Maraya in the year -1948 IC.[1d]
Another mighty Dwarf leader by the name of Brok Stonefist lead the armies of Karak Azgul in a decisive campaign against the Elves by using his extensive knowledge of the tunnels to route their armies. For his heroic deeds, he was named Ungdrin Ankor Rik, or "Lord of the Tunnels" by his people. As the war dragged on, he met his greatest adversary, Lord Saledor of Tor Arche, and for the next hundred years he fought Saledor's armies in many battles such as the Battle of Blind River. Finally, it was during the Battle of Athel Maraya that the two adversaries found their ends in single combat, where they fought each other until the burning city devoured them both in the flames.[1d]
In a final push to end the war, High King Gotrek led his throng to drive the Elves back, besieging the walled city of Tor Alessi for the fourteenth and final time. At last, the walls were breached and, unable to flee, Caledor II was forced to face Gotrek in single combat. The duel that followed lasted for hours, but as the Elf King's fortitude failed, Gotrek shattered his foe's sword with a well-placed hammer blow. Defeated and disarmed, Caledor pleaded for mercy and forgiveness, but all hope of forgiveness was shattered the day Caledor had killed the High King's son. Hardening his heart, the High King swung his hammer and killed the Phoenix King.[1d]
In the aftermath, King Gotrek picked up the Phoenix Crown from the mutilated corpse and proclaimed the grudge settled, and that the Elves were welcome to come to Karaz-a-Karak to beg for the return of the crown. The remaining Elven forces withdrew from the Old World, their armies, like their arrogance, shattered in defeat. In their pride, the Elves considered upon one last suicidal assault against the walls of Karaz-a-Karak. However, news began to stream into the remaining Elven Lords that Malekith had once more invaded the Island of Ulthuan with one of the largest Dark Elven invasion fleets to that date. Swallowing their pride, the Elven Lords began a mass evacuation of all Elven citizens from all the colonies and gathered their forces to repel the Dark Elven invasion. Yet the Elves of Athel Loren refused instead, declaring independence from the Phoenix Throne of Ulthuan and over time these elves in turn eventually became the Wood Elves.[1d]
The Dwarfs rightfully considered themselves the victors of the War of Vengeance, as their foes had departed, driven from the very continent except for the small fraction of elves who refused to leave but could not be driven out. This hard-won situation should have ensured the Dwarfen dominion over the Old World for ages to come, however in their arrogance the Dwarfs were fully unprepared for the catastrophe that was soon to come.[1d]
The Great Collapse: The Dawn of the Time of Woes
The long conflict that had lasted for nearly 400 years had bled the Empire of the Dwarfs dry, and the Dwarfs found their vigour and their population extremely spent. Before they had even begun to recover, their realm was beset by a catastrophe that rocked the foundations of the Warhammer World. The nefarious Skaven in their infinite greed for power hatched a grand scheme that would open up tunnels beneath the earth in their attempt to expand their domains to all Four Corners of the World. Lying deep beneath the ancient city of Skavenblight, the Skaven fed an ancient diabolical machine with huge quantities of unstable but power-saturated Warpstone, redirecting the dark energies being harnessed to amplify the powers of the Skaven Sorcerers' incantations.[1d]
The ground shook and the groans of shifting rocks almost drowned out the shrill climax of the chanting seers. High above them, within the crumbling monuments of the city, the great Bell-Tower tolled as the structure swayed and creaked like the mast of a ship at sea. Then, for the first time, but far from the last, the great machinery of the Skaven failed them, as an unknown part of the ingenious but imperfect device broke down in the most critical of moments. Within seconds, a catastrophe occurred.[1d]
With a blinding white flash of pure malevolence, a tidal wave of raw magical energy swept through the underground chambers of the city and unleashed its power upon the spine of the world. Tunnels collapsed, buildings fell, and the land began to heave and tremble. The entire undermined plain surrounding the city of Skavenblight sank as geysers of flame erupted from the tortured ground. The damage was even more devastating as the energies swept outwards. Soon the whole of the Old World began to tremble as the titanic force erupted in all directions. The Worlds Edge Mountains began to buckle under the relentless assault, as the surging energy crashed against the spine of the entire mountain range. Great tidal waves rose from the sea and crashed against the coast, consuming all in their path. Long dormant volcanoes erupted in the East and the land was scarred for all eternity by geysers, lava, and earthquakes. The great realm of the Dwarfen Kings became undone, as their whole kingdom was destroyed in front of their very eyes.[1d]
Every single settlement of the Dwarfs suffered a calamity, as walls collapsed, mine workings shattered and lower levels flooded by subterranean waters. The mountains themselves shuddered, and in some cases broke apart to send avalanches in sweeping waves that crushed the valleys and lowlands even the "Ungdrin Ankor", The Underway of the Dwarfs fell into partial ruin. Such was the devastation brought during that time that the Dwarfs remembered it simply as the Time of Woes.[1d]
Goblin Wars (-1449 to -250 IC)
The catastrophe brought about during the Time of Woes created a chain reaction upon the World. With volcanic activity erupting to the east, the Goblinoid race migrated in unimaginable numbers towards the west. In response, tribes of Humans began to migrate into the Old World in ever-increasing numbers, trading gold and cattle to the Dwarfs as they tried to escape the rampaging hordes of Greenskins that were following just behind. With the permission of the new High King, Nurn Shieldbreaker, these Human tribes were allowed passage and faded into the forest of the Old World. The many invasions that followed began a disjointed series of wars and battles that the Dwarfs named as the Goblin Wars, for the Goblins were the most numerous of the enemies arrayed against them.[1d]
The first attack came just after the last aftershock was finished. Unidentified enemies infiltrated the Dwarfs underground networks in implacable numbers, and soon outposts and small strongholds came under attack. With the walls and gates of their once formidable fortresses now cracked open by the earthquakes, the scattered Dwarfs quickly became outnumbered and surrounded. The first to fall from this massive onslaught was the Dwarf stronghold of Karak Ungor.[1d]
Taking advantage of the chaos, a wave of Night Goblin tribes emerged within the very centre of the city, taking the Dwarfs of Karak Ungor completely by surprise. Using their speed and overwhelming numbers, the Night Goblins took deep after deep from the Dwarfs. Defiant to the last, knots of warriors and militia rose up to meet the invaders back to back, attempting to hold the Night Goblins off in key locations until the population could evacuate. The King of Karak Ungor, King Kargsson of the Stonehelm Clan lead a counter-attack that gave enough time for the women and children to evacuate. With all of the population accounted for, the King ordered to finally abandoned the city and make their journey towards the strongholds of Karak Kadrin and Zhufbar. King Kargsson never made it, for he valiantly closed the tunnels behind him as the enemy began their final decisive attack.[1d]
With the enemies controlling both the surface and the underground tunnels, communication between the holds was lost. The next attack upon the Dwarfs came upon the mineral-rich stronghold of Karak Varn. Known famously for the largest deposit of gromril in the world, when the great earthquakes struck, the lower workings of the stronghold became flooded by the nearby lake of Black Water. Without any warning, Skaven armies coming from the city of Skavenblight attacked the lower workings while an army of Orcs besieged the city from above. Caught between two massive armies, the Dwarfs stood little chance. Despite the stout defences erected by the Dwarfs, after nearly a year of fighting, the city of Karak Varn was inevitably taken. Most of the stubborn population fought to the bitter end, with only a handful of clans managing to evacuate and reach the safety of Zhufbar.[1d]
After the fall of Karak Varn, a series of defeats were further inflicted upon the Dwarfs at many locations within the Worlds Edge Mountains. Columns of smoke rose high above the peaks as surface settlements and mines were put to the torch. Refugees that survived the attacks attempted to cross the mountain passes to reach the other holds, but these places were clogged with enemy armies streaming into Dwarf territory. As the war escalated, the Underway became a warzone between armies of Night Goblins and Skaven seeking to control the tunnel networks as their own. To the south, the mines of Ekrund were sacked by an army of Orcs, driving the Dwarfs out of the resource-rich Dragonback Mountains. The Gold and Brynduraz ("shining stone" in Khazalid) mines of Mount Gunbad were also taken by a host of Night Goblins of the Red Eye Tribe. After being besieged for several decades, the stronghold of Mount Silverspear was lost to the Orcs as well. In time, the entire eastern edge of the Worlds Edge Mountains was lost to the Greenskins.[1d]
Several decades following the Time of Woes, the once dormant volcano within Thunder Mountain suddenly erupted violently, forcing a mass migration of Trolls towards the remaining Dwarf-holds. To combat these creatures, High King Morgrim Blackbeard, declared the Troll Wars and lead a 300 year-long campaign to reclaim lost territory. However, the Dwarfs eventually lost three more major strongholds in the span of fifty years. Karak Eight Peaks, the second strongest mountain Kingdom of the Dwarfs fell to the ratmen in -513 IC. Karak Azgal was stormed and sacked by an Orc army in -493 IC, only to be forced out as a Dragon delved into the tunnels and claimed the hold as his own. Karak Drazh was attacked and captured by the Orcs the very same year, eventually becoming the new Greenskin fortress of Black Crag. After nearly a thousand years, the Goblin Wars were nearing their end, and should the Dwarfs not stop the Greenskins soon, nothing would stop them from conquering the whole of the Old World.[1d]
It was also during this time that many secrets to runic magic, as well as some smithing and building techniques were lost, never to be recovered.
The Rise of Mankind (-250 to -1 IC)
Following the loss of several major cities, came a mass exodus out of the Worlds Edge Mountains. Though it grieved them to do so, many Dwarf clans forsook their ancient homeland and began moving west. Led by the surviving clan members of Karak Eight Peaks, Karak Azgal and Karak Drazh, these expeditions fought their way through the forest of the Old World and into the safety of the Grey Mountains. There the clans rebuilt their lost society, resulting in the establishment of the new strongholds of Karak Norn and Karak Izor, with mines rich with mineral deposits of copper and iron in abundance. Though not as powerful or as wealthy as the strongholds within the Worlds Edge Mountains, these strongholds were nonetheless free from the depredation of their enemies.[1d]
Over time, the Dwarfs began to reestablish old trade routes that would connect and maintain communication between the strongholds of the Grey Mountains and Worlds Edge Mountains. As these Dwarfs began to traverse the wilderness of the Old World, they soon rediscovered a confederation of Human tribes that originally settled here following the outbreak of the Goblin Wars. They also learned that the emerging Human tribes were battling against the Greenskins for possessions of the forest and lowlands, and in them, the Dwarfs found a common ally against the ever-increasing Greenskin threat. The Dwarfs did all they could to encourage the primitive tribes of Men, resulting in the establishment of trade, good relations and the exchanging of weapons and armour. However, even with the aid of the Dwarfs, it became clear to them that the Humans were beginning to slowly lose this conflict.[1d]
Whether it was fate or the intervention of the Gods, the bonds of friendship that would be formed between the race of Man and Dwarfs on this historic day shall endure until the final days of this world's demise. A trading convoy that included the High King, Kurgan Ironbeard was ambushed on its way from Karaz-a-Karak to the Grey Mountains. The Orc army that attacked them was enormous, and although the Dwarfs slew the Orcs until their bodies lay in heaps, they inevitably failed and their High King was taken captive. Luckily for the beleaguered Dwarfs, this territory was the domain of the Unberogen tribe, a fierce and war-like tribe of Men who fought relentlessly to clear their lands of Greenskins. Led by the mighty warrior-prince Sigmar Heldenhammer, the chieftain's son, an army of Unberogen warriors fell upon the Orc army with great fury.[1d]
This meeting would be a turning point in Mankind's history. In the battle that transpired, Kurgan Ironbeard bore witness to this young, human prince facing down Warlord Vagraz Headstomper. Despite young Sigmar's mighty strength, every killing blow his bronze sword had made was turned aside by the armour of the Orc, and every blow from its flaming axe came all too close to ending his young life. Ironbeard broke free of his bonds and fought his way to Vagraz's tent, where he kept his pick of the Dwarf King's possessions, which includes the mighty Warhammer Ghal Maraz, the "Splitter of Skulls".
Kurgan threw the hammer towards Sigmar, cursing the Orcs with every curse known to Dwarfkind. Sigmar caught the ancient weapon and the tide turned for the Unberogen. Sigmar assaulted the Orc with mighty strikes of his hammer, the fury of his blows bringing the hulking beast down to a single knee. With the final strike, Sigmar smashed the Orc's skull to bloody shards. A mighty feat, even for a warrior wielding a weapon forged with Dwarfen skill. With the close of the battle, their holdings avenged, Sigmar attempted to return the hammer to the High King. In that moment, a historical act came about, one unheard of in all the annals of both Men and Dwarfs that forever forged an unbreakable bond of friendship between the men of the lands west of the mountains and the Dwarfen kingdom of Karaz Ankor -- King Kurgan Ironbeard gifted the ancient hammer Ghal-Maraz to Sigmar.[1d]
It was a unique happening for a unique weapon; for the power of Ghal-Maraz is old, ancient even to the Dwarfs, and it is said that the weapon possesses a will of its own, and it actively chooses those who are to bear it into battle. Indeed, as fate would have it, the hammer was always Sigmar's, and had been waiting for the day the warrior would claim it. The Dwarfen King looked upon Sigmar and saw within him power, honour, courage and nobility without parallel, and knew that Ghal-Maraz was rightfully his, and he also reasoned that an ancient runic weapon was fitting payment for saving the life of a Dwarfen king. From then on, the Dwarfen nations and the Unberogen clans were the most steadfast of allies.[1d]
With the mighty warhammer in his possession, Sigmar began his campaign to unite the warring tribes of Men against the unstoppable onslaught of the Greenskin hordes. As Kurgan Ironbeard returned to his seat of power within Karaz-a-Karak, it soon became clear that the Greenskins were growing near unstoppable. In the years during Sigmar's campaign of unification, the Dwarfs within their mountain kingdoms felt an invasion unlike anything they had endured since the days of the coming of Chaos. Holding the Greenskin hordes off as much as they could, and after nearly a decade, Sigmar finally united the Tribes into a single unified force, and it could not have come at a better time.[1d]
Envoys of King Kurgan Ironbeard arrived with news of an Orc horde of such monumental scale as to eclipse all those before it, marching towards the now-legendary Black Fire Pass, intent on destroying the races of both Dwarf and Man forever. This, Sigmar would not allow. He summoned all his brother-kings to the golden halls of King Siggurd for a grand meeting now known in the annals of history as the Council of Eleven. There, the kings conferred on how they would face this apocalyptic threat. Some of the assembled kings realised that the only path was to unite into one great host, placing the overall command of the army under Sigmar. Others, however, would not bring themselves to relinquish command over their own warriors to another king, and remained obstinate. Soon, dissension and argument arose between the assembled warlords. Sigmar saw this and was filled with contempt, silencing the dissent with a word. He denounced the shamefulness of their squabbles while a lesser race stood united and poised to destroy humanity.[1d]
Sigmar implored the gathered tribes not to meet the Orcs and Goblins as they had in the past, standing apart from each other, refusing to lend aid and only combining their forces when needed--that would only lead to their defeat and deaths. His voice rising with a terrible rage that was felt throughout the gathering, Sigmar called on all the tribes of Man to unite and make their common stand with the Dwarfs, calling it the crucible of a new nation. As recorded in the Book of Origins, Sigmar's final shout of "To war!" was answered with a cheer so loud that the Dwarfs heard it as far away as Black Fire Pass.[1d]
History records that Sigmar's army arrived just in time, as the Orcs finally breached the wall King Kurgan had built across Black Fire Pass. Leading the charge from the chariot of Siggurd, Chieftain of the Brigundians, Sigmar fell upon the Greenskins as if he were the God Ulric himself. The force of the Human assault stopped the Orc and Goblin advance, then began pushing it back. The Dwarfs saw this as their opportunity and charged from their forts and towers and fell upon the Greenskins' flanks. Fear overcame the Greenskins and they began to break ranks and flee. Their leader, Warlord Urgluk Bloodfang, rallied his forces and made a counter-attack. Charging, he and his warband came face to face with Sigmar and his own warriors.[1d]
Sigmar and the Orc warlord entered into single combat, whilst Siggurd and his elite Brigundian warriors battled Bloodfang's Black Orc bodyguards. Hammer clashed with cleaver as the two struggled for advantage. After nearly an hour of fighting, Sigmar killed the Orc warlord with a mighty double blow, first breaking the hand that held the cleaver, then smashing Bloodfang's skull on the return stroke. The death of their leader was also the death of the Orc army, which broke and ran in utter panic. The slaughter that followed was terrible to behold as the armies of Man and Dwarf fell upon their most hated foes. It is said that there has never been a greater concentration of crows in all the world than that which gathered to feast on the stinking and unburied corpses of the Greenskins at Black Fire Pass. So many died that day that it would be over a thousand years before the Orcs and Goblins could again raise such an army, even with their prodigious, if unknown, reproduction rates.[1d]
With the defeat of the Orcs at the Battle of Black Fire Pass, the security of the lands of the Twelve Tribes was assured. King Marbad was afforded the funeral rites of the greatest heroes, for such he deserved for saving the life of Sigmar during the battle, and was carried onto his pyre by his fellow kings and his heir. Not only was the race of Men saved, but so was the Dwarfen domain. In heartfelt gratitude, King Kurgan Ironbeard pledged that he would charge Alaric with the creation of twelve magnificent blades in thanks to the Empire for their shared brotherhood. These blades would later be known as the original twelve Runefangs, which continue to be wielded by the Counts of the Empire to this day. After the Battle, Sigmar's fame spread wide and far, renowned as a hero of all Mankind. Upon the anvil of war and the fires of battle, at last his dream of a united empire had been realised. For men of all twelve tribes had stood together in the battle-line as brothers, and with the truth of their common enemy now made obvious, the old tribal hatreds had evaporated away, replaced only by iron-hard ties of brotherhood. With the victory, it is said that the kings, and then their tribesmen, all dropped to a knee within the pass before Sigmar, accepting him as their new lord.[1d]
Thus, at Reikdorf one year after the Battle of Blackfire Pass, the Ar-Ulric, high priest of the Cult of Ulric, placed a crown of gold and ivory, another gift from the Dwarfs, upon Sigmar's head and proclaimed him the Emperor of Man before the assembled representatives of the Human tribes. Before him knelt the tribal chiefs, who swore brotherhood to each other and fealty to Emperor Sigmar and the newborn Empire.[1d]
The Silver Age: Reconquest and Prosperity
A new age of prosperity had begun. Many Dwarfs moved into the newly forming Empire, and trade between the lowlands and the mountains flourished into an age of prosperity, invention, and reconquest, an age that many Dwarfs began to call the Silver Age. Although their numbers had lessened, there were still Greenskins, Beastmen, and monsters that stalked the lands of the Empire, and the tribes of Mankind still needed weapons to fight them. Even better, the humans would pay good gold for every sword the Dwarfs forged. With the western lands stabilising and Black Fire Pass now closed to enemies, the Dwarfs attempted to reestablish a grip upon the Worlds Edge Mountains. Throng after throng of heavily-armoured warriors marched forth from the great holds and lead a campaign of conquest not seen since the dawning of their history.[1d]
Tenaciously, they cleared Orc encampments off the mountainsides, scoured the tunnels for Night Goblin tribes, exterminated Skaven dens and drove out families of monsters from their bone-strewn lairs. But the toll was high, as every step, cavern, tunnel and mountain pass was paid for with irreplaceable Dwarf blood. Yet the Dwarfs were a determined lot, and the territory won back from the Greenskins was well worth it. Another event had also begun within the highly traditional societies of the Dwarfs. A new Industrial Revolution flourished during the Silver Age, hoping to find ways to replace the secrets and magnificence now lost to the Dwarfs since the beginning of the Goblin Wars.[1d]
Gradually traditional weaponry such as crossbows and catapults had been partly replaced with a newer and deadlier arsenal of black-powder weaponry such as fuse-bombs, handguns, and the mighty earth-shattering cannons. With the leadership of the Engineers Guild, black-powder weaponry was devised and continually improved, with new variants and prototypes being produced and experimented almost every day, (Although the prototype testing took hundreds of years before being approved by the guild). Transportation and trade were further improved with the invention of the first Train and Ironclads. Mining was revolutionised with the invention of steam-powered drilling devices that now took fewer Dwarfs to excavate for new mineral deposits. Dwarf Holds were eventually refitted with a dazzling array of cannons that could halt an army in its tracks, making the defences of the Dwarf Hold now near impregnable. As the Dwarf population was but a fraction of its former size, these innovations were much in demand.[1d]
The Dwarfs found the race of Men far more dependable and to their liking than the fickle Elves. However, Dwarfs have a grumbling nature and can find fault with anything. Men proved to be short-lived, incapable of holding proper ale and suffering from other foibles, which form a long litany of shortcomings that any Dwarf would gladly recount for hours on end. There were a few far more troublesome issues. The Dwarfs noted how some humans felt an unquenchable thirst for glory and power. When properly harnessed, this drive produced leaders of courage and nobility. However, some that sought power were seduced by an easier path to greatness, the lure of Chaos. As a race, Men were far more susceptible to its siren call, and their bodies were easily corrupted. The wisest among them listened to the warnings of the Dwarfs, for the elder race told how close the dark powers of Chaos had once come to consume the world.[1d]
In their travels to the far north, the Dwarfs met the wilder peoples of Norsca and the Kurgan. To the east, they saw the Hung, and recognised them too for what they were, ready supplicants to the Dark Gods. The champions of those tribes grew powerful under the baleful influence of pure Chaos, and their influence was spreading. Even in the Empire, signs of malignancy were steadily growing.[1d]
Despite a rising awareness that they would have to keep a wary eye on their allies, Dwarf throngs marched to the aid of the Empire time and again. It was Gruflok and his Slayer warband out of Karak Kadrin that rid Solland of Ogthug the ’Orrible, a rampaging Bonegrinder Giant of enormous size. The Dwarfs of Karak Norn sided with the Empire in their hundred year border dispute with Bretonnia, and throngs from Zhufbar drove Ogre armies out of the Moot on no less than a dozen occasions. During the Vampire Wars, the Dwarfs fought in countless battles, most notably the Battle of Hunger Wood and the Night Siege of Castle Templehof. The Dwarfs also supported the Empire in ways other than battle. They passed along as much technical knowledge as the Engineers Guild deemed was safe for Men to know, such as the art of making true steel and how to manufacture black powder. Naturally, Dwarfs also passed along countless tips for brewing ales that were less watery, and construction advice for building structures that did not sag and lasted longer than just a few centuries.[1d]
The Chaos Wars (2302 to 2369 IC)
In 2302 IC, the Forces of Chaos, comprised of Chaos Warriors, Beastmen and even powerful daemonhosts, crossed the River Lynsk into Kislev, laying waste to the Kislevite cities of Erengrad and Praag and marching on to besiege the capital city of Kislev. The Siege of Praag had lasted throughout the spring and summer, with the city's brave defenders hurling back their attackers time and again with desperate heroics and stalwart bravery. But as winter set in and the year drew to a close, Praag fell and the hordes of Chaos ran through its tortured streets. The raw power of Chaos engulfed the city and Praag was changed forever, its survivors fused together into hellish and inhuman mutant shapes. Living bodies fused into the walls of the city itself, so that it became impossible to tell flesh from stone. Distorted Human faces peered out from walls, agonised limbs writhed from the streets and pillars of stone groaned with human voices crying out in agony. Praag had become a living nightmare and stood as a grim warning of the suffering that lay ahead for the whole World if the warriors of the Ruinous Powers proved victorious over the Forces of Order.[1d]
A Chaos Fleet sailed the Sea of Claws, laying waste to the coasts of the Old World and sinking any ships they could find. The Tzar of Kislev sent messages to each of the Elector Counts' courts, begging for help, but the response was confused and bordered on panic. No leader was chosen for the Empire's military efforts, for none of the Electors trusted the others enough to cede authority to him or her. The High Priests of Sigmar and Ulric squabbled with each other over who should take the overall command of Imperial forces, whilst many of the nobility refused to send help for fear their neighbours would attack their lands in their absence. Some even felt the cause was lost and openly began to worship the Dark Gods, hoping for mercy from the Forces of Chaos after the Empire's fall.[1d]
One man did not give up or give in to fear and apathy. Magnus von Bildhofen of Nuln, a young noble and priest of Sigmar, still believed in the dream of a united Empire strong enough to defeat the Forces of Chaos and the daemonic servants of the Dark Gods. Within the city of Nuln, a powerful Tzeentch cult known as "The Magi", led the largest of the uprisings, unleashing daemons and other horrors upon the city. Those who remained loyal to Sigmar prayed for deliverance, receiving an answer in the Twin-Tailed Comet that soared through the night sky. Magnus saw the comet, and inspired by his grounding in the church of Sigmar used his influence as a minor noble to rally the people. Under Magnus's leadership, Nuln was liberated from Chaos, and took his crusade across the Empire. Magnus was a magnificent orator whose rousing speeches raised a massive following amongst the common folk of the Empire. He marched northward from city to city, addressing the people in the market places, gathering about him an army the like of which had not been seen within the Empire for centuries.[1d]
Other Imperial armies have also begun to muster from the Electors and other powers, either swayed by Magnus' tongue or afraid of any refusal to aid the growing force. By the time Magnus reached the great city of Middenheim, his legions of followers became the largest military formation ever assembled within the Empire up to the point in time. In 2302 IC, Magnus reached Middenheim, where he sought an audience with Ar-Ulric Kriestov to gain support for the war. After Kriestov denounced Magnus as a charlatan, Magnus bravely walked through the Sacred Flame - a holy site of the Church of Ulric which separates the pure from the tainted, and the truthful from the liar. After miraculously emerging unscathed, Magnus had proven the righteousness of his cause, and gained the support of a powerful ally. Magnus tactfully appointed Kriestov as the leader of his cavalry force.[1d]
Just as the Empire finished uniting behind Magnus, a message was received from the Kislevite leader Tzar Alexis Vassilivich. It told of a crushing defeat inflicted on the army of Kislev, leaving her cities wide open to attack. Magnus heeded the news and decided to march to Kislev, and there take the fight to their foe. As the new year began, Magnus finished consolidating his army and split it into two mighty forces: one of infantry and one of cavalry, setting Ar-Ulric Kriestov to lead the former and heading the latter himself. With their greater mobility, the cavalry force headed towards Kislev to buy time for the second half of the army. In Talabheim Magnus met with Pieter Lazlo, who was accompanied by three High Elves. The war had reached its crisis point as the Forces of Chaos prepared to cross the border into the Empire.[1d]
The Elves were powerful archmages, namely Teclis and his two comrades, Finreir and Yrtle. Although Magnus had a strong faith in Sigmar he did not have the same faith in the men he led. Despite knowing they could defeat any mortal enemy, the daemons of Chaos were not mortal. Magnus knew that the advantage the armies of Chaos had over his own lay in the Winds of Magic, but traditionally any man of the Empire who dabbled with magic was seen as a pawn of Chaos himself and therefore burned at the stake as witches. With the help of the High Elves, however, a new system could be devised to allow humans to wield the winds without opening themselves to corruption. With this new status quo possible, Magnus declared an amnesty to those who could use magic, subject to the judgement of the High Elves. Teclis and his brethren subsequently used their own arts to assemble those who could be taught.[1d]
The High Elven wizard Teclis and his companions had joined Magnus during the march north and assisted him with their advice and magic and also trained a few of the Imperial wizards in how to use magic to defend their brethren. After they learned of the fall of Praag, Dwarfs under High King Alriksson from Karaz-a-Karak, though themselves under siege by Chaos forces and greenskins, joined the Tzar within the city of Kislev. The first assault of the Chaos forces, mainly composed of Beastmen, drove the Kislevite defenders from their outer defences and behind the city walls. It was the stolid determination of the Dwarfs that prevented the hordes of Beastmen from breaking through the city gates. As the Chaos hordes prepared for a second attack, they were struck in the rear by the combined forces of Magnus' Imperial troops and Teclis' devastating magical assault. The Chaos Champion, Asavar Kul, divided his forces and sent one to attack the city and one to counter the Imperial army.[1d]
The Imperials managed to resoundingly defeat the troops of the horde sent against them with Teclis' magical support, but the forces of Chaos were too large to be completely destroyed and they eventually redeployed and managed to push the Imperial army onto the defensive, keeping it away from the relief of the city. The High Elven mage Yrtle was slain by a Keeper of Secrets. On the city walls, the battle between the forces of Chaos and the Imperial relief army was seen by the Kislevite defenders. Three hundred Dwarfs broke out of the city gates in an attempt to try and reach the Imperial relief forces, but they were beaten back. Only half of the Dwarfs returned to the beleaguered Kislevite capital. When it seemed that all hope was lost to the defenders of the city, the advance Imperial force which had been sent to relieve fallen Praag but had turned back to rejoin the main body of the Imperial army, appeared on the northern horizon, on the “Hill of Heroes”, and launched a devastating attack borne of hatred upon the Chaos forces.[1d]
Watching the enemy suddenly broken by the appearance of the Imperial reinforcements, Magnus spurred his men on to one last herculean effort to relieve the city. Seeing the forces of Order had gained some momentum, the gates of Kislev were opened and the Kislevites and their Dwarf allies spilled forth to slam into the army of Chaos from yet another flank. Caught between three separate offensives on every side, the forces of Chaos lost all discipline, milling as a mass to be cut down where they stood. As Magnus prepared to lead another charge, a voice warned him of a 'beast in human form' approaching, the enemy leader, Asavar Kul. The Everchosen challenged the champion of Sigmar to single combat, as a test of might between their respective Gods.[1d]
After an awesome conflict of great magnitude, Magnus eventually triumphed, disarming Kul and knocking him to the ground. After removing his helmet Asavar admitted defeat, saying he had failed the Chaos gods and the fight belonged to Magnus. Having slain Asavar, Magnus touched his golden hammer and reflected: "It was your gods who failed you. My god is always with me." At the same time, the Kislevite and dwarf troops broke through and engaged the Chaos army at their respective flanks. Caught between three armies, the Chaos horde was finally ground down and destroyed, saving the Old World from being Chaos' thrall. Alriksson and Vassilivich recognised Magnus as the instrument of Chaos' defeat. With Erengrad being relieved and Praag levelled for rebuilding, Chaos was driven back to its domains. In a final purge, Magnus's army destroyed the cursed city of Mordheim, before liberating Ostland and the Ostermark and clearing the Empire's forests of Beastmen.[1d]
After their defeat, the strength of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos slowly ebbed away and returned to their pre-war strength, but an echo of the Realm of Chaos would always remain within Praag, though it was levelled and subsequently rebuilt. The Chaos Gods returned to their eternal bickering and infighting, the power of Chaos Undivided once more submerged beneath the Ruinous Powers' own intense antipathy for one another. Magnus, who had earned his moniker "the Pious", returned to the Empire as its greatest saviour and warrior since Sigmar himself and was quickly installed as the new Emperor by the Elector Counts, largely to popular acclaim (and because he now commanded the loyalty of a very large, very battle-hardened army).[1d]
Magnus proceeded to purge the lands of the Empire of the taint of Chaos and the anarchy of bandits, greenskins and Beastmen that remained for several years after the end of the Great War. Order was eventually restored across the Empire and in Kislev. Though Finubar resisted the idea, Teclis taught the humans of the Empire the principles of magic as understood by the High Elves and helped them found the Colleges of Magic with Emperor Magnus' full agreement, as it had become clear that despite the Imperial prejudice against the use of magic as being tainted by Chaos, humanity and the Empire would need its power if it was to successfully defend itself from the future depredations of Chaos. On Ulthuan, despite Tyrion's attempts to reclaim the Blighted Isle, the Dark Elves eventually succeeded in occupying the Altar of Khaine.[1d]
Emperor Magnus reigned for sixty-five years and many regard his reign as among the happiest periods in the Empire's long history since Sigmar's own rule. A general peace reigned throughout the land, and the reunification of the Empire brought increased commerce and prosperity as trade flowed like water. Magnus took steps to increase the defences of the Empire against the Dark Powers of Chaos and their servants, removing the ancient Imperial ban on wizardry and even creating the Imperial Colleges of Magic under the tutelage of the High Elf Wizard Teclis. A new age of intellectual vigour and inquiry had begun for Humanity. Magnus also recognised the changing balance of Imperial power between city and country, granting Nuln the status of a city-state, whilst ratifying the political reintegration of Middenland and Middenheim under the Todbringer Grafs of Middenheim. His distant cousins, the Middenland von Bildhofens, had died during the war, but Magnus had no desire to claim the province for himself, and denied his brother's right to do so. Instead, its electoral vote was put into abeyance. Magnus also acceded to the formal reunification of Talabheim and Talabecland, which had already occurred for all practical purposes centuries before. Magnus of Nuln died in his sleep in 2369 IC. For his great works, devotion to the Empire, and dedication to Sigmar and his dream, a conclave of the Electors voted to give Magnus the posthumous title "the Pious" and declared his birthday to be an Empire-wide day of thanks.[1d]
There was little celebration, however, for the Dwarfs after the tides of Chaos recoiled, evidence of their despoiling was revealed. The city of Praag was now a place of dread, its ruins a monument to the twisting evils of Chaos. The Dwarfs grumbled into their beards that the worst was yet to come and that Chaos would return. So it would prove to be, though it took many generations of Men before it came to pass.[1d]
Age of Reckoning: The Reign of Thorgrim Grudgebearer
Upon his return to Karaz-a-Karak from the battles in Kislev, High King Alriksson felt his age and the heavy burden of his rule. Perhaps most of all, he felt the cost of the war, for many Dwarf lives had been lost fighting against the forces of Chaos, including those of his own sons. The High King himself did not escape the fray unscathed, for atop his Throne of Power, Alriksson had advanced deep into the thick of the battle, felling many foes. He now bore grievous wounds that showed no sign of healing, although the stoic High King remained unbowed, allowing no slowing of the vigour that had marked his long life. The decision to aid the Empire had been easy, and even had he known the cost beforehand, he would still have gone — honouring the oath of his forefathers and marching to the Succor of Sigmar’s heirs.[1d]
Although he returned victorious, High King Alriksson’s mind was uneasy. The other holds had not answered the call to arms with as many warriors as he had hoped. The Everlasting Realm felt separated by more than just distance and foes. Each stronghold was preoccupied with its own troubles, and he even suspected some of his royal cousins had fallen to the gold-sickness, a disease that, if unchecked, ended in isolationism and madness, misers starving to death upon hoarded piles of gold. Furthermore, the High King knew he was slowly dying from his wounds and that he no longer had an heir. Yet it would not be his fate to sit in a dark hall nursing old grudges and honing his axe in bitterness while doing nothing for the Karaz Ankor.[1d]
High King Alriksson called for a Council of Kings, something not done in over three centuries. The Dwarf king of every stronghold, along with the most powerful thanes and the royalty of every clan, made the dangerous trek to the halls of the High King. They gathered in the Great Hall, and many oaths of loyalty were repeated before Alriksson announced his plan for succession. There were a dozen suitable candidates — great kings and thanes of royal clans who could claim descent from the Ancestor Gods themselves. Each of these noble warriors would be given a full year to accomplish heroic feats and attempt deeds worthy of a High King, after which they would present themselves to the full assembly and a decision would be made.[1d]
This plan was readily accepted by the assembly, who answered with many hearty voices that made the Great Hall ring as it did of old. The naming of a successor as approved by a Council of Elders was (and still is) tradition amongst Dwarfs. And following traditions is, for Dwarfs, extremely gratifying and always greeted with gruff enthusiasm, this undertaking was even better, for on top of ancient tradition, it proposed a contest of deeds, a protocol which was not unheralded, as many classic sagas told of the kings of old and the great feats they did to win the Throne. In this, the High King Alriksson showed his great wisdom, for all Dwarfs are eager to prove the superiority of their clan and the preeminence of their stronghold.[1d]
The Deeds of a High King ( 2304 to 2420 IC)
After one year’s time, the Council of Kings convened once more. As the ale flowed, each clan’s contingent cheered boisterously before High King Alriksson raised his hand for silence. The right words were said, and grudges written, for the three candidates who were not present — two of whom were known to have been slain during the course of their year’s deeds, the third missing and presumed dead.[1d]
After the formalities were concluded, the Great Hall again swelled with booming voices, chants, and rude remarks about the failings of different clans. Each claimant climbed the dais before the High King’s Throne and turned to face the assembled throngs. After the echoes of his supporters died down, he regaled the audience with an account of his deeds. Most of these were well received — perhaps the loudest cheers were for Ungrim Ironfist, who had the head of the Giant he had slain dragged forth (which took a score of Dwarfs) so that all could marvel at its size. A close second was Buregar Angrund, leader of the Angrund clan and direct descendant of King Lunn, the last ruler of Karak Eight Peaks. For several periods of Dwarfen history, the High King had sat upon the throne of Karak Eight Peaks and some few clans hoped to see that lineage restored to rule, although Karak Eight Peaks lay now in ruin.[1d]
Even as High King Alriksson quieted the crowd to begin the pronouncement, a latecomer marched into the vast hall. It was none other than the High King’s sister’s son, Thorgrim, who had earlier been presumed slain. He was well known in Karaz-a-Karak and had long been mentored by the aged High King. Now he returned, flanked by a sight not seen in Karaz-a-Karak for thousands of years — a contingent of Dwarfs from Norsca. For during the campaign in Kislev, after High King Alriksson had been injured, it had been Thorgrim who had re-established the old ties with those long distant clans. In turn, each of the Norscan kings spoke of Thorgrim, and of the deeds of valour he had performed in the icy north; of great monsters slain and battles won. Such acts were not the extent of Thorgrim’s journeys.[1d]
Thorgrim, along with other members of his clan, had entered several of the Lost Holds, seeking out those treasures which remained hidden, or hunting down and slaying those creatures that dared claim the revered artifacts made by the Dwarfs of old. He returned several long lost relics that bore runes of which Kragg the Grim, the eldest living Runelord of the Karaz Ankor, had only heard tell in legend. Many on the assembled Council of Elders wept openly as they passed around these recovered pieces of a more glorious age, marvelling at the workmanship of the Golden Sceptre of Norgrim, coveting the returned fragments of what could only be the lost crown of Karak Drazh.[1d]
While the assembled clan kings and revered elders passed these artifacts lovingly back and forth, Thorgrim finally spoke. His booming voice echoed across the mile-long collonaded hall, and all could hear the steel in it. The return of these long-lost treasures, he said, was not enough. His words were bold, calling for the reclamation of the fallen holds, for the clans to work together as of old. Most passionately of all, Thorgrim called for a mighty vengeance. All of the potential successors had done as much, but Thorgrim’s vow went further, for he announced it was his dream to avenge the wrongs done to his people by striking clean the entire ledger of the Great Book of Grudges.[1d]
It was not long after being named successor that Thorgrim was crowned High King, for Alriksson’s wounds from the Great War Against Chaos had never healed. The old Dwarf was so resilient and stubborn, however, that he had simply refused to die, holding on against the pain until the proper heir could be named and his designs of unifying his people kept alive. So passed a great king. Thorgrim knew he had energised his subjects and that he needed to keep up the momentum. Thus he personally led a campaign to drive the Orcs and Goblins out of Black Fire Pass so that Karaz-a-Karak could ensure steady trade with the Empire. After a series of bloody battles, Thorgrim led his throng into the pass from the south and King Alrik Ranulfsson, of Karak Hirn, circled his forces to attack Black Fire Pass from the north. The two kings cut swathes through the greenskins there and met in the middle of that steep vale, where they leaned on their axes and conversed before finishing the slaughter. Several grudges were struck out that day, the start of what would be the Great Reckoning.[1d]
The Reconquest of Karak Eight Peaks ( 2420 IC to 2498)
Thorgrim’s rule took up where Alriksson’s had left off — reminding his race (and their enemies) that although the Dwarfs no longer had the power they once did, they were still a force in the world. One by one, ruined strongholds were reconquered. Progress was slow, as the Dwarfs fought grimly to establish footholds amid the ruins of their ancestors’ splendour. Thorgrim’s most ambitious plan was his attempt to rally the clans to aid Belegar Ironhammer, son of the recently deceased Buregar, in the task of re-taking Karak Eight Peaks. Since its fall, more expeditions had tried to resettle Karak Eight Peaks than any other hold, but all had ended in failure.[1d]
Great effort went into ensuring King Belegar’s forces could break back into their fortress of old, as even in its ruined state, Karak Eight Peaks presented a formidable series of natural defences and deadly chokepoints. Dwarfs attempting re-entry in the past had been ambushed, poisoned and picked apart before they could penetrate the hold’s depths. To equip Belegar’s army, Thorek Ironbrow, Master Runesmith of Karak Azul, had forged new rune-covered axes and hammers, while Thorgrim gifted ancient weapons from his hoard to Belegar’s warriors. It was an army like the elder days, when entire battalions went to war wielding runic weapons and protected by rune-struck armour.[1d]
Aided by a throng from Karak Azul led by Thorek Ironbrow, the Dwarfs broke through the outer defences and fought their way into Karak Eight Peaks. From there, they took a portion of the upper city and fortified it against counterattack. They did so just in time: soon after, Night Goblins assailed them in an overwhelming tide, outnumbering the Dwarfs many thousands to one. The Dwarfs held, with war engines and crackling lightning from Thorek’s anvil reaping a terrible toll. Those greenskins that pushed onwards were met by a wall of steel that no foe could pass. In the ruined mansions of their forefathers, the Dwarfs held strong and the steep-shadowed vale of the eight peaks echoed once more to the sounds of slaughter and war chants.[1d]
Skarsnik, the leader of the Night Goblins and self-styled ‘Warlord of the Eight Peaks’, called off the ineffective attacks after a few days. Greenskin losses were in the tens of thousands, but Skarsnik knew he could afford to take such casualties daily if need be. That assault was merely a probe, and he now guessed what the Dwarfs were up to, so the shrewd Night Goblin leader began to plot a more devious attack. Nearby in the shadows, red-eyed Skaven spies saw everything, reporting news back to Queek Headtaker, the most infamous of Clan Mors’ Warlords. After many battles, Queek dominated the majority of the lower deeps of Karak Eight Peaks. There, in the underbelly of the stronghold, the Skaven had gnawed out their own massive warren. At Queek’s command, the Stormvermin shock troops massed — a thousand claws of troops awaiting the order to spearhead the attack. Soon, they would sweep the Night Goblins and the hated beard-things away in a single surge.[1d]
And so it has gone at Karak Eight Peaks for decades; Belegar and his Dwarfs withstanding plots, alliances, ambushes, super-weapons, and untold deathtraps. Three times they have been rescued by relief forces that broke through the cordon of foes to bring much-needed reinforcements, the last army led by Thorgrim himself. Belegar has sworn a mighty oath to retake Karak Eight Peaks and, inch by bloody inch, the Dwarfs have expanded their foothold. With each small gain, the engineers refortify before the inevitable counter-attack arrives. So the battle grinds on in a permanent state of siege.[1d]
- "Who are you callin' short!"
- —Gotrek Gurnisson.
The Dwarfen people are short and stunted in nature, but possess an extreme degree of durability, endurance, strength, immovability and stubbornness that many other races often mockingly compare to, or in the Dwarfs case, embody those of a stone or mountain. Most Dwarfs stand only a mere 3 to 4 feet in height, however, they are noticeably very stout in build, with strong thick arms, long broad shoulders and short but powerful legs. Female Dwarfs have a similar physique, however, they are much more curvaceous and instead of cultivating beards, they braid their hairs in much the same way as a sign of status and age.[4f]
These characteristics are advantageous in their underground homes, making their stunted yet stocky bodies well suited to the cramp environments of the tunnels. As you might expect, Dwarfs are also natural diggers and miners, with many Clans often lending their youths or "Beardlings" into the mines as miners or military warriors as a trial or passage to adulthood.[4f]
It is also customary, and in most cases mandatory, for all male Dwarfs to have a beard of some kind. Most Dwarf youths begin to grow their beards at a relatively early age and will continue to grow for the rest of their lives. These beards are an integral part of Dwarf patriarchal society, for it often dictates a Dwarfs personal age, wealth, or experience. The longer the beard, the more respect he gains from his peers and those of society. The Dwarfs are also known widely as a race of alcoholic drinkers.[4g] Known famously for brewing some of the finest beers and ale in the known world, these Dwarfs would like nothing more than to sit down, have fun with their companions, singing songs and drinking beer until the rise of the morning sun. As such, the Dwarfen people have naturally strong livers, allowing them to drink vast quantities of alcohol without much repercussions ( Indeed, Dwarf ale is actually nourishing to a Dwarf, A Dwarf is able to survive off of it alone for weeks and not suffer malnourishment for it).[1l]
Another characteristic of the Dwarfs is their odd resistance to magic.[1d] Dwarfs are not able to feel or control the Winds of Magic like the other races within the Warhammer World. In fact, the Dwarfen race has grown such immunity to magic that they have become highly immune to all forms of common mutation, a severe and common side-effect that is often associated to those races that are affiliated with magic. Some have speculated that the Old Ones created the Dwarfs in an attempt to create a race that can resist the touch of Chaos and the uncontrollable magic it brings forth, but the results had made the Dwarfs noticeably shorter than other sentient races. As such, the only way a Dwarf will be able to use magic in any form is the use of Runes and the proper teachings of a Runesmith.
Stages of Life
Dwarfs age more slowly than Humans do, although the difference is not as great as one would conclude base upon the differing lifespan. For example, Humans become full-grown at around 16 years of age, while the Dwarfs do so between their 18th and 20th year. "Nauvsdeg", or "the Day of Naming", is regarded as the first day of a Dwarf's life. On this day, the newborn's parents, accompanied by their clan elders and as many generations of direct ancestors as are still living, would present the infant at the temples of Grungni and Valaya, to receive the blessings of the Ancestor Gods. First, the male relatives take the baby to the Temple of Grungni, where the birth is recorded in the hold's annals of history. The baby is then handed over to the female relatives, who go in joyful procession to the temple of Valaya. There, the baby is passed through the smoke of Valaya's hearth and given the first spoonful of stone soup, a ritual of welcome to the new clan member.[4d]
Although they may marry earlier -- especially in noble families -- the humans in the Old World are generally considered adults when they reach the age of 16. Dwarfs are not considered adults until they are about 30 years of age. Their childhood is usually spent learning the clan's craft, traditions, and place in Dwarf society. In addition, all young Dwarfs of all clans and both sexes are required to learn mining fundamentals and spend at least two years in the mines belonging to their hold. While working in the mines, some of these "Garazi" or "Knublstubi" ("Young Ones" in the Khazalid language) may learn other skills such as metalworking and smithing.[4d]
One of the most important events in a Dwarf's life is an entry into adulthood. It is marked by the rite of "Kumenouht", where the young Dwarf is formally presented to the clan. Those clans whose members live in scattered settlements would usually wait until they got together on "Zagazdeg", or the "The Day of Remembrance", to observe this rite of adulthood. A Dwarf reaching adulthood makes an offering to the clan's ancestors and the Ancestor Gods. This is normally shown with an apprentice craft he created to demonstrate the youngster's skill in the clan's craft. So, for example, a young Dwarf from a brewing clan offers a barrel of dark ale, while a Dwarf from a jewelsmith clan offers up a piece of jewellery or cut gemstones. The clan elders present the newly adult Dwarf with his first set of tools and the insignia of the clan's craft guild. At this stage, the Dwarf is considered a "Gnutrommi", or a "Young Clansman".[4d]
As young clansmen, Dwarfs begin to establish their reputation within the clan. Most males become an apprentice to one of the senior clansmen, and would immediately begin the second stage of their tutoring in the craft, skills and lore of the Guild. Dwarf females or maidens turn their thoughts to marriage at this time, and with the advice of their clan elders, the Dwarf maiden's main duty is to help form stronger ties with other potential clans. Under all but the most extreme circumstances, a Dwarf maiden must always marry outside of her clan, but never outside the proximity of the Dwarf Hold itself. The Princesses of a Royal Clan is typically the only ones who would be married into the royal clans of allied holds, although they generally have more freedom of choice in marriage than their human counterparts. It is deemed acceptable for a Princess to marry beneath her social station, provided the prospective husband is of impeccable character and wealthy enough to keep her in suitable style.[4d]
When a Dwarf reaches his 70th year, they become was is known as "Altrommi", or "Full Beards". Once they reach this age, they are considered senior members of the Clan and is allowed the benefit of an apprenticeship. The clan elders are usually the ones who resolve any disputes which may arise if two or more Full Beards want to take on the same apprentice, or if any Young Clansman is not chosen. A few Full Beards have been known to simply choose to perfect the mastery of their clan's craft, rather than taking an apprentice at this time. This is usually the time when most Dwarfs would begin to marry themselves to a possible spouse and sire children of their own.[4d]
In their 120th year, those Dwarfs that have lived this long earn the privileged status of a "Langktrommi", or "Long Beard". Thought not yet regarded as a clan elder, Long Beards are respected for their wisdom, skill and knowledge of clan traditions and crafts. Their reputation will have spread beyond the clan, and they may begin to receive commissions from outside clans as well. Some Long Beards continue to accept apprentices, but this is the time at which a Dwarf is generally expected to pursue mastery of their craft without the burden of an apprentice. The most spectacular examples of Dwarf craftsmanship comes from the Long Beards. A few Long Beards marry at this age, however, the vast majority have decided to dedicate their lives to their crafts.[4d]
When they reach 150 years old, a Dwarf becomes a "Throngrink", or "Elder of his Clan". All Elders become part of the Elder Council by virtue of age, wisdom and length of one's beard, or hair in the case of Dwarf Women. The Council considers any matter that directly impacts the clan and its interest. In some clans, the Council is empowered to decide the actions for the clan; in others - particularly in the Warrior clans - the Council may do more than just recommend a course of action. Once they reached this age, Dwarfs remain clan elders for the rest of their lives.[4d]
By this point in their life, a Dwarf usually lives for around 200 years. Dwarfs exceeding 200 years of age are given the extremely privileged title of "Gormtrommi", which translates to "Great Beards". Though few in number, the Great Beards are held in the highest esteem within both their clan and society. Their knowledge and experience are especially valuable to the clan and craft guilds during difficult times. Some remain on the clan's Elder Council, while others rededicate themselves to their crafts. Loremasters and master runesmiths are almost always Great Beards.[4d]
Those very rare Dwarfs who exceed 400 years of age earn themselves the legendary status of "Karugrombthi", which translates to simply as "Living Ancestors". These are amongst the greatest of the Dwarfen people, for they are venerated as the blessed of the Ancestor Gods and the symbols of their Clan's good fortune. While Humans tend to become frailer with advancing age, the vigour of a Living Ancestor remains undiminished. As such, it is said by this point, the only thing that could threaten a Living Ancestor's life is an injury or fatal disease.[4d]
It is sometimes said that Living Ancestors are too stubborn to die; among Dwarfs, it is more respectful to say that they have more important things to do than to die. Driven by the thirst for knowledge or the desire to accomplish a certain task, these ancient dwarfs seem never to age. The great runesmith Kragg the Grim, for example, reached his 1620th year in 2512 IC.[4d]
Death and Burial
Dwarfs live to a very impressive age. In fact, it is said that as long as a dwarf has some sort of purpose in life, they will not die of natural causes. Nevertheless, all dwarfs are mortal.[9a]
According to ancient lore, the earth gave birth to the Dwarfen race. In death, their bodies are returned to her embrace while the spirit journeys to the Halls of ancestors for all time. The priests of Gazul are held responsible for the special rites to perform before the final journey can begin.[4d]
Dwarfs who die of old age sense their stamina and strength fading and know that their time is fast approaching. A priest of Gazul is thus summoned, and the dying Dwarf gives the priest the possessions that will be accompanied to his tomb. Then, the heirs of the dying Dwarf would assemble to witness the dying Dwarf's bequest - like the reading of a will among humans, except that it takes place before death. Once this task is completed, the Dwarf spends the remainder of the time with friends and family.[4d]
When death has come, the priest returns to take the body to the Temple of Gazul, where it lies in state for four days. There, the priest invokes the protection of Gazul over the body to ensure his safe arrival to the halls of the Ancestors. Similar to the rites used by the Priests of Morr, the rites also serves a dual purpose in protecting the body from being used in necromantic purposes. At the end of the four days, the clan's burial vault is opened and the body is entombed. Once done, the priest of Gazul re-affixes the sealing rune to the vault to prevent any desecration until the next burial. Those Dwarfs that die in battle are given the same rites by an accompanying priest, but are not taken to the burial vault as their kin in the holds are. Instead, they are buried honourably on the spot, with only the bodies of Kings, Runesmiths or Elders being returned home for burial.[4d]
Though the Dwarfs may consider themselves a single, unified people, there are nonetheless many different types of Dwarfs living within the known world, just as there might be different types of Humans, Elves and Greenskins abound within the wider world.
- Norse Dwarf - Norse Dwarfs are a very outlandish group that once held a large portion of Norsca as their mountain realm. Their main kingdom, known as Kraka Drak, is located just West of Norsca.
- Grey Dwarfs - Grey Dwarfs is a term used to refer to those colonists who have lost their former homes within the Worlds Edge Mountains and have now made a new life within the less hostile Grey Mountains.
- Imperial Dwarf - Imperial Dwarfs are Dwarfs that have made a new life within the Empire, giving their services up at a high price and aiding the heirs of Sigmar, the greatest friend of the Dwarfs.
While relationships with these three variants are usually peaceful, there is one breed of a dwarf that every citizen of the Karaz Ankor despises...
- Chaos Dwarf - Chaos Dwarfs are the descendants of those Dwarfs that wandered east and turned from the Ancestor Gods when the tide of Chaos advanced. These Dwarfs bear minor physical mutations, like tusks and in rare cases horns and cloven hooves.
- "When I were but a lad, my father, the King, taught me three things: Never accept a gift from an Elf, never trust gold that glistens in the darkness, never forget a grudge. On his deathbed I swore to uphold those values to me own dying day, and Grungni willing, I will."
- —King Alrik Ranulfsson of Karak Hirn.[8b]
The entire Dwarfen people are all ruled by a spiritual and political leader known as a High King, and below him are a class of lesser Dwarf Kings who each rule a stronghold or Karak (Khazalid for "mountain stronghold"). In theory, the High King has absolute rule over all of his people and all the Mountain Kingdoms, for he is said to be the direct descendant of an Ancestor God and as such may issue edicts or demands if he so chooses.[1f] In reality, however, the High King actually has to consult and cooperate between each of his fellow Kings, and as of tradition and mutual respect, each Dwarf King must follow and answer the edicts imposed by his High King.[1i] The current High King of the Dwarfs is Thorgrim Grudgebearer.
Each Dwarf King has complete authority within his own Karak and the surrounding territories he occupies. He may pass laws and give edicts to his subjects, but as of tradition, he would usually have a Council of the oldest, wisest and most respected Dwarf to consult the issue and ask for advice. As is the King's duty, a Dwarf King must always put his people and his kingdom's well-being above all others. These duties may range from as simple as hearing the grievances between fellow individuals or clans, to as large as leading a Throng to face the enemy in combat.
The position of a Dwarf King and that of the High King is hereditary, with only those of the original royal-blood line having any legitimacy to control and claim a Karak. As such, a Dwarf King is also the head of the Royal Clan, which are basically extended families who can trace their lineage to the very first Dwarf who had claimed, built, and ruled the Karak from which they are currently living in. Priding themselves in their loyalty between one-another, only a handful of Dwarfs have ever tried to usurp the throne of a Dwarf King in its history, making a large-scale Civil War between various Karaks near non-existent. Only if a royal line is extinguished or disgraced will the throne be open for legitimacy. In such an event, there are several possibilities and outcomes. Either a high-ranking individual such as a Thane or Prince will be found worthy of succession, or a highly prestigious Dwarf Clan can take up the mantle as the new Royal Clan.[1f]
Below the King is a class of nobles with varying degrees of titles and status, usually taking the name of Thanes. These high-ranking Dwarfs are amongst the oldest, wealthiest, and most skilled individuals within their Kingdom, and each is often the leaders of a single Dwarf Clan. These Thanes owe fealty to their Dwarf King and are allowed to hold an important office within the ruling body, but such a position is not inherently hereditary but rather given to those of great skill and merit.[1i]
Council of Elders
A dwarf king’s edicts are rarely challenged, but he is never a tyrannical ruler. To temper his ambitions and guide his rule, a Council of Elders meets with him when important decisions must be made. The council comprises the wisest, oldest, and richest longbeards of the hold, as well as the high priests of the Ancestor Gods, the masters of the great guilds, and other respected personages such as chief victualler and the king’s treasurer.
The queen (or in her absence the eldest matriarch of the hold) sits in on council meetings to soothe frayed tempers for it is believed that dwarfs are less likely to argue in the presence of a lady. Should no decision be reached, the impasse is resolved by voting. The elders’ voting power is proportional to their wealth, with the richest among them casting the most votes. Usually, the king can outvote all the elders combined due to the size of his hoard, but it is considered unwise for a king to go against the collective wisdom of his council.
- "I am a Dwarf!... My honour is my life and without it I am nothing...I shall become a Slayer...I shall seek redemption in the eyes of my ancestors... I shall become as death to my enemies... Until I face he that takes my life and my shame."
- —Oath of the Slayer Cult of Grimnir.[7a]
Contrary to popular beliefs, Dwarfs do not worship a certain religion or holy deity, but rather has a belief centred around the veneration and reverence of their ancient ancestors. They believe that the spirits of their ancestors are constantly watching over them, guiding their actions in order to fulfil a grander purpose for the benefit of all Dwarf kind. Dwarf society is often built around these principles, where the oldest amongst their group are often held in higher esteem and respect within the community. Should a very old and highly respected Dwarf die, the community would carve out monumental tombs in order to venerate their deceased ancestors, with the oldest of relics and treasures being both the most highly valued and as a symbol of the ancient power the Dwarfs once wielded[6a]
It is said in the oldest of Dwarf folklore that there once existed a pantheon of powerful deities who led the Dwarf people into their new-found homes within the Worlds Edge Mountains. Having many names with the Khazalid language, this pantheons is well-known by many outsiders simply as the Ancestor Gods. According to the Dwarfs, these deities were amongst the first of the Dwarfen race, carved by time from the rocks of the mountains, and birthed by the stone itself. Rather than be worshipped in holy reverence like the Gods of the Old World, the Dwarfs consider these ancient deities as living ancestors. In fact, it is said that the High King is the direct descendant of Grungni and Valaya, two of the most important of all the Ancestor Gods. Over the years, these Ancestors eventually gathered a following of like-minded individuals, resulting in the creation of semi-religious Cults, the most prominent of which is the Slayer Cult of Grimnir.[6a]
Major Ancestor Gods
Although each Ancestor God is traditionally revered in equal measure, it is common knowledge that the Dwarfs venerate three Ancestor Gods far more than any other. These includes:
Lesser Ancestor Gods
Though less well-known, these Gods are nonetheless still revered as amongst the greatest Ancestors of their race:
- Gazul - Lord of the Underearth and protector of the Dwarf dead.
- Smednir - Shaper of Ore, and the son of Grungni.
- Thungni - God of Runesmiths, and the younger brother of Smednir.
- Morgrim - God of Engineers, and the son of Grimnir.
The Dwarf language is called Khazalid. It is an ancient language that has remained unchanged over many thousands of years both in its spoken and written runic form, absorbing only a few words from Elven and human languages. Khazalid is kept a secret language and is rarely spoken in the company of other races, except for their feared and infamous battle cries (infact only scholars of the Empire and certain Elves from the past know of any inkling of the Dwarfen language due to Current and past alliances). Khazalid includes very few words of obvious Elven or Human origin. By contrast, there are many loan words from Khazalid in the tongues of Men, which suggests that Dwarfs must have taught some fundamental words to their taller allies.[2d]
This is most obviously the case of words to do with traditional Dwarfen craft skills of smithing and masonry, skills which Dwarfs taught Men many centuries ago. Khazalid well reflects the nature of the Dwarfs. There are a relatively large amount of words for things such as different kinds of rock, underground tunnels and precious metals. It is said there are over a hundred words for "gold" in Khazalid, each subtly different and describing its lustre, colour, purity and hardness. On the other hand, there are few words for abstract concepts. Words for physical things are also used for concepts which the Dwarfs perceive as related.[2d]
An example is the Khazalid word for mountain, which is also used to denote concepts such as unyielding, enduring and permanence. The sound of Khazalid is guttural. Dwarfs have deep, resonant voices and a tendency to speak more loudly than is strictly necessary. Khazalid vowel sounds, in particular, are uncompromisingly precise and heavily accented. Consonants are often spat aggressively or gargled at the back of the throat. Contrary to Men, whose dialect differs widely depending on geographic location, the Dwarfs remain fairly consistent in dialect across the Dwarfen realm, although there are exceptions.[2d]
Dwarfs take great stock in names, each Clan and hold keeping long and detailed lists documenting those who live therein. Although there are exceptions, Dwarf names typically follow one of two specific patterns. The first is based on the parent's name (usually the father's) by adding the letters "sson" or "sdottir" to the end of the parent's name. Famous examples include Morgrimsson, the son of former High King Morgrim Blackbeard, or Burloksson, the son of Burlok Damminsson, himself the son of Dammin. The second method is a title describing an especially dominating feature, such as physical appearance, strength, martial ability, talent, skill, profession or demeanour. Examples of this would be Thorgrim GrudgeBearer or Helgar Long-Plaits.[1i]
It is not uncommon for Dwarfs, over their long lives, to acquire a string of several names. They will begin with a given name, such as Thorg or Balric. This is often followed by the clan he belongs to and names that associates to his dominating features, such as perhaps Shieldsplitter or Forkbeard. Finally, there can be titles or ranks from his clan, guild or duty, such as Thane, Master, or Captain of the Deeps. Outside of formal occasions, most of these names are often dropped for convenience, with the given name being the most commonly used.[1i]
- "Labouring hard with a shovel in the darkness, stoking a massive boiler and bathing in the heat. Life on board an Ironclad, eh? Just like being at home."
- — 'One-eye' Morgim - Sea Engineer aboard the Legend of Grimnir.[5a]
The most important principles of Dwarf society are often summarised by three things: age, wealth, and skill.[2b] The more of these a Dwarf has, the higher you are in Dwarf society. Dwarfs do not boast of their family achievements, they merely set the record straight and proclaim their ancestors' greatness by their own personal wealth and skills. Unlike humans, Dwarfs live naturally long lives, with some growing as old as several centuries to even a thousand years of age.[4b] When a Dwarf starts their lives off as young youths, they are often mockingly called by their elders as "Beardlings". As their name applies, these youths still have short beards which indicate their young age and will continue to be youths until they reach at least more than 70 years of age. Whilst they age, these youths would learn the basic skills of their Clans, such as mining or smithing. In addition, they would be required to participate for some time in active military duty.
The oldest Dwarfs within a community are the "Longbeards" or "Greybeards".[1n] Dwarfs never cut or trim their beards, as the length of a beard indicates age, and thus wisdom. As such, these older Dwarfs are highly respected within their communities and their peers, and are often looked to for guidance and leadership. Only a Dwarf who has reached the age of a hundred, or has a beard that is touching the very floor will he be readily considered a Longbeard. Dwarfs also have an affinity for their peoples own past and tradition and would constantly seek to remember their forebears by repairing and maintaining their products. All Dwarfs know how to reforge an ancient blade and are constantly trying to incorporate ancient relics into their newer works. All of the most powerful of these weapons are forged by Gromril, the strongest, rarest, and most treasured metal known to their people.[2b]
They also enjoy hoarding their hard-earned treasures and gold within massive Vaults. When a Dwarf dies, his wealth goes to his family and so passes down the generations. This process ensures the memory of the dead will always continue, as well as to secure a Dwarf's supply of money for a more desperate time. Often, a Dwarf will measure his security by how far off the ground they are when they sit on their treasures. Such is the greed that Dwarfs have for their treasure hoards that the supplies within a stronghold itself are so huge that it attracts hordes upon hordes of Orcs and Goblins, who are all willing to risk their lives by the hundreds all for the chance to earn some plunder.[2b]
Dwarfs have a rigid and unyielding sense of honour, which is centred around oaths or a promise. A promise does not die with an oath-maker, nor does treachery die with an oath-breaker. A Dwarf will be bound to an unfulfilled promise made by an ancestor, and will commit themselves to their fulfilment.[4c] Likewise, they will look to the descendants of oathbreakers for recompense. Serious breaches of faith against the Dwarfs are recorded in the Book of Grudges. This massive tome is kept in Karaz-a-Karak, the capital of the old Dwarf Empire, and constitutes something of a chronicle of Dwarf history.[2b]
Dwarfs are possessive, and to help guard the secrecy of their most skilled crafts, the Dwarfs have created guilds - artisan clans that trace their ancestry to a single master of old. Thus, to be born into the Clan of Morgrim, better known as the Runesmiths Guild, is to be destined, in some fashion, to be involved in the arcane study of working metal and magic into mighty runes of power.[1f]
All guilds follow the path of apprentice, journeyman and master, with a council of the guild’s masters responsible for enforcing the strict rules. This keeps skills within a clan, although as their talents are in high demand, guild members tend to be thinly spread across many strongholds. Each guild has all manner of secret handshakes and unusual rituals that allow them to identify other members that they have never met before. These guilds form a small, but authoritative faction in Dwarf society.[1f]
- Armourer Guilds - Armourer Guilds, alongside Weaponsmiths are amongst the larger crafts guild within Dwarf society. It is their duty to provide the Hold with armour of all kinds, from leather to gromril.[4h]
- Weaponsmith Guilds - Weaponsmiths Guilds, alongside Armourers are amongst the larger crafts guild within Dwarf society. It is their duty to provide the Hold with weapons of all kind, from small daggers to powerful axes and hammers.[4h]
- Artisan Guilds - Artisian Guilds are one of the smaller Guilds that encompass a large diversity of professions, from pottery, carpentry, glass blowing and tanning amongst other crafting speciality.[4h]
- Brewer Guilds - Brewer Guilds are one of the most famous crafts guilds within Dwarfen society, for Dwarfs reserve a deep amount of respect for those that produce their ales within their taverns.[4h]
- Engineer Guild - There is only one Engineer's Guild, and it is their responsibility to moderate and watch over the designs for new machines for the benefit of Dwarf-kind.[4h]
- Farmer Guilds - Farmer Guilds are the smallest of the crafts guild, as trade with the Empire has provided all the foodstuff the Holds will ever need. Instead, those few farmer guilds that remain have dedicated themselves to the growing of grain for the brewers, for only the finest grain will be found suitable for the ales of the Dwarfs.[4h]
- Herder Guilds - Herder Guilds are still a common sight amongst the Holds, for it provides them with adequate meat, wool and grain during the long winter months. Cheese is of particular importance within a Dwarfs diet.[4h]
- Healer Guilds - Healer Guilds are small craft guilds dedicates themselves to the healing arts, which provide the holds with highly-trained herbalists, doctors and surgeons amongst other similar professions.[4h]
- Jewelsmith Guilds - Jewelsmith Guilds are one of the largest and most competitive Guilds within the Holds, creating many fine works of art for those willing to pay for their exorbitant fees.[4h]
- Metalsmith Guilds - Metalsmith Guilds are just like Jewelsmith Guilds, large and also highly competitive amongst the Clans and Holds. They produce all the tools and metalware used in daily life.[4h]
- Miner Guilds - Miner Guilds form one of the core pillars of Dwarfen society, for Mining is just as important a skill to a Dwarf as perhaps any other trait. As such, there will always be at least one Miner Guild within any settlement of Dwarfs.[4h]
- Runescribe Guilds - The Runescribe Guilds are the historians and scholars of their race; whose duty mainly revolves around the recording and keeping of ancient lore and history that remains important to their race.[4h]
- Runesmith Guilds - Runesmith Guilds is perhaps one of the smaller yet far more prestigious crafts guild within the Holds, for it takes decades to hone ones craft in order to fully be a member of such a guild. They are held responsible for the keeping and crafting of powerful runic weapons, armour and relics.[4h]
- Stonemason Guilds - Stonemason Guilds, just like the Miners Guild forms one of the core pillars of Dwarfen society. Since time immemorial, the skill of masonry has always been the hallmark of a Dwarfen Hold and its history.[4h]
- Warrior Guilds - Warrior Guilds are considered the largest of all the Guilds within the Holds, and are found perhaps in almost every single Dwarfen community. It is they that shall defend the hold or wage war when the King calls, and it is they that shall provide the best warriors to do such a task for the benefit of all dwarf-kind.[4h]
Dwarf clans are in essence extended families who can trace their ancestry back to a founding ancestor who may have settled a specific valley, built a stronghold or founded a mine.[4c] Each stronghold is home to several Dwarf clans. The social ranking of a Dwarf is based on the social ranking of his Clan. The lowest ranking are the disgraced Clans who are often outcasts from the holds. The next lowest are the Clans which have no home hold, and instead wander from hold to hold as traders, as well as work in the cities of the Empire. The middle-ranking class are the respectable clans who dwell within the holds. The top-ranking clans are the clans which engage in the most respected trades, such as gold working, weaponsmithing, runesmithing, and engineering. The ruling class is the royal clan, whose members are the nobility, one of whom is the king of the Hold.[1f]
Dwarf clans are thus mostly made up of many families, all of which share a common homeland, bloodline or ancestry. Often times, these Dwarf clans aren't originally from the place they are currently living in, for they might have lost their homeland to an invading enemy force. Yet although their lands have been lost, each of these clans has never given up the hope of one day reclaiming their homeland and building it anew. The ancestors of these clan are highly honoured, and part of this honour involves singing their sagas and maintaining their tombs and relics. Each clan is lead by the clan head also known as a thane. Some clans have their own identity sporting personal banners, sigils, and warcry.[1f]
Most Dwarfs practice a trade, but as war is common, each clan readily forms into one or more regiments, ready for battle. Thus, though they might be gem-cutters, stonemasons or miners, when enemies arise, they don heavy mail and take up weapons. It is customary for members of such regiments to display colours and symbols from their clan and/or stronghold — not a uniform, as such, but rather a reflection of the pride those individuals take in their common bond. After thousands of years of warfare, many clans have been wiped out or driven far from their homelands, their original holds lost or destroyed. In this way, surviving strongholds now house not just their founders, but also Dwarfs from many different clans. These displaced clans pledge fealty to a new king, swearing oaths to fight for their adopted stronghold. However, no matter where a clan re-settles, or how long they remain with a new hold, they maintain a strong sense of their unique identity and harbour hopes of one day reclaiming their ancestral homes.[1f]
- Clan Gunnisson - also known as the War's Son, this Dwarf Clan was once the royal blood-line of King Gunn, the first Lord of Mount Silverspear before its eventual collapse by the hands of Greenskin invaders.[1g]
- Stonebreakers Clan - famous for their masonry and miners, this prominent Clan currently is located within the confines of the industrial city of Zhufbar, where their great skills are in great demand.[1g]
- Bronzebeards Clan - formerly called the Stonebeards, this Clan was displaced by Orc marauders following the fall of Cragmere, and is now in the service of the Ironpick Clan.[1g]
- Clan Helhein - a former Dragonback Clan, this Clan once held the riches of the Ekrund Mines, but has since been forced out and currently lives within the confines of Karaz-a-Karak.[1g]
- Clan Ullek - an ancient Dwarf clan that can trace their lineage to Ullek Redaxe, a thane who held a prestigious position beneath the first High King, Snorri Whitebeard.[1g]
- Clan Barruk - famously known for carrying Goldshields into battle, this wealthy Clan has since been trying to find a new home for themselves.[1g]
- Clan Drakebeard - a Royal Clan within Karak Kadrin, this ancient and mighty Clan is lead by none other then Ungrim Ironfist, the Slayer King of Karak Kadrin.[1g]
- Clan Yinlinsson - an ancient Dwarf Clan who are famous throughout the mountain realms for their fine lagers of ale.[1g]
- Norgrimlings - a former mining Clan of Karak Eight Peaks, the Norgrimlings has since dedicated their life to eradicating Skaven wherever they find them.[1g]
- Cragbrow Clan - a distinct branch of the Engineers Guild known famously for their expertise in the creation and maintenance of massive warships and smoke-belching Ironclads.[1g]
- "Manling coins are like their words: never trust them. Use your weighing scales and keep your axe handy!"
- —Dwarf saying.
A Dwarf stronghold is already a self-sufficient economy.[2c] Weapons, Armour, tools, and machines are all produced within their forges and workshops. Specialist goods are traded between Karaks along overland routes or via the Underway. Caravans are protected below ground by stalwart Ironbreakers and overland by bands of dwarf rangers. Adept at surviving above ground, rangers are tasked with keeping mountainside settlements and trade ways safe from the depredation of raiders.
Goods that the Dwarfs cannot produce themselves are often traded with neighbouring races, the most prominent are the Humans within the Empire. When these Humans began colonising and cultivating the lowlands during the founding of the Empire, it became clear that they were far superior farmers and herders then the Dwarfs would ever care to admit. Nonetheless, the Dwarfs were far superior in the crafting of goods such as weapons, armour and tools. This eventually led to mass trade between the two races, freeing up the Dwarfen Clans to look to other more distinguishable pursuits such as mining and metalworking.[4g]
Most dwarfs regard trading goods for profit a demeaning profession. As such, it is a common misconception that a dwarf trader usually belongs to clans without a hold that already suffers from social stigma. Bereft of their ancestral hoards, trading is the only way these unfortunate individuals can survive. Such statements are often not always true, for there are still plenty of Dwarf clans that still garner great within society and have a jealously large treasure trove of gold earned by the humble profession of trading goods.
Many outsiders have often thought that provisioning such a large Karak with ample supply of food and crop may seem problematic at first glance, but the Dwarfs anything if not resourceful. The highlands that surround most Dwarf holds are usually barren; unfit for both arable farming and pasture. However, the typical dwarf can subsist off little food and is content with a plain, unfussy diet. A few families of Dwarf Herders maintain flocks of goats amongst the peaks for milk and meat while Dwarf rangers would hunt down wild mountain animals for fur and flesh. Those few Dwarf Farmers that occupy these slopes have been known to grow stunted crops of barley and wheat on steep fields within a Karaks' walls. The wheat flour is mixed with gravel and baked into rock hard, tasteless, but sustaining, stone bread, while the barley itself is expectedly used to brew strong beer that is incredibly nourishing for dwarfs but near-lethal to anyone else.
A curious example of dwarf resourcefulness is their use of the body parts of one of their most fearsome ancestral enemies, the Troll. When a troll’s corpse is dragged into their hold by a band of courageous hunters, nothing goes to waste. The innards form the main ingredients of ‘kuri’, a traditional dish spiced with wild berries, washed down with ‘troll brew’, an intoxicating beverage with supposedly regenerative properties, traditionally imbibed from tankards fashioned from troll skulls. Tanned troll hide is used to make tough boots, coats, and cloaks, and even the creature’s fat acid is utilised by engravers to etch metal.
Should a Dwarf Hold have a need for a greater sum of food products, the Clans have been known to barter their skills and services to the Human kingdoms that often occupy the fertile lowlands outside of their mountain holds. Metalwork and other crafts are traded to the Empire in exchange for venison, beef, and other foodstuffs that a hold cannot produce itself. The dwarf made goods fetch a high price among men because of their excellent quality and durability, but the dwarfs retain their finest crafts as heirlooms to expand their treasure hoards. Although many karaks' contain immense wealth, most if not all Dwarfs are extremely tight-fisted about their wealth and would rather count their unnecessary large sum of gold then to spend it. This mental mindset had often made the Dwarf economy very wealthy, yet slow and mostly stagnate.
The empire of the Dwarfs stretched out from all around the great mountain ranges in the old world, most notably the Worlds Edge Mountains. Also, due to dwarf society revolving around mining and smithing, most of the major holds and cities all lie within the mountains, protected by massive mighty citadels, where only the strongest of armies can ever wish to breach such a fortress.
- Karak Azgal (formerly Karak Izril)
- Karak Eight Peaks (partially reconquered)
- "We fight to protect our kinfolk, we fight to defend our clans, but more importantly we fight to uphold our honour. Never forget the torment we have suffered and for each and every wrong our enemies heaped upon our ancestors, they shall repay the debt in blood. For we are sons of Grungni; alone we are rocks, united we stand with the strength of a mountain."
- —Dwarf King Alrik at the defence of Karak Hirn.[8a]
Forged by centuries of constant warfare, the Dwarfs have become a race of hardened warriors who remember every affront slighted against them. Answering their High King's summons, the Dwarfs march from their mountain strongholds in great throngs of doughty steel-clad infantry, supported by powerful war machines of indescribable firepower. At the fore, mighty heroes bearing matchless runic weapons and armour stand ready to deliver the deathblow that shall avenge the indignities that have befallen their race.[1o] Such is the constant fierce wars that these brave warriors have fought over the centuries, that each Mountain Kingdom is nothing more than a heavily militarised fortress-city, teeming with the uncountable armies of battle-hardened veterans of a hundred battles.[1c] Each Dwarf has already the physique of a natural warrior, with body and arms as thick as tree trunks, mental fortitude as stubborn as a rock, and overlapping armour of unbreakable Dwarf steel that covers the Dwarf from head to toe.[1l]
However, contrary to popular beliefs, the Dwarfs don't necessarily have a standing full-time professional military, but instead, rely on their Clans to provide soldiers for them.[1l] In times of war, members of a Dwarf Clan will form their own militia regiments of Warriors, Quarrelers, and Thunderers under the leadership of a Thane. Once formed up, they would rally alongside the leaders of a military expedition or campaign and form into an army or Throng.[1b] With the superior craftsmanship of the Dwarfs, each warrior is equipped with some of the finest weapons and armour the world has ever known, as unbreakable as the mountains themselves, and as bone-crushing as the blow of an avalanche. A Dwarf warrior excels greatly at close-quarters combat, where their armour and weapons are used to great effect, and as such, they are expert tunnel fighters.
The Dwarfs are also the leading experts in the most advanced technology ever possessed by any mortal race of today.[1c] Being the first to discover the potential of steam-engines and gunpowder,[2a] the Dwarfen race is a race of Engineers as well as Warriors, unsurpassed in all avenues of science and technology and hindered only by the highly strict traditions imposed by their elders and their society. Under the watchful guidance of the Dwarfs, the Empire is also rapidly catching up with their advancements, and may soon replace them as a technological superpower.
What the Dwarfs make up for with strength, craftsmanship and durability, they lack greatly in speed, magic and numbers. Dwarfs lack all forms of cavalry, and instead rely heavily on aerial support in the means of Gyrocopters and Gyrobombers for quick and reliable attacks and reconnaissance. Dwarfs are totally immune to the touch of magic and thus have no magic-wielders.[1d] However, they compensate this fault by using Runesmiths, a Dwarf who has the ability to use Runes that can manipulate the flow of magic for their own uses. But probably the largest weakness that befouls all Dwarf army is their insufficient numbers. A large army in Dwarf standards are only in the few hundreds strong, and this great lack of man-power has always hindered the Dwarfs greatly, making sure that every Dwarf lost in combat is a severe blow to both the battle and the survival of their race.
On the battlefield, Dwarfen armies excel greatly as stubborn immobile walls of powerful infantry supported by massive batteries of lethal war-machines.[2a] When fighting on the defensive, the Dwarfs would position themselves at the most narrow points within a battlefield, where they would form a shield-wall of heavily armoured infantry at the front,[1h] with supporting regiments of siege equipment and rifleman at the back or at an elevated position. The tactics being employed is simple attrition, where the Dwarfs would stand defiantly against their enemies and absorb as much of their punishment like water on rock. After several hours, their enemies would grow tired, broken and would retreat the battlefield. Solid and dependable, the Dwarfs are experts in wars of attrition and underground warfare.[1c][1d]
When on the rare occasions the Dwarfs take the fight to the enemy, their armies would fight in a tight formation, advancing against the enemy slowly and methodologically in almost grim silence. When showered by enemy bolts, the Dwarfs would raise their shield and adsorb the incoming missiles whilst still keep a steady and foreboding pace. As the Dwarfs own missiles and artillery rain down fire upon the enemy, the Dwarfs would then engage them headlong in close combat.
- Dwarf Warriors - Warriors will form the backbone of every Dwarf clan and every throng in every engagement. These uncompromising warriors hail from one of the many clans within a Hold, which consist mostly of youths barely a hundred years of age. When in combat, these warriors will form within a regiment of the same Clan and are often put at the very front of the fighting. Determined and arrogant in equal measure, Dwarf warriors make the most steadfast of fighters in the Old World.[1l]
- Quarrellers - Since the Dwarfs first came to the Worlds Edge Mountains the crossbow has been the dwarf's favourite ranged weapon. It will easily beat the goblin's weak bows, and it is even capable of dropping a heavily armoured Black Orc dead in its track. The number of Dwarfs that use crossbow has fallen some in recent time as more and more started taking up handguns, but the crossbow will never disappear entirely. The Quarrellers that remain are a stubborn bunch, preferring to trust their own eyes over those new-fangled sights. If nothing else, many begrudge the cost of gunpowder when all a crossbow takes is a little bit of elbow grease and a determined eye.[1m]
- Thunderers - Although some more old fashion or traditional dwarfs still regard the handgun with some suspicion, it has become a common sight, almost as common as the crossbow. The Dwarfs who specialise themselves in using the handgun have become known as Thunderers. Being methodical as well as mechanically gifted, they will simply keep on loading and firing in a disciplined manner, even when the enemy is right up close, rarely suffering the misfires that would afflict less-disciplined troops. Many Thunderers will have crafted their own handguns, incorporating personal preferences and additional improvements of their own. There are a lot of rivalries between Thunderers as to who has the most accurate handgun, which has resulted in the Dwarf handguns being the most precise weapons of their kind in the world.[1m]
- Longbeards - A Dwarf Longbeard is the oldest, most experienced warrior within a Dwarf Throng, a fact evidenced by the length of their beards. These ensure that they receive the proper respect from other Dwarfs, who have been taught quite rightly to always respect their elders. Longbeards have fought in more wars, beaten more enemies, and endured greater hardships than any young Dwarf could possibly imagine. They constantly grumble about how today's Goblins are far smaller and weaker than they used to be, and how nothing is as well made as it was in their day. No young Dwarf would dare argue with them, for they indeed have the experience and the beard to prove it. In battle, Longbeards are able to demonstrate their time-won skills, showing disdain for even the smallest shifts in fortune that would throw less experienced warriors into confusion. Forming into their own regiments, these are considered the veterans within a Dwarf army.[1n]
- Dwarf Rangers - Rangers are Dwarfs who serve as scouts and hunters to a Dwarf Karak. Rangers spend most of their time on the surface to keep constant vigil over the Karak's borders, hunt game, and map the land, eventually becoming a Dwarf King's eyes and ears to the events that happen in the outside world. Dwarfs are a mountain race and expert miners, and as such the common dwarf will treat a ranger with suspicion and distrust. Rangers are considered the first line of defence, holding the enemy back by harassing them with hit and run tactics using well-placed traps and bolt fire until an allied army arrives.
- Dwarf Miners - When a Dwarf hold goes to war, many mining clans will send their warriors to battle. As a gesture of pride in their profession, they will tend to carry picks rather than axes, but such is their skill with them that this is no disadvantage. There are many benefits to having such troops in an army, notably, they can use their skills to tunnel beneath the enemy and gain the advantage of surprise. Equipped with deadly explosives, these Dwarfs can be devastating when fighting a formation of enemy troops.
- Ironbreakers - In a labyrinth of tunnels the Ironbreakers stand guard. The protectors of all that is sacred, the Ironbreakers battle tirelessly to prevent the desecration of their homes. These mighty warriors are unparalleled in their fighting capability, where their smalls numbers are often compensated with full suits of high-quality Gromril weapons and armour, the strongest metal in the world. Impervious, implacable and immovable, these warriors are legendary tunnel fighters.
- Hammerers - Hammerers are forged in battle and selected for their bold and courageous nature. Renowned for their elite fighting skills and steadfast loyalty, Hammerers are the preferred bodyguards for many Thanes and Lords. As their name suggests, these warriors are equipped with massive Warhammer that is imbued with Runes, making their swings and attacks all the more powerful.
- Slayers - Slayers seek death in combat in order to atone for some wrongdoing. Although they seek death, Dwarfs are incapable of deliberately fighting to lose, and so always enter the fray to win. Therefore Slayers spend as much time as possible for improving their warrior skills. Slayers deliberately seek uneven combat, for example by entering a Goblin stronghold alone. Trolls are considered the ideal opponents, as the Dwarf's death is almost assured. Their way of life weeds out all but the toughest and most determined warriors so that those Slayers who survive for any period time are invariably exceptionally tough, violent, and extremely dangerous.
- Irondrakes - In times of need, Ironbreakers must deploy drakeguns - mighty weapons that belch chemical fire upon tightly-packed enemy formations. Such is the power of the drakegun that only a few Ironbreakers are capable of wielding its flesh-scorching punishment. These weapons are especially powerful within the tunnels, where the weapons killing-power is magnified to horrific results.
- Dwarf Bolt Thrower - Bolt Throwers are simply larger versions of the crossbow, able to fire heavier bolts over greater distances. The Bolt Thrower remains an important part of the Dwarf arsenal because it can be built and maintained cheaply and is accurate enough to bring down monsters such as Wyverns or Trolls with a well-judged shot.
- Grudge Thrower - This siege-equipment were originally simple stone-throwers, used previously to defend the approaches to Dwarf holds from enemy invasion. It was after the outbreak of the War of Vengeance, that the Dwarfs took to engraving their grudges onto the stones they fired. Ever since then, it is an almost commonplace for these stones to be engraved with runes that magnify its destructive power.
- Flame Cannon - These experimental cannons were one of the latest inventions put into field-testing by the Engineers Guild of Zhufbar. Having the ability to belch white-hot alchemic fire into tightly-knotted groups of enemy formations, these weapons have gained a fearsome reputation in the eyes of their enemies.
- Dwarf Cannon - The most common cannon within the Dwarf's arsenal, these cannons are reliable and crewed by Dwarfs with many years of military experience. Though these cannons are noticeably smaller than their human counterparts, they are nonetheless just as deadly but far more accurate.
- Organ Gun - Should the enemy prove far too numerous for a single cannon-ball to topple, the Dwarfs will sometimes aim their array of Organ Guns at the enemy. Able to fire several smaller cannon-balls at once, this weapon can decimate whole regiments of enemy infantry in very close range.
Other war machines
- Gyrocopter - Designed by the Engineers Guild and inspired by combining dragon and drilling machine the original Gyrocopter design took centuries to gain acceptance. The Gyrocopter is a small yet nimble war machine. It can be equipped with either a steam gun or the dragon-headed brimstone gun.
- Gyrobomber - The sleek, heavily armoured Gyrobomber is the next evolutionary step in Dwarf aerial technology. Kept afloat by two rotor arrays and a dirigible balloon, the Gyrobomber is part Gyrocopter and part airship. Equipped with a formidable payload of eleven Grudgebuster Bombs and a nose-mounted Clattergun.
- Dwarf King - A King is the highest ruler of a dwarf hold, they have absolute authority and power, but swear allegiance to the Dwarf high king. Kings are a rare sight on the battlefield, they join battle only in the direst need, such, when their hold is under siege and defeat, is certain. The appearance of the King in battle gives other dwarfs the will to fight on even when the odds are against them. Dwarf kings wear heavily ornate golden armour inscribed with powerful runes for superior protection, endurance, and vitality, and they wield powerful rune weapons that can fell any foe, and is always accompanied by their personal guard of Hammerers.
- Dwarf Lord - Dwarf Lords are those Thanes who have been promoted to lead a dwarf throng into battle as the supreme commander. When a Dwarf King sends an army to defeat the enemies of the dwarf race, defend his hold, or to send missions and expeditions, the King appoints several clans and their extended families to answer the call of battle. Among the Thanes of every clan who were given the task, they will appoint one of their number to be the helm. Each of these dwarfs must not only be a capable warrior but also a leader, a tactician, credible, and have the longest beard outside of the greybeards. The lord's level of equipment depends on his clan's standing; wealthy clan thanes wear suits of gromril Armour, the strongest Armour known to dwarf kind, and use powerful rune weapons, while poorer clan thanes use iron armour and a potent rune weapon. Most dwarf throngs are led by those from the royal clan, related to the king, these dwarfs hold the actual title of "lord" but Thanes more often than not will become or rather take the role of "lord" if need be.[1i]
- Runelord - Revered by their holds, the Runelords are the greatest of all the Runesmiths. As custodians of ancient lore, they are naturally suspicious and jealously guard the secrets and rituals of their hammercraft. On the battlefield, Runelords dampen and channel the magic of their foes, rending it harmless. They alone have the ability to forge magical items using powerful runes – a skill passed on to a worthy relation, or taken to the grave.[1k]
- Dwarf Master Engineer - These Dwarfs are some of the highest-ranking members of the Engineers Guild who are tasked by the Guild's leaders to help a Dwarf throng to battle by means of repairing and directing batteries of artillery. These Dwarfs are expert tacticians, inventors, and doughty warriors in their own right, and while they are used more in the creation of complex fortifications or designing new mines, these Dwarfs are more than capable of fighting in the front lines.[1j]
- Thane - Thanes are the patriarchs of a dwarf clan. In times of war, Thanes lead their clan to battle in every dwarf army. In a dwarf throng, thanes will lead their forces to victory by advising the Lord (also a fellow thane) what course of action to take, although the final battlefield decision will fall to the lord. Thanes fight at the front of their clan leading his friends and family behind him. Some clans have their own personal heraldry and colours and these will be carried by Thanes as battle standards of their clan.[1i]
- Runesmith - Runesmiths are the closest thing Dwarfs have to magic users in their culture. Runesmiths learn the ancient crafts of working metal and magic into Runes of power. The oldest and most respected of them are the Runemasters. The Runesmiths are members of the Guild of Runesmiths, which is said to have its origins in the days of the Ancestor God Grungni. The Guild claims descent from his son Morgrim, and it is for this reason they sometimes refer to themselves as the "Clan of Morgrim", though they are not the only clan who claim descent from the mighty god. All Runesmiths are kin, although the relation is often somewhat remote. Each family hands down its craft through the generations. When a Runesmith feels that the time is right, he will take one of his young relatives as an apprentice, teaching him all he knows about the art of Rune making. However, Runesmiths are so protective of their knowledge that many of them fail to find a worthy successor, and end up taking their art with them to the grave. The Guild of Runesmiths has great respect in their society. At the very least a Runesmith will have endured hundreds of years of harsh tutelage from their masters, and older Runemsiths will have centuries of runecraft and gathering of lost secrets reflected in the length of their beards and their tough, cantankerous demeanour.[1k]
- Dwarf Engineer - Engineers, as the name suggests, are the Dwarfen masters of technology and gadgets, continuing a long tradition of engineering craftsmanship. They employ their expertise to great effect in combat, shooting blunderbusses, throwing grenades at the enemy and even calling down artillery bombardments. In the melee, they employ even more explosives or pummel their foes into submission using their engineering spanners and other assorted tools.[1j]
- Thorgrim Grudgebearer - Thorgrim Grudgebearer is the current High King of the Dwarfs and the ruler of Karaz-a-Karak. He is a throwback to the High Kings of old — eager for new conquests, mighty in battle, and a merciless enemy. Yet upon his worn brow, there also sits great wisdom, and he is able to uphold the ancient traditions as well as to accept, if not embrace these needed changes, such as alliances and new technology. Thorgrim is forever brooding upon how to return his people to their former glory. As the ultimate ruler of the Dwarfs, the "Dammaz Kron" or the "Great Book of Grudges" is entrusted into his honourable keeping.
- Gotrek Gurnisson - is the most (or perhaps the least, since a Slayer's goal is to die) successful Slayer and travels with his human companion and Rememberer Felix Jaeger. Gotrek Gurnisson is also thought to possess the second of the axes of Grimnir. He has achieved the Slayer "rank" of Daemon Slayer and in his time has fought representatives of almost all the armies in Warhammer.
- Josef Bugman - Josef Bugman is the most legendary Master Brewer of all time. This is really saying something, for Dwarfs take their ale seriously, and there are many famous brews and renowned brewers, yet still, the name of Bugman stands as a paragon of quality. A member of the Dragonback Clan, after the fall of Ekrund, Josef’s relatives set up a stout brewhouse in the foothills of the Grey Mountains. A moderate success, the brewery took off after Josef took over, with triumphs like Bugman’s XXXXXX and the notorious Troll Brew. Set at the height of his ales' growing popularity, disaster struck. While returning from a delivery, Bugman arrived at his brewery to find it a smouldering ruin.
- Ungrim Ironfist - Ungrim Ironfist, the Slayer King of Karak Kadrin, is the last of the line of the Slayer Kings that have ruled the keep since his ancestor, king Baragor. Armed with the enormous Axe of Dargo, Ungrim deals woe and death to his enemies, carving a path of red ruin before him while singing songs of old in a booming voice. Atop his head is a bright orange crest that rises above a sturdy horned helmet set with a golden crown. For Ungrim is both a Slayer and a King, more than likely the last of the line of Slayer Kings of Karak Kadrin.
- Belegar Ironhammer - Belegar Ironhammer, known by his followers as the True King of Karak Eight Peaks, is the current leader of the Angrund clan and the direct descendant of King Lunn, the last Dwarf to rule Karak Eight Peaks before its fall. Since that time, Belegar has dedicated his life to reclaiming Karak Eight Peaks. He proclaimed himself King and fortified his position, encamping his forces into the wreckage of the once-mighty surface structures of Karak Eight Peaks. There he remains, defiant and in a constant state of siege. From out of this slender foothold, the Dwarfs launch forays into the depths, bloody offensives intent on breaking their opponents' seemingly limitless armies, recapturing lower halls or seeking out lost treasures.
- Thorek Ironbrow - Thorek Ironbrow is a Runelord like unto those of legend. In the best of his moods, he is fiercely irate and a living terror to his apprentices in the weapons shops of Karak Azul, where he has ruled for centuries on end. A traditionalist in every sense, Thorek cannot abide new technology, and takes every opportunity to speak his mind on ‘new inventions’. Fortunately, he lends not just his council, but also his strong arm to Thorgrim Grudgebearer. Like his High King, Thorek too longs to reclaim the Dwarf Empire of old, but he also has a personal quest — he seeks lost relics of the ancient days. For this reason, Thorek is extremely active and can be found aiding throngs from many different clans and holds.
- Grimm Burloksson - Grimm Burloksson is the youngest Dwarf to pass the many rituals required to be named a Master Engineer. As the son of the Guildmaster Burlok Damminsson, it was always expected that he would follow in his father’s footsteps. Even as a beardling, Grimm exhibited all the signs of a skilled inventor; when other aspirants were still learning basic principles, he had already constructed a self-lighting pipe, a steam-powered beard-braider and a double-barrelled rifle that could kill a half-dozen greenskins with one shot.
- Alrik Ranulfsson - Alrik is the current King of Karak Hirn, and a heavy traditionalist even by Dwarf standards. King Alrik doesn't allow his armies to include more Thunderers than Quarrellers.
- Uthor - Uthor is known for his heroic attempt to retake the lost hold of Karak Varn with a force of only 300 Dwarfs against over 10,000 Skaven.
- Grombrindal - Grombrindal is a legendary dwarf that mysteriously appears when the battle goes badly for the side of the dwarfs and turns the table and give them victory and then disappears to be seen in another battle to guarantee the victory for the race of the dwarfs. It is theorised and revealed in the end times that he is the spirit of High King Snorri.
- Kragg the Grim - Kragg the Grim is perhaps the oldest Dwarf in the world, known far and wide as one of the best and wisest Runelords that ever existed. Creator of the Master Rune, Kragg has since settled down and currently resides in the ancient capital of Karaz-a-Karak.
- Gotri Hammerson - Gotri Hammerson was a fearsome warrior and master Runesmith. He rose to become one of the Dwarf's most vital leaders during the events of the End Times, acting as the representative of their race during the final years of the Old World.
- 1: Armybook: Dwarfs (8th Edition)
- 2: Armybook: Dwarfs (7th Edition)
- 3: Warhammer Rulebook (8th Edition)
- 3a: pg. 196
- 4: Dwarfs: Stone and Steel (Fantasy Roleplay Supplement)
- 5: White Dwarf (Issue #307)
- 5a: pg. 47
- 6: Tome of Salvation (Fantasy Roleplay)
- 7: Gotrek and Felix: Slayer (Novel) by David Guymer
- 7a: Chapter: "Kazad Drengazi"
- 8: Armybook: Dwarfs (6th Edition)
- 9: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (4th Edition)
- 9a: pg. 26