Dwarves are sometimes referred to as Children of the Stone, an apt description for this hardy race, tough and immovable as the rugged hills and mountain ranges that they live either on or under. While they are renowned for being gruff and short tempered, they are also fiercely loyal. It is said that a Dwarf never forgets a kindness shown to them, nor a grievance. This makes them a valuable friend and ally, but also an implacable foe.
Physically they appear much shorter than the average human, but typically possessing the same mass. This makes them well muscled and broad of shoulder, renowned their strength and stamina, with a tendency toward slow movement and clumsiness at times. They often have a propensity for rotund bellies, though this could simply be due to their unquenchable thirst for ale and mead (or any kind of strong drink). Thick beards are prevalent among males, and usually have a strong cultural significance as well, being a sign of adulthood, courage, wisdom, and experience. You can learn much about a Dwarf from the braids in his beard, as they often represent a significant moment in their life such as a victorious battle or grand discovery. Even among Dwarven females, facial hair is common, though it is often trimmed or swept up into extravagant braided hair styles.
Dwarven lifespans are still considerably shorter than the long-lived Elves, but generally they live two to three times longer than humans. This gives them ample time to perfect their trades, and as such Dwarven craftsmanship is highly prized, particularly when it comes to metal and stone works. Ever a pragmatic race, their designs are predictable, following sturdy geometric patterns and valuing function over form.
With a natural affinity for the earth, Dwarves often make their homes underground, carving vast pillared halls and grand underground highways as they delve deeper into the earth in search of highly coveted precious metals and gemstones. Tales abound of hidden mines and long forgotten caches of untold riches beneath the mountains, drawing greedy adventurers below ground in search of the fabled wealth of the Dwarves. Of course none are as greedy as the Dwarves themselves, for as a race they are often born with an uncanny lust for all that glitters and sparkles. In some cases this has proven disastrous; as they delve deep they sometimes uncover the dens of vile subterranean creatures, or release unspeakable horrors from long forgotten prisons, or even unearth the leftover anomalies from the formation of the Realm of Strife, known as the Shards of Creation.
With vast kingdoms and empires beneath the surface, Dwarves are mistakenly assumed to be isolationists. This is not necessarily the case for their cultures’ thrive on trade with outside world. Merchants are the most likely to be found above ground, though entire Dwarven communities exist on the surface, for it is certainly much simpler to grow food and hunt game there. Having spent so much time underground, Dwarves have also developed a limited form of infravision that allows them some capability to see in the dark, a highly valuable skill for underground expeditions when a failing torch could mean certain death for other races. However, living with the constant presence of a rocky ceiling overhead does cause some Dwarves to be fearful of the sky when traveling above ground. While this is viewed humorously by surface dwelling races, a profound fear of falling endlessly upwards into the great blue void of the sky is considered to be very reasonable for a respectable Dwarf.
While some would mock the Dwarves for their stature and strange ways, few can deny their wealth, influence, and power, particularly on the Continent of Gant. There the Dwarven Clans of the Spineback Mountains have forged a mighty underground nation known as the Kingdom of Angveldt, where all clans pledge unwavering loyalty to the High King.
By comparison, the Dwarves of the continent of Gant are much diminished. Having once thrived both above and below the surface of Eastern Gant, they are now typically found living under the banner of the City-State of Ralgor. Even in Gant the Dwarves are undeniably powerful, for Ralgor is one of only a few City-States that was able to stand on its own through all the trials and tribulations that have shaped the lands.
In both continents, isolated clans of Hill Dwarves can be found. These Dwarves are said to be exiles from the mountains; whether this was a self-imposed exile or the outcome of losing some ancient war of the clans is highly subjective. As Dwarves are prone to holding grudges, it is best to avoid the topic altogether when visiting a Hill Dwarf community.
Age: Though maturing at roughly the same rate as Humans, Dwarves are considered young until reaching the age of 50. Their average natural life span is between 300-400 years and elderly Dwarves are revered among their own kind for their wisdom and experience.
Size: Most Dwarves stand between 4 and 5 feet tall and count as Medium sized creatures. Despite their shorter stature, males and females both weigh around 150lbs on average with dense muscles and broad shoulders.
Physical Features: Hair and skin tones among Dwarves typically match the varieties of earth tones found in their homelands. Their hair grows long and thick, most often worn in braids. Males highly prize facial hair and see it as a sign of wisdom and maturity. Dwarves possess broad faces, thick brows, bulbous noses and strong jawlines, if they can ever be seen beneath their beards. While Dwarves typically appear perpetually dour or grumpy, many claim that its simply just their face that looks that way.
Languages: Most Dwarves are educated enough to speak, read, and write both Common and Dwarven. Their are many regional dialects within the Dwarven language, however they share the same ancestry and as such Dwarves from different clans and settlements can converse easily.
Affinity: Dwarves have a racial affinity for Earth magic (+5% Critical Cast Chance)
Resistant to: Arcane (+10), Elemental (+15)
Initial Gold: varies by class from 122.5 to 323.8
Even smaller than Dwarves, though sharing many of the racial traits, Gnomes are an eccentric race whose creativity and imagination know no limits. Unfortunately this more often than not results in catastrophe, keeping their numbers low and making it difficult to truly thrive as a race on their own. Typically they are found living among Dwarven communities, where they are tolerated in an almost endearing manner.
Age: Though their lifespans are very similar to their Dwarven cousins, Gnomes rarely die of natural causes and instead average around 200 years before they meet some gloriously explosive end. In theory, a gnome that lacks creativity could live upwards 350 years. From a practical stand point they are considered adults at age 40, allowing them to get the distracting duty of child rearing out of the way before they hit their creative prime at around 100 years old.
Size: Gnomes typically stand around 3 feet tall and count as a Small sized creature. Though not as densely muscled as Dwarves, male Gnomes are surprisingly heavy for their height, averaging around 100 lbs. Female Gnomes are slighter of frame than males and average around 80 lbs.
Physical Features: While sharing the same earthy skin tones as Dwarves, their hair is often dyed bright colors and either extravagantly styled or completely unkempt and sticking out at impossible angles. Unlike Dwarves, their facial features are less squarish and more angular, with narrow chins, sharp brows, and pointed ears that stick out almost sideways. Gnomes are said to be perpetually optimistic and they wear this on their face, with bright eyes and a constant grin. Its said that Gnomes all together lack the ability to frown.
Languages: Gnomes prize knowledge above all things and as such are typically very well educated. They speak, read, and write Common and Gnomish. The Gnomish language bears some similarities to Dwarven and many Gnomes are fluent in both languages. In written form Gnomish borrows the same script from their Dwarven cousins (without any of that unnecessary punctuation of course).
Affinity: Gnomes have a racial affinity for both Common Arcane and Earth magic (+5% Critical Hit Chance)
Resistant to: Arcane (+5), Elemental (+10)
Initial Gold: varies by class from 126.0 to 259.0