The dwarven race is widespread across Tolrea. Unlike most other races, most dwarves share a culture because the rise of the Aureshan Empire hit the dwarven kingdoms more gently than the elves; unlike most elves, the dwarves were living in fortified enclaves that were difficult to conquer outright. The Aureshan Empire still absorbed the dwarven petty kingdoms, but it took longer, and the terms were more favorable to the dwarves. As a result, their culture was not assimilated as thoroughly as the elves’ was.
Although some dwarves have adopted human religious practices, many still worship the three gods of their ancestors, whom they consider co-creators of their race. This trio of deities whom the dwarves term the Stone Lords is a distillation of the qualities which the dwarves count as virtues. Most dwarves worship all three of the Stone Lords, and clerics who serve these gods jointly are common. Such priests can choose from any of the domains possessed by a member of the pantheon.
Most dwarves revere their ancestors and history, but do not engage in ancestor worship as such. A dwarf is more likely to honor a powerful or famous ancestor by emulating his predecessor’s deeds and ideals than by offering religious devotions in the way that some elves and many humans prefer to do. Dwarven religious practices tend to be extremely simple, and prayer services are often twined into basic aspects of daily life—among the Stout Folk, a muttered prayer to Deren is customary when lighting a forge or hearth, a thumb might trace Hruth’s holy symbol on the devotee’s forehead as he or she tries to call to mind an elusive memory or fact, and a miner might press his forehead to a stone wall in silent homage to Gofon before beginning to swing his pick. More elaborate ceremonies exist, but they cluster around important occasions in a dwarf’s life—birth, death, marriage, warfare, and the choosing of a craft or profession all have their rituals.
The Stone Lords are:
Titles: Flame-Lord, Raver
Portfolio: Fire, luck, passion, warfare
Domains: Chaos, Fire, Luck, War
Holy Symbol: A double-bladed axe
Favored Weapon: Dwarven waraxe
The dwarves’ god of unstable things—fire, luck, strong emotions, and combat being chief among them in the dwarfish conception of the universe—is Deren Flame-Lord, called the Raver. He is the destructive balance to Gofon’s nurturing, and the spontaneous answer to Hruth’s order and laws. It is inaccurate to say that Deren is the embodiment of all that dwarves find worrisome; although dwarven culture as a whole emphasizes planning over spontaneity, reserve over emotion, and building over destruction, the areas which Deren oversees are of vital importance to the dwarven race—without passion, there will be no marriages to produce the next generation of dwarves, and without spontaneity, creativity and inspiration are impossible. Dwarves value Deren’s gifts at the same time that they are continually wary of the price exacted for their misuse.
The Raver is the especial patron of barbarians, warriors, and lovers amongst the dwarves. As King Gorthram of Merethrone’s reforms have begun to establish a bardic tradition amongst the dwarves of the Mereflow Valley, Deren has become a popular figure with its proponents. Elsewhere, clerics of Deren are often complex individuals whose concern with warfare is lightened by their duties as matchmakers responsible for bringing young dwarves together in romance.
Titles: Father, Lord of Love
Portfolio: Community, mining, protection, sacrifice
Domains: Good, Earth, Healing, Protection
Holy Symbol: A crescent moon
Favored Weapon: Heavy pick
Gofon the Father is the guardian of the dwarven race. Although most dwarves consider it nothing more than allegory, legend has it that Gofon sacrificed his body to give the dwarves a home—the very stone they live in is the flesh of the Lord of Love, and the gems and metals they mine are his bones and blood, and the dwarves themselves are said to be created from his body. More concretely, the Father is the patron of all that draws dwarves together, standing preeminent in matters of family and community. He is the patron of all dwarves who sacrifice their lives for the good of their fellows, and watches over those who guard the halls of the Stout Folk. A substantial number of paladins choose to serve Gofon. Miners, smiths, and midwives are also frequently numbered amongst his devotees.
Portfolio: Law, justice, knowledge, strength
Domains: Good, Law, Knowledge, Strength
Holy Symbol: A hammer
Favored Weapon: Warhammer
Hruth Lawgiver is the dwarven embodiment of law’s rule. He is the most visibly dwarf-like of the Stone Lords in the eyes of outsiders, since the average dwarf is intensely private about the matters which are governed by his brothers. When the dwarves were created, it was he who conceived the idea for them, and planned out the race’s destiny. Despite his foresight and vision, dwarven myth and legend portrays Hruth as somewhat inflexible, and his initial plans for the dwarves’ creation failed until his wild brother, Deren Fire-Lord, infused the first dwarf man and woman with a little of his disorder, giving them true life and free will.
Hruth’s patronage is especially important to authority figures in dwarven culture, such as the nobility, judges, and scholars. Any task which requires planning, judgment, and knowledge is likely to begin with an invocation to the Lawgiver. Paladins, monks, and other orderly warriors frequently opt to devote themselves primarily to him instead of Deren.