Worldbuilding: Dwarves!

Yesterday, I wrote about the things I think I'm probably going to screw up in the process of worldbuilding, and I summarized the races I hadn't already focused on.  Among them was the dwarves, to whom I devoted the smallest number of words.

  • Dwarves have underground cities, view magic apart from enchanting tools with suspicion, and part of their diet is a rocklike fungus that grows in veins throughout the north.

I didn't think that was very fair, so today's worldbuilding post is going to be all about dwarves -- about whom I know a lot more than where they live, what they eat, and their attitude towards magic.  (Okay, I don't really know much more than that, but what I know about that stuff I know in greater detail.)

Here's the part of the map that the dwarves live in:


It's cold, and drab, and not a lot lives there.  Like the trolls' crags, the waters near the open ocean are filled with wights.  However, technology being more deeply entrenched in dwarven culture than troll culture, complex mechanisms allow them to catch fish in bulk, at least among those who live nearer the oceans.

Dwarven civilization is very hierarchical, but not familial:  any dwarf has access to class mobility.  They're also not fundamentally capitalist:  while some kinds of possessions can be owned, no one is considered entitled to stay in possession of things they are in possession of now, especially if it's generally agreed that better use can be made of the things if distributed differently.

In later years, during globalization, dwarves participate in trade currency, which even begins to enter dwarven home life, but prior to globalization dwarves traded in goods, not capital.

I mentioned that dwarves are suspicious of magic outside of enchantment:  Dwarves take an essentialist view of the world, and believe magic, a kind of influence, needs to be anchored to a thing with an essence, or it will upset the balance of the world and bring chaos.  So, a pick axe may be enchanted to function better as a pick axe, but dwarves don't use magical force to mine as a force on its own.  It would also be extremely inappropriate to enchant an object to be better at something other than that object's natural use:  it would be an affront to nature to enchant a pick axe to heat water, or catch fish.

I intend to base dwarven spirituality off of Confuscianism and Daoism, as a pair of separate philosophies for good citizenship and spiritual understanding that both guide dwarven philosophy.  I haven't gone very far with that, yet.

Importantly, and I want to emphasize this as often as possible, these are just the broad strokes of dwarven society.  There will probably be at least one dwarven nation that has capital from the very beginning, varying levels of class mobility, varying levels of corruption, differences in approaches to the sacred texts.  There will likely be a dwarf society that's more like one of the elven societies than it is like the other dwarves.

There: Now they've had more than one sentence.  I'll probably not loop back to them again until I'm writing a story they show up in.