Like axe-bristling avalanches, dwarven legions surge across Agon's battlefields, neither wavering nor resting until victory is secured. At any stage in any battle, no matter how ridiculous the odds may be, dwarves believe - with unblinking certainty - that they will prevail through superior skill, rock-hewn strength and indomitable bravery.
Today, the dwarves are nearing the final page of the book of instructions, which is said to contain a special task that Ymir believed the dwarves would only be ready for after 20,000 years of preparation.
Grim-faced, iron-strong and unshakable in courage and convictions, dwarves are trueborn children of the mountains. They are an introspective and taciturn race who scorn all gods in preference of a multi-millennial path to perfection that was laid out by the legendary founder of their nation.
The dwarven homeland lies in the central northern part of Agon's main continent. Beyond its western borders lie the mahirim Tribelands, while the orkish nation of Morak lies to the east. To the northwest, across the storm-blasted Sarthan Sea, lies the ice continent of Niflheim, where dwarf clans have long struggled for supremacy with mahirim forces. Currently, however, all settlements on Niflheim face a grievous threat in the shape of Illgarm, a demon whose campaign of conquest seems unstoppable.
Dvergheim itself is a mountainous land, where glacier-fuelled rivers have carved narrow valleys through towering, snow-peaked massifs. Tall pines grow in the fertile valleys, which are farmed by the gnomes, a peaceful people who - by ancient accord - enjoy dwarven protection in exchange for produce.
Dvergheim's remote valleys are home to the svartdvergir, a group of dwarves who strayed from Ymir's Path and fell under the influence of a malevolent deity. Marrow-wrung and horribly changed by their sinister master, the svartdvergir are a threat to all who travel in Dvergheim's peripheries.
The dwarven capital lies within an enormous, dwarf-made cavern, deep under the jagged peaks of central Dvergheim. Its name derives from a huge rock formation in the center of the cave, where clusters of stalagmites and stalactites have joined to form a gargantuan, vaguely tear-shaped pillar that reaches all the way from floor to ceiling. A tamed river encircles Ymir's Tear, driving the wheels of its forges and factories.
To remind the dwarves that their final destiny lay outside their underground fastnesses, Ymir decreed that that the night sky be recreated in the ceiling over the capital. Almost 20,000 years later, luminous gems and crystal formations still shine over Ymir's Tear, accurately depicting the night sky as it was in Ymir's day.
Near Ymir's Tear lie three villages in which dwarven adventurers start their careers. Hammerdelve to the north is a heavily fortified army stronghold that lies in the middle of a scenic mountain lake. A river of lava runs through Valfather's Edge to the southeast, and its forges are the only place in the world where the famous dwarven Ildhammers may be made. Eirhjelm to the west is famous for both its rich mines and its beautiful scenery.
Culture and religion
The dwarves follow the teachings of Ymir, a legendary mastersmith who forged many of Dvergheim's greatest wonders, as well as the nation itself. Ymir spent his final years writing a book that laid out a detailed, step by step plan for the next 20,000 years of dwarven civilization. Ymir's teachings told the dwarves what to strive for, what to practice and what to create, and he told them how and when they should approach each task.
Ymir's goal was to create a perfect race and a perfect nation for them to live in. Today, the dwarves are nearing the final page of the book of instructions, which is said to contain a special task that Ymir believed the dwarves would only be ready for after 20,000 years of preparation.
At this critical juncture in Dvergheim's history, a young and energetic king is challenging the traditional interpretations of Ymir's teachings. Although this is almost unthinkable, some even whisper that King Sigurd Greyfell questions the very teachings themselves.
Movers and shakers
Players may choose to immerse themselves in a nation-shaking series of events that take place as the dwarves enter the final phase of their racial mission. Primarily, players participate through quests given by six powerful factions that dominate Dvergheim society.
The mastersmiths of the Mithril Forge have long been the power behind Dvergheim's throne. The present king, however, has moved the kingdom in a more technocratic direction, focusing on feats of engineering and on improving the bureaucracy. This means that power is drifting away from the Mithril Forge, and they deeply resent that fact.
The Voice of Ymir is a sprawling bureaucracy dedicated to ensuring that Ymir's commands are interpreted correctly, and that the dwarves stay on his Path. Currently, the Voice is being hijacked by the ambitious King Sigurd, who secretly cares little for the Path, but who wishes to use the bureaucracy (and its large corps of engineers) for his own purposes.
The Order of the Axe are knights sworn to removing all obstacles to the racial progress of the dwarves. The agents of this semi-official Order also deal with rogue dwarves, and they are frequently sent on missions behind enemy lines.
Oldest and wealthiest of the dwarven merchant houses, the Five Beards Trading Company sends traders, explorers and caravans to all but the most obscure and dangerous of Agon's regions. For centuries, Five Beards has enjoyed a near monopoly on trade with Ymir's Tear, but in recent years, King Sigurd has opened up the market for competition. As a result, Five Beards is looking for new markets in which to profit.
What makes the dwarves special?
Nature has endowed the dwarves with enough physical endurance to match their mental tenacity. They have an aptitude for forgecraft, and dwarven mastersmiths create some of Agon's finest weapons and suits of armor. Only dwarven smiths have mastered the art of making the Ildhammer, a runebound magical weapon that primarily consists of ever-molten lava.
Dwarves ride massive, muscle-bound mountain beasts called garmir, which are larger, fiercer cousins of musk oxen. Garmir fight by raising their heads and bodies up to gain momentum before hammering down onto the enemy. The dwarves enhance this attack by attaching thick iron plates to the garmir's bone forehead plates.
Though they tend towards isolationism, the dwarves maintain cordial relations with the mirdain and friendly relations with the humans, who they respect for their industry, ambition and initiative. Dwarves may form or join clans that also include members of these two races.
How dwarves see the world
"Celestial dragons in Yssam; Illgarm's conquests in Niflheim; and the rise of that damnable mage Synochus in the heartland... What goes on beyond Dvergheim's borders shouldn't concern us overmuch. We must maintain an ironclad focus on Ymir's Path."
- Halvgeir Icecrown, Voice of Ymir bureaucrat
"We act as one, work as one, and strike against our enemies like a single, unstoppable storm blast from the mountains. The strength of the dwarves comes from our monolithic, eternal unity."
- Sigthor Grimshield, Order of the Axe knight
"They may be an arrogant bunch of pointy-eared poseurs, but the mirdain are valuable, battle-proven allies of the dwarves. Though they prance about in forests during peacetime - pollinating flowers or whatever it is they do - the mirdain can always be trusted to act swiftly and decisively against our shared enemies."
- Ingard Stonehand, smith of the Mithril Forge
"The humans are sometimes led astray by the manipulations and cod-prophetic cacklings of their much too powerful priests. That said, they are an industrious and resourceful race, whose formidable armies are Agon's second strongest bulwark against evil. When a large group of Mercian knights thunders across the battlefield - hundreds of pounding hooves raising an infernal roar - it is almost enough to impress a dwarf."
- Ragnar Winterward, Royal Army officer
How others see the dwarves:
"The dwarves have achieved much through sheer, bone-headed perseverance, but now is the time to lay down that pickaxe and think things through. Already valuable allies, their battlefield performance would improve further if they assumed their natural place in the chain of command - as brave soldiers led by brainier, more tactically astute mirdain officers."
- Ilitha Duskheart, Mirdain diplomat
"For thousands of years, the dwarves have obediently followed the schemes of history's greatest control freak. They bring that same unthinking, bloody-minded determination to the battlefield, and a dwarven legion is a force to be feared by anyone. As individuals, dwarves are honest, fearless and utterly dependable. I would trust my dwarven clanmates with my life."
- Withgar Ashgate, human clan leader
"Filthy maggots who have crawled out from under some northern rock. The dwarves are pathetically naïve bearded morons, who will be outflanked, out-maneuvered and outfought by the alfar as we cleanse the world of their sweaty presence."
- Khaldak Deepspire, alfar warrior
"The dwarf is good in a crowd, but separate him from his flock and he becomes quivering prey, ripe to be butchered by physically superior mahirim warriors."
- Anyna the Black, mahirim huntress
"Oops, I didn't see you there, little fellow. Dwarves always make me laugh with their angry faces and stunted, hairy bodies. Magnin... Maganimou... Nice in victory, we will allow the surviving dwarves to slave in our mines after the Big Burning."
- Tolkun Breakskull, orkish slavemaster