Songs of the Underdark
Relevance: Bogdan’s father is a Gold Dwarf artisan of the Brightblade Clan; his mother, a Shield Dwarf warrior of the McKnuckles Clan.
The ancestral home of the shield dwarves is in northern Faerun, where ancient dwarfholds exist in the North, Damara, lmpiltur, Vaasa, the Vast, and the Western Heartlands. The most famous of the old shield dwarf cities is Citadel Adbar, north and east of Silverymoon. Many of these dwarfholds have changed hands over the centuries in a cycle of invasion by enemies, followed by reconquest by the dwarves.
Living in a near-constant state of war for generations, shield dwarves are a hardy people, slow to trust, with long memories and often an equally long list of grievances against their ancient enemies. The more conservative among them want to maintain the traditions and remaining holdings of their people, isolated from the influence of outsiders and safe from invaders behind thick walls of stone. Shield dwarves of a more adventurous bent are interested in exploring the world and seeing what lies beyond the bounds of their ancient dwarfholds.
Their skin is usually fair, eyes green, hazel, or silver-blue, and they have brown, blond, or red hair. Full beards and mustaches are commonly seen on male shield dwarves.
Shield dwarves are renowned artisans, particularly in metal and stone. They tend to focus more on sturdiness in their craft than on the artistic flourishes and gilding favored by their gold dwarf cousins. Shield dwarf crafters build to last, and each one’s signature mark placed upon an enduring masterpiece serves as a way of gaining immortality.
Gold dwarves are common in the lands to the south and east. They are formidable warriors, proud of their long traditions, with strong ties to clan. They are gruff and haughty and have a love of fine craftsmanship and an eagerness to trade.
Significant settlements of gold dwarves exist in the Great Rift, the area surrounding the Dragon Coast, as well as in the Old Empires of eastern Faerun. Smaller communities are found in the Smoking Mountains, in the Giant’s Run Mountains, and the Western Heartlands.
Because they have not endured the same cycle of invasion and displacement, gold dwarves tend to be more optimistic than their shield dwarf cousins, but they’re still standoffish and prideful as only a dwarf can be. They believe their race’s stable history is the result of their attentiveness to tradition, and have little doubt that the future of the gold dwarves will be just as peaceful , if they remain true to their customs and principles.
They are stocky and muscular, averaging about 4 feet tall, with brown skin, black or brown hair, and brown or hazel eyes, with green eyes rare (and considered lucky). Males grow full beards that they keep oiled and well groomed, and both genders wear their hair long and often elaborately braided. Gold dwarves are best known for crafting beautiful objects. According to them, all the natural resources of the world exist for mortals to turn them into objects of great beauty. Gold dwarves don’t want the most of everything; they want the best. Their artisans toil over items for years, getting their etchings and fine details just right before being satisfied with their efforts.
That deliberate, perfectionist approach is a reflection of gold dwarf culture, in which there is a right and proper way to do everything. Tradition dictates every aspect of a gold dwarf’s life, from one’s place in society, to prospects for marriage, to what careers are acceptable. Gold dwarves who take up a life of adventuring, away from the clan, rarely forsake their traditions when doing so. Even though they might have to live as outsiders for a time, they hope to ultimately improve their standing in their society.