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In Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy fictional universe, the Dwarfs are a race of short, stout humanoids very similar to the dwarves of Middle-earth and those of Dungeons & Dragons. Dwarfs in the Warhammer setting are proud warriors highly driven by honor, the making of oaths, and the recording of slights against them as grudges.
- 1 History
- 2 Timeline
- 3 Homeland
- 4 Physical characteristics
- 5 Magic
- 6 Other characteristics
- 7 The Dwarf Army
- 8 Chaos Dwarves
- 9 Beliefs and mythology
- 10 Notable Dwarf characters
- 11 Technology
- 12 Army tactics
- 13 References
(This is the in-game history of the Dwarf race)
There are no written records of the earliest years of the Dwarfs history, though legend states that the first Dwarfs migrated northwards from their southern ancestral homes along the World Edge Mountains, following open veins of ore and tunnelling into the mountains in search of gold, iron and gemstones. As they progressed, many clans built fortified settlements and mines called holds around the richest deposits. Eventually they reached the northern most edge of the mountains - the majority turned back, while some ventured north-west into the lands that would become Norsca and others turned east and crossed the Great Skull Land (these would eventually become the Chaos Dwarves during the Coming of Chaos).
It was written in the Great Book of Grudges that a time of great calamity fell when the storms of Chaos erupted across the Old World from the far north, colouring the sky, splitting the earth and tearing apart the mountains themselves. It was also in this period that the great Ancestor Gods emerged - Grungni, Grimnir and Valaya - who helped lead the Dwarfs to safety by leading them to dig deep under the mountains to escape the storm ravaging the world above. After the catastrophe of the Coming of Chaos, the Dwarfs emerged to find their world changed and warped. Mutated Beastmen roamed freely throughout the land, slaying everyone in their path. Warriors of the Chaos Gods murdered and pillaged at will, and Daemons created nightmare realms, enslaving entire tribes and peoples. The sheer power of Chaos threatened the entire world with eventual destruction.
To battle against such enemies, Grungni forged the first weapons and armour, while teaching the Dwarfs the skills of metalworking, smelting and mining. He also forged the first magical runes, capturing the wild winds of magic and harnessing their power into them, creating even more potent weapons, axes and hammers, as well as runes that gave runic protection into armour and talismans. He armed Grimnir with two mighty axes and armour harder than the bones of mountains, and he and his first Runesmiths armed the rest of the Dwarf race. Soon after, they marched forth from their stronghold and battled against Chaos, where Grimnir slew many deamons and Valaya protected them from the dark magics of their foes. Though they could not fully destroy the forces against them, they drove them from their mountain homes and defended them from further onslaught.
Soon after their re-emergence and battles with Chaos, the Dwarfs encountered the High Elves of Ulthuan. An army led by Grimnir, as they were chasing a marauder warband into the lowlands, met a fleet of Elven warships led by the mage Caledor Dragontamer, who had been blown off course while searching the Old World for clues as to the source of Chaos. Though uncertain of each other, the armies combined to defeat a fresh onslaught by Chaos forces, the spells of Caledor working in conjunction with the axe-work of Grimnir. During the aftermath, the Dwarves learnt from the Elves of the wars in their homeland and their vast struggle against the magic of Chaos, while the Elves learnt of the great storm that erupted from north. Realising that a Chaos Gate had opened at the polar north, Caledor began to devise a plan to trap the power of Chaos in a vast vortex, and returned to Ulthuan to plan his endeavour. Grimnir, upon learning of the Chaos Gate from Caledor, decided to journey northwards and close the gate himself. Though Grungni and Valaya warned him such an endeavour might not succeed and he would surely die, Grimnir replied it was worth the risk. Shaving his hair and beard except for a mohawk, he gave one of his mighty axes to his son Morgrim and journeyed northwards to close the Gate. He was never seen again and his fate remains unknown, even as Caledor's plan succeeded in trapping the power of Chaos and banishing it to the dark corners of the world.
Soon after this victory, Grungni and Valaya vanished, with many saying they had returned to the mountains awaiting the day the dwarf race would need them most. With the defeat of Chaos, the Dwarfs prospered and expanded all across the World Edge Mountains, establishing mighty strongholds and vast passageways beneath the earth. As the Elves returned to the Old World and established their colonies along the coast and in the forests, trade flowed between the two races and strong bonds of friendship grew between them.
The War of Vengeance
The War of Vengeance was the Dwarf name given to cataclysmic war that erupted between the Dwarfs and the High Elves. Though the two races had enjoyed peace and prosperity with each other for over a thousand years, the Elves’ increasing colonisation of the Old World, in conjunction with apprehensions and mistrust amongst several of the dwarf kings and leaders, began to create tensions between the two civilisations, though many endeavoured to maintain the alliance. The first sparks of the war were begun when Dark Elves, under the orders of Malekith, began attacking Dwarf colonies and trading parties in disguise as High Elves, culminating in the slaughter of Agrin Fireheart, one of the most ancient Runelords of the Dwarf race and the Runelord of Barak Varr. High King Gotrek Starbreaker, though a strong proponent of continuing friendship with the Elves, soon exhausted all attempts at peace and reconciliation both with the elves and amongst the more warlike of his fellow kings (including his own son Snorri Halfhand). As a final act to prevent conflict, he sent his most skilled ambassadors to demand recompenses from the High Elves for the attacks and losses the dwarfs had suffered, but the arrogant Phoenix King Caledor II, after hearing news of the destruction of the city of Kor Vanaeth by Snorri Halfhand (acting against his father Gotrek and in conjunction with the kings of Barak Varr and Zhufbar) seized the ambassadors and shaved off their beards in anger. To lose one's beard is the ultimate insult and shame to a Dwarf - thus the war that followed was known as the War of the Beard to the Elves while the Dwarves, not to take such things lightly, called it the War of Vengeance.
After 437 years of continuous battle, the war culminated in the seventeenth and final siege of the Elf city of Tor Alessi. After several hours of fighting in single combat, High King Gotrek Starbreaker killed Caledor II, thus ending the war. He took the Phoenix Crown as recompense, where it remains in Karaz-a-Karak. As the remaining High Elves prepared to launch a suicidal attack on the Karaz Ankor, news reached them that the Dark Elves had attacked their homeland, thus forcing them to withdraw and shattering the Elven empire in the Old World. Those elves who chose to remain became the Wood Elves.
The Time of Woes
The Time of the Goblin Wars
The Birth of the Empire
The Present Day (Imperial Year 2523)
(All dates are told using the Warhammer Fantasy Imperial Calendar)
- -4500 = The Time of the Ancestor Gods. No written records of these times survive, but legend relates that the Dwarfs began their slow colonization of the Worlds Edge Mountains about the year -5000. This age came to a close with the coming of Chaos, the disappearance of the Ancestor God Grimnir into the Chaos Wastes, and the disappearance of the other Ancestor Gods shortly afterwards. Dwarf tradition holds that Grimnir closed the mighty Chaos Gate after battling with the Chaos gods, thereby saving the world from certain doom. Shortly before Grimnir's disappearance, the Dwarfs and High Elves meet for the first time, and friendly relations are established between the two races.
- -4119 = Snorri Whitebeard, High King of the Dwarfs, and Malekith of the High Elves combine their mighty armies and finally drive out the last remnants of Chaos from the Old World. Afterwards, trade between the Dwarves and Elves flourishes and the Dwarfs establish many new strongholds.
- -2839 = The High Elf Phoenix King visits the newly founded Dwarf stronghold of Karaz-a-Karak where he is made welcome by the venerable Snorri Whitebeard. The two kings seal an oath of friendship, and Malekith remains in Karaz-a-Karak as his king's ambassador. For a while, Elves and Dwarfs prosper, until the Elves are drawn back to Ulthuan where civil strife is tearing their land apart.
- -2188 = After many centuries, the Elves return once more to the Old World. The Dwarfs learn of the civil war amongst the Elves and the treachery of Malekith. The two races begin to trade again, and Dwarf craftsmanship reaches new height of accomplishment.
- -2005 = The Great Betrayal mars the relationship of the two races. Dwarf traders are ambushed and murdered, Dwarf settlements are plundered and honest Dwarf craftsmen are cheated of their gold. The Dwarves believe the High Elves are to blame, when the attackers are in fact Dark Elf raiders sent by Malekith to sow dissent between the two races. Many Elves are soon slain by Dwarf travellers believing themselves under attack, to which the High Elves respond in kind. Preparations for war are made.
- -2000 = The hold of Karak Zorn sends word that it has come into conflict with a large force of Lizardmen. No contact is heard soon afterwards.
The Dwarf homeland is primarily the World Edge Mountains of the "Old World", which they inhabited since the earliest days of their recorded history. Their original homeland was located in the mountains of the Southlands, but they migrated northwards in search of new veins and minerals to mine, gradually settling in the World Edge Mountains. At their peak, their lands encompassed nearly the entirety of the World Edge Mountains, in addition to settlements in the Grey and Black Mountains and many smaller hill settlements in the lands of what would become the Empire. However, their pyrrhic victory in the War of Vengeance, combined with the vast destruction of the Time of Woes and the onslaught of the Goblin Wars, caused the loss of several holds along with hundreds of smaller settlements and mines. The Dwarf name for their homeland is the Karaz Ankor - the everlasting realm.
There are currently nine holds where the Dwarfs still rule:
- Karaz-a-Karak - the biggest, oldest and most fortified Dwarf stronghold and the ancient capital city of the Dwarf race. In the tongues of Men, it can be translated as Pinnacle of Mountains or The Most Enduring; to many, it is known as Everpeak. The lord of Karaz-a-Karak is the High King of all the Dwarfs and his lineage stretches back to the Ancestor Gods themselves. The city has never fallen to an invader and is known for its adherence to tradition and ritual; the main temples to Grungni, Grimnir and Valaya were built here as is the colossal throne room of the High King, which is dominated by a forest of stone pillars which stretches over a mile along its nave. The current High King is Thorgrim Grudgebearer.
- Karak Kadrin - known as the 'Stronghold of the Pass'. This hold is situated south of Peak Pass which in ancient times allowed the Dwarves greater ease of travel between the western and eastern edge of the World Edge Mountains; this declined in importance after the Dwarfs abandoned the eastern edge during the Time of the Goblin Wars. Now the Dwarfs guard the pass against marauding tribes of Orcs and Goblins who travel through on their way to the Empire and Kislev. Though it has been besieged many times it has never fallen, and remains a wealthy centre for trade. The most famous characteristic of the hold is that it is the home of the Slayer cult; within its walls dwells the Shrine of the Slayers, where the names and deeds of all Slayers are kept and remembered. The lord of Karak Kadrin is known as the Slayer King, as he and his predecessors are bound both by their desire to seek out a glorious death against the forces of darkness, but must also honour their duty to their kinsfolk; they balance this problem by acting as the patrons of the Shrine, which also worships the Ancestor God Grimnir, known as the first Slayer. The current Slayer King is Ungrim Ironfist.
- Zhufbar - known as the 'Torrent Gate'. This hold is located around a deep chasm and by a vast waterfall which runs to the Black Water lake. Around the waterfall, the dwarfs have constructed thousands of water wheels and forges to help smelt ore and build new weaponry. It is the principal shrine of the Engineer's Guild and is famous for the quality of its war machines. In the past, the gromril of Karak Varn was smelted here and forged into powerful armour and weapons. The current king is Baraudin Stoneheart.
- Karak Azul - known as 'Iron Peak'. This hold is located in the south of the World Edge Mountains, and is the only southern hold still ruled by the Dwarfs. Within its lands lies the richest deposits of iron ore in the whole mountain range, as well as other rich veins of other minerals and gemstones. It is known as a centre of metalworking and for its weaponsmiths, who forge some of the most powerful weapons of the Dwarfs, which it supplies to many of the other holds. The current ruler is King Kazador.
- Karak Hirn - known as the 'Hornhold'. This hold is located in the Black Mountains, and its name derives from an especially large cavern which, when the wind blows through, creates sounds like a mighty warhorn. Over the years, the dwarfs have built chambers and doors to create different sound effects. It is a smaller and younger hold, founded later after the great settlements of the World Edge Mountains, and has only limited quantities of veins and minerals to mine. The current king is Alrik Ranulfsson.
- Karak Norn - this hold lies in the Grey Mountains, above the forest of Athel Loren. It is a small and somewhat poor hold, with very few mineral deposits and veins, all of which are hard to mine. Like with Karak Hirn and Karak Izor, it has grown in importance since the Time of the Goblin Wars, as many dwarves come to live in its isolated lands, though likewise many young dwarves from the hold journey eastwards to become prospectors and miners.
- Karak Izor - known as 'Copper Mountain' in the tongues of Men. It is located near the Vaults at the junction between the Black and Grey mountain ranges, where there are many deep valleys and inaccessible peaks. Despite its isolation, there are many rich lodes of iron, copper, tin and other metals, and as such it has some of the deepest mine workings outside of the World Edge Mountains. Many of the Dragonback Dwarves came to inhabit these lands after the loss of Dragonback Crag and the mines of Ekrund, where they use the seclusion to work and plan their return.
- Barak Varr - known as the 'Gateway to the Sea'. This hold is located in the lands of the Border Princes and is unique as the only Dwarf hold built by the sea. It is built deep into the vast caves and cliffs where the Howling River joins the Black Gulf. It is the principal trading hold of the Dwarves, remaining open to trade all throughout the centuries and enabling the dwarves to enjoy a more cosmopolitan lifestyle to many other holds. Merchants from all over the world come to both trade for dwarven items, and enjoy dwarven hospitality. It is also the home of the Dwarf navy, which houses the powerful steam and paddle-driven Ironclads and Dreadnoughts. The current ruler is King Byrrnoth.
- Kraka Drak - this hold is located far to the north in the lands of Norsca. It is a highly isolated hold, inhabited by the Norse Dwarfs. Though dwarf by blood, they are seen as very different by the other dwarfs of the Old World, with different speech, customs and attributes. One of the most well-known of these differences is their 'Beserkers' - warriors who are similar to Slayers in their utter determination for battle, but who drink powerful beers to imbue them with somewhat suicidal tendencies and enhanced strength.
- Beginning during the Time of Woes and continuing throughout the Time of the Goblin Wars and ever since, there have been ten holds that have fallen to the Goblins, Skaven and forces of Chaos:
- Karak Ungor - known as the 'Delving Hold'. This hold is located to the north-east of Karak Kadrin, built upon a great natural fault line in the earth. Vast seams and veins of minerals, gems and precious metals reside in the earth beneath the hold, and as such the dwarves built the deepest and most expansive network of mines and workings throughout the whole of the World Edge Mountains. However, such was the extent that they dug that eventually even they lost track of the entire layout and numbers of their mines. In the immediate aftermath of the Time of Woes, in the Imperial Year -1500, after suffering extensive damage in the huge earthquakes, the Night Goblins invaded the lower workings and abandoned mines, eventually driving upwards and overwhelming the Dwarfs before they could organise their defence. After the Dwarves were forced to abandon the hold, it was fully taken over and renamed Red Eye Mountain. At the current moment, it is the home of the Black Orc warlord Grimgor Ironhide.
- Karak Varn - known as the 'Stronghold of Lake enclosed by Mountains'.
- Mount Gunbad
- Mount Silverspear
- Karak Eight Peaks - known as the 'Queen of the Silver Peaks'.
- Karak Azgal/Karak Izril - now known as the 'Hoard Peak'; formally known as the 'City of Jewels'.
- Karak Drazh - known to both Dwarves and other races as 'Black Crag'.
- Karak Vlag
- Karak Dum
There is also the lost hold of Karak Zorn, considered to be the very first Dwarf settlement. Located in the mountains of the Southlands, it is fabled as a highly wealthy settlement, with towering zigurats made of gold. However, all contact with the hold was lost around the Imperial Year -2000, with the last messages being of large armies of Lizardmen attacking the city. Any expedition that has set out to find the city has never returned.
Dwarfs are on average a good deal shorter than either Men or Elves of the Warhammer world, making them ideally suited to the tunnels in which they live and work (the average dwarf being estimated to be at approximately 4'5"-5'0"). They are immensely strong and resilient, with bodies seemingly purpose-built for manual labour, with solidly formed muscles, broad-shoulders and large thick fingered hands that are capable of considerable manual dexterity. This physical toughness allows them to carry heavy loads and endure many hardships and work for long lengths of time without tiring.
Dwarfs are a very long-lived race with life-spans that can run into centuries, or rare occasions even into a millennium. As a dwarf becomes older so his beard becomes longer and thicker. Since dwarves have a deep inbuilt respect for age it would be unthinkable for a dwarf to cut off or even trim their beards. Like the Orcs, dwarfs appear to become stronger the older they get, but unlike the Orcs, there appears to be a breaking point where their general health rapidly declines, always happening just a few years before the dwarf dies of old age.
Female dwarfs are very rarely seen outside dwarf realms which has led many people to believe that dwarf males can give birth or that dwarf women have beards. However they are fairly similar to their male counterparts in that they are broad shouldered and heavily built, but instead of long beards they have long hair wound into similar braids, worn beneath the helmet which they treasure as greatly as males do their beards.
In terms of mental ability, Dwarfs are incredibly determined. They are supremely confident in the values and virtues of their civilisation, and openly scorn the achievements of other races. Their mental strength, in combination with their physical abilities, makes them steadfast fighters who will often fight to the last rather than admit defeat or run away.
The Dwarfs have little knowings of magic as it is practiced by Elves and Men, as well as having no wizards. They distrust, and even loathe, the chaotic power and unpredicitability of magic in its usual forms;the general consensus is that magic is too erratic and volatile to fool around with, let alone rely on in battle.
However, Dwarfs do place considerable emphasis on embedding magic within certain items through their skills of craftmanship. In particular weaponry, such as axes, hammers, shields, and armour suits, can be enhanced through their knowledge of rune lore and the skill of runesmithing, through which magic is entrapped into a rune and placed upon an object. The Dwarves who practice this skill are the Runesmiths, under the influence of the Runesmiths Guild. Aspiring Runesmiths will spend many decades as an apprentice to a Runelord who will gradually teach them to inscribe items with runic symbols and powers, for runes are often expensive and take years to make, even for the most experienced Runesmiths.
The most powerful magical device the Dwarfs possess are the Anvils of Doom. These devices were forged many thousands of years ago under the guidance of the Ancestor Gods, and only the most skilled Runelords can even attempt to use them. When used, they are capable of wreaking devastating magical destruction upon any foe foolish enough to challenge the Dwarfs in battle. Magical stones are placed upon the anvil and runic symbols are hammered into them which results in astonishing elemental power that can be directed against the Dwarfs foe or add to the dwarves' battle prowess.
Gold fever For some unknown reasons, dwarves have a strong attraction to gold. Dwarfs will seek to amass gold, even to the point of acting unreasonably (such as refusing to abandon gold in order to save their lives). The exception to this refusal to leave gold is any gold that is going to be buried (such as by a cave in). As far as a Dwarf is concerned, any gold that is "lost" underground is as easy to regain as a coin dropped in the street. This addiction is sometimes called "gold lust."
Gromril What most people do not know is that the Dwarf's true favourite metal is Gromril, a fictional metal which is said to be harder than diamond. The Dwarfs take this metal much more seriously than Gold and only Royalty, Generals and the Legendary Ironbreakers can afford to have it as their armour. In Warhammer, where "Armour Saves" that are taken after a model takes a wound are governed by a roll of a die, Gromril Armour lets the Character survive on a roll of 4 or more while normal heavy armour only gives a save of 5+.
Grudges Dwarfs take their obsession with gold seriously, but they take grudges even more seriously. A Dwarf is said to never forget a grudge. A Dwarf will even end a lifelong friendship over a grudge of the "lightest" matter. To a Dwarf, the source of the grudge (no matter how absurd) does not matter so much as the fact that it is a grudge. Grudges can be ended amicably, though the stubborn nature of Dwarfs makes compromises difficult and grudges must always be fulfilled. The High King of the Dwarfs possesses a large book called The Great Book of Grudges, in which he alone is allowed to write every grudge against the Dwarfs in blood. In the rare case a grudge ending, it can be removed from the Great Book while remaining legible.
Killing a Dwarf sparks a grudge that is similar to a vendetta, in that the grudge will transfer down the generations (both in the dwarf family and the family of the focus of the grudge) and it MUST be paid in blood. The only offence worse than killing a dwarf is damaging or destroying a Dwarf's beard - such an offence sparked the devastating decade long War of the Beard. In the case of "lesser matters" gold can suffice to end a grudge. Felix Jaeger did end a grudge between Gotrek Gurnisson and Gotrek's childhood friend by taking the source of their grudge, a book of bad poetry, and ripping it in half, giving half to each. All the Dwarves present found this incredibly funny, which is probably the only reason they did not kill Felix on the spot or declare a grudge upon him.
The Dwarf Army
The Dwarfs are a martial race hardened by thousands of years of constantly defending their holds from would be invaders both above and below the ground.
Dwarf Warriors are drawn up from the citizenry of Dwarf society. Dwarves are mostly craftsmen and artisans and there are few professional Dwarf soldiers, but in times of war Dwarfs may be called up by their clan leaders who will organize them into regiments ready to fight. Dwarves are physically strong, resilient and broad of shoulder enabling Dwarf armies to force march at great pace across hard country, a feat of endurance seldom seen in other races. They will fight with a mixture of axes and hammers, often being passed down through a family line for generations, and gird themselves in heavy armour, often with a large round shield.
Within the game, Dwarf Warriors are well armoured and resilient defensive infantry with a high leadership characteristic meaning that they'll seldom panic and run away, also when armed with double-handed axes they make cheap and effective shock troops easily capable of taking on many an army's finest.
Longbeards are old and wise Dwarfs and are very experienced warriors, such is evidenced by their longer beards. A Longbeard's long beard grants them total respect from other Dwarfs. Longbeards are veterans of many wars and have endured far more hardships than most beardlings (young Dwarves) can even imagine and as such they grumble about how everything is less scary or well made as it was in their day. Nothing can stop a Longbeard from a good grumble. Longbeards on the field of battle are very powerful and do not suffer distress about minor shifts in the battle situation which might panic a younger dwarf.
Within the game, Longbeards are equipped in much the same way as dwarf warriors but due to their experience they are better at hitting enemies and wounding them and are immune to panic.
Slayers are dwarves who have lost their honour, brought shame to their families or broken an important oath. Such a crime would be solved by death, but because Dwarves see suicide as a waste, to regain their honour, slayers seek glorious death in battle against the strongest of opponents. Upon taking the Slayer's oath, a slayer will often sever all ties from home and travel to the Shrine of Grimnir at Karak Kadrin.
Spotting a Slayer on the battlefield isn't difficult. They have mohawks which are put up with pig grease, and beards dyed orange along with the mohawk - this is as Grimnir did before he journeyed north to battle against Chaos. They refuse to wear armour of any sort and are often next to naked except for the exotic tattoos that cover their body. In battle they carry an assortment of axes, typically a pair of axes or a large two-handed great axe, which they can alternate between.
Within the game, Slayers have conquered their fear of death and as a result, fear very little. They are brave, stubborn and incredibly violent when in battle.
Ironbreakers are the guardians of the lower deeps. They are experienced tunnel fighters and often fight against Skaven and goblins attempting to tunnel into a Dwarf hold. Without their efforts, the majority of dwarf holds would have almost certainly fallen to enemy attacks. Ironbreakers are professional soldiers in that they are perpetually under arms - due to their status as professional tunnel fighters they wear powerful gromril armor, which can protect a Dwarf from enemy blades and rock falls. Ironbreakers also find themselves fighting battles on the surface and they form a bulwark against enemy attacks, but for every battle they fight on the surface, they've faced dozens below the ground.
Within the game, Dwarf Ironbreakers have high weapon skills, good strength and great armor and leadership characteristics. As a result of this hardiness, many opponents would avoid fighting them and would attempt to tackle less armored soldiers, counter with their own heavily armored units, or use range units.
Hammerers are a Dwarf king's personal body-guard, chosen by the king himself. The history of the Hammerers goes back to when the High King was visiting the mines of Ekrund when a large cave in occurred. Suddenly with all manner of foul creatures pouring in, the king's bodyguard was soon overwhelmed. The craftsmen of the mines picked up their hammers and beat a path for the King to escape. Ever since then, the Hammerers have been a Dwarf King's personal guard. Hammerers are stubborn, even by Dwarf standards, and are known for an unswerving loyalty to their lord; a loyalty solidified in the gift of the heavy warhammer from Lord to Hammerer.
Within the game, Dwarf Hammerers are heavily armoured and exceedingly strong shock infantry; which due to their stubbornness will almost never run away. If joined by their liege lord, they are completely fearless.
Dwarf Thunderers and Quarrellers
Dwarf Quarrellers and Thunderers form the bulk of the missile contingent in a Dwarf Army. There was once a time when Dwarf powder weapons had not been invented and Dwarf Quarrellers reigned supreme with their crossbows. Over time, as the Dwarf Handgun came into common usage, the Crossbow lost its dominance. Nowadays, most Dwarf armies see a pretty even split of Quarrellers and Thunderers. Dwarves are naturally methodical and slow to panic; and so are suited to reloading and firing both weapons calmly, even when the enemy is right on top of them. The competition between various engineers is such that in the efforts to make increasingly better and more reliable weapons Dwarf Handguns have become the most effective weapons of their type in the world. Most Thunderers have crafted their own weapons and over the years add many augmentations and improvements; and are as a result very proud of their weapons. Despite this, many Dwarves stick to the good old and reliable crossbow as they begrudge the cost of powder when a bit of brute force will propel a bolt as far as a bullet. There have even been known instances of dwarves improving their crossbows, though of course this is strictly prohibited without the Engineers' Guild's knowledge and permission.
Within the game, both units are highly effective at shooting with the choice between the two often being kept more as personal preference rather than any real advantage offered by either one; while Dwarf Thunderer is more effective at shooting but is more expensive points wise, the Dwarf Quarreler may carry a shield and a heavy axe or hammer, making them more effective troops in close combat. The difference is also the inches (") and other bonuses. The Thunderer gets +1 to hit from the handgun, but has a 24" reach and a strength of 4 and Armour Piercing (-2 armour save total), then the Quarreler has a standard crossbow with 30" reach and strength 4.
In ancient times, some Dwarfs moved far to the east over the mountains, and were caught by the onslaughts of Chaos. Dwarfs are very resistant to the forces of Chaos, but these Dwarves gradually changed over time, becoming the evil natured Chaos Dwarves.
In many ways they are the antithesis of the Dwarfs that remained. Where Dwarfs shun most magic except for Runic magic (which is unique to them) Chaos Dwarves have embraced it; where Dwarfs worship their Ancestor Gods, Chaos Dwarfs worship "Hashut, Father of Darkness". Dwarfs abhor slavery and hate the "Greenskin" races (Goblins, Orcs and the like) but the Chaos Dwarfs rely on slaves and are allied with or are overlords of many Greenskin tribes, most of them Hobgoblins. The Chaos Dwarfs are even responsible for the creation of the Black Orcs.
While the Dwarfs continue to resemble their counterparts in medieval Tolkien or Dungeons and Dragons fantasy, Chaos Dwarfs evolved into a semi-Assyrian/Babylonian style by the fourth edition of Warhammer Fantasy.
Games Workshop, however, has not developed much further back-story detailing the rivalry between the Dwarfs and Chaos Dwarfs, unlike that of the Dark Elves and High Elves. The Chaos Dwarfs are no longer a supported army starting with the seventh edition.
Beliefs and mythology
Dwarfs venerate their ancestors and their deities are the "Ancestor Gods" which are said to have been formed from the very stone of the world itself. There are three main ones: Valaya, Grungni, and Grimnir.
- Grungni is the patron of the forge and miners, and is depicted as the wisest of the Ancestor Gods, typically taking place as the "head" of the gods. In-game, the Master Rune of Grugni protects Dwarfs by giving them a magical kind of shield to protect them from enemy missile attack.
- Valaya is the patron of Runesmiths. It is said she is sleeping deep within the mountains until a time when she is needed again. In-game, the Master Rune of Valaya protects Dwarfs from enemy magical assault.
- Grimnir was a great warrior with two rune axes. He helped the High Elves defeat Chaos at the northern Chaos Gates and although no evidence of his fate exists, it is assumed that he died there, or perhaps some far more sinister fate befell him. Of his weapons, one axe is now held by Thorgrim Grudgebearer and the other axe was taken with him to battle the chaos forces of the northern gate in the first chaos invasion. Some believe the second axe is the weapon wielded by the Slayer Gotrek Gurnisson. In the game the Master Rune of Grimnir (which may only be used by Dwarf armies using the storm of chaos slayer list) has a similar effect as the Master rune of Grungni but with a larger area of effect.
Notable Dwarf characters
- Gotrek Gurnisson is the most (or perhaps the least, since a Slayer's goal is to die) successful Slayer and travels with his human companion and Rememberer Felix Jaeger, in a series of novels by William King; the series later picked up by Nathan Long. Gotrek Gurnisson is also thought to possess the second of the axes of Grimnir. He has achieved the Slayer "rank" of Daemon Slayer and in his time has fought representatives of almost all the armies in Warhammer.
- Malakai Makaisson is thought to be the best engineer who ever lived. He was drummed out of the Guild of Engineers after the first airship fiasco, (just the first, there were others!) which exploded on take-off, killing 30 experienced Engineers and became a Slayer, though he still works as an Engineer. Inside the game he can be fielded as using a goblin hewer- a large axe throwing war machine. In the background story, he appears in several of the adventures of Gotrek and Felix, as an old friend and companion of Gotrek. His manner of talking is humorously different from other Dwarf characters and is likely inspired by a common fantasy stereotype of Dwarves having a Scottish-like accent.
- Snorri Nosebiter was a Slayer who once travelled with Gotrek and Felix. He was notable for his skill in battle, dull wits, and ingenuity in overcoming his baldness and acquiring a Slayer's crest. Since Snorri was bald and could not grow a crest, he painted several nails orange and had them hammered into his skull. Snorri has also "earned" the title of Vampire Slayer (though arguably this was done by accident, since Snorri killed the vampire whilst unconscious). In recent books, he has been suffering from dementia some time after the event of Giantslayer.
- The First Edition Characters: Sigurd Strongarm, Sigrat Blackbrow, Sigrun Slenderhank, Skeggi Brokenback, Saugron Brittlebone and Thorgrim Branedimm. Thorgrim wields the magical warhammer Foebane. They are the characters in the scenario The Ziggurat of Doom (situated in Dwarvestrangle).
- Perhaps the most famous of all dwarfs is Josef Bugman. Bugman was a master dwarf brewer who was world-renowned for his famous beers, known as Bugman's XXXXXX. However one night, returning from a trading trip in the Empire, he found his brewery ablaze, attacked by a raiding party of Goblins. Since then Bugman and his rangers have travelled the old world fighting against the Goblins and Orcs.
- The High King of the Dwarfs is Thorgrim Grudgebearer who carries the Great Book of Grudges and has sworn to make sure all of them are avenged. Inside game terms he is carried into battle by four shield bearers atop the golden throne and carrying one of the axes of Grimnir.
- A well-known character amongst readers of the White Dwarf magazine is one who shares its name with the magazine. The White Dwarf (often called Grombrindal) is possibly the most feared and respected of all the Dwarf heroes (by his enemies and fellows alike). He has had 5 miniature incarnations (the 4th being released for 26 May 2007 only and the 5th only available from a White Dwarf subscription boxed set) and has had varying background details over the years. Many rumours persist about his true persona, the most common being that he is the ancient dwarf king Snorri Whitebeard, the only king to be shown proper respect by the elves, and a great warrior who swore to return to the aid of his people in their time of greatest need. Often he will appear and fight alongside Dwarf forces in dire peril, and when he joins them, the Dwarfs are always victorious. He was "employed" by White Dwarf to write the Editorial for the magazine but recently the editorial has been taken up by Andrew Kendrick with Grombrindal having been described to having gone out to pursue the enemies of Dwarf kind.
- Another well-known character is King Alrik Ranulfsson of Karak Hirn. He was depicted as a traditionalist by even Dwarf standards, King Alrik's armies could not include more Thunderers than Quarrellers. Alrik stood on top of a shield carried by shield bearers in a manner similar to that of Vitalstatistix from the Asterix books. Although once represented as a character inside the previous edition of the Dwarf army book, Alrik has now largely passed out of common usage. Rules for him, however, can still be found on the Games Workshop website.
- Thorek Ironbrow is a dwarf Runelord and master of the weapon workshops of Karak Azul. Thorek Ironbrow is one of the few runelords that use the power of the anvil of doom. Inside game terms he is seen fielded with his anvil of doom and his assistant Kraggi, as a result of his superior experience Thorek Ironbrow strikes runes at ancient power more easily than other Runelords making him very reliable and powerful.
- Thane Uthor is a notable person because of his heroic attempt to re-take the lost hold of Karak Varn with nearly 300 dwarves against over 10,000 skaven.
- Kragg the Grim is perhaps the oldest Dwarf in the world, and known as one of the best and wisest Runelords there is. Creator of the Master Rune of Kragg the Grim, he currently resides in Karaz-a-Karak.
The dwarfs are by far Warhammer's most technologically advanced race, and are regarded as consummate engineers. Where other races use wooden ships to travel overseas, the dwarves use ironclad dreadnoughts and nautilus, the Warhammer equivalent of early battleships and submarines. They have also pioneered the development of black powder and steam technology such as cannon, handguns and Gyrocopters (helicopters). They have shared some of this technology with Humans, but still consider the work of the 'Manlings' to be shoddy in comparison to good Dwarf work.
The most innovative examples of Dwarven engineering are the Organ Gun (a cannon with multiple light-calibre barrels and a high rate of fire), the Flame Cannon (a massive flamethrower artillery piece with the capacity to destroy entire units), and the Ungrim Ankor, a vast hub of mining tunnels connected to all the Dwarf Strongholds in the Old World.
Dwarfs are a naturally conservative race, however, and most treat technological innovation with suspicion and distrust. Most of their technology is of a highly traditional nature, and their engineering guilds dissuade members from coming up with anything novel or innovative. As such human, Skaven and Chaos Dwarf engineers often produce more unusual, impressive and powerful, albeit less reliable, technologies, such as the Imperial Steam Tank or the Skaven Ratling Gun. A comparison may be found between the Dwarf Organ Gun and the Imperial Hellblaster Volley gun; both artillery pieces are based on the same concept, a ribauld, however while the Dwarf Organ gun can cause a maximum of 20 casualties a game turn and the Hellblaster may cause 30, it is far more likely that the organ gun will be able to cause eight or ten casualties a turn and it is far less likely that the organ will explode, thus emphasising the Dwarf focus on reliability.
It is seen as an example of and possibly the pinnacle of Dwarf engineering although older and more traditional dwarves view the idea of flying with a great deal of suspicion; Dwarfs, as a general rule, being happiest when they have solid rock over their heads. Any dwarf that volunteers to travel around hundreds of feet in the air in an "untested contraption" such as a gyrocopter is seen as being just a little strange. Hence, the "Kings Flying Corp" (KFC) which operate them tends to attract the youngest and most adventurous dwarf engineers. It is thought that the instability of the Dwarf tunnel system connecting their mountain strongholds and the spread of the "Greenskin" menace across the old overland trade routes is thought to have prompted its development. Originally designed to act as couriers and messengers between dwarf holds, an unknown Dwarf Lord saw its potential as an army scout and ordered it to be fitted with a small forward-firing cannon and bombs.
Gyrocopters are designed to be as light as possible in order to attain flight and so most of the frame is built of canvas and wood, with thin bands of reinforcing metal. They are powered by a small, lightweight steam engine which uses a chain linkage system to drive the main rotor blades. As a result, gyrocopters are lightly armoured and rely on speed and maneuverability to stay out of trouble.
Due to the slow movement of the dwarf army the most common advice given to gamers wishing to play as this race, is to take a defensive stance. This can be done in a variety of ways, the most often advocated being aligning the units along the edge of the gaming area or utilising other aspects of the gaming area such as scenery to protect the units' flank from attack. Dwarf armies will frequently use their immense capacity for heavy firepower to destroy their opponents from afar.