Sorry it's been a while; since the last post I've lost the use of my laptop (leaving me with a laggy old desktop) and moved house as well. Step's are being taken to restore the laptop and I've just acquired a new desktop!
Last entry covered the dwarves. This time, I'll look at the 'subraces' of the dwarves.
Subraces can be a bit of a contentious issue amongst players. Some supplements give a subrace for almost any environment or reason! I want to limit the spread of subraces for my setting, providing either an environmental reason for the subrace, or maybe even a cultural one. The dwarven subraces are the Dream Dwarves and the Dvergar (aka the Duergar or Grey Dwarves).
The Dream Dwarves aren't so much a seperate race as 'mutant offspring'. The majority of the dwarven race choose not to speculate on the origins of these births, welcoming them as auspicious. Somehow, dream dwarves hold a closer bond to the Elemental Earth than other dwarves.Dream dwarves all 'touch' upon a great subconscious presence referred to as the earth dream; a powerful force, though it is not restricted to just their subrace alone. In dream dwarves this connection manifests, physically, as slightly more mineral tones in their skin, hair and eyes, in other respects it manifests as less of a focus on the 'earthly crafts' and combat training, followed by their kin, and more consideration of philosophical matters. Dream dwarves reflexes and general agility are lower than those of their brethren, but they are generally better in matters of interpersonal relations, and are gifted in matters of diplomacy when dealing with "earth" creatures (such as some elementals and Outsiders). Upon first impressions they may seem withdrawn, but they are more often than not they are just reserved, choosing their words and time to speak carefully. Their philosophical bent also manifests as a seemingly innate facility with magic of the Divination school, also reflecting their thirst for (and love of) knowledge and lore. Dream dwarves are, more often than not, followers of druidic practises, becoming advisors on spiritual and natural matters in their communities, though some may feel drawn to other roles (such as priests, arcanists or even follow a martial path). It has also been recorded that dream dwarves are capable of seeing ethereal beings, just a clearly as they would any other material being, but can differentiate between them easily. Aside from a few minor cosmetic differences, the dream dwarves are largely physically and culturally identical to the 'prime race'.
The Dvergar are a tricky area. Less of a subrace, practically a seperate race in their own rights, the 'grey dwarves' are a grim, aggressive and hateful race with a superiority complex and a murderous streak. Some scholars believe the dvergar to have been the original race created by the ancient giants, to act as subterranean servants, their size allowing them to go where giants may not. Certainly, some of their abilities attest to this, as their ability to see in the dark is greater than that of their cousins, but comes at the cost of reduced sight in stronger illumination, and they certainly carry the innate dwarven ability to sense unusual minerals, but are also seemingly immune to poisons and paralysing effects; something frequently used by subterranean terrors. Dvergar are possessed of innate 'psionic' abilities as well, specifically those of invisibility and 'expansion'; being able to grow their body to giant proportions, and fortunately their usage of these is limited and temporary, but suggests a link to the older world, when magic was still 'young'. The giants used the dvergar to find and extract rare, precious and powerful minerals and metals from the depths of Fold, and had them produce weapons and artefacts of great power, that fell into the pages of legend as weapons of the Gods and their ilk, but few legends tell of anything other than 'the grey ones who forged'. The dvergar grew hateful of others, but highly conceited in their abilities, and delved further and further underground. Some stayed nearer the surface and began becoming more and more like the dwarves known today, while the dvergar became more and more twisted and insular. In the depths of the world, their society gathered round the figure of 'the Deep Queen', their religion touting the power of their race, but crushing their joy and individuality. The race became bizarrely prideful and encouraged individuals to excel, but not to differ from the socially accepted norm; being different practically makes a dvergar one of the lesser races. In their home in the Deepworld, the dvergar hardly encounter other races, other than the drow (dark elves), with whom they contest vast tracts of territories, or sometimes ally with to overrun other regions. Physically, dvergar are slightly leaner in build than 'mountain dwarves', with visibly corded muscles, from lives spent in tireless toil, but generally about the same height and weight. Their skin is, unsurprisingly, grey; which ranges from stony to ashen, and their eyes are universally a dull amber colour. The barbels possessed by the dvergar are longer and thinner, adding a much more alien appearence to the race, not aided by their tendency to keep themselves completely bald (and those who do have hair never grow any on the tops of their heads.)
So there we have the two prominent dwarven subraces. More updates will come soon as I continue to move my files across and get back into writing this up semi-coherently.