The Ari'ilden Saga
The Dwarves, also known as Battleborn, are a disparate and widely-varying people. Socially and politically, they are divided into at least 50 Companies; functionally independent mercenary groups, which rarely share views or styles of leadership. And while the Companies typically regard one another with higher regard than they do the Reign or Vervlokt plots, even between Companies there are rivalries, wars, and feuds that can last for decades.
Whether you remain there now or not, your line comes from the Northern Battleborn Companies of old. The truest warriors and the proudest adventurers, your ancestors smile down on those who survive by the axe and the shield. Your people are a hardy lot, and remember fondly the days when the Companies were called upon by one and all to fight the great threats facing the world. Such days may be past now, but that does not mean they are forgotten.
- Ability Scores: +2 CON, +2 WIS, -2 CHA
- Defensive Bonuses: +1 Attack when fighting Elves, +1 Defense vs Wildborn humans
- Other Racial Bonuses: +2 Appraise, Appraise is always a class skill; +4 CBD vs Knockdown, Trip attempts; Darkvision 60 ft.
The old ways are dead. Those who deny that are fools, and those who embrace it thrive. The Battleborn are no longer deserving of that name, and the Southern Dwarves would have their entire race realize this truth. More polite, politically savvy, and cunning than their northern brethren, even those Dwarves who no longer reside in the South are generally regarded by other races as too clever by half. They prefer to avoid a fight rather than win one, and a victory that goes quietly unrecognized is a victory nonetheless.
- Ability Scores: +2 INT, +2 CHA, -2 CON
- Defensive Bonuses: +1 Attack vs Humans, +1 Dodge bonus vs Battleborn
- Other Racial Bonuses: +2 Diplomacy, Diplomacy is always a class skill; +2 CMB to Trip and Disarm, Darkvision 60 ft
Among the Southern Companies, a few of the smaller follow very peculiar methods of survival and styles of fighting. These Companies are often known as “Sappers” to outsiders, but within they are most often broadly painted as the Tinkers. Alchemists, physicians, and engineers, these Battleborn make a point of picking a subject area and knowing everything that it is conceivable to know about that material. In peacetime, they ward off disease, build new settlements for all the races, and keep the sciences alive within the Companies; and in times of war, they heal the wounded, operate the siege equipment, and have a special place in their hearts for all things fiery and explosive. +2 Disable Device, +2 Knowledge (choose), Weapon Proficiency: Launching Crossbow
- Companies: East, Steel, Gutbuster
- Languages: Southron Dwarven, Back-a-talk
While some Companies pride themselves on holding true to the ‘Old Ways’, and being pure fighting regiments, those that have flourished in the last century of little warfare have adapted their traditions to better suit peacetime. In your Company, this meant that many Battleborn became traders and merchants to fund the pursuits of the rest of the Company. Your parents were of this vein, and you grew up frequenting Vervlokt plots almost as often as you were in your own camp. You grew up to be a fine salesdwarf in your own right, and before leaving your Company to discover the world, you were an integral piece of the machine that kept it well-fed and running smoothly. +2 Appraise, +2 Profession (choose), Weapon Proficiency: Hooked Axe
- Companies: Crowsbane, Martell, Voices
- Languages: Southron Dwarven, Halfling
Born and raised among one of the Northern Companies, you spent your early years being made to appreciate the only two sureties in life: death and discomfort. Your Company likely served during the Wildborn Wars, and the older men still remember and tell tales of the battles. Of late though your Company has begun to stagnate with a lack of true soldiering to do, and the fights of a more glorious antiquity are all that hold the families together against the sporadic fight with the Wildborn and the elements. +2 Knowledge (History), DR 1/magic while in Cold environments, Weapon Proficiency: Dwarven Longaxe
- Companies: Black, Wolf, Walkers, North
- Languages: Northborn Dwarven, Wildborn
Until recent events it was not even a confirmed fact among the other races that the Grey Company even existed. In Markand in particular, children have been told stories for two centuries of ‘The Grey’; a mysterious and silent killer that stalks the streets at night, cutting the throats of naughty boys and girls with a sharpened steel cable. In the last half-century these assassins have become more prominent, and both the Grey and Lion Companies are frequently hired in the feuds between the wealthy of the Vervlokt and Humans, both as deadly killers and quiet and efficient spies. In either pursuit, these Battleborn represent the pinnacle of their trade. +2 Stealth, +1 Reflex Save, Weapon Proficiency: Garrote
- Companies: Grey, Lion
- Languages: Northborn Dwarven, Old Imperial
The Battleborn were created by Jatos, the God of War and Craftsmen, to fight against the Elves during the wars of the Dark Age. After driving the Elves off of Tarras, the Battleborn experienced the First Schism, when some Companies remained on Tarras and some chased the fleeing armies of Ohtar to the jungles of the Far Continent. Those that remained formed the Dwarven Dominion, to govern both themselves and the human remnants, and later they accepted the Vervlokt as well.
Fall of the Dominion
However, upon the conclusion of the War of the Far Continent and the return of the distant Companies, the tenor of the Dominion changed. The more warlike returning Companies settled in the North, settling into the modern Black, Wolf, Grey, North, Lion, and Walkers Companies. They were unused to peacetime living, and began feuding with the humans and Vervlokt at length, at times even subjugating both races into enslavement. This is the origin of both the extreme cultural isolation of the Halflings, and the prevalence of Wildborn in the North.
Eventually the repression of their Northern kin and dissatisfaction with the Dwarven worship of Jatos to the exclusion of the other Gods sparked the appearance of the Church of the Five, and the uprising of the southern humans against the Southborn Dwarven Companies of East, Steel, Gutbuster, Crowsbane, Martell, and Voices. The rebellion in the south was all the push that the Northern Companies needed to cease functioning as a legitimate government, and when the raw materials ceased flowing from the North, the remainder of the Dominion could no longer hold together. This dissolution led the Dwarves, in despair or delight (depending on the end of Tarras one was on), to rebrand themselves by their old name of “Battleborn”, and thus they remained throughout the formation of the First Empire.
The Empire and the Reign
The Companies have remained largely unchanged since the Dissolution almost three milennia ago. The Northern Companies, called the Northborn, remain the more militaristic of the Battleborn, while the Southron companies are more economical and have adapted to the reality of the Reign.