The Dwarves that remained underground continued to live as they had for centuries. When the race was young, they worked within the confines of natural caves and passages. Over time, their engineering prowess increased, driving them to tackle ever larger works. They mined metals and gemstones, carved out great halls and built underground highways.

Underground rivers changed course under their picks and mallets, diverted by their massive dams to create underground lakes. Dwarvish bridges spanned huge chasms, and dwarvish towers soared into the sky, their vaults plunging deep into the earth, their extensive works reflecting their desire for order and structure.

Harnessing the power of the earth itself, they learned to forge iron and steel. Their weapons and armor were prized by all, only equaled by the craft of the elves. What set the dwarven smiths apart from every other race, however, was their use of runes. Dwarven artificers became a blend of priest and engineer. They were required to have both a solid understanding of engineering principles, and also a deep connection to the gods. Once trained, they were able to craft the blessings of the gods into the material works they wrought.

Runes allowed dwarven smiths to push the boundaries of what their chosen materials could do. Bridges and towers built with runes infused into keystones and foundations never degraded, and were impervious to the shaking and shifting of the earth. Doors were bound to words of command, allowing only those with the right password to enter. Even suits of metal could be made to move by the command of an occupant. These latter proved formidable engines of war in clashes with goblins, after their appearance on Garin. 

The Mountain Dwarves’ obsession, though, was gold. Prizing it above all else, they delved deep into the earth to find it. Bitter wars that saw the death of many clans were fought over it, and artisans capable of crafting it held a special place in society. Dwarves who worked the precious metal into rune-infused items of everlasting beauty gained fame and wealth, and their families lauded above others. These families grew into great clans, the structure of dwarven society changed to revolve around those clans. With this change, an individual dwarf’s importance was linked not only to their skills, but who held their allegiance.

Relationships between these clan structures were governed by a strict set of rules. These rules were put in place to reduce conflict and bloodshed, primarily to avoid weakening dwarven society in the face of invasion by goblins and other subterranean horrors. This system mostly worked, however war between clans was still relatively common. Clan alliances could be mercurial. Bitter campaigns were sometimes fought by clans and their allies to wrest control of veins of gold, hoards of gems, or desirable territory.

Each clan was headed by a family scion. Gender was not a consideration for this position, with both daughters and sons inheriting equally, otherwise governed by strict rules of primogeniture. Fratricide and sororicide were not common, but not unheard of either.

After the appearance of the Goblinoids and the desperate struggles that ensued for the Dwarves to defend their homes, two of the great clans of the time, Kerekeln and Sonnetann proposed a great meeting of the clans.. This was an attempt to promote peace and cooperation amongst the clans and help the Mountain Dwarves to be able to focus on the enemy without rather than the enemy within. The first of these gatherings was a resounding success and so it was decided such a moot would be called every six years. Attendance at the moot was considered a high honor and attendance would be limited to only the fifty most powerful of the clans with the most powerful of all playing host to the rest. 

Negotiations held during the moot determined the grand political structure of Mountain dwarf society for the following six years and ancient alliances (and feuds) were renewed. Mountain Dwarves traveled from all parts of Tinerè to gather for the moot and it became deeply embedded in the roots of the clan society.

Painting and Photography by Kle Miller