Hello, and welcome to the first of two more articles in my How to role-play series! This time, I will be looking at playing the solid and stout dwarves. This first article will be covering the history of the dwarves and how this affects your character, while the other will look at the culture and appearances of the dwarven people. So sit back, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a ride through time!
The dwarves originated way back when the Titans first sorted out the old Azeroth, creating it from the order of the Old Gods. Now, if you are reading from my other articles, (Very cleverly linked into those two words, even if I do say so myself!) you will recall me promising to explain the Titans, so here we go! The Titans are ancient, god-like constructs (constructed by whom is unknown) who traverse the universe in which both Azeroth and the Outlands float, ordering newly created worlds. Their ancient nemeses are the Old Gods, who delight in chaos and often work to undo the Titan's work on planets. On Azeroth, the Titans were able to trap the Old Gods into the very fabric of the planet, however were unable to destroy them as this would have taken the planet with it. To police their captives, they imbued the great and fantastical dragons with various powers. They also created the Eathern, which greatly resembled today's dwarves, however made of stone. Their duty was to guard beneath Azeroth's terrain. However, the fact that the Earthen dwelt underground made them susceptible to the Curse of the Flesh put about by the Old Gods,causing their stone skin to turn fleshy. Now for us of the born fleshy persuasion, this may not seem so bad, however the curse also made them lose their mental functions and deformed them into what is known as the troggs. Loathe to destroy their previous creations, the Titans locked away the troggs and returned to the Earthen prototype. This time, they made the necessary modifications to the prototype that when these Earthen were affected by the Curse of the Flesh, they retained their intellect and appearances. In fact, they were exactly the same as the Earthen! And so they were able to continue watching over subterranean Azeroth, as slightly rockier and more powerful Dwarves than those we know today. All this has only recently been rediscovered by Dwarven archeologists and historians, and as a result plays a huge part in Dwarven society in this day and age. Many dwarves are hugely interested in anything they can learn about the Titans, and the worship of Titans is a religion that runs alongside and above the Light for many Dwarves. This would be something you need to consider for your character, and opens many possibilities. For example, is your Dwarf a fanatic Titan worshipper, or does he believe that the Titans are a thing of the past and that Dwarves need to concentrate on this day and age? With the wealth of Titan lore available in-game, this is certainly something you could explore!
The early Dwarves continued to guard Azeroth for several millennia, up until the point when the Night Elves blew up the Well of Eternity, causing the Sundering. For the deeply earth attuned Dwarves, this was a catastrophe unparalleled by anything they had seen before. Deeply shocked by the trauma they had faced, the Dwarves retreated into the Titan cities of Ulduar, Uldaman and Uldum and hibernated for 8,000 years. During this time, many underwent a transformation which lessened their power over the earth and transformed their rocky skin into smoother, pinker flesh. This was particularly common in the dwarves from Uldum and Uldaman, while the dwarves in Northrend retained much of their rocky appearance. The Dwarves from Eastern Kingdoms travelled to the icy mountains of Khaz Modan and created Ironforge, their ancient capitol. Because their interactions were limited to the Eastern Kingdoms, it was therefore almost inevitable that Dwarves would first meet and interact with Humans.
I break off from the history lesson here to explain that back then, Eastern Kingdoms was very different from how it is today. This was pre-Lich King by roughly 2000 years, so there was decidedly less corruption! High Elves had not yet become Blood Elves, and there were no Forsaken. Therefore, it is pretty difficult to imagine what else they might encounter, even for me!
So, around 1800 years before the First War, the Dwarves encounter the Humans and so begins a fast friendship that has lasted for millennia. The Humans teach Dwarves their language, Common, and introducing them to the concept of the Light. In return for this aid and companionship in a new and confusing world, the Dwarves crafted incredibly powerful weapons for the Humans. And example of this is the Ashbringer of Darion Mograinne fame. It is also speculated that it was the Humans who came up with the term Dwarf, although it is uncertain. Then, added to this union came the Gnomes. Now, Gnomes and Dwarves were a match made in heaven! Both loved to tinker with gadgets and machinery, although Dwarves tended to prefer more functional devices. The Dwarves and Gnomes worked together to build Gnomeregan, and when the Gnomes were kicked out of their city, the Dwarves offered Gnomes sanctuary. That is a whole other story, and one for a future article!
Now, I didn't go into much detail when I first mentioned the Dwarves coming out of the Titan cities and creating Ironforge, so I will do now. Originally, all Dwarves were part of the Ironforge clan, however they split into the Bronzebeard, Wildhammer and Dark Iron clans for reasons unknown. When the first High King died (Dwarves being rather long-lived), there was a bitter power struggle between the Dwarves as each clan tried to seize control of the city. Eventually, the Bronzebeards were victorious, and the other two clans were exiled. The Wildhammers went into the Wetlands and the Dark Irons went into Redridge Mountains and set up a city named Thaurissan, after their leader.
Not content with their lot, however, the Dark Irons attacked both the Bronzebeards and the Wildhammers. Thaurissan attacked the Bronzebeards, and was eventually defeated, while his wife attacked the Wildhammers. The queen, Mogdug, was a sorceress and used magic to break into Grim Batol and slay many of the inhabitants, however Khardros Wildhammer, the then ruler of the Wildhammer Dwarves, slew the queen and retook Grim Batol. His armies then combined with those of the Bronzebeards to march upon the city of Thaurissan, only to find that the Dark Irons had accidentally summoned Ragnaros, the evil fire dude some of you may be familiar with, and been enslaved. Sickened, they returned home. Or at least that was the plan! However, Mogdug's dark magic had tainted the halls of Grim Batol, and the Wildhammers were forced to move north into the Hinterlands, where they set up the city of Aerie Peak and became master gryphon riders and shamans. Wildhammer Dwarves are great to role-play, as many of them are desperate not to lose yet another homeland and so will fight tooth and nail to protect it. Not only that, but their unique bonds with gryphons are interesting to play in contrast to the traditional Dwarven love of the ground! It is also interesting to not that the Dark Irons, despite being regarded as renegade, were still considered part of the Dwarven nation and as such escapees from Ragnaros's reign were allowed, if not trusted, in Ironforge once things had settled down a bit.
After the War of the Three Hammers, as the Dwarven civil war became known came both the Second and Third Wars, during which the Dwarves and Gnomes joined with their Human and High Elven allies to combat the threat of the Orcs and Lich King respectively. During the Second War, the foundations for what is now the Alliance were made,with Dwarves playing a huge role. Because Dwarves have been allies of Humans for so long, they are very close, and so it would not be unusual for a Dwarf to have Human mannerisms. As a result, Dwarves are great for the inexperienced at role-play who nevertheless want something a bit different.
After the Third War, Dwarves went into Kalimdor with Humans to help fight the Burning Legion. While there, they discovered the Night Elves and the fact that they had been created by the Titans. This sparked a flurry of excitement in the Dwarven race as they set up the Explorers League to send out teams of archaeologists and historians all over the world to search for Titan data and artefacts. Meanwhile, and of significantly less importance, at least to the Dwarves, the Night Elves were brought into the Alliance! The research done by the Explorers League has allowed the Dwarves to rediscover one of their Earthen abilities, Stoneform, which allows them to return to their Earthen like state for a time. This can cure the effects of poison, and was heralded by many as only the beginning of the rediscovery of their full Earthen potential, a quest that inspires many a Dwarf.
During the disasters that rocked the world during the Cataclysm, the High King of the Dwarves, Magni Bronzebeard, was turned into solid diamond. His daughter Moira returned from the Dark Irons to seize control, almost sparking another civil war. King Varian Wrynn intervened and set up the Council of the Three Hammers, in which a thane from each clan rules jointly over the Dwarves. This consists of Moira Thaurissan, Muradin Bronzebeard and Falstad Wildhammer. This situation is far from ideal, however, and Ironforge is full of strife as the divided people struggle to work together for the future. Your dwarf would almost definitely have a strong opinion on this!
So there we go, a full history of the Dwarven people. I certainly hope that you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed researching it! Next article will be all about the culture and appearances of the different Dwarvish people, and how this history effects their mindset. Thank for for reading!