Dwarves of Cera
This is for an ACKS setting I’ve been spitballing.
Amongst the Dwarves of Cera it is told that the earthen womb in which the dwarven race was born/reborn lies deep in the Talta mountains which encrust the northeastern peninsula of the same name. In the time before time the land turned against the forbearers of dwarf kind, and in this time the matriarchs led their families to safety deep within a vault of stone protected beneath the mountains. Under the guidance of the matriarchs, the Dwarven race dwelt in safety within the earth mother for untold centuries.
Being prosperous in their mountains the Dwarven race hardly noticed that the earth mother had long since healed herself, and when they outgrew their safe haven and expanded to other mountain ranges they found a world fruitful and flourishing. The Dwarves built a vast civilization across the face of Cera, a civilization which rose, ruled, and slowly declined by the time Mankinds first civilizations began to crop up. Now the dwarves inhabit many Vault based city-states modeled after their near-mythic earth-womb, the last remaining bastions of great empires.
The Dwarves are kin to Mankind, but shaped to practicality and efficiency. Because of their inter-fertility with Mankind, Dwarven communities tend to fall into two Categories, the full-blooded Mountain Dwarves and more human Hill Dwarves. All Dwarves average around 4′ in height and about 150 lbs, built shorter and stouter than Mankind.
Mountain Dwarves are the purest of dwarven blood, forged in the Earth-Womb over generations: they are sturdy, practical, and uniform. Mountain Dwarves lack any apparent sexual dimorphism until they reproduce, as such Mountain Dwarf society is divided between Dwarves and Matriarchs. A Dwarven Matriarch is any female dwarf who has endured at least one pregnancy, and as such can be clearly recognized as female, all other dwarves consider gender a personal issue. Almost all Mountain Dwarves practice a religion based on the belief that celestial objects (including the earth) are feminine life-giving forces. In the Dwarven narritive, the Dwarven race was taken back into the earth to be reforged, and given immortal souls to watch over their descendants in perpetuity. Dwarves honor the earth mother primarily through ancestral intermediaries.
Hill Dwarves practice a wide range of faiths, usually those of the nearby human communities. Hill Dwarf bloodlines contain a considerable amount of interbreeding with Mankind, and as such tend to be the most like humans. Female Hill Dwarves have figures which humans would consider to be “feminine” and always lack hair directly beneath the nose, also their beards can often be fairly light, or even absent. Hill dwarves also tend to follow patriarchal human norms.