World of Tarvakar
Short info They are Mountain Dwarfs.
The Steelheart clans are one of the oldest civilizations on Tarvakar. They are highly reclusive and only allow a few select nations within their borders. They trade with their cousins in the Copper Hills and are allies with the Vigil. The Steelheart clans, alone with their allies in Vigil, hold back the dragons of the First Lands. Despite their isolation they have surprising access to a diverse range of trade goods. This is because they use trading partners are proxies, through the hill dwarfs they trade with the rest of the surface world. In their deep tunnels they trade with the denizens of the world below and from the great mountain tops they trade with the Sky Elves. Mountain dwarfs dislike arcane magic yet they are the originators of Runic Magic. Their elite Drgaaaddahralg, or Home Guard, are some of the most skilled warriors to ever live. While their great [Rune Smiths are some of the most powerful spell slingers of any age. Although mighty in so many ways the Steelheart clans have a great weakness, they are a declining people. Each year fewer children are born then the last and many, still young, dwarfs are infertile. They have hidden this secret so far as they do not allow outsiders into their cities. Because of this young dwarfs are raised by their entire clan. This both increases the education of the young and strengthens the unity of the clan. Mountain dwarfs are considered by many to the the “True Dwarfs” as they are clearly the first of the dwarven peoples to exist; also they are long lived in the extreme. Like True Gnomes they live thousands of years but take several human generations to mature. So there are many old and ancient dwarfs but very few young ones. Mountain dwarf adventurers are a rare sight and are often mistaken for dwarfs of a different sub-race. Mountain dwarf culture centers around three devotions, Honor, Duty and Tradition.
Outsiders say mountain dwarfs are made of rock and never smile, while it is true they are told never to show emotions this rule only exists outside of the clan. For a dwarf to show emotion, love, hate, fear, in front of a non clan member is a great taboo. However within the clan emotion is nearly the driving force of life. Within the clan they sing and dance, love and cry, showing more emotion then most other races ever do. The center of each clan is not one leader per say but rather an object called a Memory Stone, which is a small chunk of naturally pure Mithrael that has been consecrated to Tarvakar. Old dwarves who are near death will meditate with the stone and as they pass into death all their knowledge passes into the stone. This is yet another reason they are loathed to travel far, as no dwarf wants to die away from his clan’s stone. Btw yes all mountain dwarfs look male, while all adult dwarfs have beards, mountain dwarfs only use the male terms outside of the clan. So I dwarf will refer to his “two fathers” and may even distinguish one from the other, EI “My Axe Father and My Hammer Father” but will never refer to either as his “mother”. This is seen as odd or even sexist to outside people but within the clan dwarfs are perhaps the most gender equal people around. Because the entire clan raises children, everyone has a hand in the upbringing of the young. Also roles are based on skill not gender or social position. One oddity of mountain dwarfs however is their view on sexuality, their want children. So although they don’t care what gender you like, you are expected to merry and make children. For a fertile dwarf to not breed is seen as a great sin and insult to his clan. Because of this young dwarfs may do as they please with whoever they please, oddly almost more sexually open then the most randy of elves. However once the clan deems them old enough to merry they MUST merry a member of the opposite sex, this coupled with the fact that adultery is a grave crime means once married they are basically stuck. Mountain dwarfs being as stubborn as they are would rather ignore this then face it, which is slowly building friction within the clans.