WFRP - Karak Azgal
“We sons of Grungni may have drunk deep from the bitter waters of misfortune, but we yet survive. Whilst a single Dwarf draws breath, we will fight the evils that assail us, and we will never, ever give up.”
— Hengist Stonebelly, Dwarf Longbeard
The Dwarven race is one of the oldest and proudest in the Warhammer world. They once had an empire which stretched from Norsca in the north to the jungles in the south, and from Mount Silverspear in the east to the Grey Mountains in the west. But the heart of the Dwarfen realm, Karak Ankor as they call it, will always lie in the World’s Edge Mountains. The highest range in the world, it is filled with the magnificent halls and holds of the Sons of Grungi and also great feats of engineering like the Underway, a network of tunnels and passages that ran for thousands of miles along the spine of the Old World from Karak Ungor to Karak Eight-Peaks , or the colossal workshops and waterways in the fort of Zhufbar.
The Dwarf people as a whole are sturdy and strong, brilliant craftsmen and excellent warriors but above all they prize themselves on their loyalty to each other and to those they are indebted to. They are the greatest miners and tunnelers in the world, the age-less halls of Karaz-a-Karak are one gigantic example of how huge their works are. However, the best smiths and craftsmen will produce works far more beautiful than the Elven metalworkers in far Ulthuan and hundreds of times more valuable than the trinkets of Men. However a portion of thier people has been corrupted and turned vile in the eye’s of their kin who fled and stayed in the Dark Lands and will forever call themselves Chaos Dwarfs.
The Time of The Ancestor Gods
Millennia before the founding of The Empire of Men and the rise of Grand Cathay in the East, the ancestors of what were to become the Dwarfen people lived in the mountains of the south-lands, little better than beasts. They lived in caves and ate berries and wild game which they could catch with their bare hands. It is still held true today that they were the first to fashion weapons out of flint and stone. This gave them a bigger advantage over other creatures that were competing for the same food source. Because of this, with food and sustenance secured, the cave-dwellers could focus more attention on building and delving out their homes, looking for precious gems and metals. Eventually after hundreds of years moving northwards in search of better mining grounds, the first Dwarfs settled in the World’s Edge Mountains. Here they found gold, silver, iron and gromril in huge supply – much more than has ever been found in the rest of the world put together. With all these resources at their disposal, the Dwarfs built their first holds (Karaks) in the southern mountains. Some of the largest and oldest holds, like Karak Eight-Peaks and Karak Izril (called Azgal in later years) are built around the remains of these ancient dwellings. However the migration carried on northwards, following the veins of ore up to where the great range just, stopped. They had come to Zorn Uzkul, ‘The Great Skull Land’, a barren, desolate plain stretching out past the eastern horizon, further than anyone could imagine. Many Dwarfs turned back southward, disappointed by the lack of mineral wealth. Others moved west, into what was one day to be the land of Norsca, founding strongholds in the Nordic mountains, the main of which was Kraka Drak. Very few Dwarfs ever crossed Zorn Uzkul, and of those, none came back.
Soon after the founding of the strongholds in the World’s Edge Mountains, the Warp Gates at the poles of the Warhammer world collapsed, and turned into unrestricted, unbound portals of pure warp energy. The Chief God, Grungi, warned the Dwarfs of the terrible fate that awaited any who were exposed to the coming Chaos storm, so he showed them how to delve far deeper than they had before. When the task was accomplished, every mine and Karak in the World’s Edge Mountains was sealed off from the outside world. There in the deeps of the earth the Dwarfs sheltered from the tempest of Chaos while all above on the land was tainted or destroyed by the magical winds that whipped across the Old World. When the mighty tempest had passed, the Dwarfs emerged to find the world twisted and changed. Terrifying monsters roamed the earth and all manner of beastmen and daemons were found banding together and attacking all whose paths they crossed. Yet the Dwarfs were not defenseless. Grungi taught them how to forge battle-axes and hammers of the like that had never been seen before. Valaya inscribed runes of protection onto their gromril armour and standards and the first Dwarf throngs were seen marching out over the plains and through the forests to cleanse the land of Chaos’ touch. To their leader, Grimnir, Grungi gave two mighty axes of ruinous strength and power so he could challenge Greater Daemons and Beastlords of the opposing hordes.
The First Chaos Incursion
It was during these campaigns to rid the mountain realms of Chaos’ touch that the Dwarfs first came across the Elves of Ulthuan. Grimnir himself was leading an army into the lowlands, chasing a band of Chaos marauders. A fleet of Elf ships, captained by the mage Caledor Dragontamer, had been blown off course in their search of the Old World for what had caused the Great Storm of Chaos. They were met with mixed suspicion and respect, but when a larger force of Beastmen arrived, they were promptly smashed between Caledor’s magic and Grimnir’s axe-wielding troops. Because of this they knew they were on the same side, for then at least. From Caledor, the Dwarfs learnt of the great Pheonix King, Aenarion, and his struggle to free the far land of Ulthuan from the grip of Chaos. From Grimnir, Caledor learnt of how the storm had preceded the coming of Chaos. This, Caledor realised, meant that a Chaos Gate had opened somewhere in the Old World and only when it was closed could the tide be stemmed. Caledor thanked Grimnir and returned to Ulthuan, to consult with the King, Aenarion, and hatch a plan that would stop the Chaos incursion. Before they left each other, as a sign of friendship and goodwill, they exchanged gifts, Grimnir presenting the wizard with runic amulet of colossal power, and in return, Caledor gave the Dwarf God the glistening Crystal of Fire which still today resides in the vaults of Karaz-a-Karak.
The Second Chaos Incursion
Whilst Caledor worked away in the temple and libraries of Ulthuan to create the vortex that would finally suck the power of Chaos out of the world, the Dwarfs continued to fight tirelessly against the servants of the Chaos Gods. Grimnir himself finally decided that a more pragmatic approach would have to be taken, as the pointy-ear’s plan wasn’t working fast enough. He planned to go North to find this Chaos Gate that Caledor had described to him and close it himself, little imagining of the unbound cosmic energy he would encounter at the heart of the Warp. Legend says that while Caledor Dragontamer and his conclave of wizards were creating the great magical vortex to suck the surplus of magical energy from the world, Grimnir stood alone, fighting off hundreds and hundreds of deamons in the mouth of the polar Chaos Portal. This aided the construction of the Vortex and upon its creation the deamons in the world have vanished and the world was saved. After the great war, Elf and Dwarves has begun their mutual alliances, trade, and military aid for many years.
The Golden Age
The Golden Age of the Dwarves was considered the peak of the Dwarven Empire, where the founding of the Dwarf empire – Karaz-a-Karak is established as the capital of the Karaz Ankor. Dwarfs and Elves meet for the first time, establishing trade to their mutual benefit. Along with trade, the Elves and Dwarves have begun military alliances to rid the world of any Chaos taint left behind after the Second Chaos Incursion, removing taints from large portions of the Old World. Indeed this was the Golden Age for both nations, as the trade and military might of both civilizations was unmatch in any corner of the world. This was also the height of their territorial control as both Elves and Dwarves has settled and made many colonies within many other parts of the Old World. Elves have begun colonizations of the coastal regions of both Bretonnia, the Empire and even parts of Nosrca and Tilea. The Dwarves has a far-spanding network of caves and tunnels that connects them in the great Under-Way, the greatest Tunnel network in the world, where the path leads all along the spine of the whole Worlds Edge Mountain. This network was near completely safe, as the military might of the Dwarves have ensured the tunnels are safe from both Greenskin and Chaos taints for generations, and the Under-Way was the highway of trade across the empire.
The War of Vengeance
The War of Vengeance, also called the War of the Beard by the Elves, was a conflict more than 2000 years before the birth of Sigmar between the Dwarf Empire and the High Elves of Ulthuan and the Old World colonies, the Dwarfs led by High King Gotrek Starbreaker and the High Elves under Phoenix King Caledor II. This war was fought on a massive scale as the two great civilizations, once close allies, now fought against each other in a war that greatly devastated both sides. The War ended with the death of High Elven King Caledor II, and the claiming of the Pheonix Crown by the Dwarves of Karaz Ankor. It was also during this time that the Dark Elves, the perpetrators to the War of the Vengeance, has taken advantage of the fighting and attacked the Elves of Ulthuan while they are at their weakest.
Time of Woes
Time of Woes, also known as the Age of Darkness – was a time of volcanic activity that shatters the Dwarven empire, and precedes a massive migration of the Goblinoid races, who besiege the Dwarf empire. This time lead to the lost of connection with many holds, most importantly the Dwarves living in what was present day Darklands. This lost of connection and volcanic activity lead to the eastern Dwarves losing faith in the Elder Gods, and taking up the name of Chaos Dwarves, in respite to their western cousins, for abandoning them. This also lead to the first of many wars with the Greenskin race of the East, most prominently the Goblins of the Eastern Darklands.
The Goblin Wars, was an age of unrelenting struggle between the Dwarfs, the Goblinoids races and other foul creatures of the depths. This war lead to the lost of many holds to the Greenskin threat, most prominetly those northern Holds of Karak Ungor and Karak Azgal.
Silver Age, an age of reconquest – aided by Sigmar Heldenhammer and the united human tribes, the Goblinoids are driven from the Old World. Several strongholds are retaken by the Dwarfs of Karaz Ankor, and also lead to the trade and alliance of the Nation of the Dwarves and the Imperials of the Empire.
Chaos Wars, Men and Dwarfs fight side by side once more in the Great War against Chaos.
The great Dwarven Empire is now in constant war with the hordes of Greenskins of the Darklands, and the coming of the Great Storm of Chaos
Dwarfs are organized into strongholds each governed by a king. The kings of each stronghold are independent but all swear allegiance to the Dwarven High King.
Each stronghold is home to several Dwarf clans. Social ranking is based on clan. The lowest ranking are the disgraced Clans who are often outcasts from the holds. The next lowest are the Clans which have no home hold, and instead wander from hold to hold as traders, as well as work in the cities of the Empire. The middle ranking class are the respectable clans who dwell within the holds. The top ranking clans are the clans which engage in the most respected trades, such as goldworking, weaponsmithing, runesmithing, and engineering. The ruling class is the royal clan, whose members are the nobility, one of whom is the king of the Hold.
Dwarfs keep titles simple, and with the exception of the King and his heirs, the princes, simply call their nobles thanes.
Dwarf clans are extended families who can trace their ancestry back to a founding ancestor who may have settled a specific valley, built a strong hold or founded a mine. The fact that the Dwarfs are exacting craftsmen and would never simply mass-produce their crafts means that their work remains rare and in high demand. Consequently, prices for Dwarf work are always high.
Dwarf clans are made up of many families, all of which share a common homeland. Often the clan has long lived elsewhere, as the original homeland has been lost or destroyed, although the clan has never given up the dreams of one day reclaiming their homeland and building it anew. The ancestors of the clan are highly honored, and part of this honor involves singing their sagas and maintaining their tombs and relics.
Each Dwarf hold is a self-contained economy. Most are at the centre of a network of smaller holds which operate their own mines, farms and workshops. Trade exists both within this network, and with the outside world.
Dwarfs trade the raw materials and finished goods for food and other goods they cannot easily acquire. The skills of the Dwarfs at working materials have not, however, declined like their empire, meaning that their goods will always attract a high price. Good farming land is scarce in the mountains, and Dwarfs do not make good farmers, but they are enthusiastic hunters and often feast on the meat of beasts they have killed while roaming the mountains around them. Grain and fruit are brought into the mountains by traders and are bartered for metalwork and gold.
Age, wealth and skill
The most important principles of Dwarf society are often summarised as three things: age, wealth and skill. The more of these that you have, the higher you are in Dwarf society. Dwarfs do not boast of their family achievements, they merely set the the record straight and proclaim their ancestors’ greatness by their wealth and skills.
The other important part of Dwarf culture is their beards. Dwarfs never cut or trim their beards, as the length of a beard indicates age and thus wisdom. Those with the longest beards are looked to for leadership.
Dwarfs have an affinity for the past and constantly seek to remember their fore bearers by repairing and maintaining their products. All Dwarfs know how to reforge an ancient blade and are constantly trying to incorporate ancient relics into their newer works. All of the most powerful of these weapons are forged by Gromril , the most strongest, rarest, and most treasured metal known to the dwarves.
They also enjoy hoarding their hard earned treasure and gold. When a Dwarf dies, his wealth goes to his family and so passed down the generations. This process ensures the memory of the dead and secures a Dwarf’s supply of money for a more desperate time. Often a Dwarf will measure his security by how far off the ground they are when they sit on their treasures. Often the supplies of the stronghold itself are so huge as to be a massive attraction to Orc and Goblin hordes willing to take the risk of death to gain huge amounts of gold.
Dwarfs have a rigid and unyielding sense of honor, which is centered around the bond or promise. A promise does not die with an oath-maker, nor does treachery die with an oath-breaker. A Dwarf will be bound to an unfulfilled promise made by an ancestor, and will commit themselves to their fulfillment. Likewise they will look to the descendants of oathbreakers for recompense. Serious breaches of faith against the Dwarfs are recorded in the Book of Grudges.This massive tome is kept in Karaz-a-Karak, the capital of the old Dwarf empire, and constitutes something of a chronicle of Dwarf history.
The Dwarf language is called Khazalid. It is an ancient language that has remained unchanged over many thousands of years both in its spoken and written runic form, absorbing only a few words from Elven and human languages. Khazalid is kept a secret language, and is rarely spoken in the company of other races, except for their feared and infamous battle cries.
Khazalid includes very few words of obvious Elven or Human origin. By contrast there are many loan words from Khazalid in the tongues of Men, which suggests that Dwarfs must have taught some fundamental words to their taller allies. This is most obviously the case of words to do with traditional Dwarven craftskills of smithing and masonry, skills which Dwarfs taught Men many centuries ago.
Khazalid well reflects the nature of the Dwarfs. There are a relatively large amount words for things such as different kinds of rock, underground tunnels and precious metals. It is said there are over a hundred words for “gold” in Khazalid, each subtly different and describing its luster, color, purity and hardness. On the other hand, there are few words for abstract concepts. Words for physical things are also used for concepts which the Dwarfs perceive as related. An example is the Khazalid word for mountain, which is also used to denote concepts such as unyielding, enduring and permanence.
The sound of Khazalid is guttural. Dwarfs have deep, resonant voices and a tendency to speak more loudly than is strictly necessary. Khazalid vowel sounds in particular are uncompromisingly precise and heavily accented. Consonants are often spat aggressively or gargled at the back of the throat. Contrary to Men, whose dialect differs widely depending on geographic location, the Dwarfs remain fairly consistent in dialect across the Dwarven realm, although there are exceptions.
The empire of the Dwarves, stretched out from all around the great mountain ranges in the old world, most notably the Worlds Edge Mountain. Also, due to dwarfs society being revolves around mining and smithing, most of the major, hold and cities all lie in the mountain, protected by massive mighty citadels, where only the most strongest army can ever breach such a fortress.
- Karak Kadrin
- Karak Azul
- Karak Norn
- Karak Hirn
- Karak Izor
- Barak Varr
- Kraka Drakk
- Karak Ungor
- Karak Varn
- Mount Gunbad
- Mount Silverspear
- Karak Eight Peaks
- Karak Azgal
- Karak Izril
- Karak Drazh
- Karak Vlag
- Karak Dum
Dwarfs are well-prepared for war as each is already a battle-hardened warrior. In times of war, members of the clans will form regiments of Warriors, Quarrellers, and Thunderers under their own leader.
Superior Dwarven craftsmanship and engineering skills give their armies the most advanced technology including superb armor, black powder weaponry such as handguns and cannons, and powerful war machines. Dwarfs tend to prefer close combat where they are more than a match for most other creatures. Dwarfs do not make use of the wild winds of magic in the form of wizardry but instead rely on the powerful runic magic of their Runesmiths.
Dwarfs are not suited to riding beasts, let alone horses, but occasionally ride in their advanced Gyrocopters through the sky to attack their foes with a small cannon. Occasionally Dwarfs are mounted on Dwarf-drawn thrones if they are of sufficient rank and power.