Dragons refer to humans and dwarves as the closest of companions, as the two peoples have been partners almost from their earliest days on Tygan. All but the earliest fossil records of human and dwarven encampments show the two living, working and dying in the same place. While it’s not known for certain why this partnership happened, the best theory is simply that each people was able to perfectly cover the weaknesses of the other. Humans, while slower than elves, were much faster than dwarves as well as tall and nimble enough to climb without too much trouble. Dwarves were much sturdier in build and could survive worse injuries more easily. The marriage of these two skills ensured the survival of their parties during their days as hunter – gatherers.
Colonies of humans and dwarves varied their hunter-gatherer strategies based on the number of each member people in their particular unit. Those groups with a higher number of humans favored exhaustion hunting, able to keep pace with animals over a long enough distance that the animals ultimately went into heat shock and became easy prey. Groups with a larger number of dwarves more actively targeted large animals or more dangerous predators that tended to fight rather than flee and would’ve been unnecessarily dangerous targets for human-centric groups. This partnership proved an excellent survival strategy, but caused humans and dwarves to remain nomadic and isolated while elves settled down, founded large cities and grew more numerous. This led to the elves pilfering anything valuable from human and dwarven caravans that entered their territory, and ultimately to the enslavement of both creeds by the elves.
A joint rebellion by humans and dwarves to overcome their elven masters was the spark that ignited the First Great War. In spite of being not as well trained and lacking the fine weaponry and armor of the elves, humans and dwarves ended up winning the conflict and gaining freedom for both their peoples. This has been attributed to a number of factors. Overall, humans and dwarves were far more skilled at wilderness survival, which gave them a distinct advantage in Haiden’s harsh landscape. Unlike the elves, humans and dwarves could be found regularly in enemy camps and bases, still being exploited for slave labor. They would use these connections to gain information that was used to exploit their elven foes. Humans and dwarves had far greater numbers than the elves, and a tenacity that became infamous on the battlefield. They resorted to ambush attacks and other nonconventional battle tactics to wear down and confuse their enemies. Finally there was the question of mobility. Humans and dwarves never established a set base during the entire conflict, their command only remaining in a single place for a few weeks time at most. These caravan bases were constructed of horse drawn wagons and tents, allowing them to be easily hidden and moved quickly as needed. Often they would be set in dangerous landscapes, such as swamps and freezing mountains, leaving the elves to succumb to the elements before they could ever reach them. Since they were constantly on the move, it was very difficult for the elves to successfully plot, let alone carry out an attack on human and dwarven command. After peace was reached, elves would later adopt similar tactics for their military, grudgingly citing their effectiveness. The conflict solidified the partnership betweens humans and dwarves, leaving the creeds almost inseparable in the centuries hence.
It’s quite rare to find humans and dwarves holding negative opinions of each other. Humans and dwarves often refer to the other creed as their respective best friends. A dwarf saying originated during the First Great War runs “I would rather have a human outrun me than an elf alongside.” Dwarven and human lineages often associate with each other for many generations. The most impressive of these bonds go all the way back to the hunter-gatherer days. Though they’ve influenced each other greatly over the centuries, both humans dwarves retain their own distinct cultures. In areas with more dwarves than humans, the humans adopted dwarven culture. The pattern runs vice versa for dwarves in human-heavy regions. This gave birth among dwarves to calling integrated humans ‘the tall dwarves’ as the mannerisms of such humans are identical to their own.
This connection runs deep enough that humans and dwarves have fought alongside each other in every racially-divided war in history with only one exception. The only time dwarves and humans stood against each other was a trade dispute some 200 cold seasons prior to Assylyl’s arrival. Even in that case, the two creeds treated each other with surprising respect on the battlefield. Both sides treated their prisoners as honored if captive guests, and the commanders in each army made time to bury their fallen foes as well as their own men. Once the war ended, it was common to hear old foes swapping stories of it as amiably as if they’d fought side-by-side.
Dwarves as a people are short but very well-built, with musculature that’s both dense and very powerful. It’s never wise to get in a fist-fight with a dwarf. They have extremely thick skin, to the point that dwarven smiths can and do test how well they’ve sharpened a blade by running it over their palms. If it leaves a discernible mark, the edge is considered battle-ready. Dwarves are just as thick-skinned regarding insults; a dwarf may use an insult as a pretext to start a fight, but it’s almost certainly because he just really wanted to punch someone rather than any genuine feeling of insult. The majority of dwarves have red or brown hair; blonde and black are possible but very rare. Dwarven blood is unusually thick, with about the consistency of syrup. There’s a dwarven saying: “Blood is thicker than water, and a dwarf’s blood is thickest of all,” a testament to dwarven loyalty. Their stout figure does slow them down, one of the disadvantages of being a dwarf. While in theory their shorter reach is a serious problem in fights, in practice their height makes attacking them just awkward enough that things even out. Most dwarves don’t practice arcana since their biology makes it very difficult, and a ball of fire is about as effective as a hammer while less versatile. Still, dwarves have mastered arcana, and due to their limitations are highly revered for the feat.
Dwarves have a reputation to be boisterous, which is well-earned and they are quite proud of. Dwarves often speak about their exploits in battle, and generally in much louder terms than humans do. They usually take jobs that require a lot of muscle, often finding employment on supply ships where both their strength and lower center of gravity are highly sought-after.
Dwarves also have a reputation as heavy drinkers, and there’s some debate as to whether their high tolerance for alcohol prompted this or it went the other way around. The stout figure of a dwarf makes it much easier for him to walk while drunk without falling over or staggering, which in turn allows him to drink even more. The dwarves pride themselves on their tolerance, claiming it reflects their truly hardened nature.
Dwarves tend not to focus on academia; while some academics take offense to this and suggest that it’s because dwarves don’t have the brains, the truth is rooted in dwarven pragmatism. The most common explanation runs ‘I do not need a piece of paper to live a good life.” Dwarves value knowledge as much as anyone, but they want to be sure they’re only learning things that are either useful or interesting to them on a personal level. Many dwarves are listed among Tygan’s most intelligent. They are still well-versed, and many dwarves make a hobby out of humiliating scholars in debates and contests of lore to prove they don’t need a degree to learn and learn well. This practice grew popular enough that many of its dwarven practitioners receive invites to universities to compete with students and professors. Those of them that receive high ranks are offered honorary degrees, which they refuse more often than not. Dwarves from these walks of life tend to be more set in their ways. After all, they know best!
All dwarves put a high value on loyalty, one of the reasons some humans and dwarves have kept in close contact across so many generations. The reverse is also true; many dwarves hold grudges. If one of your uncles cheated one of a dwarf’s uncles on a trade thirty years ago, that dwarf will want proof that you’re not cut from the same cloth. This obviously makes dwarves especially suspicious of elves. Elves have to go far out of their way to prove themselves to dwarves. Though dwarven suspicion is somewhat justified given their history, it does sometimes bleed over into outright bigotry against elves. Dwarves have the dubious honor of credit for the slur ‘Pointer,’ a favorite derogatory term for elves.
Though it’s usually male dwarves who take up arms as soldiers, dwarves are still considered a matriarchal society. The majority of authority positions are taken up by females. There’s an old dwarven joke: “We don’t send the lasses into battle because we don’t hate our enemies that much.” In practice this is true; female dwarves aren’t nearly as stout as males, but are physically much stronger. It’s very common to see female dwarves running businesses and taking up careers as politicians. When they are seen in battle the saying goes “You know the dwarves are angry when their women charge you.”
By contrast, humans show a much greater range of cultural and genetic diversity than dwarves or even elves. They’re often considered the creed that bridges the gap between elves and dwarves. During their days as slaves the humans were treated better than dwarves overall, with humans more likely to serve as accountants and craftsman as opposed to raw physical labor, but they still had a reputation for standing by the dwarves when it came to the choice. The average human can lift much heavier loads than an elf, but not nearly as much as a dwarf, and is faster than a dwarf but slower than an elf. There are many half-human and half-elves who could easily pass for either creed with the right preparation; there are very few half-elf/half-dwarves.
Humans have a knack for integrating themselves almost seamlessly into other cultures and traditions. Even elves have said, “You can paint a dwarf, even an elf as matching all his kin, and never be far wrong. You’ll be hard pressed to do this for a human.” Those who trust humans refer to them as “The Prism People, holding the potential to catch all this world offers.” More suspicious members of other creeds call them ‘Chameleons,” indicating a certain kind of distrust and viewing human integration skill as inherently deceitful.
Many different human cultures exist, from the so-called “tall dwarves” to the Flatlanders across the sea. This sheer variety makes them difficult to classify. Humans are just as easily found getting drunk in a bar with an old dwarven friend as standing next to an elf at a high-ranking university. Though most dwarves are forgiving of humans, some refer to humans who work with elves as ‘traitors to the partnership,’ or ‘Dull Pointers’ in cases of particular vitriol. Most dwarves however see this as a simple necessity and forgive the humans for it, stating “We need someone to get in good with the dirty tall bastards, don’t we?”
Human biology is roughly halfway between that of elves and dwarves. Some scholars suspect they originated from cross-breeding between elves and dwarves long ago, a theory blithely referred to as the “Bastard Narrative,” for the implication the elves abandoned their half-dwarf children to be raised by the dwarves. There is some evidence for this with some groups of humans, but hardly enough to explain the origins of the entire creed.
Despite some tensions after both creeds were freed from slavery, they are still seen as partners even without the mutual threat of the elves looming overhead any longer. They are probably the best example of two creeds getting along very well. They are referred to sometimes as “shackle mates,” which can be considered an insult or a compliment depending on context and intent.
At the time of Assylyl’s reign, dwarves and humans did not have nearly the amount of cities that elves had accumulated. As a result, they did not suffer nearly the extent of civilian losses or destruction of real estate. Unlike elves, who made long term plans to stay in their dwellings, humans and dwarves were known to form evacuation plans in case of calamities, allowing them to evacuate many of their cities prior to the Far One’s arrival for a feast. Thus, their civilian losses, while still great, were not nearly the extent of elves.
The opposite is true of battle, where their losses were by and large greater ten that of elves. Though some attribute this to elven cowardice, the truth is many elven soldiers and military leaders were killed defending their cities, leaving humans and dwarves to lead the charge in Tygan’s harsh wilderness. Additionally, the leader of the fight against Assylyl, Davies the Kind, was a dwarf, a figure that humans and dwarves were much more loyal to then the surviving elves were overall, at least initially. In the latter stages of the fight against Assylyl, Davies inspired much courage in elves, as well as humans and dwarves, and became a highly revered figure across all creeds after Assylyl’s eventual defeat.
In the aftermath of the Far One’s reign, humans, dwarves and elves had to partner up to rebuild many of their cities, resulting in the first examples of cities where their populations were roughly equal. Though the cities that survived unscathed remain largely exclusive to certain creeds, it is increasingly doubtful they will remain this way.