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Iron Dwarves

Long ago, a clan of dwarves stumbled upon the process whereby a version of the density spell could be made permanent on a dwarf, and the trait would be inheritable and passed on to that dwarf's children.  The goal was to create a group of elite soldiers capable of excelling at the close in-fighting needed in the warrens of goblins and kobolds.

The ritual that created the Iron Dwarves was a success, but it had one devastating effect (at least to a dwarf); though it caused the dwarfs' bodies to become hard and metallic as planned, it rendered the Iron Dwarves hairless.  Since the social status of male dwarves is determined largely through beard length and size, the beardless Iron Dwarves were perceived within dwarven society as slaves.  Though proclamations were made by the dwarven Thanes that Iron Dwarves were in fact equal to free dwarves, the reaction to a beardless dwarven face was so ingrained in the dwarven psyche that no law could make an ordinary dwarf accept an Iron Dwarf as an equal.  Violence eventually erupted and the Iron Dwarves were cast out.  All knowledge on how to create Iron Dwarves was destroyed.

The Iron Dwarves fled to a variety of catacombs which they were familiar with because they had fought over them on behalf of the dwarves.  However, their kobold and troglodyte inhabitants resisted fiercely and the war with the reptile races is legendary among the Iron Dwarves and makes up the bulk of the Iron Dwarf epic The Founding of Ferromar.  Since then the Iron Dwarves have occasionally sided against regular dwarves in wars that have sprang up over the centuries.  This has done nothing to endear them to the dwarves, and a typical dwarf refuses to acknowledge that Iron Dwarves are dwarves at all, calling them Yranzakh, which means "Iron Rats".  The feeling is mutual, with Iron Dwarves having little use for ordinary dwarves.  Iron Dwarf veterans of battles with dwarves often keep the beards of fallen dwarves as trophies.

About 300 years ago, the city of Ferromar was overrun by kobolds, the culmination of a war that lasted for centuries.  With their capital fallen, many Iron Dwarves emerged into the surface world and have travelled widely, looking for a new homeland.  Some Iron Dwarves continue to eke out a living in the darklands, but they have few allies and many enemies there, and a few still plot the reconquest of Ferromar and the re-establishment of their nation.

Iron Dwarves can be a rowdy bunch, and they seem uncouth to most people.  Brawling is common amongst Iron Dwarves, but an unspoken rule among them is that punching and kicking are generally not allowed in a fight, as the hardness of the skin of Iron Dwarves can make such fights deadly.  Instead Iron Dwarves typically use grappling in a brawl, and they are often accomplished wrestlers. 

Though Iron Dwarves are hairless, They possess the same blocky facial features that dwarves do.  The skin of an Iron Dwarf ranges from maroon to dark gray, and is usually somewhere in between.  This skin is hard and dense, and resembles iron, hence the name.  However, contrary to popular belief, Iron Dwarves are not made of iron.  They are not constructs.  However, their bodies are suffused with iron in such a way as to give them some of the properties of iron.  Their skin is hard and offers some protection, but it is still skin; it can be cut and it bleeds, and it can heal like normal skin.  One cannot make metal artifacts out of the corpse of an Iron Dwarf.

Iron Dwarves speak their own crude dialect of dwarf.  After centuries of separation from regular dwarves this language is quite primitive, but the root words are the same and a dwarf can usually puzzle out what an Iron Dwarf is saying in his own language.  The reverse is not true; an Iron Dwarf fluent in his own language cannot understand the dwarf language; it is too complex and formal.

Iron Dwarves' society is based on lines, a practice of tracing the geneaology of an Iron Dwarf back to the original 100 Iron Dwarves who were created through the initial ritual.  Male Iron Dwarves trace their lineage through men while female Iron Dwarves trace their lineage through women.  A line functions much like a dwarven clan, only all lines are either male-only or female only and there is no opportunity for anyone to ever found a new line.  The eldest member of a line is considered the "head" of a line and has some social authority over others of his or her line, but since Iron Dwarves often live in isolated groups the head of a line is rarely present in an Iron Dwarf settlement and a "local" head is considered to represent the line for that community.  

There is one "royal" line and the head of that line is considered the king of the Iron Dwarves, but since Ferromar has long since fallen, few Iron Dwarves regard the title of king as anything more than a ceremonial title.  Iron Dwarf settlements are usually ruled by a council of local line heads, who are the only ones entitled to vote at such meetings, though a local line head can ask a member of their line to speak on their behalf at these councils.  While technically all votes are considered equal, the heads of more populous lines are generally given preeminence over those that represent smaller groups.

Iron Dwarves are generally monogamous, but their rules of marriage and mating are much less formal, and a marriage ceremony is primarily made to inform the community that any male offspring are in fact a part of the husband's line.  Illegitimate birth is a stigma against male children (who are thus part of the wrong line) but not for female children (since it is always obvious who the child's mother is).  

Children are raised by the family to a certain point, but when a child approaches adolescence he or she is typically separated from his or her family and from thereon in raised communally with other children of similar age and gender.  Socially this is similar in concept to a boarding school, but is not institutional or academic, and bears more stylistic similarity to basic training in the army.  Iron Dwarf adolescents are taught how to fight and learn the crafts of the trade they are chosen for.

Iron Dwarves are few and far between, and there are no more than 10,000 living at the moment.  Most Iron Dwarves live in small bands of 50-100 individuals.  Iron Dwarves living in rural or wilderness areas often live by herding goats and sheep, or mining and smelting iron.  Iron Dwarves often establish their own small districts in larger cities and usually work as blacksmiths and armourers.

Iron Dwarf Racial Traits
  • +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma. Iron Dwarves are strong and hardy, but they can be pugilistic and contrary.  Note that the +2 Strength bonus is also considered a size bonus and does not stack with any effect that grants a size bonus to Strength.  Iron Dwarves who are generated as sorcerers at first level may exchange the Charisma penalty for an equal Intelligence penalty.
  • Small Size: Iron Dwarves are small creatures, and receive a +1 size bonus to their AC and attack rolls, a -1 size penalty to their CMB and CMD, and a +4 size bonus to Stealth checks.  They are humanoids of the dwarf subtype.
  • Slow Move: Iron Dwarves have a base speed of 20 feet, but their speed is never modified by armor or encumberance.
  • Darkvision: Iron Dwarves can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
  • Sturdy: Iron Dwarves gain a +4 racial bonus to their CMD when resisting a bull rush or trip attempt while standing on the ground.  
  • Hatred: Iron Dwarves gain a +1 racial bonus to hit against humanoids of the dwarf or reptilian subtype.  This bonus increases to +2 when using a grapple, grab, or dirty trick maneuver that targets the beard of a dwarf (the dirty trick maneuver allows an Iron Dwarf to cut the dwarf's beard with a bladed weapon - this has no game effect but typically enrages the dwarf).
  • Metallic Hardiness: Iron Dwarves gain a +2 racial bonus to saves against mind-affecting effects, disease, poison, and effects that cause exhaustion or fatigue.
  • Metallic Skin: Iron Dwarves gain a +1 racial bonus to natural armor and DR 1/adamantine.  These ratings increase by one for every seven points of base attack bonus the Iron Dwarf has.
  • Iron Fists: Iron Dwarves can make lethal slam attacks with their fists.  These count as natural attacks which do 1d3 bludgeoning damage each.  If an Iron Dwarf receives the improved unarmed strike feat, this increases the damage he does with his fists by one die type.
  • Conductivity: Iron Dwarves have an innate Electricity Resistance 5 as long as they are touching the ground or a grounded object.  If they are physically touching another creature when struck by an electrical attack, any damage prevented by electricity resistance is instead done to the creature they are touching (save allowed).
  • Metallic Affinity: Iron Dwarves gain a +1 racial bonus to save DC and caster level for any spell they cast with the metal descriptor or spell that targets metallic equipment.  They also get this bonus for powers granted by the metal domain.  Finally they get a +2 racial bonus to any craft or profession check relating to working with metal, and can use any weapon they personally manufacture as if proficient in its use. 
  • Heavy: Due to their short legs and great weight, Iron Dwarves receive a -4 racial penalty to acrobatics checks related to jumping.  They also lose their size bonus to stealth when trying to move silently.  If they are to be carried by a mount it must be one capable of carrying a medium creature.  Finally, they get a -8 penalty to swim checks and fly checks for wing-based flight, and must make a DC 10 swim or fly check each round to remain afloat or airborne, and must spend at least a move action each round to do so.
  • Density: The spell density cannot be cast on an Iron Dwarf; they are considered to have the effects of such a spell in effect already (though it is innate and cannot be dispelled).  Likewise, enlarge person and reduce person have no effect on an Iron Dwarf.  Spells or magical effects that increase or decrease the size of a character treat Iron Dwarves as if they were monstrous humanoids instead of humanoids.
  • Dwarf Hostility: Dwarves consider Iron Dwarves to be enemies.  Any time an Iron Dwarf meets any other type of dwarf, that dwarf's initial reaction is always one level worse than normal, and Iron Dwarves get a -2 on all diplomacy and bluff checks relating to dwarves.
  • Metallic Vulnerability: Spells and effects that do damage to or have negative effects on metallic objects can be cast on Iron Dwarves as if they were metallic objects.  These have a variety of effects:
    • Repel metal affects an Iron Dwarf as a metal object.
    • Any spell that automatically gives an object the broken condition (such as break) instead does 1d6 damage per spell level if cast on an Iron Dwarf.
    • Transmute metal to wood instead acts as a slow spell on Iron Dwarves.
    • Rusting grasp does damage to an Iron Dwarf as if it were a ferrous creature. Likewise the rusting attacks of a Rust Monster do damage to an Iron Dwarf, and a Rust Monster attacks Iron Dwarves as if they are a source of metal.
    • Heat metal and chill metal may be cast directly on an Iron Dwarf instead of on his equipment.  It does damage to the Iron Dwarf as if the Iron Dwarf was wearing metal armor.  However, the damage the Iron Dwarf receives from these spells (after deducting energy resitance) is also added to any unarmed attacks the Iron Dwarf makes (as appropriate energy damage), and anyone grappling or striking the Iron Dwarf with unarmed or natural attacks takes this damage if they successfully strike him (this damage is only ever done to any enemy once per round).
    • Any other spell with the fire descriptor that does damage to an Iron Dwarf also creates a lingering heat in his body that lasts for 1 round and does 1/4 the damage he received as with heat metal above.
  • Weapon Familiarity: Iron Dwarves are automatically proficient in Greataxe, and treat any weapon with "dwarven" in the name as a martial weapon.
  • Languages: Iron Dwarves speak Iron Dwarf (a degraded dialect of dwarf) and common (or undercommon if they are native to the darklands).  Iron Dwarves with a high intelligence score can choose from the following bonus languages: Draconic, Dwarven, Gnome, Goblin, Terran, or Undercommon (or common if they are native to the darklands).