The following is the file I hand out to players w/ Dwarven characters. There have been quite a few over the years, so I've built up the lore of this race fairly well. None of this has been changed for the DCCRPG setting. (Though in prepping for this post I did some minor editing for clarity)
Being long lived and lawful by nature, the second eldest of the humanoid races has weathered the vicissitudes of history better than most; but they have not been without their troubles… By the time the Humans arrived in the world, the Dwarves had had more than 5000 years to build and mature their culture under the tutelage of the Dragon Kings. The Dragon Wars, and the inevitable failure of the Empire of Dragons punctuate the end of this golden period. In the aftermath of this conflagration we see the first schism of the races, Dwarves included. The Sphinxes & Naga split what remained of the Dragon Empire between them and tried to entice the lesser races to join them in the rebuilding. Those who would not serve were slain.
All of the Dwarves that refused this call feared for their lives and some delved deeper into Áereth than ever before… eventually forgetting the surface world as they were slowly changed by their hate and fear into the Deep Dwarves. The rest of those who would not serve bunkered into the Mountain Halls of their birth & were so obstinate about dieing that the sphinx’s & naga’s gave up and abandoned the siege: these Dwarves would later be known as Mountain Dwarves. Renown for their fighting prowess, their love of Stone and Metal Crafting is as deep as the roots of the mountain holdings they call home. The rest followed the Sphinxes into the southern deserts to help build the Khansurian Empire, but they were treated as little more than useful slaves, and powerful warriors. In spite of their treatment the Dwarves learned many new crafting skills during this time; including the use of magic, but the Empires of the Sphinx’s & Naga’s (like all Empires) eventually destroyed each other. The Wandering Dwarves had long since lost the desire to delve into the strata of Áereth, for they had toiled as slaves within the mines of their Sphinx masters for untold centuries & the tasks of mining & living underground had become anathema to them. They along with the other descendants of the humanoid races find themselves once again orphaned by fate. These Wandering Dwarves would later come to be known as Hill Dwarves.
Most of the Dwarves and Elves feel an instinctive longing in their hearts that eventually causes them to migrate northwards. The Humans and Halflings follow in their wake, but small groups of all the races stay behind in the ruins of their homes, hoping to rebuild; or wander off in other directions searching for new homes. It was some time around -400dc that the Dwarves & Elves returned to Lirea, the isle of their birth. The Mountain Dwarves recognized their long lost kin and invited them to live in the Halls of Amonzadd, but the Hill Dwarves politely refused. The Mountain Dwarves were shocked and angered at the reticence of their newly found cousins, but before any grudges or feuds could take root, an elderly Mountain Dwarf came forward. He was a cleric of Daenthar the Lord of Áereth and he spoke quietly, forcing everyone to strain in order to hear his words. Soon they all began to calm down and see reason. He instructed the Hill Dwarves to take residence on the mountain above, while the Mountain Dwarves would remain within their Mountain Halls. Both would benefit greatly from this arrangement and the Hill Dwarves were charged with defending the exterior of Amonzadd. In time the Dwarven Clans began expanding into the various mountain ranges of Áereth, but the center of their identity (political & cultural) was the Isle of Lirea. As such, Amonzadd is where all of the best and brightest of the Clans came to parley, & to conduct their business. It is where the Clan Chiefs were required to make their holdings so that all Dwarven maters could be attended to efficiently and feuds and grudges minimized. Thus began the 2nd golden age of both races: but it lasted for less than 300 years.
The races of Giants from all over Áereth banded together into a Mighty Horde in -120dc, beginning the War of Divine Right by the year -66dc and the war would not end for more than a century. Finally, with the island under siege, and the Elves falling before the might of the Fire Giants; it seemed like the survivors would have to surrender or flee into the depths of Áereth, when it seemed as though a miracle had arrived. Jathra the Cloud Giantess brought the arcane plans for the creation of mighty artifacts that would turn back the Armies of the Giants. It was the Elven and Human wizards and those who had believed the lies of Jathra the giantess, which had led to the annihilation of the island.
They had convinced the Dwarven Elders of that time to agree to help craft the Pillars of Expulsion, primarily by supplying the high quality adamantium and craftsmen for the forging of the pillars. The Elven & Human Wizards were responsible for casting the powerful spells to bind enchantments to the Pillars. The Mountain Dwarves are convinced that Jathra was setting a trap from the very beginning, and feel most betrayed by the Hill Dwarves. They feel that the Hill Dwarves were duty bound to defend the Adamantium Gate of that great hall; they were ultimately responsible for Jathra’s entrance to the Halls of Amonzadd because they had failed to kill her or die trying.
The last battle for the Isle of Lirea ended with the island sinking into sea, and when the halls of Amonzadd sank beneath the waves: they took all of the greatest loremasters, craftsmen, workshops, tools, and the repository of all the elder crafting wisdom of the Dwarven people… gone in a night and a day of elemental chaos. The Dwarves reset their calendar from its normal tracking of the ages: to 0, in honor of those who died defending their ancient home. To this Day Dwarves are terrified of open water.
With the ancient birthplace of the Dwarves at the bottom of the ocean; it not only tore the heart out of the Dwarven race, but it also caused much havoc for the political structure of the Dwarven Clans. The cohabitation & sharing of resources between Mountain & Hill Dwarves had worked beautifully for hundreds of years, but now the Dwarves were sundered from one another culturally and geographically. The Dwarven people have been a divided race ever since that horrible day… and the divide seems to grow as the ages pass & the tempers boil.
The Hill Dwarven faction thinks that the future is best served by living close to or even above ground, spread out like the other races… ensuring that they never become “centralized” & thus vulnerable, as their ancestors had been. They are less concerned with things like mining and the working of stone, and are far more gregarious than the other branches of the Dwarven line. While they still make their homes and holdings underground, they seldom delve deeper than that needed for a small family complex: and such a structure would include nearly equal amounts of “open to the sky” courtyards as it does basements and cellars. They are the most friendly with they other races, because they have “moved on” and have chosen not to hold a grudge against the Elves and Human for the weaknesses of their ancestors.
On the other side of the anvil, the Mountain Dwarven faction have become obsessed with rediscovering all that was lost. They are extreme traditionalists that want to hold on to the majesty and glory of their elder days; as such they have held strictly to the edicts passed down through the ages since the “Time of the Fall.” These edicts are a collection of the fragments of Dwarven Law and Religious practice that were scavenged from the all of the remaining private libraries of the Clan Holdings & temples of Daenthar left upon the world of Áereth. It is a hodge-podge of contradictory sayings and poorly defined customs that was used to rule the Mountain Dwarven Clans for the first 500 years: this period of inter-clan warfare is known as the Kin Wars.
They ended when an elderly Cleric of Deanthar, a Dwarf known as Nomothamai the Seer, came forward & through the powers granted him by Deanthar: shared his vision directly with the minds of all Dwarves. He prophesied the coming age of mankind and the horrors it would bring to the Dwarven people should they not stand united against the demonic armies of evil men. Daenthar calls to his children through Nomothamai to gather in the Ul Dominor Mountains. By the year 1000D.C. nearly 80% of the worlds Dwarven population had gathered into the most massive underground complex ever built; linking the Ul Dominor Mountains with nearly every Dwarf Hold via tunnel or Teleportation Ring. They leave nothing behind within their abandoned halls save for traps to kill the foolish. In spite of the Unifying vision, the bitterness between Hill & Mountain Dwarf continues and they prefer not to mingle. However, the need to defend the race compels the Hill Dwarves to settle Ul Dominors lowlands and there are few tunnels or Teleportation Rings connecting with their mountain dwelling kin.
In 1060D.C. the Kin Wars resume, but this time it is the Deep Dwarves who attempt to take control of the Dwarven Nation. The battles rage for 300 years before the Deep dwarves are finally defeated; and at the end of the last battle, Ryvek Helsborne, the King of the Mountain Dwarves turns to the surviving clan chiefs and pronounces that the Hill Dwarves have acquitted themselves with such valor that he declares their feud at an end and let them be done with the bitter days of enmity. The Hill Dwarves accept this pronouncement and the feud between Hill & Mountain Dwarves is ended. Ryvek Helsborne is elected the first Steel Overlord by the Council of Clans, which allows the Dwarven people to prosper and flourish once again.
All is prosperous and golden until the year 1810D.C. when the Nimorian Demon Kings made war upon the Dwarves and Elves of the northlands, but the coalition of Dwarves and Elves crushed their foes and sent them packing by 1814D.C. This having been the first time the two branches of the Dwarven family have stood side by side with a common foe that wasn’t a Dwarf, it cemented their renewed sense of kinship and the 3rd golden age of Dwarves had begun. It lasted until 3090 when a loathsome Mountain Dwarf named Oro Loroth led his entire Clan in revolt against the Steel Overlord & the Council of the Clans. By 3100 they managed to kill Fargustin Dronil, the Steel Overlord & slaughtered every last member of the Dronil Clan and set up an independent Dwarven Kingdom known as “The Halls of the Mountain King” with Risinox as its capital.
The Council of lords quickly appoints Saraas Helsborne as the new Steel Overlord in 3100D.C., & it has been a profitable first century of rule ever since the Human Empire started to crumble…again… But the Dwarves of the Ul Dominor mountains are ever watchful to this new “mountain king” for he is always undermining (sometime literally) the influence of the Steel Overlord & the Clan Council with the other races. Sometimes with acts of aggression directed mostly towards Hill Dwarves & Elves; but also by undercutting the Steel Overlords prices for the materials that are most needed by the Humans. A time will come for a reckoning, but the Dwarves are a long lived people and can afford to be patient; besides, the Dwarves of the Ul Dominor Mountains don’t mind seeing the Humans knocked back a little.
This opinion changed when the Human provinces east of the Ul Dominor mountains began to fall to the Tribal Horde of the Scourge around 3175. It became clear that without an alliance of the 3 major races, the light of civilization would be gone in the east. For the Dwarves it was a pragmatic decision, not an emotional one… the Tribal Clans weren’t interested in trade for metal items or any of the other services the Dwarves had to offer; so they sided with the Elves and Humans.