Gold dwarves, also known as hill dwarves, were the aloof, confident and sometimes proud subrace of dwarves that predominantly came from the Great Rift. They were known to be particularly stalwart warriors and shrewd traders. Gold dwarves were often trained specifically to battle the horrendous aberrations that were known to come from the Underdark.
Gold dwarves were stout, tough individuals like their shield dwarf brethren but were less off-putting and gruff in nature. Conversely, gold dwarves were often less agile than other dwarves. The average gold dwarf was about 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall and as heavy as a full-grown human, making them somewhat squatter than the more common shield dwarves. Gold dwarves were also distinguishable by their light brown or tanned skin, significantly darker than that of most dwarves, and their brown or hazel eyes. Gold dwarves had black, gray, or brown hair, which faded to light gray over time. Gold dwarf males and some females could grow beards, which were carefully groomed and grown to great lengths.
Gold dwarves were both materialistic and ritualistic, valuing themselves and others by what they possessed and by the reputation of their family. Gold dwarves were deeply conservative, rooting their values and beliefs in traditions that have survived for millennia even as the world changed around them. From infancy, gold dwarves were taught that their life was determined by tradition, from what their profession should be to who they should marry. Gold dwarves who lacked faith in the old ways or who went so far as to challenge cultural taboos were seen as dangerous deviants unworthy of friendship or trust by the majority of gold dwarves, creating an enormous social pressure to conform.
In part because of their conservatism and staunch belief in their own cultural superiority, gold dwarves rarely ventured outside of their homelands. The Thunder Blessing was the first event in a long while to push the race out of their conformity, forcing young dwarves to seek their fortunes outside of the overcrowded Deep Realm. Other than such demographic pressures, the only motive for adventuring deemed rational to the average gold dwarf was the desire to seek out their fortune in unclaimed lands, perhaps to build a stronghold of their own.
Gold dwarves who did become adventurers were most often fighters, though clerics, paladins, rangers, rogues, or even arcane spellcasters were not unheard of, particularly sorcerers, many of whom were distantly descended from dragons or elementals. Experienced gold dwarf adventurers might become battleragers, particularly those who found the tradition-bound strictures of their society oppressive. Other gold dwarves might train as dwarven defenders or divine champions.
Humans who wandered into the gold dwarven strongholds might be surprised to find a people far more confident and secure in their future than most dwarves. Whereas the shield dwarves suffered serious setbacks during their history, the gold dwarves stood firm against the challenges thrown against them and so had few doubts about their place in the world. As a result, gold dwarves could come off as haughty and prideful, believing themselves culturally superior to all other races and lacking the fatalistic pessimism of their shield dwarven cousins.
Gold dwarves spoke a distinctive dialect of Dwarven known as Riftspeak, which was an archaic tongue largely unchanged since the days of Bhaerynden. However, gold dwarves, in spite of their cultural supremacism, often took the time to learn the languages of neighboring lands as well, such as Shaaran, Durpari, or Dambrathan.
Art and Leisure
Gold dwarves were a deeply materialistic race who believed that the resources of the natural world existed only to serve the purpose of conscious beings. To a gold dwarf, there was no greater purpose than to fashion the minerals of the earth into things of beauty. Gold dwarf guilds took great care in their craftsmanship, often spending centuries to perfect their work and mark it distinctively as their own, a practice that was carried down to even the most simple tools, marking such items with detailed runes and carefully shaped flairs.
Gold dwarf warriors employed a large number of finely crafted weapons and armor, often enchanted with runes or prayers. Most commonly, dwarves employ weapons that can also be used as tools, such as axes, picks, or hammers, alongside more specialized weapons like urgroshes. Some unique items of note crafted by gold dwarves were mobile braces, rope climbers, and drogue wings used for riding hippogriffs.
Gold dwarves enjoyed the company of small lizards as pets, such as the spitting crawler or shocker lizard. Deep rothé were frequently kept as livestock as well, alongside pack lizards and mules as beasts of burden; gold dwarf mules were often bred specially from Lhesperan or Meth horses. For mounts, gold dwarves usually used riding lizards, war ponies, or, more rarely, hippogriffs.
Magic & Religion
Unlike most dwarven peoples, the gold dwarves were not particularly superstitious about magic and, while still cautious in its use, were no more so than any wise human mage, and gold dwarves even created a number of spells unique to them. In part, gold dwarves were open to magic because of their heavy use of enchanted arms and weaponry, but primarily this tolerance came from the age of gold dwarven civilization, which through sheer longevity had given rise to several magical traditions.
Divine spellcasters remained more common among the gold dwarves, however, though gold dwarves were less fervent in their beliefs than the openly devout shield dwarves. Gold dwarves most commonly favored the worship of Moradin and Berronar, in part due once again to the age of the gold dwarf civilization, which stretched back to when many of the Morndinsamman had not yet become widely known. While the gold dwarves were not particularly devout, clerics of Moradin and Berronar held great prestige within gold dwarf society, the clerics of Berronar in particular for their responsibilities as genealogists and guardians of tradition.
The most sacred site in gold dwarf civilization was the city of Thullurn, where the regional church of Moradin was centered. There, Moradin's clerics sponsored a rich culture of manufacturing and craftsmanship as well as serving as the city's executive and judiciary branches of government.
In contrast with their shield dwarf brethren, the gold dwarves largely kept their kingdom, the Deep Realm, intact and held strong against the assaults of other races. Gold dwarves could also be found in the Smoking Mountains as well as the Giant's Run Mountains west of the Vilhon Reach.
The gold dwarves were a proud race confident in their race's future after millennia of stability and because of this they had earned a somewhat deserved reputation for xenophobia and supremacism. Gold dwarves believed dwarves to be the greatest of all races and themselves to be the greatest of all dwarves, placing themselves at the top of the cultural pyramid. Gold dwarves in particular looked down upon the Tel-quessir, whom they loathed in part due to their ancient enmity with the drow.
Of the monstrous races, the gold dwarves' opinion was even lower. Among many key differences between gold dwarves and their more common kin was that the traditional enemies of the gold dwarves were not goblinoids but aberrations and other creatures of the Underdark, against whom many gold dwarves had some defensive training. But this did not mean gold dwarves enjoyed the company of goblins or orcs, whom they lumped half-orcs in with.
However, gold dwarves did not see all races besides themselves with enmity. For instance, gold dwarves had an atypically high value of humans and their planetouched kin for non-human races, valuing the often-profitable trading arrangements they'd had with human realms throughout history. Similarly, gold dwarves were, as a rule, rather fond of strongheart halflings, seeing them as kindred spirits for their propensity for industriousness and honor.
Originally, all the dwarven peoples were part of a single nation, the empire of Bhaerynden. Established sixteen thousand years ago, Bhaerynden occupied a vast cavern beneath the dark elf nation of Ilythiir and claimed for itself large swaths of the then largely unclaimed Underdark. Other than a large exodus of dwarves led by Taark Shanat the Crusader in −11,000 DR, the dwarves of Bhaerynden dwelt beneath the dark elves largely undisturbed for millennia. However, the transformation of the dark elves into drow at the end of the Crown Wars a millennium later would shatter the empire, as the newly displaced drow turned their rage and military might against the dwarves and within six centuries the drow had scattered the former occupants throughout the neighboring caverns and supplanted Bhaerynden with the empire of Telantiwar.
However, the drow dominance of Telantiwar was temporary. In −7600 DR, the roof of the caverns that contained Telantiwar collapsed, creating what would become known as the Great Rift. Explanations for the collapse vary, with gold dwarves favoring the theory that Moradin himself brought the roof down while scholars of other races believe the drow had weakened the foundations of the cavernous network. With their ancient enemies battered, the heirs of Bhaerynden returned to their homeland, establishing the Deep Realm. In the millennia that followed, the inhabitants of the Deep Realm, now known as gold dwarves, spread throughout the Underdark, reclaiming much of what had once been theirs and building glamorous cities of fabulous riches, which they traded through history with the many human empires of the surface world, from Jhaamdath to the cities of Chondath.
Like the shield dwarves, gold dwarves were blessed with a surge in birthrate by Moradin in the Year of Thunder, 1306 DR. While the Thunder Blessing was seen as a boon to most dwarves, among the gold dwarves its results were less appreciated, as the Blessing actually causing the previously stable population to swell beyond the capacity of the Deep Kingdom to support. In the years that followed, many displaced younger gold dwarves forsook the isolationist policies of their elders and took to exploring Faerûn.
- Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 18–20. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
- Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 97. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
- Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 91–93. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
- James Wyatt and Rob Heinsoo (February 2001). Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 47. ISBN 0-7869-1832-2.
- Doug Stewart (June 1993). Monstrous Manual. (TSR, Inc), pp. 94–95. ISBN 1-5607-6619-0.
- Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 14. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
- Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 109. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
- Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 31. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
- Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 11. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
- Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 32. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
- Roger E. Moore (January 1999). Demihumans of the Realms. (TSR, Inc.), p. 8. ISBN 0-7869-1316-9.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 11. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 12. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
- Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
- Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 14. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
- Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 13–14. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
- Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 13. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
- Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 11–12. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.