The family is all important to the dwarves, as is Solidarity; common dwarven idiom include “Gund dwarkar” (So says the Clan, or So say we All) and “Drukafaran dornar” (The City is King). Their democratic process reflects this. Each head of household casts a number of votes for the total number of dwarves within his or her house, all of which must be the same. Whether or not those members of his or her household get a say in the matter is up to them. These are pooled within each regional offshoot of each clan, then pooled together so each of the five Clans casts a single vote. Per Tradition, each Thane does not receive a count for himself, and must vote per the dictates of his Clan. The one legal exception to this happens when the populace cannot be made aware of certain information pertinent to the decision, whether through distance, lack of time, or for security.
A 4/5 result must be achieved to change a policy. A Thane holding out on a policy change must be prepared to explain his or her reasons, but honor the total result anyway.
Thanes are elected officials, appointed democratically by each clan, though each individual clan’s process can vary slightly. Regardless, a Thane can be removed and replaced at any time as easily as he was placed by the election of a new Thane. A Thane cannot be a head of household, though former heads can be appointed.
In practice, some Thanes tell their heads of household how the Clan will be voting (or else), while others support their Thane out of loyalty, while others must persuade their heads to change a position based on merit. Specific Clans have changed how they work with regard to this process upon occasion, though rarely.
Regardless, once a vote has been cast and ratified, ALL dwarves are expected to comply with the outcome as soon as they can be made aware of the results via official declaration. Intentionally delaying or remaining ignorant of the official declaration is considered a fairly serious crime depending on the issue at hand, but it has been known to happen, and can be difficult to prosecute if done cleverly. Going directly against a current policy generally carries a much stiffer penalty; during trials for such offenses, the accused are expected to explain exactly why the circumstances dictated a particular infraction was not covered by the law due to specific circumstance. Stating that the law is incorrect is unacceptable. The strength of their argument determines the severity of their punishment.
A new vote, whether a new issue or revisiting of an old one, must be called and seconded by the Thanes alone, and any given issue may only be revisited once a year, save by unanimous decision by the Thanes to reexamine due to new evidence. Any of-age dwarf may offer a single petition once per decade, and the selling or bartering of such opportunities, while technically forbidden, is not punished so long as it is not made obvious.
The Forge of Moradin:
The primary church of the dwarves. Called forgepriests, they are drawn from every clan. They still marry, and are expected to do their duty, both as family men and women, and as dwarves, leading their people by example. A forgepriest is not separate from society; he or she is an exemplar of it. Thus, anyone taking vows is afforded one extra vote to their household, though the head of household still casts it (unless the forgepriest is the head, which is not uncommon).
The Forge of Moradin has several circles of initiation, depending on a forgepriest’s devotion, seniority, and general success as a dwarf paragon. They are:
A forgepriest’s holy symbol is given to him by his clan upon promotion by the church, and will be forged from the particular metal of his current circle of initiation.
The Dwarven Home Guard:
3 Peaks: Khazad Flint, Khazad Brek, and Khazad Vor
A Dwarven Lexicon:
The five clans are large extended families, each consisting of hundreds of households, with many different family names. The moniker for each clan is given to it by vote of the Thane council, and can change from time to time, though the last changes happened over two hundred years ago. Thus, if one clan falls into dishonor, the others may rename them until they regain their standing.
-Anvilmar: (Unyielding Mountain) “Dwarves for Dwarves. It’s too bad about the humans, but if we help them, the enemy comes after us. War needlessly risks more dwarven lives.”
-One of the oldest and most entrenched and traditional clans, the Anvilmar consider themselves to be the first true Clan. A large proportion of the best miners and artisans hail from the Anvilmar, and most make their home within the larger part of Khazad Gathol. Most are happy to let other clans deal with surface folk. They bear no particular distain for humans or any other surface race; they simply think that surface problems are not their problems.
Thane Himli Hrodsson A younger Thane focused on appeasing his elders within the clan, new to the position.
-Kar Kanazan (Long Sight in the Dark) “Humans are evil and corrupt, and brought their current misfortune upon themselves. Let the corrupt consume each other; the dwarves will remain pure and secure.”
-Long centuries of keeping the lowest reaches secure against the Maelstrom have tempered the Kar Kanazan to be strong, resilient, and necessarily very suspicious. When the enemy can take your face (or simply take your face off) before one even knows there is a breach, one can understand their caution. Occasionally accused of being witch hunters, they insist it is better to err on the side of caution and sacrifice a few innocents in order to save the whole of the dwarven people. They are most often found firmly entrenched within the Deep Guard, and few non-clan members go career military with the Deep Guard branch. Of all the clans, they are the most spread out geographically but the most unified on the issues important to them. They reside primarily within half a dozen strongholds located near particular trouble spots that require frequent patrols.
-Thane Anga Bronn: fervent speaker, middle-aged woman appearing older, thinks anyone that wants to help the humans is at best a sentimental fool, and at worst has ulterior motives counterproductive to the dwarven people as a whole.
-Grumnyr (Steel Axes) “Take the fight to the Craggen, stop them now before they continue their assault. This may or may not include helping the humans.”
-The most militaristic of the clans, the Grumnyr teach their sons and daughters to fight honorably for the protection of their people and the glory of their homeland. They supply the most soldiers for the Home Guard and are the first to advocate military action against a justifiable threat (though never an economic one). Most of their households can be found in the suburban fifty-mile radius around the main metropolis beneath Khazad Gathol.
Thane Hildra Helgun Maimed veteran of conflicts with the orcs. Walks with pronounced difficulty. Knows what her clan wants, generally without needing to consult them, and is prepared to sacrifice more than a small amount to get it.
-Tol Thost (Souls of Greed) “We should help the humans, so long as it’s profitable. And war is only good for profit if you’re not on the losing side (neutral is fine).”
-The wealthiest of the clans, the Tol Thost have mastered the art and science of Trade, making wealth where once there was only untapped value. Often they are accused of favoring other races over dwarves, which they firmly deny, stating simply that gold is gold, and that their “Family and Friends” discount applies to all dwarves regardless of previous business standing. Beyond the dwarves, if they choose to apply favorable policies toward specific business partners, that remains their business. It is the factors of the Tol Thost that oversee the operation of the River Rail, reflected in their Clan strongholds deep beneath Karad Peak, overseeing the trade hub of Shadowater, and in the southern parts of Khazad Gathol.
Gullend Karglos Shrewd politician and businessman. His position is taken very seriously by his clan, to whom he reports often, and he readily fulfills his function as a skilled lobbyist and negotiator, to the point where even the suspicion of his clan name is often overcome by sheer charisma.
-Mitharim (Bright Ones) “Dwarves should aid the humans, the same as all free peoples, because it’s the right thing to do. The Oathsworn were honorable, staunch allies, and should not be abandoned now in their time of need. Also, the invaders need to be stopped now, before more people suffer.”
-While few dwarves could truly be said to be optimistic, they do value the virtue of Tormal, or “Soul of Truth,” a particularly dwarven concept related to Courage, Justice, and Resolve, more accurately translated as the willingness to do what is right, regardless of what is easy, profitable, smart, or even of its chance of succeeding. The Mitharim are as unified in their Tormal as they are diverse in its application. These include the best scientists, engineers, and agricultural innovators, always in the name of seeking to improve the quality of life of their fellow dwarves and allies. They are often found alongside the traders of the Tol Thost and the soldiers of the Grumnyr, serving in the Home Guard as engineers and pilots, and are the most likely to interact with other races on a regular basis beyond one of commercial interests.
A common though civil debate continues within the Mitharim, regarding whether or not the human Oath of Exceptions embodies Tormal, or can even be reconciled with it. Some say the exclusionary wording, indeed the very idea of only having one very selfish rule then finding ways to break it, is sinful and misguided, and that while helping humans is Tormal, one can never expect an equal and open alliance with them to succeed. Others, primarily those that have served with the Oathsworn for long periods, say that, wording aside, those that practice it, especially the higher ranking ones, tend to show a great deal of Tormal, and that the practice of the Oath shows what tends to be lost in translation, as its text transfers its poorly to a dwarven mental schema.
Thane Aurna Angsdottir A former head of household, she has lost two children to military service, one to orc raiders and one to the horrors that infest the ruins of the Wrecklands. While her demeanor is matronly, her peers consider her very politically progressive. She is the eldest daughter of Angsgrim Dek, recently deceased explorer and patron of the clan, after whom Angsheld, their new grand hall within Moradin’s feet, close to Imperial lands, has been commissioned. Considered by most of her clan to be one of the wisest and most compassionate of all the dwarven people, her positions are rarely questioned by her clan, and are passionately defended against all else.