Pirates of Skyview
Known throughout the common realms as Cinder Dwarves, for they are the primary harvesters of Ember and often bear the darkened hands known only to those who handle the material on a daily basis.
Cinder dwarves are as hard as their environment. Where a typical hill dwarf might be surly or taciturn, a Cinder dwarf is impassive as stone. Making smalltalk with one is like talking to a rock.
Cinder dwarf culture is uncommonly rigid. Although basically egalitarian, there is little tolerance for anyone who would rock the boat. Crime of any kind is virtually unknown, and punishable by stoning.
Cinder dwarves are slightly shorter and even stockier than other dwarves, averaging about 4 feet tall, both males and females, and weighing around 12 or 13 stone. They wear clothing of black or dark earth colors. Even their armor is made of a high-carbon alloy which renders it dull black. When not in motion they remain rock still, allowing them to blend easily into the shadows.
Cinder dwarves live often in isolated communities, in the deepest and most inaccessible areas of the Hollows. There they have lived for centuries, perfecting the mining of ember, holding back the tide of the Shadowfell, and learning their own special techniques for fighting against the darkness.
They keep to themselves, and have negotiated many trade deals to minimize travel away from their homes. Their holds are extremely utilitarian in design, even the smallest built with thick slab walls designed solely for defense. Very little accomodations for outsiders is ever found inside their holds.
Very little in the way of social order is enforced, Cinder dwarves simply do not question their roles they fit best in, and often leaders are simply chosen by a nod of a head amongst the elders, and not a word spoken.
Monks and monastic orders play a significant role in Cinder dwarf society. Cinder dwarves tend to be uniquely skilled at manipulating the magic within their minds, and have found this power to also be untainted by Shadow the way other magics of the world have become. Every community has at least one monastary of some sort, and larger communities often have many houses dedicated to varying styles of combat and training.
If a Cinder dwarf ever publically shows pride, the order of his teachings is where it’d come from. Monastic orders have even been known to have occasional squabbles, although they’re almost never heard of outside the holding’s walls.
Cinder dwarves are exceedingly insular. They rarely leave their homes, carved often right into the upper walls of the deep chasms of the Hollows, and pay little attention to the outside world. Their habitat is so unappealing to most races, and their natural defenses so imposing, that they are rarely troubled by intruders. However, they are more than capable of defending themselves when threatened.
Cinder dwarves generally have amicable relations with any mountain dwarves in their vicinity, relying on them for whatever commerce they may need. They are more tolerant than most dwarves of orcs and other savage races, so long as they do not pose a direct threat. They are indifferent to elves and other aboveground races, hardly ever giving them a second thought.
They are rumored to have hoards of precious metals and gems. This is only partly true. They typically only mine what they need to trade with outsiders, preferring to leave the rest in its natural setting, which they consider more beautiful.
Cinder dwarves are most likely to be encountered outside their homes when a danger to them becomes evident. On those rare occasions when they mobilize for war, it is truly a terrifying sight.
It is unusual for one to leave home for other reasons, but it does happen.
Cinder dwarves don’t tend to have a singular religion. The bulk are agnostic or atheistic. This is mostly due to the profound influence their monastic orders have over their culture. The single strongest view any of them hold is in never looking for any help outside of one’s own self.