Much like an Iceberg, the majority of the Dwarven population lives unseen in sprawling underground cities. These cities are typically set out in a logical, hexagonal pattern, forges near the surface to vent hot and oftentimes poisonous gasses make way to wheel and spoke pattern city proper. Living areas make up much of the outer ‘wheel’ giving way to markets at the spokes. The inner ring consists of military garrisons and noble residences and the centre contains the central keep, which is the residence of the dwarf lord tasked with governing the city. Larger cities may consist of many of these levels although most do not contain more than one keep.
Cramped but comfortable would be the word most overlanders would use for the average dwarf’s home. While large, dwarven cities have densely packed populations. This has resulted in most dwarves’ complete lack of personal space, as rubbing shoulders and squeezing past obstructions make up most of a dwarf’s commute.
Dwarves live in a highly regimented caste/clan system. Every dwarf, with the exception of nobles enters a clan, or guild of dwarves dedicated to a specific craft or profession upon entering adulthood. Dwarves rarely change clans and only do so when the situation is called for, such as the bolstering of the army or if a clan experiences a sudden labour shortage. Each guild is made up of several tiers, the most common setup being apprentice, journeyman, master, artisan and finally Grandmaster. Each clan is governed by a single Clan leader who answers only to the Dwarf lord and his high council.
Nobles are the exception to the clan rule. Noble dwarves concern themselves to the governance of the city as a whole or maintaining the military garrison, of which nobles make up the commissioned officer rank. If a noble dwarf proves themselves, either in statecraft or combat, they may be invited to make up the dwarven high council, a select number of dwarves who advise the Dwarf lord directly and guide the clans in their work.
Dwarven society is largely male dominated, not due to any physical differences between the sexes but mostly due to necessity. Much of the middling ranks of the clans (Journeyman, Master) are even in terms of gender disparity. Dwarven men typically are the outliers, making up the majority of the apprentice and higher ranks. In a traditional dwarven marriage, the wife will work in their chosen clan until a child is conceived. At that point she will raise their child, teaching them the necessary skills and talents to live in the dwarven community as a whole. It is no surprise then that many dwarven children take up the clan of their mother.
Due to the low birth rate, children are considered very precious in dwarven society. Most are tutored by their mothers, who will typically form close knit teaching groups with nearby families. This allows the children to socialise while simultaneously allowing a greater spectrum of knowledge to be distributed.
At some point on their 18th winter a dwarven youth will approach a council of artisans from each clan and take part in what is known as the trials. The trials are a test, an entry exam into a particular clan of the youth’s choosing. Depending on the size of the settlement the youth may be able to take part in multiple trials over the course of the winter, or in particular of above ground farming settlements, may only get one chance per year to prove their worth. While not particularly difficult, the trials do weed out dwarves who don’t have the passion for their chosen clan. Those who do not pass the trials must wait a year as ‘clanless’ a title that is looked down upon with pity at best, and disdain at worst.