Seafarer Dwarves - a Breed Apart Ethnicity in The World of Cartyrion | World Anvil

Seafarer Dwarves - a Breed Apart

Not every Dwarf spends his life in the deep cores of the mountains. Some have decided to make their way on the surface, living among the foothills. Some have chosen to live in the cities of Humans, but these are still surrounded by great works of stone (often crafted by their hands). In other words, most Dwarves never stray far from the environment in which they were first Awakened. They are most comfortable with solid ground beneath their feet and the might and beauty of cold stone nearby.

But not all Dwarves are so.

One group has transitioned to a life as alien as any Dwarf could imagine... a life at sea! These are the Seafarer Dwarves, and their society is quite unique - most would say strange - for any typical Dwarf to comprehend.


Culture and cultural heritage

Naturally enough, the life of a Seafarer Dwarf revolves around the sea. From an early age, they learn to life the unique life of a sailor. Remarkably many of the traits of all Dwarvenkind are adaptable to this life. Where a deep-dwelling dwarf finds it naturally easy to traverse narrow ledges and rock bridges, the Seafarer is at home in the rigging of a ship almost from birth. Their inherent steadiness of foot gives them remarkable ability to traverse swaying decks in even the stormiest seas.

Seafarers also have the ingrained sense of loyalty to a leader shared by all Dwarves. Mutinies on Seafarer vessels are practically unheard of. A crew is typically chosen from the clan members - this reinforces loyalties even more.

Most of the Seafarers have developed a lifestyle based around trade. Their ships are sought after by merchants of all races as they are well known as the most reliable and trustworthy bearers of goods from place to place across the oceans of Cartyrion.

But not every Seafarer deserves this trust, as there is one other quality that the Seafarers have inherited from their mountain-bound ancestors: the love of shiny things. This desire for wealth - gold coins, precious gems, finely crafted jewelry - leads some of the Seafarers to take up a life that involves liberating such treasures from the holds of other ships. But even here, the Dwarven sense of loyalty prevents them from raiding the ships of their cousin Seafarers. An act of piracy by a Seafarer vessel upon another has never been recorded in history.

Birth & Baptismal Rites

Clans and the Clan Dagger

The Seafarers share the concept of "Clan" with all other Dwarves. At birth, the family of a new Seafarer Dwarf begins to craft the ceremonial Clan Dagger that will be presented to the infant on its Naming Day.

Naming Day

Seafarer children are not given their names until their first birthday. Prior to this day, they are simply "the little ones", or "the tykes", or some other similar affectation. On their first birthday, though, the mother of the child brings the infant to the ship on which she or the father sails on and announces "Here is so-and-so... your future crewmate!" The clan dagger - carefully wrapped to prevent an unfortunate injury - is then ceremonially presented to the child.

Since the ship itself plays an important part in any Naming Day ceremony, it is traditional for the captain of a ship to make every effort to be in port in time for a child's Naming Day. This is not always possible of course, and in these instances, the ceremony is postponed.

Sailing Day

When a Seafarer child attains the age of ten, it is expected to leave the land-based home of whomever was raising it and joins the crew of the ship on which it may spend the rest of its life. These youths are the cabin boys of the ship, expected to learn from the crew all of the skills, customs, and behaviors expected of any good Seafarer. They are well treated, and since crew membership is practically hereditary, they often find themselves among more close family members than they had in their earliest years.

Coming of Age Rites

When a Seafarer child attains the age of twenty, they have the opportunity to prove themselves as full-fledged Seafarers. They do this by completing a ritual solo journey by sea in a small single-sailed craft. The specifics of this journey vary from port to port, of course, but it always involves the need to navigate beyond the sight of land, as every Seafarer is expected to be able to find their way even in the deep. After completing such a journey, the Dwarf is no longer a cabin-boy, but is instead a full crew member entitled to all of the responsibilities and benefits that position carries. There is no celebration or ceremony to mark the day a Dwarf sets out on this journey, but the day of its completion is celebrated as that Dwarf's Arrival Day.

Funerary and Memorial customs

Although they live most, if not all of their lives at sea, it is desirable for the Seafarer Dwarf to finally return to the stability of earth and stone in which their kind was first Awakened many thousands of years ago. Whenever possible - even if death occurs at sea - a Seafarer's body is returned to port and interred in a stone tomb alongside its ancestors. These tombs are maintained by those of the Tombkeeper clans for all time.

If a Seafarer is lost at sea, and there is no body to return, that unfortunate's belongings are interred instead. To the family, the deceased is resting along with the rest of the ancestors that have gone on before.


Gender Ideals

The Seafarers, like all Dwarves, judge the worth of an individual by their abilities, and not by their gender. There have been a number of notable female Dwarven ship masters in the past, and there are still many today.

Courtship Ideals

The majority of unions involving Seafarer Dwarves are with other Seafarers, but there is no hard custom or rule that requires this be so. To the contrary, among the Seafarers, unions with Humans, Halflings, and even on rare occasions Elves are not unheard of. These Dwarves respect and admire skills of seamanship no matter who is displaying them, and having that respect grow into love happens more often than one would expect.

Relationship Ideals

The most complicated aspect of life as a Seafarer involves the inevitable interactions with other Dwarves. To the "normal" Dwarf, the Seafarer is more than a little strange. How a Dwarf could forsake a sturdy foundation of stone for a rocking, rickety floor of wood bobbing about in the deep sea is just too much to fathom. The Seafarer, meanwhile, cannot understand how anyone, including a Dwarf from beneath a mountain, cannot see the beauty and richness of the open sea. This extreme difference in viewpoint makes the Seafarer as alien to the common Dwarf as a Forest Elf. And while business trading is easy enough, socializing tends to be awkward at best.

But for all Dwarves, blood is thicker than water, and even the Seafarers trace their Clan heritage back to the Twelve Clans that were first Awakened by Goranin deep inside the First Delve. Dwarves of the same clan feel a kinship for one another even when they hail from different regions around the world... whether they have chosen different lifestyles... even whether they are "crazy enough to spend their life in a bloomin' boat!

Major organizations

Ship Crews

When a Seafarer signs aboard a ship, it is often for life - or at least until the time they are too old to climb the rigging and pull their weight at sea. To be booted from a crew is the ultimate chastisement possible to a Seafarer, and one that suffers this fate is often doomed to never be recruited to another Crew - at least not one among the Seafarers. These often end up as crew on merchant vessels run by Humans.

A retired Seafarer is not a forgotten one, though. When shipmates decide it is time to make the transition back to a life on land, they are still considered to be shipmates. The Seafarers even have an expression for these former companions - they are simply "in their berths". And when these retired Seafarers ultimately pass on to the next life, to their comrades, they are simply "in their home port".

Captains Guild

Those Seafarers fortunate enough to have either amassed the funds to purchase or build a ship, or who have inherited one from a family or clan member have the opportunity to reach the pinnacle of Seafarer society - they become Captains. The Captains form almost a clan among themselves, and though most of the day to day business of a ship's captain is concerned only with one's ship, it is this clan of captains - the Captain's Guild - that is involved in any activity that requires cooperation among ships and crews.
A Seafarer's Carrack
Historical Figures
Thirar Thunderheart, the first Seafarer
Arabet Flamehair, the first female Captain

Myths and Legends
Why Thirar's Carrack is in the Night Sky

Do's and Don'ts Among the Seafarers
  • Always keep your eyes on your shipmates in the rigging and on the deck.
  • Always give aid to the distressed at sea, whether they be Dwarf, or any other Folk.
  • Always seal a business deal with a toast to good fortune - and a tall mug of ale.
  • Never raid the vessel of a fellow Seafarer.
  • Never bring a child aboard a vessel before its Naming Day.
  • Never do business with anyone who won't drink with you.

Related Locations
Cover Image by jplenio from Pixabay

Seafarer's Carrack Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay


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Jul 4, 2020 17:55 by Dani

Dwarven pirate ocean-people! I love this twist on the typical mountain dwellers, as well as the fact that despite how they live their lives, they're still deeply rooted in their ancestry--down to even honoring other dwarves by never attacking their ships--and entomb their dead in stone with other Dwarfkin. The Seafarer's code is some wisdom for sure.

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Jul 6, 2020 07:29 by Simo

I really enjoyed this article, pirate dwarves are one of my new favourite things and it's very well written. The only thing I can find that might be worth checking is this passage [Quote]When a Seafarer child attains the age of ten, it is expected to leave the land-based home of whomever was raising it and joins the crew of the ship on which it may spend the rest of its life.[/quote] It seems you are using here a neutral it for the dwarves instead of the they/them you were using elsewhere. I like the format too, but you can consider adding another image or a short paragraph to the side panel to get a more compact look. Overall I think it's well thought and presented article and it answers the SC prompt in a way that lets you use in full the ethnicity template, something a lot of us is struggling with.

Jul 6, 2020 09:26 by Juan BelĂ­o

Very well rounded up article! I like the dynamics between these dwarves and the rest of the dwarves, alongside the quite original festivities. That being said, I would have liked or would like to see something about the inner workings of a Seafarer ship, since they seem quite organized. They do not fight each other, but I'm sure they're very well defended against people with evil intent. Maybe it could make for an interesting article. Great job!

Jul 6, 2020 13:25 by Chris L

The font size is small for most of the article. The opening font size was good, maybe bump it up to that for readability or put the text into columns.   Dwarven pirates! I love it. Do they swing onto victim ships on ropes? I love the image, but it might not make sense for dwarves.   Very thorough, looks like you followed all the article prompts and really thought them all the way through. All the little details about their lives are great.

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