Gully dwarves have an extensive verbal history of their origins. Unfortunately, no two versions told by different gully dwarf clans agree on any relevant details. The stories are very colorful and entertaining to others, though gully dwarves take them very seriously. For our purposes, other sources will be considered.
Gully dwarves are fourth-generation demihuman race. Originally a human people who worshipped the god Reorx, the ancestors of the gully dwarves were magically altered by their deity as punishment for straying from the path of neutrality that Reorx espoused and for selfishly misusing their skills and talents. Reorx reduced his human worshippers in size and filled them with the urge to tinkerer, invent, and construct--and thus was the race of gnomes created.
Certain gnomes were later profoundly altered by the Graystone of Gargath, turning them into the two races of dwarves and kender. The dwarves were filled with the lust for wealth and the urge to possess material goods; their curiously drive was reduced, and they tended to think along static, rigid lines. In later years, intermarriage between dwarves and gnomes occurred in isolated communities across Ansalon. Surprisingly the children of such marriages proved to be of an entirely new race, with their own particular characteristics, but the members of this new race lacked all the better qualities of its parents.
Further intermarriages of this sort were banned by dwarven and gnomish societies, and members of this new race were driven out of their own clans, particularly by the dwarves, who regarded the new race as a blight. The new dwarven race became known as the Aghar, or "anguished." Humans later christened them "gully dwarves," noting the low status and poor living conditions that the race experienced (as well as the general disgust felt toward the Aghar by other intelligent races of Ansalon). Aghar are also called dumpmen, muckers, and dirt-eaters by their dwarven cousins.
Much of the anguish that gully dwarves suffered came from the bad treatment they received at the hands of other races. Dwarves of other thanes (races or major clan houses) even now regard the Aghar as unworthy of respect. Aghar were driven into the wilderness and forced to grub for existence among abandoned ruins, swamplands, and the refuse piles of old cities. They were used as slaves by the darker empires of old Ansalon and even by some dwarven races.
The Cataclysm was at once the curse of the world and the salvation of the gully dwarves. The destruction of civilization in Ansalon opened up dozens of deserted, ruined cities to habitation by wandering gully dwarf tribes, and soon once mighty towns like Xak Tsaroth became havens for the Aghar. Undisturbed by the rest of the world, the gully dwarves were free to establish their own culturees such as they were.
Gully dwarves still congregate in the larger reined cities of Ansalon. Draconian armies have conquered many of these places and has reduced the Aghar once again to the status of slaves. In places like Pax Tharkas, gully dwarves have been imported as slave labor from surrounding areas. While they obey their new masers, the Aghar wish to return to the days of freedom they once enjoyed, and they will usually seek outside help in ridding themselves of their new lords.
Society and Government
Gully dwarf communities are usually quite small. Aghar prefer to live in extended family units, called clans, which have 2-20 members. Some very large clans exist which have 6-60 members, and a few tiny families of only 2-8 members may be scattered through wilderness areas. Most gully dwarves live in villages abandoned by previous owners, or in the wilderness in old mines and caves. Small clans may live in the slums and refuse dumps of large cities, and several major cities in Ansalon have gully dwarves living in their sewer systems.
Clans living in or near major cities are often hired to perform (under strict supervision)menial tasks such as garbage collection, street sweeping, tinkering, cooking, and so forth. They face great prejudice when attempting to obtain any other work, and many have adopted a fatalistic and subservient attitude when working with goblins, humans, or other dwarven thanes.
The leader of a small family group is responsible for keeping the family together, and is the sole voice of authority (though his or her authority may be frequently questioned). No formal education exists, except for the proverbial "school of hard knocks."
On occasion, several clans will be found living together, usually in a ruined or abandoned city. Major Aghar communities hold between 40-400 adult dwarves and 40-400 children. At least two clans will be present, and possibly as many as five. Each clan will have a chieftain, with one chieftain (the strongest, cleverest, and most charismatic) becoming the local king. Kings are served by their bodyguards and by completely chaotic hierarchy of lesser functionaries with no clearly defined roles or duties. This haphazard monarchy is invariably repeated throughout all Aghar colonies.
Other large Aghar colonies exist at the Steam City outpost of Thorbardin and at the dwarven metropolis of Thorbardin itself. A small colony of Aghar at the ruined town of Pax Tharkas was supplemented by slaves from surrounding lands. The gully dwarves successfully defended the ruins from attacking draconians and have shut themselves away from the world for the duration of the Third Dragonlance War. The Pax Tharkas group is now under the able leadership of Highklahd Sestun I, the former slave of Fewmaster Toede.
A king's title is produced by adding the prefix "High" to the clan that the king represents, with his personal name following it. It is not unusual to note a succession of kings with the same name, each calling himself "the First" because of their inability to count well and their innate egotism.
It is worth noting that a gully dwarf king can be greatly underestimated, as was done with Highbulp Phudge I of Xak Tsaroth. They can become quite crafty and calculating, playing the fool long enough to lead troublesome opponents into unintentionally fulfilling the king's plans (often at grave risk to the opponents' lives).
Aghar support the policies of the Hylar (mountain) dwarves at Thorbardin, thought the Hylar do not return the good will. Aghar and dark dwarves do not get along because of the latter's enslavement of the former in past days.
Aghar acknowledge Reorx as the patron deity of all dwarves, but they do not believe that Reorx has any influence over their lives--in fact, they believe Reorx has abandoned them. Instead, gully dwarves believe that the spirits of their departed ancestors protect them from harm and ensure their survival.
Gully dwarves cannot cast any form of magic, though they are fascinated by lesser sorts of "magic show" legerdemain cast by non-Aghar mages and illusionists. Powerful spells frighten them. They hold magical items in disdain, but they universally believe that inanimate objects hold great power in themselves. Possession of such objects gives the wearer the benefits of this power, which comes from the spirits of ancestral gully dwarves. This cross between animism and ancestor worship appears to be natural dwarven materialism raised to a new plane of meaning.
Aghar believe that magical items are useless because their magic was put into them by other races. Themost powerful itmes, say the wisest gully dwarves, are those that seem to do nothing at all. Such items are regarded as holy and are given to shamans for safekeeping. The origin of this belief is lost, but Astinus says that it is a way of rejecting races value must be bad, since the other races are mean to gully dwarves; thus, gully dwarves don to need magic because it is important to other races. this attitude also appeals to the simple view of the world that gully dwarves have. Magic is complex and difficult to understand; if gully dwarves can't understand it, it must not be any good for gully dwarves.
Objects such as old bones, rotten fruit, furballs, dead animals, mud, and bent sticks are venerated and treasured, though not just any old bone, dead animal, or stick will do. An item is judged holy or not after a long period of deliberation among the gully dwarves who found it. The item is examined in detail and its relative merits as a holy item are widely discussed. after a community vote, an item is either kept of it is thrown away. Shamans keep these "holy relics" and administer their use.
Curiously, human clerics before the Cataclysm sometimes pointed out gully dwarves in their sermons as models to emulate, not as objects of ridicule. "No other beings have the strength of faith that gully dwarves have in their relics," one cleric noted. "We would od well to consider their example."
the most important facets of a gully dwarfs personality are generally agreed to be survival instinct, stupidity, pride, and endurance. Though derided by other intelligent races of Ansalon, gully dwarves continue to thrive under conditions that would have broken many others, and they have much to recommend them.
Gully dwarves are born to survive. They avoid exposing themselves to harm, and they regar cowardice as a virtue; groveling has been raised to the level of an art in their society. If confronted by an extremely dangerous opponent but not immediately attacked, Ahar will faint, stand paralyzed and shake, cry, beg for mercy, divulge rivers of information, run away, or hide their eyes. If attacked, most will fight normally, but a few will also have both eyes tightly closed. Aghar adventurers are made of slightly stouter stuff, but cannot be relied upon all the time. They are easily intimidated, but, if given a chance to break free of their oppressors, will fight bravely until they win or are overwhelmed.
Though the phrase "brave as a gully dwarf" is considered a base insult in non-Aghar towns, this innate cowardice has saved gully dwarves many times. Draconians have frequently spared them and used them as slaves, and other enemies have bypassed Aghar communities as not being worth the trouble to eliminate.
Gully dwarves are not above stealing, cheating, lying, informing, and bullying in order to survive. Dirty tricks, such as kicking dust in the eyes, jumping on fallen opponents, throwing food, etc., are often used. Food-fighting is also one of their favorite sports.
Gully dwarves are master scavengers. Much of their clothing, armor, weapons, and other possessions were recovered from garbage dumps or hammered together from scrap. They have a remarkable talent for putting apparently useless items to good use again like converting a battered pot into a helmet, or a twisted board and nials into a rat-catching trap.
The stupidity of gully dwarves is legendary. They can grasp the concept of a single item of a group of items, but they cannot distinguish between large groups and small groups. Most Aghar don't recognize numbers greater than one, which may derive from the fact that most gully dwarves do not recognize the needs of anyone other than themselves. Any number greater than one is called "two," which simply means "more than one."
This leads to ludricous situations in which gully dwarves are asked, "How many stars are in the sky?" of "How many bandits are riding toward us?" Gully dwarves, of course, always hold up any number of fingers and solemnly (and truthfully) say, "two." A few gully dwarves seem to understand that "two' can mean two separate items or beings as well as "more than one." These few gully dwarves are also able to understand the needs of those other than themselves, and are often found in positions of responsibility and power within Aghar communities. Humans refer to such as "those who can almost count to three." Aghar adventurers are usually of this type.
Though regarded as foolish by others, gully dwarves are a proud folk and act with great seriousness, which only heightens their comic appearance. They tend to have inflated ideas of their own greatness, and puncturing their egos is difficult to do. They don't like to be made to appear silly, though they seem to be unaware of how hilarious revolting their behavior is to others.
Gully dwarves are used to adversity and can withstand great punishment as individuals and as a rave. They plod through the bad times with determined, defiant spirits, often with a surprising cheerfulness. They've outlived so many other previous troubles that one more isn't seen as very important.
Gully Dwarf Assassins
Gully dwarf thieves may be hired out as assassins and spies. (No assassin class exists among gully dwarves.) Neutral theives will only attempt to assassinate beings who are harming or enslaving other gully dwarves, while evil ones are not so choost. Howver, gully dwarves are not very effective in these capacities. Gully dwarves are afraid to handle poison, and will never use it. If caught while on a mission, or even if stopped and asked a completely unrelated fquestion, there's a 50-50 chance that gully dwarves thieves who were hired for some task will blurt out the name and address of the person who hired them in order to save themselves. ('Nope, nope, nope,me not know nothin' 'bout no Geoff Ghrubb what gave me two coins to bump off no Zheb Kooke, nope, nope, nope.")
In their favor, gully dwarf thieves may be hired for a fee amounting to only one percent of the going rate for any mission, including assassinations. Only Krynn gnomes will ever hire them, since the gnomes understttand that no one can ever be completely perfect.
Gully Dwarf Shamans"
Shamans are the keepers of any relics that a gully dwarf clan possesses. Shamans have great pull in their home communities, and are regarded as healers, wise men, and saviors. Such gully dwarves usually travel with a wide assortment of holy items on their person, which they will haul out and use at every opportunity to benefit their friends and allies. A shaman leading his people into battle (a rare event) will prominently display every holy relic the clan owns, including a few new holy items drafted into emergency services as protective devices in case the old holy items have lost their power. ("Better safe than sorry.")
If forced into actual combat, a shaman will go berserk with fear and desperation, fighting recklessly until he is slain or the enemy is vanquished. Aghar shamans are noted for their ferocity when placed in seemingly hopeless straits from which they cannot escape.
Finally, shamans are the lorekeepers of their people, handing down the oral history of the Aghar as they see it. They also listen to the various tales told by other gully dwarves, and are sometimes consulted by non-Aghar adventurers who hope to learn some important bit of information.
Gully dwarves are short, squat demi-humans, averaging 4' in height; they have an average weight of 100 lbs., give or take about 10 lbs. Females tend to be slightly smaller than males. Aghar are physically much like any other dwarves, though they are often covered with scars, boils, sores, and filfth, due to their living conditions and the effects of disease.
Gully dwarves don't appear to be as heavy and stocky as other sorts of dwarves, and have narrower fingers and limbs. Pot bellies are very common among both sexes, and gully dwarves develop wrinkles quickly after age 25.
Gully dwarves are hard to understand, since they have no concept of grammar, syntax, and so forth. They speak in one- or two-syllable words, ramble constantly, lose the thread of what they are saying, and in short make themselves as obtuse as possible.
If given the chance, gully dwarves will wear any armor that they come across. Those living near old battlefields or in ruined fortresses often wear battered bits of old armor suits, most of which fit them poorly at best. Armor that requires a lot of complicated work to assemble and wear will be beyond their to use. Because most gully dwarves have little concept of what good armor is all about, they tend to wear mismatched pieces of it if they wear it at all.
Padded, leather, and studded leather armors are most often seen since gully dwarves like to travel light unless preparing for battle.
Traditionally, gully dwarves rarely use weapons other than clubs, daggers, knives, hand axes, and saps. A few gully dwarves have learned to use slings.
As would be expected, gully dwarves usually wear ragged clothing. Children in many communities run around without any clothing at all. When they can get them, they prefer clothes with bright, flashy colors the more garish, the better.
Crysania's Dragonlance Races
Crysania's Dragonlance Page