One of the PCs in my current GURPS Dungeon Fantasy campaign is a Dwarf Cleric. Naturally, this I took this as an opportunity to come up with a bit of background about how the Dwarves of this world (Temian’s world, as it happens) view religion.
I thought I’d post my notes about this here, both for my own reference, and in case it’s of interest to you all. The PC in our group is a cleric of “Dzara, the Stone Maiden,” which is why I’ve written that goddess up in much more detail.
Gods of the Dwarves
The Dwarves of Dwimilzund have two main gods (so far!)
Tharundin Thronebeard is a god associated with statecraft and the divine right of Dwarven kings, and also with mining, metal-forging, and master craftsmen. The cult of Tharundin is the largest and most powerful of the Dwarf cults, with strong ties to politics at the highest level. It’s the closest thing that the Dwarves have to an official state religion, and in fact the whole cult has a very official feel. People who don’t like Tharundites tend to think of them as stodgy, status-conscious, and self-important. It’s rare for people to say this out loud, though: the Tharundites are a powerful lot, and like all dwarves, they tend to hold grudges.
Dzara, The Stone Maiden, is a Dwarven goddess associated with subterranean mysteries, the secret roots of mountains, and glittering gemstones buried deep within the earth. Like most dwarven divinities, she is also a god of mining.
The Stone Maiden is nominally a goddess of mercy, though many sages who have studied Her ways have concluded that this is mostly a question of self-presentation: the Stone Maiden seems to want be thought of as a goddess of mercy, but historically speaking She just hasn’t been very merciful. Pointing this out is sacrilege, of course.
The Stone Maiden is said to have been born in the deeps of time. Just as precious gemstones are formed naturally within the earth, so Dzara was born when the roots of the world-mountain spontaneously brought themselves to consciousness. She seems to have begun as a kind of disembodied thought-form deep within the earth, but eventually she caused herself to be carved out of the stone, and now takes the form of a statue of a maiden (hence the name). Theologically speaking, her self-creating nature is very important: Priests of Dzara (“Masons”) insist that She was entirely responsible for her own birth, and that no other divine or primal power played a part in her creation. Naturally, the priests of other religions tend to dispute this.
Devotees of the Stone Maiden also claim that it was She who first taught the Dwarves to dig and mine, so that they could tunnel down to the root of the world-mountain and carve her out of it. This particular point of theology is hotly disputed by the devotees of another important dwarven god, Tharundin Thronebeard. Tharundin is also a god of mining – of course! – but is associated less with deep subterranean mysteries and more with metal-forging, master craftsmen, with the divine right of Dwarven kings. Priests of Tharundin claim that He, not the Stone Maiden, first taught the dwarves to mine. So it goes.
The Stone Maiden grants her clerics healing powers, as befits a (nominal) goddess of mercy. Like most dwarven divinities, she is also both pragmatic and acquisitive, and so she sometimes grants her followers the ability to sense precious gems.
The Deep Temple of Dzara is in the bustling subterranean dwarven city of Dwimilzund, beneath the Shivering Peaks. It has served as the center of the Dzarian priesthood for more than a thousand years.
Old dwarven legends claim that the Root of the World-Mountain lies somewhere beneath the ancient dwarven kingdom of Duzundigath, beneath the Mountains of Moonlight, far to the East. Some devotees of the stone maiden claim that Dzara Herself awaits Her faithful there. These claims are impossible to prove, since the Eastern kingdom was lost long ago, and that whole region is now ruled by the vicious Wolf-Kin of Volbad.
Fighting clerics of the Stone Maiden bear the title “Hammer of Dzara.” Priests of the Stone Maiden are known as “Masons of Dzara.” Scribes and sages are known as “Chisels of Dzara.” Other dwarves sometimes scoff at that last title – but they usually scoff quietly, in case Dzara hears them…