Famed for their use of solar furnaces the Sand Dwarves of the Great Desert live in scattered enclaves in the various hills and mountain ranges of the Great Desert for the past forty eight centuries. But that is but one of the adaptations which these hearty enclaves had adopted to adapt to their enviroment. Among these is their garb. Much of which is made of lighter fabrics than what most dwarves wear as well and includes vents in the pants to allow air circulation and white hooded cloaks, face covers and smoked glass gobbles to protect against the sand and sun. Rarely do sand dwarves come out in daylight with their faces exposed, though when in indoors they dispense with said garb. Not that many outsiders see this, for Sand Dwarves are reticent about letting outsiders into their holds. Most of their business with outsiders is done in sheltered hollows carved outside the hall proper where animals can be watered and guards can monitor things. To be invited into a hold is usually an honor reserved for trusted friends of high status. Primarily they trade enchanted metals, metalwork, glassware, mirrors, pottery, tiles, distilled liquor, woodwork and carved items for food, wine, spices, timber, fuel, cloth and leather with the human nomads as well as facilitating trade between the holds.
As a general rule the Sand Dwarves tend to have amiable relations with the nomadic humans of the desert, both of whom profit from the other, though their are exceptions. The Nomadic Tribes routinely raid towns and cities to the south and fight with each other for plunder and slaves. As is the norm for their kind, the Sand Dwarves do not keep or deal in slaves themselves beyond occasionally buying a few to immediately free to help out their more trusted friends. But while most nomad bands see the virtue in maintaining good relations with the Sand Dwarven holds, others see them as a target. These are usually hard pressed tribes driven from their usual ranges by the predation of successful rivals or bands of outcasts desperate. Either way they'll attempt to capture Sand Dwarves who wander too far from their holds, who are maintaining their solar furnaces or are attempting to carve out new holds. The risks are great, for the Sand Dwarves are capable fighters in their own rights with defensible positions. But in the Slave Markets of Halrizuud Dwarves sell for the equivalent of Hundreds of Marks at least. Even so it has risks of it's own as many Nomads Tribes will go out of their way to kill those who prey on their Dwarven friends, or will at least collect bounties on them issued by the Dwarves. Occasionally Dwarf Holds are taken and pillaged by anti-dwarf warlords that arise now and again, but these often face retaliation from alliances of Dwarves and their Friends which have little concern for mercy. Afterwards, new bands of Dwarves will usually come in to recolonize the holds in due time.
Beyond that, Sand Dwarves are prone to thrift. When the land is barren and goods are hard won, they tend to be cared for. Tools that their more northerly counterparts would simply recycle are mended or stored away in old mineshafts until they are needed again. The holds also have a tendency of filling up. Even with underground farms and carefully maintained cisterns eventually a hold will reach it's carrying capacity if population growth is not checked. Sand Dwarves often hold back on marriage for a long time even by Dwarf Standards and usually have small families. Occasionally a Sand Dwarven hold will send out a party to establish a new hold or recolonize a lost one. A few others travel with the nomads before going north to the Seraphate or back to the ancients holds of Ilvamicum. All but the most stuck up pig headed bigots among the northern Dwarven Holds see Sand Dwarves as being fellow Dwarves, but they are generally regarded as being overly insular hoarders.
"What be ye babblin' 'bout, ye daft wastrel? Them bowls still got use in 'em, ground for grog (Powdered, fired pottery, added to raw clay to improve the texture and reduce shrinkage during firing.) if nothin' else. The knives? Scrap for the forge. The ol' crates an' cloth? That be wood n' fiber, dearer than water out in this desert! Waste in haste, want at leisure, as me Ol' Pappy used to say..."
Great story and image! I like your Sand Dwarves, a great addition to fiction or games. "Overly insular hoarders", by Dwarven standards? Interesting...
Hoarding gold and master crafted armor is one thing. Hording chipped bowls, rusty knives "that could be made sharp as the best wit with some forge work", scraps of old crates and sack cloth are another.