Dwarven society in Dragon Age is very tied to tradition. The dwarven empire is said to have been founded by seven brothers, and with this founding came also the creation of a caste system with one for every brother: noble, warrior, smith, artisan, mining, merchant, and servant.
One's caste is inherited from the same-sex parent, which determines what opportunities a dwarf can get in life, as well as how others will treat them. There are a couple of ways to move up in the caste system. One is to become a Paragon, which is no easy feat. The Assembly can also sometimes vote to elevate someone to a different caste than they were originally born, and then there are also casteless dwarves, which are considered the lowest of the law in the fantasy world's dwarven society.
The Upper Caste
The upper caste society is purely made up of nobles, though there is a hierarchy among them with the King or Queen of the Royal House at the very top. Unlike the remaining caste system, the leaders of Orzammar are not born but voted on. Most noble houses are descendants of Paragons.
Dwarves of a lower caste often dream of marrying nobles, because then they can move to the noble's home in a better district and make a better life for their children. Outside of marriage, nobles can also sponsor dwarves of lower castes. They seek out skilled warriors and artisans to work for them, because that will make them look good in the noble hierarchy.
The Middle Castes
The middle caste consists of warriors, smiths, artisans, miners, and merchants. The warrior caste makes up the dwarven military, and each warrior has a noble patron. Smiths are all expected to learn smelting, toolmaking, and crafting armor and weapons. Meanwhile, artisans are like smiths, but are less respected since they work on art and clothing rather than military affairs.
Miners are part of what makes Orzammar so wealthy, especially when mining Lyrium since dwarves are resistant to the side effects that cause psychological damage and injury to other Dragon Age races. The merchant caste are individuals that sell all kinds of goods, which makes them a well-respected caste, but many can become surface dwarves - which renders a number of them casteless.
The Lower Caste, and Castless Dwarves
The entirety of the lower caste is made up of servants. Servant caste dwarves work as maids, barkeeps, cooks, and other similar jobs. They make up most of Orzammar's population, and also are the least wealthy. However, they are not known to rebel against their situation. In fact, they look harshly down upon the casteless, the only title lower than theirs.
The casteless dwarves are considered to be scum by other dwarves who value tradition. They are forbidden from any work that other castes do, which often forces them into a life of crime or begging. They are branded with a symbol on their cheek not long after they are born so everyone can see they are casteless and treat them as such. It's believed casteless dwarves are descendants of criminals that lived during the founding of Orzammar. Surface dwarves are also considered to be casteless, with the only exception being Grey Wardens. This is because the Assembly sees fighting darkspawn as a sacred duty worth even venturing to the surface for.
Dragon Age 4 is in development.
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