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Wild dwarves, also know as jungle dwarves and dur Authalar ("the People"), were primitive dwarves who inhabited the Jungles of Chult and the Mhair and Black Jungles.
Their diet consisted of most jungle mammals, reptiles, birds, worms, and insects. From the jungle flora they ate select berries, fruits, leaves, roots, and saps. Their favorite delicacy was snake of nearly any species. They were known to ferment fruit into wine using earthenware pottery. Wild dwarves did not practice cannibalism, but generally did not let a sacrifice, either prisoner or animal, go to waste.
Wild dwarves were cross-fertile with humans and other demihumans.
This dwarven subrace was little-known except by those familiar with the jungles of South Faerûn. The jungle dwarves were smaller than most other dwarves but sturdy and well-muscled. Over millennia in the hot jungles, they had developed a strong resistance to heat and disease.
They wore very little, if any, clothing, and greased their tattoo-covered dark skin to keep away insects and make themselves slippery. Both males and females could grow beards, and their beards and woven hair provided satisfactory covering for their otherwise naked bodies. They often plastered themselves, skin and hair, with dried mud, which served as a surprisingly effective armor. For adornment, they carved earrings, bracelets and necklaces out of bone.
As a rule, wild dwarves were not trusting of strangers, and would avoid detection whenever possible.
Wild dwarves were used to certain magics—such as those granted their clerics and druids—and treated it no differently than they would the power of a healing herb or a warrior's strength in battle. With most arcane spells and magic items, on the other hand, with which they were not very familiar, they could be fearful.
Contrary to their cousins, the gold, gray, and shield dwarves, wild dwarves adopted a completely different social structure, leaving behind the more common clan-based approach. The term "dur Authalar" referred to their belief that they were all of the same family. Instead of tribes or clans, they formed hunting groups with very fluid memberships, and practiced polygamy. Children were raised by the community with little acknowledgement of lineage. They were taught to hunt from a very young age.
Wild dwarves held the wisdom of their elderly in respect, but those with weakness or illness were often abandoned to die for the good of the hunting group. Some wild dwarves, when they knew they were growing old and weak, would instead provoke and attack a ferocious jungle beast alone to be killed in a show of bravery.
Wild dwarves would on occasion keep wild cats, such as leopards or lynxes, as pets. In fact, most wild dwarves would not hunt jungle felines. For the most part, they did not make use of mounts or pack animals, with the rare exception of riding on the backs of triceratops.
Each hunting group carried a drum used to "talk" to other groups, warning them of danger or inviting them to share a large carcass of fresh meat. Each group also carried a water skin and at a minimum maintained a few watering-holes, a place to cook and eat, a sleeping cavern and/or sleeping trees with hammocks, several lookout posts, and a handful of bolt holes that extended deep underground.
As a people, the wild dwarves followed various leaders similar to a meritocracy. Those that planned ahead, were good with tactics, and had the best ideas, regardless of age or sex, were called the "talkers". Their best warriors were called "war leaders" and soldiers that had some combat experience were called "bloods". Their clerics were simply called "priests" or "shamans". Specialty priests of Thard Harr were called "vuddor".
Dur Authalar were constantly struggling for survival and refused to adopt the methods of other civilizations. In many ways, they lived more like animals, in a struggle to kill or be killed for food, and cared little for material possessions that did not help them survive. They kept to the tops of the highest trees or the depths of the most remote lush valleys in the jungles. They did not form villages but maintained nomadic lifestyles.
Wild dwarves made up approximately five percent of the sentient population of Chult.
The wild dwarves almost exclusively served the jungle god Thard Harr, and Thard Harr was worshiped almost exclusively by the wild dwarves. It was rare that offerings were made to any of the other Morndinsamman.
Two out of five dwarven priests of Thard Harr were female. About half of Thard Harr's clergy among the wild dwarves were known as "vuddor" (singular "vuddar"), who were especially dedicated to the life of the jungle.
The priests and vuddor were responsible for guiding dur Authalar on successful hunts and for their overall protection from outsiders. They wore the skulls of large jungle animals as helmets. During religious ceremonies, the priests donned the pelts of jungle predators, a rare exception to the usual lack of clothing. The priests never cut their beards and wore Thard Harr's symbol as tattoos. In fact, priests of Thard Harr did not carry holy symbols as those of other faiths did; the tattoo alone sufficed.
Wild dwarven divine magic usually involved nature spells and those increasing the likelihood of success in a hunt. The verbal and somatic components of such spells often involved wild grunting and hand motions or involved the use of special herbs.
Dur Authalar held sacred ceremonies to Thard Harr twice a month on nights of the full and new moon. These ceremonies would involve drums and loud chanting. On such nights—and only on such nights—blood sacrifices were made, and the attendees would eat the flesh of the victim, which was either a wild animal, dinosaur, or a prisoner of war.
The Emerald Crater, or Morndin Vertesplendarrorn, located in the Peaks of Flame, was a place sacred to the wild dwarves, and Thard Harr was said to walk there. The dwarves had a strange relationship with an emerald dragon named Esmerandanna, who lived there. She was the guardian of the sacred writings of their religion.
The wild dwarves sometimes traded for metal or glass objects in exchange for skins, meat, or captured animals. Ever cautious of outsiders, they would generally only enact trade in their own territory and would set traps in case of betrayal.
Wild dwarves spoke their own dialect of Dwarvish, called Authalan, which was characterized by tongue clicks and trilling notes. It was most closely related to the dialect spoken by the gold dwarves, with notable Chultan and Tashalan influences. Those that dealt with outsiders understood a very basic vocabulary of Common, and a few could read and write Dethek runes when necessary. The study of books, however, was nonexistent.
Wild dwarves employed blowguns to launch sleep-inducing, poisonous darts at their enemies or prey. They were immune to their own sleep venom and were even more resistant than their shield dwarven brethren to poisons in general. For melee weapons, they favored handaxes, halfspears, and throwing clubs. All wild dwarves were taught how to use a handaxe and blowgun from an early age.
Their hunting bands usually consisted of between four and 24 dwarves led by a leader called the "blood". Larger bands of warriors would include a "war leader" and priests and were called "the Pack".
Jungle traps, pits, and snares were their specialty and were difficult to detect. Enemies unfamiliar with jungle warfare were especially at a disadvantage. Wild dwarves preferred to attack from hiding, nettling their target with darts until it charged blindly, then surrounded it with overwhelming numbers for the kill.
On occasion, Thard Harr would empower one of his followers or a nearby wild animal to assist the dwarves in combat. Such a manifestation of their god's power involved strange low and continuous snarling or thudding sounds that seemed to come from the empowered creature along with a glow of cherry-red. The empowered individual gained a brief burst of strength, prowess, and fearlessness and was immune to mind-affecting enchantments or any sort of entanglements.
In the case of victory, the wild dwarves usually took at least one prisoner alive back to their camp for questioning. If sparing the prisoner's life did not seem beneficial to the clan, the prisoner would be offered as a sacrifice on one of the holy nights.
After the fall of Bhaerynden in -9000 DR, some of the dwarves who survived managed to reach the Jungles of Chult. Once there, they abandoned their usual subterranean homes to adopt a new life style, and gradually earned the wild dwarf monicker.
As other civilized lands arose around them—Mezro, Serpentes, Tashtan—the wild dwarves simply receded deeper into the jungles.