Found largely in the northern reaches of western and central Faerun, shield dwarves are the dominant northern branch of the Stout Folk. Renowned for their smithwork and craftsmanship, shield dwarves have endured a centuries-long decline in the face of never-ending wars with orcs, goblins, giants, and trolls.
Shield dwarves are descended from the founders of Shanatar, a legendary dwarven empire that once ruled the caverns beneath modern-day Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan. After Shanatar fell, the shield dwarves migrated north, founding kingdoms such as Ammarindar, Delzoun, Gharraghaur, Haunghdannar, Oghrann, and Sarbreen. Although those kingdoms have also largely fallen, the Stout Folk of the North endure.
Taller by half a foot than their gold dwarf cousins, shield dwarves average 4 1/2 feet tall and weigh as much as an adult human. The skin of a shield dwarf is fair or lightly tanned, and her eyes are usually green or silvered blue. Both genders wear their hair long, and males (and some females) have long, carefully groomed beards and moustaches. Hair colour ranges from light brown to red, with all shades fading to silver or white as time progresses.