The dwarf race is sub-divided into several groups, sometimes termed “clans”, although the truth is that they are larger than clans. The divisions are more like castes, although they have existed for so long that the different castes have become more like sub-species. Even so, it is still possible for different caste dwarves to interbreed, but cultural prejudices make this unlikely.
The Hylar claim to be the oldest dwarven “race”. Their name means “highest” and Hylar dwarves are to be found in leadership roles – thanes, religious leaders, war leaders and so on. The Hylar have the best equipped and trained army too.
The Daewar are the middle class of dwarves, forming the artisans, architects and merchants. Their name means “dearest”.
The Klar form the lowest caste of “true” dwarves, performing the menial tasks of farming, mining and general construction. Klar also form the bulk of foot-soldiers in a dwarven army.
Hylar, Daewar and Klar are the original divisions of dwarven society, and could be found in Thoradin. A mixture of all three castes formed the colony of Thorbardin.
In Thorbardin, a fourth caste arose. The Neidar (“nearest”) were dwarves that chose to live outside the mountain kingdom, closer to humans and elves. They were mainly Klar farmers but were joined by Daewar merchants and a few Hylar. Over the years the Neidar came to be considered a new caste, unrelated to the other three (although ties were strongest to the Klar, with a certain cultural emphasis in hard work and simple living). Neidar are often termed “hill dwarves” by humans but it is not an expression they use themselves.
In the early days of dwarven society, the Magi of High Sorcery taught magic to the dwarves but it quickly became apparent that the magical powers had an unpleasant effect on them. Magic-using dwarves became twisted in mind and body, and were referred to by the other dwarves as “derro” – degenerate. These derro formed their own caste within dwarven society, the Theiwar, or “thankless” since they felt that they had been betrayed by their own kind through no fault of their own. The Towers of High Sorcery stopped teaching the dwarves, but the Theiwar already knew much of their magical theory and it was passed down throughout the ages. Theiwar practice their magic without the controls placed on High Sorcerers, and there are rumours of dealings with demonic forces.
In Thorbardin, an offshoot of the Theiwar appeared, the Daergar (“deepest”). Whereas the Theiwar sought what they saw as their rightful place in dwarven society (many Theiwar were of Hylar stock), the Daergar turned their back on the others and delved deeper, forming their own society away from outside interference. All the same, Theiwar and Daergar representatives were allowed on the Council of Thanes. The Hylar allowed them on the principle of “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”, and the derro accepted for much the same reasons.
One dwarven sub-group that is considered both caste and race are the Aghar (“anguished”), known coloquially as “gully dwarves”. These pathetic creatures are thought to be a cross-breed between dwarf and gnome, but they have inherited nothing but bad genes. Aghar are considered beneath even derro, and not true dwarves, but the Council of Thanes recognises them as a separate caste out of some dwarven filial loyalty.
Garnet, in southern Solamnia, was settled by mainly Neidar colonists, but with some Hlyar, Daewar and Klar dwarves too. Neidar form the majority here, and as a result Garnet is much more open than Thorbardin.
As for Thoradin/Thorin, after its disappearance it is unknown whether any new castes arose within its halls. The secretive dwarves of Zhakar could be considered a caste unto themselves, and by all accounts they are derro too.