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Dwarven beard rings and their signifigance

The diminutive race of peoples know collectively as the race of dwarves
share several common traits that mark their race as a whole. Among these
traits are their shorter stature than that of most other races, a hearty
endurance, generally a strong work ethic, and the ever-present beard
found on both sexes. While some races generally find facial hair to be
repugnant, the dwarves all take their beards quite seriously. To the
dwarven peoples the loss of a beard to mishap is nearly viewed as being
more heinous to the individual than even the loss of a limb. The dwarf
who chooses to shave off his beard risks becoming an outcast among his or
her own people who will wonder what is fundamentally wrong with the

Needless to say, that among such strong feelings about their beards,
beard fashion would tend to become a subject of interest. An early
forerunner in the beard fashion parade was, and remains the twin braids.
Among other schools of thought single braids, multiple braids, unbraided,
and countless cuts and styles are also popular. One underlying precept
that took hold early on, and continues to be a highly esteemed practice
among the dwarven peoples is the fashion of the beard ring. Having taken
a strong hold as a consistent fashion statement, the upper eschelon of
dwarves managed to orchestrate the whims of fashion to serve a practical
purpose. Over centuries fashion became custom and the plain unmarked
rings have become symbols of ones status within dwarven society.

Though the dwarves talk little of it to outsiders, considering it
something of personal matter, outsiders have learned the following things.
There are seven metal types used to mark the various levels of
achievement: bronze, copper, silver, gold, platinum, steel, and mithril.
Young dwarves are not permitted to wear the rings at all until they have
proven themselves by act and deed. Once proven experienced enough to be
a member of society, the dwarven individual is permitted to wear the
bronze rings. As individuals earn honor and achievement they are
permitted to purchase rings that mark the gaining of prestige among their
kindred. Most dwarves eagerly await the day when they can purchase their
first set of rings and strives to improve their standing every day of
their life. Only a select few have ever been accorded the honor to wear
the mithril rings, and there is even a dwarven legend of one great
dwarven warrior who so embodied the dwarven ethic and achievement that he
was accorded a set of adamantine beard rings.