See also: Castes

Codex text

Visitors to Orzammar should keep in mind that the hierarchies of dwarven society are much more complex than our own. It is easy to gravely insult a man simply by mistaking his position. Since this can lead to unnecessary loss of life and limbs, I will attempt to mitigate the danger for my fellow travelers.

The society of Orzammar is divided into nobles, warriors, smiths, artisans, miners, merchants, and servants. Now, you are undoubtedly saying to yourself, "We have all those divisions among our own people." This is a dangerous misconception. Certainly, we do have nobility, artisans, merchants, and these positions are largely inherited from our parents. However, the younger children of noblemen often choose to be artisans or soldiers. The sons of merchants may join the army, or become servants, or apprentice themselves to a craftsman. This is all freely chosen. Limited, perhaps, by the circumstances of birth, but still chosen.

What is a matter of choice for most human folk is dictated entirely by birth for dwarves. No one may become a smith who was not born to Smith Caste parents. A servant who marries a noblewoman will never be a noble himself, and although his daughters would be nobles, his sons would be servants, for daughters inherit the caste of their mother, while sons inherit the caste of their father.

--From In Pursuit of Knowledge: The Travels of A Chantry Scholar, by Brother Genitivi