A Look at the Duerger: Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes Preview


Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
Mostly I suspect because there isn't a "classic" adventure centered on the duergar.
It's a chicken-or-egg thing. Are the Duergar less popular because there are fewer adventures centered on them, or are fewer adventures centered on the Duergar because they're less popular?

Personally, I think it's the latter. Drow, like vampires, are more popular because they have something dwarves don't: sex appeal.

Just look at the fantasy genre in general. Can you imagine a Twilight where Bella falls in love with a hot dwarf boy? What about Anne Rice's Interview with a Dwarven Miner? Or Buffy the Dwarf Slayer?

Again, it's all about sex appeal. Drow have it, Duergar don't.
 

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Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
How is survival mode that much different from the Githyanki, they have a lot of enemies too not including the Illithids, they certainly feel betrayed by those who became the Githzerai, not to mention most humanoid races feels the Githyanki are antagonistic to say the least, and if the Psurlons are factored in to things (they probably won't be brought up in that book) there's also another enemy who wants to destroy them, one in fact based in the Astral Plane. Let's not forget whatever pact one of the Lich Queens Vlaakith made with Tiamat, which mirrors that of the infernal pacts the Duergar.

To me it feels like they're trying for a little of the Drow and a little of the Githyanki with this current depiction of the Duergar. I always felt the Derro were the more interesting "Dark" Dwarf subrace, even if they also have origins tied to the Illithids too and have never been as fleshed out as the Duergar have... They have at least the insanity thing going for them to separate them from both the Githyanki and the Drow.

Maybe it's the existence of the Derro that has diluted the idea of Duergar being the "Dark" Dwarves, as there's not 1 but 2 "Dark" Dwarf subraces.

Good point. I always see the Gith as less victims than the Duergar since they chose the path of war that's bound to be the end of them in the long run, while the Duergars (IIRC) were never masters of their destiny.

But yeah, the Derro are a strange bunch that step on the toes of the Duergar's fluff (exiled god, tortured by Illithid in the underdark). One thing I like of them is the fact that the whole race is born mad. Inherent madness hobbles them, but they still have a functional society; that's interesting.
 

Maybe it's the existence of the Derro that has diluted the idea of Duergar being the "Dark" Dwarves, as there's not 1 but 2 "Dark" Dwarf subraces.

I've changed what the derro actually are in most of my campaigns, in part for that reason. I like the duergar, but the game seems to have gone out of its way to prevent them from standing out.

(In my games, for those who care, the derro were initially created by something from the Far Realm. It was trying to create infiltrators who could blend in and study the humanoids of the material plane--hence the derro kidnapping people for experimentation--but it didn't have enough of an understanding of the "real" world, didn't really understand the differences between humanoids, and couldn't even begin to comprehend sanity as we view it. So derro are all more or less identical and all innately mad--because of the limits of their creator.)
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Mostly I suspect because there isn't a "classic" adventure centered on the duergar. The Drow early on had Lareth the Beautiful show up in Hommlet, as well as the D and Q series of modules, making them mysterious and horrible foes that kept getting cycled into products until Salvatore spun out Drizzt and cemented their place in D&D forever. The duergar have never really had that - they've always played second (or third, or fourth) fiddle to the drow when it comes to underdark threats.
Gates of firestorm peak featured duergar heavily. I don't know if that is classic or not but...
 

Normal dwarves tend to be grumpy and pessimistic. Duerger are that dialled up to 11.

Perhaps that is why they are not popular companions or characters in novels?
 

QuietBrowser

First Post
I'm not even sure which way they're going with the Duergar yet, was it the fully embracing psionics or going fully infernal.

And I can't remember if Derro were still Dwarves or not in this edition.
Ironically, they've made duergar even blander; they haven't mentioned psionics at all*, and they've watered down the dwarven infernalists niche they had in 4e by stating that most duergar are cheerless xenophobes, ala their 3e fluff, but the worst of the worst are those who've been subverted into worshipping Asmodeus instead of the incredibly niche Laduguer.

Yes, Derro are officially dwarves in this edition again. They were human/dwarf hybrids in Greyhawk (implied in the Monstrous Manual, confirmed in Dragon #241), degenerate humans in the Nentir Vale, and they're now dwarves in the Forgotten Realms... in fact, there's an unspoken connection between duergar and derro: they're both descendants of dwarves who were enslaved by the illithids and fought free of them. The difference is that the duergar are bitter and scarred, but the derro are broken.

*Duergar originally were supposed to be a psi-attuned dwarf race, with Unearthed Arcana 1e giving them double the chance to be psionic, which is why they had a psionics update in the Complete Psionics Handbook and a full PC writeup in the Expanded Psionics Handbook.

I dont get why duergers arent more popular in the D&D lore. I get that drows are sexy and that may appeal to a large population, but their whole civilization is still pretty basic, as if all elements of it was designed to sell sexy+evil. OTOH, duerger seem to have a more complex society, with a more gray-ish morality, their long battle with the horror of the underdark, the betrayal of their own gods, the relation with the world of psionics thru their fight with the Mind Flayers and the pure madness of the Demons, their uneasy alliance with devils etc.

Its like they take the best part of drow lore and mixed them with industrialization era dwarves and ''dark alfar'' from norse mythology. They are soooooo much more than ''juste dark dwarfs''.
Here's the issue with why they're not popular... when it comes to duergar lore and them being more than "just dark dwarves"? They aren't. Duergar fluff has never really presented them anything more than all of the character flaws of surface dwarves but with none of the good qualities of them. They've always een an afterthought, a lazy dwarven analogue to drow, and that's why nobody'S ever bought them.

I mean, this is the entirety of their monster writeup in the D&D Monstrous Compendium Two... and the Monstrous Manual cuts this entry off after the first line of Habitat/Society due to poor editor's choice. It literally doesn't say anything about duergar other than that they're nastier dwarves who live in the worst conditions.
http://www.mojobob.com/roleplay/monstrousmanual/d/dwarduer.html

Really, I don't know where you're getting any of this impression from... the 3e Monster Manual 1s both describe duergar in generic terminology as just "evil dwarves". The Expanded Psionics Handbook fluff boils down to them being enormous douchebags. Ecology of the Duergar portrays them as fanatic slaves of a theocratic tyranny almost worse than Asmodeus' faith. Unless this is Forgotten Realms specific fluff, because I actually don't know what FR sourcebooks they were detailed in prior to 5e.

While emphasizing the idea that they're former Illithid slaves might explain their affinity towards psionics, I think it gets in the territory of Githyanki with them also being an evil race of former Illithid slaves.
Well, it's been around since 3rd edition at the least. Plus, as I said, they're now sharing that same "dwarf ex-slaves of the illithid" niche with the derro.

It's a chicken-or-egg thing. Are the Duergar less popular because there are fewer adventures centered on them, or are fewer adventures centered on the Duergar because they're less popular?

Personally, I think it's the latter. Drow, like vampires, are more popular because they have something dwarves don't: sex appeal.

Just look at the fantasy genre in general. Can you imagine a Twilight where Bella falls in love with a hot dwarf boy? What about Anne Rice's Interview with a Dwarven Miner? Or Buffy the Dwarf Slayer?

Again, it's all about sex appeal. Drow have it, Duergar don't.
Really, dwarves in general have suffered in popularity compared to elves thanks to the long-lasting stigma against giving them any kind of sex appeal. For the longest time, it was assumed that all dwarves would be short, hairy, possibly pot-bellied, cranky old men; females were almost never mentioned and often described as dumpy or homely looking (hence the infamous "dwarf women have beards!" meme) - they've even been described as less common than men. 4th edition tried to fix this by bringing dwarf women more to the fore and giving them sex appeal, which definitely helped them, but duergar are still stuck in the "bitter, hairy little men" motif.

Normal dwarves tend to be grumpy and pessimistic. Duerger are that dialled up to 11.

Perhaps that is why they are not popular companions or characters in novels?
Definitely doesn't help the race when their default fluff all boils down to "every dwarven flaw or negative stereotypical trait with none of the redeeming qualities". Seriously, when your PC writeup in 3e describes you as avaricious, short-tempered, sullen, violent, ungrateful, vengeful, churlish, hateful, envious and merciless, and your "positive traits" boil down to "you're brave, you're determined, you work hard, and you leave people alone so long as they don't have anything you want", it's hard to make a positive impression.

Drow appeal to players who want anti-heroes, villain protagonists or redeemed villains because they have style.

Duergar are just jerks.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Really, I don't know where you're getting any of this impression from... the 3e Monster Manual 1s both describe duergar in generic terminology as just "evil dwarves". The Expanded Psionics Handbook fluff boils down to them being enormous douchebags. Ecology of the Duergar portrays them as fanatic slaves of a theocratic tyranny almost worse than Asmodeus' faith. Unless this is Forgotten Realms specific fluff, because I actually don't know what FR sourcebooks they were detailed in prior to 5e.

I dont know why this is the impression I have of them. Probably a mix of old editions, old video games representations and my own feelings for them (with a hint of chaos dwarfs from Warhammer). They kinda just make sense in my head as how would a race exiled under the earth may transform its society to survive this traumatizing new world, way more than the Drows.

I think a redeemed Duergar hero (dual-wielding warpicks) who be more believable than a Drow one since their ''evilness'' seems practical and necessary rather than from divine zeal or love of evil like the Drows. I mean, Duergars feel more like Neutral evil Conquest Paladins by necessity while Drow society looks like a bunch of chaotic neutral rogues who argue that ''that's what my godess would ask me to do''. :p
 

Azzy

KMF DM
Mostly I suspect because there isn't a "classic" adventure centered on the duergar. The Drow early on had Lareth the Beautiful show up in Hommlet, as well as the D and Q series of modules, making them mysterious and horrible foes that kept getting cycled into products until Salvatore spun out Drizzt and cemented their place in D&D forever. The duergar have never really had that - they've always played second (or third, or fourth) fiddle to the drow when it comes to underdark threats.

Just a nitpick, but Lareth the Beautiful was a human.
 

Von Ether

Legend
It's just my opinion, it's okay if it differs from yours. I love everything they've done, I just think this one didn't make sense. My comment doesn't herald the end of the golden age of ENWorld I promise.

I know a writer who wants people to stop using the word "awesome" as just a term of approval ("So lunch, same time tomorrow?" "Yep. Awesome.") because it weakens the word's actual intent of expressing real excitement.

Yeah, it seems that few people can be simply lukewarm anymore. If they aren't offended, disgusted or scandalized, they fear their opinion will belittled or worse yet -- ignored!
 

Unrelated to the current topic.

I like how they are adding the Class personality and backstory tables they had in Xanathar's to the races. That was one of my favorite parts about that book.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
But yeah, the Derro are a strange bunch that step on the toes of the Duergar's fluff (exiled god, tortured by Illithid in the underdark). One thing I like of them is the fact that the whole race is born mad. Inherent madness hobbles them, but they still have a functional society; that's interesting.

Originally, the derro were a hybrid race ("a degenerate race of dwarf-like stature, possibly a cross between evil humans and dwarves"). In Greyhawk, they were created by the ancient Suloise people as a slave-race (as per Dragon 241).
 


shamurai7

Banned
Banned
There other video showcased their new transgender pandering elf race. An elf they said that is soooo blessed by corellon that they can each day choose to sprout a penis or vacuum it back into a vagina. The dev goes way overboard to make them seem superior to all the other elfs on account of this.
Thanks a lot dev for making the first official content i will not allow in my games.
We had the changeling in 4e...that was great and at least made sense. This is just stupid obvious pandering and agenda pushing. They are totally losing my support with this :):):):).




This sort of bigoted language is not welcome here. You'll be leaving us. - Morrus
[FONT=&quot]Save[/FONT][FONT=&quot]Save[/FONT]
 
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shamurai7

Banned
Banned
Reported.


By a CapnZapp lol....your name alone speaks volumes. Please take a break and go to your safespace. I broke no site rules.


Amazing. Every word of what you just said was wrong ... - Morrus (courtesy of Luke Skywalker).
 
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Jhaelen

First Post
I'm actually quite fond of duerger (is that a typo or the new official plural? It looks right given that it's einherjar/einherjer...). Apart from being one of the 1e races that were likely to have psionic powers, they make really good villains. They're the definition of bleakness. While I don't usually care about alignments, their society really showcases what 'lawful evil' means.
 

I did notice that one of the "clan traits" listed on that page is "your clan are masters of psionics". So duerger/duergar still have a psionic connection in this book.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
There other video showcased their new transgender pandering elf race. An elf they said that is soooo blessed by corellon that they can each day choose to sprout a penis or vacuum it back into a vagina. The dev goes way overboard to make them seem superior to all the other elfs on account of this.
Thanks a lot dev for making the first official content i will not allow in my games.
We had the changeling in 4e...that was great and at least made sense. This is just stupid obvious pandering and agenda pushing. They are totally losing my support with this :):):):).

Bye bye. Enjoy yourself on whatever bigoted forum you end up on. You're not welcome here.
 

pogre

Legend
What we need for the Duergar is a pair of minis - one regular sized and one to represent the enlarged Duergar. Make that three minis - we also need a clear plastic one to represent an invisible Duergar.

Somebody get Reaper and/or WizKidz on the line!
 


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