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D&D 5E Dwarves Could Use A Rethink

Quickleaf

Legend
In the Khemti campaign I'm running, I am leaning into a "we built this city" vibe for dwarves. They once were enslaved, won freedom 50 years ago, and so within many dwarves' recent memory they recall working the pyramids, construction sites, and quarries. But their god isn't in prominence in human cities. So there's a bit of bitterness there.

But there's also lots of hidden magic... magical secret doors that only dwarves know how to open, ancient tunnels connecting quarries that their parents knew of, and even a type of magical ooze that – if sung to in just the right tone known only by dwarven chanters – would assume the texture and hardness of rock. So I'm really leaning into the real-world stories (and archaeological record) of short people with incredible stoneworks.
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Nope. Just that you disagreed giving zero data apparently expecting not to be called out on it.

Let's move on.
What data do you expect from people when disagreeing? You replied to me, telling me your theory about optimization, and I disagree with it. I don’t owe you a debate. I replied back because ignoring a direct quoted reply would have been rude. 🤷‍♂️
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
In the Khemti campaign I'm running, I am leaning into a "we built this city" vibe for dwarves. They once were enslaved, won freedom 50 years ago, and so within many dwarves' recent memory they recall working the pyramids, construction sites, and quarries. But their god isn't in prominence in human cities. So there's a bit of bitterness there.

But there's also lots of hidden magic... magical secret doors that only dwarves know how to open, ancient tunnels connecting quarries that their parents knew of, and even a type of magical ooze that – if sung to in just the right tone known only by dwarven chanters – would assume the texture and hardness of rock. So I'm really leaning into the real-world stories (and archaeological record) of short people with incredible stoneworks.
That’s pretty cool. My buddy has a “enslaved by giants” background for Dwarves, but there isn’t that much detail yet.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
The Troika art style really precludes a clear answer to that question.

However, I hope they will forgive me if I quote the text:

"You are a short, hairy, belligerent, alcohol dependent creature. The latter two may be linked but you’ll fight anyone who suggests as much. Since there are no Dwarf women (or men, technically) there are no Dwarf children or Dwarf families so you can fully commit yourself to the important Dwarfy endeavours of creating fine art in unusual places. You intend to find the most unusual places ever seen in all the million spheres

(snip stats stuff)

Dwarfs may eat gems and rare metals as food replacements. You, in fact, vastly prefer the taste of rare minerals to mundane food. Dwarfs are genderless. You are immune to all compulsions that play on a creature’s desire for sex. This also means you don’t have sexual organs. Instead of urinating you excrete through sweating, thus explaining your odour."

And the poorly made dwarf:

"Dwarfs are known for being the finest artisans of the million spheres. Give a Dwarf a rock and they will make gold, give a Dwarf a boulder and they will make a Dwarf. You were supposed to be the finest expression of Dwarfy craftsmanship, a true masterpiece, a brand new Dwarf like those made by the old masters, but you were deemed imperfect and abandoned

(snip stats)

As 22 Dwarf but addtionally: Other Dwarfs will completely ignore you as though you were a piece of furniture or somebody’s abandoned hat. Very occasionally they may openly examine and comment thoughtfully to themselves on your unforgivable flaws, possibly while marking areas for improvement on your body with a grease pen. To non-Dwarfy eyes you probably look like any other Dwarf. You have +4 Sneak versus Dwarfs"

(I highly recommend the system :) )

Wow this is great stuff! Do they have interesting takes on elves as well? I really prefer taking the non-human races and making them more alien, which this definitely seems to do for dwarves.
 

honestly, if I played a dwarf it would just be the cool alternative universe version of my dad so he would be a dwarf rogue.
as my dad is a Scottish man who takes great pride in his work, loves architecture, and is technically part of a clan we have the tartan to prove it.
 



Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Wow this is great stuff! Do they have interesting takes on elves as well? I really prefer taking the non-human races and making them more alien, which this definitely seems to do for dwarves.

No elves - but far stranger things... I really, really recommend it, reading it is a pleasure, and it's very easy to use. Great for one-shots and shorter campaigns.

The writing is brilliant. Check the necromancer:

"41 Necromancer The least popular of magical practitioners, Necromancers are shunned by the major centres of learning, left to their own devices on the edges of society, passing on knowledge in the time honoured master–student dynamic. This loneliness encourages students to make their own friends."

:D
 

MGibster

Legend
Why do you (we) describe the Norse peoples of legend as "dwarves?" Where does the word "dwarf" come from? Is it a Norse word?
According to Wikipedia, the modern English dwarf comes from the Old English word dweorg which has some cognates in other languages including devergr in Old Norse. And if you can't trust Wikipedia who can you trust?

D&D dwarves aren't too far from some mythical versions as a short tough person who know how to craft well and lives in a mountain isn't exactly breaking new ground. Maybe we could make dwarfs more lusty like they are in some of the myths? I've never seen a dwarf female played as a temptress before but there's at least one Swedish ballad about it. I don't know if that'd fly well with modern sensibilities though. Plus, as someone already mentioned, dwarves aren't sexy.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
In a game run back in the 1990s (not necessarily in D&D) a buddy of mine and I ran warrior PCs linked by shared experiences. His PC was a giant with dwarfism (6’5”); I played a Dwarf who towered over others of his kind at 5’5”. They each other’s adopted brothers.

Which makes me think: an actual familial relationship between dwarves and giants could be interesting.
 


Problems with Dwarves:

  • They're almost univerisally depticed as male.
  • They're highly (Northern European) culturally specific.
  • They unnappealing aesthetically
  • They're boring mechanically
  • They've become highly stereoptyped in terms of character and behavior
And finally.
  • The last point above has basically become central to their appeal so that if you change the first two, they lose that basic dwarfiness, and it's no longer all that clear if a revamped Dwarf is actually preferable to just making a new race.
 

dave2008

Legend
According to Wikipedia, the modern English dwarf comes from the Old English word dweorg which has some cognates in other languages including devergr in Old Norse. And if you can't trust Wikipedia who can you trust?

D&D dwarves aren't too far from some mythical versions as a short tough person who know how to craft well and lives in a mountain isn't exactly breaking new ground. Maybe we could make dwarfs more lusty like they are in some of the myths? I've never seen a dwarf female played as a temptress before but there's at least one Swedish ballad about it. I don't know if that'd fly well with modern sensibilities though. Plus, as someone already mentioned, dwarves aren't sexy.
What myths say they are short tough people. I don't recall that from any of the Norse myths at least.
 

In a game run back in the 1990s (not necessarily in D&D) a buddy of mine and I ran warrior PCs linked by shared experiences. His PC was a giant with dwarfism (6’5”); I played a Dwarf who towered over others of his kind at 5’5”. They each other’s adopted brothers.

Which makes me think: an actual familial relationship between dwarves and giants could be interesting.
As so often with good ideas round classic D&D races Warhammer Fantasy got there first; there's a direct relationship not between dwarves and giants as related species in that setting, but between ogres and halflings.
 

In the Khemti campaign I'm running, I am leaning into a "we built this city" vibe for dwarves. They once were enslaved, won freedom 50 years ago, and so within many dwarves' recent memory they recall working the pyramids, construction sites, and quarries. But their god isn't in prominence in human cities. So there's a bit of bitterness there.
Was it built on rock and/or roll?
 

MGibster

Legend
What myths say they are short tough people. I don't recall that from any of the Norse myths at least.
The German poem Das Lied vom Hurnen Seyfrid (circa 1500?) there's a dwarf named Alberich with the strength of 12 men. Some of the poem is likely drawn from oral tradition though how closely it adheres to Norse is unknown to me. Of course whether we're talking about elves, dwarves, trolls, or other mythical creatures, they're not exactly codified like was see in D&D. i.e. They're not in nice neat categories with similar attributes.
 

dave2008

Legend
The German poem Das Lied vom Hurnen Seyfrid (circa 1500?) there's a dwarf named Alberich with the strength of 12 men. Some of the poem is likely drawn from oral tradition though how closely it adheres to Norse is unknown to me. Of course whether we're talking about elves, dwarves, trolls, or other mythical creatures, they're not exactly codified like was see in D&D. i.e. They're not in nice neat categories with similar attributes.
Yes, that is what I am asking. Were does the modern (20th century+) version of dwarves come from? Or was it a fabrication from many didn't myths, legends, and folklore?
 

turnip_farmer

Adventurer
What myths say they are short tough people. I don't recall that from any of the Norse myths at least.
I don't know much about Norse myths, but the 'short' part is right there in the name. 'Dwarf' and it's various cognates are believed to come from a proto-Germanic word for 'small'.
 

dave2008

Legend
I don't know much about Norse myths, but the 'short' part is right there in the name. 'Dwarf' and it's various cognates are believed to come from a proto-Germanic word for 'small'.
A lot of the creatures associated with dwarves in Norse mythology are never actually described as being short. So that is one of the disconnects for me. Maybe I need to duel track the etymology of the word "dwarf" and the origins of the myth and folklore of small people. However, that sounds like to much work!
 

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