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D&D 5E Dwarves Could Use A Rethink

It's the beards. We just have to normalize bearded female dwarfs.

Kaldheim had my favourite female Dwarf art.

Anyways instead of leaning into Norse mythology so much, go Greek, the Kabeiroi were the Dwarf sons of Hephaestus (some say Zeus as Father instead), although they lean abit more towards Azor perhaps then regular Dwarves. I think Hephaestus was one of inspirations for Moradin, the head of the Dwarven Pantheon. Actually like was the inspiration partly for several Dwarven Gods I think.

Theros should have had Dwarves (and Angels, Werewolves, and Vampires based on mythology/theology).
 

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Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I quite like how Rick Riordan does Dwarves in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. They're still skilled crafters that live underground and often have beards, but they keep a few cool bits and pieces from Norse Mythology, like them evolving from maggots, living in a world that is completely underground, gradually turning to stone in sunlight, and having lots of dwarves descended from Freya, and thus being a bit taller and more attractive than the typical dwarf. They also have this awesome (and a bit annoying) cultural lore about them always naming anything they create and asking all of its "great deeds" before they use it (like a dwarf asking the name of a stool in a bar before they sit on it, and the bartender telling them that it's named Heavy-Lifter that was the stool that Thor sat upon when he beat the record amount of flagons of dwarven mead that was consumed in one sitting, or something similar to that).

Some good stuff here, although the naming/deeds thing drifts into the silly.
 

A cool little thing you could do with Dwarves is have them turn to stone when they die. I imagine old dwarves, nearing death start to stiffen up naturally, so more then worrying about last words, they worry about their death pose, and the message they will thereby send to their descendants. Adventurers exploring old Dwarf ruins might think they see the statue of the king looking down at them, but it's no statue.

I'm imagining that groups of dead Dwarves of a generation are perhaps placed in a circle where they can be with their old friends and compatriots forever, and then with the passage of time they weather and erode, so humans come along and wonder what the significance of standing stones should be. (Although actually this bit sounds more like gnomes).
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
A cool little thing you could do with Dwarves is have them turn to stone when they die. I imagine old dwarves, nearing deaf start to stiffen up naturally, so more then worrying about last words, they worry about their death pose, and the message they will thereby send to their descendants. Adventurers exploring old Dwarf ruins might think they see the statue of the king looking down at them, but it's no statue.

I'm imagining that groups of dead Dwarves of a generation are perhaps placed in a circle where they be with their old friends and compatriots for ever, and then with the passage of time they weather and erode, so humans come along and wonder what the significance of standing stones should be. (Although actually this bit sounds more like gnomes).
That is cool as hell.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
He's definitely milking that Peter Jackson cash cow formula for all its worth, but I can't fault the hustle. His writing is fairly good, although after reading one series you've essentially read them all.
Yeah, he is also very disrespectful of Neo-Pagan faiths, and of the mythical figures he is cashing in on, not to mention the ancient peoples who worshipped the old gods.

For details, so as not to derail the thread; Not grandma friendly language.

I also just find stuff like making Thor a slovenly idiot a bit much, and indicative of someone who doesn’t have any respect for the mythology he is using to get rich.
 
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Chaosmancer

Legend
A cool little thing you could do with Dwarves is have them turn to stone when they die. I imagine old dwarves, nearing deaf start to stiffen up naturally, so more then worrying about last words, they worry about their death pose, and the message they will thereby send to their descendants. Adventurers exploring old Dwarf ruins might think they see the statue of the king looking down at them, but it's no statue.

I'm imagining that groups of dead Dwarves of a generation are perhaps placed in a circle where they be with their old friends and compatriots for ever, and then with the passage of time they weather and erode, so humans come along and wonder what the significance of standing stones should be. (Although actually this bit sounds more like gnomes).

This is one of the things I would love to do with dwarves. That and them being crafted by their parents.

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When I went to rewrite some dwarven stuff for my setting, I started pretty simple. I looked to the gods, and to what the stereotypes might mean.


So, I ended up with Moradin and Berronar. Moradin crafting the First Born dwarves to attract the beautiful and mercurial goddess, and her marrying him and adopting the "children". All other Dwarven gods/goddesses were not actually deities, but saints. I tried to take a very Roman Catholic type of feel, giving them long lists of saints for various deeds. I even took some saints of sins, who had reached "divinity" but for foul purposes. Like Abbathor.

This had a pretty subtle effect though, in that dwarves would often reference the Saints instead of the Gods.

I then followed that up by deciding that Dwarves didn't have "mountain homes" they have a single Mountain home. The City of Harth was the birthplace of the dwarves and they carved the mountain out so that all dwarves could live in it. I had them displaced once by the Goblins (who are terrifying in my world) but in general, it wasn't a huge change... except.

I got to thinking about the stereotypes. What is the stereotypically dwarf? A blacksmith or miner who his also a warrior, male, and likes to get drunk. Well, I made the getting drunk just a by-product of fetid mountain cave water, and the blacksmithing would clearly be a sacred thing, with all the dwarves making items to give to Moradin, which were kept in a single massive vault when they were no longered owned by the family, or someone wanted to donate them. But what about the warrior thing?

So, I decided that the dwarves, due to have so many threats surrounding their homes (goblins, orcs, also didn't trust humans or elves, and have underdark monsters) required a 10 year military service from all men. And the men would patrol the borders, and do the fighting.

Which got me thinking... what about the women? What do they do with a bunch of drunken warriors on their days off? That's when a bit of inspiration struck. The women stayed home and enforced the laws. I came up with the "bellringers" who were patrols of women cops who had heavy batons for dealing with rowdy soldiers. The judges where usually women. I first thought about them staying home because of pregnancy, but then I started expanding it a bit too. Because the Dwarves NEVER wanted to abandon Harth again. So the dwarven women were the last line of defense for their sacred homes, and they knew it. So they trained three times harder and were far more fearsome warriors than the men.

Male dwarves might fight for glory. If a female dwarf is fighting it is for the survival of her people, and she isn't going to fight fair or hold back. Or she is bludgeoning a male dwarf who started a drunken brawl in the city, and is dragging them to the courts to get sobered up and punished.


I never really finished building the culture out. I had various clans who held various positions, a council of three who advised the rules, with the "King" was the male general of the armies, while the "Queen" was the Supreme Judge, and the two were basically never married because "King and Queen" was just the best way humans could translate their real positions and authority. It was a fun little bit.


Again though, dying and turning to stone and being born of stone are some great concepts to help make dwarves just a bit cooler.
 


AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
A cool little thing you could do with Dwarves is have them turn to stone when they die. I imagine old dwarves, nearing deaf start to stiffen up naturally, so more then worrying about last words, they worry about their death pose, and the message they will thereby send to their descendants. Adventurers exploring old Dwarf ruins might think they see the statue of the king looking down at them, but it's no statue.

I'm imagining that groups of dead Dwarves of a generation are perhaps placed in a circle where they be with their old friends and compatriots for ever, and then with the passage of time they weather and erode, so humans come along and wonder what the significance of standing stones should be. (Although actually this bit sounds more like gnomes).
There's actually something fairly similar to this in the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon). In the Dwarven Culture of Alagaësia believes that a dwarf's spirit can't move on to the afterlife (which is joining their ancestors in the earth) unless their stony coffin is completely entombed in stone. They even have a process of turning mud into stone in order to seal the cracks and seams of the coffins and tombs to allow for this transition into the afterlife.
 

4e had awesome female dwarf art, with a gorgeous and engaging general aesthetic.
I found the art style to be an embarrassment.

1626701469851.png
1626701554935.png
1626702852925.png
1626704042328.png


Technical proficiency notwithstanding, the the art shouts "epic fantasy" and "high level adventurers," but the armor's design is lacking. In the same way villains bedecked in black armor bristling with spikes are devoid of personality, so too are armors adorned with baubles and facets. The attempts to add in more dwarven women to the artwork also fall flat when one looks upon the busty breastplates and bare midriffs of a race that is supposedly stocky and fond of meat and mead.

The ridiculousness of this is stark when contrasted with something like Warhammer dwarves:

1626702435836.png
1626702552890.png
1626702625900.png


This is a "your mileage may vary" territory, but if you want dwarven artwork with visual panache, I think even Peter Jackon's abysmal Hobbit trilogy provides a better aesthetic.

1626704611216.png


Naturally, that may be owing to the fact that Jackson himself resembles one of his plump, short-statured races. ;)
 

I found the art style to be an embarrassment.

View attachment 140845 View attachment 140846View attachment 140851View attachment 140852

Technical proficiency notwithstanding, the the art shouts "epic fantasy" and "high level adventurers," but the armor's design is lacking. In the same way villains bedecked in black armor bristling with spikes are devoid of personality, so too are armors adorned with baubles and facets. The attempts to add in more dwarven women to the artwork also fall flat when one looks upon the busty breastplates and bare midriffs of a race that is supposedly stocky and fond of meat and mead.

The ridiculousness of this is stark when contrasted with something like Warhammer dwarves:

View attachment 140848View attachment 140849View attachment 140850

This is a "your mileage may vary" territory, but if you want dwarven artwork with visual panache, I think even Peter Jackon's abysmal Hobbit trilogy provides a better aesthetic.

View attachment 140854

Naturally, that may be owing to the fact that Jackson himself resembles one of his plump, short-statured races. ;)
the hobbit ones have the problem of all mostly being comical they look like they are super out of their depth rather than they honestly have prepared to kill a being bigger than an elephant that can fly.

also, where do we go forward with dwarves you only need one group of dwarves to be the stereotype what else can they be without losing the fundamental dwarfness?
 

Yora

Hero
The truth about dwarves is that there is only a single dwarf in existence. The quantum dwarf. It exists in multiple places at different times at once.
Which is why you've never seen a single dwarf who isn't a scottish bearded, alcoholic, racist, greedy viking-miner-blacksmith.
Every dwarf is Gimli. There is only Gimli, nothing else. Always was, always will be. For all eternity.
 


I found the art style to be an embarrassment.

View attachment 140845 View attachment 140846View attachment 140851View attachment 140852

Technical proficiency notwithstanding, the the art shouts "epic fantasy" and "high level adventurers," but the armor's design is lacking. In the same way villains bedecked in black armor bristling with spikes are devoid of personality, so too are armors adorned with baubles and facets. The attempts to add in more dwarven women to the artwork also fall flat when one looks upon the busty breastplates and bare midriffs of a race that is supposedly stocky and fond of meat and mead.

The ridiculousness of this is stark when contrasted with something like Warhammer dwarves:

View attachment 140848View attachment 140849View attachment 140850

This is a "your mileage may vary" territory, but if you want dwarven artwork with visual panache, I think even Peter Jackon's abysmal Hobbit trilogy provides a better aesthetic.

View attachment 140854

Naturally, that may be owing to the fact that Jackson himself resembles one of his plump, short-statured races. ;)
I think all but 1 of those Warhammer Dwarves is as ridiculous as the 4e ones. (The one of the Dwarf in renaissance clothing is not exactly great, but not ridiciulous.
 

Casimir Liber

Explorer
Pantheons help - e.g. my D&D 5e world has been populated by generations of Elder Gods cast out of Earth - e.g. titans, waves of celtic gods etc. as they were ousted by new generations. Entities that synergised with dwarves include Prometheus - who gave them fire and some technology, Govannon -smithing, and duergar (and some mountain dwarves) were seduced by Mammon (greed) and Belial (deception), and Baalzebul (flies) - evil giant-fly riding duergar...watch out......
 

MGibster

Legend
I think all but 1 of those Warhammer Dwarves is as ridiculous as the 4e ones. (The one of the Dwarf in renaissance clothing is not exactly great, but not ridiciulous.
Games Workshop tends to have an aesthetic that is ridiculous and awesome at the same time. I can certainly see why it might not be to someone's tastes though. I don't think the dwarf art from D&D 4E look all that bad. I appreciate that the armor they're wearing actually looks like armor. Here's another one of their dwarfs from 1987. He's an ugly cuss but I kind of like the way he looks. Whoever said dwarves aren't sexy is right.

White Dwarf Dwarf.jpg
 


I love the cool looking armor is somehow worse than 'angry dragon beard scroll'.
Yes, sadly, that's how badly 4e's artistic design missed the mark.
I think all but 1 of those Warhammer Dwarves is as ridiculous as the 4e ones. (The one of the Dwarf in renaissance clothing is not exactly great, but not ridiciulous.
I think Warhammer dwarves look ridiculous also, but their design is overall better.
 


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