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D&D 5E Dwarves Could Use A Rethink

Only that those pictures have basically been posted before
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Those are basically the same types of armor as this is art belongs to the same game. Only the helmet is different because it shows lords and heroes and not rank and file troops (but you can find those models in the game too).

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And some of the D&D art is not far of in design, just lower quality (especially the guy on the right)
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Yes. Those are the rather ridiculous ones that were posted before yes. And the D&D one's are equally ridiculous.

None of them look like something you would see in history. The dwarf with the helmet wings wouldn't be so bad without the helmet wings, but he does have helmet wings (and a ridiculous fantasy warhammer).

Of the D&D ones, only the one of the left looks close to something you might see in history although the shoulder spikes ruin it (and his pick is impractically heavy).

The original point was that Warhammer was much more realistic than 4e D&D. And on the face of what we've seen so far, no. Neither is remotely in touch with realism.

But god knows I don't really care, that's just based on the evidence of what people have posted so far.
 

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Perhaps. But that is subjective. I find that art looks cooler if it also looks functional. I just find it hard to be excited by fantasy characters that are wearing armour and wielding weapons that look like some combination of painted cosplay cardboard and polystyrene.

But I don't actually expect D&D to look realistic.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
That article may not be a scholarly source, but it is pretty closely aligned with scholarly thinking on the matter of dwarves - they are almost certainly the same beings referred to as svartalfar by Snori Sturluson (and seemingly only by Snori Sturluson). And they were probably not short. The scholar I consulted with for my reenactment work referred to the idea of short dwarves derisively as “Tolkien Stuff,” and when I asked him what I should say if asked what they did look like, he had a long think and then hesitantly said “like… dead people?” which makes sense to me, given that they live underground, which is also where hel is. And it jibes with the general ancient world conflation of hidden folk and ghosts. Maybe that’s the angle to take - tie them to the shadowdark.
Huh. The dvergar arent actually dead, but they do look like dead people, are often in deathlike trances, and are known for their destructive curses, unsuccessful fates.

An affinity for the Shadow Plane and its Negative Energy influence, kinda works.

Oh. And yeah, normal human sizes.
 
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Casimir Liber

Explorer
Also - for alternate ideas on dwarves - I recall RuneQuest Mostali - for instance see here and here. So. One idea is to tie them more intimately to Elemental Plane of Earth and then have Clay Dwarves (say, hill dwarves), Rock Dwarves etc.

PS: loved RuneQuest lore (monsters, deities etc.) - was really refreshing, original and different to DnD. Sad I didn't get to play it more in the 80s but oh well....
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Also - for alternate ideas on dwarves - I recall RuneQuest Mostali - for instance see here and here. So. One idea is to tie them more intimately to Elemental Plane of Earth and then have Clay Dwarves (say, hill dwarves), Rock Dwarves etc.

PS: loved RuneQuest lore (monsters, deities etc.) - was really refreshing, original and different to DnD. Sad I didn't get to play it more in the 80s but oh well....
The dvergar are notable formations and patterns in rock, including veins of metal. They are the earth element.

They also relate to water. They inhabit both stone and mud. An extensive description of a dvergar family, has each one shapeshifting into water animals to swim in the water, including salmon, otter, and even the serpent Fafnir relates to a snake that can swim. So, the water element.

But the dvergar are also fey, relating to fate, cursing with bad luck, for an unsuccessful fate.

From a D&D perspective, I dont mind the "Negative Energy" of a curse, relating to the Shadowfell, opposite the "Positive Energy" blessing, relating to the Feywild.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Among the North European traditions, there are at least two kinds of dwarves, the Norse dvergar and the Germanic dweorgas.

The Germanic one is in Saxon areas of Germany, and Anglo-Saxon areas of Britain. Here for this one, the term "dweorgas" is the plural of Old English dweorg.

The Norse dvergar appears to be normal human size. The Germanic dweorgas appears to be short, perhaps about hip-high to an average height human, or perhaps about knee-high.

A late Norse legendary saga translates German heroic texts into Old Norse around 1300. It takes place in Germany, relating to the life of Thidrekr (Theodoric the Great who lived around 500). It mentions an encounter with the German dwarf Alfrikr (Alberich), reacting to his small size. This Germanic dweorgas is the very first reference to a short dwarf in Norse texts.

British texts include Anglo-Saxon marginal glosses using the term dweorh to translate terms like Latin nanus, evidencing how the Germanic dwarf is short. Hence, the English term "dwarf" also comes to mean small.

By contrast, earlier, native, Norse texts, describe the dvergar as having the body of a "giant" (thurs), where most giants are human size, despite individuals that can grow indefinitely larger.

The Dvergatal identifies Regin as a dvergar. Viking Era carvings about 1000, and Post-Viking Era about 1300, visually depict Regin as the same size as the human he interacts with.

The overall assessment is, different localities have different views about what a dwarf is, and what an elf is. Generally, the Norse dvergar is human size, and the Germanic dweorgas is short.
 

Casimir Liber

Explorer
The dvergar are notable formations and patterns in rock, including veins of metal. They are the earth element.

They also relate to water. They inhabit both stone and mud. An extensive description of a dvergar family, has each one shapeshifting into water animals to swim in the water, including salmon, otter, and even the serpent Fafnir relates to a snake that can swim. So, the water element.

But the dvergar are also fey, relating to fate, cursing with bad luck, for an unsuccessful fate.

From a D&D perspective, I dont mind the "Negative Energy" of a curse, relating to the Shadowfell, opposite the "Positive Energy" blessing, relating to the Feywild.
Heh cool, duergar making a link with a water patron/deity (let's say olhydra) to assist with tunnelling and mining....could make for some nasty surprises in a duergar lair or army...(chuckles fiendlishly)
 



Yaarel

Mind Mage
Heh cool, duergar making a link with a water patron/deity (let's say olhydra) to assist with tunnelling and mining....could make for some nasty surprises in a duergar lair or army...(chuckles fiendlishly)
I love the watery surprises. The dvergar might even be some of those watery creatures.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Why is that it seems all fantasy settings show Dwarven societies / kingdoms in decline? Show them at a height or ascending in itself would be a change that could make Dwarves more interesting to play or as part of a setting.
You’re not wrong, but I bet part of it is to keep the rise & current dominance of humans at the center of most FRPG settings.

You could have a fascinating setting in which Elves and Dwarves are in the same relative positions as the declining Spanish empire and rising British empire. Or Romans Vs Carthaginians. Or Persians & Greeks. Etc.

After all, Elvish empires of the past are mentioned in many settings as well.

But then you have to account for why humans matter. Where do they fit? Because your human players are going to want to know.*






* IME, humans are the one race you can guarantee whose absence will kill a campaign.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
You’re not wrong, but I bet part of it is to keep the rise & current dominance of humans at the center of most FRPG settings.

You could have a fascinating setting in which Elves and Darves are in the same relative positions as the declining Spanish empire and rising British empire. Or Romans Vs Carthaginians. Or Persians & Greeks. Etc.

After all, Elvish empires of the past are mentioned in many settings as well.

But then you have to account for why humans matter. Where do they fit? Because your human players are going to want to know.*






* IME, humans are the one race you can guarantee whose absence will kill a campaign.
IME no one needs humans to be dominant in order to play them.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
But then you have to account for why humans matter. Where do they fit? Because your human players are going to want to know.
I view elves and dwarves as creatures of fate. They know that the fate of the universe actually revolves around humans, but the fates cant understand why. So they maintain endless curiosity about humans trying to figure it out.
 

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