D&D General Make Your Dwarves More Interesting

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Also, mine are German, not Scottish.

yeah Ive never understood the Scottish dwarf thing, they make more sense being not just German but Bavarian. Grimms Snow White and the 7 Zwerges is a Bavarian folktale.

Dwarfs are adapted to living in alpine caverns, but some dwarf clans act as Holzsammler who gather timber and other resources from the surface. Dwarfs do in fact suffer when visiting lower altitudes, but their high endurance means they can cope but often appear sullen and unhappy when outside their mountain homes.

There are different layers of darkness, and darkvision works by picking up the ambient light from stars or lingering in quartz crystals (Dwarfs call this grey dark). For deeper darkness, dwarfs still carry lanterns because there is no ambient light for their darkvision to pick up, and in the even deeper caverns there is True darkness that crowds in on you, torches are used to keep it at bay. Going deeper than that is the place of madness (and Derro).

Dwarfs skin is the colour and texture of granite (grey with black & white & pink flecks. Red granite indicates Azer heirtage, while Druegar are Dark granite). Dwarfs also use a lot of stone based metaphors, such as the word Talc being pejorative “Elves are soft as Talc”

Dwarf beards are worn by males and females, their bodies tend to be quite hirsuite overall and the colours and braiding indicate clan and status. (I like the idea of beards being sensitive whiskers that give dwarfs information about their environment, am going to steal that)
 
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NotAYakk

Legend
Look up Troika! , the game has a very interesting take on Dwarves.

Basically, dwarves have no gender, and don't reproduce "normally" - instead, they make other dwarves by building them. This is why all dwarves are great craftpersons - if they weren't, they couldn't make other dwarves.
I did an entire "alternative fantasy biology" thing once.

Dwarves where built, and the breath of life was put into them by priests using runes.

So the reproductive selection of Dwarves is towards 3 things; (1) Becoming a masterful crafter to make a child, (2) Learning rune magic to (again) make a child, (3) Becoming a patron of those two groups.

In similar themes:
Elves are actually plants who emit an animal-like nature spirit body. These nature spirit bodies don't live forever; they return to the Elf, deposit their memories, and a new one is created. An Elf-body who dies is a sad thing, because the memories it collected are lost; akin to a human losing a hand, if it took a hand a year to grow back.

Goblin produce larvae. These larvae mature into a form related to what they eat. A clan of Goblins can maintain "true" to form by feeding their larvae dead members of their own clan. Various Goblin-kinds are the result of feeding Goblin larvae other creatures (Bugbears, Worgs, Orcs, Hobgoblins, etc).

Halflings lay eggs that sit in the ground for ages. These eggs are psychic, and learn and grow from the impressions of those who live near them. Halflings go on adventures to collect such memories to share with their clan, and invite interesting strangers into their houses to again benefit their eggs. Two kinds of travelling halflings exist; those that return to their eggs with new experiences, and those who bring their eggs with them in wagons or boats.

My idea at the time was that a different biology would lead to a different set of "reproductive" primal drives.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Halflings lay eggs that sit in the ground for ages. These eggs are psychic, and learn and grow from the impressions of those who live near them. Halflings go on adventures to collect such memories to share with their clan, and invite interesting strangers into their houses to again benefit their eggs. Two kinds of travelling halflings exist; those that return to their eggs with new experiences, and those who bring their eggs with them in wagons or boats.

My idea at the time was that a different biology would lead to a different set of "reproductive" primal drives.
Please tell me your halflings are pink ovoid nurses who carry theirs eggs in pouches
9078C9EC-0929-4E23-91B3-DC9E099A2A88.jpeg
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
In my current campaign, Dwarves have been genocided and the Drow are a created race to man their mines and get the (literal) Bones of the Earth.

That wasn't even campaign building from me, it was a request froma player in Session 0 - I think to see how hard they could push since it was the first time they were playing with me and some of the other players were making some pretty big asks.
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
In a post-apocalyptic homebrew, my Dwarves were actually the brains of Psionically active dwarves transplanted into biomechanical humanoid war chassis. The purely biological dwarves had long since died out in the aftermath of the multi-planar war that had ruined the world. Their culture- including things like their anti-giant fighting techniques, stonecunning and mastery of stone and metal- were dwarven. Their physical attributes were more like Warforged, though most (but not all) of them were Dwarven in general form.

IOW, Inheritors (a they were called) were a mashup of dwarves, Warforged and Cybermen/Daleks.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
One cultural change I often go with for dwarves as both a GM and a player is away from the instruments they stereotypically favor in many games and art, like bagpipes.

Instead, my dwarves favor instruments of stone and metal. Percussion instruments like tongue drums, gongs, chimes, triangles, xylophones, marimbas, thumb pianos, lithophines, steel drums, tube drums, singing bowls, rhythm sticks and the like predominate. But there also are less mobile instruments like hydrocrystalophones and pyrophones.

…and yes, some still use still like bagpipes and accordions.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
One cultural change I often go with for dwarves as both a GM and a player is away from the instruments they stereotypically favor in many games and art, like bagpipes.

Instead, my dwarves favor instruments of stone and metal. Percussion instruments like tongue drums, gongs, chimes, triangles, xylophones, marimbas, thumb pianos, lithophines, steel drums, tube drums, singing bowls, rhythm sticks and the like predominate. But there also are less mobile instruments like hydrocrystalophones and pyrophones.

…and yes, some still use still like bagpipes and accordions.
I've never seen a dwarf with bagpipes, where did that come from?

I always thoght they were into to Hard Rock and played Axes :p

(and accordions are hardcore)
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I've never seen a dwarf with bagpipes, where did that come from?

I always thoght they were into to Hard Rock and played Axes :p

(and accordions are hardcore)
I’ve sat at so many tables in 3 different states with Scottish analog dwarves it’s almost eclipsing the teutonic/germanic ones.

And even some of THEM had bagpipes & kilts.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I’ve sat at so many tables in 3 different states with Scottish analog dwarves it’s almost eclipsing the teutonic/germanic ones.

And even some of THEM had bagpipes & kilts.
I know "Scottish Dwarves" is like, a huge thing in the fantasy genre in general, but my Dwarves have always been more of a mix of German and Russian. German for having a ton of compound words in their language, and Russian for the harsh consonants and lots of o's and u's in their language.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I know "Scottish Dwarves" is like, a huge thing in the fantasy genre in general, but my Dwarves have always been more of a mix of German and Russian. German for having a ton of compound words in their language, and Russian for the harsh consonants and lots of o's and u's in their language.
I haven’t encountered ANY dwarves with Russian flavoring.

If I did today, I’d probably chuckle a bit given how tall they seemed on average when I visited Moscow and St. Petersburg 15+ years ago. I’m 5’7”, but noticed certain architectural ergonomics there made me feel positively short(er).
 

jgsugden

Legend
I get that, but again the media, etc. seems to always have them with torches or lanterns... why if they have infravision/ darkvision???...
Why do you own a color television? Or why do you wear glasses if you do not have 20/20 vision?

Darkvision is limited. In 5E mechanics it gives you disadvantage on perception (including a 5 penalty to passive perception) and it is black and white, which means that those relying upon it may miss important details that rely upon color. Further, it has a range limit where illuminated areas can be of any size if you have enough illumination, allowing them to see much greater distances, potentially, if their areas are lit.

DMs that think about this level of detail will also remember that many threats in the ground suffer from sunlight sensitivity. So magical sunlight in the ground is valuable to a defensive position (even more so considering that some creatures can make darkness if there is no magical daylight.)

For most intelligent creatures, darkvision can be useful when they are stealthing, or when they can't get light... but the idea that they'd live their lives without light sources is .... short sighted.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I have a lot of Dwarves, but my most common Dwarves are right out of Tolkien. Same for my most common elves, halflings and orcs. I want these concepts to be accessible to new players from the second they sit down. There are a number of odd clans, variants, etc... of each heritage, but they're rare and many were introduced by the creative decisions of players in my games.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Darkvision is limited. In 5E mechanics it gives you disadvantage on perception (including a 5 penalty to passive perception) and it is black and white, which means that those relying upon it may miss important details that rely upon color. Further, it has a range limit where illuminated areas can be of any size if you have enough illumination, allowing them to see much greater distances, potentially, if their areas are lit.
Although limited, it is much too common IMO. And since dwarves in my game don't all spend their lives underground, there is no reason for them to have darkvision anyway. Elves don't get it either. Only half-orcs (limited to 30 ft), tieflings, and we gave it to dragonborn because they are light on racial traits.

DMs that think about this level of detail will also remember that many threats in the ground suffer from sunlight sensitivity. So magical sunlight in the ground is valuable to a defensive position (even more so considering that some creatures can make darkness if there is no magical daylight.)
Most monsters with darkvision don't have sunlight sensitivity, though.

For most intelligent creatures, darkvision can be useful when they are stealthing, or when they can't get light... but the idea that they'd live their lives without light sources is .... short sighted.
While I don't appreciate the implication of your closing remarks, I can appreciate the humour.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Although limited, it is much too common IMO. And since dwarves in my game don't all spend their lives underground, there is no reason for them to have darkvision anyway. Elves don't get it either. Only half-orcs (limited to 30 ft), tieflings, and we gave it to dragonborn because they are light on racial traits.
really breathing fire, damage resistance and wings wasnt enough racial traits for them?

and whats your game rationale for Half-orcs having it?
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
really breathing fire, damage resistance and wings wasnt enough racial traits for them?
What wings?

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They can't fly so I don't know what Dragonborn you are playing with... they don't even have a racial feat option allowing you to make a dragonborn that flies!

Also, breathing fire once per short rest is hardly anything to write home about. Now, make it your bonus action and have it recharge (5-6) like a dragon, and then you might have something.

Finally, they are descendant from dragons, creatures with superior senses, including much greater ranged darkvision and blindsight. :p

and whats your game rationale for Half-orcs having it?
Orcs have it, so they get it from them, it is genetic; but because they are only half orc, it is 30 feet instead of 60.

Besides, half-orcs didn't really receive much love when it came to their design, so it makes them more tempting to play.

Now, would you like me to explain why we let Tieflings keep it or do you think you can figure that one out for yourself? ;)
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
What wings?

View attachment 150247

They can't fly so I don't know what Dragonborn you are playing with... they don't even have a racial feat option allowing you to make a dragonborn that flies!

Also, breathing fire once per short rest is hardly anything to write home about. Now, make it your bonus action and have it recharge (5-6) like a dragon, and then you might have something.

Finally, they are descendant from dragons, creatures with superior senses, including much greater ranged darkvision and blindsight. :p


Orcs have it, so they get it from them, it is genetic; but because they are only half orc, it is 30 feet instead of 60.

Besides, half-orcs didn't really receive much love when it came to their design, so it makes them more tempting to play.

Now, would you like me to explain why we let Tieflings keep it or do you think you can figure that one out for yourself? ;)
ah yeah good point, wings is from UA not core - my bad. I think breath weapon and DR is fine so heh.


Asto orcs I was thinking more an in game rationale for orcs having it, since the removal from dwarfs was due to in game reasons of dwarfs not being subterranean. But yeah I can agree core halforcs are a bit lacking.

and Tieflings are naff
 



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