Tuesday, April 5, 2011


D is for Dwarves in our fourth installment of the Deepest Sea, A-Z.

Dwarves are a classic element in any fantasy, due to the influences of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. "Classic" Tolkien-esque Dwarves are stout, short fellows, with a predilection for gold, underground delving, and orc slaying. 

In D&D, all of these are true, and dwarves gain the ability to see in infravision, while suffering from class restrictions (or are race as class).  In addition they get a spread of languages, and improved saves.  They are not able to use two handed weapons, or long bows, and have a 1/3 chance to find traps, false walls, etc.  Dwarves have capped level progression, and are "particularly gruff with Elves".  Often, they seem to have faux-Scottish accents, and act as the comic relief.

In the Deepest Sea setting, Dwarves were enslaved by the Titans sometime after their emergence from the Rim.  Dwarves however, made poor slaves as compared to the Elves, and were never very numerous.  Consequently their numbers dwindled during the era of domination, and once the Titans were overthrown, they kept to themselves and founded small independent city states.  At the height of the Empire, the various dwarven cities were client kingdoms to the Empire, and some dwarves migrated out of the Rim to the the flatlands, living side by side with Elves.  When humans arrived from over the plains, dwarves felt a kinship with them, but the Horse Pox plagues struck them down regardless. Currently the Dwarven kingdoms have regained their much of previous strength, but keep to themselves more than they did before.

The Dwarves speak one of two cradle languages, either Hoch Dwarf if they are born in a dwarf kingdom, or Platt Dwarf if born in another kingdom.  Both languages derive from a common, pre-Servile root, with Platt Dwarf diverging more from the root, with a heavy Servile and Franka influence.  Each group of dwarves tends to develop its own dialect or cant fairly quickly as they bond together, often leading to conversational difficulties with far flung groups.  Dwarves also learn languages of the region in which they are in, and if magic users, they will learn the ancient languages as well.

Race rules 
In the Deepest Sea, Dwarves are not limited by the traditional set of classes as presented in most D&D material.  Instead, they may be any class except for Cleric or its related sub-classes, or Paladins, as dwarves as a rule have no connection to the divine, and tend to find the very concept of a deity to be confusing.  Dwarves do have a very strong sense of morality and duty, and tend to be very group and clan oriented.  They seem to have great reverence for their ancestors, and have elaborate secret ceremonies for the dead, which are seldom witnessed by outsiders.  There are nasty rumors in some quarters that dwarves who attend the ceremonies are never the same as before, or that they eat human babies and perform other diabolical acts. 

Dwarves do not have infravision; however, they may see 20' further in the dark than a human.

Dwarves may use two handed weapons and longbows, but they must use the longbow as a footbow, as their stature does not allow them to draw it while standing.  They tend to use heavy crossbows to compensate.

Dwarves to not have any experience cap, although high level dwarves (beyond 6) will have heavy pressure to return home to the clan.  In a game, this means that starting at level 5 or so, dwarves should get messages, dreams, longings, and visitors, all urging a return to the clan.

Dwarves tend to adventure for several reasons.  They might adventure to seek wealth, to bring renown to their clan, to serve clan interests, to discover potent magics, or rarely, to escape from clan control.  Randomly generated dwarven PCs or NPCs are likely to be nobility 1/3 of the time, come from the Dwarven Kingdoms 2/3 of the time, and are male 5/6 of the time.  Typically a younger dwarf will owe money to his clan, and will be interested in sending wealth back to them in any case.  A dwarf's word is his bond... when given to other dwarves.  They relate well with humans and elves, and less well with havlings or orcs.

Miniature-wise, I recommend Hasslefree Miniatures, in particular Russ and Dwarf with Great Axe.  These have mail armor, beards, and weapons which are suitable for Dwarven fighters.  Hasslefree also has a dwarf multi-pack for retainers, and a wizard.
Tomorrow, more Deepest Sea A-Z, with a discussion of Elves.

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