Extraneous Voices of Picayune > Citadel Tavern

Dwarves. Must they be vertically challenged vikings?

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Do not get me wrong, but should we stick with the Norse/Tolkienesque dwarves?

How far can we change dwarves before they become something else? And not something silly like cannabilistic halflings? 

Even beards are not a given - there were beardless dwarves in Dark Sun. 

So, what do you think makes a dwarf a dwarf? And not just a human with a growth problem?

Things that make a dwarf a dwarf

Personally stoic, unmoved by flights of fantasy or whims. Elves and humans are twits, and orcs and goblins are bundles of impulses with no control. A dwarf isn't moved to quickly shed tears, or display wanton emotion. He may weep, but he weeps for his slain brothers, not for fallen trees, or because someone hurt his feelings. He may be moved to rage, but such things grow slowly and are vast and deep and powerful.

Dwarves are also builders and makers, creating things with their hands, with their minds. They can certainly use magic, or clerical magic, but a dwarf is best when working with his hands, be it cutting stone, making a watch, cutting jewels, things great and small. They are disciplined, industrious, organized.

Dwarves are also about self denial. There is a reason that so much fantasy attempts to assert female dwarves and they just don't work. Dwarves are masculine in the extreme. They are soldiers, buildiers, workers among workers. They are not lovers, they are not Lotharios or Casanovas. When they are family men, they are the aloof stern father. They are demanding and strong, proud and bound by honor.

Beards, axes, and all of the rock vikings is just window dressing

I have pondered this myself a time or two, but not deeply enough to write up anything detailed (yet.) I do have a few thoughts to share; hopefully they come out more coherent than they are in my mind...

Why can't we have a fully fleshed out Dwarven race? Some may be stoic warriors or craftsmen, stern and solid as the rock they live under. Others may be inquisitive, wanting to explore deeper into the mountains or visit the surface world more frequently. What about the lazy son who refuses to learn the family trade? Or the trickster who gets a kick out of playing pranks on the more serious sorts? The outer world may have a preconceived idea of the Dwarven mindset, but all the better to shock the players when they come across the moon-eyed mystical Dwarf who talks in riddles, refuses to do physical work, has his head in the clouds, and wants to learn about abstract concepts, like cosmology.

Having an average height and weight does not have to mean that they all have the same build (standard deviation, anyone?). Maybe one family is known for being of a more slender build (but still short) while another is known for being exceptionally tall (for Dwarves, that is.)

I think that there is a lot of potential for material here that is rarely mined (yuk yuk.) Living underground and being of a certain size will certainly impact their psychology to a degree, but why make them all clones of each other?

Maybe another way to say this is that you can have a Dwarven culture that appears consistent on the macro level but begins to break down on the micro level.

The idea of having one race = one stereotype seems more and more dated to me the older I get.

Its not a great secret that I hate dwarves. I really dislike the fact that they're all cocky, Scottish, drunkards obsessed with four things: fighting, drinking, eating and being obnoxious. I might do a " remaking the dwarves" sub one day so I can mold them into something I prefer.

Please, read the dwarven guild material and see if the images contained in those imaginings of dwarves fits the sterotypes of dwarves you have come to loath or seek to challenge. I'd be curious to know what yinz think.


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