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Fig. 1.1 A dwarf. Note the prominent beard, the ornate axe, and the helmet covering everything above the ears.

A Dwarf (or more properly, Dorf) is a short guy who is made of muscle and beard and alcohol and awesome. No member of dwarf society can function without alcohol. Even their infants are made to chug a whole keg of ale down before Mommy ever lets the baby near her nipples (although, given the liquor intake of the average dwarven mother, she probably lactates eggnog). They like to live in fortresses. Dwarf characters should have one or a combination of the words "beer", "beard", "bronze", "stone", "Urist", "Mc/Mac", "iron", "hammer", or "axe" in their names. A good example would be Hammer McShieldbearded.

Dwarven Physiology[edit]

Dwarves typically consist of seventeen main organs: The beard (yes, female dwarves have these too), the boozehole, the gratuitous Celtic accent, 13 livers and an axe. Many outsiders erroneously dismiss a dwarf's axe as an implement of the most common trade, but recent experiments probing into dwarven society (and consuming dwarven booze) have revealed that it is in fact a rare biological example of a fully detachable organ.

The beard is used primarily for attracting mates, and probably something to do with converting argon gas into vitamin C. I mean, these guys live on mead and rocks, so they gotta get antioxidants somehow, right? We'll just go with that. The only notable thing to remember about dwarf beards is that when a pansy human and a dwarf argue over whether or not shaved chicks are better, they're probably not on the same page.

The thirteen livers do the same thing as a human liver, just thirteen times better (equaling 169 times the alcohol). Maybe other shit, too, but dwarves don't have time for boring biology crap. Moving on.

Boozeholes are for booze. There's other shit you can throw in there too, but those things mostly just act like a sponge, hampering the booze-absorption process. If a particularly whiny dwarf feels the need to "not starve to death," he can fill his empty boozehole with some nice non-porous rocks, or maybe a stack of five wine and rendered fat biscuits if he's really desperate.

The accent is used for interrace relations, since dorfs typically spice up their sentences with foul swears and oaths the incomprehensibility of the accent is the only reason a dorf-notdorf alliance was ever made.

Dwarven Mating Practices[edit]

While working, the dwarven male releases spores No more ! Now they merely touch the female and promptly impregnate them. She then immediately falls in love with the dwarf male (love was originally something created for record keeping but has evolved into the ability to share one's room) and has a baby nine months later. Then the baby dies on a goblin's -copper spear-

Dwarfs do not interbreed with the other races. Dwarf sperm is too corrosive to fertilize any woman that doesn't have +4 save vs. poison, and dwarven wombs don't even acknowledge the weak spoor of even the most fecund of human gigolos. The only half-dwarf is a bisected dwarf, likely from an unfortunate axeident.

However, the interbreeding thing depends on settings (Dark Sun has a race of sterile monstrous half-dwarves called Muls, Dragonlance has half-dwarves as a rare but perfectly normal and viable race, Forgotten Realms has Shield Dwarves who routinely mate with humans, halflings and gnomes to produce more dwarves as they can't reliably breed with each other.) and, to an extent, edition. 4e implies that its muls aren't sterile, and even had an article in Dragon Magazine devoted to non-DarkSun muls. Meanwhile, the 5e entry in the Monster Manual for orcs says that some half-orcs are actually the result of breeding between orcs and dwarves (albeit typically of the bog-standard rape) - yeah, you read that right. The line in question: Orc Crossbreeds: Luthic, the orc goddess of fertility and wife of Gruumsh, demands that orcs procreate often and indiscriminately so that orc hordes swell generation after generation. The orcs' drive to reproduce runs stronger than any other humanoid race, and they readily crossbreed with other races. When an orc procreates with a non-orc humanoid of similar size and stature (such as a human or a dwarf preferably the dwarf to combine the advantages of the offspring's dual-species manliness with the drawn-backs of neither), the resulting child is either an orc or a half-orc. When an orc produces young with an ogre, the child is a half-ogre of intimidating strength and brutish features called an ogrillon. It should be noted that dwarfs are able to breed with creatures well known for their ability to cross breed, such as succubi and dragons.

Dwarven Society[edit]

Dwarven cities, called "fortresses", are underground. Now, we're not talking nice little hillside retreats full of plenty of free cake and fat, chain-smoking midgets. I'm looking at you, "Ring Bearer." No, dwarves live in mountains they carve out themselves with their bare fucking hands. I kid you not. Those *copper picks* are purely status symbols.

Your average dwarf spends his free time wishing he had more to do or, ideally, has no free time. If a dwarf ain't busy building something huge, epically awesome and dwarfy, he ain't happy. Idleness in dwarves has been medically proven to result in depression, erectile dysfunction, chronic sobriety, facial pattern baldness and pointy ears.

Other honorable pursuits among dwarves include digging, metalworking, stoneworking, brewing booze, killing goblins, killing kobolds, thinking of new ways to kill giants, killing tragically neglecting safety protocol when visited by elven liaisons, swindling gullible elves and humans, and drinking contests.

Dwarven politics are a funny thing, even if they are obviously superior to all that sissy tall people "let's talk about our problems" bullshit. Upon visiting a dwarven stronghold, you will notice a perhaps disproportionate number of dwarves running around draped in purple velvet and pimpin' bling. Absolutely fucking useless. Murder Ignore them.

No, if you want to find the guy in charge, whip out your measuring stick, 'cause the largest beard you come across is likely attached to the boozehole giving the orders. The owners of these beautiful, shaggy neck blankets often go for bonus points by decking out their beards with thick braids and two-ton cast iron phallic symbols and whatever else their presumably manly dwarfy square jaws can support. If you need a question answered, these are the guys who'll tell you "no, fuck you, we're doing it my way."

Dwarven Religion[edit]

Dwarves tend to worship Lawful Good deities. They have a various pantheon made of- Get this Moradin lawful-good bullshit out of there son, I'll tell you what REAL dwarves worship. The only thing a Dwarf worships is his next flagon of ale, amirite?

In a time before time, the god of blood (no, not that one... at least probably not) created the universe on a colossal anvil, and then molded the first dwarves with earth, blood, and magma. He also molded the other races out of mud and dust, but he was less than pleased with them. Then He sat back, and as the universe grew older and more peaceful, He grew bored.

He called his children around Him, and said. "Dwarves. This universe grows boring. I will remake it on the forge of creation, unless it becomes less boring"

The dwarves were obviously terrified. And then Urist, the firstborn and the bravest of them, had an idea. He asked His god how could they possibly make the universe less boring for Him.

So He gave His chosen people, the dwarves, their holy mission : to make this world a world of everlasting conflict, so He may escape divine boredom. He gave them their tools of war : the axe, the hammer, the floodgate and the lever, so they may shed blood and magma in His name.

Dwarves worship the stone and earth that surrounds them. Each strike of the pick is a psalm, and each tunnel is a sacrament, and the miner is the dwarves's priest.

Dwarves worship the fiery magma that they were made of. Magma is a purifying force and therefore they pour it on elves, kobolds, goblins and other less worthy creatures.

Dwarves also worship blood, as one of the elements of life, and shed the blood of lesser creatures because it pleases Him, else the universe will be set upon the anvil of creation to be reforged.

Everything a dwarf does is to please their god of blood.

The song of the pick and of the battle axe is music to His ears. The magma-charred corpse of an elf is food to His hunger. The spilled lifeblood of goblins is drink for His insatiable thirst.


Dwarven Flaws[edit]

Many people, particularly on /tg/, have no problem whining about elves being gay, nature-loving, Mary Sues, but they forget Dwarves have problems too. In nearly every depiction of them, dwarves are greedy, unforgiving, racist hypocrites (Not an argument you pathetic Pansy Elf lovers) who lie about their history (they omit mistakes and people they're ashamed of from it) and fear innovation (Dwarves in some fictional universes practically consider "progress" and "change" to be dirty words). They're also emotionally weak; if a human or an elf fails at something, they usually get back up and try again. If a Dwarf fails at something, they get depressed and never try again and get drunk. Worse, they may get obsessed and turn deathseeker over it, inevitably dragging countless others into a long, tragic saga over a relatively trivial matter.

Finally, Dwarves also have an annoying tendency to brag about being an "Elder Race" and demanding respect for it, yet Dwarves show no respect to races older and more long-lived than they are, such as Elves (Which is strange, since they always complain about these traits in other races, such as the Eldar).

Dwarven Diplomacy[edit]

Dwarves are said to lean mostly toward the Lawful Good alignment. In practice, this essentially means that they prefer to swindle other good-aligned creatures, spit on neutral creatures for being pansies, and kill anything that annoys them enough to be labeled "evil," but only after swindling and/or spitting on them. As of this writing, all sentient beings and most species of tree have been classified by the Dwarven Diplomacy Board as members of the last category (except humans, you don't fuck with something that numerous and trigger-happy Usually because most humans are sufficiently awed by Dwarfish technology to respect them, other humans are usually smart enough not to provoke Dwarves, and those that aren't are quickly killed off by the Dwarves).

Basically dwarves let their axes (and Celtic accents) talk for them. Fuckin' hardcore sons of bitches, they are.

Historical comparison[edit]

On the whole Dwarves across fiction tend to have the following tendencies... Unless they are from BioWare, in which case they are enourmous faggots

  • Are typically employed in metal related artisanry rather than as agricultural workers
    • Additionally in fantasy settings with technology on higher level (warhammer fantasy is a good example) Dwarves are typically the ones with the most advanced. If any one has gun powder, they do.
  • Tend to live in tightly-knit relatively insular communities and have interconnected extended families.
  • Despite that, these communities work in conjunction and are dependent on other peoples (ale is made from barley, which - like all plants - tends not to grow well at the bottom of a mine without sunlight) which generally outnumber them, trading their metalworks and other products in exchange for food.
  • While they can speak the languages of others that surround them quite well, they usually use their own language amongst themselves
  • Are conservative (in that their society is the way that they like it, thank you very much, and seldom change it, if ever)
  • Tend to put a great amount of emphasis on the written word
  • Often have their communities come under assault by stupid brutish morons
  • Grow long beards (depending on the universe, women included)
  • Generally are a declining race having suffered some disaster at their golden age and are slowly dying off.

As such, if one thinks in terms of historical analogues, Dwarves come across as early Germanics, Australians and, in a more Tolkien-influenced work, Jews. Tolkien said that his "dwarves of course are quite obviously - wouldn't you say that in many ways they remind you of the Jews? Their words are Semitic obviously, constructed to be Semitic." The comparison was largely a stylistic choice - semitic languages are quite different in structure from Indo-European languages (being a linguist, he put a lot of thought into his made-up languages), while thematically, the loss of Erebor and the exile of Thorin's people resembled the plight of the post-Roman Jewish diaspora. Of course, some people suggest that the real reason for the comparison was racist in nature - both dwarves and the stereotype of Jews are that they're greedy. Tolkien however made it a point that his characters, while just as fallible as any other human being, were ultimately heroic and honorable.

On the other hand, much of Dwarven culture, like most aspects of Tolkien's major races, derives from early Germanic culture - Tolkien's Dwarves are even named after Dwarves from Norse mythology; nearly all dwarven names come directly from the Norse Eddas. In many fantasy universes, they tend to ape Scandinavian culture much more directly, which is fitting, considering the mythology they come from. Even if there are already Scandinavian people in the setting.

Another common historical analogue are Celts, in particular Scots, living in clans, in the mountains, full of berserker rage when angered, hospitable when not, gruff, wear horned helmets, are drunkards, short, grippy with money, brew the strongest ales, skilled artificers and usually starters of anything remotely resembling industrialization, are fond of Celtic knotwork and of course speak in Scottish accents like many depictions of dwarves.

Of note is is the spelling: Dwarves VS Dwarfs. when in doubt, look for how it's used in the setting involved. Nearly everyone uses the first spelling when regarding the fantasy creature. The Dwarfs variation is mainly used in astronomy, biology (dwarfism), the Snow White animation movie, and the WFB race. The latter is actually the original, more common version. Tolkien viewed 'dwarfs' rather unsightly, and coined 'dwarves' (paralleling elf-> elves, and wolf -> wolves. Related: milf -> milves). Usually, Dwarf is the singular, Dwarves is the plural.

The most common name for a dwarf on /tg/, however, is Dorf (plural: Dorfz), which results from psudophonetics, as do many /tg/ related words and memes.

Dwarves in 5e[edit]

Depends on setting, of course, but more or less your same old gruff, bearded alcoholic miners with tradition and clan being everything.

  • Ability Score: +2 Constitution
  • Typical Alignment: Favor Lawful Good.
  • Size: Medium. Listed as being between 4 and 5 feet tall, and average 150 pounds.
  • Speed: 25 feet
  • Darkvision
  • Dwarven Resilience: Advantage on saving throws against poison, and resistance against poison damage.
  • Dwarven Combat Training: Proficiency with Battleaxe, Handaxe, Light Hammer, and, of course, Warhammer.
  • Free tool proficiency with choice of smith's, brewer's or mason's tools.
  • Stonecunning: Double Proficiency bonus when making history checks on the origin of stonework.
  • Languages: Common and Dwarvish.

Of course, subraces get their own bonuses.

Hill Dwarf

  • Ability Score: +1 Wisdom
  • Dwarven Toughness: Free +1 max hp every level.

Mountain Dwarf

  • Ability Score: +2 Strength (only subrace which allows you to start with two +2 bonuses)
  • Dwarven Armor Training: Free Proficiency with Light and Medium Armor.

The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide also gave info on the Duregar subrace, the dour, evil cousins of the dwarves that inhabit the Underdark.


  • Ability Score: +1 Strength
  • Superior Darkvision (120 feet max instead of plain Darkvision's 60 feet)
  • Duregar Resilience: Advantage on saves against illusions and being charmed or paralyzed.
  • Duregar Magic: Free Enlarge/Reduce at 3rd level, and free Invisibility at 5th level, but has an interesting limitation: they cannot be cast when you are in direct sunlight. The spells still work while you're in sunlight if you cast them somewhere else, but while you're in the sun, nada. Both spells recharge on a long rest, and use Intelligence as their spellcasting Modifier.
  • Sunlight Sensitivity: Disadvantage on attack rolls and Perception checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you're trying to percieve, is in direct sunlight.

Dwarf Variants[edit]

Though the above is pretty much the standard template for dwarves, some settings have shown some deviance from them... usually in the form of sub-races or offshoot clans.

  • Duergar are the most famous, having originated in the Forgotten Realms setting. Essentially the dwarf equivalent to Drow, they have been typically characterized as joyless pricks who hate sunlight, ornamentation, all other races, and pretty much anything other than working themselves to death, to the point their racial patron doubles as a god of slavery and toil (appropriate given their frequent use as slave labor by the drow). Except in 4e, where they were diabolists who interbred with devils and gave themselves big sharp poisoned quills in their beards.
  • Dawi in Warhammer Fantasy are Grudge-obsessed, culturally unchanging, and absolutely racist fucks who only barely tolerate humans and hate every single other thing, especially each other when they have a reason, to varying degrees. They almost wiped themselves out just out of their inability to resolve conflicts such as those caused by an insult given by accident ten generations ago while a third invading force was on the march causing a three-way fight where the Dwarfs could only lose. But out of sheer tenacity and refusal to admit weakness or being wrong, they managed to make it to the death of the setting as a powerful force.
  • Their cousins, the evil Chaos Dwarfs, force magic into their own bodies unnaturally (as Warhammer Dwarf bodies and minds resist and nullify magic) which slowly turns them to stone. They have an intense hatred of all other races, to the point of being like their kin with an even bigger Grudge. They are based on Mesopotamians, and the size and type of their hat is more important to them than a beard.
  • The other big name in alternate dwarves are the Derro, who are basically completely bug-fuck insane dwarves who dwell in the Underdark.
  • Innugaakalikurit, or "Arctic Dwarves" are white-haired, live on the surface in the Arctic tundra, wield harpoons and bows instead of axes and picks, are immune to the cold and love to suntan themselves until their skin turns red.
  • Wild Dwarves live like feral headhunting pygmies in the jungle and use poisoned weapons.
  • Desert Dwarves are native to Maztica, they use stone tools instead of iron.
  • Dragonlance divided its dwarves up into Mountain and Hill clans, with the addition of "Dark" clans who lived alongside the Mountain Dwarves and were really weird - the Daewar, for example, were all sorcerers. This setting also introduced the abomination of the Gully dwarf species; filthy, stupid, ugly, smelly, disgusting abominations that are the bastard offspring of dwarves and gnomes.

Elemental Dwarves[edit]

Since the dawn of the game, the Elemental Plane of Fire has been home to Azers, who look like bronze-skinned dwarves with great flaming beards & hair. For most editions, they have been officially classified as "not dwarves", with Pathfinder describing them as a race of elemental constructs who just happen to look like dwarves (a step 5e basically stole). 4e, however, went and said "yes, they're dwarves; at the dawn of time, dwarves were slaves to giants (who're elementals) - the ones who didn't get away in time eventually became elementals themselves".

There's also the oft-forgotten Earth elemental the galeb duhr, who became a rock-elemental dwarf in 4e, the never-made-it-out-of-2e Urdunnir/Sonsannan (a gem-eating grey dwarf with innate earth walk, shape stone and shape metal at-will spell-like abilities) and the 4e-exclusive Eisk Jaat (ice dwarf).

Dragon Magazine #383 contains the rules for Forgeborn Dwarves, a dwarfin variant representing clans who didn't quite get away from the Giants in time. They basically took a racial feat that gave them resistance to Acid, Cold, Fire and Lightning damage and let them deal bonus elemental damage whenever they hit someone once per encounter.

See Also[edit]


Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition Races
Basic Set: Dwarf - Elf - Hobbit - Human
Creature Catalog 1: Brownie - Centaur - Dryad - Faun - Hsiao
Leprechaun - Pixie - Pooka - Redcap - Sidhe
Sprite - Treant - Wood Imp - Wooddrake
Creature Catalog 2: Faenare - Gnome - Gremlin - Harpy
Nagpa - Pegataur - Sphinx - Tabi
Creature Catalog 3: Kna - Kopru - Merrow - Nixie - Triton
Dragon Magazine: Lupin - N'djatwa - Phanaton - Rakasta - Wallara
Hollow World: Beastman - Brute-Man - Hutaakan
Krugel Orc - Kubbit - Malpheggi Lizard Man
Known World: Bugbear - Goblin - Gnoll
Hobgoblin - Kobold - Ogre - Troll
Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Races
Player's Handbook 1: Dragonborn - Dwarf - Eladrin - Elf
Half-Elf - Halfling - Human - Tiefling
Player's Handbook 2: Deva - Gnome - Goliath - Half-Orc - Shifter
Player's Handbook 3: Githzerai - Minotaur - Shardmind - Wilden
Monster Manual 1: Bugbear - Doppelganger - Githyanki
Goblin - Hobgoblin - Kobold - Orc
Monster Manual 2: Bullywug - Duergar - Kenku
Dragon Magazine: Gnoll - Shadar-Kai
Heroes of Shadow: Revenant - Shade - Vryloka
Heroes of the Feywild Hamadryad - Pixie - Satyr
Eberron's Player's Guide: Changeling - Kalashtar - Warforged
The Manual of the Planes: Bladeling
Dark Sun Campaign Setting: Mul - Thri-kreen
Forgotten Realms Player's Guide: Drow - Genasi
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Races
Player's Handbook: Dragonborn - Drow - Dwarf - Elf - Gnome
Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human - Tiefling
Dungeon Master's Guide: Aasimar - Eladrin
Sword Coast
Adventurer's Guide:
Dwarf (Duergar) - Gnome (Svirfneblin)
Halfling (Ghostwise) - Tiefling (Variants)
Volo's Guide to Monsters: Aasimar - Bugbear - Firbolg - Goblin - Goliath - Hobgoblin - Kenku
Kobold - Lizardfolk - Orc - Tabaxi - Triton - Yuan-Ti Pureblood
Elemental Evil Player's Guide: Aarakocra - Genasi - Goliath - Gnome (Svirfneblin)
Princes of the Apocalypse: Genasi
Eberron Unearthed Arcana: Changeling - Shifter - Warforged
Gothic Heroes
Unearthed Arcana:
That Old Black Magic
Unearthed Arcana:
Tiefling (Abyssal)
Waterborne Adventures
Unearthed Arcana:
Plane Shift: Amonkhet: Aven (Ibis-Headed, Hawk-Headed) - Khenra
Minotaur (Amonkhetian) - Naga (Amonkhetian)
Plane Shift: Innistrad: Human (Gavony, Kessig, Nephalia, Stensia)
Plane Shift: Kaladesh: Aetherborn - Dwarf (Kaladeshian) - Elf (Bishtahar, Tirahar, Vahadard)
Human (Kaladeshian) - Vedalken
Plane Shift: Zendikar: Elf (Joraga, Mul Daya) - Goblin (Grotag, Lavastep, Tuktuk) - Human (Zendikaran)
Kor - Merfolk (Emeria Creed, Ula Creed, Cosi Creed) - Vampire (Zendikaran)
The Races of Pathfinder
Player's Handbook: Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human
Race Guide:
Aasimar - Catfolk - Changeling - Dhampir - Duergar
Drow - Fetchling - Gillman - Goblin - Grippli - Hobgoblin
Ifrit - Kitsune - Kobold - Merfolk - Nagaji - Orc - Oread
Ratfolk - Samsaran - Strix - Suli - Svirfneblin - Sylph
Tengu - Tiefling - Undine - Vanara - Vishkanya - Wayang
Bestiaries 1: Aasimar - Drow - Gnoll - Goblin - Hobgoblin
Kobold - Merfolk - Tengu - Tiefling
2: Fetchling - Dhampir - Grippli - Ifrit - Oread - Sylph - Undine
3: Catfolk - Ratfolk - Suli - Vanara - Vishkanya
4: Changeling - Gathlain - Kasatha - Kitsune - Nagaji
Samsaran - Trox - Wayang - Wyrwood - Wyvaran
5: Android - Astomoi - Caligni - Deep One Hybrid
Ghoran - Orang-Pendak - Reptoid - Shabti
6: Monkey Goblin - Munavri - Naiad - Rougarou - Yaddithian
Inner Sea Races: Ghoran - Monkey Goblin - Lashunta - Skinwalker
Syrinx - Triaxian - Wyrwood - Wyvaran