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. They are one of the most iconic non-human races in fantasy media, alongside their eternal rivals, the elves. Popularized by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Gary Gygax, dwarves are fundamental to most fantasy games and have earned themselves a place of eternal love on /tg/.
- 1 Mythological Origins
- 2 Dwarven Physiology
- 3 Dwarven Psychology
- 4 Dwarven Culture
- 5 Dwarven Flaws
- 6 Dwarven Diplomacy
- 7 Dwarven Religion
- 8 Dwarves vs. Gnomes
- 9 Dwarven Subraces
- 10 Unique Dwarven Strains
- 11 Dwarf PCs Throughout History
- 12 Dwarf Fortress
- 13 Eberron
- 14 Magic the Gatherering
- 15 Historical Comparison
- 16 Etymology
- 17 Other Historical Dwarves
- 18 Monstergirls?
- 19 See Also
- 20 Gallery
The basic name "Dwarf" stems from the Germanic and/or Nordic mythologies of ancient Europe, where they were envisioned as a race of short, magical beings who came into being after the death of Ymir; once the father of all giants had his body turned into the earth, the maggots boring through his flesh were transformed into dimunitive, pallid humanoids - the first dwarves. That said, the dwarven archetype is, frankly, kind of wide-spread; most cultures have some kind of diminutive fey-type entity, and what's worse is that their nature as "short magical people" means the dwarven "lineage" is a confusing tangle that interconnects with elves, gnomes and even goblins - many dwarves have been described as hideously ugly, or turning into stone when exposed to sunlight, like certain breeds of troll.
The most famous dwarf is the aforementioned Germanic/Nordic dwarf. Resembling a short, long-bearded old man, these dwarves are fierce-tempered and quite strong, despite their stature, as well as being renowned for their ability to craft magical items, and their love of precious stones and metals, which they mine incessantly. These traits were popularized by J.R.R. Tolkien, who used them as the basis for his dwarves in The Lord of the Rings. What he left out of his dwarves is the fact that, in the mythology, dwarves are often hideously ugly, sometimes turn into stone when exposed to sunlight, and are often skilled sorcerers as well as crafters of magic items. Dwarves forged Odin's spear and Thor's hammer, as well as many other magical treasures of the Nordic gods, including the fetter that binds the Fenris Wolf and hair of living gold for Thor's wife after Loki sheared her bald. European tales of dwarves often depict them as superhumanly strong and with an affinity for illusion and shapeshifting.
Leprechauns are dwarf-like in appearance, but are mischievous tricksters who use their sorcerous talents to prank humans, especially when they are sought out for their legendary hidden treasures, which are usually depicted as soup cauldrons full of gold coins. Unlike the smithing and mining Nordic Dwarf, leprechauns are more associated with cobbling and tailoring, making them an Irish relative of the Brownie. They have a cousin called the Clurichaun, which is a booze-fiend who likes to make a nuisance of itself by hiding in wine and beer cellars to guzzle the liquor.
Domovoi and Dvorovoi are Russian fey who visibly resemble dwarves. Domovoi are house spirits, kind of like Brownies; so long as they feel a house's owner is hardworking and respectful, they will guard the house from mundane and magical harm, especially focused on protecting the children or battling evil fey. Dvorovoi are a more fearsome relative of the Domovoi who inhabit farmsteads; unlike Domovoi, they stay outside, looking after the animals and protecting against threats from outside... but also playing pranks and killing animals they take a dislike to.
Ancient Egypt also had dwarves, as well as a patron god of dwarves: Bes. Egyptian dwarves were more like Japanese Tanuki than anything else; they were lucky, jovial, and had tremendous bedroom prowess supported by enormous genitals. This was fortunate for the Egyptians that were born with dwarfism as it afforded them a kind of revered and protected status in society.
Let's start with the obvious; dwarves are most readily distinguished from humans by their stature, being notably shorter than the human average. Over the editions, this has fluctated somewhat, but in general dwarves have a height range between 4 and 5 feet - which still makes them taller than gnomes and halflings, who average closer to the 3ft-4ft mark. Combined with their strong builds and stocky frames, dwarves are technically considered Medium creatures rather than Small ones, although usually they're slower than "full-sized" Medium races. If you want to over examine things, this works well with the dwarf association with heavy armor. Shorter size, less surface area, less metal needed to give equal protection to that of a human size species, and due to their greater strength for their size, they can wear thicker armor and yet have it weigh and even cost the same as armor for a human that gives overall less protection.
Dwarves are noted for their rugged natures; their Constitution is higher than average and even beyond that, they're inherently resistant to poisons (which suggests that their food should, in fact, be more flavourful than humans; however, dwarven food is often portrayed as bland). This, incidentally, may play a part in their famous love of alcohol. In earlier editions, dwarves are also strongly resistant to magical energy, due to a combination of physical and mental fortitude; this aspect has died away over the editions as it was mostly used to justify dwarves not being able to play wizards or bards (in fact in the minds of many grognards a dwarven wizard is as big an oxymoron as something like a celestial fiend or an arachnophobic drow).
One of the most famous aspects of dwarven physiology is the beard. Dwarven men are prone to male pattern baldness, but compensate for it with the ability to readily grow thick, luscious, bushy beards and/or moustaches. Why? Well... because dwarves are just associated with beards (goes back to their folkloric roots). You can have cleanshaven dwarves - in fact, the dwarves of Dark Sun are naturally hairless - but the image is quite subversive.
Dwarves are often depicted as having difficulties reproducing - they may not be formally considered a "dying" race, but they often have either a slow population growth rate, or a dearth of females, if not both. In traditional D&D lore, dwarf women make up only one third of the dwarf population, which is not good when it takes a year for them to give birth after getting pregnant. In the Forgotten Realms in the same era, lore from the splatbook "Dwarves Deep" states that not only do dwarf men outnumber the women (only 3 in 10 dwarves are female), but also that 55% of the total population has fertility issues so bad that they might as well be sterile when interbreeding with each other.
Mind you, Forgotten Realms actually gives a reason for this in the "Spawn Wars"; an ancient dwarven civil war where the dwarves used aberrations called Deepspawn to produce huge armies of clone soldiers. When the war ended, they were left with not only a surplus of males, but interbreeding with these clones (and clones of clones of clones) damaged their genetic stock, leaving the dwarves with their current damaged fertility. Until 3rd edition basically retconned all the damage away, at least, courtesy of a divine intervention called "the Thunder Blessing".
Likewise, 3e dumped the "dwarf men outnumber the women" angle, and it's never been seen since.
As part of this, dwarves usually aren't depicted as being capable of crossbreeding with other races, as elaborated on the half-dwarf page.
The Bearded Females Debate
If you bring up Dwarves anywhere, chances are, you'll hear somebody mocking them for the idea that their womenfolk have beards. This stems from Tolkien, whose works established that Dwarven women visually resemble Dwarven men to the extent that human eyes can't tell them apart at a casual glance. Its not explicitly stated however that "female Dwarves have beards", so among Tolkien fans there tends to be debate on if he meant they have full beards or just that they are just masculine; Peter Jackson's portrayal in the movies took the middle ground, giving them a small amount of wispy hair that looks like a human beard, although the massive and thick styled beards of the males along with the females wearing feminine clothing make it clear to the audience which is which.
Because Dungeons & Dragons was inspired by Tolkien, to an arguable extent, you probably think D&D popularized the idea, right? Well... yes and no. In fact, D&D books are actually all over the place on the subject. The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1e PHB doesn't even mention the concept (though the DMG does), and it's likewise absent from the 1e Monster Manual. In The Complete Book of Dwarves, it's stated that only the Deep Dwarves strain possess bearded women - or, admittedly, a cultural trait of women keeping their beards; the exact line goes "the females wear their beards long, unlike other dwarf women (who are typically clean-shaven)". In Dragonlance, it was established that female dwarves don't grow beards proper, but instead merely have very bushy sideburns. But then there were the Forgotten Realms... here, splatbooks like "Dwarves Deep" establish Faerunian female dwarves as having beards, although this is not culturally required and many do shave. This is further cemented by books like "Demihuman Deities", which portrays all of the female members of the Morndinsamman as being bearded.
When WoTC took over, they did their best to sweep this under the rug. All references to dwarven female beards were retconned away, pointedly left absent even from the 3e update of the Realms. When Eberron was released, it was explicitly stated that the native dwarves do not have bearded women. When 4th edition was rolled out, female dwarf beards were officially stricken from the canon of D&D - they even devoted a section of "Wizards Presents: Races & Classes" to it - and this seems to be one 4e change that has since been preserved by 5e.
As an aside, 4th edition actually made its female dwarves surprisingly attractive, which, given that muls also lost their grimderp "sterile and usually kill the mother in birth" lore, should have made human/dwarf relationships a lot more common...
The evolution of most current fantasy race tropes usually goes to Warhammer Fantasy, but WFB opted to take a different route and instead made Dwarf women super rare rather than bearded as an excuse to make no(t many) female Dwarf miniatures. Of course Citadel's Dwarf miniatures originated as the old lines made when Games Workshop was the sole distributor of D&D minis in Europe, and their original Dwarf females also lacked beards. Canonically female Dwarfs instead grow their hair into plaits, and judge them by said plaits the same way male Dwarfs do beards (which is a bit unfair since female Slayers must shave their hair into a mohawk despite male Dwarfs getting to keep their beards, unless said beard being shaved is why they're taking the Oath anyway).
Warcraft only began showing female Dwarves with the release of World of Warcraft, where they were a player race. Although unbearded, there are jokes in the game that some ancient heroic Dwarf females had beards (which makes sense, they are descended from a visually all-male race of magic metal/stone robots that were corrupted by Lovecraftian horrors into flesh animals (makes only a bit more sense in-context)), jokes that they just shave, and jokes that their beard isn't on their face.
Why does the meme persist? Grandfather clause, basically; while many fans argue it's a defining aspect of what makes dwarves unique, citing that if it was good enough for Tolkien, Gygax and Terry Pratchett, it should be good enough for the modern DM, just as many fans rebut that D&D isn't Tolkien anymore and that "bearded women" are never really anything deeper than a silly joke. As with any meme that persists on /tg/ to this day, nobody will give an inch.
To date, Hackmaster remains the primary setting to find bearded female Dwarves as far as active tabletop gaming, although given the setting was created mostly as a parody originating in Knights Of The Dinner Table comics it obviously isn't being played straight.
As a side-note, if you want to put an interesting spin on the "dwarves all look alike" cliche, you could always try reversing it. Thus, instead of bearded dwarf women being mistaken for menfolk, you have dwarf men who, due to facial features and cultural values of appropriate dress/accessories/behavior/etc, are easily mistaken for their womenfolk... at least until their pants come off. This will likely get you called out on Magical Realm, especially if you're also slapping dwarves with the shortstack build at the same time (for example, male dwarf tits are actually fat-based mating displays; the bigger his tits, the more successful that dwarf is, and so the better a catch he is for a lady dwarf), but, hey, it's your table, and if your party doesn't mind, who cares? Consider also having a traditional hairstyle being to braid the hair of their head beneath the chin like its a beard, or having the soldiers have helmets that depict a beard regardless of the gender of the wearer.
Dwarves are generally described as a naturally Lawful race, if you put stock in alignment. Specifically, dwarves tend to be focused, disciplined, organized, and naturally driven. When they start something, they devote their whole attention to it, and they hate to either leave something unfinished or give it anything less than their best. Furthermore, dwarves tend to be deeply conservative; they don't like change very much and are deep believers in the importance of tradition.
In contrast to the elves, dwarves are usually described as being a very stoic and emotionally closed off sort of race. Which is rather weird given how cheerful and friendly the dwarves are in Tolkien's original "The Hobbit" - most sources try to rectify the discrepancy by claiming that dwarves are naturally suspicious and so only let their hair down around people they feel they can truly trust. All of these factors combine to form the stereotype of the dwarf as a grumpy, surly, hard-working yet unpleasant little bugger.
Dwarf culture is usually described as fairly monolithic, although settings do play around with the basics - Dragonlance in particularly gives dwarves a very fleshed out history and culture.
Typically, dwarven culture is clannish, where extended family groupings form the foundation of greater dwarf society. Clans may be independent nation-states in their own right, or they may be used to form specific divisions of skill in dwarf society as a whole; for example, one clan may actually mine the ore, a second smiths it, a third trades with other races, and a fourth clan produces livestock.
Dwarven leadership is usually a form of parlimentarian monarchy, with clan-chiefs forming councils that advise but ultimately answer to a single reigning dwarf king. Dwarven culture may also have some aspects of a gerontocracy, although being a full-fledged case of "rulership by the eldest" is actually rarely seen.
Because dwarves don't like change much, dwarven society is usually depicted as being at best conservative and at worst stubbornly hidebound. Whether this is admirable, a surmountable issue or a fatal flaw tends to depend on what the setting designer thinks of dwarven conservatism.
Mining and smithing are usually portrayed as hugely important to dwarven culture, which is mythologically true. Of course, in the hands of some authors, this can be taken to silly extents - in Mystara, originally, the Dwarves of Rockholm valued mining and smithing so much that the single clan responsible for herding livestock and farming was considered second-class and literally treated as a bunch of near-criminals. This was ultimately retconned via a case of reality ensuing, when the farmer-clan barricaded the smiths in their underground tunnels and told them "Okay you shits, let's see you eat that fucking gold!" Once the smiths learned they couldn't actually eat gold, coal or iron, they were forced to admit that the farmers actually were an important part of the dwarven society.
In general, dwarf culture usually borrows a lot of themes and concepts from Nordic cultures, seeing as how the fantasy dwarf is most closely derived from the Nordic dwarf. Depending on a DM's taste, they may supplement or replace this influence with Germanic, Scottish or Welsh attributes. This is interesting, since the popular image of Dwarves derives in great part from Tolkien's work, who described them as being allegories for the Jews. Quote: "The 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." Consider...they speak the local language but with an accent, are at once considered locals and yet outsiders who have lost their homeland, have a propensity for being Craftsmen (a common trade for Jews who couldn't own land in medieval times) and of course the greed for gold based off stereotypes of usury. Tolkien seemed to have made several positive statements about Jews (and notably sent a scathing letter to the Nazi government when asked to confirm he was not Jewish for the Hobbit's publishing in Germany), and the Dwarves in LoTR are generally portrayed positively.
The dwarves are not without their share of moral failings, no matter what their legions of fanboys may think. From the perspective of narrative this is a good thing.
One of the most prominent of these is avarice: dwarves love gold and gems and other valuable materials - it's why they're so obsessed with mining in the first place. The sight of gold make's a typical dwarf's palms get sweaty, and they are notorious for their greed. If a dwarf is motivated to do something dickish, at least 7 times out of 10, it'll be for the love of money. Even in the Complete Book of Dwarves, it was admitted that gold has an almost spell-like pull on the dwarven psyche. This mainly comes from the Nordic and Germanic myths, where the dwarven lust for gold is quite pronounced; they are greedy little bastards, most exemplified by the story of Sigurd, where the root of all the trouble comes from a dwarf named Fafnir, who murders his father to steal the weregild (treasure paid as restitution for murder) given to his father for the murder of his brother Otar, transforming into a dragon to better guard his wealth, only to be murdered by Sigurd, who was put up to the task by Fafnir's other brother Regin. Oh, and the gold was cursed because it was originally stolen from another dwarf, Andar. But, of course, like most "standard" dwarf traits, it was popularized in Tolkien's work, where the mental and cultural fixation dwarves have for gold is said to be the result of the corrupting influence of the seven rings of dark power that Sauron gave them.
Another common dwarven flaw is being direct and orderly to a fault. Not in terms of tyranny (which does manifest on occasion, but is far from the norm) but in terms of rigidness and inflexibility. Dwarves like tradition, they like honest dealings, they like cultivating their skills and they like putting the raw chaotic mess of the world into order, which they have long ago mastered. The problem is that problems keep coming up which mar their efforts, from humans that don't make their payments to orcs raiding their mountain homes. The view they cultivate is not to adapt to the changing situation, but to dig in and stew in indignation.
One manifestation of that, and the one that /tg/ often has the hardest time admitting, is arrogance. Just like their fellow "Elder Race", the elves, dwarves take a huge amount of pride in their long history, their skills and their close ties to their patron god(s). They look down on many other races, and often demand respect and recognition - sometimes in far greater proportion than is actually warranted. This can make some dwarves quite braggadocios; the big difference is that, unlike elves, most settings aren't afraid to call dwarves out on their shit when they start getting snooty (although it does happen, sometimes).
Dwarves are not conventionally attractive. They make beautiful things, are not hideous or monstrous, there are exceptions to the rule and there are people out there which are going to be into short, robust fellows with severe features and a beard you could loose a chicken in, but as a general your average Dwarf is pretty far removed from the classical ideals of beauty. Contrast them with elves which are either idealized humans or possess a willowy grace to them.
Less universal failings include stubbornness, low self-esteem, hypocrisy and vindictiveness. Once a dwarf makes up his mind, he will rarely back down, sometimes well beyond the point of stupidity. Likewise, if a dwarf fails at something, it can often be hard for them to get over to it, leading to everything from maudlin self-pity to self-destructive behavior. Finally, dwarves are associated with bearing grudges for a reason.
Though most dwarf failings are mental, cultural failings aren't unheard of either. There are two major forms that this tends to take.
The first is strict social calcification. Dwarven culture can easily slip into a strict caste structure, where some or all of the population is treated like crap just because of how the dwarves view their culture. Mystaran dwarves are a good example of this; they used to treat any dwarf who wasn't involved in mining as little better than a criminal.
The second, somewhat more common form, is over-conservatism. Dwarves are pretty much universally depicted as proud of their traditions and cautious about changing, but in some dwarven cultures, this can go to almost suicidal lengths, to the point where dwarves practically consider "progress" and "change" to be dirty words.
It should bear mentioning that just how prominent these traits are, and how crippling they are, depends a lot on the setting. Dark Fantasy settings in particular tend to use this to make dwarves seem "appropriately flawed". The Dawi of Warhammer Fantasy are perfect examples of just how these traits can turn a normally admirable race into a bunch of petty little assholes when cranked up. For example, in Warhammer the High Elves - who have the standard elven arrogance - acknowledge the existence of the Dark Elves and the infighting they originated from, but the Dwarfs pretend Chaos Dwarfs don't exist and get very butthurt if they're even mentioned.
Dwarves may not be the most conventionally charismatic of races, but they are still part of the demihumans crowd, which means that the default expectation is that they're good guys, and thus they're expected to interact with other races like rational people.
Typically, dwarves often get portrayed as the "grumpy but loving conservative grandpa" in the general hierarchy of demihumans; the other races respect them, even like them, but they don't always get along, and they're not afraid to call them out on their shit.
Dwarves usually get on the best with humans, more or less. They find the human lack of respect for tradition exasperating, and it actually bugs them that humans don't live so long - you start getting to like one, and then the next thing you know, he's dead. Still, the human drive and passion, combined with their admiration for dwarven prowess and skill, means the races do respect each other. Plus, when they team up, they can really get shit done, as many settings show. Honestly, with how well the two races get on, it really is odd that human/dwarf mating isn't as common as human/elf mating - or even more so. In short, if Dwarfs are the best then humans are a close second with anyone in third being far more distant.
Dwarves and elves have a... complicated relationship. Despite what you'd think, dwarves and elves don't actually go to war much in D&D. The two races actually have a lot in common; their shared longevity - and thus, preference to look at the long term when it comes to making decisions - gives them a common attitude towards dealing with problems, and dwarves can appreciate the fact that elves put a lot of work into their craft as well. It's the difference in work ethic and priorities that causes the races to have troubles communicating; dwarves don't understand the "play first, work later" general attitude of elves, and it annoys them that, rather than sitting down at something and getting it done, elves will drift back and forth between projects as their interest waxes and wanes. Still, they can tolerate each other, and when they deign to work together, great shit happens. If the Elves are of the manlier, bearded variety this alliance will be a solid wall against whatever bad guy attacks that day.
Dwarves are probably closest to their gnome cousins, but even then, it's a somewhat rocky relationship. The gnomish love of humor and obsession with magic of leaves dwarves dumbfounded and sighing at their "silliness".
Dwarves usually don't even think about halflings. The two races just don't move in the same circles. When together, it is usually a shared love of strong drink and great food that forms the basis of friendships.
Perhaps the most consistent and reliable relationship that dwarves have is their enmity with orcs and goblinoids. They fight in almost every fantasy setting you care to name, and this actually makes a lot of sense. Beyond the fact that the races are natural foils for each other (long-lived, slow-breeding, orderly, skilled crafter dwarves vs. short-lived, fast-breeding, anarchic, crude crafter orcs/goblins), it also reflects nature. See, both dwarves and orcs/goblins live in the mountains, and as the latter races are by nature opportunists, it makes sense that they would consider it more expedient to oust dwarves and take over their well-made, long-lasting homes than go to the trouble of digging out their own cave-cities.
Dwarven religion usually centers around implicit or explicit ancestor worship. Dwarf gods tend to exemplify what dwarves consider both the proper way to behave and the iconic virtues of their race. In D&D lore, the traditional leader of the dwarf gods is Moradin (or Reorx, on Krynn); a gruff, no-nonsense creator-deity obsessed with making stuff and ensuring the multiverse is filled with creation.
Other deities tend to be subordinate to Moradin and usually a lot more forgettable, being just "dwarfy" takes on standard archetypes like the War God or the Love Goddess.
An exception is in Forgotten Realms via the Mulhorandi (Egyptian) pantheon. There, the god Bes is the patron god of dwarves and is affable, personable, lucky, and has enormous genitals. Which is because he's a shameless rip-off of the Egyptian god Bes, who was a god of sex, happiness, music, dancing, partying, fertility, childbirth, and the protection of women and children, who was portrayed in religious as a dusky-skinned dwarf with a huge set of male sexual organs.
Dwarves vs. Gnomes
Casuals who stumble across Dungeons & Dragons may find themselves wondering why there are two races of mechanically adept artisic short hairy men in the game, the dwarves and the gnomes. Well, the answer is fairly simple.
See, in mythology, "dwarves" and dwarf-like beings cover a wide spectrum of critters. They're usually considered a kind of faerie, and thusly in many cultures, dwarves are depicted not as the stern, grim, magical craftsmen of Viking lore, but as surprisingly down-to-earth people, but possessed of many magical abilities. There are many stories of dwarves in European cultures weaving illusions and changing shapes and otherwise performing all manner of mystical feats. Now, Gygax and his buddies were big mythology buffs, and they knew these stories. But, at the same time, they were also huge Tolkien fans, and their vision for the prototype of D&D was to use the Tolkienian model for dwarves. So, in the end, they said "fuck it", and just brought the magical yet down to earth dwarves of Europe into D&D as gnomes, whilst dwarves in the Tolkien model were allowed to retain their name. And it has continued ever since out of tradition.
The highlight of this has to be found in Mystara, the very first campaign setting of Dungeons & Dragons. In this setting, originally, the dwarves were a people known as the Kogolor, who dwelled in cities they established on the mountains. Physically and mentally, they were more like the gnomes of the present day; outgoing, cheerful, talkative and gregarious. They had no particular resistance to magic or toxin, nor any great focus on craftsmanship, although they were (and remain) great brewers of liquor. During the Rain of Colorless Fire, their numbers began to drop rapidly, as the poisons released by the Blackmoor disaster devastated their number. An Immortal named Kagyar decided that he could use the dwarves to create a race to his design; one shaped to survive against future disasters of this scale. He took the hardiest of the Kogolor and made them tougher still, granting them resistance to magic and toxin. He filled their minds with an obsession to craft lasting works in stone and metal - things would survive the passage of time - and made them feel an instinctive yearning for the shelter of deep caves, that they would naturally gravitate towards homes that doubled as fallout shelters. He made them stubborn, conservative, and xenophobic, inclined to shun others and to cling to tradition above all else, that they would not stray from this mold. Satisfied with his work, he dubbed them "dwarves" and returned them to claim the mountains of Mystara, whilst the Kogolor he absent-mindedly swept away and discarded in the Hollow World. This did not sit particularly well with one of Kagyar's students, Garal Glitterlode - the prototype for Garl Glittergold, himself an ascended Kogolor. Since his former people were gone, he recreated them, this time shaping them to be smaller and more flexible, to seek out shelter in forests as well as mountains, and thus were born the first gnomes, as a more "true to the original" descendant of the original Kogolor.
Though the dwarven concept is regarded as fairly homogenous, the truth is that dwarves do have some racial diversity - perhaps not so much as the elf or gnome races, but they've had their fair share of variant cultures and subraces over the years.
The most classic dwarf subraces are the Hill Dwarf and the Mountain Dwarf. Both adhere to the same basic outline established elsewhere on this thread. The difference is their choice of living habits and their personality.
Hill Dwarves live in hill-country, and tend to live closer to the surface - or even on the surface - as well as being the most "wanderlusty" of the dwarven subraces; instead of staying cooped up in cavern homes all the time, hill dwarves have been known to travel regularly, either for work or just for the sake of seeing the sights! They are the most common dwarven subrace, and also the most diplomatic; they have the most contact with other demihuman races and so are the most friendly and open-minded of the dwarves. You know, by comparison. Hill dwarves tend to put comparatively less focus on mining, or occupy themselves with more "practical" mining pursuits - coal, iron, and copper. Smithcraft is usually more important, as they tend to make more money through trade.
Mountain Dwarves, as the name suggests, occupy the high mountainous regions of the world, where they accommodate the lack of horizontal terrain by burrowing into the cliffs and occupying completely subterranean homes. Mountain Dwarves are typically richer than hill dwarves, as their homes are better sources of gemstones and precious metals. Add in that their choice of landscape abounds in dragons, orcs and goblinoids (amongst other monsters), and it makes sense that they tend to be both more professionally war-like and more suspicious of outsiders. Mountain dwarves often are (or at least claim to be) the "original" version of the dwarf race, and feuding with their hill dwarf cousins isn't unheard of. In fact, in the Dragonlance setting, the mountain/hill dwarf feuds are more bitter and bloody than the elf/dwarf feuds!
Duergar are the third of the "core" dwarf subraces. They're covered in more detail on their own page, but in a nutshell, they are the obligatory "evil Underdark subrace", the dwarven analogue to Drow. Notably the most psychic of the dwarves.
Deep Dwarves are a dwarven strain that has adapted to life in the Underdark. They're more or less the dwarf equivalent of Svirfneblin; they live down in the dark but they're not evil, just somewhat justifiably reclusive and xenophobic. Introduce in AD&D, the deep dwarves miraculously made it into 3e based solely on their presence in the Forgotten Realms, but because they lack any cultural nuance beyond being "non-evil duergar", they never really caught on and have basically been forgotten ever since.
Sunderered Dwarves are a subrace introduced in The Complete Book of Dwarves, and are basically former clans of hill or mountain dwarves who have been forced to live exclusively on the surface after some catastrophic event chased them away. In fact they are now incapable of handling prolonged periods underground, suffering racially from claustrophobia, which compels them to inhabit surface settlements and often live alongside other races. You'd think that this would make them much more socially adept than other dwarves, but nope; they're just described as miserable, tortured creatures full of self-loathing. The idea was so badly handled that they never were revived.
Arctic Dwarves (who call themselves "Innugaakalikurit") are, as the name suggests, a tundra dwelling dwarf subrace who have forsaken the traditional miner's lifestyle of their kin for a simpler life as hunter-gatherers. Described as short and squat even by dwarf standards, these white-haired dwarves favor the harpoon and the bow over the axe and the pick. They love to sunbathe, being impervious to both the cold and to the pain that should normally result when their skin turns red from an overexposure to the sun. This subrace was native to the Forgotten Realms, and appeared in an AD&D splatbook relating to "The Great Glacier", but the concept of an arctic dwarf has been touched upon in a more setting neutral fashion in 3rd edition. In Eberron the Glacier Dwarves, or "Toldun Nordorthak", are those who remained on the Frostfell and continued to adapt to it instead migrating south. They aren't given a stat block, but presumably are just the 3E Arctic Dwarves.
Wild Dwarves are another Faerunian subrace; primitive, jungle-dwelling tribals who pursue an almost feral existence in the tropical forests of Chult, and to the Mhair and Black Jungles. Wielding poisoned weapons and going about naked, they worship their own patron god, Thard Harr and do little other than hunt, mate and sleep. Introduced in "Dwarves Deep" for AD&D, their resemble to pygmy stereotypes has made them increasingly uncomfortable to many players.
Chultan Dwarves are albino dwarves native to the jungles of Chult in the Forgotten Realms, who first appeared in the splatbook "Jungles of Chult". Whilst they lack the abundant metal resources of their kin, they are not as primitive as their Wild Dwarf cousins. Based on their recent reappearance in 5e's Tomb of Annihilation, where they were described as more primitive than they had been in AD&D, WoTC may be planning to make them subsume the "jungle dwarf" aspect from their Wild Dwarf cousins.
Desert Dwarves are another Faerunian dwarf subrace, consisting of stranded dwarves who have adapted to survive in the desert cliffs of Maztica. Aside from their darker skin, they're basically identical to normal dwarves, which has led to their being forgotten; 3e did touch upon the archetype with both Desert Dwarves in Unearthed Arcana and Badlands Dwarves in Sandstorm.
Gully Dwarves are the most infamous and hated of all the dwarf subraces. Originating from the Dragonlance setting, they can be basically described as "what if dwarves had devolved to fill the role normally taken by goblins?" Dirty, slovenly, stupid creatures, gully dwarves are regarded in-universe and out as an embarrassment, huddling in ruins or the trash-heaps of other races and grubbing out a meager existence on the leavings of other, greater peoples.
Kogolors (Or "Kogolor Dwarves") are technically the oldest dwarves in all of D&D; native to Mystara, these dwarves are literally the ancestor species of the modern dwarf, and are much more like gnomes in behavior... which is fitting because they're also the ancestor of gnomes, too. Most notably, they lack the dwarven knack for craftsmanship - save in brewing beer, ale and wine - and are cheerful, outgoing, friendly and welcoming. Also, absurdly Alpine German, to the point of dressing in lederhosen and having a special proficiency in yodelling. Because of the Great Rain of Fire and the intervention of Kagyar the Artisan, they only survive in the Hollow World, having been abandoned there after being replaced with "conventional" dwarves.
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.
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.
Unique Dwarven Strains
For obvious reasons, this page has mostly talked about dwarves as depicted in Dungeons & Dragons, which is the most widespread of /tg/ games and thus the most iconic depiction of dwarves. But, there are other games on /tg/ that have more unique depictions of dwarves...
The dwarves of Warhammer Fantasy have their own page, but in a nutshell can be described as taking the D&D dwarf stereotype and cranking the knobs up a couple of notches. They 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.
In Shadowrun, the dwarven fondness for crafting and artisanship has led to them mostly abandoning old-fashioning smithing and turning to cybernetics and digital engineering - the iconic dwarf is a cybered-up hacker, not a warrior or a smith. Also, beards are basically unimportant to dwarves, but the males usually wear beards in order to stop humans from mistaking them for children.
In Castle Falkenstein, dwarves are an all-male race of artificers, who do the mining and smithing thing mostly to support their love of being mad scientist engineers. In fact, they used to be magical fairies, but they gave up their magic and their immortality (although they still live a long time) to be able to work with iron. They couldn't give two shits about their beards, are immune to fire and magic, are superhumanly strong, have goose-like feet (which they're very embarrassed about, so don't mention them), and reproduce by interbreeding with female fairies; sons are dwarves, daughters are fairies. Incidentally, this is why they tend to be so obsessed with making their mark on the world; this is the only way they can change their name to what they want, instead of being stuck with a typical fairy name like "Morningblossom" or "Buttercup". Also, rather than an axe, an angry dwarf will usually try and club you to death with a fuck-off-huge wrench.
In Wicked Fantasy, they're called uvandir; don't call them dwarves if you value your kneecaps. They arrived in the Reign of Men along with the haffuns and gnomes when they popped through the wall of a mine shaft, having dug their way through the world to escape their alien masters. They integrated into human culture and improved on every human craft they encountered. They are immortal, tireless craftsmen who have no time for anything that isn't productive. They will suffer physically if they spend too much time not working, to the point of sitting down, lost in deep melancholy, until they literally turn to stone. The only thing that they'll do other than work is drink beer. The setting book sets aside a whole page for "THE UVANDIR LOVE BEER" in massive text. Uvandir miners don't just dig for precious stones and metals, they are also digging in search of sleeping brothers and their god.
Dwarf PCs Throughout History
The BD&D Dwarf is essentially a Fighter with a few special gimmicks. Requiring a base Constitution of 9 to qualify for, and treating Strength as its primary requisite, the BD&D Dwarf's main advantage over the standard fighter is its toughness; it has a d8 hit dice mechanic, and at Attack Rank G (1,400,000 XP) it halves all damage taken from spells and magical attacks (quartering it on a save). It also has infravision and a 1-in-3 chance to detect hidden/secret doors, traps or other stonework related details. It technically maxes out its level at level 12, but can keep gaining XP to increase its Attack Rank up to AR M
The Dwarves of Rockhome introduced a variant dwarf class, in the form of the Dwarf-Cleric; able to cast clerical magic, if not to the same potency as the human cleric... whilst also mandated to hide this ability from other races. Needless to say, if you weren't running an all-dwarf campaign or didn't have a DM who waived that bit of fluff, this made you all but unplayable. Yes, you were allowed to waive this rule if the party's survival depended on you revealing you can cast clerical magic, but let's be honest, a lot of DMs were willing to dick you over about this.
Mechanically, the dwarf-cleric functions as a sort of proto-prestige class. It follows all of the same rules as a standard dwarf, but requires an extra amount of XP to advance a level, and from 2nd level onwards gains access to clerical magic. This is tabled up below. Due to TSR's "one true wayism" approach to racial & class crunch 'n' fluff, dwarf-cleric PCs can only belong to Kagyar, even though NPC dwarf-clerics of the Chaotic Immortals respected by dwarves do exist. For this reason, dwarf-clerics are... discouraged... from using Destruction type clerical spells, especially the Reversed form of appropriate spells (Inflict Wounds, Harm, Bane, etcetera). As in, if you use these abilities "too frequently" for the DM's liking, they are encouraged to slap you with everything from warning dreams of Kagyar's displeasure to a divine geas/quest to seek redemption, to just arbitrarily taking away your clerical powers permanently. Yeah, you got to deal with the same shit as the Paladin, how nice is that?
Dwarf-clerics cannot raise members of any race except dwarves when they cast Raise Dead spells, and they cannot Turn Undead. They require Strength 9 and Wisdom 9 to qualify for the racial class, and treat these ability scores as primary requisites; dwarf-clerics need both Str and Wis to be 13+ for their +5% EXP boost, and they need Wisdom 16+ for their +10% EXP boost. Dwarf-clerics have access to all forms of armor, abut are culturally restricted to hammers and axes for weapons; they normally use the Character Hit Rolls table column for a Fighter when fighting with hammers & axes, but if they are forced to use some other weapon, they use the "normal" CHR table column instead. Unlike normal dwarves, dwarf-clerics only have a D6 hit dice, but they still use the Fighter's saving throw table. Their high level bonus traits are effectively identical to the standard dwarf, but they gain dwarven magic resistance at Attack Rank C.
- Level: Bonus EXP Required: Spells
- 1: 0: 0
- 2: 4,000: 1 First Level Spell
- 3: 8,000: 2 First Level Spells
- 4: 16,000: 2 First Level Spells, 1 Second Level Spell
- 5: 32,000: 2 First Level Spells, 2 Second Level Spells
- 6: 64,000: 2 First Level Spells, 2 Second Level Spells, 1 Third Level Spell
- 7: 120,000: 2 First Level Spells, 2 Second Level Spells, 2 Third Level Spells
- 8: 250,000: 2 First Level Spells, 2 Second Level Spells, 2 Third Level Spells, 1 Fourth Level Spell
- 9: 400,000: 3 First Level Spells, 2 Second Level Spells, 2 Third Level Spells, 2 Fourth Level Spells
- 10: 600,000: 3 First Level Spells, 3 Second Level Spells, 2 Third Level Spells, 2 Fourth Level Spells, 1 Fifth Level Spell
- 11: 800,000: 4 First Level Spells, 3 Second Level Spells, 3 Third Level Spells, 2 Fourth Level Spells, 2 Fifth Level Spell
- 12: 1,000,000: 4 First Level Spells, 4 Second Level Spells, 3 Third Level Spells, 3 Fourth Level Spells, 2 Fifth Level Spell, 1 Sixth Level Spell
|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:||Cayma - Gatorman - Lupin - N'djatwa |
Phanaton - Rakasta - Shazak - Wallara
|Hollow World:||Beastman - Brute-Man - Hutaakan |
Krugel Orc - Kubbit - Malpheggi Lizard Man
|Known World:||Bugbear - Goblin - Gnoll |
Hobgoblin - Kobold - Ogre - Troll
The dwarf PC first appeared in the AD&D Player's Handbook, specifically with the classic subraces of Hill Dwarf and Mountain Dwarf. Rules would later be expanded upon with their own dedicated sourcebook, the Complete Book of Dwarves, which provided not only a collection of dwarfin cultural notes, but also dedicated dwarf kits and complete ability score writeups for the six extant dwarven subraces of the time; Mountain Dwarf, Hill Dwarf, Deep Dwarf (a non-evil Underdark-dwelling dwarf, which would be phased out in subsequent editions), Sundered Dwarf (surface-dwelling culturally shattered dwarves), Gully Dwarf (degenerate and stupid dwarf-kin originating from Dragonlance), and Duergar.
- Dwarven Hardiness: All Dwarves receive a bonus to their saving throws against poison and magical attacks determined by their Constitution modifier; +1 for Con 4-6, +2 for Con 7-10, +3 for Con 11-13, +4 for Con 14-17, and +5 for Constitution 18-19.
- Racial Enmity: Ogres, trolls, oni, giants and titans suffer a -4 penalty on attack rolls against dwarves. Dwarves receive a +1 bonus to attack rolls made against orcs, half-orcs, goblins and hobgoblins.
- Magical Interference: When a dwarf attempts to use a magic item that is not either specifically intended for the dwarf's class or else a weapon, shield, armor, gauntlet or girdle, there is a 20% chance that it will instead dramatically fail. A check is made each time the dwarf attempts to use an item; if it fails one time, it may work the next, and vice-versa.
- Stonecunning: Dwarves are naturally adept at surviving underground, and can attempt to identify specific aspects of their environment by rolling a d6. A dwarf can detect the gradient or slope of a passage on a 1-5, detect new tunnels or other construction on a 1-5, identify sliding/shifting walls and rooms on a 1-4, locate stonework traps/pits/deadfalls on a 1-3, and estimate just how deep underground they are on a 1-3.
- Dwarves have a base movement rate of 6, and encumbrance affects their movement rate as follows: Light (None), Moderate (-1/3rd), Heavy (-1/2) and Severe (-2/3rds).
- Ability Score Modifiers: +1 Constitution, -1 Charisma
- Ability Score Minimums/Maximums: Strength 8/18, Dexterity 3/17, Constitution 11/18, Intelligence 3/18, Wisdom 3/18, Charisma 3/17
- Infravision: 60 feet
- Class/Level Limits: Warrior 15, Priest 10, Thief 12
- Thief Skill Adjustments: +10% Open Locks, +15% Find/Remove Traps, -10% Climb Walls, -5% Read Languages
- Ability Score Modifiers: +1 Constitution, -1 Charisma
- Ability Score Minimums/Maximums: Strength 8/18, Dexterity 3/17, Constitution 11/19, Intelligence 3/18, Wisdom 3/18, Charisma 3/16
- Infravision: 60 feet
- Class/Level Limits: Warrior 16, Priest 10, Thief 12
- Thief Skill Adjustments: +10% Open Locks, +15% Find/Remove Traps, -10% Climb Walls, -5% Read Languages
- Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma
- Ability Score Minimums/Maximums: Strength 8/18, Dexterity 3/16, Constitution 13/19, Intelligence 3/18, Wisdom 3/18, Charisma 3/15
- Infravision: 90 feet
- Special Advantage: +1 to the dwarven saving throw bonus against poison and magical attacks.
- Special Disadvantage: -1 penalty on attack rolls when within Sunlight or Continual Light spells.
- Class/Level Limits: Warrior 14, Priest 12, Thief 10
- Thief Skill Adjustments: +5% Pick Pockets, +10% Find/Remove Traps, +5% Hide In Shadows, -10% Climb Walls, -15% Read Languages
- Ability Score Modifiers: +1 Strength, +1 Constitution, -1 Charisma
- Ability Score Minimums/Maximums: Strength 8/18, Dexterity 3/17, Constitution 11/18, Intelligence 3/16, Wisdom 3/18, Charisma 3/16
- Infravision: 30 feet
- Special Disadvantage: Sundered Dwarves are Claustrophobic; they must successfully save vs. death in order to overcome their fear before they can enter any underground locale, be it a dungeon, cave or tomb. Furthermore, when underground, a sundered dwarf suffers a -2 penalty to its attack rolls. Each day they remain underground, they must make another save vs. death to master their claustrophobia; if they fail, then their attack penalty increases by -1 for each additional day spent underground. Once a sundered dwarf has panicked like this, the saving throw vs. death to try and master its claustrophobia takes a penalty equal to the attack roll penalty.
- Class/Level Limits: Warrior 14, Priest 10, Thief 15
- Thief Skill Adjustments: +5% Open Locks, +10% Find/Remove Traps, +5% Move Silently, +5% Hide in Shadows, -10% Read Languages
- Ability Score Modifiers: +1 Strength, +1 Dexterity, -2 Charisma
- Ability Score Minimums/Maximums: Strength 6/18, Dexterity 6/18, Constitution 8/16, Intelligence 3/12, Wisdom 3/14, Charisma 3/12
- Infravision: 60 feet
- Special Advantage: Gully dwarves excel at the art of groveling, and can attempt to avoid being attacked by mock-fainting or putting on a pitiful display of pleading. All hostile creatures must succeed on a save vs. spells, with a penalty depending on the gully dwarf's level (-2 at level 5-8, -3 at level 9-12, -5 at level 13+) or be incapable of actually harming the gully dwarf, though they can still capture or otherwise restrain it.
- Special Disadvantage: Gully dwarves are legendarily stupid, and even if a gully dwarf PC is uncommonly smart for its kind, it should still be portrayed as a dimwitted simpleton. Additionally, gully dwarves are so wretched that magic items have a 40% chance of failing to work for them, rather than the normal 20% chance.
- Class/Level Limits: Warrior 8, Priest 8, Thief 16
- Thief Skill Adjustments: +10% Pick Pockets, -5% Open Locks, +5% Find/Remove Traps, -5% Hide In Shadows, -5% Climb Walls, -25% Read Languages
Innugaakalikurit (aka "Faerunian Arctic Dwarf"): Whilst not presented in the Complete Book of Dwarves, the Innugaakalikurit did receive a brief PC writeup in "The Great Glacier", a guide to the pseudo-Arctic Circle region of the Forgotten Realms released for AD&D.
- Ability Score Modifiers: +1 Strength, +1 Constitution, -1 Dexterity, -1 Charisma
- Ability Score Minimums/Maximums: Strength 14/18, Dexterity 3/16, Constitution 13/18, Intelligence 3/18, Wisdom 3/18, Charisma 3/14
- Special Advantage: Arctic Dwarves are Immune to Cold, including magically generated cold such as spells or the breath of White Dragons.
- Class/Level Limits: Fighter Unlimited, Ranger 8, Thief 8
|Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Races|
|Core:||Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human|
|Dark Sun:||Aarakocra - Half-Giant - Mul - Pterran - Thri-kreen|
|Dragonlance:||Draconian - Irda - Kender - Minotaur|
|Mystara:||Aranea - Ee'ar - Enduk - Lizardfolk (Cayma - Gurrash - Shazak) |
Lupin - Manscorpion - Phanaton - Rakasta - Tortle - Wallara
|Oriental Adventures:||Korobokuru - Hengeyokai - Spirit Folk|
|Planescape:||Aasimar - Bariaur - Genasi - Githyanki - Githzerai - Modron - Tiefling|
|Spelljammer:||Dracon - Giff - Grommam - Hadozee - Hurwaeti - Rastipede - Scro - Xixchil|
|Ravenloft:||Broken One - Flesh Golem - Half-Vistani - Therianthrope|
Book of X:
|Alaghi - Beastman - Bugbear - Bullywug - Centaur - Duergar |
Fremlin - Firbolg - Flind - Gnoll - Goblin - Half-Ogre - Hobgoblin
Kobold - Mongrelfolk - Ogre - Ogre Mage - Orc - Pixie
Satyr - Saurial - Svirfneblin - Swanmay - Voadkyn - Wemic
|Dragon Magazine:||Half-Dryad - Half-Satyr - Uldra - Xvart|
In 3.5, dwarves changed a little from their 3.0 selves, mostly in the form of tightening up their rules, but the end-result was fundamentally the same.
- +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma
- Humanoid (Dwarf)
- Base Speed 20 feet, but ignore the movement penalties from medium & heavy armor and loads
- Darkvision 60 feet
- Stonecunning: This ability grants a dwarf a +2 racial bonus on Search checks to notice unusual stonework, such as sliding walls, stonework traps, new construction (even when built to match the old), unsafe stone surfaces, shaky stone ceilings, and the like. Something that isn’t stone but that is disguised as stone also counts as unusual stonework. A dwarf who merely comes within 10 feet of unusual stonework can make a Search check as if he were actively searching, and a dwarf can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can. A dwarf can also intuit depth, sensing his approximate depth underground as naturally as a human can sense which way is up.
- Weapon Familiarity: Dwarven Waraxes and Urgoshes count as Martial Weapons for a dwarf, rather than Exotic Weapons.
- Stability: +4 racial bonus on checks made to resist being Bull Rushed or Tripped when standing on solid ground.
- +2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison, spells, and spell-like effects.
- +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs and goblinoids.
- +4 dodge bonus to Armor Class against creatures of the Giant type.
- +2 racial bonus on Appraise and Craft checks relating to stone or metal.
- Favored Class: Fighter
After humans (who are considered the best race in the entire game, or at least the top 5), dwarves are likely the most powerful PHB race, though this isn't much of a challenge since the other PHB races are very weak. Their defensive (and search) bonuses are universally good and only 3 classes even care about losing charisma (and Cleric doesn't care all THAT much). Their bonus on search applies almost always, since underground caves and buildings constructed of stones are the vast majority of adventure locations. Aside from the obvious melee classes dwarves, unusually enough, make for good Rogues. Their defensive abilities offset how squishy rogues are, and aside from half-orcs (which are terrible) the only PHB race with darkvision, which is invaluable for sneaking around in the dark and (more importantly) get around the rule oddity that rogues can't use sneak attack in darkness without it.
The above stats applies to both Hill Dwarves and Mountain Dwarves equally. However, myriad dwarven subraces exist in 3.5, and they all tweak the formula in some way.
Aquatic Dwarves were underwater-dwelling versions of the dwarf introduced in the 3e Unearthed Arcana sourcebook. In addition to the normal dwarven statblock, they gain +2 Strength, suffer -4 Dexterity, and possess the Aquatic subtype, the Water-Breather racial trait (breathe water instead of air, can survive out of 2 rounds per Constitution point before starting to suffocate), a Swim speed of 20 feet, the ability to "run" whilst swimming, +8 racial bonus on Swim checks and the ability to Take 10 when swimming.
Arctic Dwarves, also from the 3e Unearthed Arcana, gain +2 Strength and suffer -4 Dexterity in addition to the normal dwarf modifiers, and tweak their statblock in various ways. Their racial attack bonus is against kobolds and goblinoids instead of orcs & goblinoids, they also apply their Appraise & Craft check bonus to ice, they have the Cold Endurance trait (+4 racial bonus on Fort checks against cold and exposure), and the Icecunning trait, which is literally "Stonecunning but with Ice". This is a generic version of the arctic dwarf, and not based on the original Innugaakalikurit, who hail from the Forgotten Realms.
Badlands Dwarves are a version of dwarf that has adapted to life in the hot, barren badland regions - essentially a more focused and arguably better designed version of the Desert Dwarf from Unearthed Arcana. These guys appeared in the Sandstorm splatbook, and mostly change their racial traits; they lose Stonecunning and gain Waterwise, which is essentially Stonecunning but for finding water and water conduits, and lose their Appraise & Craft bonuses in favor of Heat Endurance and the ability to go for 2 days + Constitution score hours before thirst starts affecting them.
Deep Dwarves, the non-evil Underdark dwarves mentioned above, appeared in the 3.5 Monster Manual, and have the most meager changes of any dwarven subrace; their resistance to poison and magic increases to +3, their Darkvision increases to 90 feet, and they gain the Light Sensitivity trait.
Desert Dwarves are another of the many "environmental variant" subraces to appear in 3e's Unearthed Arcana. These dwarves trade their Charisma penalty for a -2 penalty to Dexterity, lose Stonecunning, change the target of their racial attack bonus from orcs & goblinoids to reptilian humanoids & dragons, change the target of their racial defense bonus from giants to dragons, change their bonus to Craft checks for a +2 bonus on Knowledge (Architecture, Engineering & Dungeoneering) and Profession (Miner), and gain the Heat Endurance trait.
Dream Dwarves are a mystical, sagely dwarven subrace introduced in Races of Stone. These dwarves lack the inherent craftsmanship or warlike skills of their kin, but are valued for their innate magical powers and spiritual connection to the earth. Dream Dwarves trade their -2 Charisma for -2 Dexterity, increase their Darkvision to 90 feet, and trade their racial saving bonuses, Craft bonus, Appraise bonus, attack roll bonus and dodge bonus for +1 Caster Level with Divination type spells, a +1 racial bonus to Diplomacy checks against Earth subtype creatures, and the ability to see ethereal creatures at will. Additionally, their favored class is Druid rather than fighter.
Frost Dwarves, introduced in the Planar Handbook, are a race of planetouched dwarves native to the icy layers of the Abyss. The ability modifiers for these dwarves is +4 Constitution, -4 Charisma, they gain the Extraplanar subtype, their Darkvision increases to 120 feet, and they gain Cold Resistance 10, +4 to Move Silently checks, Light Sensitivity, and the ability to cast Chill Touch and Obscuring Mist 1/day each at Charater Level +2 (minimum of 3rd). Needless to say, these dwarves get a Level Adjustment of +1.
Earth Dwarves are, as the name suggests, planetouched dwarves with earth elemental ancestry, and are yet another Unearthed Arcana variant. They get +2 Strength and -2 Dexterity on top of the normal dwarf ability modifiers, their Stonecunning modifier is +4, their Stability modifier is +8, they change the target of their racial attack bonus from orcs & goblinoids to creatures with the Air subtype, their Appraise & Craft bonuses increase to +4, and their racial saving bonus against spells is replaced with a -2 racial penalty on saving throws vs spells, spell-like abilities or supernatural abilitys that either have the Air subtype or come from a creature with the Air subtype.
Glacier Dwarves are, like Badlands Dwarves, a second attempt at an environmental based dwarven subrace in the wake of those done by Unearthed Arcana. They're closer to the Innugaakalikurit than the Arctice Dwarves are, but still not a perfect conversion. Appearing in the Frostburn sourcebook, Glacier Dwarves replace Stonecunning with Icecunning (same thing, but using ice instead of stone), change their Appraise & Craft bonuses to applying to ice, snow & other frostfell materials, trade their save bonus vs. poison for a +2 racial bonus on saves vs. cold damage & cold-based effects, can comfortably survive in conditions ranging from "severe cold" to "hot" without needing a Fortitude save, and are always considered to have the Cold Endurance feat in order to meet prerequisites for feats & prestige classes.
Gold Dwarves appeared in the Dungeon Master's Guide, and represent either dwarves at the very height of their power, the ancestral form of dwarves, or some other form of deep-dwelling dwarf-kin. The only real changes they make are suffering -2 Dexterity intead of -2 Charisma, and changing their attack roll bonus target to aberrations instead of orcs & goblinoids.
Jungle Dwarves are the last of the environmental variants introduced in Unearthed Arcana. These dwarves lose Stonecunning, downgrade their Darkvision to Low-light Vision, trade their Craft bonus for a +2 racial bonus on Heal, Knowledge (Nature), Spot & Survival checks, and switch their favored class from Fighter to Ranger.
Seacliff Dwarves are coastal dwarves introduced in the Stormwrack sourcebook, and are essentially an alternative to Aquatic Dwarves, like the Badlands & Glacier Dwarves before them. These dwarves lose their racial attack roll bonus and instead gain the Strong Swimmer racial trait; +2 racial bonus on Swim checks and the ability to hold their breath for twice their Constitution score.
Innugaakalikurit, or Faerunian Arctic Dwarves, appeared in the Races of Faerun sourcebook. These have the normal abilities of a dwarf, even though their traditional lore says they shouldn't have Stonecunning, but their ability scores are +4 Strength, -2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution and -2 Charisma, they are Small instead of Medium, they are Immune To Cold, their Favored Class is Ranger, and they have a Level Adjustment of +2.
Urdunnir are Planetouched, or at least very magical, dwarves native to the Forgotten Realms. Presented as a PC race in Races of Faerun, Urdunnir have all the normal dwarven racial abilities, but their saving throw bonus against Poison is increased to +4, they have the Stone Walk supernatural ability, can cast Stone Shape and Shape Metal, both at-will and with the power of an 8th level sorcerer, their favored class is Expert, and their Level Adjustment is +4.
Wild Dwarves are feral dwarves native to the tropical jungles of Chult in the Forgotten Realms and appeared in Races of Faerun alongside the Innugaakalikurit and the Urdunnir. These dwarves are Small, are affected by medium/heavy armor & loads, replace the standard dwarven weapon familiarity trait with free prociency in the handgun and blowgun, have the Poison Use trait, have Fire Resistance 5, have a +3 bonus to saves against poison, are immune to Wild Dwarf Knockout Poison, have a +4 racial bonus to saving throws against disease, lack the Stonecunning trait and the bonuses to Appraise and Craft, and their Favored Class is Barbarian.
Pathfinder, for obvious reasons, mostly used the 3.5 version of the dwarf, but tweaked it. Since it was the second most powerful anyways and had a lot of features, it didn't really get much new stuff compared to the other races. Past the core rules, Pathfinder introduced the idea of variant racial traits you could swap in for more unusual versions of the dwarf. As a core race, these alternate traits are everywhere; the Advanced Race Guide, Inner Sea Races, even Horror Adventurers had a few dwarfin variant abilities. Compared to the other core races, Dwarves didn't get much variety here though they do get the ability to make their Defensive Training/Hatred abilities work on a few different monsters.
- +2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma
- Slow & Steady: Base speed is 20 feet, but medium/heavy armor and loads don't affect this speed.
- Darkvision 60 feet
- Defensive Training: +4 Dodge bonus to AC against Giants.
- Greed: +2 racial bonus on Appraise checks made to determine the price of nonmagical goods that contain precious metals or gemstones.
- Hatred: +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against Orcs and Goblinoids.
- Hardy: +2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison, spells and spell-like abilities.
- Stability: +4 racial bonus to Combat Maneuver Defense against Bull Rush and Trip when standing on solid ground.
- Stonecunning: +2 racial bonus on Perception checks made to notice unusual stonework, and can make a check to notice such things whenever they pass within 10 feet of them.
- Weapon Familiarity: Proficient with Battleaxe, Heavy Pick and Warhammer, treat any weapon with "Dwarven" in its name as a Martial Weapon.
The main additions were an extra ability score boost (standard for PF races), some free martial weapons (even better for a medium BAB class not proficient with martial weapons) and better "Dwarven" exotic weapons (Dwarven Longhammer is a greatsword with bludgeoning damage and reach, taking a good weapon and making it better.). With these boosts Dwarves make even better Clerics and Rogues than they did in 3E. Dwarves make natural Warpriest, since that uses charisma even less than a cleric.
A survey of Pathfinder characters determined Dwarves were the 6th most popular race in the game (losing to Human, Half-Elf, Elf, Half-Orc and the non-core Tiefling). Dwarves mostly fall so low since Half-Orc is now a viable race for most beatstick classes as well and they split the non-human beatstick percentage. Naturally Dwarf Clerics and Warpriests are exceptionally common. Weirdly Dwarves are popular fighters even though fighters already get the ability to wear heavy armor without speed penalty. Despite making excellent Druids, Dwarf druids are exceptionally rare.
|The Races of Pathfinder|
|Player's Handbook:||Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human|
|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:||Android - Astomoi - Caligni - Deep One Hybrid - Gathlain |
Gnoll - Kasatha - Munavri - Naiad - Orang-Pendak
Reptoid - Rougarou - Shabti - Trox - Yaddithian
|Adventure Paths:||Being of Ib - Kuru|
|Inner Sea Races:||Ghoran - Monkey Goblin - Lashunta - Skinwalker |
Syrinx - Triaxian - Wyrwood - Wyvaran
|Ultimate Wilderness:||Vine Leshy|
|Blood of the Sea:||Adaro - Cecaelia - Grindylow - Locathah - Sahuagin - Triton|
|Planar Adventures:||Aphorite - Duskwalker - Ganzi|
Iconic, well-defined, and readily adapted, the dwarf took pride of place in the very first Player's Handbook, where they were the second PC race option only because Dragonborn alphabetically precedes them. This version of the dwarf didn't have the flashy racial powers that most other races of the edition had, but emphasized its traditional strengths with lots of racial traits, which made them one of the hardiest races in the game, and yet also surprisingly good at being Clerics, Shamans and Druids.
- Ability Scores: +2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom (or +2 Strength, post Essentials Update)
- Size: Medium
- Speed: 5 squares (25 feet)
- Vision: Low-Light
- Skill Bonuses: +2 Dungeoneering, +2 Endurance
- Cast-Iron Stomach: +5 racial bonus on saving throws against poison.
- Dwarven Resilience: Triggering 2nd Wind only costs you a minor action.
- Dwarven Weapon Proficiency: You have proficiency with the throwing hammer and the warhammer.
- Encumbered Speed: You ignore the normal movement penalties caused by armor or carrying a heavy load.
- Stand Your Ground: You can choose to reduce the effects of all forced movements (pull, push, slide) by -1 square; this can negate an effect that would normally only move you 1 square. Additionally, you can immediately make saving throws against attacks that would knock you prone.
4e also introduced the concept of subraces in two different ways.
Dragon Magazine #383 introduced the Forgeborn subrace for dwarves, representing dwarves whose ancestors hadn't been freed from their slavery to the Primordials before elemental energy had contaminated them, turning them into essentially the dwarven equivalent of genasi. This version of a subrace took advantage of the plethora of feats that 4e characters received. A forgeborn dwarf was defined by taking a normal dwarf and then taking the Forgeborn Heritage feat; this gave them the Elemental Legacy racial power (1/encounter, when you hit an enemy with an attack, inflict +3/tier Acid, Cold, Fire or Lighting damage - your choice of which element) as well as minor resistance to Acid, Cold, Fire and Lightning damage simultaneously. Not much - 2 points of damage resistance, increasing to DR 3 at 11th level and to DR 5 at 21st level.
Of course, the racial feat Iron Hide Resilience boosted this damage resistance to 5 points per character tier; still inferior to the fire resistance of tieflings or the cold resistance of winterkin eladrin, but hey, you're getting four types of damage resistance for the price of two feats; don't get greedy!
Other forgeborn feats include Ancestral Wrath (+1 speed when bloodied), Keen Hatred (using Elemental Legacy grants a +2 bonus to your next attack roll), Wrathful Legacy (Elemental Legacy recharges the first time you are bloodied), Improved Legacy (boosted damage with Elemental Legacy) and Wrathful Resurgence (gain temporary hitpoints when you use 2nd Wind).
The Neverwinter campaign setting was much simpler, instead presenting alternate racial traits that a dwarf could simply "swap in" that represented the Gold and Shield Dwarves of the Forgotten Realms. Gold Dwarf Alternate Traits
- Replace Cast-Iron Stomach with Cast-Iron Mind (+5 racial bonus to saves against ongoing psychic damage)
- Replace Dwarven Weapon Proficiency with Gold Dwarf Weapon Proficiency (War Pick and the Maul)
Shield Dwarf Alternate Features
- Replace Dwarven Weapon Proficiency with either Dwarven Weapon Proficiency (Axe and Battleaxe) or Shield Proficiency (Light Shield)
|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|
- 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
- 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.
- Ability Score: +1 Wisdom
- Dwarven Toughness: Free +1 max hp every level.
- 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)
- Duergar Resilience: Advantage on saves against illusions and being charmed or paralyzed.
- Duergar 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 perceive, is in direct sunlight.
The Dwarves of the world of Arkadia believe they were forged by Erebos, the God of Fire and Craftsmanship, from the stone and bronze of Kor Erebos, the volcano that is their ancestral homeland. Whilst there is a passing implication that the traditional dwarven subraces of Mountain Dwarf and Hill Dwarf exist in Arkadia, the race is primarily divided between two unique subraces, with all of the lore being lavished upon them.
Volcano Dwarves are the original form of the race, although they have spread from their fiery mountain homelands and now tend to smithies and shops throughout the great city-states; whilst the smith-priests of Erebos work bronze and even orichalcum in Kor Erebos, lesser volcano dwarves can be found working with metal, jewelry and glass wherever there is a market for such things. They make crystal glass and beaten lead funeral masks in Crixos; jewelry in Corinth; and rams, nails, and all the tools needed to furnish Ithean ships. Their most common work, however, is found in Kryta and Hyperium, where the bronze of their swords and spears and armor is prized above all others. Volcano dwarves have relatively light complexions, but are typically seared into permanent partial tans by the molten metal and stone with which they work. Their hair and beards, black or reddish brown, is worn in matted locks. They cap these coils in heavy beads of gold, bronze, or mountain glass. They trade with humans for royal colors of cloth and adorn themselves with thick rings and armbands, set with wide stones. In their native environment, volcano dwarves burrow into the deepest depths of the earth, tapping magma for heat, light, and raw minerals with which to work. Weirdly, it is stated that volcano dwarves are a "mysterious", "secretive" and "reclusive" folk, withdrawn from the daily life of other races. This then might explain the discrepancy noted above; it is possible that mountain and hill dwarves are considered volcano dwarves by culture, but "mountain" dwarves represent the warrior-clans, and "hill" dwarves represent those volcano dwarves who trade with humans or who have integrated into surface life.
Field Dwarves fill much the same role in Arkadia that halflings fill elsewhere in the multiverse. Reputedly created when Phaedrus, the God of Fae and Wilderness, lured away a portion of the dwarven race from their volcanic homes, these dwarves have become a simple folk who cherish wine, and growing things, and rich, dark earth. Forsaking metal and glass, field dwarves instead concern themselves with the shaping of clay and stone, or the cultivation of crops. The majority of the race live in the countryside as simple farmers, growing bounties of grapes, olives and other foodstuffs; those who have moved into the cities focus instead on masonry, pottery and sculpture. They are darker skinned and less ostentatious than their elder cousins, preferring loose hair and simple clothes in which they are comfortable.
The two races don't really like each other all that much. Volcano dwarves look down on field dwarves as lazy and unskilled, claiming they have forgotten their purpose in the world and are too addicted to the dark drink of wine. Field dwarves, in turn, think their volcano-dwelling cousins are stiff-necked stick-in-the-muds who need to loosen up and get over themselves.
Regardless of subrace, all Arkadian dwarves consider themselves Arkadians by blood if not by race, and thusly feel a strong kinship to the humans with whom they share their world.
Arkadian Dwarves have a unique take on the 5e dwarven core racial statblock: whilst it's mostly identical, it replaces Dwarven Weapon Proficiency with the following:
- Arkadian Dwarven Weapon Proficiency: You are Proficient with the Sling, the (Bronze) Mace, the (Bronze) Sword and the (Bronze) Shortsword.
Volcano Dwarves have the following subrace traits:
- Added Tool Proficiency: You are Proficient with your choice of either Glassblower's Tools or Jeweler's Tools.
- Erebos' Gift: As a light activity during a long rest you may hone one simple or martial weapon. At the end of the long rest, the object becomes a magic item, if it is not already, granting a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls in addition to the weapon’s other effects. The weapon retains these benefits until you use this feature again. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
Field Dwarves have the following subrace traits:
- Ability Score Increase: +1 Wisdom
- Phaedrus' Gift: You may use your action to cause 4d4 magical grapes to grow from the soil at your feet. A creature can use its action to eat one or more of these grapes. Eating a grape restores 1 hit point, and the grape provides enough nourishment to sustain a creature for one day. You must finish a long rest before using this ability again. The grapes lose their potency if they have not been consumed within 24 hours of the use of this ability. The number of grapes created increases to 8d4 at 11th level and 16d4 at 17th level.
In the World of Farland, some tweaks are made to the standard 5e dwarf. Most notably, Stonecunning is not a core racial trait for the Farlandish dwarf, and they have the unique subraces of Khazak and Dwamok dwarves.
Khazak dwarves, whose name means "High Folk", are the "pureblood" dwarf subrace of Farland, and analogous to the Mountain Dwarves of core 5e. These are the only dwarves with the Stonecunning trait, and they also gain +1 Strength and the unique racial trait Magic Resistance, which gives them Advantage on saving throws against spells of one school of magic, set at character creation.
Dwamok, or "Shieldfolk", are the Farlandish equivalent of Hill Dwarves. They gain +1 Wisdom and the Hill Dwarf's Dwarven Toughness trait, but also have the unique racial trait of Stable, which grants them Advantage on checks made to resist being pushed and knocked prone, and lets them reduce the distance of involuntary movement effects they are subjected to by -5 feet.
"War of the Immortals" also introduces two historical dwarven subraces. Kibil-Gunders are the "ur-dwarf" stock, the original dwarven strain who lived in and around active volcanoes. They gain +1 Strength, the Dwarven Armor Training and Stonecunning traits, and the Heat Resistance trait (Advantage on saves against Fire damage, Advantage on Constitution checks against natural heat). Shieldfolk are, despite the shared name, the ancestral stock of the Dwamoks from the modern era, and so they trade the Stable Trait for free Proficiency with either Insight or Perception.
Dwarves of Scarn are largely the same as the core 5E dwarf, just with Dwarven Armor Training and Dwarven Weapon Training switching places. The Player's Guide introduces the Kelder and Charduni dwarves, with Yugman's Guide to Ghelspad adding the Broadreach dwarves.
Kelder or Mountain Dwarves are native to Ghelspad and most make their home in the Kelder Mountains. They gain +1 Wisdom, Dwarven Weapon Training, and the Steadfast trait, which gives them advantage on saving throws against being charmed or frightened.
Charduni originate from Termana, and came to Ghelspad to expand their tyrannical empire. If the name didn't spell it out, they worship Chardun almost exclusively. They gain +1 Strength, Dense Flesh, which is just renamed Dwarven Toughness, and Charduni Combat Training, which gives them proficiency with the light hammer, warhammer, warscepter, and the spiked chain.
Broadreach or Wood Dwarves are descended from Kelder Dwarves that escaped from slavery in Glivid-Autel to the Hornsaw Forest where they settled to live alongside the local elves. They gain +1 Dexterity, replace Stonecunning with Woodcunning, gain advantage when examining woodwork, and the Keen Senses trait, which gives them proficiency in Perception.
The swashbuckling pirate-themed setting of Seas of Vodari is home to not only the standard Hill and Mountain Dwarves of 5e, but also a unique subrace; the Aurirn, or Sea Dwarves. They descend from clans of dwarves who were ambitious or crazy enough to try and mine the unique metals seeping from a volcanic crack in the seafloor, where exposure to magical radiation mixed with dwarven stubbornness mutated them into an amphibious race capable of surviving underwater on their own. They're still part of dwarven society, but have grown somewhat more reclusive... but they're so stinking rich that even the most grizzled of traditional dwarves is forced to accept the scaly-skinned, web-digited water-breathing freaks, and many honor them for the sheer dedication it took to pull off so crazy a stunt as to set up underwater mines in the first place.
A sea dwarf has the standard 5e dwarf core racial traits and these unique subrace traits:
- Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
- From the Depths. You have a swimming speed of 30 feet, and you can breathe air and water. You ignore any of the drawbacks caused by a deep, underwater environment.
- Fireborn. Adapted to living along the boiling cracks of the seafloor, you have resistance to fire damage.
This is how Dwarves appear in Dwarf Fortress.
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
The dwarven male touches 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.
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, 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.
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 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."
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.
PRAISE ARMOK! BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!
Dwarves of Eberron were originally from the Frostfell (north pole) before moving south. They control the world's banking due to House Kundarak's Mark of Warding enhancing security and the vast mineral wealth of their homeland. Otherwise the Dwarves of Eberron don't differ too much from the norm.
One RPGA module has a scholar with the theory that, unlike the rest of Eberron's races, Dwarves were not formed from Eberron, but from Khyber and reforged by Eberron to fight other creations of Khyber. This scholar posits that the short, muscular frame of the Dwarves was to allow them to fight Khyber's other creations (fiends) in Khyber. The text of the module explicitly says this may or may not be true.
Magic the Gatherering
Oddly enough, while Human, Elf, and Goblin are all common, well defined creature types, Dwarfs are quite rare in Magic: The Gathering. Dwarfs have no solid theme and virtually no tribal effects (4, one of which isn't a Dwarf, compared to 64 Dwarf cards) either. Virtually all dwarfs come from early sets, Kaladesh or Eventide. They are (with the exception of one wizard and two Black vampires) all Red and/or (more commonly now) White. Why they were ever Red in the first place is unclear, since Dwarfs are traditionally the opposite of every single part of Red: Defensive, emotionally restrained, patient, traditionally minded and disinclined to raw offensive magic. Possibly because Dwarfs are associated with mountains, which are, of course, the Red mana producing land. Dwarves do show up once in one of the novels, where they help Urza's Coalition fight the Phyrexians, primarily by giant tunneling machines.
On the whole Dwarves across fiction tend to have the following tendencies...
- 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, the Discworld novels, 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.
Other Historical Dwarves
Dwarfism in humans is something that's been around for forever, and there are some cultures that have dwarven gods and myths. One of the best and most notable of these is Bes, an Egyptian god. Bes is a god of good luck and... male endowment, a trait which is passed on to all dwarves.
|This article or section is about Monstergirls (or a monster that is frequently depicted as a Monstergirl), something that /tg/ widely considers to be the purest form of awesome. Expect PROMOTIONS! and /d/elight in equal measure, often with drawfaggotry or writefaggotry to match.|
Whether or not dwarves can be monstergirls is an issue of.. some debate on /tg/. See, whereas the elf races have always been portrayed as full of beautiful women (and men, depending on your preferences), and female elves are the archetype for elfin characters, dwarves are considered an incredibly masculine race; there's doubtlessly only one female dwarf character at most that you can name for every ten male ones. Add to it the ancient lore of dwarven women being bearded, and female dwarves have generally been in the sad position of being considered less inherently fuggable than female goblins and orcs.
But this is /tg/, and fantasy has moved on. As editions have gone past, D&D dwarves have gotten hotter and sexier, their fembeard past consigned to one particular comic relief section of fantasy and the desks of the most hardcore grognards, and /tg/ has slowly begun to open to the idea that dwarf women can be hot.
The monstergirl dwarf typically fills what is called the shortstack niche; small yet truly curvaceous women (which was actually the canon direction D&D 4e took for them) who let their stature work for them in terms of being sexy. The modern iteration of the dwarf monstergirl often incorporates aspects of either the musclegirl (a strong yet sexy woman), the ladette (a hot woman who nonetheless acts like one of the guys), or both; the end result is a hard-playing hot woman who will sit on the couch with you, nestled neatly into your lap as she cheers on the wrestling or the monster trucks of whatever, eating spicy wings and chugging beer by the gallon, and who'll then drag you into bed and fuck you until the bed breaks afterwards, all whilst being the perfect height you can pick her up and carry her around. Or she can give you boobsex without even needing to bend down.
Or there's the Japanese take on the idea, where your female dwarf is a spunky, super-strong loli with an elaborately oversized hairdo, as seen in hentai like Queen's Blade. The Monster Girl Encyclopedia infamously went this route for its dwarf mamono, creating one of the youngest-looking lolis in its archive until the even-more-controversial Humpty Egg was released. The MGE Dwarf is a succubus-type mamono who specializes in applying its dexterous fingers to give absolutely incredible handjobs, although it relishes the chance to show off its goblin-like stretchiness by making even the biggest manhood disappear.
A third option is the dirndl-clad traditional lady, often carrying several large tankards of ale for the thirsty men. This plays more to their German roots and caters to an entirely different kind of taste. Incidentally, male dwarves wearing the tracht that form the counterparts of said dresses (think something like lederhosen) is rather uncommon.
Ironically, despite the existence of Bes above, dwarf monstergirls as dusky-skinned skimpily clad party girl shortstacks has never appeared on /tg/.
- Dwarfs (Warhammer Fantasy)
- Dwarf Fortress
- Diggy Diggy Hole, a song based on a one-note joke in a Yogscast video on Minecraft, but manages to summarize the true dwarven way of life perfectly, it has eventually gone on to be covered by a full metal band.