Thursday, 5 February 2015

Some Dwarves

So Dwarves

They won't see race, or barely, but they will see what you make. So if you do something to alter your appearance then they will see that. So the races of the Dwarves (that is, until we get to stuff like Derro or Duergar), are the materials they generally work with.

The Dwarves we are familiar with are big on steel as they have a lot of it but other Dwarves tend to think of that as their specialist ethnic material. (Handy, hard, but how do you stop it rusting?)

Dwarves of Gold and Ivory.

Make elaborate mail of glass beads, which helps to keep them cool in their hot climates. Super curly hair means they tend to think of is as a kind of construction material for the head, forming beards and haircuts into asymmetric wedges, or sometimes three dimensional models of their home city or mountain.

Tend to break down laughing whilst trying to relate a joke they told a week ago, (these Dwarves laugh) its so funny in their memory that they can't get all the way through it without breaking down.

Really want to tell you about their family, in depth, for hours. Family is huge and has collectively done and experienced some of everything so no topic so strange that they do not have a handy homily about it.

Tend to announce that they are going to speak to you before, or as, they speak to you. i.e. sits down and says "I will speak to you now."

Iron is a currency to them and they wear thick torcs of raw iron around their arms and waists.

Most are very black and they smear fine gold dust all over themselves as a kind of makeup or war-paid, the dust catches in the folds of their skin and  makes them seem to glow like bronze. Other dwarves think looking like this is pretty cool and are slightly annoyed they can't really carry it off.

Dwarves of Jade and Wine.

These have wild black bristles that stick straight out. Very distinct mustaches. Tend to wear a lot of jade, including a kind of closely arranged mail of jade pieces that jingles softly as they walk, a distinct sound for each clan.

These Dwarves are named so as they are one of the few kinds of Dwarf that actively enjoys wine more than Beer or Spirits. (All Dwarves will drink wine if available, but these will actively seek it out.)

Brutal calligraphy duels with two-handed calligraphy brushes, if a dwarf dies they can still win the duel if they leave behind the superior poem on the paper floor where it is fought. The loser will always accept the superiority of the poem if it is better, even if they killed their enemy. In fact they will make a point of mentioning it in the future. "I bested Shan Lun in the Poets-cage, but only his flesh is dead, his words will burn through time when I am dead." Then they recite the poem.

These Dwarves are so friendly and luxurious when drunk, and so often drunk, that they are the only Dwarves that sometimes seem lazy. (They aren't really, but can sometimes give that impression.)

They like monkeys, are friends with them and even have a monkey god. (Very unusual.)

Dwarves of Obsidian and Bone

These very fierce Dwarves have even less metal available to them than most. Amazingly, they ritually shave themselves and tattoo elaborate abstract beard designs onto their faces and chests (presumably slowly expanding over the body during their life). They wear a kind of elaborate gorget/mask of obsidian shards which takes the place of a beard and which is fucking terrifying.

Their weapons are obsidian and hardwood, as well as other organic materials such as bone. They are always on the lookout for new kinds of bone and will raise incredible animals over centuries, simply to harvest the bone when they die.

In their homelands they are called 'Cave-Lords' and actually rule as an upper caste from very well-developed terraced farmlands on the shoulders of high mountains. They travel beneath the earth through the caves that are common to that part of the world and generally do not bother low-living peoples much, or at all, unless monsters threaten, in which case they issue forth with great violence

(Our (Western-standard) Dwarves call themselves the 'Dwarves of Stone and Steel', but really everyone likes stone, so when not present they tend to be called the Dwarves of Steel and Beer. Although most Dwarves are pretty fond of beer too.)

I was going to go for an Indian-Standard set but its hard to get a strong material signature for Indian crafts. Is there any material or set of materials that brings that culture strongly to mind? (Obviously dwarves with Bakh Nakh are a must so they have to have those. I was thinking of making them the only dwarves that actively use a wide range of weapons instead of just impact-damage stuff. Sikhs are so close to the cultural dwarf-zone that its hard to not just re-make them shorter.)


  1. The dwarves of salt and silk. these dwarves seem increadibly dull and quiet to most outsiders but that is a falce immpression due to their incomprehensively complex spiritual belifes and practices. these dwarves more than any other love the air and the wind and the seas and rarely bother to digg into there mountains but rather build upon them enormous open air temples and towers which at times match the size of the mountain behith them. these buildings are filled with cleaver archeways and courtyards that allow the winds to blow through un-hindered. it is said these citidels sing when the wind is right, but it may be the dwarves themselves.

    from the many intrecately carved figures that adorn there homes hang great spools of cloth in vibrant colors forrever fluttering in the wind. these spoolsof cloth are forever under heviy scrutiney by the dwarves who attribute great meaning to the movements. these dwarves often begin conversations by refering to the condition of the fabric of his/her home ie. "I greet you, shuffleing lightly as if troubled, i am Din of the house where the red tassle twists with joy..."

    bla bla something about salt and food and clever fabrics

  2. I don't know about uniquely Indian construction materials. It's probably too much to expect all cultures to have one iconic substance they make all their shit out of, hey. I'm thinking like, Polynesian shell dwarves, Inuit scrimshaw dwarves, Aboriginal Australian wood dwarves, maybe? Those are all organic materials though. Maybe nomadic ochre dwarves that make these massive fortresses out of brightly coloured clay, like a cross between a termite mound and a Hindu sex temple, the equal in size and complexity of anything a steel dwarf makes, it bakes hard as metal in the dry season and then when the rains come in it just fucking collapses in on itself and turns back into putty over the course of a week. The ochre dwarves are super fatalistic about this and their culture has no real concept of permanence, so like marriages don't last more than a season, kids find new parents each spring, they have writing so they can remember stuff over the course of a summer but their memories don't extend longer than that. You might describe them as... radically forgetting? SEE PEOPLE READ YOUR BLOG PATRICK. IT'S NOT ALL JUST MR. ONE COMMENT NO FRIENDS OVER HERE. YOU ARE ACQUIRING SOCIAL CAPITAL AS WE SPEAK.

    Anyway the ochre dwarves leave a lot of shit behind in their collapsing fortresses, like treasure and salted meat and old people, and the PCs have an hour to get in and out before they suffocate in one hundred metres of mud. There's your adventure hook.

    The only thing I can think of for more Indian dwarves is that they're like, The Dwarves of Paint and Spice, and instead of armouring themselves with strange metals they paint themselves with colours only they know how to make and tell everyone it gives them magical powers. It doesn't. They're also super good cooks.

    1. I understood that reference^

      I got to visit southeastern Asia recently and there was a definite vibe of temporalness to most of the buildings. An expatriate pointed out that the climate ensures that everything is well stained with mildew within a couple years and most structures begin to deteriorate many times faster than more temperate climes. Lots of modern ruins, which are equaly likely to be unfinished buildings as they are to be abandoned ones. I think this ochre idea is an awesome way to DnD that concept.

  3. Just yesterday I was looking at my campaign map and thinking 'what manner of dwarves must live in those far off exotic mountains'. Mille grazie!

  4. In India they use jute a lot more than cotton. Maybe they attack with jute nooses?

  5. I like those first ones. In games and worlds I've run the dwarves invariably have some Arabic/Egyptian type background - I find the use of gold and worshipping ancestors an all-to-easy parallel to capitalize on. These are way better, though, since breathing cultures are a hundred times more interesting than buried ones.

    Re: materials, a couple interesting ones might be silver (knot-obsessed druidic Boadiceans braiding the shit out of everything they see) or marble (like the poets, fixated on distilling concepts and beauty into physical form). Concrete could be one too but that lends itself to military and brutalism and you got that covered. Perhaps through dwarven eyes dvergar are just dwarves of concrete and blood.