Racial Bias: Dwarves

In this new series, I will take a hard look at the races of our favorite fantasy role-playing games (D&D and Pathfinder specifically), and detail for you why each is THE BEST race to play. For this inaugural article, I decided to begin with my personal favorite. One that has always held a special place in my heart since the first time I picked up a Player's Handbook.

Everyone's favorite bearded murder machine, the dwarf.

 "His beard is made of other beards!"

Dwarves are like hipsters. They have excellent beards, appreciate old things, and prefer to drink craft beers. Only, dwarves were doing this before it was "cool". Also, hard to imagine a hipster riding into battle astride a dire boar and splitting skulls with their waraxe... unless it was an artisanal boar.

You may be wondering why I have such a fondness for the four-foot, fearless forgers of fantastical fortresses. Allow me to lay it out as artfully as I can...

Badass Cribs
When normal folks look at a mountain, they say to themselves, "Wow, look at that! We should climb that!", but a dwarf looks at the same mountain and says, "Hmmm. Looks good. Let's hollow it out and build a friggin city in there, with tall, vaulted ceilings 100 ft. tall because we like headroom,
 despite being between 4' and 4'8"!"

 "Pillars of the community."

Dwarves like dwelling in mountains like elves like dwelling in trees, though a mountain isn't going to blow over in a stiff breeze. Even when not residing on or in some form of rock, dwarves often feel a kinship to the earth, building homes in hills, or just flat-out underground. Even in cities, dwarves like to surround themselves with expert stonework. Dwarven slums are sturdier than most castles, and just as nice to look at.

These guys don't half-ass the home life.

"The low-income side of town."

Badass Hobbies
 Everyone needs a hobby, and dwarves have plenty. Chief of among them is their prodigious ability to craft things. Dwarven craftsmanship means something, and that something is "Unparalleled by anything forged by mortals".

"Dwarves: Already solved the riddle of steel. Currently working on the riddle of Adamantine."

Even the lamest and most undisciplined dwarven craftsman is more capable than many of the best human craftsmen. Dwarves excel at whatever they put their minds (and hands) to, like stonework, city building, armor, and weapons that even the poor bastard getting cut in half can appreciate.

 "Admit it, you want three."

But it doesn't stop at solid matter. Dwarves don't just make the best implements for killing folks, they make the best concoction for getting folks hammered (pun totally intended!). Dwarven ale is some of the most legendary alcohol known to any of the mortal races. If it is a concoction that bursts into flames if stored in sunlight, then you know it'll put some hair on your chin. Probably a few other places too.

Dwarves work hard, and they play just as hard too. What do they do for fun when not mining and crafting the hell out of everything? The same thing any decent person does after a long day at work...

...kill things!

Badass Enemies
Dwarf enemies read like a list of Batman's rogues' gallery. It is stocked to the brim with some of the most interesting (and brutal) monsters walking the earth (and below it). It seems that in their long lives, dwarves have a habit of pissing off things bigger than them, and then soundly kicking their collective asses.

"No. That mountain of bodies wasn't there before the dwarf."

Orcs, goblins, and giants make up the majority of the dwarves' surface enemies. These are long, ancient hatreds that go back thousands of years. Dwarves love thumping the crap out of these hapless simps, but those guys are second stringers compared to that which lives below.

 "Some collect Pez dispensers. Bangor Steelstriker collects heads. Everyone needs a hobby."

The Underdark/Shadow Lands are teeming with all sorts of unpleasant creatures that dwarves, in their perpetual quest to delve too greedily and too deep, often have to deal with. If it's not the matriarchal, demon-worshiping, spider-fetish dark elves, it's their bald, even less charismatic kin, the deurgar. But that isn't where the fun stops. Umber hulks, bulettes, purple worms, and the ever-charming Mind Flayers are just a few of the bumps in the eternal night that are waiting just beneath every dwarven  city.
"From the makers of Dwarven Light; we introduce you Dwarven Dark Stout."

Badass Names
One cannot look at a dwarf's name without quietly wishing you had such a badass name. With old chesnuts like Thoradin Orc-hewer, Dain Stoneshield, Klad Redhammer, and my personal favorite; Grundy Thunderfist, it is hard to deny the badassery of a dwarf's name. All you have to do is think of a fun, harsh-sounding first name, and two fun kickass things to slap together for the last name, like Ironbones or Goblinspliter.

Badass Afterlife
When dwarves die (and it is rarely from sickness), their souls often return to their primary God, often referred to as the Soul Forger. They are then worked back into reality as new dwarves by s deity's cosmic hammer. However, a goodly number of dwarves like to fight, and some pray to their God of War, which is like a normal God of War, only shorter and infinitely more badass. The followers of that God will follow him or her on an endless crusade, killing celestial giants in an eternal war.

Dwarves are metal. And mean that literally too.

Many times, when a dwarf dies, their kin still have a body to deal with. Most bury theirs, but if you live in the ground, and are perpetually digging up the ground, then it stands to reason that the ground is the place you want to avoid putting corpses. So, if you were a living embodiment of Viking metal, what would you do with your dead?

 "Kick their ass, Grandpa!"

If your answer was burned their bodies and work their ashes into weapons and armor of exceptional caliber so they might still rush into battle, then by golly you are right. Even in death, dwarves are still kicking ass and taking names.

Personality Of A Typical Dwarf
Dwarves are typically friendly and proud, if not a bit gruff. They are warriors, even their mages, they often have a deep connection with their clan, their people, their God, and their home, whatever ancestral hall that might be. They are extremely loyal, and when a dwarf gives their word, it is not some idle saying, but a binding contract. This works against enemies as much as it works for allies.

 "You know you hail from a badass people when your clergy look like this."

Dwarves like to create things, be it works of stone, steel, or even a legacy. They long-lived, but make fast friends, and powerful allies. Any good deed done for a dwarf is not soon forgotten, and may be remembered for several hundred years.

Personality Of An A-Typical Dwarf 
Some dwarves don't fit into the mold as well as the others. They can be grim, unfriendly, and downright xenophobic. Some are overcome with a wanderlust that them far from the mountains. These dwarves often come to prefer the new places they visit, like vast deserts, lush forests, or even the open sea. A good portion may not even desire to craft things, and could care little for the make of various arms and armors.

While some see dwarves as drunken fools, the a-typical dwarf may find tea more  to their liking, or a glass of wine. They may be more reserved than their kin, or frailer. Some may even be more friendly, regarding everything with a degree of mirth and merriment, bordering on an almost sing-songy personality.

Why Dwarf Is The Right Race For You
If you want to play a hardy, proud race that can take as much punishment as the other guy can dish out, that hails from some of the most hardcore people to walk above, or below the earth, then do yourself a favor; fill up that mug, sharpen that axe, braid that beard and play yourself one helluva
member of the stout folk!

Roll well, my friends,
 +Ed The Bard

Looking for more resources on dwarves? Maybe you'd like to rock out with another race? Either way, the Open Gaming Store has you covered with a mountain of affordable aids to help you be all the player you can be. Just tell them Ed The Bard sent you.

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