Monday, September 15, 2014

Not your Dwarves

The dwarf in D&D has become thoroughly cartoonified.  In an act of resistance here are some ideas for dwarves in your campaigns.

Dwarves . . .
  1. have no teeth and so must carry mouths full of rocks to grind up their food.  It's hard to understand the words coming from their drooling mouths.
  2. are made by cutting children in half.  Thus there are two types: Big Head and Long Shank.
  3. shrink and wither as they accumulate wealth.  Gnomes are just very wealthy dwarves.
  4. grow and become senile as they age.  Giants are ancient dwarves.
  5. fall in love with beautiful objects and will follow the owner of one, relentlessly, watching from the shadows, for that owner's whole life.
  6. eat gold and gems, the beautiful objects on display in a Dwarven Hall are a feast about to begin.
  7. are made when a powerful Titan is shattered into its seven aspects.  Thus all dwarves are of one of seven types: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.
  8. go through seven phases as they age. See 7.
  9. are made when children are killed in sight of a paladin.
  10. are the sin shadow of righteous men, becoming more twisted as the the other becomes more good.
  11. are the offspring of a human and a demon.  The name dwarves call themselves is Tiefling.
  12. are the stunted offspring of any user of magic of 5th lvl or higher foolish enough to try and reproduce with their tainted seed.
  13. live short lives and all look alike, tunneling in their ant-like warrens.  Dragons are the queens or dwarf hives.
  14. are created each time a saint is carved, the stone chipped away assembling in the dark.
  15. are made when an ape is taught to pray.
  16. have golden bones.
  17. grow hair in the sun.
  18. are drunk when they're sober.
  19. shit copper nuggets.
  20. are made when people sing unfinished songs.
  21. are the true chosen of God.  Men are the weak seed of giants.
  22. were made in finite number and do not breed- each one killed is one less left.
  23. can only see two feet ahead with their small eyes and are always lost.
  24. are all blind.
  25. hear gold humming in the rocks and can dig right to it.
  26. only use castaway tools and clothes.
  27. sleep through spring.
  28. have roots for hair and, if buried, will grow into Elves.
  29. are made when master smiths work in pain.  Thus dwarves are each obsessed with making one object over and over and over.
  30. don't exist in the world, you fool.


  1. Excellent work. I thoroughly enjoy these.

  2. Nice! I'm thinking of basing mine off the duergars of Simonside. I really like the idea of making all demi-humans a little dark, even if they aren't outright evil

  3. Surely Warhammer is to blame for dwarven cartoonishness.

    1. I'll also throw in and say the Warcraft franchise is partly responsible for cartoon dwarves.

  4. These are really great. Lots of adventure ideas.

  5. Thanks, all.

    @Alec & DMW: I'm wondering if it is also just a necessary development of having a standardized ruleset, sort of the way everyone knows armor as leather, chain, plate, and scale, when real armor was much more complicated than these crude categorizations.

    After making this post, I remembered about 4 years ago the OSR had a thing going where they made charts with "all elves/haflings/dwarves in this campaign world are . . ." Anyone remember those, or have links?


    2. Aha, thank you! I wasn't mad, it was about 4 years ago.

  6. Once played in a game where dwarves had alcohol-based metabolisms rather than water-based. #18 was essentially in effect.

  7. I add one more from my table:

    ...polymorhped magma elementals, who resurrect in the earth core after they killed and come to the so surfice for _Fire resistance_ magic they use making jewellery and furniture.

  8. Another one. After mistranslating this line:
    "The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,
    While hammers fell like ringing bells. . ."

    I came up with this idea. Dwarves, who dig earth's crust to mine Ore of Time, or Yore, from which they *forge* spells and also magical arms and armors, that can manipulate time and space. To cast spells, you need to buy them from dwarves, but that spells is very, very powerful.

    And dwarves, too. And no one really likes them, because of that. Rumors say, that they want to build Bridge of Time and take over the world.