Posts Tagged With: Mountain Dwarves

Do dwarves take baths…?

So, the other day a picture of a chinchilla came up on my Tumblr, and I was struck for a moment by the image of one taking a dust bath. I immediately wondered if dwarves took dust baths? Do dwarves bathe? They don’t like deep water, they pretty much can’t swim (too dense), and the big reason to take a bath is because of sweat and I didn’t even know (because I’d never thought of it) if dwarves even sweat…

I kind of liked the idea though, the idea of dust baths and maybe filing away callouses and the like – or just a really good pumice scraping. So I took the idea to my dwarf player, KT, and talked it over with her. She kind of liked the idea as well, and after some discussion of physiological issues involved (no sweating means different ways of shedding heat, etc) we decided that it was a fine idea and added to it. Dwarves take dust baths, as well as baths with sand or some other coarse abrasive when they need to get rid of stains or caked on whatever. They have generally use pumice or a file to remove calluses and trim nails, and occasionally will slake themselves in oil and scrape themselves down – plus they’ll use oils on their beards occasionally to help shaped them and otherwise keep them healthy after being soaked in water to avoid lighting on fire at the forge.

Dwarves tend to keep their beards tucked into pouches, soaked in water, when they work at the forge in order to keep them safe. I can’t remember if that’s an old Ed Greenwood detail, or one that came from some old Tolkien illustration, but I distinctly remember liking it from somewhere, somewhen.

In fact, the only dwarves who are ever likely to actually wash with water are Hill Dwarves, because they are travelling so often. They don’t like it, and are likely to look a bit dirtier than the average Mountain Dwarf or Dwimmervolk for that reason – which of course adds to their reputation as being the “poor relatives” and vagrants who are at least (thankfully) better then those filthy, clanless and honorbroken Druegar…

We also decided that whatever the temperature regulation mechanism was for dwarven physiology, they just weren’t as bothered by temperature ranges from an comfort level. They aren’t resistant to heat or cold, but their “comfort zone” was far broader than that of a human.




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Dwarven Bardic Spell List

So, I’ve been in the midst of trying to figure how a Ilda, the Dwarven Bard, successfully made a “God-call” to get her out of a seriously nasty jam. In the process I was taking a serious look at the Bardic spell list in the Player’s Handbook as was struck at how odd some of the spells were for dwarves in my game world. The nice thing about 5E is that there is a unified set of levels for spells – spellcasters get nine, lesser spellcasters get five, and the quasi-casters (archtypes) get four. Also unlike 1E, spells don’t change level depending upon what class they are.

So, looking at the list, and thinking about Dwarves, here is their modified spell list:

  • Cantrips
    • Remove Dancing Lights, Minor Illusion
    • Add Produce Flame, Magic Stone
  • First Level
    • Remove Longstrider, Silent Image, Unseen Servant
    • Add Absorb Elements, Bless, Earth Tremor
  • Second Level
    • Remove Phantasmal Force
    • Add Arcane Lock
  • Third Level
    • Remove Leomund’s Tiny Hut, Major Image
    • Add Glyph of Warding, Meld Into Stone
  • Fourth Level
    • Remove Dimension Door, Hallucinatory Terrain, Polymorph
    • Add Conjure Minor Elementals, Stone Shape, Stoneskin
  • Fifth Level
    • Remove Dominate Person, Teleportation Circle
    • Add Passwall, Wall of Stone
  • Sixth Level
    • Remove Programmed Illusion
    • Add Move Earth
  • Seventh Level
    • Remove Etherealness, Mirage Arcane, Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion, Project Image, Teleport
    • Add Antimagic Field, Antipathy/Sympathy, Reverse Gravity, Sequester, Symbol
  • Eighth Level
    • Remove Dominate Monster
    • Add Earthquake
  • Ninth Level
    • Remove True Polymorph
    • Add Imprisonment

So, as you can see, less illusion and transport spells, more spells with a rune or earth focus. I also pulled out the Dominate spells because they didn’t fit either.



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Mountain Dwarves, the Dwaedurinar

“The first thing that you humans need to remember if you would treat with us is that we are a honorable people, with traditions that go back to the Deeps of the First Age. The second thing to remember is to forget what you know of the Dwimmervolk that dwell in your cities, they are shield-brothers and axe-kin, and skilled in their own way, but we are earth-blooded and stone-boned and  do not suffer foolishness in our dealings with others. Third, we dwarves are forged by the riddle of steel and we have hewn down more goblins, trolls, and worse in the Deeps than have ever walked the surface in our search for the answer to the riddle of steel. The last thing that deserves consideration is that you humans seem to think that we have a need of you.

We don’t.”  – Thralin Deepingaxe, Ambassador to the Gynarch of T’zarr.


As can be seen, Mountain Dwarves are a proud, dour, and taciturn race of warriors. They are devoted to their craft, have a deep and abiding hated of goblins, trolls, and worse, all with a darker reputation for greed and jealousy. Now, there are other Dwarves elsewhere, the Dwimmervolk that dwell primarily aboveground and in human cities, the ash-skinned and black-eyed Dwarrow of the Shadowlands and the scions of lost various Dwarven kingdoms known as the Hill Dwarves, but the Mountain Dwarves, the Dwarves of the Underdark, or the Dwaedurinar as they call themselves in their own language, think of themselves as the true Dwarves and the keepers and inheritors of the greatest secrets of their race – which includes some of the most technologically advanced secrets known to mortals. Known as the “Mountain Folk” or the “Kings Under The Mountains” because the upper reaches of their cities inhabit the exposed spine of the world. Dwarven society itself is divided along family and clan lines, and then further organized into kingdoms – though the reviled outcasts known as Derrokin always scrabble at the edges. They are an intensely private people, who keep their language and lore secret from outsiders and rarely trust non-Dwarves with anything of value.

Statistic Modifiers: +1 Strength, +1 Constitution, -2 Charisma

Languages: Local Human Language, Dwarrune, Dark Tongue, Trollish.

Appearance: Mountain Dwarves stand 4′ tall (+2d4″), and weigh 130 lbs (x2d6). They are Medium in Size and their Speed is 25 (though they are not slowed by Heavy Armor). They tend to have stout builds and pale skin with a stone-like hue. Even young Dwarves tend to have features that look old by human standards, with deep lines and pronounced features, but this is not universal. Dwarven hair begins in generally dark hues, with occasional reds and blonds, but as in humans, it goes gray or white as the Dwarf ages. Dwarves tend to wear their beards and hair long, often with simple braiding to keep it of the way in forge or fight. The Dwarven beard is a mark of pride and honor and insulting a Dwarf’s beard is a tried and true method of starting a fight with not just that Dwarf, but all their kin as well if it is dire enough. Dwarven eyes are dark, blacks, browns, and greys, but they glitter underneath craggy brows.

Common Dress: Mountain Dwarves prefer an extremely utilitarian style of clothing, commonly wearing trousers, heavy boots, and short sleeved shirts or vests made of leather and finely woven wool. When travelling hooded cloaks are popular, and most dwarves wear a fair amount of jewelry in the way of bracers, necklaces, armbands, and hair and beard rings. Clothing tends to be in browns, dark blues and darker greens, with brighter colors common in travelling cloaks and fest clothing – the only colors that are uncommon and blacks and whites.

Lifespan: Mountain Dwarves are young adults at age 40, considered mature adults at around age 60, and can live up to 525 years of age. They generally begin play at 40 + 5d4 years of age.

Common Culture: Clan and Family are of the utmost importance to Dwarves, accompanied by being a productive member of society. The only members of society that are not expected to remain an active artisan are priests and soldiers (and they usually do so anyway is some small way so deep is this value instilled in Dwarven culture). Dwarves have an even more deeply held prejudice against the practice of Arcane magic save through a scant few methods (Alchemy, Divination, and Runic Magic being the foremost, the Truesmith bloodline being the other). One oddity of the Dwarven race is that Dwarves do not have a gendered society, not that there are no male or female dwarves by sexual characteristics, but by language and thought they have no gender – though each dwarf has an acknowledged parent, and some dwarves may assume a gender to simplify relations with humans.

Common Backgrounds: Acolyte, Folk Hero, Guild Artisan, Noble, Ordinary Man, Outcast, Skald, and Soldier all make suitable Backgrounds for Mountain Dwarves that require minimal explanation.

Naming Conventions: Dwarven names can potentially go back hundreds of generations, though only the skalds or the priests generally know anything beyond about twenty generations or so, and are considered the property of the clan, not the dwarf themselves – when exiled they are cut off from any connection to their former family. Dwarves give state their name in the following lineal fashion:

<Given Name> <Nickname(s)>, <Honorific(s)>

Born of (Parent), of the Clan of <Clan Name>,in the line of <Dynastic Forebear>,

<Rank & Guild Membership>, Great Clan of <Great Clan Name>, in the Kingdom of <Kingdom Name>.

Iterations of the “Child of Parent” can go back as long as preferred, along with acknowledgements of changes in the lineage of that ancestors clan and dynastic forbear. Many Dwarves have nicknames attached to their names, granted by the clan-mates and friends. There is no limit to the number of nicknames that a dwarf can accumulate, but few save the most renowned gain one or perhaps two. Honorifics note special status, such as being Stoneborn, a Truesmith, and special religious status (clergy or champion). Dwarves also specifically note their guild membership as part of their name, which will include their rank or status within that guild. At a bare minimum, dwarves will relate Given Name along with Parent and Clan, anything less is considered rude and anything obscuring (but not a lie, which is dishonorable) is considered an insult (“Ragnarn, of the Dwarves”) as it implies that the addressee cannot be trusted.

Common Alignments: Dwarven culture promotes Lawful ethics and Good morals as the ideal, though there are plenty of more Neutral and even Evil Dwarves. Dwarven psychics, Wizards, and Sorcerers tend to be Chaotic in alignment, as their very nature puts them at odds with many of the most tightly held Dwarven beliefs and attitudes. Most chaotic Dwarves will effectively voluntarily exile themselves rather than risk being labeled Derrokin and have their names struck from the rolls of their families.

Common Religions: Dwarven religion is an even more private matter than the rest of their affairs. Dwarves have a great deal of reverence for the Great Gods and even a grudging respect the human religions of the En Khoda Theos Kirk (the Great Elemental Dragons), but their primary spiritual pursuit is pursuing “the riddle of steel” though “forging their souls” by trial and perseverance. They also venerate their ancestors, living and dead, holding up the best and the worst as exemplars of the best and worst of Dwarven nature. Dwarven Priests are the “Ancestor Lords” – those that have a special connection to the Ancestors, while Dwarven Oracles are skilled with both Runes and “Stonesight”. Dwarven Bards are Lorekeepers and Runesingers, all working with chants, runes, and primarily drums and harps as instruments to bolster morale, speed up work, and hone battlefury as needed.

Common Classes: Preferred — Cleric (War or Knowledge), Fighter, Ranger (Hunter); Common — Barbarian (Berserker), Bard, Paladin (Honor or Vengeance); Uncommon — Druid, Rogue (Scout), Sorcerer (Truesmith); Rare — Monk, Warlock; Very Rare — Wizard

Common Professions: Mountain Dwarf culture is entirely self-sufficient, so any profession is possible. That said, Mountain Dwarves have a reputation as metal and stoneworkers and their smithwork is fabled in human lands and history and all Dwarves have a certain basic knowledge of these fields. Unlike human society (let alone Elven) Dwarven ethics do not allow a leisure class, and even Dwarven nobles work to excel at a craft of some sort – that being the highest of all aspirations of a Dwarf. All Dwarves are also all skilled warriors though few will make a sole profession of arms.

Racial Traits

Darkvision: Accustomed to life underground, Dwarves have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. They can see in dim light up to 60′ as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light. They cannot discern colors in darkness, merely varying shades of grey.

Dwarven Resilience: Dwarves have Advantage on all saving throws against poison, and have Resistance to poison as well.

Dwarven Toughness: Dwarves have a +1 to Hit Points at each level, with an increased maximum of one for each level as well.

Bearers of Burdens: Dwarves increase their Encumbrance by 150%.

Stonecunning: When Mountain Dwarves make an Intelligence (History) check related to the origin of stonework, they are considered proficient in the History skill and gain double their normal Proficiency bonus to the check.

Perfectionists: Dwarves are the foremost artisans of any other race save in one aspect, they are perfectionist by nature and producing work takes them twice times as long (and often longer) and it also takes them twice times the cost. Similarly, it takes them twice as long and cost to learn new tool sets, instruments, etc.

Long Memories: The Dwarves are a proud people, and they hold both grudges and debts dear – long past when most others would consider reasonable. They also have consider debts (good and ill) to be transitive for at least seven generations – something which has caused many a problem for lesser-lived races.

Dwarven Skill at Arms: All Mountain Dwarves are skilled in Light and Medium Armour, and in the use of Hammers, Handaxes, Warhammers, and Battle Axes.

Dwarven Work Ethic: All Dwarves can choose one of the following artisan tool sets to be proficient in: Armorsmith, Blacksmith, Brewer, Engraver, Jeweler, Leatherworker, Mason, or Miner.

Special Vulnerabilities: In bright light or direct sunlight, Mountain  Dwarves have Disadvantage on attack rolls and visual Perception checks when they or the target they are trying to attack or perceive are in bright light or direct sunlight past 30′ of distance.

Psionics: Yes.

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