Dungeons and Dragons Character Races – Dwarves
Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go…
We all know about dwarves from such classics as Snow White and more so Lord of the Rings. Really, Lord of the Rings is the basis for so much of Dungeons and Dragons, because it is the basis for so much fantasy in general. Dungeons and Dragons has built upon it, to really build out the dwarven structure of society that you don’t really fully see in Lord of the Rings.
Dwarves tend to live in a pretty rigidly structured society, and that’s one of the defining features. I think that Wizards of the Coast recommend that dwarves are lawful in their alignment. This comes because dwarves are generally part of a large family group and so you have certain family expectations to live up to.
Dwarves also live for a longer than human life span. It’s not as long as elves, but dwarves still live for several hundred years. Instead of taking that time out to go adventuring, they are going to be working on honing their skills to create their masterpiece, whether that is some ale, sword, piece of armor, etc., that work is how you’re going to get recognized as a dwarf in your society.
Even with that, dwarven society is rigid. So while you can probably work your way up the societal ranks by creating a masterpiece, the amount of time you have to work on that is going to be low if you’re in a lower rung of a family. However, being in a family is very important, you could also call it a clan, though they are generally set-up as a family group from ages ago. If you are clanless, you are an outcast who other dwarves really look down upon. You’d be hoping that someone will invite you into their clan so that you can have some standing in your life.
And I think that’s one of they key points, dwarves really like order in their lives. A dwarven adventurer is going to be seen as a bit of an outcast from normal dwarven society and might have troubles coming home again, if they just up and left their clan. However, clans will most certainly send out dwarves to adventure to help maintain stability, to spread the word of dwarven deities, and to look for some great treasure that would be the centerpiece for the clans standing among the other clans.
Mechanically, dwarves are slower than other races such as humans and elves, but their make up for that by having a bonus to constitution. You really get the double down on constitution with some of the dwarven sub races which get more HP per level on average than other races playing a similar class. Dwarves also have advantage against being poisoned, and even if they do end up being poisoned, they are poisoned less. You also gain some proficiency with various tools and weapons to start, so if you are playing a class that wouldn’t get access to some weapons, you now are going to have access to them.
But let’s talk about some Dwarven backstories…
My clan is the black sheep of clans. We generally deserve our reputation. Our clan is known for employing shady methods of gathering trinkets. If something goes missing in your clan, it might show up in our clan a generation later, I’m not saying how it got there, but it might happen. I, with my particular set of skills, got asked not just by my clan, but by the clans as a whole to head out into the world. The older generation said it felt like there was some changes on the wind that might be an issue for us. They were possibly also tired of me taking their stuff.
Alignment: Lawful Evil/Lawful Neutral
I miss my little blacksmithing shop. It was a quaint little place that gave me peace, but I can’t ever see it again. I was kicked out of my clan for a misunderstanding. I had started to build up a name for myself and go up in the clan, which was getting on the nerves of some of the family members who were closer to the main family. I was set-up on day when one of the nobles staged it so that I thought I saw an assault in progress. I snapped and used my smithing hammer and killed a dwarf before they could stop me. The whole issue came out, and while the noble was punished, for my crimes I was exiled. Now I’m searching for a treasure or something that will get me back into my old clan so I can go back to my black smith shop.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral/Lawful Good
Background: Guild Artisan
All praise Moradin, the god of Dwarves who heats our forges and makes our armor and weapons strong. Brothers and Sisters who have fallen away, I am coming for you. My clan has sent me out from our sanctuary against the ravages of the underdark in a time of need when the Drow and Duegar attack. I am coming when I can to bring you back to your faith and stop whatever or whomever is driving you away from your faith. That was the letter that I sent out two years ago, I’ve been on the road every since. I know that just showing up as a lowly member of Moradin’s church will not grant me an audience with someone so fully corrupted. I seek a way to show Moradin’s power to them.
Alignment: Lawful Good
Dwarves are an interesting race to think about and give good role playing opportunities if you lean into some of their traits. I didn’t talk about the rivalry/dislike between dwarves and elves, because I did in the elf article last week.
Have you played a dwarf in a D&D game? How have you built your dwarf up?
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