Final character race in the Player Handbook. There are plenty more in other books like Xanathar’s Guide to Everything or Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica. I’ll let you explore those as I haven’t explored all of them yet either. Half Elves fall into the category of […]
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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This is an interesting background to look at. Generally, as a player, I’d steer clear of it, unless you wrap your head around a strong concept of why your character isn’t a hermit anymore? The most common way that people use this background that I see is by having a druid or some other nature loving class, have their nature being threatened, then they can come in to a village to get help. That is a good trope in a lot of ways because it gives the dungeon master a nice hook to sink into it for that character and that story. It also is a good concept for a druid build that can naturally be a little bit more stand-off to the real world, and it gives the option of playing a fish out of water.
What else can you do with a Hermit? You have an herbalism kit and you get proficiency with both medicine and religion. That in a lot of ways opens up a bunch of different options that I’ll explore below. But having medicine and religion allows you to go away from as nature focused a character, though most often that will be the direction that people lean. Here are some interesting background ideas that I have for a hermit.
I’ve lived a long time, I’ve seen many things. My life was violence, then tranquility, then learning, then fear, I have seen it all. Now I have taken my seat, a place of rest, high above the lands where I can look down. They call me the wise one, though I have just lived more and am not truly wise. Those who seek my advice and knowledge must journey to see me, and I see them long before they get to me. From my vantage point I have watched the world change, and not for the better, I’ve looked into the horizon and seen a coming storm. My time to move has come again, but my body is loath to take up it’s old forms again. I have rested long enough though, when the time comes, I will be ready, so I make my way down the mountain to seek those who can join me in stopping the oncoming storm.
Alignment: Lawful or True Neutral
On the walls of my hovel hang trophies of a different time. A time where I was not a simple hunter away in the forest, a time where violence tried to consume me whole. I keep them on the walls to remind me of the rage that can consume me, but I do not want to pick them up again. I’ve lived a long while on my own, and life has been peaceful, but now my blood is boiling again. The rage that I have sought to keep in check is spilling out again. My peaceful little world is not something that I can sustain any more, and I do not want to taint it with blood. I pick up my axe from the wall, and I know it is time as it feels right in my hands. I will take my axe, but I will not use it as an all consuming violence, I will instead use it to do what I can to help others. I am the oncoming storm, I pray that I will not break.
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Comments: I really find this concept interesting, playing a character who is fighting against their own nature violence and trying to keep that in balance. Having them go off the deepend and then backing down in a future fight because they are worried it will happen again, that would be an interesting character. There’s also an Incredible Hulk like aspect to it.
I have listened for a long time. I’ve listened to nature, to the voices of the gods on the winds, in the rain, and through the animals. I sought to learn everything that I could from them and to hear the words that they may speak. It was not easy being patient, but that is what I was called to do. Before, when I was at the temple, I was too impetuous and too ready to act and act without thinking, so I was sent out to find patience. I did not find patience at first, I was ready to leave within a day and say that I had found patience. But as I sat and waited, I saw how the trees and grass grew with a focused deliberation, how animals, even though they frolic, did not waste any energy or movement. I finally found patience in year three, but I was not ready to leave, so I stayed, it has been four more years now, and I do not want to leave. But through the winds, the rains, the trees, the animals, the gods have spoken to me. They have told me of a hidden knowledge, more that I must learn that they cannot teach me. So I must return to the temple, and from there I can go seek this knowledge.
Alignment: Lawful Good/Neutral
I’ve heard voices in my head for a long time. They talk to me and eventually I was able to understand them. I was young, and what they were saying sounded tempting. They offered power, fame, money, but I didn’t consider the cost. I got those things, but only for a short period of time as what the voices had me do quickly got the attention of those who were stronger than me and able to stop me. I had no choice but to run, the voices weren’t pleased, and they stopped talking to me. I stayed hidden away in hopes that they wouldn’t talk to me again and for a long time they didn’t. My powers stopped as well, but recently they started talking to me again, and I learned that there was something scarier than them out in the world. I had to make a new deal with them, but my powers are back and I guess it’s my job to help save the world or at least warn the world.
Alignment: Lawful Evil/Chaotic Neutral
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