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Pragmatic 09-17-2017 10:30 AM

Our dwarves are different
 
Since there's a lot of threads about dwarves, I thought I'd make my own to get inspiration...

I'm getting a pretty good handle on how I want elves to be. EVERYONE talks about elves, so it's easy to "data mine" (plagiarize) from dozens of sources.

Spoiler:  


But what about dwarves? What makes dwarves unique in your universe? How did they come to be? What defines them? How are they different from "short humans, lives underground, likes gold, gruff, Scottish accent"?

whswhs 09-17-2017 10:41 AM

Re: Our dwarves are different
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Pragmatic (Post 2123441)
But what about dwarves? What makes dwarves unique in your universe? How did they come to be? What defines them? How are they different from "short humans, lives underground, likes gold, gruff, Scottish accent"?

In my current universe, dwarves are the smallest race, smaller than the hobbit analogs. A typical dwarf has SM -2 and ST 5, though they have Arm ST +1. Low-tech dwarves produce obsidian, chipped flint, and semiprecious stones, and trade for game; higher-tech dwarves produce metals, often bronze, as well as glass and porcelain, and trade for a wider range of goods. I modeled dwarf social behavior on naked mole rates, with a fertile female, maybe two to five fertile males, and a bunch of sterile workers; males trade, guard the mine, and do the heavy work, but females manage both the heart and the smelter, and workers do the chores.

Flyndaran 09-17-2017 02:23 PM

Re: Our dwarves are different
 
Could people no stronger than big house cats knap stone like that or mine effectively?

simply Nathan 09-17-2017 03:50 PM

Re: Our dwarves are different
 
One version of dwarves I had were born fully literate and had to learn speech just like everyone else - which often took longer, due to having a good medium of communication already. All the other races in that setting start using the dwarvish alphabet to write if the interact with them enough since that's easier on everyone, even if they're writing words that look like gibberish to a dwarf who hasn't learned to speak multiple languages yet.

A recurring trend in my dwarves is either to have white beards and black skin or black beards and white skin. Rarely albinos because who needs skin pigments when you spend your whole life underground anyway?

Dwarves with common human skin and hair colors (browns) are dwarves that are at least part human in their recent ancestry - thus, it is half-dwarves that adventurers most commonly are and interact with. Pure dwarves are shorter (3' instead of 4-5') and stronger (ST 14-20 instead of ST 10 + Lifting ST 2) but also liable to turn to stone in the sunlight - you don't know if you have the condition until you've been exposed to the sun so why try? And this is a world with two suns so the day is twice as long as the night.

(E) 09-17-2017 03:58 PM

Re: Our dwarves are different
 
In my setting some Dwarves can pass as short stocky humans if they choose to, in the default time period the race keeps themselves separate from humans. In fact very few humans even know they exist at all.

whswhs 09-17-2017 04:02 PM

Re: Our dwarves are different
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Flyndaran (Post 2123475)
Could people no stronger than big house cats knap stone like that or mine effectively?

Arm ST 6 is about like that of someone weighing 27-42 pounds. That's really quite huge for a house cat; the only cats I've encountered in that weight range were seriously fat. I think it's more like the weight of a raccoon, and they can be pretty strong.

lwcamp 09-17-2017 04:07 PM

Re: Our dwarves are different
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Flyndaran (Post 2123475)
Could people no stronger than big house cats knap stone like that or mine effectively?

Capuchins have been known to chip rocks, producing flakes of rock very similar to those produced by early hominids (although they don't seem to be using the stone flakes for tools).
https://qz.com/816645/these-cute-mon...human-history/

Luke

Flyndaran 09-17-2017 04:12 PM

Re: Our dwarves are different
 
Cats are much stronger for their weight than primates in general and certainly more than comparably sized people.
And some Maine Coons top 20-25 lbs without being obese. My Cerberus wasn't quite that big but did knock down an adult man braced for impact by kicking off the wall. While anecdotal, it does suggest how powerful kitties can be.

I did say, "big house cats", so I wasn't even acting my too often hyperbolic self. (I'm working on it, but have a way to go.)

Now I'm imagining a fantasy setting where the miners are cat-people. Small, hunched, powerful, eat the mine rats, because they like to...
That would make "our dwarves are different" quite true.

mlangsdorf 09-17-2017 05:38 PM

Re: Our dwarves are different
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Pragmatic (Post 2123441)
But what about dwarves? What makes dwarves unique in your universe? How did they come to be? What defines them? How are they different from "short humans, lives underground, likes gold, gruff, Scottish accent"?

My dwarves almost always have German accent =) or speak fairly incomprehensible pig-German.

I've dwarves in the past that were miners, but absolutely did not live underground: as miners, they were tragically aware of the consequences of tunnels collapsing, and they wanted no part of that in their homes.

I've also used dwarves that are not born, but carved from stone and magically painted to imbue them with life. I'm especially fond of this variant, because it explains why there are so many variations in what a dwarf can look like: each sculptor can create his or her own child, and give them long arms or wide torsos or whatever. I think I borrowed this idea from the Arcanum video game, but I can't find a reference on their wiki.

Finally, my dwarves physically are based on Joel Rosenberg's version: 6' tall men with 2' chopped off their legs. This gives them proportions more like gorillas than humans, with long torsos and arms for their height and short legs.

robkelk 09-17-2017 07:11 PM

Re: Our dwarves are different
 
Go back to the source: the dvergr of Svartalfheim in Norse mythology. They live underground, and they're good with tools. That's all these dwarfs have in common with D&D dwarves.

Dvergr are intensely magical - they created Thor's hammer Mj÷lnir, Odin's spear Gungnir, Freyr's ship SkÝ­bla­nir, and many other artifacts of immense magical power.

Four dvergr have lent their names to the cardinal directions of the compass: Austri, Vestri, Nor­ri, and Su­ri (“East,” “West,” “North,” and “South”) hold the sky off the ground. This is an example of both their strength and their height - dvergr are not short.

Their skin is pitch black. They might or might not have beards. And their accent is Norse, not Scottish.

More at https://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/dwarves/ , from which I cribbed most of the above.


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