Dwarves are known for their skill in warfare, their ability to withstand physical and magical punishment, their knowledge of the earth's secrets, their hard work, and their capacity for drinking ale. Their mysterious kingdoms, carved out from the insides of mountains, are renowned for the marvelous treasures that they produce as gifts or for trade.
Personality: Dwarves are slow to laugh or jest and suspicious of strangers, but they are generous to those few who earn their trust. Dwarves value gold, gems, jewelry, and art objects made with these precious materials, and they have been known to succumb to greed. They fight neither recklessly nor timidly, but with a careful courage and tenacity. Their sense of justice is strong, but at its worst it can turn into a thirst for vengeance. Among gnomes, who get along famously with dwarves, a mild oath is "If I'm lying, may I cross a dwarf."
Physical Description: Dwarves stand only 4 to 4 1/2 feet tall, but they are so broad and compact that they are, on average, almost as heavy as humans. Dwarven men are slightly taller and noticeably heavier than dwarven women. Dwarves' skin is typically deep tan or light brown, and their eyes are dark. Their hair is usually black, gray, or brown, and worn long. Dwarven men value their beards highly and groom them very carefully. Dwarves favor simple styles for their hair, beards, and clothes. Dwarves are considered adults at about age 50, and they can live to be over 400 years old.
Relations: Dwarves get along fine with gnomes, and passably with humans, half-elves, and halflings. Dwarves say, "The difference between an acquaintance and a friend is about a hundred years." Humans, with their short life spans, have a hard time forging truly strong bonds with dwarves. The best dwarf-human friendships are between a human and a dwarf who liked the human's parents and grandparents. Dwarves fail to appreciate elves' subtlety and art, regarding elves as unpredictable, fickle, and flighty. Still, elves and dwarves have, through the ages, found common cause in battles against orcs, goblins, and gnolls, and elves have earned the dwarves' grudging respect. Dwarves mistrust half-orcs in general, and the feeling is mutual. Luckily dwarves are fair-minded, and they grant individual half-orcs the opportunity to prove themselves.
Alignment: Dwarves are usually lawful, and they tend toward good. Adventuring dwarves are less likely to fit the common mold, however, since they're more likely to be those who did not fit perfectly into dwarven society.
Dwarven Lands: Dwarven kingdoms are usually deep beneath the stony faces of mountains, where the dwarves mine gems and precious metals and forge items of wonder. Trustworthy members of other races are welcome here, though some parts of these lands are off limits even to them. Whatever wealth the dwarves can't find in their mountains they gain through trade. Dwarves dislike water travel, so enterprising humans frequently handle trade in dwarven goods when travel is along a water route.
Dwarves in human lands are typically mercenaries, weaponsmiths, armorsmiths, jewelers, and artisans. Dwarf bodyguards are renowned for their courage and loyalty, and they are well rewarded for their virtues.
Religion: The chief deity of the dwarves is Moradin, the Soul Forger. He is the creator of the dwarves, and he expects his followers to work for the betterment of the dwarven race. Specialty cleric: Justice Hammer of Moradin
Language: Dwarves speak Dwarven, which has its own runic script. Dwarven literature is marked by comprehensive histories of kingdoms and wars through the millennia. The Dwarven alphabet is also used (with minor variations) for the Gnome, Giant, Goblin, Orc, and Terran languages.
Dwarves often speak the languages of their friends (humans and gnomes) and enemies. Some also learn Terran, the strange language of earth-based creatures such as xorn.
Names: A dwarf's name is granted to him by his clan elder, in accordance with tradition. Every proper dwarven name has been used and reused down through the generations. A dwarf's name is not his own. It belongs to his clan. If he misuses it or brings shame to it, his clan will strip him of it. A dwarf stripped of his name is forbidden by dwarven law to use any dwarven name in its place.
Male Names: Barendd, Brottor, Eberk, Einkil, Oskar, Rurik, Taklinn, Traubon, Ulfgar, and Veit.
Female Names: Artin, Audhild, Dagnal, Diesa, Gunnloda, Hlin, Ilde, Liftrasa, Sannl, and Torgga.
Clan Names: Balderk, Dankil, Gorunn, Holderhek, Lodert, Lutgehr, Rumnaheim, Srrakeln, Torunn, and Ungart.
Adventurers: A dwarven adventurer may be motivated by crusading zeal, a love of excitement, or simple greed. As long as his accomplishments bring honor to his clan, his deeds earn him respect and status. Defeating giants and claiming powerful magic weapons are sure ways for a dwarf to earn the respect of other dwarves.
Dwarven Racial Traits
- +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma: Dwarves are stout and tough but tend to be gruff and reserved.
- Medium-size: As Medium-size creatures, dwarves have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Dwarven base speed is 20 feet.
- Darkvision: Dwarves can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and dwarves can function just fine with no light at all.
- Stonecunning: Stonecunning grants dwarves a +2 racial bonus on checks to notice unusual stonework, such as sliding walls, stonework traps, new construction (even when built to match the old), unsafe stone surfaces, shaky stone ceilings, and the like. Something that isn't stone but that is disguised as stone also counts as unusual stonework. A dwarf who merely comes within 10 feet of unusual stonework can make a check as if he were actively searching, and a dwarf can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can. A dwarf can also intuit depth, sensing his approximate depth underground as naturally as a human can sense which way is up. Dwarves have a sixth sense about stonework, an innate ability that they get plenty of opportunity to practice and hone in their underground homes.
- +2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison: Dwarves are hardy and resistant to toxins.
- +2 racial bonus on saving throws against spells and spell-like effects.
- +1 racial bonus to attack rolls against orcs and goblinoids (goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears): Dwarves are trained in the special combat techniques that allow them to fight their common enemies more effectively.
- +4 dodge bonus against giants: This bonus represents special training that dwarves undergo, during which they learn tricks that previous generations developed in their battles with giants. Note that any time a character loses his positive Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, such as when he's caught flat-footed, he loses his dodge bonus, too.
- +2 racial bonus on Appraise checks that are related to rare or exotic items: Dwarves are familiar with valuable items of all kinds (especially those made of stone or metal).
- +2 racial bonus on Craft checks that are related to stone or metal: Dwarves are especially capable with stonework and metalwork.
- Automatic Languages: Common and Dwarven. Bonus Languages: Giant, Gnome, Goblin, Orc, Terran, and Undercommon. Dwarves are familiar with the languages of their enemies and of their subterranean allies.
In the Realms
Dwarves ruled vast kingdoms beneath hill and mountain long before humans wandered into Faerûn. Many sages suspect that the first dwarves came to Faerûn millennia ago in a great migration from another plane. However, it occurred so long ago that evidence of it is almost nonexistent, and meanwhile the dwarves are now as natural a part of Faerûn as the mountains themselves. The two main dwarven subraces are the shield dwarves of northern Faerûn and the gold dwarves of the far south. The gray dwarves, or duergar, are an Underdark race less common than their surface kindred. The gray dwarves are generally evil, although a few exiles defy this rule.
Male dwarves of any type take pride in their beards, the most remarkable of any race. Some female dwarves of Faerûn can grow beards, too, often passing as males among the nondwarves of the surface lands. Dwarven women may choose to shave their beards to match human-style expectations of beauty, while others glory in luxurious plaited beards that match their hair or wear sharply cut goatees.
For many generations the dwarven race declined in numbers from endless wars with orcs and their kin. However, in the Year of Thunder (1306 DR), the great god Moradin bestowed a new blessing upon his people. The dwarves tell different stories about the source of this blessing, which they refer to as the Forge or the Thunder Blessing. Some say that it was the result of a mighty quest by a dwarven heroine. Others say that Moradin had planned to reforge his peoples' souls all along. Whatever the source of the blessing, the birthrate among dwarves has soared until it is now fully half as high as that of a young and vigorous human land.
The new dwarven generation is commonly referred to as the thunder children. Nearly a fifth of dwarven births after the Thunder Blessing have resulted in identical or fraternal twins. The thunder children share little of the fear and distrust of arcane magic possessed by their ancestors. Most dwarves still feel more comfortable wielding an axe instead of a wand, but many thunder children, particularly the twins, study wizardry or the sorcerer's arts.
In the past few years, these thunder children have come of age, and dwarves are once again a common sight in Faerûn. Many young stout folk leave their homes in groups of a hundred or more to found new clans in hills unclaimed by other dwarves. Others have chosen to wander the world, seeking glory and wealth.
Unlike the shield dwarves, the gold dwarves maintained their great kingdom in the Great Rift and did not decline in terrible wars against evil humanoids. While they practiced some magic, they never acquired the hubris that caused the downfall of some human nations. Confident and secure in their remote home, the gold dwarves gained a reputation for haughtiness and pride.
Since the Thunder Blessing, many young gold dwarves have left the Great Rift and are exploring the rest of Faerûn. The folk of other lands have learned that while some gold dwarves are aloof and suspicious, for the most part they are forthright warriors and shrewd traders.
Regions: The ancestral home of the gold dwarves is the Great Rift, located in the dry plains of the Shaar. Gold dwarven outposts can also be found in the Smoking Mountains of Unther and in the Giant's Run Mountains west of the Vilhon Reach. (See Dwarven Regions.)
Racial Abilities: Gold dwarves have all the dwarven racial traits listed above except as follows:
- +2 Constitution, -2 Dexterity: Gold dwarves are stout and tough, but not as quick or agile as other races.
- +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against aberrations: Gold dwarves are trained in special combat techniques against the many bizarre creatures that live in the Underdark. This replaces the attack bonus against orcs and gobinoids.)
- Automatic Languages: Dwarven, Common, home region. Bonus Languages: Giant, Gnome, Goblin, Shaaran, Terran, Untheric.
The sculpted halls and echoing chambers of dwarven kingdoms are scattered through the Underdark like forgotten necklaces of semiprecious stones. Dwarven kingdoms such as Xonathanur, Oghrann, and Gharraghaur taught the less civilized races of Faerûn what it meant to hold and wield power. Unlike the ancient human empires, the dwarves distrusted magic, so they were never seduced to the heights of magical folly that toppled Netheril and Irnaskar. Instead, the dwarves became locked in eternal wars with goblin-kind and the other dwellers in the Underdark. One by one, the dwarven empires of the north failed, leaving only scattered survivors in the mountains or unconquered sections of the Underdark.
The clans that survived these battles are the shield dwarves. For many human generations they were divided into two types: the Hidden, given to reclusion and secrecy, and the Wanderers, comfortable with other races and inclined to exploration. Since the Thunder Blessing, the older members of Hidden clans are beginning to change their hearts. Within a few decades the differences between Hidden and Wanderer may become meaningless.
Regions: Shield dwarven holds exist in Damara, Impiltur, the North, the Silver Marches, Vaasa, the Vast, and the Western Heartlands. Citadel Adbar (north and east of Silverymoon, but counted as in that region for these purposes) is the most famous shield dwarven city. Most shield dwarven characters select one of these homelands as their native region. (See Dwarven Regions.)
Racial Abilities: Shield dwarves have all the dwarven racial traits above except as follows:
- Automatic Languages: Dwarven, Common, home region. Bonus Languages: Chondathan, Draconic, Giant, Goblin, Illuskan, Orc.
- Dwarves at War
- Dream Dwarves
- Mountain Ghosts
- Aleithian Dwarves (deep dwelling psionic dwarves)