Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Like My Dwarves Like I Like My Women

That is, not inspired by Tolkien or Peter Jackson.

Because, let's be honest, they have no personalities or characteristics of their own.

There are only three women with actual dialogue in the four main books about Middle Earth, and two of them fall in love with the same guy (barf, have some individual development please). And the third (Galadriel) is so powerful and otherworldly as to be beyond gender entirely. If Tolkien didn't want the leader of the Elves to be indescribably beautiful, he would have made her a man.

This is the problem with Dwarves, as well as countless other races in your standard fantasy games: they could easily be supplanted. In this case, by eccentric humans. If that is true, I say make them humans, or make them more interesting.

Dwarves are just short humans with Scottish accents that like gold. Hell, even living underground is not enough to make them interesting. Think about it: a culture of humans that live underground would interest your players a LOT more than the standard Dwarf civilization. And of course they would value gold and rare earths a lot, that is one of the only natural resources available underground.

Here's how I would do Dwarves:

-Dwarves are deathly afraid of the surface world. Dwarves that go above ground are their race's equivalent to cosmonauts, and have to physiologically adjust over time, too.

-Dwarves cannot swim. They sink like rocks. They can't even be trained to swim. It's just physics.

-Dwarves will go to war with almost anyone to acquire rich mineral veins. Usually, they try to sneak underground and mine the jewels and metals without being noticed, but if they have to fight, or if the city/town above collapses, they usually don't give a fart. (P.S. Some dwarven activists protest this theft of minerals). (P.P.S I'm pretty sure I got this from another blog, but I can't find the link for the life of me.)

-Dwarves are agnostic. No sky = no great and mysterious lights = no creation myths. HOWEVER, the dwarven cosmonauts do worship a long-dead mortal being who trained their first group in the ways of surface living.

-Dwarves eat root vegetables, fungi, and insects only. Not a lot of deer to hunt underground. Not many apple trees either. Dwarven alcohol is made from fermenting these three food groups. No grain-alcohols.

-Dwarves don't smith. [GASP!] Because they don't like digging vents to the surface world, and lighting fires/forges underground is a sure-fire (pun intended) way to die of smoke inhalation. Instead, dwarves have developed a magic system based off of magnetism that allows them to very effectively bind cold-smithed metals together. They make mostly art, architecture, and digging/smithing tools with this magic.

-Native dwarven weapons are stone: they wouldn't dare waste their metals on things made to smash and break. They also wear no armor, because they lack the resources to make suitable light protection (primarily leather).

-Dwarves don't bathe while underground. For them, the feeling of a light layer of dust and dirt on their skin is ideal. The cosmonauts do bathe, but they sand/dirt bathe. Mostly to get the weird green plant matter and occasional moisture off their skin. Gross.

-I see no reason why dwarves should live for many hundreds of years. I'd stick their expected age range between 175 and 200 years.

That's it for today, I'll do Eladrin/High Elves and Wood Elves tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment