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mistformsquirrl
2009-08-03, 08:37 PM
So, I've got this kinda nutty idea in my head... as much as I enjoy the classic Viking/Scottish style dwarves - I'd kinda like to do something a bit different with them. Something that - while still utterly recognizable as dwarvish* - is also very different from what we usually think of when we hear "Dwarf" in a fantasy context. So I'm sharing a couple ideas with you fine folks <@_@> to see what you all think.

("You've lost your marbles and the bag they came in" is in fact a valid response >.>)

There are two primary ideas for "alternate" dwarfs as I'm seeing it.

Dwarves as Romans** - The idea here being that dwarven lawfulness is channeled less into family and king; and more into the state in-general - including a loyalty to an elected senate. Clan holds are replaced by more metropolitan cities. Dwarves are still mistrustful of outsiders however; and invaders can expect to be met by extremely well disciplined troops with some of the finest equipment available.

Advantages -

1) Dwarves are cool. Rome is cool. >.> This makes sense.

2) Alignment-wise, they definitely line up on the Lawful part of the spectrum quite handily. The Good <-> Evil spectrum can be adjusted by campaign, depending on what you're looking at; though since I'm aiming for a Roman Republic type feel if I go this route, LN is probably the most logical.

3) An extremely disciplined fighting style makes great sense for dwarves. One can even replace the traditional Gladius with a specialized form of battleaxe to keep them from sliding too much into just being short, hairy Romans.

4) Likewise cavalry and archery weren't really the Roman's forte, neither are they for dwarves usually. Both usually prefer throwing weapons and fighting afoot (hiring mercenary cavalry as necessary; though dwarves usually living underground can avoid that often.)

5) Architecture and equipment construction are extremely important in both cases. In this case dwarves forge fewer genuine masterwork items; but are able to mass-produce high-quality gear in a fashion that would put everyone else to shame. Likewise they'd have technological innovations like aqueducts to keep the cities clean. Add in magic like decanters of endless water and you can get a particularly fantastic system going there.

Disadvantages -

1) As with any culture-switch, you run the risk of ending up with a 'copy-paste' job; where instead of blending two things together; you end up with near-historical people who happen to be short and hairy. (There's a fine line of course... too far the other way and nobody gets what's going on.)

2) While very workable from a Roman Republic point of view; trying to put them at a later overall time period (Roman Empire) can wind up with some things that don't seem particularly dwarvish - such as gladiatorial matches, heavy intrigue in the senate, and revolts.

3) Slavery isn't exactly uncommon in Roman history; but doesn't make much sense for most fantasy Dwarves - the only type that it feels 'right' for in my mind are Deuragar. (Or in Warhammer, Chaos Dwarves) It can be editted out easily enough; but requires a bit of work to explain if one goes into any great detail about such dwarven societies.

4) A little anachronism may crop up depending on the rest of the campaign and how far we want to go with this. To get the full roman effect, the dwarves would use Chain, Scale and Banded armors, tower shields, javelins and short swords. All perfectly reasonable in a typical D&D setting; but it makes the dwarven infantry decidedly lighter than some of the foes they'd face; which is odd given that dwarves are typically 'heavy infantry' (and these troops were indeed the heavy infantry of their time).

Possible adaptation could include taking the lorica segmentata (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorica_segmentata) and expanding it to a half-plate style. So the basic Roman 'feel' would be there, but it would also show the dwarven propensity for bulky very heavy armor.

Of course then again it may just be worth it to go with the standard Roman armors as D&D does let us do crazy stuff like punch through full plate bare-handed <,<

5) Playing a dwarf and *not* speaking in a Scottish accent may drive some to madness. >.> MADNESS!

*Dwarvishness; at least as I see it, requires foremost of all a solid, lawful demeanor. It doesn't have to be unbending and super-rigid; but it needs to be a primary guiding force at all times. Dwarves, as I see them, don't just think in terms of "me", but "me, my family, my clan" etc...

A certain mistrust for outsiders and general dislike of change also seems logical for them. Same goes for high quality crafting. Those are the things I'd consider at the core of fantasy dwarves at least >.>

**Roman Republic, rather than Roman Empire. The latter involves a lot of intrigue, revolts, and a general decline that don't jibe with how I see dwarves operating.

Dwarves as Imperial Chinese*** - Dwarven cities are enormous and cosmopolitan, and while the dwarves may find cultural influences from outsiders suspect... they are second to none in technological innovation. Again there is a hefty bent toward civil service (though in this case often very much non-military) but the society points toward an Emperor with no elected senate to check him. Family remains a strong point for dwarves in such a society, so it would be in no way unusual for a dwarf to recount his or her ancestors; though the method may be a little different.


Advantages:

1) It's unexpected. Although culturally it isn't too hard to imagine, it's just not something a lot of people would think to try.

2) Not only can you do all kinds of architectural innovation; but you can also add fun stuff like rockets and give an origin point for things like the compass. Can also lead to (if you're so inclined), invasions by Mongolian orcs or similar. (Oh... weird thought: Underdark Mongolian drow on relatively small giant spiders...)

3) Even more so than Roman style dwarves - these are definitely not dwarves on the retreat. A Chinese style dwarven society is likely to encompass a good sized area and contain a large number of dwarves; allowing you to experiment with a more expansionist dwarven empire if you like.

4) The period of history Imperial China covers is so enormous that it becomes fairly easy to pick and choose virtually any kind of equipment to give said dwarves, from heavy banded armor down to padded silk. Halberds, axes, shields, spears, crossbows (including repeating), gunpowder if desired... it's all there.

5) Like the Romans as well, Cavalry isn't a huge factor here. It was used, certainly; but it's not the primary claim to fame and can be omitted without too much concern, especially if adopting some fantasy-versions of Chinese innovations. (How about a rapid-fire repeating ballista with alchemist fire bottles just behind the bolt heads?)

Disadvantages -

1) Generally speaking, Dwarves are usually depicted as eminently reliable troops who are few, but incredibly disciplined. Imperial China on the other hand had a vast variety of forces, some of whom match this description, and others who aren't much more than ragged peasants. (Really the main difficulty here is narrowing things down - which means extra work; but possibly also extra reward. I guess this is only 'sort of' a disadvantage.)

2) Because it's not expected, it might be harder to get players to accept. Roman dwarves, while unusual, aren't a complete visual 180. That and most players will be more familiar with the Romans to begin with.

3) Imperial China is kind of defined by periods of stability punctuated by big uprisings that toss out the previous dynasty. Political instability like that isn't really very dwarvish. It can probably be omitted, but it's still a definite disadvantage. (Though there's something to be said for taking something far out of it's comfort zone... and there's a bizarre appeal in my mind to Three Kingdoms - dwarf style >.>)

4) Intrigue. Rome always had it's intrigues even from the earliest; but it wasn't a major problem until the Late Republic period (at least to the point where it's threatening society). Imperial China has intrigue out the wazoo.

5) Carbon-copy issue again. Possibly even more difficult to avoid here because people generally are more comfortable mucking with Rome (since they know Rome). Then again it can also provide some of the most interesting deviations from the parent culture too; largely by ramping up certain technological factors.


*** Mostly going with middle-Imperial China, Song Dynasty in particular, though also some Ming. That said the period is enormous, and unlike Rome, you aren't stuck with a period of expansion and then a period of decline. Each individual dynasty kind of does it all on it's own.

---

There's also a strong case to be made for Japanese style dwarves; but while I like the idea, I don't feel like developing it myself (whereas I want to at least muck with one or both of the above some). I'm also sure there are plenty of other cultural ideas that could work too.


((In case anyone is wondering why I'm mucking with dwarves here; it's mostly because that while other races get at least some variation between universes, dwarves remain very much the same with only slight alterations usually. It's not so much a "need" to change thing; but rather a "What would some different dwarves look like?" kind of thing.

That and I love taking real life ancient and feudal cultures and mixing them into D&D. That's been the basis for some of my favorite characters. Sometimes it can be a problem; but usually it can be made to work well.))

So anyway... Thoughts? Ideas of your own completely unrelated? Rotten tomatoes in my general direction? <,< (Actually lets not do that one <'x'> my monitor would be displeased.)

HamsterOfTheGod
2009-08-03, 08:50 PM
Dwarves as Romans**
Not bad but to be fully Roman you need slaves, lots of em. Maybe goblin and orc enslaving dwarves? Not a bad idea.

Otherwise, you can always replace Dwarves as Romans with Dwarves as Facists. Not a bad fit. Militaristic. Disciplined. Lawful. Oppresive.


Dwarves as Imperial Chinese***Not as good a fit. Maybe better is the "hidden city" motif.

So for ex, you might have a Dwarven "Shangrilla" hidden in the mountains. Poretected by magic, crossbows and...Dwarven monks?

Tiki Snakes
2009-08-03, 09:01 PM
Not bad but to be fully Roman you need slaves, lots of em. Maybe goblin and orc enslaving dwarves? Not a bad idea.

I don't see any reason why Dwarves couldn't have slaves. Humans could be useful on account of they are easily broken and will train easily (on account of being so easy to corrupt, makes sense if they are also easy to mold, comparatively) Elves have a good shelf-life, and would be very satisfying too. Halflings probably more trouble than they're worth, so the few they bothered to keep would have to be broken in with extreme prejudice. (otherwise you might as well give all your family silver away on the spot).

Dwarves build big. Aside from the usefulness of having slave-labour to work the fields, and run the baths, someone's got to move all those enormous chunks of marble around the fortress. What better than the downtrodden creatures and humanoids who you defeated in battle and as part of your (frequent) Military Campaigns.

No one ever said Dwarves had to be Nice.

Oh, and personally, I'd dial down the directly roman bits. Dwarves with a pseudo-roman culture could still have miles of columns, a slave econamy, fight with heavy infantry and sheilds and still exclusively follow genuine dwarven artistic stylings and so on. Likewise, they could wear togas, or they could stick to the perpetually armoured archetype that makes them so amusingly hardcore in the firstplace.

(I love the idea of 'slipping into something a bit more comfortable' being a reference to fetching their chainmail.)

Siosilvar
2009-08-03, 09:05 PM
... they are second to gnomes in technological innovation
Fixed that.

HamsterOfTheGod
2009-08-03, 09:08 PM
I don't see any reason why Dwarves couldn't have slaves.
I did not say they couldn't. I advocated that they should if the Dwarves are to be like the historical Romans. What to enslave...well that's where the fun comes in.

Enslave goblins and you've subverted both dwarves and goblins. Then your PC's might find themselves helping the goblin freedom fighter...but it's not like it hasn't been done before.

Cyrano
2009-08-03, 09:11 PM
The choice is obvious. Both. Fighting each other.

DragonBaneDM
2009-08-03, 09:15 PM
The Ptolus Campaign by Monte Cook has two seperate Dwarven cultures.

The first is the Gemlost, your classic Dwarven culture. The second is the Grailwarden. They're technology oriented.

That may sound like any Dwarf, but I mean technology obsessed. Forget Moradin, they worship a technology goddess. Guns, guns, cannons, and then more guns. It's really fantastic.

But if you're dead serious about the history idea, RUSSIANS. Communists, used to living in the cold. AK-47s with axe bayonets. That's what I would do, personally.

Strawman
2009-08-03, 09:22 PM
I want nothing more in life than to see a drawing of a dwarf doing Tai-gi.

Also, this thread makes me want to make a campaign in which D&D races go through a dimensional portal to Earth's past.

I think the Imperial Chinese works well. You mention that large groups of weak soldiers were part of the Imperial Chinese army, but remember that strength is relative. The dwarves would have the generally weak masses (still stronger than most humans) as well as a few strong individuals that stand out (think 4ft tall Lu Bu).

As far as the Romans go, they were very worldly. I can't imagine all the world's roads leading to a dwarven city.

Cyrano
2009-08-03, 09:23 PM
I think the Imperial Chinese works well. You mention that large groups of weak soldiers were part of the Imperial Chinese army, but remember that strength is relative. The dwarves would have the generally weak masses (still stronger than most humans) as well as a few strong individuals that stand out (think 4ft tall Lu Bu).

Alternatively, indentured goblins.

RagnaroksChosen
2009-08-03, 10:36 PM
So, I've got this kinda nutty idea in my head... as much as I enjoy the classic Viking/Scottish style dwarves - I'd kinda like to do something a bit different with them. Something that - while still utterly recognizable as dwarvish* - is also very different from what we usually think of when we hear "Dwarf" in a fantasy context. So I'm sharing a couple ideas with you fine folks <@_@> to see what you all think.

("You've lost your marbles and the bag they came in" is in fact a valid response >.>)

There are two primary ideas for "alternate" dwarfs as I'm seeing it.

Dwarves as Romans** - The idea here being that dwarven lawfulness is channeled less into family and king; and more into the state in-general - including a loyalty to an elected senate. Clan holds are replaced by more metropolitan cities. Dwarves are still mistrustful of outsiders however; and invaders can expect to be met by extremely well disciplined troops with some of the finest equipment available.

Advantages -

1) Dwarves are cool. Rome is cool. >.> This makes sense.

2) Alignment-wise, they definitely line up on the Lawful part of the spectrum quite handily. The Good <-> Evil spectrum can be adjusted by campaign, depending on what you're looking at; though since I'm aiming for a Roman Republic type feel if I go this route, LN is probably the most logical.

3) An extremely disciplined fighting style makes great sense for dwarves. One can even replace the traditional Gladius with a specialized form of battleaxe to keep them from sliding too much into just being short, hairy Romans.

4) Likewise cavalry and archery weren't really the Roman's forte, neither are they for dwarves usually. Both usually prefer throwing weapons and fighting afoot (hiring mercenary cavalry as necessary; though dwarves usually living underground can avoid that often.)

5) Architecture and equipment construction are extremely important in both cases. In this case dwarves forge fewer genuine masterwork items; but are able to mass-produce high-quality gear in a fashion that would put everyone else to shame. Likewise they'd have technological innovations like aqueducts to keep the cities clean. Add in magic like decanters of endless water and you can get a particularly fantastic system going there.

Disadvantages -

1) As with any culture-switch, you run the risk of ending up with a 'copy-paste' job; where instead of blending two things together; you end up with near-historical people who happen to be short and hairy. (There's a fine line of course... too far the other way and nobody gets what's going on.)

2) While very workable from a Roman Republic point of view; trying to put them at a later overall time period (Roman Empire) can wind up with some things that don't seem particularly dwarvish - such as gladiatorial matches, heavy intrigue in the senate, and revolts.

3) Slavery isn't exactly uncommon in Roman history; but doesn't make much sense for most fantasy Dwarves - the only type that it feels 'right' for in my mind are Deuragar. (Or in Warhammer, Chaos Dwarves) It can be editted out easily enough; but requires a bit of work to explain if one goes into any great detail about such dwarven societies.

4) A little anachronism may crop up depending on the rest of the campaign and how far we want to go with this. To get the full roman effect, the dwarves would use Chain, Scale and Banded armors, tower shields, javelins and short swords. All perfectly reasonable in a typical D&D setting; but it makes the dwarven infantry decidedly lighter than some of the foes they'd face; which is odd given that dwarves are typically 'heavy infantry' (and these troops were indeed the heavy infantry of their time).

Possible adaptation could include taking the lorica segmentata (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorica_segmentata) and expanding it to a half-plate style. So the basic Roman 'feel' would be there, but it would also show the dwarven propensity for bulky very heavy armor.

Of course then again it may just be worth it to go with the standard Roman armors as D&D does let us do crazy stuff like punch through full plate bare-handed <,<

5) Playing a dwarf and *not* speaking in a Scottish accent may drive some to madness. >.> MADNESS!

*Dwarvishness; at least as I see it, requires foremost of all a solid, lawful demeanor. It doesn't have to be unbending and super-rigid; but it needs to be a primary guiding force at all times. Dwarves, as I see them, don't just think in terms of "me", but "me, my family, my clan" etc...

A certain mistrust for outsiders and general dislike of change also seems logical for them. Same goes for high quality crafting. Those are the things I'd consider at the core of fantasy dwarves at least >.>

**Roman Republic, rather than Roman Empire. The latter involves a lot of intrigue, revolts, and a general decline that don't jibe with how I see dwarves operating.

Dwarves as Imperial Chinese*** - Dwarven cities are enormous and cosmopolitan, and while the dwarves may find cultural influences from outsiders suspect... they are second to none in technological innovation. Again there is a hefty bent toward civil service (though in this case often very much non-military) but the society points toward an Emperor with no elected senate to check him. Family remains a strong point for dwarves in such a society, so it would be in no way unusual for a dwarf to recount his or her ancestors; though the method may be a little different.


Advantages:

1) It's unexpected. Although culturally it isn't too hard to imagine, it's just not something a lot of people would think to try.

2) Not only can you do all kinds of architectural innovation; but you can also add fun stuff like rockets and give an origin point for things like the compass. Can also lead to (if you're so inclined), invasions by Mongolian orcs or similar. (Oh... weird thought: Underdark Mongolian drow on relatively small giant spiders...)

3) Even more so than Roman style dwarves - these are definitely not dwarves on the retreat. A Chinese style dwarven society is likely to encompass a good sized area and contain a large number of dwarves; allowing you to experiment with a more expansionist dwarven empire if you like.

4) The period of history Imperial China covers is so enormous that it becomes fairly easy to pick and choose virtually any kind of equipment to give said dwarves, from heavy banded armor down to padded silk. Halberds, axes, shields, spears, crossbows (including repeating), gunpowder if desired... it's all there.

5) Like the Romans as well, Cavalry isn't a huge factor here. It was used, certainly; but it's not the primary claim to fame and can be omitted without too much concern, especially if adopting some fantasy-versions of Chinese innovations. (How about a rapid-fire repeating ballista with alchemist fire bottles just behind the bolt heads?)

Disadvantages -

1) Generally speaking, Dwarves are usually depicted as eminently reliable troops who are few, but incredibly disciplined. Imperial China on the other hand had a vast variety of forces, some of whom match this description, and others who aren't much more than ragged peasants. (Really the main difficulty here is narrowing things down - which means extra work; but possibly also extra reward. I guess this is only 'sort of' a disadvantage.)

2) Because it's not expected, it might be harder to get players to accept. Roman dwarves, while unusual, aren't a complete visual 180. That and most players will be more familiar with the Romans to begin with.

3) Imperial China is kind of defined by periods of stability punctuated by big uprisings that toss out the previous dynasty. Political instability like that isn't really very dwarvish. It can probably be omitted, but it's still a definite disadvantage. (Though there's something to be said for taking something far out of it's comfort zone... and there's a bizarre appeal in my mind to Three Kingdoms - dwarf style >.>)

4) Intrigue. Rome always had it's intrigues even from the earliest; but it wasn't a major problem until the Late Republic period (at least to the point where it's threatening society). Imperial China has intrigue out the wazoo.

5) Carbon-copy issue again. Possibly even more difficult to avoid here because people generally are more comfortable mucking with Rome (since they know Rome). Then again it can also provide some of the most interesting deviations from the parent culture too; largely by ramping up certain technological factors.


*** Mostly going with middle-Imperial China, Song Dynasty in particular, though also some Ming. That said the period is enormous, and unlike Rome, you aren't stuck with a period of expansion and then a period of decline. Each individual dynasty kind of does it all on it's own.

---

There's also a strong case to be made for Japanese style dwarves; but while I like the idea, I don't feel like developing it myself (whereas I want to at least muck with one or both of the above some). I'm also sure there are plenty of other cultural ideas that could work too.


((In case anyone is wondering why I'm mucking with dwarves here; it's mostly because that while other races get at least some variation between universes, dwarves remain very much the same with only slight alterations usually. It's not so much a "need" to change thing; but rather a "What would some different dwarves look like?" kind of thing.

That and I love taking real life ancient and feudal cultures and mixing them into D&D. That's been the basis for some of my favorite characters. Sometimes it can be a problem; but usually it can be made to work well.))

So anyway... Thoughts? Ideas of your own completely unrelated? Rotten tomatoes in my general direction? <,< (Actually lets not do that one <'x'> my monitor would be displeased.)



Heh those are awsome ideas....

In a setting me and a few buddies came up with when i was in college out in AZ, we made the dwarves sea fairing, still the hearty rough gruff dwarves but seafairers... with the stability racial features we figured it would be good. Lots of laughs... plus who doesn't like dwarvish pirates.

Tallis
2009-08-03, 11:47 PM
I've never had a scottish dwarf in one of my games (except for WoW). Never a traditional "viking" either, though I've gotten much closer to that. In my earlier games my dwarves tended to be more Tolkienesque, now I like to make my demi-humans less human so I make the cultures a bit more alien. Lately I've been on a folklore kick too, so that's having some influence too.

In italian folklore there are dwarves that have a monk-like culture (european, not martial arts), that could work for a lawful culture. Theocratic dwarves could be interesting.

Of course I also thought of Japanese shogunate style dwarves, but since you're not too interested in that:

What about dwarves based on arabic culture. The architecture could be babylonian, akkadian, or sumerian, though I don't think there's too much info on those societies out there you could easily retrofit later arab cultures. For that matter Egyptian style would work well I think. Certainly plenty of stoneworking, engineering and innovation.

HamsterOfTheGod
2009-08-04, 12:01 AM
Hippie dwarves...gem cutting, beer drinking, getting stoned...

Hell's dwarves...dire hog riding, leather armored ranger dwarves

Hip hop dwarves...bling, bling and more bling...they dance and sing and perform (http://forums.gleemax.com/wotc_archive/index.php/t-979511) you to death

CDR_Doom
2009-08-04, 12:04 AM
As far as the Romans go, they were very worldly. I can't imagine all the world's roads leading to a dwarven city.

I can totally see it. If these dwarves are the technological superiors of the setting you are in, it only makes sense that travel, at least for trade, would be widespread. It also gives other races and civilizations a reason to overlook something like slavery. it might be distasteful to them, but they need the weapons, armor, and technology of the dwarves more than they care about a few goblins/orcs/humans/whoever the slaves are. Depending on what kind of campaign you want to run, it could let you add in an element of moral greyness to the world.

osyluth
2009-08-04, 01:15 AM
If we're talking ancient cultures here, I think the dwarves would work pretty well as Egyptians. A few reasons:
As has already been discussed, dwarfs make interesting slave lords. You can have just as much fun with slaves in Egypt, probably more so since the Egyptians were the first to really institutionalize slavery.
The dwarves ancient origins mesh well with the fact that Egypt was the first real human civilization.
Massive pyramids and other such impressive structures dedicated to religion and rulers work for the overly traditional dwarves.
A single ruler with ultimate, almost godlike, power, suits dwarfs perfectly. Just change king to pharaoh.

Connington
2009-08-04, 02:04 AM
In regards to roman dwarves, slaves and open trade, you could really have some fun with generational conflict, borrowing off of and embellishing Rome's actual history. Think about it. You've got the older, more conservative dwarves, xenophobic hard asses, but they find the idea of keeping slaves decadent, set against the younger dwarves, less lawful, far less qualms about slaves, but also less dour, and more friendly towards outsiders.

Thatguyoverther
2009-08-04, 04:13 AM
I personally like the Dwarves as Russians idea. Cold weather, fondness for hard liquor, general phlegmatic stoic behavior.

But then you have to choose between a Tsarist or a Communist type dwarf. Either way if think it turns out pretty cool. I like the idea of the proletariat miners overthrowing the elitist bourgeoisie smiths.

Eldan
2009-08-04, 04:17 AM
I think I just might post a short version of my own dwarven culture here. I made them up for fun, and they use a few ideas already posted here. They were never included in a campaign, sadly.

The key to understanding these dwarves is that they have a mystical fear of the sun, somewhat inspired by Terry Pratchett's "Thud". Dwarven societies comes in castes, named after periods of the Day. There is a day caste, composed of those that dishonored the state, wandering the world without protection from the sun. There is a dusk caste, composed of soldiers, bureaucrats and traders who, from time to time, have to interact with the world above. This, actually, is the majority of dwarves.
The dwarven nobility is the night caste. These are dwarves who never interact with the world above, not even indirectly and are expected to never see the sun. Even contact with a day caste dwarf or another race is enough for these to be moved down to dusk caste.
Finally, there is a small caste of priests of the midnight caste. These aren't spoken about much, and prefer not to come into contact with anyone and live in perpetual darkness.

Now, these dwarves, as others have mentioned, rely heavily on goblinoid slaves, mainly for their farming. Overseers of the dusk caste are responsible for keeping the goblins in line. The goblins aren't actually treated too badly, since there are massive compendiums of laws governing their rights and those of all castes, but still generally seen as worth less than a dwarf.

As for general technological and architectural styles, they were something of an advanced egyptian state: massive and monumental stone architecture, with complicated hidden mechanisms moving air and water around the strongholds. However, they were, in that world, also the only culture knowing the secret of making iron and steel, accounting for their technological superiority.

Yora
2009-08-04, 04:30 AM
For my setting, I want dwarven culture to be rather "classic", but with more attention to the average life of everyday people, and not only focused on the drunken elite berserks.

But my idea is to make dwarven personal and place names based on Welsh.
Only problem is: Welsh is impossible to read to anyone who is not welsh.
That means I have to gather a lot of welsh names, find out how they are pronounced, and spell them in a way that gets the almost right pronounciation when read like English.
Anybody having a suitable website for this at hand? :smallbiggrin:

Gnorman
2009-08-04, 04:44 AM
Only problem is: Welsh is impossible to read.


About six words extra in that sentence, I believe.

But seriously, I like it. I have a mythic Irish campaign where dwarves are Norse, seafarers from a land long-since destroyed. They settled the shattered island chains that used to be Scotland, Wales, and western England.

Manx dwarves are particularly fun.

bosssmiley
2009-08-04, 04:59 AM
Did this one last week: 20+ instances of non-cliché Dwarven cultures (http://vaultsofnagoh.blogspot.com/2009/07/all-dwarves-aint-same.html). :smalltongue:

Although I somehow managed to overlook the classic molerat Fremen iconography... :smallconfused:

Yora
2009-08-04, 05:12 AM
Having done some google-fu, I guess I better just go with fake-gaelic. Just lots of Gs, Ws and Ys, and it should be just fine. :smallbiggrin:

Gnorman
2009-08-04, 05:26 AM
Having done some google-fu, I guess I better just go with fake-gaelic. Just lots of Gs, Ws and Ys, and it should be just fine. :smallbiggrin:

I'd like to introduce you to my latest dwarven paladin, Gwygglywrrg.

Yora
2009-08-04, 05:28 AM
The sad thing is, I'm pretty sure there are some welsh people who could pronunce it without trouble.

And there's a fair chance that that's an acutal name. :smallbiggrin:

Theodoric
2009-08-04, 05:29 AM
I like Assyrian-style dwarfs, or Tolkien's Hebrew-inspired ones.
(not totally Pratchet's invention)

Quincunx
2009-08-04, 05:36 AM
Hippie dwarves...gem cutting, beer drinking, getting stoned...

Dorf, Where's My Car?


Hell's dwarves...dire hog riding, leather armored ranger dwarves


Rebel with a Dorf.


Hip hop dwarves...bling, bling and more bling...they dance and sing and perform (http://forums.gleemax.com/wotc_archive/index.php/t-979511) you to death

Eight Mile Dorf? . . .eh, stumped me there.

Coidzor
2009-08-04, 05:40 AM
Hmm. The ultimate meritocracy. All dwarves begin their lives as property of the state, with the monetary incentive for reproducing (since, face it, dwarves seem to need incentive) scaling in accordance with the tier of the parents and rise in level solely by their own contributions, only gaining their freedom after they've contributed enough profit to their society/hold for raising, protecting, and educating them.

Sort of a nod to Sparta with the young in the care of the state. a nod to terry pratchett's variant of the bride price... and something else that slips my mind. Maybe Eugenics or something like the incentives paid out to the roman patricians to reproduce at one point... obsessed with breeding a better type of dwarf, which would explain the different sub species as either A. mutts, B. base-stock, C. that particular culture/society's take on the ideal dwarf and how much they've been able to develop and refine it over the years.

Kemper Boyd
2009-08-04, 06:18 AM
Going back to the roots, how about Tolkien's Dwarves? They're actually Hebrew, not Scottish.

Random832
2009-08-04, 06:47 AM
3) Slavery isn't exactly uncommon in Roman history; but doesn't make much sense for most fantasy Dwarves - the only type that it feels 'right' for in my mind are Deuragar. (Or in Warhammer, Chaos Dwarves) It can be editted out easily enough; but requires a bit of work to explain if one goes into any great detail about such dwarven societies.

Magic.

Specifically - for any historical culture that has aspects (generally largish architectural aspects) that, in the real world at their technological level, depended on slave labor, you can instead explain those with magic.

Eldan
2009-08-04, 06:50 AM
Ah, yes. There was a completely golem-dependent dwarven culture in Fall from Heaven. Basically, they made golems do all their work and fighting.

mikeejimbo
2009-08-04, 07:11 AM
In my setting, dwarves started out as largely Germanic, but then they spread out over the whole world after they sorely defeated the French - I mean, Elves. Then they became kind of American - fitting due to the number of German American immigrants, if you ask me.

Of course, in my setting, dwarves are greedy jerks. Elves are either prissy jerks or hippy jerks. Halflings are kleptomaniacal jerks. Draconians are militaristic jerks. Etc.

SirKazum
2009-08-04, 07:13 AM
Not really an alternate cultural background, but an idea I like to play with in my campaigns is that dwarves are polygamous. With the 2:1 male-female ratio (inspired by the 2E Complete Book of Dwarves), this leads to interesting conclusions. Namely, that there are so few females to go around that only the lord of each clan is allowed to have any. This means that every dwarf in a clan is the lord's son, which lends a rather egalitarian character to something that sounds quite elitist at first. Of course, the order of succession would be strictly maintained, and there would be a great deal of importance put on the lord's heir, charged with being the father of the next generation. There would also be the trouble of a huge mass of single dwarves, of course. This might be incentive for them to join the military or become adventurers, but the pressure would still be there. I imagine the lord regularly opening his harem to honored guests (fidelity would be a very relative concept in such a society), provided any sons begotten are considered as the lord's own. Females that are outcasts for some reason would either form whorehouses (that might help alleviate that "single dwarf" situation a bit), or take up adventuring - otherwise, they'd be just stay-at-home concubines. And I guess it would make sense to say that dwarves plainly and simply have much, much less of a sex drive than humans. Even then, there would be a lot of lonely dwarves left, which might mean the rate of male homosexuality among them would be higher than on most races. (Oh, and if you think the whole scenario is rather chauvinistic, that's intentional - I picture dwarves as being highly sexist, again, influenced by the 2E CBoD).

Random832
2009-08-04, 07:23 AM
Of course, in my setting, dwarves are greedy jerks. Elves are either prissy jerks or hippy jerks. Halflings are kleptomaniacal jerks. Draconians are militaristic jerks. Etc.

What kind of jerks are humans?

Eldan
2009-08-04, 07:28 AM
I'd say the humans role in such a setting would be:
"If you can be a jerk at it, I can be too!" :smalltongue:

mikeejimbo
2009-08-04, 07:31 AM
What kind of jerks are humans?

Humans are naive idiots, rather than jerks.

Though Eldan has it pretty close, too. What it actually is is more like humans are the worst kind of creature in this setting - they're the ones that try not to be jerks, and try to inspire other people into doing good and such. They're pesky and annoying, essentially, to the rest of the races, which are cynical and jaded.

mint
2009-08-04, 08:01 AM
An Egalia's Daughters type society. Gender roles are reversed. Females do all the fighting and raping. Dwarven males have to be fat and feminine & groom their bears with great care and take care of the household.

Epinephrine
2009-08-04, 08:13 AM
The dwarves in my game are modeled after the Russians to some extent. Seems to work well.

AslanCross
2009-08-04, 08:35 AM
The dwarves in Eberron are the Swiss. They hold the primary banking industries and their nation seceded from the human-dominated civilization.

PairO'Dice Lost
2009-08-04, 08:38 AM
Not really an alternate cultural background, but an idea I like to play with in my campaigns is that dwarves are polygamous.

<snip>

Great idea! I'm going to borrow this one, if you don't mind.


Regarding the slavery issue, it's easy to explain: Dwarves hate goblins and have been fighting them for millennia, right? Well, the dwarves used to be the Viking/Scottish types...and then they won the war. They take the entire goblin race captive, and now that they have a few bazillion goblin slaves around, their society has to adapt. It puts an interesting spin on things if the very ancient dwarves not only have a different culture than normal, but are trying something entirely new (even if "new" is a few centuries old) and are having to make up new tradition as they go.

The Dark Fiddler
2009-08-04, 08:48 AM
You could model Dwarves after to society of Boatmurded.

Wait...

I think it'd be interesting to have Dwarves that are very religious, making up a huge number of the priests in the world, and not having any large empire, instead having many small states across the world, with each worshiping a different god, and yet making them appose any magic that isn't Clerical or Paladinical (shush, I can make up word).

But this would also go with the Elves rule the world and are elitist jerks and Humans are nomadic, having been knocked from power by the elves ideas that I'm thinking of. It would be interesting, I think.

Brauron
2009-08-04, 08:52 AM
I tend to run Dwarves as being similar to the Prussians in the mid- to late 1800s, especially under Otto von Bismarck.

mistformsquirrl
2009-08-04, 09:04 AM
Great idea! I'm going to borrow this one, if you don't mind.


Regarding the slavery issue, it's easy to explain: Dwarves hate goblins and have been fighting them for millennia, right? Well, the dwarves used to be the Viking/Scottish types...and then they won the war. They take the entire goblin race captive, and now that they have a few bazillion goblin slaves around, their society has to adapt. It puts an interesting spin on things if the very ancient dwarves not only have a different culture than normal, but are trying something entirely new (even if "new" is a few centuries old) and are having to make up new tradition as they go.

This is an intriguing idea right here... You could get a sort of evolution from semi-barbaric roots toward a Roman-style Republic.

Really lots of neat thoughts and ideas here >_< this one just happened to stick out particularly.

HamHam
2009-08-04, 09:19 AM
You could model Dwarves after to society of Boatmurded.

Dwarf Fortress dwarves are the best dwarves.

alexi
2009-08-04, 10:14 AM
For my setting, I want dwarven culture to be rather "classic", but with more attention to the average life of everyday people, and not only focused on the drunken elite berserks.

But my idea is to make dwarven personal and place names based on Welsh.
Only problem is: Welsh is impossible to read to anyone who is not welsh.
That means I have to gather a lot of welsh names, find out how they are pronounced, and spell them in a way that gets the almost right pronounciation when read like English.
Anybody having a suitable website for this at hand? :smallbiggrin:


funny i run a campaign that is a mix of welsh and finnish inspiration. The dwarves are basically cornish puritans

Mark Hall
2009-08-04, 10:30 AM
I'd like to introduce you to my latest dwarven paladin, Gwygglywrrg.

Giggly-worg?

Kami2awa
2009-08-04, 10:50 AM
For my setting, I want dwarven culture to be rather "classic", but with more attention to the average life of everyday people, and not only focused on the drunken elite berserks.

But my idea is to make dwarven personal and place names based on Welsh.
Only problem is: Welsh is impossible to read to anyone who is not welsh.
That means I have to gather a lot of welsh names, find out how they are pronounced, and spell them in a way that gets the almost right pronounciation when read like English.
Anybody having a suitable website for this at hand? :smallbiggrin:


This would help with Welsh pronunciation:

http://www.kc3.co.uk/~bicycle/sideways/welsh.html

It's not as hard as you'd think.

Ninetail
2009-08-05, 02:55 AM
Dwarves as Romans** - The idea here being that dwarven lawfulness is channeled less into family and king; and more into the state in-general - including a loyalty to an elected senate. Clan holds are replaced by more metropolitan cities. Dwarves are still mistrustful of outsiders however; and invaders can expect to be met by extremely well disciplined troops with some of the finest equipment available.

My dwarves are Roman (http://abutterflydreaming.com/2008/08/21/my-dwarves-are-roman/). With a touch of ancient Greek.

I did without the slavery angle, though. I was making the dwarf culture an exemplar of Good, so it didn't really fit. I got some of the same effect by having them sentence some criminals to labor, instead. Many of the indentured were humans, with some goblins and elves mixed in.

It worked out well. When I later added drow to the campaign, I made them a traditional enemy of the dwarves.

Aux-Ash
2009-08-05, 04:46 AM
A while back I had an idea of dwarves loosely based on something India-esque. A strict caste-society where your clan defines your proffession and the religion enforces it.
Where the members of the highest caste lives deep under the mountain with rooms filled with unimaginable riches. The members of the lowest (and largest) caste however are forced to live on the surface, tending to the enourmous farms that feed the entire fortress-city. One amusing idea was to have these farmers wear turbans in which they keep a large stone or a rock, in order to make sure they have stone above their heads so they won't get swallowed by the great emptiness above.

In another setting me and a bunch of friends are brewing up we have the dwarves being very special as well. To most people the dwarves are a gruff, unpolite, greedy and bitter people. But that's because they only meet the dwarven exiles who have since long been forced to flee the great mountains where the dwarven people lives in isolation.
In these mountains homes the dwarves live like in hives, all working non-stop to improve their clans. Where everyone is given a duty and expected to do it, and if you don't you're driven into exile. In these mountain homes the dwarves are a extremely social and helpful people, where practically anyone is prepared to lend a helping hand to their neighbor and such.

---

But one thing I often see is that dwarven society is very uniform. That noble dwarven adventurer that travels with your party? He's just like any other dwarf from his cultural branch. In fact there's virtually no difference at all between mountainking, travelling warrior and peasant in this dwarven culture. Each and everyone of them is equally prepared to pick up an axe and join an adventurer as his loyal, honourbound and dedicated companion.

Instead I'd like to see a dwarven society as diverese as a human culture. Where the peasants grab their stuff and flees to the mountains when an enemy approaches the clanhold. Where the garrison is actually considering closing the gates before all peasants are safe to protect the clanhold. Where some greedy merchants try to cheat you, some give you a discount because they like you but refuses to sell their items to someone they don't. A society where those great units of heavy infantry are quaking with fear and only kept from abandoning their post by the gruff and harsh attitude of the officers (who might just as well be incompetent and a good officer). A society where the wandering and famous dwarven adventurers and heroes of legend are radically different from the typical dwarf (who wants nothing more than peace, a decent job and low taxes and fears the next war)

A dwarven society where lawfullness, honour and courage are, while honoured and cherished as typically dwarven, personal things that varies between individuals.

To me, it would be far more interesting than any variation on the cultural inspiration of the dwarves.

Myshlaevsky
2009-08-05, 05:09 AM
But one thing I often see is that dwarven society is very uniform. That noble dwarven adventurer that travels with your party? He's just like any other dwarf from his cultural branch. In fact there's virtually no difference at all between mountainking, travelling warrior and peasant in this dwarven culture. Each and everyone of them is equally prepared to pick up an axe and join an adventurer as his loyal, honourbound and dedicated companion.

Instead I'd like to see a dwarven society as diverese as a human culture. Where the peasants grab their stuff and flees to the mountains when an enemy approaches the clanhold. Where the garrison is actually considering closing the gates before all peasants are safe to protect the clanhold. Where some greedy merchants try to cheat you, some give you a discount because they like you but refuses to sell their items to someone they don't. A society where those great units of heavy infantry are quaking with fear and only kept from abandoning their post by the gruff and harsh attitude of the officers (who might just as well be incompetent and a good officer). A society where the wandering and famous dwarven adventurers and heroes of legend are radically different from the typical dwarf (who wants nothing more than peace, a decent job and low taxes and fears the next war)

A dwarven society where lawfullness, honour and courage are, while honoured and cherished as typically dwarven, personal things that varies between individuals.

To me, it would be far more interesting than any variation on the cultural inspiration of the dwarves.

I've never really thought of dwarves as other than this. Every member of a race is going to vary enormously from other individuals, even if they share certain racial traits.

The only thing I like to see in any incarnation of dwarves is that they are weighed upon by their tradition and society. It's much, much stronger an influence than it is in almost any other race which is still free-thinking.

SirKazum
2009-08-05, 05:25 AM
Nah, I think that's less a problem with dwarves and more of a (fantasy) race stereotyping problem. You see, pretty much every single dwarf you see anywhere (which means not only adventurers/warriors but also nobles, merchants, peasants etc.) is a Gimli clone. Just like every last elf in the world is Legolas and/or Galadriel. PEOPLE, BE CREATIVE! I'm strongly for the idea of making individuals vary a lot within each race/society. Which is why I don't like the dwarf's -2 to Charisma "because they are gruff and don't trust outsiders". I mean, c'mon, what the hell is up with that? An entire race like that? If they have an innate misanthropic trait so strong to give a -2 to a stat (which affects many more things than Diplomacy rolls made toward members of other races), how did they even manage to form any kind of society at all? That's stereotyping taken to an extreme degree, I say, and not conductive to creativity. I'd rather (from a roleplaying point of view anyway) see them with a -2 to Dex, although that might make them even more like "anti-elves".

mistformsquirrl
2009-08-05, 05:25 AM
My dwarves are Roman (http://abutterflydreaming.com/2008/08/21/my-dwarves-are-roman/). With a touch of ancient Greek.

I did without the slavery angle, though. I was making the dwarf culture an exemplar of Good, so it didn't really fit. I got some of the same effect by having them sentence some criminals to labor, instead. Many of the indentured were humans, with some goblins and elves mixed in.

It worked out well. When I later added drow to the campaign, I made them a traditional enemy of the dwarves.

Woah. Nicely done Ninetail! <^_^> I think you've pretty much settled me on going Roman. (Though I may yet do some Chinese dwarves somewhere. Or maybe non-Evil Chinese goblins? Hmm...)

Creating a homebrew world is entirely too much fun <'x'> sometimes I think this is more enjoyable than actually playing <T_T>; it's a sickness I tell you!

Zeta Kai
2009-08-05, 05:26 AM
When did Dwarves get hijacked by the Scottish, anyway? Tolkien's Dwarves were pretty much Jewish, as least linguistically (which would've been the only thing to count in his mind). I, of course, know that the original concept was Norse (of course, a Norse, unless it's Mr. Ed), but when did the Scots come in & take over the Dwarf party?

Myshlaevsky
2009-08-05, 05:34 AM
When did Dwarves get hijacked by the Scottish, anyway? Tolkien's Dwarves were pretty much Jewish, as least linguistically (which would've been the only thing to count in his mind). I, of course, know that the original concept was Norse (of course, a Norse, unless it's Mr. Ed), but when did the Scots come in & take over the Dwarf party?

Maybe because they live in the highlands. Really, the only thing Scottish about Dwarves is generally their accent (their language usually isn't anything like gaelic) and occasionally some cultural trappings like kilts and things - which are more to do with the perception of being Scottish than actually being Scottish.

Book Wyrm
2009-08-05, 05:39 AM
Going off the Romanesque Dwarves, Roman generals and armies were notorious for their feats of military engineering, particularly Caesar. The Battle of Alesia was won by Caesar because he built a giant wall and earthen defenses around a entire city to beseige it. In another show of engineering prowess and example of Roman power, Caesar built a bridge across the Rhine River, crossed his armies over bridge, then crossed back and dismantled the bridge.

IMHO, gnomes lend themselves to the Imperial Chinese better then dwarves. Technologically advanced, but more mystically inclined then the dwarves. Roman dwarves, Spartan hobgoblins, Persian goblins, Germanic orcs, Egyptian or Pictish Elves, and base Humans on the Gauls and Spaniards. Oh, and don't let anyone tell you that the Romans never encountered the Chinese, because they did.

[EDIT] Also, the Romans were known to be heavy drinkers. Bacchanalia anyone? Just change the wine to beer and now you've got your engineering, heavy infantry, heavy drinking, lawful, stoic, stereotypical fantasy dwarves in a shiny new wrapper.

mistformsquirrl
2009-08-05, 07:48 AM
When did Dwarves get hijacked by the Scottish, anyway? Tolkien's Dwarves were pretty much Jewish, as least linguistically (which would've been the only thing to count in his mind). I, of course, know that the original concept was Norse (of course, a Norse, unless it's Mr. Ed), but when did the Scots come in & take over the Dwarf party?

Well they aren't strictly Scottish at all >.> - even today they still look like short vikings for the most part. They just sound Scottish... for reasons I couldn't begin to explain (though if I had to guess, authors failing at creating a norse accent in text is a likely root)

mikeejimbo
2009-08-05, 08:16 AM
Going off the Romanesque Dwarves, Roman generals and armies were notorious for their feats of military engineering, particularly Caesar. The Battle of Alesia was won by Caesar because he built a giant wall and earthen defenses around a entire city to beseige it. In another show of engineering prowess and example of Roman power, Caesar built a bridge across the Rhine River, crossed his armies over bridge, then crossed back and dismantled the bridge.

IMHO, gnomes lend themselves to the Imperial Chinese better then dwarves. Technologically advanced, but more mystically inclined then the dwarves. Roman dwarves, Spartan hobgoblins, Persian goblins, Germanic orcs, Egyptian or Pictish Elves, and base Humans on the Gauls and Spaniards. Oh, and don't let anyone tell you that the Romans never encountered the Chinese, because they did.

[EDIT] Also, the Romans were known to be heavy drinkers. Bacchanalia anyone? Just change the wine to beer and now you've got your engineering, heavy infantry, heavy drinking, lawful, stoic, stereotypical fantasy dwarves in a shiny new wrapper.

And don't forget that Romans also pretty much invented the boarding action in regards to naval warfare. I could see dwarves doing the same thing.

MickJay
2009-08-05, 11:14 AM
Maybe because they live in the highlands. Really, the only thing Scottish about Dwarves is generally their accent (their language usually isn't anything like gaelic) and occasionally some cultural trappings like kilts and things - which are more to do with the perception of being as Scottish than actually being Scottish.

Just about the funniest thing I heard was when a character from Giant: Citizen Kabuto (with a Scottish accent in English version) was given the Polish highland accent in a localised version of the game. The accents are nothing alike, but it worked surprisingly well (the game is anything but serious).

I'd go with Jewish (Ashkenazi) dwarves (or possibly Assyrian/Babylonian, but that would take some more research to do it properly).

Fhaolan
2009-08-05, 11:30 AM
The dwarves in my campaign world are a bit weird. First off, there are multiple dwarven cultures running around in different parts of the world. That right there is considered bizarre and unbelievable to many gamers. ;)

I'll pull out the one dwarven culture my players are the most familiar with (because one of the characters comes from it).

These dwarves are Lawful, with a capital L, but they live in what is called the Dwarven Anarchy by outsiders. This is due to the fact that nobody but a dwarf really seems to understand how it all works.

You see, they have no government at all. No king, no president, no buraucracy, etc. No leader-types as such. Everything the dwarves do is dictated by Custom and Precident. If changing situations occur so custom and precident don't work anymore, whatever works first becomes the new precident or custom that will be followed from that point on. Individual dwarves don't need a government to organize them into doing bigger projects, because they are already all organized by Custom. It looks like chaos from the outside, but it works according to the most rigid Law.

These dwarves do keep slaves, as that is Custom. They trade with outsiders, as there is Precident. The most powerful individuals in this culture are Bards, as they are tasked with remembering *all* custom and precident.

Ganurath
2009-08-05, 01:14 PM
I've always thought of the Centauri from Babylon 5 as dwarves in space, with the Narn being orcs in space. I figure, why not reverse it so fantasy dwarves are more political and underhanded like the Centauri, while the orcs actually do have a rightful claim to what they're trying to take from the dwarves?

BigPapaSmurf
2009-08-05, 01:18 PM
And don't forget that Romans also pretty much invented the boarding action in regards to naval warfare. I could see dwarves doing the same thing.
and don't you forget that their attempt at this was a total failure which led directly to their worst military loss ever of 150 ships vs. Carthage. (though being Romans they just kept fighting till they won)


As for Dwarves I think the Russian workers vs. proletariat idea from page one is by far the best one on here. Dwarves as Spartans with a knack for building I could see better than Romans.

I think Im going to add a new type of Dwarf next time I play, I want them out on a vast flat ground with no mountains where they will have built artifical mountains/pyramids out of the rock they carve right from the ground beneath their feet, as their underground grows, so shall the marvelous manufactured mountains.

PairO'Dice Lost
2009-08-05, 01:21 PM
These dwarves are Lawful, with a capital L, but they live in what is called the Dwarven Anarchy by outsiders. This is due to the fact that nobody but a dwarf really seems to understand how it all works.

I've been working on something similar (though with a cosmopolitan nation rather than one solely of dwarves), but the whole anarchy aspect hadn't occurred to me. I think I'll borrow that, if you don't mind.

Myshlaevsky
2009-08-05, 01:36 PM
I've been working on something similar (though with a cosmopolitan nation rather than one solely of dwarves), but the whole anarchy aspect hadn't occurred to me. I think I'll borrow that, if you don't mind.

I actually totally pinched this idea (albeit without reading it first) for Dwarven Communists in the style of the initial supports in the rising stages of government after the Revolution.

Dixieboy
2009-08-05, 01:38 PM
Did this one last week: 20+ instances of non-cliché Dwarven cultures (http://vaultsofnagoh.blogspot.com/2009/07/all-dwarves-aint-same.html). :smalltongue:

Although I somehow managed to overlook the classic molerat Fremen iconography... :smallconfused:
You got your Norse mythology a tad wrong, the dwarfs sprung from the maggots in his flesh, not the flesh itself.
Fits better with your explanation of "Dwarves are maggots" too, since according to that particular piece of legend, THEY ARE :smallbiggrin:

Wardog
2009-08-05, 01:46 PM
[QUOTE=HamsterOfTheGod;6646949]
Hell's dwarves...dire hog riding, leather armored ranger dwarves
[QUOTE]

Just add "... IN SPACE!", an'd you've recreated the late, lamented WH40k Squats :smallbiggrin:

Cyrion
2009-08-05, 02:09 PM
I'm working on building a new campaign in which I may make dwarves much less subterranean; it's always been a puzzle to me how dwarves feed themselves. I'm thinking about making them sea-farers. They live on islands or near deltas of large rivers and support farms etc. along with some very serious fishing. They may dwell inside the very forbidding islands, but they are formidable sailors or riverboatmen.

Some other non-traditional culture ideas:

A "gypsy" culture (I'm thinking about this for gnomes, but it could be adapted for dwarves too- they're nomadic and travel in large clan groups with wagons and the whole lot. There are no dwarven cities, but they are amazing craftsmen, and periodically there are great gatherings of the clans according to a schedule that only the dwarves know.

Dwarves as necromancers- The dwarven afterlife is not known for it's appeal. Thus, they do their best never to actually join it. Instead, part of dwarven last rites are to raise the spirit of the newly departed as a ghost who then gets to carouse and feast with their clan for all eternity. They're not zombie masters, but trying to do the best they can for their loved ones after death. The rest of the world doesn't necessarily see the distinction, so they are very distrustful of dwarves and vice versa. Dwarven strongholds, though, are not lightly invaded...

Dwarves as cannibals- running with the belief (and actually demonstrable scientific fact) that you absorb the knowledge and/or skills of the deceased if you eat their brains, dwarves honor their deceased or their respected friends and enemies by eating them after death. This could give rise to some very disturbing material components or divine foci...

Eldan
2009-08-05, 02:12 PM
Hmm. Why Ghosts? Egyptians have been suggested, so maybe some kind of mummy? Not the one straight from the monster manual, that one is more a spellcaster thing, but I'm thinking of an extremely well-preserved corpse wandering about, bandaged and prepared through complicated rituals.

Dixieboy
2009-08-05, 02:20 PM
Hmm. Why Ghosts? Egyptians have been suggested, so maybe some kind of mummy? Not the one straight from the monster manual, that one is more a spellcaster thing, but I'm thinking of an extremely well-preserved corpse wandering about, bandaged and prepared through complicated rituals.
Ghosts in most case are thematically a better fit, and they won't look as ridiculous.

Eldan
2009-08-05, 02:23 PM
I dunno... the mummies I've seen in museums actually look pretty impressive. And somehow I justcan't see dwarves as ghosts. But to each his own.

Shademan
2009-08-05, 02:32 PM
I'm trying to make a campaign that'll be run over Gametable(tm) where the dwarves live in the forest and the elves mine the mountains.
WHY it is like this?
... why not?
dwarves get woodcunning and elves get weapon proff. pickaxes.
they keep the same lifestyles and cliches. elves are rock loving hippies and dwarf are eco-industrialists (DIVIDE BY ZERO!)

Dixieboy
2009-08-05, 02:42 PM
I dunno... the mummies I've seen in museums actually look pretty impressive. And somehow I justcan't see dwarves as ghosts. But to each his own.
Those don't have long beards and heavy armor as a big chunk of their identity though.

Dwarves to me seems perfect for being ghosts, always wandering the halls of their clans mountain home, even after their death.
Only difference being a little paleness.

Book Wyrm
2009-08-05, 03:46 PM
Dwarven Communists, instead of the hammer and sickle they'd have the hammer and axe. Dwarven shocktroopers dual wielding hammers and axes and wearing giant fur hats.

And one more comment about Romanesque dwarves: the fasces (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasces) was a bundle of rods and an axe, and was a symbol of power and authority during the Roman Republic.

Cyrion
2009-08-05, 05:53 PM
I've just always found ghosts spookier than mummies, and the dwarves are going to have a more western European flavor than Egyptian for my campaign.

Dixieboy
2009-08-06, 08:10 AM
Dwarves as cannibals- running with the belief (and actually demonstrable scientific fact) that you absorb the knowledge and/or skills of the deceased if you eat their brains,Source pl0x.

Smiling Knight
2009-08-06, 08:34 AM
I would like to expand on the Fall From Heaven dwarves mentioned earlier. For those that don't know (most), Fall From Heaven is a fantasy mod for Civilization 4, based on the lead designer's homebrew D&D setting. There are two groups of dwarves: the arch typical gold-luvin', underground livin', magic-averse Lawful Neutrals, but there all also the Neutral Good Luichirip, who rely on various types of golems in everything from labor to warfare. This allows most of the citizens to pursue a life of craft and art, and insulating them from the dark and brutal outside world. They are far more outgoing then their xenophobic cousins, and were in fact the most powerful Good nation and almost succeeded in stopping the God of Winter from being summoned, but that's another story.

Mechanics-wise, they have a huge variety of golems, from basic wood ones all the way up to immortal bone ones and others that are completely immune to magic. Different modifications can be added in the game itself, such as making them lighter, which increases speed and withdraw but reduces strength, or even allowing every single golem produced in certain cities to cast fireball.

Anyway, I think the Luichirip are a unique, atypical set of dwarves.

Cyrion
2009-08-06, 09:07 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyrion
Dwarves as cannibals- running with the belief (and actually demonstrable scientific fact) that you absorb the knowledge and/or skills of the deceased if you eat their brains,



Source pl0x.

Journal of Neuropsychiatry 3(Supplement 1), 543-548, 1963
Science 146, 274-275, 1964
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 111(6), 347-351, 1967

Eldan
2009-08-06, 01:39 PM
Oh god, not that one again. The thing with "gaining knowledge by eating brains" has been disproven at least a dozen times and people keep bringing it up. Ever wondered why it was pretty much limited to one study? They made some horrible mistakes in that one.

RyanM
2009-08-06, 03:00 PM
Hm, I've been toying with the idea of Dwarves being something like a subterranian version of the Tlingit, and in conflict with Kobolds and Goblins, who are something like a more evil version of a blend of Athabascan and Inuit traditions.

Essentially, the Tlingit occupied prime territory in the far north of North America, the western shores of NW Canada and SW Alaska. They had a saying, of something like "anyone who starves here is a moron." Food would just wash up on the beaches every day, enough to keep an entire village fed.

They were also pretty lawful, and had notions of intellectual property that'd make the RIAA head for the hills. And for that area of America, they were very technologically advanced, with use of copper to make tools and weapons, while most others were getting by with animal parts, and very limited quantities of stone. And they were in the habit of using those advantages to raid the surrounding people for slaves.

Contrast to the people living in much colder areas, barely able to survive, having to follow around herds of animals, where the tiniest run of bad luck could completely wipe out entire families.

Something like that could easily be adapted to Dwarves and some other subterranian races. The Dwarves are sitting on prime mining territory, where you can't walk 10 paces without kicking a priceless gem or a vein of mithril or platinum or gold. Meanwhile, everyone else underground leads a hardscrabble, semi-nomadic existence, hunting and being hunted by the lurking horrors underground, and foraging for mushrooms. Only very rarely does anyone find a meager vein of metal, at which point a small war breaks out as everyone tries to claim it. And as often as not, the dwarves wait until the winners have mined it all out, then come by and slaughter everyone and take the ore for themselves. But on the other hand, the Dwarves are fairly bottled in where they are, and trading caravans are always viciously assaulted, suffering heavy losses.

Lots of potential for conflict and adventure.

SirKazum
2009-08-06, 03:00 PM
I've been thinking of a crazy homebrewing idea - basically, taking just the crunch from everything, and completely wiping away any and all fluff, and starting over from zero. No assumptions. Just see what entirely new fluff fits around the crunch. This has been giving me some interesting ideas for a campaign setting, but anyway, here's what I figured for a possible "ersatz-dwarf".

So, what do we have in the dwarf's crunch? Trying to boil it down to the basics, it's pretty much a race that is very hardy, has some special connection to stone and metal, and has bonuses fighting certain creatures. So, I thought, maybe this race is a sort of a "half-golem". Not quite golemlike enough to be a Living Construct (we don't want to change the crunch), but anyway, they were created a long time ago by some advanced race, and then assumed enough of a semblance of life to essentially function as living beings.

They were originally made from rocklike materials, and the essence of elemental earth is still present in them, so they have a significant innate connection to earth, rock and metal - this explains Stonecunning and the skill bonuses. Their semi-earthlike composition (and semi-golem nature) makes them very hardy, stable and resistant (though not immune) to things that affect living beings, but also somewhat slow. Hence the Con bonus, save vs. poison bonus, stability, and slower move. The residual magic animating them also shields them slightly against magic (ST bonus vs. spells and spell-like effects).

They were originally made to be soldiers, namely to decimate resident populations of orcs and goblinoids (or the ersatz versions thereof), and to defend their masters' homeland from giants, all while wielding weapons designed especially for their use - hence the combat bonuses and weapon familiarity. They were designed to operate well on nocturnal extermination missions (darkvision). However, as they were originally intended to exist simply to fulfill their military purpose, their understanding of society and social relations is quite stunted, accounting for the Charisma penalty. That makes them naïve rather than gruff.

What else is there? The favored class (fighter) sounds quite obvious in light of the above. As for their languages, you could say Dwarven is related to their masters' former language, but evolved over time, and their bonus languages are simply the ones that became useful to them after they were freed. (Hmm, there would be a lot of interesting history to decide on - but that's less a dwarf thing and more a campaign setting thing.) And they're Medium-size - so they're not necessarily shorty runts, they could be roughly human-sized or even larger (and be slow because of their physical composition).

Thinking about that, I got lots of ideas for the other races, but maybe that's best left for the Homebrew forum...

Thatguyoverther
2009-08-06, 03:18 PM
I'm digging the drwarves a communists idea. It would work well with the goblinoid slave idea to. Miners and low class dwaves in one hold throw off the 'Bourgeois Oppressors' and 'liberate' the goblinoid slaves. And by liberate I mean relabeling their slavery as voluntary labor for the state.

A single dwarven nation would be formed as the communist dwarves overthrew neighboring holds. Kinda like the USSR absorbing satellite republics, or controlling satellite nations in all but name.

Depending on how zealous they are they might try and liberate the populaces of other non-dwarven nations.

I think it would also be a kicker if the Elves we're in on it originally to help take the Dwarves out of power, only to have them reemerge as a greater threat to the elves. Kinda like Germany shipping communist revolutionaries to Moscow prior to the Bolshevik Revolution. Or an original Marx type figure being an elf.

Plus it would be cool to Dwarven runes replaced with Russian. Виток engraved on a hammer.

mistformsquirrl
2009-08-06, 06:55 PM
I'm digging the drwarves a communists idea. It would work well with the goblinoid slave idea to. Miners and low class dwaves in one hold throw off the 'Bourgeois Oppressors' and 'liberate' the goblinoid slaves. And by liberate I mean relabeling their slavery as voluntary labor for the state.

A single dwarven nation would be formed as the communist dwarves overthrew neighboring holds. Kinda like the USSR absorbing satellite republics, or controlling satellite nations in all but name.

Depending on how zealous they are they might try and liberate the populaces of other non-dwarven nations.

I think it would also be a kicker if the Elves we're in on it originally to help take the Dwarves out of power, only to have them reemerge as a greater threat to the elves. Kinda like Germany shipping communist revolutionaries to Moscow prior to the Bolshevik Revolution. Or an original Marx type figure being an elf.

Plus it would be cool to Dwarven runes replaced with Russian. Виток engraved on a hammer.

Is it wrong that what really makes this idea gold for me, is that I'm envisioning Warmachine's Khador faction, only dwarvish? <.<;

HamHam
2009-08-06, 07:00 PM
it's always been a puzzle to me how dwarves feed themselves.

Underground farms, duh.

And fishing, assuming the carp don't kill all your fisherdwarves.

The Dark Fiddler
2009-08-06, 07:05 PM
Underground farms, duh.

And fishing, assuming the carp don't kill all your fisherdwarves.

Or the zombie carp, for that matter.

Hurlbut
2009-08-06, 07:39 PM
It's not as if they can't go outside and do some hunting-gatherings either.

HamHam
2009-08-06, 07:47 PM
It's not as if they can't go outside and do some hunting-gatherings either.

Sure, if they want to be killed by the elephants.

Or more likely, chase a deer into a lake and drown.

The Dark Fiddler
2009-08-06, 07:51 PM
Sure, if they want to be killed by the elephants.

Or more likely, chase a deer into a lake and drown.


You seriously make me want to make the Dwarves in my campaign JUST like the ones in Dwarf Fortress.

All attacked by Elephants and not noticing when they're on fire.

HamHam
2009-08-06, 08:00 PM
You seriously make me want to make the Dwarves in my campaign JUST like the ones in Dwarf Fortress.

All attacked by Elephants and not noticing when they're on fire.

The PCs go in to see the Dwarven King to get their quest reward. It takes a while because he keeps going to sleep, attending parties, and throwing random dwarves in jail for not making enough obsidian chairs in the middle of the conversation.

They are walking back outside when suddenly a passing dwarf goes into a tantrum and tries to kill them. None of the other dwarves even notice.

The outside of the dwarven city is an ash covered wasteland and as you walk across it the bones of countless goblins crunch beneath your feet. As the party rides off into the sunset, they vow to never return to that place for within it is nothing but madness and death. And cats. Lots and lots of cats.

puppyavenger
2009-08-06, 08:36 PM
Roman dwarves, Spartan hobgoblins, Persian goblins, Germanic orcs, Egyptian or Pictish Elves, and base Humans on the Gauls and Spaniards. Oh, and don't let anyone tell you that the Romans never encountered the Chinese, because they did.


maybe Phonecian/Carthaginian halflings? wide-traveling well accepted culture seems about right.

although the Sack and destruction of Carthage would probably look like some kind of tragic clown act, what with every participant being a midget.

Tiki Snakes
2009-08-06, 11:39 PM
The PCs go in to see the Dwarven King to get their quest reward. It takes a while because he keeps going to sleep, attending parties, and throwing random dwarves in jail for not making enough obsidian chairs in the middle of the conversation.

They are walking back outside when suddenly a passing dwarf goes into a tantrum and tries to kill them. None of the other dwarves even notice.

The outside of the dwarven city is an ash covered wasteland and as you walk across it the bones of countless goblins crunch beneath your feet. As the party rides off into the sunset, they vow to never return to that place for within it is nothing but madness and death. And cats. Lots and lots of cats.

Oh god yes.
(Although in my case, all of the dwarves would be recent migrants, and be perpetually starving. My poor fortress is kept alive entirely through the migrants outweighing those dying of hunger/thirst/hideous fire based incidents due to my inexperience and terrible, terrible planning. They don't care though, they just keep turning up, bless their pickled livers.)

It basically counts as another vote for 'Russian Dwarves' for me, though. Partly the (on account of my incompetance) grim conditions, and partly because of how completely and utterly they are lost to alcoholism. :)

Dervag
2009-08-07, 10:57 AM
Underground farms, duh.

And fishing, assuming the carp don't kill all your fisherdwarves.They're the only people in the world who farm potatoes upside-down, harvesting them by digging up into the potato patches and pulling the plants down...

ArchaeologyHat
2009-08-07, 12:04 PM
Dwarves as Neolithic and Bronze Age Mesopotamian culture, as it's begining to be threaterned from the outside:

In the mists of time when humans still hunted and gathered living in small nomadic groups the dwarves of the river valleys at some point and somehow (possibly divine intervention as this after all, Fantasyland) developed agriculture.

With agriculture came surplus, which allowed some dwarves to not be directly involved in the food-gathering process. Specialist craftsmen and priests begin to appear, society can now support them and the existance of a food-surplus that's not needed to for basic survival means their services can be exchanged for food.

But the dwarves live in fairly narrow mountain valleys, not all that much of the land is suitable for agricultural production. The neccessity of supporting a growing Dwarf popluation breeds innovation, in this case, the creation of increasingly advanced infrastructure, irrigation, roads, storehouses.

This growing investment in their lands however makes the dwarves more vulnurable, so they begin to live settlements for safety in numbers. These settlements also become centres of trade and, as through a mixture of luck and agressive self-improvement some Dwarves have managed to create a societal hierarchy, government. As with Government it is here that organised religion begins to appear in Dwarvern society, the dwarves feel that the gods live at the top of the tallest mountains that no-one could ever climb and so they build ziggurats so that they can be close to their gods.

Some settlements flourish, grow larger and eventually conquer their neighbours. Soon all the mountain valleys are a collection of warring Dwarf city-states. This warfare stimulates the building of some of the first fortifications.

The first recorded Dwarf king united the majority of the dwarf city states after a long and protracted war, declaring himself a God-King* and demanding tribute from all of his domains. But he did not abandon the worship of the older gods, demanding that tribute also be paid to them. There is a culture amongst the dwarves that all gods are both real and worthy of respect, indeed to a dwarf paying tribute to another people's god is a great mark of respect, just as desecrating their holy-places is the greatest insult.

These days the Dwarf holdings are threaterned by more aggressive cultures from the plains and from over the sea**.

*In (pre)History this induvidal is known as Sargon of Akkad, who bacame a semi-legendary figure.

**In (pre)History these people would be the Persians, from the mountains, people who lived in the levant, egypt and the mediteranean.

Pros:

- Beards, Mesopotamian cultures had interesting beards, dwarves like beards.
- A Lawful, organized and religious culture, with a degree of hero and ancestor worship.
- Dwarves are traditionally an "Elder Race", Mesopotiamia is one of the first sizeable organized societies. (Along with China, Indus Valley and Egypt)
- City-building, including the building of monuments and fortifications a fairly large cultural feature. Dwarves in fantasy are synonymous with mountain fortresses.
- Neolithic and Bronze Age Mesopotamia is fairly well removed from the standard Medieval European setting.

Cons:

- The Agricultural requirement isn't really something associated with Dwarves.
- This has actually been done before somewhat with Warhammer Fantasy's now mainly defunct Chaos Dwarf culture and Morrowind's Dwemer both having a clear Mesopotamian theme.
- I'm sure I'll think of more later.