Sunday, June 4, 2017

Savage Scarabae: All About Dwarves

In today's post we look at a couple of Dwarven groups that inhabit Scarabae. These groups include Shield, Gold, Gray, & Sea Clan Dwarves.

Dwarves in General

Few Dwarves are ever Scarabae born. While there are the Sea Clan Dwarves, they typically hail from islands and coastal enclaves on the western frontier, they just happen to make their way to the Island chain at some point in their career if they are sailing. Most Dwarves still arrive from realms dark and deep in the world. These Dwarves are slower moving, and the Dwarves of these groups tend to be the sons of sons of the original surface dwellers who left the Clanhalls for a myriad of reasons. Among the group that requires either a magical accident, quick exile, or a case of sons of sons of sons of sons are the Gray Dwarves or Duergar who come from the depths of the Underdark. Every year the Libris Rex notes that at least once or twice portals in Incarnate Zones have dumped individual or small groups of Duergar to a very strange world. Dagnar Sparrowfriend is a Gray Dwarf exile and Libris Rex member (Psionicist or Wizard depending on availability) who is charge of acclimating these Dwarves into civil society.

The Following factors are all shared in common with Dwarves - Dwarves tend to be shorter than most Humans and taller than truly diminutive creatures such as Gnomes, Halflings, and the like. They are stocky, with a emphasis on broad shoulders and wide torsos that are either rock hard or flabby depending on the dietary and exercise regimen of the Dwarf. Males tend to sport large braided beards with ornaments such as jewels or gold bands in their braids. Ladies tend to sport braided hair with the same sort of ornamentation. Dwarves outside of Scarabae tend to organize marriage between clans, though this practice within the islands has faded. Below are the individual notes:

Shield Dwarves
Aka: Hill Dwarves

Brief: Shield Dwarves tend to build defensive redoubts in the mountain and hilltop communities rather than truly plundering deep into the stone. Their skin tends towards white with shades of tan depending on sun exposure. Their hair color is typically brown, but can include shades of red or blonde. Shield Dwarves have the following traits:


Tough: D6 Vigr

Darkvision: Shield Dwarves can see up to 6 squares (60 ft.) in total darkness without issue or mechanical penalty. They cannot discern color, only shades of gray.

Slow: Base Pace is 5 (25 ft.)

Recommended Edges for Dwarfness: Arcane Resistance, Improved Arcane Resistance, Liquid Courage, Brawny, & Brave

Other Notes: Shield Dwarves typically emphasis martial or ranged combat. Their weapon of choice includes axes or maces that are either two-handed or with shields. They tend use crossbows or gunpowder weapons when available. Dwarves who take up Arcane or Clerical arts can at times eschew Arcane Resistance for an Arcane Background. Most Dwarves are Brawny and quite a few get drunk before having to fight. Shield Dwarves have a Common Knowledge bonus of +2 when it comes to identifying the value of weapons, armor, smithy work, and stone-based art objects.

In Scarabae: Besides the Sea Clan, Shield Dwarves are the second highest visitor or immigrant to the island. They typically settle in either the Wards where they work a craft or go to the Furnace and pursue a career in mining in the deposits on the 5th island in Scarabae's chain. Dwarves seeking true adventure outside of fighting gangs or pirates continue their journey to the western frontier where they fight killer Halflings and monsters.

Gold Dwarves

Brief: In the grand mythology, there was the Power known as Strength. It, or he, or she... depending on cultural representation, is said to have crafted Dwarves from various materials. Shield Dwarves were carved from iron, Duergar were carved from obsidian, and Gold Dwarves are carved from gold. Gold Dwarves never bothered to write mythology of how the Sea Clan came about- perhaps coral?

Gold Dwarves hail from mountain fortresses with small support communities on the surface. Diet on select mushrooms, the presence of molten gold, and a diet on the flesh and milk of the Emperor Ram have given Golden Dwarves a skin color that varies in shade of bronze with black or dark red hair. Gold Dwarves have the following stats:


Tough: D6 Vigr

Darkvision: Shield Dwarves can see up to 6 squares (60 ft.) in total darkness without issue or mechanical penalty. They cannot discern color, only shades of gray.

Slow: Base Pace is 5 (25 ft.)

Recommended Edges: Arcane Resistance, Brawny, Rich, and Command.

Notes: While several Gold Dwarves embrace their ancient connection to stones or earth to gain a measure of Arcane Resistance, several also have devoted themselves to the Arcane or Divine arts. Quite a number of Gold Dwarves who leave their fortresses are rich adventurers, and a few Gold Dwarves have the Command edge due to previous experience leading their fellows in combating dangers that dredge up from the Underdark to challenge their halls. Gold Dwarves have few mechanical differences from the Shield Dwarf cousins, but common knowledge rolls grant a +2 Smarts when trying to identify the value of gems, gold, and art objects.

In Scarabae: Gold Dwarves typically settle into the Wards where they ply their trade into banking or mercantile pursuits over crafting. It was Gold Dwarves that were successful in organizing the Gold Coin Party - a political party that emphasizes a scheme of low taxes, merchant friendly policies, and tough customs policy on certain contrabands. Their slogans include such items as: "Coins for Progress" or "A Coin in Scarabae Council is a Coin In Your Pocket". No Gold Dwarf was every accused of coming up with something too catchy. Honorable Gold Dwarves have also found a career in militia defense and mercenary work in the western frontier where they continue to lead attacks against Ghostwise Halflings. Captain Thundra Kegbrand (f, fighter-type) is famous for slaying a Ghostwise Chieftain in hand-to-hand combat. Her Kegbrand Outriders continue to hold the line to this day.

Sea Clan Dwarves

Brief: It is argued whether the Sea Clan is an actual group of Dwarves, or some branch of the Shield Dwarves that put on airs. It is true that the Sea Clan does exhibit some rather unique traits, and also cultural changes that have passed on down to younger Sea Clan. To Clan Members themselves, they view themselves as close cousins to Shield Dwarves. They tell how their representation of the power 'The Star' also wanted a brand of people to sail under her majesty and in the waters she loved, so she asked Strength to grant her a favor. From beach pebbles he carved the Sea Clan. These Dwarves tend to have shades of tan to their skin with brown or red hair. They have the following traits:

Tough: Begins play with a d6 Vigor.

Low Light Vision: Halves illumination penalties when under starlight, torch light, or other conditions that provide at least some kind of light for a Dwarf's eyes to adjust.
Slow: Base Pace is 5.

Sailor: Begins with a free d6 in Boating.

Recommended Edges: Ace, Liquid Courage, Brawny, Arcane Resistance, Brave, Scavenger

Notes: Sea Clan Dwarves have a cultural tradition that gives them a starting skill in Boating- in fact, it is said that most Sea Clan young are born on a rowboat. Sea Clan Dwarves gain a Common Knowledge +2 bonus to identifying the value in certain types of woods, forging survival tools such as hooks or making nets. They also get a +2 bonus on Survival checks when fishing. Their recommended Edges nod to Dwarves tendency to resist the Arcane rather than embracing it- those who do embrace it tend towards the Divine as water-borne Shaman and Clerics. Sea Clan also really, really like to get drunk for a fight.

In Scarabae: Sea Clan Dwarves are certainly found on the docks and taverns of Scarabae's vast ports. Their jobs range from merchants, pirates, and general crew to fishermen or longshoremen. A number of successful dockside bar owners are Sea Clan Dwarves who can call upon their fellow Dwarves to help drive out rowdy sailors of other races (or drag out a brother Dwarf who is acting up). The Bloodthirsty Pelican is one such establishment where Owen Gulfstrider makes a living serving citrus laced grog and renting beds to tired Sea Clan sailors (at a reduced price).

Gray Dwarves

Brief: Gray Dwarves (Aka Duergar) are, perhaps, the most unusual sight walking Scarabae's streets (usually in small groups and very reticent to act to greetings or catcalls). Gray Dwarves, in their natural environment, hail from the Underdark regions of the wide world. At best, in the Underdark. They are withdrawn, cagey, protective to the point of being hostile. At their worst they'll try to enslave unfortunate travelers to their subterranean realm and sell them as sport to mainstream Drow or as food to Mindflayers. As mentioned above, Duergar typically end up in Scarabae due to exile or magical accident. Those that arrive find, much to their chagrin, that Scarabae does not care for prejudice and isn't very big on open slavery. Duergar have gray skin with white hair, their eyes tend towards white or blue. Modernized Duergar living in Scarabae have also taken to dying their hair, such as volcanic red- again, probably to the chagrin of older, conservative Dwarves and their parents. They have the following traits:

Tough: Begins play with D6 Vigor

Slow: Base Pace is 5.

Weakness (Sunlight): Duergar are born in the Underdark and do not work well under direct sunlight or in bright, sun based spells (Such as Daylight or properly modified Light powers). Under direction Sunlight or bright UV rays a Duergar takes a -2 to all Trait rolls.

Deepvision: A Duergar can see up to 24 squares (120 ft.) In total darkness. They cannot discern color in pitch black conditions, only shades of gray.

Stealthy: Life underground and as a short race has allowed Duergar to adapt. They begin play with a d6 in the Stealth skill.

Recommended Edges: Brawny, Arcane Resistance, Imp. Arcane Resistance, Brave, Alertness, Danger Sense, Arcane Background: Psionics

Notes: Duergar either embrace their Dwarven resistances to the Arcane or embrace the often misunderstood powers of Psionics. They typically train themselves to be Alert for signs of danger- having lived in the hostile world of Underdark for a portion of their life. Some manage to harness this alertness so well they manifest a preternatural Danger Sense to trouble. Like all Dwarves, Duergar tend to be Brawny and quite a number are fearless in battle. Their Common Knowledge bonuses include +2's in Smarts with Smithy work, Know (Psionics) when identifying or dealing with Psionic-based objects, Survival checks made in the Underdark, and Smarts checks to identify creatures that include aberrations and the like.

Racial Edges (Duergar)

Sunlight Acclimation
Requirements: Seasoned, Weakness (Sunlight), d6 Vigor

Effect: By spending time outdoors and through slow acclimation, this once nocturnal creature has
adjusted somewhat to the world. Their -2 penalty for operating in sunlight is reduced to -1 and can be
further reduced to 0 through means such as shading eyes through hats, cloaks, or fighting under large

Duergar Growth
Requirements: Duergar, Seasoned, D6 Vigor

Effect: Duergar have learned to channel innate magics to cause them to grow large. This Edge grants 5 Power Points and the Growth/Shrink Spell. A Duergar can only spend these points on the Growth part of the spell. Each 2 points spent at the time casting increases the Duergar's size by 1 step- thus, a Duergar can grow as large as +2 Size and Strength. Points recharge at a rate of 1 per hour.

In Scarabae: Duergar have one or two avenues that they typically go down. One avenue for Duergar is breaking away from their previous history. These Gray Dwarves typically find work as smiths, jewelcrafters, or Libris Rex for those who are inclined to be Psionicists. Duergar who still embrace dark desires common to them find work in criminal gangs and underground slavers, such as Ninth Circle which worships the 'Devil' power and deal in its dark deeds.


Scarabae - The original setting posts by Jack Shear of Tales of Grotesque and Dungeonesque.

Scarabae Guide - A PDF with everything you need to know about Scarabae (System Neutral)

My Scarabae - Material I've written for it. A lot of it is system neutral, some of it has 5e trappings that can be easily cleared for Savage Worlds.

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