Tuesday, June 5, 2018

How to Make Dwarves Neat!

The thing about Dwarves is they don't get a lot to them. Even Tolkien, who loved writing extensively about Elves, gives the literary shrug towards the stout fellows. They get an origin story and then occasionally show up where we are told that Dwarves love underground lairs, they love to mine, they love to forge things, and they are resistant to dragon fire. Alright, so let's see what we can give to Dwarves that might generate interest in them. For our purposes Dwarves include Mountain and Hill Dwarves.

Mountain Dwarves

Brief: Mountain Dwarves view themselves as the True Dwarf and closest to their mountain gods. The general misconception is that Dwarves only dwell underground. Obviously to feed the Dwarven nation requires an active presence on the surface. Mountain Dwarves prefer settlements that range from mountain to plains where they raise cattle and boar along with tough plants such as barley for bread and beer.

-Nobility among Mountain Dwarves believe that riches are required to buy their way to the tallest peaks of heaven. Rich Dwarves deserve to rule, servant Dwarves deserve to serve.

-The above attitude as well as a yearning for freedom from the heavy handedness of the Mountain Dwarves is what sparked a civil war that broke up the Dwarves into Mountain Dwarves and Hill Dwarves. Since the civil war Mountain Dwarves maintain a cooled relations with the Hill clans and prefer relations with Human kings over their own cousins.

-Mountain Dwarves line of succession includes a King backed by a number of Thanes and the Thanes support a number of Karls. The King is protected by the Hearthguard, a unit of Dwarven fusiliers who use blunderbuss and axe to protect the king. The Hearthguard are forbidden from marriage or physical love, save with the King.

Adventure Ideas

Expand: A Mountain Dwarf surface city needs to acquire more land currently held by Mountain Dwarf's enemies, the Gnolls. Rather than risk their men, the Mountain Dwarves offer an adventuring party a job of either convincing the gnolls to leave or driving them off by force.

Recover: A Mountain Dwarf Karl is on the outs with his Thane for failing to defend the Thanes home from raiders and losing an heirloom. Now the Karl is looking for a team to recover the item and has clues who may be holding the heirloom.

Cheer Up: The party meets a despondent Hearth Guard for falling in love with another man who wasn;t the King. She has now been kicked from the service and expelled from the mountain. Maybe the party could hire her>


Hill Dwarves

Brief: Hill Dwarves view themselves and their society as the proper and right way that Dwarven society should head. A Dwarf must be steadfast, true to his word, honor his forebears, and work an honest living to be rewarded in the afterlife. Hill Dwarves generally dwell in large walled cities that span the hills and down into river valleys where they typically mingle with Gnomes and Halflings. This inter-cultural exchange has taught Hill Dwarves a great degree about shipbuilding and farming in exchange for their skill in woodworking and carpentry.

-Hill Dwarven culture revolves around ancestor worship and acknowledging a spiritual animal that guards and protects their family line. Blessed beasts typically include animals such as Boar, Ram, Bear and other animals renowned for strength or endurance. Dwarves who acknowledge beasts such as the Fox or a type of Bird are associated with minor distrust as those animals are associated with thievery.

-Hill Dwarf communities are typically run by an elder known as a Thane. The Thane is highly respected, but also answers to a council made of the strongest Dwarven families known as a Karls Moot. Communities are often encouraged to trade with other races and are welcoming to Halflings and Gnomes. The former are respected for their practical farming advice and the latter for their ingenuity.

-Hill Dwarves are closely associated with the *Fusiliers* or firearm troopers. Dwarven doctrine is the 'pike-and-shot' which combines halberds and pole arms protecting rows of firearm using Dwarves. The invention known as the bayonet is being viewed as the next step in military formation.

-A traditional weapon of the Hill Dwarf is the axe. This is a weapon used both as a tool and a weapon and symbolizes Hill Dwarf passion for woodworking and timber over blacksmithing and ore.

Adventure Ideas

Escort: A Hill Dwarf merchant needs to get a load of timber through a bandit infested river. He offers to hire the party to join his crew made of Halflings, Gnomes, and Dwarves.

Investigate: A local Karl family is upset as their ancestor shrine has been disturbed. Evidence points to the band of Travelers whose garish caravan passed through recently. Are the gypsies grave robbing? Or is there more than meets the eye?

Negotiate: A Hill Dwarf community and a Mountain Dwarf are in negotiations to exchange timber and food for ore work. Situation is tense as past bitterness could easily well up between the two camps and the party is asked to help make sure the talks go smooth. Time to hobnob with stout folk.

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