THAT book is one of the best introductions to Dwarves ever. Uninvited Dwarven guests looking for a burglar to help on a crazy quest. One magic ring, a miffed Dragon and a massive battle later leads us onto the next lot of books. These also have dwarves in, mainly featuring a Dwarven relative of the first lot who befriends an Elf. It’s a crazy read!
Following from this fine example of dwarveness, These short but stout beings have become a cornerstone of fantasy roleplay games. Not only in the pen and paper games but also in computer games such as the Elder Scrolls series. Although it must be said they feature as a long lost race called the Dwemer and unfortunately are not a playable race. However Dwarves can be played as characters in the Divinity Sin games.
As player characters Dwarves are an excellent choice. Dungeons and Dragons 5E gives out some excellent bonuses. These include ability score bonuses to constitution, the ability to see in the dark and a saving throw advantage against poison. Dwarves also get a resistance to poison damage. As a recognition to their master crafting skills, Dwarves in D&D 5E also get a tool proficency of the players choosing.
There is a subrace for D&D 5E known as the Hill Dwarfs. They get increase in ability score to Wisdom and the maximum hitpoint number increases by 1 and continues to do so as a character levels up.
Middle Earth Roleplay Dwarves also get some great bonuses. They have restrictions in place and cannnot become Mages or Bards but that’s not a massive issue! For starters, as in D&D, MERP recognises the dwarven nature of living and working underground. With this in mind, Dwarves in MERP get the ability to see in the dark. 10′ in total darkness, and up to 100′ in dim light. Dwarves get a +5 bonus to strength and an excellent +15 (basically an extra 15 hitpoints!) constitution stat bonus. However, their stature and stockiness means they lose -5 in agility and perhaps their inflexibilty and rather rigid way of doing things mean they also lose -5 in both intuition and presence. Once again though Dwarves get good resisitance rolls against essence and also poison and disease.
I feel they are an excellent choice as a player character. Good constitiuton bonuses give a hardy character who would be excellent as a warrior type. With a bit of jiggling about statswise, a dwarven character could easily fit into other roles as well.
Here is a dwarven character called Belbarus Spoonbeard. A character created by a very good friend of mine.
Thankyou for sharing Mr Marshall!
Dwarf Animist /Cleric (Aroma-therapist)
Spoonbeard is a 78 year old Dwarf from the Iron Hills of Middle Earth. He is the 7th son of warrior Clansman Rendoor Ulfaxe, grandson of warrior Clansman Thunor Ulfaxe.
The family line has always followed the same tradition, the eldest son becomes a mighty warrior, the second a master mason, the third a skilled silversmith etc. But because Dwarves have so few offspring no one had ever had a 7th son before so a new profession had to be found. All the traditional Dwarven professions had been included already, thus Belbarus was chosen to become an aroma-therapist.
Spoonbeard is 4’8” tall and heavily built. He has long red hair and a thick red beard with a large number of tiny iron spoons plaited into it. His eyes are piercing blue and he has a large bulbous nose with an iron ring through the septum.
He is good natured (for a Dwarf – which means taciturn and grumpy compared with the other free races). He is loyal and tenacious (some would say stubborn) and has a fairly good knowledge of the world, having travelled widely in search of rare rock strata. Like all Dwarves he is distrusting of Elves and has a pathological hatred of Orcs.
He wears a heavy woollen cloak and hood of green and black plaid over light leather armour. Inside the cloak numerous small pockets are stitched and he also wears 2 bandoleers, all of which are filled with dozens of tiny bottles and vials full of powders and tinctures.
The bottles each represent a different healing compound taken from the subterranean rocks and metals of his home; tincture of granite, distillate of iron, onyx powder, copper unguent etc. which Spoonbeard uses to attempt healing on the wounded and diseased. He takes a small measure or a mixture of powders in one of his many spoons and waves it hopefully under the nose of the injured party, none of whom have ever even remotely re-gown their severed limbs or knitted their broken bones. He believes that herbs used for healing are akin to black magic (or at best Elf magic) as all plants decay and rot quickly compared to his rocks.
Spoonbeard’s arms and torso are covered in intricate tattoos with runic script and colourful depictions of the elements and rocks he uses. These act as a grimoire and recipe book for his ‘cures’, and he is often found at the rear of a battle stripping off and trying to read the details of a particular elixir somewhere on his chest.
Spoonbeard fights fairly well with a rock-pick and hammer in each hand. He can climb and track fairly well and has higher intelligence and intuition than physical strength.
An unexpected pitfall of adventuring with Spoonbeard (apart from being administered solution of cobalt for a broken neck) is that the spoons in his beard chime together and clank constantly when trying to sneak anywhere silently.
Having Spoonbeard on your team is no bad thing, but not for the reason he thinks.
I can’t help but write tongue in cheek characters, I do try and walk the JRR Tolkien line but somehow they always come out a bit Terry Pratchett. They are more fun to play that way.
Spoonbeard was written for a MERP game but I have converted and used him for a number of different systems. He has even been ripped through space and time to appear (totally out of his depth) on a plague ridden space-hulk about to crash into earth (his filtrate of limestone did nothing to calm his nerves).