Friday, October 25, 2019

Weird Dwarf Traits

It is important to me that the demihuman races feel properly distinct and non-human. Or at least, they should be exotic or foreign, and especially easy to roleplay in a memorable way. As we know, dwarrow (dwarves) tend to all be the same. We should fix that. Here are some miscellaneous things about dwarrow culture I’ve either brainstormed sitting here or accumulated over the years. Some are pretty creative and original, others are straight-up cultural appropriation but, like, you’ll enjoy them.
  1. A name unpronounceable backwards is spiritually pure. So a name like Olaf (“Falo”) is vulnerable, but a name like Bjorn (“Nrojb?”) is pretty solid.
  2. Dwarrow religion incorporates prayer wheels and idols instead of books or rosaries. 
  3. Meals are usually with family, sitting on the ground, with one big platter in the center that everyone shares from. 
  4. Dwarrow drink a type of ceremonial tea made from some kind of rare flower that blooms when in the liquid. As it does so, it displays a successive range of colorful images that tell a story.
  5. While normal subterranean architecture needs rounded roofs to distribute the weight of the earth above, dwarrow use rune magic to allow all rooms to be shaped by sacred right angles and straight lines. 
  6. Evil dwarf/duergar warlords will cut off their slain opponent’s beards and braids to wear as trophies. 
  7. Since dwarrow are just sculptures given souls, I totally feel like they reincarnate. Old souls inhabit new sculptures and the cycle continues. 
  8. Also, when a dwarf dies their stone body is left behind. If they aren’t properly laid to rest then the hollow body will start looking in other people’s bodies to take the soul from. Basically, without burial rites, you get dwarrow stone zombies that tear people apart looking for souls to steal. Don’t worry, though. A dwarf who dies in battle has had a proper death, so no, dwarrow battlefields are not usually huge zombie sources. But dwarrow communities crippled by disease or famine definitely are, if they can’t keep up with funerary obligations. Oftentimes the likely victim of a dwarf zombie is the dwarf’s own family members, both for proximity and for their souls’ familiarity. This is why proper death rites are done to protect the whole family from being cursed, not just the deceased. 
  9. Dwarrow religion is based on a sacred text called Harbards Saga, written on nine stone tablets that form the northern wall of the ancient Dwarrow citadel of Loptborg at the height of the Val Kopec Mountains. It is considered the sacred duty of every Dwarf to make a pilgrimage to the Saga at least once in their life, with the ultimate mission upon arrival being the complete, lifelong memorization of the full text. As most older Dwarrow have accomplished this, the stories of their faith can be shared with the youth by way of oral recitation drawn from memory, up until the time when they make their own pilgrimage. 
  10. They count dwarf-sized or small-sized folk as 1 person, human-sized folk as 2 people, and something big like an ogre or centaur as 4 people. So in a party of one dwarf fighter, one halfling cleric, one human rogue, and one elf wizard, a dwarf may threaten the 5 enemy goblins with, “we outnumber you! There’s six of us and only 5 of you!” They are otherwise exceptionally talented at mathematics and quantitative reasoning. It’s important for engineering and economics. 
  11. In any settlement where the priests of Lord Sonnung dwell, every morning they blow a ram’s horn (called a shofar) to sound throughout the streets, announcing that the community is safe one more day. This obviously doesn’t apply in times of war. When a battle is won, it is also customary to blow a shofar over the battlefield to announce victory. 
  12. All the biggest dwarf cities will have at least one part reach up to the surface world. This will have an ash tree growing, upon the surface of which are dozens of runes carved and glowing gold. Every one of these trees is identical, and each rune indicates the current status of one of the cities. If your own city is under attack or captured, you go up and change the rune. This will cause it to change on every other tree, telling the other dwarrow what’s up. If that city ever falls, Lord Sonnung will strike the tree dead, and no rune will remain but the one for that city. It becomes a sacred site for dwarrow (a monument to conquered ancestors), and if anyone tries to take it, they’ll set off the rune and cause the whole area to collapse into the Underworld. 
Also, some advice for roleplaying a dwarf well. Justify every action as being done in service to honor and condemn every slight against you as a dishonor. Everything. Disregard consistency.


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