Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Campaign Design - Race: Dwarves

(adapted from the Player's Handbook and the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting)

Personality: Dwarves are known for their engineering and mining skills, their superior crafting ability, and their proficiency at war. They love crafts, and the race has produced some of the greatest physical craftsmen in the world. Most dwarven craftsmen prize well made items above all other things and will often prefer a well made mundane item to a poorly crafted magical one. Dwarves are not opposed to investing physical objects with magical powers and many of their products are magical in nature, and many dwarves have become quite skilled at imbuing magical properties into objects.

There are four main national backgrounds for dwarves in the campaign setting. In the northern lands, the Dekkulde Island dwarves are the most violent and warlike. They are also among the foremost shipwrights in the world, and although they rarely sail, they do so more often than their southern brehtren. The dwarves of Felsreich are regarded as the superlative smiths and craftsmen of the world. Their weaponry and armor is considered to be the most desirable, and a crafter's mark from Felsreich is treated as a guarantee of quality. The dwarves of Steinigreich are considered to be the foremost miners of the world. They dig further that any others in the lands, and have unearthed many wondrous items while delving deep into the secret places under the earth. Finally, while their cousins focus on crafting at the forge or mining under the earth, the dwarves from Hartzstadt are masters at building fortifications and other constructions as well as creating siege weapons, clockwork creations, and other engineering gadgets.

Physical Description: Dwarves generally stand between four to four and a half feet tall and are extremely stocky of build, averaging a robust 160-200 pounds although they do not tend to obesity; instead their body mass is extremely dense, accounting for their great durability. Dwarves generally live into their mid-hundreds and two-hundred year old dwarves are not unheard of. Dwarves have ruddy, reddish-brown complexion, more noticeably red than any human would appear. Their hair tends to be black, brown, or iron gray hair, but some have hair the color of steel, bronze, silver, or gold. They usually have black or grey eyes, but color runs towards gemstone-like colors as well: emerald, ruby, and sapphire. Virtually all male dwarves wear beards in which they take great pride which they frequently braid or weave into some sort of pattern. Their features are blunt and coarse and very few humans would call a dwarf good looking, and most members of other races find them unattractive. The joints and muscle structure of a dwarf are extremely thick and dense, and they have oversized hands and arms, which would give them a slightly "ape-like" appearance if they were scaled up to human height.

Dwarves generally wear well-made and cared for items and frequently have some sort of decorative jewelry. Their love of constructed items is shown in their taste for beautiful, well-made clothes and other adornments although their tastes rarely run to the gaudy or ostentatious.

Relations: Dwarves are generally clannish and tend to trust other dwarves while treating most outsiders with suspicion. A non-dwarf can win acceptance in dwarven society by demonstrating his trustworthiness and usefulness in some way, although the process may take some time. The greatest compliment a dwarf will give to a member of another race is “He made himself like a dwarf”. They are fundamentally honest and forthright. Dwarven traders have acquired a reputation as tough but fair bargainers. In the Three Worlds, dwarves from Steinigreich are generally regarded as the most standoffish and reclusive, while dwarves from Hartzstadt are the most gregarious and outgoing. Dwarves from Hartzstadt are also known throughout the lands as bankers, and powerful dwarven banking guilds mint coinage and operate banks, issue letters of credit, hold loans, and collect debts. Due to their law abiding nature and their superior craft skills, dwarves are generally welcome in most lands, even if they rarely choose to avail themselves of the opportunities.

Alignment: Dwarves are usually lawful, and tend towards good, although these generalizations are by no means universal. Dwarves from the Dekkulde Islands tend to be more chaotic than dwarves from other areas, although they still have a strong sense of honor and are devoted to their clans.

Dwarven Lands: Although they were not officially part of the Rhadynnaic Sky Empire, the three largest dwarven ruled nations now have seats on the High Council. These nations also did not directly take part in the Wars of Succession, as their rulers neither had nor desired a claim upon the Carnelian Throne. These kingdoms are Steinigreich and Felsreich in the north, and Hartzstadt in the south. Although dwarves mostly share a common culture, there are slight differences between dwarves from different nations, variations on a theme so to speak.

Dwarven tradition provides for the selection of leaders by means of a quasi-merit system. Dwarven life is dominated by powerful Guilds that constitute the de facto government of all three of the dwarven kingdoms. Guild members weave their beards into distinctive patterns that Guild Masters are chosen by the members who select their leaders based upon the age and accomplishment of the candidates. A dwarf must distinguish himself through his work, demonstrating himself to be a dedicated and skilled craftsman in his field to be considered as a leader. A dwarf must also possess sufficient years to be considered for a position of responsibility as dwarven tradition emphasizes the wisdom and judgment that comes with age and experience. The emphasis on age results in a pronounced conservative streak among the rulers of the dwarven nations, and even the most liberal of dwarven Guild Masters is typically among the most conservative members of the High Council. In addition to the three nations within the Three Worlds, there are scattered smaller dwarven holdings elsewhere, most notably on the Dekkulde Islands, each ruled over by their own chief or king.

Religion: Most dwarves in the Three Worlds worship Wünd hoping that the divine favor thus obtained will enable them to craft powerful and beautiful objects. Many dwarven craftsmen also honor Hœnir, paying respect to the Machine that Makes as the foremost engineer in the heavens. Heim and Tiwas are also popular deities among dwarves, as the defensive bent of Heim's creed and Tiwas' zest for the enforcement of law appeals to the dwarven mind set. A number of dwarves from the Dekkulde Islands hold Þunor in high regard as well.

Language: Dwarven characters speak Rhadynnic or Sorglish as well as Zwersprache (for characters from Steinigreich, Felsreich, or Hartzstadt) or Rodharic and Rosprache (for characters from the Dekkulde Islands).

Names: Dwarves from Steinigreich and Felsreich generally have Germanic sounding names consisting of a first name and a second family, guild, or clan name. Dwarves from Hartzstadt generally have Dutch sounding names using the same conventions as their northern cousins. Some dwarves from Steinigreich or Felsreich use the name "von" in the middle of their name, which indicates a claim to nobility. Dwarves from Hartzstadt use the name "van" for the same purpose, and with the same significance.

Dwarves from the Dekkulde Islands have Norse sounding names with a first name followed by a clan name. Dekkulde Island dwarves are also frequently referred to by a nickname or appellation given to indicate some noteworthy accomplishment or feature of the dwarven in question such as "Bronzebeard", "Blackaxe", or "Ironfoot".
  • Type: Humanoid.

  • Ability Scores: +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma. Dwarves are tough, but somewhat oblivious and stubborn.

  • Size: Medium size.

  • Movement: Dwarves have a base speed of 20 feet. Dwarves wearing medium or heavy armor do not suffer any reduction in their normal base speed, although they are still limited to three times their speed when running in heavy armor. Dwarven barbarians lose their Fast Movement class ability while wearing heavy armor.

  • Earth Vision: Darkvision with a range of 60 feet.

  • Skilled Craftsmen: Dwarves gain a +2 racial bonus to Appraise checks that are related to stone or metal items, and a +2 racial bonus to Craft checks that are related to stone or metal.

  • Stonecunning (Ex): Stonecunning grants dwarves a +2 racial bonus on checks to notice unusual stonework, such as sliding walls, stonework traps, new construction (even when built to match the old), unsafe stone surfaces, shaky stone ceilings, and the like. Something that isn’t stone but that is disguised as stone also counts as unusual stonework. A dwarf who merely comes within 10 feet can make a check as if were actively searching, and a dwarf can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can. A dwarf can also intuit depth, sensing his approximate depth underground as naturally as a human can sense which way is up. Dwarves have a sixth sense about stonework, an innate ability that they get plenty of opportunity to practice and hone in their underground homes.

  • Stability (Ex): Dwarves are exceptionally stable on their feet. A dwarf gains a +4 bonus on ability checks to resist being bull rushed or tripped when standing on the ground (but not when climbing, flying, riding, or otherwise not standing firmly on the ground).
  • Tough as a Rock (Ex): +2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison. Dwarves are hardy and resistant to toxins.

  • Terran Blood (Su): +1 racial bonus on saving throws against earth spells and effects. This bonus increases by +1 for every five levels a dwarf attains.

  • Earth Mastery (Ex): A dwarf gains a +1 bonus on attack and damage rolls if both it and its foe touch the ground. If an opponent is airborne or waterborne, the dwarf suffers a -4 penalty on attack and damage rolls.

  • Automatic Languages: Rhadynnic or Sorglish plus either Anfagen Zwursprache (for dwarves from Hartzstadt), Zwersprache (for dwarves from Steinigreich or Felsreich), or Nordlish and Desprache (for dwarves from the Dekkulde Islands).

  • Favored Class: Fighter.

  • Favored Class: Warrior.

  • Exclusive Class: Artificer (from the Eberron Campaign Setting).

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