Shield Dwarf

The sculpted halls and echoing chambers of dwarven kingdoms are scattered through the Underdark like forgotten necklaces of semiprecious stones. Dwarven kingdoms such as Xonathanur, Oghrann, and Gharraghaur taught the less civilized races of Faerûn what it meant to hold and wield power. Unlike the ancient human empires, the dwarves distrusted magic, so they were never seduced to the heights of magical folly that toppled Netheril and Imaskar. Instead, the dwarves became locked in eternal wars with goblin-kind and the other dwellers in the Underdark. One by one, the dwarven empires of the north failed, leaving only scattered survivors in the mountains or unconquered sections of the Underdark.

The clans that survived these battles are the shield dwarves. For many human generations they were divided into two types: the Hidden, given to reclusion and secrecy, and the Wanderers, comfortable with the other races and inclined to exploration. Since the Thunder Blessing, the older members of Hidden clans are beginning to change their hearts. Within a few decades the differences between Hidden and Wanderer may become meaningless.


Shield dwarven holds exist in Damara, Impiltur, the North, the Silver Marches, Vaasa, the Vast, and the Western Heartlands. Citadel Adbar (north and east of Silverymoon) is the most famous shield dwarven city. Most shield dwarf characters select one of these homelands as their native region.

Racial Traits

  • +2 Constitution, –2 Charisma. Shield dwarves are stout and tough but tend to be gruff and reserved.
  • Medium: As Medium creatures, shield dwarves have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Shield dwarf base land speed is 20 feet. However, shield dwarves can move at this speed even when wearing medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load (unlike other creatures, whose speed is reduced in such situations).
  • Darkvision: Shield dwarves can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and shield dwarves can function just fine with no light at all.
  • Stonecunning: This ability grants a shield dwarf a +2 racial bonus on Search 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 shield dwarf who merely comes within 10 feet of unusual stonework can make a Search check as if he were actively searching, and a shield dwarf can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can. A shield dwarf can also intuit depth, sensing his approximate depth underground as naturally as a human can sense which way is up. Shield dwarves have a sixth sense about stonework, an innate ability that they get plenty of opportunity to practice and hone in their underground homes.
  • Weapon Familiarity: Shield dwarves may treat dwarven waraxes and dwarven urgroshes as martial weapons, rather than exotic weapons.
  • Stability: A shield dwarf gains a +4 bonus on ability checks made 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).
  • +2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison. Shield dwarves are hardy and resistant to toxins.
  • +2 racial bonus on saving throws against spells and spell-like effects. Shield dwarves have an innate resistance to magic spells.
  • +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs and goblinoids. Shield dwarves are trained in the special combat techniques that allow them to fight their common enemies more effectively.
  • +4 dodge bonus to Armor Class against monsters of the giant type. This bonus represents special training that shield dwarves undergo, during which they learn tricks that previous generations developed in their battles with giants. Any time a creature loses its Dexterity bonus (if any) to Armor Class, such as when it’s caught flat-footed, it loses its dodge bonus, too.
  • +2 racial bonus on Appraise checks that are related to stone or metal items. Shield dwarves are familiar with valuable items of all kinds, especially those made of stone or metal.
  • +2 racial bonus on Craft checks that are related to stone or metal. Shield dwarves are especially capable with stonework or metalwork.
  • Favored Class: Fighter. A multiclass shield dwarf’s fighter class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.

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