Dwarves

Dwarves ruled vast kingdoms beneath hill and mountain long before humans wandered into Faerûn. Many sages suspect that the first dwarves came to Faerûn millennia ago in a great migration from another plane. However, it occurred so long ago that evidence of it is almost nonexistent, and meanwhile the dwarves are now as natural a part of Faerûn as the mountains themselves. The two main dwarven subraces are the shield dwarves of northern Faerûn and the gold dwarves of the far south. The gray dwarves, or duergar, are an Underdark race less common than their surface kindred. The gray dwarves are generally evil, although a few exiles defy this rule.

Male dwarves of any type take pride in their beards, the most remarkable of any race. Some female dwarves of Faerûn can grow beards, too, often passing as males among the nondwarves of the surface lands. Dwarven women may choose to shave their beards to match human-style expectations of beauty, while others glory in luxurious plaited beards that match their hair or wear sharply cut goatees.

For many generations the dwarven race declined in numbers from endless wars with orcs and their kin. However, in the Year of Thunder (1306 DR), the great god Moradin bestowed a new blessing upon his people. The dwarves tell different stories about the source of this blessing, which they refer to as the Forge or the Thunder Blessing. Some say that it was the result of a mighty quest by a dwarven heroine. Others say that Moradin had planned to reforge his peoples’ souls all along. Whatever the source of the blessing, the birthrate among dwarves has soared until it is now fully half as high as that of a young and vigorous human land.

The new dwarven generation is commonly referred to as the thunder children. Nearly a filth of dwarven births after the Thunder Blessing have resulted in identical or fraternal twins. The thunder children share little of the fear and distrust of arcane magic possessed by their ancestors. Most dwarves still feel more comfortable wielding an axe instead of a wand, but many thunder children, particularly the twins, study wizardry or the sorcerer’s arts.

In the past few years, these thunder children have come of age, and dwarves are once again a common sight in Faerûn. Many young stout folk leave their homes in groups of a hundred or more to found new clans in hills unclaimed by other dwarves. Others have chosen to wander the world, seeking glory and wealth.

Gold Dwarves

Unlike the shield dwarves, the gold dwarves maintained their great kingdom in the Great Rift and did not decline in terrible wars against evil humanoids. While they practiced some magic, they never acquired the hubris that caused the downfall of some human nations. Confident and secure in their remote home, the gold dwarves gained a reputation for haughtiness and pride.

Since the Thunder Blessing, many young gold dwarves have left the Great Rift and are exploring the rest of Faerûn. The folk of other lands have learned that while some gold dwarves are aloof and suspicious, for the most part they are forthright warriors and shrewd traders.

Regions

The ancestral home of the gold dwarves is the Great Rift, located in the dry plains of Shaar. Gold dwarven outposts can also be found in the Smoking Mountains of Unther and in the Giant’s Run Mountains west of the Vilhon Reach.

Racial Traits

  • +2 Constitution, –2 Dexterity. Gold dwarves are stout and tough, but not as quick or agile as other races.
  • Medium: As Medium creatures, gold dwarves have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Gold dwarf base land speed is 20 feet. However, gold 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: Gold dwarves can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and gold dwarves can function just fine with no light at all.
  • Stonecunning: This ability grants a gold 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 gold dwarf who merely comes within 10 feet of unusual stonework can make a Search check as if he were actively searching, and a gold dwarf can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can. A gold dwarf can also intuit depth, sensing his approximate depth underground as naturally as a human can sense which way is up. Gold 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: Gold dwarves may treat dwarven waraxes and dwarven urgroshes as martial weapons, rather than exotic weapons.
  • Stability: A gold 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. Gold dwarves are hardy and resistant to toxins.
  • +2 racial bonus on saving throws against spells and spell-like effects. Gold dwarves have an innate resistance to magic spells.
  • +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against aberrations. Gold dwarves are trained in the special combat techniques against the many bizarre creatures that live in the Underdark.
  • +4 dodge bonus to Armor Class against monsters of the giant type. This bonus represents special training that gold 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. Gold 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. Gold dwarves are especially capable with stonework or metalwork.
  • Favored Class: Fighter. A multiclass gold dwarf’s fighter class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.

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Gray Dwarves

Long ago, mind flayers conquered the strongholds of clan Duergar of the dwarven kingdom of Shanatar. After generations of enslavement and cruel experimentation at the hands of the illithids, the duergar rose against their masters and regained their freedom. They emerged as a new subrace of dwarf with limited mental powers.

The gray dwarves are an evil and bitter race, but retain the superior skill and workmanship of dwarvenkind. They have found a niche for themselves in the Underdark, creating armor and weapons to trade with the warring races of that realm. They seem to have been denied the Thunder Blessing.

Duergar on the whole are evil, but some turn their backs on their fellows and seek a different sort of life. For some, this means abandoning the evil gods of the duergar and embracing the traditional dwarven pantheon, while for others it is a more practical betrayal, usually involving stealing from other gray dwarves. When discovered, an outcast is typically stripped of his possessions, tattooed on the face and arms to mark him as a criminal, and cast out under penalty of death. Some clans secretly aid their outcasts—or encourage them to leave before they are found out. To return is to die.

This grim fate drives most outcasts to the surface, where they struggle to survive in an unwelcoming world. The surface dwarves hate the duergar because they turned to evil, and no other surface races hold much love for the gray dwarves. Most of the gray dwarves met by surface dwellers are tattooed exiles, although a small number were lucky or smart enough to leave before being discovered.

Male and female duergar are bald, and women do not grow beards. They are much thinner than other dwarves, with severe facial expressions, gray hair, and gray skin.

Regions

The gray dwarven strongholds are all located in the Underdark.

Racial Traits

  • +2 Constitution, –4 Charisma. Duergar are extremely withdrawn and guarded.
  • Medium: As Medium creatures, gray dwarves have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Gray dwarf base land speed is 20 feet. However, gray 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: Gray dwarves can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and gray dwarves can function just fine with no light at all.
  • Stonecunning: This ability grants a gray 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 gray dwarf who merely comes within 10 feet of unusual stonework can make a Search check as if he were actively searching, and a gray dwarf can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can. A gray dwarf can also intuit depth, sensing his approximate depth underground as naturally as a human can sense which way is up. Gray 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: A gray 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, phantasms, and paralysis.
  • +2 racial bonus on Hide and Move Silently checks. Gray dwarves excel at stealthy movement.
  • +2 racial bonus on saving throws against spells and spell-like effects. Gray dwarves have an innate resistance to magic spells.
  • +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs and goblinoids. Gray 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 gray 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. Gray 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. Gray dwarves are especially capable with stonework or metalwork.
  • Spell-Like Abilities: 1/day—enlarge person. Caster level equals twice the duergar’s class levels (minimum 3rd). These abilities affect only the duergar and whatever he carries.
  • Light Sensitivity: Duergar are dazzled in bright sunlight or within the radius of a daylight spell.
  • Favored Class: Fighter. A multiclass gray dwarf’s fighter class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.

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Shield Dwarves

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.

Regions

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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