Dwarfs for Low Magic 5e

Posted: 2024-02-21
Last Modified: 2024-03-13
Word Count: 1115
Tags: d20 dnd5e rpg settings

Table of Contents

This work includes material taken from the System Reference Document 5.1 (“SRD 5.1”) by Wizards of the Coast LLC and available at https://dnd.wizards.com/resources/systems-reference-document. The SRD 5.1 is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode.

Dwarf Ancestry

Scholars consider Dwarfs1 a distant sub-species of humanity, one shaped by the necessities of a life spent substantially underground and perhaps by deliberate tampering from the Eldren or Fey.

Despite most Dwarf cultures’ insistence on combat training Dwarfs’ bodies excel at work, not fighting. Their thick legs, broad shoulders, and low center of gravity helps them carry loads that would stagger humans. Their arm strength just compensates for the shortness of their arms to make swinging or thrusting a weapon no stronger or weaker than a human.

Age. Dwarfs mature at the same rate as humans, but they’re considered young until they reach the age of 50. On average, they live about 350 years.

Size. Dwarfs stand between 4 and 5 feet tall and average about 150 pounds. Your size is Medium.

Speed. 25’. Light Encumbrance does not reduce your speed, and Heavy Encumbrance only reduces your speed by 5'.

Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60’ of you as if it were bright light, and in near darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Resilience. You have advantage on saving throws against poison, and you have resistance against poison damage.

Toughness. Your hit point maximum increases by 1, and it increases by 1 every time you gain a level.

Dwarf Cultures

Contrary to popular beliefs, Dwarf culture requires Dwarfs to get along with other species. Thus Dwarfs, while sometimes blunt and curt, can also be courteous, gregarious, even tempered, and even generous. Their culture encourages a strict accounting of resources, of necessity, but a rarity for a human may be commonplace to a Dwarf.

Nearly all Dwarfs raised in a Dwarfish culture adhere to a set of quasi-religious practices called Khulduk. This “Dwarfish Way” has no priests, only the khulduksim, roughly translated as “teachers”, who pass on this Way to the next generation and admonish adults who break its precepts. Dwarf Kingdoms embed Khulduk principles into official law.

Khulduk emphasizes stoicism, honor, hard work, and fair dealing. It also encourages the accumulation of wealth and demands retribution against those who harm the community. Practitioners of Khulduk may also seek recompense for personal insults, but under strict rules. Dwarfs who dishonor their clan or king are often cast out.

Mountain

Dwarfs raised on and under the mountains are steeped in Khulduk. They spend their lives working for the greater good of the Kingdom: mining metals and rare gems, expanding the halls in which Dwarfs live, brewing beer and whiskey, and crafting all manner of items that keep

Each Dwarf belongs to a clan, either by birth or (rarely) through adoption. Clans usually pursue a single industry almost like a human company, with members of the clan serving as workers or administration according to their talents. The Clan Leader directs the clan, but must take into account the capabilities of his clansmen and the will of the Clan Elders, masters of their particular craft who have grown too old to follow a normal Dwarfish work schedule.

Above all the clans is the Dwarf Mountain King. Unlike most human Kings, the King mainly resolves disputes among the sometimes fractious Dwarfish clans and channel the collective wealth of Dwarf labor toward constructive ends. Through a special clan of ambassadors the King manages relations with other nations.

Despite their focus on hard work, Dwarfs also learn how to defend what’s theirs from the things that also live in the mountain. In the few hours between work and sleep Dwarfs mainly drink, but also practice small crafts like whittling or epic poetry.

Mountain Dwarf Combat Training. You have proficiency with the battleaxe, handaxe, light hammer, and warhammer.

Tool Proficiency. You gain proficiency with the artisan’s tools of your choice: smith’s tools, brewer’s supplies, or mason’s tools.

Stonecunning. Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to the origin of stonework, you are considered proficient in the History skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.

Language. Dwarfish.

Hill

While still part of a Kingdom, the Dwarfs of the wooded foothills live very different lives from their cousins under the mountains.

Hill Dwarfs provide initial contact between the Dwarf clans and kingdom and the far more numerous human nations. Thus they are more acquainted with the manners and customs of humans and other sapient beings than the insular Mountain Dwarfs.

Hill Dwarfs, living as much above the earth as below, tend to the plants and animals around their homes. Some are hunters, others animal herders or farmers, still others are gatherers who live off the land. Outsiders more familiar with Mountain or Lowland Dwarfs may find Hill Dwarfs unusually relaxed and patient compared to their more driven kinsmen.

Hill Dwarf Combat Training. You have proficiency with the battleaxe, handaxe, short bow, and spear.

Tool Proficiency. You gain proficiency with the artisan’s tools of your choice: carpenter’s tools, herbalism kit, or woodcarver’s tools.

Woodcunning. Whenever you make an Intelligence (Nature) check related to the growth of plants, you are considered proficient in the Nature skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.

Language. Dwarfish.

Lowland

Lowland Dwarfs make their homes near or among humans. They may work in any profession a human might, or as a merchant selling Dwarf wares to humans, or even as the liason between the Dwarf King and a human settlement.

More than any other Dwarfs, Lowland Dwarfs pride themselves on craftsmanship, providing good service, and resolving disputes amicably. To many humans (and other humanoids) they are the face of Dwarfkind. Where other Dwarfs might hold grudges, Lowland Dwarfs let most things go. They only refuse to compromise on craftsmanship (theirs or others), obvious and egregious cheating or swindling, and serious offenses against their fellow Dwarfs.

Lowland Dwarf Combat Training. You are proficient in all simple weapons and with heavy crossbows.

Tool Proficiency. You gain proficiency with any one set of tools of your choice.

Appraisal. Whenever you make an Intelligence (Investigation) check related to the quality of goods or structures, you are considered proficient in the Investigation skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.

Language. Dwarfish.


  1. I use the conventional plural rather than “dwarves” because these dwarfs owe as much if not more to Terry Pratchett and C.S. Lewis, among others, as they do to Tolkien. ↩︎