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In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game, dwarves are a humanoid race, one of the primary races available for play as player characters. Most dwarves are renowned[attribution needed] for their distrust of magic, and for their skill as axe-wielding warriors and blacksmiths, with the exception of their Underdark-dwelling cousins: the evil, psychic duergar.
Variations from the standard dwarf archetype are commonly called subraces, which include hill dwarves, gray dwarves (duergar), and mountain dwarves. While the azer physically resemble dwarves, they are not related at all.
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Dwarves average four feet in height, with squat, broad bodies. Male dwarves grow thick facial hair. It is often a sign of extreme sadness and mourning for a dwarf to shave his beard. A popular misconception both within the game and among players has it that female dwarves also grow beards[attribution needed]. However, the core rulebook clearly states that this is not the case. Female dwarven facial hair does vary by campaign setting: In the World of Greyhawk some females can grow beards but those generally shave; in the Forgotten Realms they generally grow sideburns but not beards or mustaches, though some can grow beards; and in Eberron they do not grow facial hair at all. In older editions of the game, female dwarves did grow beards in various campaign settings.
The dwarves believe themselves to be the creations of Moradin. Moradin fashioned the dwarves into a likeness of himself using gems and metal. He then breathed life into them.
In many campaign settings, the dwarven pantheon of gods consists of the leader Moradin, as well as Abbathor, Berronar Truesilver, Clanggedin Silverbeard, Dugmaren Brightmantle, Dumathoin, Muamman Duathal, and Vergadain. Other dwarven gods may be present in different campaign settings. Also in the Dragonlance campaign setting, they follow the god Reorx
- Badlands dwarves: Dwarves who have adapted to life in the inhospitable wastes, developing a natural knack for finding water and tolerance to heat and thirst.
- Deep dwarves: Underground-dwelling dwarves with a greater ability to see in the dark, but a sensitivity to light. They are more resistant to magic and poison than standard dwarves.
- Dream dwarves: Contemplative dwarves in touch with the world around them, which they call the "earth dream."
- Duergar: Also known as gray dwarves, these evil dwarves are always bald and wear dull clothing and accoutrements. They can psionically enhance their size and turn invisible.
- Frost dwarves: Extraplanar dwarves found on the Iron Wastes of the Infinite Layers of the Abyss. They were once duergar enslaved by frost giants.
- Glacier dwarves: Dwarves that reside in cold glaciers, mining a special material known as blue ice. These dwarves have great skill at crafting with ice and magical ice, and are tolerant to cold weather.
- Hill dwarves: The standard dwarven race.
- Mountain dwarves: These dwarves live deeper underground and have fairer skin than hill dwarves.
- Seacliff dwarves: These dwarves make their home in high seaside cliffs. They are excellent swimmers.
Dwarves in various campaign settings
Dwarves in Dark Sun
On Athas, the planet of the Dark Sun campaign setting, every dwarf chooses a focus in life, one task that they will try to achieve with stubborn determination. Athasian dwarves do not live underground, but some communities focus on uncovering buried dwarven strongholds from the Green Age.
Physically, the dwarves of Athas are unique in that they have no hair at all, contrary to the image of beard-laden dwarves in more traditional campaign settings. Athasian dwarves can breed with humans to produce muls, who are sterile offsprings that share the strength and resiliency of dwarves with the size of humans.
Dwarves in Dragonlance
In the Dragonlance setting, gully dwarves, or Aghar ("the Anguished") are thought to be the offspring of gnomes and dwarves. Gully dwarves are first referred to in the Dragonlance Chronicles, by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, as a "miserable lot." They are the lowest caste in dwarven society, found all over Krynn, living in filth and squalor in places that had been abandoned by most other living creatures, including animals. Like dwarves, they are clannish, and several clans live together, following the rule of their chieftains or one particular powerful leader. Females lack whiskers on their chins but have them on their cheeks, and may wear tattered overskirts wrapped around their waists extending to their knees. Despite their wretched appearance, gully dwarves generally lead a cheerful existence, though they are incredibly unintelligent creatures. Only a few gully dwarves can conceive of any number higher than 'two' (often counting things as "one and one and one and one--not more than two!") and at least one of that lucky few still licks up spilt ale from the tavern floor rather than "wasting it" by cleaning it up.
Dwarves in the Forgotten Realms
Faerûn boasts several major subraces of dwarf:
- Arctic dwarves: Found in the northernmost reaches of Faerûn, the Inugaakalikurit, or arctic dwarves, are even smaller than most other dwarves. They are very strong and immune to cold.
- Gold dwarves: Shorter and more charismatic than their shield dwarf cousins, these are the dominant dwarves in southern Faerûn. They primarily reside in an around the Deep Realm, an underground realm surrounding a grand canyon like gorge. The gorge had once been an enormous cavern, which collapsed during a titanic battle between dwarves and drow.
- Shield dwarves: The dominant dwarves in the northern parts of Faerûn, these dwarves are taller than their gold dwarf brethren. Primary holds include Citadel Adbar, Mithral Hall, Citadel Felbarr, Hillsafar Hall, and Fireshear. Large Dwarven minorities are also located in Sundabar, Mirabar, and Waterdeep.
- Urdunnir: Also known as orecutter dwarves, these dwarves have the magical ability to shape metal and stone, as well as the ability to walk through solid stone.
- Wild dwarves: Short, primitive dwarves found in the deep jungles of Faerûn.
- Gray dwarves: Or duergar, mainly found in the underdark, with an aversion to light.
Dwarves in Greyhawk
Dwarves in the World of Greyhawk setting are called dwur by the Flan, and are found throughout the Flanaess. They are particularly numerous in the Lortmils, Principality of Ulek, Glorioles, Iron Hills, Crystalmists, and Ratik.
Notable dwarves
- Bruenor Battlehammer — King of Mithril Hall in the Forgotten Realms setting. Bruenor reclaimed his homeland from goblins and more sinister denizens of the deep including a mighty shadow dragon he killed single-handedly. Friend of Drizzt Do'Urden and adoptive father of Cattie-Brie and Wulfgar.
- Flint Fireforge - One of the Heroes of the Lance in the Dragonlance setting.
- Lord Obmi - Bloodthirsty servant of Iuz in the World of Greyhawk setting, and member of the Boneshadow.
Notables D&D novels prominently featuring dwarves include:
- Dark Thane by Jeff Crook.
- Flint the King by Kirchoff and Niles.
- The Gates of Thorbardin by Dan Parkinson.
- Gully Dwarves by Dan Parkinson.
- Stormblade by Nancy Varian Berberick.
- Forgotten Realms
- The War of the Spider Queen series by RA Salvatore.
- The Icewind Dale trilogy by RA Salvatore.
- Baker, Richard, Joseph D. Carriker, and Jennifer Clarke-Wilkes. Stormwrack (Wizards of the Coast, 2005).
- Bambra, Jim. The Complete Book of Dwarves (TSR, 1991).
- Greenwood, Ed. Dwarves Deep (TSR, 1990).
- Holian, Gary, Erik Mona, Sean K Reynolds, and Frederick Weining. Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (Wizards of the Coast, 2000).
- Swan, Rick. The Great Glacier (TSR, 1992).
- Tweet, Jonathan, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams. Player's Handbook Core Rulebook I v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast, 2003).