22 Unusual Dwarf Types
Dwarves in popular culture are often depicted as being these dour, bearded, short and squat creatures who excel in mining gems and precious metals from the earth, have a great fondness of drink, are expert miners, and excel at smithing. But a more thorough look at these creatures may show them to be a bit more complex than first thought. Unless explicitly stated, the dwarves listed herein are within the general guidelines of being a dwarf as far physical appearance.
- Snow White’s dwarves (Disney & Others) are shown to be jolly mining creatures, singing while mining all day. Most depictions have them being clever against the wiles of Snow White’s evil stepmother, saving her life a few times before she gets put into suspended animation from eating the poisoned apple.
- “Deal-making” dwarves are dwarves that show up in time(s) of need, offering a service in exchange for a horrible price, such as marrying them, giving away their first born child, giving away all their wealth or some other horrid deal. Some of these dwarves also bring horrible pronouncements of bad luck with them if their end of the deal isn’t held up. Rumpelstiltskin is just such a dwarf.
- Dwemer (Skyrim Dwarves) were an ancient, “Lost Race” who had an advanced race and civilization, in many respects far ahead of the other races and civilizations of their time, developing technology, engineering, crafting methods, metalwork, stonework, architecture, city-planning, science, mathematics, magic, and the academic arts. Those that studied these crafts would been elevated to the highest, most respected and most prestigious of positions in Dwemer society and their cities showed how important these ventures were, being marvels of these studies. Few written works have described the appearance, personality, or achievements of individual Dwemer; most knowledge of them regards the race as a whole. Despite being called “dwarves” by giants, the Dwemer are actually of average human height.
- Derro are a strange and sadistic race; they are clever, stealthy, and murderously insane, said to have been created by some crazed deity in ages past, mysterious fay, or by genetic experimentation by the Illithid. Derro travel in groups to ambush unwary travelers, taking captives as slaves using poison, crippling weapons, and natural spell casting to further their aims. Individuals devote themselves to strange quest, such as collecting certain types of gemstones for a magical device or slaying as many members of a particular race as possible or are assigned specific missions by powerful derro savants.
- Gully Dwarves are a potbellied stupid race of dwarves skin whose is often covered with scars, boils, sores, and filth, hair color ranges from dirty blond to dull black, and has watery blue, dull green, or hazel eyes, speaking a pidgen tounge known as gullytalk, a constantly shifting language which borrows words from whatever main language is nearby. They eke out a meager existence mainly in refuse heaps, sewers, and other places most civilized races would not care to touch, foraging for their sustenance. They may seem cowardly, running from most any danger, but corner a them and you will be in for a surprise
- Arctic dwarves are short, squat and hardy – most of them barely reaching 3 feet tall, having blocky bodies, pinched faces, and stubby legs, bright blue eyes, ruddy cheeks, and white-blue skin, and wearing polar bear fur tunics. They are generally open and friendly and can be quite sociable with neighboring races, with the exception with their mortal enemies: the frost giants. Unlike other dwarves, they don’t mine or excel in crafts, instead devoting themselves to hunting, raising children, and leisure. Though they are curious about the outside world, they have little inclination to go and explore it.
- Gold dwarves are a charismatic, if highly materialistic race who believe that the resources of the natural world exist only to serve the purpose of conscious beings that enjoy fashioning minerals of the earth into things of usefulness and beauty including their finely, often enchanted crafted weapons and armor. They most commonly, employing weapons that can also be used as tools, such as axes, picks, or hammers. They are a proud race confident in their race’s future after millennia of stability and because of this they have earned a somewhat deserved reputation for xenophobia and supremacism, believing themselves to be the greatest of all races and themselves to be the greatest of all dwarves.
- Shield dwarves are a cynical and gruff people, taking a long time to trust and even longer to forgive. They are as fine craftsmen as other dwarves but their craft tends to be weapons of war including axes, urgroshes, spears, swords, and mauls as well as heavy armors. Their attitudes are divided between the Hidden and the Wanderers; The Hidden believing an isolationism policy, fortifying their mountain homes and continuing their ancient ways, whereas Wanderers have been adventurous, seeking their fortunes on the surface world among other races.
- Urdunnir are a lost race, known only by legend as ‘stonefriends,’ who look much like mountain dwarves with light gray skin, silver eyes and well-groomed light gray to dark gray beards, wearing a tight-fitting one-piece flexible garment composed of stone and/or metal. These dwarves are able to move through stone as easily as others move through air, and will often use their ability to take their enemies into the stone, leaving them there; if the person is completely encased in stone, they die. They also have a unique ability to shape metal with their bare hands; weapons or armor struck by an Urdunnir or striking them can be rendered useless in this way. They have a clan-based society, with each clan specializing in finding and shaping a certain substance; known clans include Marble, Gold, and Ruby.
- Wild dwarves are nomadic, illiterate, communal forest dwellers who see the world in terms of hunter and prey, having an ever changing pack mentality, caring only about securing their next meal and surviving the ever present dangers of the natural world. Material wealth and goods mean very little, with weapons being the only objects to which they evince any real attachment. The only wild dwarves encountered outside their forests are usually loners who have either been captured and enslaved or voluntarily chosen exile, many of which eventually find their niche alongside rangers, hunters, or druids, although a few join packs of lycanthropes and other sentient beasts.
- Duergar are a cruel and malevolent race who have the ability to see in the deepest darkness, and are also immune to many of the mind powers have a general resistance to fire and poisons, as well as being good at detecting hidden objects, and some even have powers to enlarge and turn invisible – but these abilities come at a cost: they’re especially vulnerability to sunlight. They are also a merciless, sneaky, crafty people, who excel at setting up ambushes or moving out of sight who take great pleasure in inflicting pain on others. Unlike other dwarves, duergar have no particular prejudices against arcane spellcasters and both smiths specializing in the smithy of enchanted items and wizards are well respected
- Umpa-Lumpa: These are the brightly colored (if highly vulnerable) dwarves of the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” get eaten by Whangdoodles, Hornswogglers & Snozzwanglers
- Eastland Dwarves (Terry Brooks Shannara series) evolved from humans who hid underground to avoid the surface devastation after the great wars
- Powrie (Bloody cap dwarves):
- (Classic Mythology) amazingly fast, and deadly dwarves wielding iron pikes who murder travelers who wander into their homes. They dye their caps with their victims’ blood, hence their name. It’s said that they must find a victim regularly, as if their cap dries out, they die. Redcaps are very fast in spite of the heavy iron pikes they wield and the iron-shod boots they wear. Outrunning a redcap is supposedly impossible.
- (R.A. Salvatore’s Demon Wars saga) incredibly aggressive proud warrior race living on an archipelago that uses blood magic to maintain their physical prowess. They’re also a nasty lot whose only interactions are raiding them, and are famous for their “barrelboats.” Most other races hate and fear them – a reputation they’re more than happy to encourage.
- Dwarrows (Tad Williams: Memory Sorrow & Thorn) dwarves in all but name, these creatures are superb stonemasons and crafters, for the Sithi (elves), helping to build many of their great cities, but had a falling out over their treatment as little more than slaves. They are most definitely not warlike, shrinking from any sort of combat and trying their best to stay out of the grand conflict with the Storm King. However, when provoked, they are fearsome fighters due to their strength and endurance from millennia of delving in the earth.
- Mul (Athas/ Dark Sun Campaign Setting) are powerful warrior and laborer crossbreeds of a human and dwarf stock. From their human they receives increased height and agility; from their dwarven parent, they gets incredible strength and endurance.
- Chainmail “Original Design” Dwarves (2000 D&D Miniatures game): These apostate dwarves had a deposed king and become communist factory workers and miners, their costumes looking like something out of a 30s era Soviet propaganda poster and built mecha golems.
- Warcraft Dwarves are short and stout creatures – shorter than humans but taller than gnomes, taking advantage of their size when possible and relying on their robustness and strength when not. They are steady, observant and composed both during work and combat preferring to planning to overcome challenges. Yet they if lose their temperament and self-restraint when exposed to conditions stirring their feelings and concern, they rage with fierce zeal and persistence.
- Dream Dwarves are an inquisitive lot, seeking to supplement the information and wisdom they gain from the earth dream with personal experience who feel the hills slumber beneath them. Wise, reserved, and cautious, they understand nature in a way at once similar to and wholly alien to the understanding of druids and shamans of other races, sharing a sort of collective subconscious with the world around them, a powerful phenomenon they call the earth dream.
- Seacliff Dwarfs (Kalamar) are tough, resilient individuals who are only taken out of the action by death not injury. Not surprisingly, due to their life near (and oftentimes on) the sea, all seacliff dwarves are excellent swimmers. In their mind there is no substitute or exception to an honorable victory in hand-to-hand combat. and are referred to as ‘salt beards.’ They typically are shipwrights or sailors or fishermen, as well as expert armorers, weapon smiths, and engineer. Due to these traits their services are highly sought after and paid for by many captains.
- Badland Dwarves (Kalamar) are a hardy, but declining folk who are skilled at surviving in the desert wastes, of which only a few now survive and this has made the survivors very cautious. They inheritors of a long history of struggle and turmoil – they often need to keep self-preserving options open in their daily discussion making which many think are cruel. Some of them have gone insane, from watching their brethren wither right before their eyes. Originally they came to the badlands to mine mithril and brightstones, they now use their mastery of stone to locating water and digging wells which has granted them both great wealth and great political power.
- Chromatic Dwarves are offshoots of “regular” Dwarves who have changed into three very different main sub-races. With eons of racial interaction and despoliation of norms and values, they left the underground, abandoning their crafts, letting their forges grow cold, becoming forgotten effigies of their lost skills as they continued on their way to nature bound existence. Unlike other dwarves, they are less seriously inclined, and favor freedom over valor and chivalry; they often have a very firm personal code, and tend to have less patience for matters that require discretion and preparation.
- Azurn(s) (Combat-oriented) are musclebound beardless aquatic dwarves with webbed hands and feet who have black eyes, bluish gray sharklike skin and thick black tendrils of hair. Personality wise they are known somewhat savage and unsophisticated, extremely impulsive and mistrustful of most other humanoids which often manifests in open hostility, especially when they find themselves opposed. Among some of the more intriguing facets of Azurn society is that they are fiercely loyalty to their friends, and have tribe-wide large, hedonistic feasts.
- Rutilan(s) (Magic-oriented) are a charismatic, proud beautiful, well-groomed race of dwarves recognized by their shiny crimson skin, often ornamented by black tattoos, wearing refined clothing, spending a large amount of their time to hone their appearance. Due to the fact that their culture developed in volcanic and deserts areas, they make excellent evokers, especially centered on fire magic. Rutilans are a proud race who enjoy intelligent conversation perhaps almost as much as a good fight and are often seen as fair and sometimes generous.
- Veridin (Stealth-oriented) are a glib, dexterous and deceitful race of gaunt dwarves having bark like hair, skin blue-green skin, unkempt, rugged facial features which help them to blend in with the marshes, forests and jungles where they live and also assist them with their swift and agile guerilla attacks. Due to their environment they have become completely immune to poisons, their blood becoming quite poisonous, an effect which they quite expertly put to use.
As you see there are quite a few types of dwarves that you can use in your games. As always, feel free to comment, like, and reshare!