Tuesday 7 April 2009

An All-Dwarf Adventure and Dave's Legacy

A quick edit here. It seems reports of co-creator of D&D, Dave Arneson, dying weren't true. However, it sounds like he's still in a weak condition, so I'm going to leave the links to blogs posting their tributes here, as it's still a great time to learn about the man. Certainly no need to halt the further spreading of his legacy. 

Now onto the game I'm currently preparing for. An all-dwarf sandbox using Underworld and Overworld. Today I want to talk about the decision to make it all-dwarf.

I think the non-human races in fantasy often get a hard deal. It's no secret they tend to be little more than single-culture archetypes and anything differing from that often gets its own race. Look at the short folk of D&D and most generic fantasy. Gnomes, Dwarves and Hobbits/Halflings. You've got your magically-inclined excentric gadgeteer race, the gruff, underground miner-warrior race and the peaceful pipe-smoking but brave race with the odd burglar.

I'm mashing them all into dwarfs for this game and I think the race will be better because of it.

All of the traits mentioned can fit onto a dwarf with no problem at all. Now instead of a race where everyone's an ale-drinking axeman you have a race where a settlement is likely to include all sort of characters. Not to mention a race where different settlements might play more to certain racial tropes than others.

Of course, we still have the usual good-evil seperation that plagues non-humans in fantasy. I don't want dark-dwarves, deep-dwarves, derro or whatever you want to call them. Of course there might be settlements that have a reputation for being greedy but it's not part of their DNA. Perhaps it's just a stereotype or perhaps something about that settlement attracts the greedy type. On the flipside even your peaceful pipe-smoking dwarf hamlet might have one or two dwarfs that... well, are just dicks.

This is a theme I want to carry through to the rest of the races in this game. Orcs, Hobgoblins, Uruk-Hai, Half-Orcs... bleh. An orc that lives underground, an orc that's part of a well trained army and an orc that's trying to fit into civilised society can all be part of the same race. And now they shall be.

Anyone that wants to see more of this upcoming game can find more here. You could even join in if you grab the last slot quick enough. Next time I'll touch on why I've gone for dwarfs in particular.


  1. great to see you back in the saddle!

  2. Cool, I use the same method when dealing with the different fantasy races in my games. My current campaign has the Eldir from which the Eladrin, Elves, Tieflings and Devas descended from. The Earthborn are dwarves, halflings, goliaths & genasi. The warforged were created by the earthborn and eldir during the primordial-god war. The beastmen are Orcs, minotaurs & gnolls. Ios Blood are the dragonborn and kobolds. Creatures native to the feywild are gnomes, shifters & doppelgangers. Creatures from the shadowfell are bugbears & shadarkai. Goblinoids come from any of the different species, they are just mutants. Hm... I think that's all of the different peoples and there origins.