Pathfinder Companion: Dwarves of Golarion (PFRPG)

****( ) (based on 7 ratings)
Pathfinder Companion: Dwarves of Golarion (PFRPG)

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Born ages ago in lightless caverns, the dwarves surged upward in pursuit of a divine prophecy, driving the feral orcs before them until they reached the surface world in the fabled Quest for Sky. Now established with their own lands and customs, the dwarves work their forges, sing songs of legendary heroes, brew signature beers, and wage war against evil humanoids and hideous monsters.

    Inside this Pathfinder Companion you’ll find:
  • Details on the dwarves of Golarion—where they live, what they eat, how they dress, and their ideas about work and war.
  • New combat feats for dwarven fighting styles.
  • History of the dwarven people.
  • Descriptions of the Five Kings Mountains, the oldest and most stable dwarven homeland.
  • Obscure magic of the dwarven gods.
  • Spells for ancestral communication, warding, and surviving the Darklands.
  • New character traits.
  • Game stats for three dwarf NPCs, suitable for hirelings or cohorts.

Written by David Eitelbach, Russ Taylor, JD Wiker, Keri Wiker, and Hank Woon

Each bimonthly 32-page Pathfinder Companion contains several player-focused articles exploring the volume’s theme as well as short articles with innovative new rules for social, magic, religious, and combat-focused characters, as well as a persona section detailing helpful NPCs and traits to better anchor the player to the campaign.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-204-3

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Player Companion Subscription.

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Product Reviews (7)
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****( ) (based on 7 ratings)

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An Unessential Look at Typical Fantasy Dwarves

***( )( )

Dwarves of Golarion is one of the earlier entries in the Pathfinder Player's Companion line, and the first book dedicated to a specific race. The artwork, though serviceable, is clearly inferior to the current Paizo standard. The inside front cover of the book has a nice, full-page summary of Dwarf racial traits and a list of dwarven gods, while the inside back cover has a map of the Five Kings Mountain region that is rather-well detailed, containing over two-dozen settlements, fortresses, and mines. The 32 pages of the interior are divided into the following sections:

1. "Dwarves of Golarion" (10 pages): An introduction and overview to Dwarven physical, mental, and cultural norms. Everything from Dwarven diet to Dwarven fashion is covered here. Frankly, there's little that strays from the stereotypical fantasy notion of a dwarf, and players experienced with previous versions of D&D will find most of their preconceptions confirmed. There are a few pages on Golarion-specific history of the Dwarves which is reasonably interesting--events like the Quest for the Sky and places like the Sky Citadels offer some insight into Dwarven culture.

2. "Dwarven Character Traits" (1 1/2 pages): This section introduces eight race traits, six religion traits, six regional traits, and four magic traits. The traits are flavourful and tie in well to Golarion's conception of dwarves. Mechanically, they are certainly not game-breaking and for the most part rather bland in effect.

3. "The Five Kings Mountains" (8 pages): This is a gazetteer of the Five Kings Mountains, the center of Dwarven culture in known Golarion. Several major cities like Larrad, Highhelm, Kovlar, Rolgrimmdur, Taggoret, and Tar-Kazmukh receive at least a couple of paragraphs each. Other topics include natural hazards and foreign relations. Four pages of this section are actually about other Dwarven enclaves beyond the Five Kings Mountains, and cover the Darklands, Kalsgard, the Kodar Mountains, the Mindspin Mountains, the Shattered Range, and Osirion. This section would be extremely useful for GMs planning to run Dwarf-centered adventures in any of these locations. My guess is that most players probably don't need so much information and will just skim it.

4. "Combat" (2 pages): There's a brief, non-mechanical but flavourful description of legendary Dwarven combat tactics to start this section. Next, five Dwarven combat feats are covered and a new Dwarven weapon (the Dorn-Dergar) is introduced. The feats are really fun! If I had a Dwarf PC, I could definitely imagine taking some of them like Bounding Hammer or Sliding Axe Throw, as they have a nice Dwarf-specific flavour and would be effective in combat.

5. "Faith" (2 pages): This section is almost entirely new spells. Nine new spells are introduced, and all of them are divine spells for clerics, rangers, and paladins. An odd mechanic is set forth that limits these spells to worshippers of particular Dwarven deities unless a special ritual prayer is said.

6. "Magic" (2 pages): Three spells relating to veneration of one's ancestors are introduced for Dwarven clerics and bards only. There's one new spell for Dwarven rangers & druids and two new rune-focussed spells for sorcerors and wizards.

7. "Persona" (4 pages): Three NPCs are given full stat blocks and descriptions. I still don't really see the value of including NPCs like this in a Player's Companion, but it has potential value for GMs who buy the book and need to provide a contact, a cohort, etc. There's also a one-page overview of Dwarven deities, each of whom only has a paragraph or so. I'm not sure why this wasn't placed in the "Faith" section, and the description of each is quite cursory.

8. "Social" (2 pages): Three topics--Dwarven beards, ales, and craftsmanship--are discussed. Definitely not essential, but could be good for players wanting to add a little more flavour to their PCs. A couple of the ales even provide alchemical bonuses for an hour or so, an idea which I can safely say I've never seen before.

Overall, there's not a lot in this book that is especially memorable or innovative. A player with this book and a player without this book would probably portray Dwarves in Golarion equally well, especially now that the feats and spells would be available on various websites. If anything, I'd recommend this book more to GMs who need a relatively quick overview of Dwarven history in Golarion and the Five Kings Mountains for a campaign set in the area.

Adequate, but... I expected a bit more.

***( )( )

The only other races-of-Golarion book I have is the Gnomes of Golarion... which I really love, so it may have raised a rather high bar for me.

In both cases, I bought the splat books because I was picking up a character of that race, and I wanted to get a better feel for what it means to BE that race, especially in Golarion.

Gnomes of Golarion was a great book that gave me ideas on family structure, how long it takes to 'grow up', and, with the introduction of the Bleaching concept, really made the gnomes of Golarion feel like their own unique thing.

....and then there's Dwarves of Golarion.

I don't think it's an awful book on its own, but compared to Gnomes, I was disappointed. It felt much lighter on content. I don't really know at what age dwarves are considered mature, what the rate of childbirth is among the species, if a dwarf would have lots of siblings or very few, what gender roles are like other than a references to the wimmen staying home and the men goin' out to fight (which, if that's how dwarven culture is, fine, but... make it clearer to me than just off-hand references), what family structures are like, how the settlements are ruled and organized other than 'monarchy'...

Judging by the book, there are exactly three life paths you will take if you are a dwarf: you will Craft Things, you will Fight Things, or you will Heal Things. Presumably the dwarven culture has room for people who aren't actively being craftsmen (craftsdwarves?), fighters, or clerics, but it's not really outlined at all what those might be.

Many of the specific discussions of the dwarven culture seemed like they were there just to elaborate on mechanical things-- like the numerous references to dwarves not being slowed down by their gear.

Perhaps most damningly to me, there just didn't feel like there was anything new or original in here that goes beyond Tolkien's dwarves. There were a few mentions of the dwarf-tribes of Garund, sure, but beyond that this was nothing but the dwarf trope of fantasy for the last 50 years: forge, beer, beards. Golarion dwarves seem interchangeable with the dwarves of a half-dozen fantasy settings, and after the unique feel of the Golarion gnomes, I did find that a little disappointing.

Nothing in here was awful. But nothing was terribly surprising or interesting, either.

Solid Book but rather Bare Bones.

**( )( )( )

This book does have some of interesting background concerning dwarves in Golarion. It has a special focus on the region known as the Five Kings Mountains. The overarching history of the dwarf race is given along with some neat cultural tidbits. The new spells items and traits are fun as well.

For me though the book lacked a lot of the depth that I really love in source books. The addition of a dwarf name table a page of common dwarven words with some language structure would have been appreciated. This book just failed to touch on so many potentially interesting points. What type of calendar do dwarves use to track time? (A timeline would have been another good addition) How about listing some dwarven holidays? What types of animals do dwarves like to keep as pets? Are there any popular dwarf sports? It would be nice to see sketches of dwarven clothes and jewelry. In the end other than some general history specific to dwarves in Golarion you won't be learning anything new about the Stout Folk.

Dwarves to every mountain range!


This book managed two seemingly conflicting things - to keep the traditional feel of the Dwarven race (one of the most conservative races that even in Eberron stayed rather unchanged if compared to others) and at the same time to add some new features that spice up the solid dwarven gravy. It's nice to see that they are people like any other with brighter and darker aspects on them.

impressive from so many angles


After reading the book I have to say I am very impressed. It details the background of the dwarves and their collectivist culture. Describes their attitudes and how they were raised thus giving rise to their strengths but also glaring weaknesses.

The history section was filled with so much bloodshed and tragedy with one standing point; even the hardy dwarves have been routed and experienced low points in their racial history.

The new feats were balanced and the traits were unique, especially the regional ones. All in all a very realistic book almost reminiscent of historical texts on ancient civilisations. A very well thought-out product.

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