Please look at my world's dwarves.


Homebrew and House Rules


I'm writing more on dwarves for my Dieselpunk Pathfinder setting. Important to note that this is an industrialized campaign setting, but a lot of culture is rooted in pre-industrial traditions and situations. There are male and female dwarves, but there is little sexual dimorphism. The main dwarven family group is the clan, which is a group of brothers and sisters, their children, and their parents and grandparents. Dwarven culture does not differentiate between siblings and cousins, as the adults in a clan raise all of their children together as siblings. Dwarves call their maternal aunts and uncles mothers and fathers, and view their birth mother as being of equal status to their other mothers. A dwarf considers all of zir maternal nieces and nephews to be zir sons and daughters. Genealogy is traced solely through the maternal line, as men have no connection to or knowledge of the children they conceive. Dwarves do not marry, and have as many sexual partners as they desire and can woo (all from other clans, of course). Gay sex is so common as not to raise eyebrows, and most dwarves would not identify as gay or straight, as the ideas of heterosexuality and homosexuality are not present in traditional dwarven culture.

Dwarven babies are small, because dwarves have multiple children per pregnancy. Three to five is typical, six is rare and hazardous, and seven or more is typically fatal to mother, babies, or both. It is common for dwarves who have not given birth to help nurse a sister's babies, as dwarves can lactate without getting pregnant and male dwarves can lactate. Gender roles are fluid, because men help rear their children, and the communal nature of childrearing means a woman with a career focus can easily both reproduce and work outside the house. This balances out the dwarven population somewhat, since dwarven women very often focus on tasks completely unrelated to having or rearing children, or consider the children the clan already has sufficient. What typically ends up happening within a clan is that the more nurturing adults focus on raising the children while the rest of the adults work to bring in food and other necessities of life. War is considered the province of the physically fit of both genders, because dwarves don't have much strength disparity between men and women, and multiple births mean that a generation can have enough children with most women having only a few pregnancies and some having no pregnancies at all.

As a result of this system, dwarven culture emphasizes family heavily, since siblings will remain together in the same household for life. Leaving a clan is incredibly serious business, and brings much stigma. Clan decisions are typically made communally by the oldest group of siblings in the clan, and respect and obedience for elders is considered extremely important. It is considered proper for elders to give their charges freedom of choice in lifestyle, but if not enough money or children are present, they can start telling their children and grandchildren to go get jobs or go get pregnant, and would be considered justified by most dwarves. Service to one's family is considered more important than independence and freedom of choice, but there is a level at which dwarves start seeing the elders as becoming overbearing. Generally, dwarves consider it overwhelming when a clan has enough money and children, but the elders keep ordering people to get more money or children, but judging that is very subjective, and not everybody agrees with having this power structure in the first place. The advent of the industrialization has had surprisingly little effect on family structure outside of birth rates, with industrialization having much greater effect on work, urban, and materiel culture. High food availability, rarity of disease, and excellent medical care have all caused the death rate among dwarven children to plummet and the population to explode, but now birth rates have dropped off do to the expectation that almost all children will live to the adulthood and the expense of modern child rearing and limited space in cities, with modern dwarven clans typically only having a couple pregnancies per generation. Currently, the birth rate is enough to sustain the current population, but it may not stay that way. Almost all dwarves will become parents at some point, but the majority of dwarven women will never get pregnant. Not having a clan is a major stigma in dwarven culture. The lucky may get welcomed into another clan, especially if proven worthy, but a whole lot of dwarves never get lucky. Nothing in dwarven society is lower than a clanless dwarf, especially exiles. Orphans are pitied, but still treated pretty poorly and excluded from a lot of dwarven society.

Dwarves are well known for their hospitality and general approachableness, and hold their arguments and grudges behind a veneer of politeness. Not all dwarves are vindictive, secretly malicious, or unable to let things go, but that is a stereotype commonly held about dwarves, as those that do have beefs tend to conspire in private rather than bringing them out in public. Dwarven politics can get extremely nasty without the quarreling parties ever seeming anything but openly friendly towards each other to an outside observer. Dwarves are always welcoming to a guest, and the key component of measuring one's level of wealth and success is how much one can afford to spend on gifts and feasts. They are a race known for building big things, as they value things that last for generations. When it comes to arcane magic outside of Alchemists (the most common magic user setting-wide, because potions last in a way enchantments don’t), dwarves lean towards Wizardry, and aren't any less likely to produce arcane casters than anyone else. Dwarves do mine plenty, as they are a mountain people, but don't hail it as a primary way of life, and the majority of dwarves involved in mining.

Dwarves tend to be about 4 and a half to 5 feet tall, light skinned, often with freckels, slightly pudgy, and squat, with smallish busts (breastfeeding a group of children is a task for several dwarves, even old ones, not a single dwarf). As mentioned, there is little sexual dimorphism, aside from men being able to grow facial hair and women not. This is the main method of telling the gender of a dwarf, as a man will wear a beard if he does not want to be seen as a woman. Both men and women like to arrange their hair elaborately. Their hair is typically a shade of red or brown, and their eyes are usually gemstone colored.

I really need questions on this one. Halp?


Whoa. Poor old Tolkien would roll in his grave.


Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Whoa. Poor old Tolkien would roll in his grave.

I think he'd be more concerned with all the big factories and railroads and huge cities sprawled out everywhere. Always got the impression he didn't like industrialization too much, at least from the perspective of Middle Earth.


That's true, but I was referring to all the slutty unmarried dwarves.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Very interesting. I assume that your dwarves have lifespans like humans?


If your goal is to make your dwarves come across as primitive then you've succeeded. Reading this I feel like I can replace "dwarf" with some isolated amazon tribe or pacific island culture. Or one of the goblinoid races.


Do clanless dwarves try to form their own clans? These may not be as stable as more regular clans - they may not even be legally recognized - but given how important clan life is to dwarves it seems likely to me that those somehow forced out of a clan would be desperate to find a new one, and if there are a number of clanless, they could bond together. Of course, it's also likely that such clanless clans are criminal in some way.

Is there a menopause age for dwarves or do they remain fertile their whole lives? Given what you said about there being little dimorphism, it seems likely that either neither gender stops being fertile or they both do.

Are marriages arranged? Given the large families dwarves have and the fact lineage is only determined through the mothers, I can't imagine dwarves wanting folks to marry too closely to one another unless they don't suffer the same genetic issues with inbreeding that humans do.

Are there any movements that address the issue of what elders can and cannot order? If not everyone agrees with the system then there are likely to be challengers to it - possible a sort of perennial issue that comes up and may be becoming more of an issue if not as many dwarves are having children as they once were (even if it means a stable and sustainable population rather than one that grows like rabbits).


Indagare wrote:
Do clanless dwarves try to form their own clans? These may not be as stable as more regular clans - they may not even be legally recognized - but given how important clan life is to dwarves it seems likely to me that those somehow forced out of a clan would be desperate to find a new one, and if there are a number of clanless, they could bond together. Of course, it's also likely that such clanless clans are criminal in some way.

I could see it going on without legal recognition.

Quote:
Is there a menopause age for dwarves or do they remain fertile their whole lives? Given what you said about there being little dimorphism, it seems likely that either neither gender stops being fertile or they both do.

They probably do have a menopause age, as reproductive systems is where most of the dimorphism is, and dwarven pregnancies and births are pretty rough on the mother.

Quote:
Are marriages arranged? Given the large families dwarves have and the fact lineage is only determined through the mothers, I can't imagine dwarves wanting folks to marry too closely to one another unless they don't suffer the same genetic issues with inbreeding that humans do.

Dwarves don't marry at all, or even know who their fathers are, but for dwarves inbreeding is only an issue when it is happening within the first generation and on a consistent basis. It happens every now and then without people noticing it, but it isn't common enough to cause major genetic problems.

Quote:
Are there any movements that address the issue of what elders can and cannot order? If not everyone agrees with the system then there are likely to be challengers to it - possible a sort of perennial issue that comes up and may be becoming more of an issue if not as many dwarves are having children as they once were (even if it means a stable and sustainable population rather than one that grows like rabbits).

There are definitely such movements, especially with increasing numbers of dwarves splitting off from traditional society do to a perceived lack of opportunities or to take industrial jobs abroad to send money home, and young dwarves watching young urban elves rail against aspects of traditional elven culture and deciding that they should fight, too. Dwarven family structures have survived industrialization so far, but they are cracking, and a 1960s style culture war is a very realistic possibility (the setting is based on the 1940s to the 1960s, so social upheaval would fit right in thematically).


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Cinderfist wrote:
If your goal is to make your dwarves come across as primitive then you've succeeded. Reading this I feel like I can replace "dwarf" with some isolated amazon tribe or pacific island culture. Or one of the goblinoid races.

I don't see my dwarves as primitive. They are an industrialized urban people.


Evan Tarlton wrote:
Very interesting. I assume that your dwarves have lifespans like humans?

Yes, as do orcs and elves.


I'll bite, here's a few questions:

Are there Dwarven entrepreneurs taking advantage of the system and each other? The culture seems ready made for some dwarfs to open up sweat shops and basically force their kin to work long hours for little pay?

Have the Dwarfs been forced into ghettos because of their lifestyle and culture? Are there businesses with "no dwarfs need apply" signs in the windows?

How has their culture influenced their architecture? The contemporary "western" home - separate bedrooms, kitchen, common area, and if sufficiently wealthy dining and entertainment rooms - is based on the idea that sex is dirty and can only be conducted privately behind closed doors. Does the dwarven sexual freedom make this an unnecessary part of the building?

Just a few quick questions. By the way, I love your new name.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Homebrew and House Rules / Please look at my world's dwarves. All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Homebrew and House Rules