WFRP: Atypical Dwarfs (3)

Welcome to the third installment of Atypical Dwarfs, a series of posts examining dwarf demeanour and offering alternative personalities for dwarf PCs and NPCs.

Click here for installment 1 and 2!

The series is illustrated by Patrik Norrman, the talented and award-winning comic book artist and illustrator. If you enjoy his work and feel that you would like to commission his services, go to my profile and drop me an e-mail.

The Master Smith

In this third part of the series we’ll finally take a look at our first variant dwarf personality; the Master Smith. A dwarf in pursuit of knowledge about how to shape steel into formidable weapons and armour. In a world where possession of a sharp sword can mean the difference between aquisition of supreme power and ignoble defeat, and a sturdy chain mail can save your hide in the heat of battle, a Master Smith is always in demand.

And there are no greater Master Smiths than those who come from the dwarf kingdoms. The most legendary masters have even built small kingdoms of their own, where they rule by stint of their authority on the secrets of iron and fire. For those masters to carry out a commission a prospective buyer must first petition an audience and then pay a large sum of gold, silver, gems or even ancient artifacts for the task to be carried out. There are a few wandering smiths who wander the lands of man and beast, searching for the chance to express their mastery of the craft, and to add to their knowledge by observing what the other races are up to. They are the stuff of legends and are much sought after by kings and lords for their knowledge of smithing.

Adventure seed
The PCs are hired to escort a master smith to a Borderlands kingdom. The ancient master has been commissioned by the king himself to create a fantastic sword as a powerful symbol of his new reign. As might be imagined there are those who want to stop this, or who want to kidnap the smith and put his skills to their own use. When the PCs arrive it transpires that they have to travel to a dwarf hold close by to fetch high class steel … but there are Beastmen in the mountains. The adventure continues!

PC suggestions

Create a dwarf who has the ambition to become the best smith in the history of the race. He travels around the world, accompanied by other adventurers to learn more about the riddle of steel, hoping to find ancient tomes of documented smithing procedures regarding weapons and armour. This PC should always have an appetite for new knowledge and should put a lot of time into developing his smithing skills and his knowledge of the legends of weaponmaking. He should also be a warrior of some renown, to truly understand the soul of the blade.


WFRP: Atypical dwarfs (2)

Welcome to the second installment of Atypical Dwarfs, a series of posts examining dwarf demeanour and offering alternative personalities for dwarf PCs and NPCs.

Click here for the first installment!

I’ll kick this thing off by looking at the basic dwarf traits, and how to interpret them. I don’t want to recast the dwarfs as something entirely different as much as look at them in a different light. The following keywords define a dwarf in most fantasy settings, as well as in WFRP.

Short – Alright, it’s difficult to interpret this as anything other than ”dwarfs are short”. They are, it’s in the name of the race. This is one explanation as to why dwarfs have such a great need for asserting their competence and status in relation to the other races. This manifests in a tendency to never give up, and never back down from a challenge.

Beard – Face it, a dwarf has a beard. It’s a defining trait. The beard is a symbol of status, and is often groomed and adorned with gold or silver trinkets … erm, jewellry. Whether or not female dwarfs have beards is open to individual interpretation.

Stubborn – Dwarfs are stubborn and they never give up. This means that they spend a lot of effort and time to figure out how things work, and their patience while investigating, researching or studying is as great as their pride in their finely cultivated beards.

Good memory
– They never forget a wrong doing, carrying Grudges forever and ever. But they also carry the memory of a friend, or of a drawing of a bridge. Or the complex secret password to open the sealed door of the hidden dwarf stronghold.

Humourless – Dwarfs don’t tolerate nonsense, and are very focused on obatining the facts of each situation. This means that they are viewed as devoid of humour by the other races, but to the dwarf this is compensated by the fact that they very, very seldom are tricked or fooled, neither by a prank or a con.

Careful – No dwarf is ever sloppy. Or maybe more accurately, those who are sloppy don’t survive in the deep mines where the slightest mistake can be fateful. Dwarfs are careful and painstakingly thorough. This also manifests as an intense dislike of any form of chaos.

Eager to learn – Dwarfs want to know how things work. They are bad at understanding how people work on a psychlogical level, but outstanding at figuring out how things fit together and what makes them tick. They spend a lot of time observering how the world is out together to try to figure out how to control it.

Love of metals – Their love of gold is the stuff of legends, but the fact is that dwarfs love all kinds of metals. They are endlessly fascinated by gold, silver, iron, steel, all sorts of minerals and what you can do with them.

Mechanical aptitude – Dwarfs love to create mechanial contraptions. This does not necessarily mean that they things they create are complicated. They us basic physical and magical laws to create simple but effective machines and tools. For example, they prefer crossbows over a simple bow.

Okay, that’s the basic personality traits of a dwarf. So what can you do with this? Amazing things actually. The next installment will tackle the first atypical dwarf personality … so stay tuned to this channel some time next week.


WFRP: Atypical Dwarfs (1)

How often don’t you find dwarfs in fantasy that are short, grumpy fellas with an axe strapped to their backs and a flagon of beer in their hand? This is without doubt the most popular image of the fantasy dwarf, popularised by countless roleplaying games, and maybe most importantly in the blockbuster Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. Even in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, we are often treated to the stereotypical dwarf, even though I must admit there’s a twist; they’re also homicidal maniacs with punk hair.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with using that image when you are playing a dwarf character, or portraying a non-player character. But maybe it would be fun to portray dwarfs with other roles and demeanours once in a while? After all, it is not just human societies that have a need for, or give rise to, different personality types among the population. Take a closer look at the characteristics of a dwarf, and you’ll find variations within the basic theme that you didn’t think were possible!

This is the introduction to a short series of posts aimed at presenting six somewhat unorthodox ways of looking att dwarfs as characters in WFRP, or indeed in any fantasy roleplaying game. I’ll start off in the next post by examining the basic traits that are associated with dwarfish culture, and show how these traits can give inspiration for other personalities than the common dwarf thug. The game master will be treated to adventure hooks and the players get suggestions for new personalities which break the established pattern of how to look at a dwarf character.

The series is illustrated by Patrik Norrman, the talented and award-winning comic book artist and illustrator. If you enjoy his work and feel that you would like to commission his services, go to my profile and drop me an e-mail.

Stay tuned for more on dwarfs next week!