Saturday, August 23, 2014

Three Paragraphs about Dwarves

Introductory explication: This doesn’t count as one of the paragraphs. Dwarves in the setting I’m working on, and should be running in tomorrow, are basically vikings. In fact, they are literally vikings. They are vikings who issue forth from their Nordic mountain fortresses, take to the sea, and plunder worthless humans settlements. Of course it’s like 1750 so their chain and axes are passé and somewhat outmoded, but dwarves don’t quit. A dwarf can take a musket ball to the guts and just keep churning through, axe still reaping blood. So when five or six longships show up, folks are scared shitless, even while hiding behind cannons and guns. There’s no way to tell if the dwarves come to slaughter and loot or have come to trade. That is until somebody winds up dead, or silver changes hands. Dwarvish steel is the highest possible quality and extremely valuable.

(Dwarves are mechanically unchanged from the LotFP standard.)

Dwarves are stolid. A dwarf cannot lie. Dwarves are physically incapable of it. Should a dwarf break a promise, he/she will slowly wither into nothingness. They are good to the very letter and spirit of their word, which is why they rarely promise anything (and try not to speak unless necessary). Dwarves, unsurprisingly, have a very demanding sense of honor. It is very easy to insult a them, and death is the only possible repayment. If your grandfather accidentally insulted a dwarf, you must die. Insults are, evidently, hereditary in dwarvish culture. (Some scholars believe these inherited slights are the motivation behind dwarvish attacks.)

Dwarves are grim. Dwarves do not laugh. Certain blasphemous legends claim that Loki once tricked Odin into fucking a pile of stones. Dwarves have maintained their mother’s sense of humor. If you see a dwarf laughing, he/she is an outcast from dwarvish society. (In fact if you see a dwarf alone, more than a few hundred yards from a longship, he or she is almost certainly an outcast.)

Outcasts don’t really seem to recall their former home and family. Their past is a half-remembered fever-dream of purpose and contentment. The only piece of their previous life an outcast can distinctly remember is the Great Shame which caused his/her exile. So, while outcasts are the only dwarves that can laugh, they rarely do. (Besides which, everyone hates them. Almost every person has lost some friend, relative, or storied ancestor in a dwarvish attack. Being a dwarf is kind of like having a visible swastika tattoo and visiting a holocaust museum.) However, the outcasts are rarely melancholy or emo at all because dwarves are refusal. Dwarves do not quit. Not ‘til they’re dead.

(All PC dwarves  are outcasts.)