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Busting Stereotypes Part 2 – The Dwarf

They’re always gruff, love to work with stone and metal, and for some reason many of us (including me) play them with a scottish accent.  The dwarf has more stereotypes surrounding it than most any other race.  Couple that with whatever class stereotypes the get saddled with, and you’ve got a character who has a lot of baggage to deal with.  However, that doesn’t need to be the case.

First, their demeaner.  Dwarves of D&D are typically seen as gruff and blunt, which can make them less appealing to companions.  Playing a dwarf as friendly and extroverted would provide a slightly odd twist.  However, that alone won’t make a dwarf sufficiently different from standard dwarves, right?

Probably the biggest stereotype about dwarves is really their affinity with the underground world.  Working iron and stone (both from underground) and living in caves are typical.  However, your dwarven character is adventuring, so he/she isn’t living underground anymore.  Perhaps he’s clausterphobic.  Perhaps he just hates dirt and rock all around him.  Maybe he really like trees and grass.  There’s really tons of gems to mine from this one, no pun intended.

Dwarves tend to gravitate towards martial fields, like fighter or the occasional paladin.  They also have their fair share of clerics as well.  So, why not break that tradition by going with something like bard in 3.5?  If you’re playing 4e, why not a warlock?  Wizards are a fun choice in any edition!

Take a look at the typical dwarf, and have some fun with it!  Don’t go with the pack on how to play any character, just make sure you DM knows what you’re doing beforehand so they don’t think you’re playing your character incorrectly (and they still may…some DMs fear change ;))!


September 3, 2008 - Posted by | RPG | , ,


  1. I’ve still never worked out why folk play dwarves as Scottish. Even before LotR people did it so I’m at a loss. I’m Scottish myself so maybe thats why I dont get it :p

    Comment by bobzilla76 | September 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. Yeah, I’m not sure where it comes from exactly… but I know I’ve had it for ten or 15 years… I remember going to a con type thing and saying my dwarf wears a kilt and getting a “A Scottish dwarf? Interesting.” comment. There was probably some cartoon or something that had a single Scottish actor play a dwarf and it’s just seeped into the collective consciousness of gamerdom.

    Comment by justaguy | September 3, 2008 | Reply

  3. LOL! Stereotypes…I like throwing the occasional gay dwarf in there to “spice” things up. It catches the party off-guard EVERY time.

    The game I played in for years had dwarves as more like klingons than scotsman.

    Of course when 3rd edition came out, it took a LONG time for the party to get used to dwarven wizards!

    Comment by Donny_the_DM | September 3, 2008 | Reply

  4. I think the scottish thing comes the terrain dwarves are known for. Mountains equal highlands I guess.

    @Donny: Gay dwarves? I love it!! 😉

    Comment by Tom | September 3, 2008 | Reply

  5. I seem to recall an effete dwarf named….something. He was a retainer for the lady Alustriel Silverymoon in the forgotten realms canon. A dwarf who was more at home with makeup and silks. I’ll just call him Serge.

    Comment by Donny_the_DM | September 3, 2008 | Reply

  6. Seriously, that’s awesome. Anything to bust up the monotony of the stereotype is a great thing in my opinion! Thanks for sharing that one Donny!

    Comment by Tom | September 3, 2008 | Reply

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