Monday, August 29, 2011

A little something extra for Dwarves?

So, if you're like me, you had to stand vigil as Hurricane Irene ripped up the east coast of the US. I was up all night Saturday into Sunday with my trusty Shop Vac, fighting back the waters that sought to spread across my basement. Now, we only really had spreading puddles to contend with for the most part. But it was coming in fast, and damned if I would let the storm win and soak my stuff (what little stuff we had left near the floor).

Anyway, I've been itching to get back to more regular posting, or at least posting a bit more frequently. And I have been looking forward to posting about something other than session reports...not that there's anything wrong with that.

So, here's the point of my post: I've read recently on another blog (damned if I can remember which one!) that OD&D dwarves get the shaft for the most part. They don't have cool magic like the elves, and even halflings can be more palatable as an OD&D race-as-class with their saving throws and stealth abilities.

Questions to you all: Do you think this "shafting" is a true one, or is it just grumbling? And, for those of you who do think that dwarves are short-changed, what would you do (house rule-wise) to beef them up as far as racial abilities are concerned?

I've dabbled with the idea of allowing dwarves to "enchant" one weapon per day, giving that weapon the ability to hit creatures that are only harmed by magical weapons. Or I would just say that dwarves themselves, no matter what weapon they use, can harm such creatures.

Can't wait to get your input!

UPDATE: Here's the post that inspired my post, it was over at Tenkar's Tavern! How could I have forgotten?! In rereading, I see Tenkar was specifically referring to dwarves in AD&D, not OD&D. But still...


  1. I think that outside of a traditional dungeon setting, and one that's made to make their various detection abilities matter, they don't have much going for them in OD&D w/supplements, or AD&D.

    At least in Classic D&D they're pretty much Fighters with kick-ass saves, and especially in BX, the level limit is only 2 lower than the Fighter.

    But if you're running a megadungeon, or a campaign heavy in smaller dungeons, and there are plenty of 'room traps' and shifting walls and sloping passages and the like, they're handy to have around.

    I also read that blog post and don't remember now who it was. Anyway, I think any of the demi-humans could be shafted depending on the type of campaign one runs, although of course AD&D elves do have the most going for them.

  2. @Gwydion: thanks for stopping by! Yeah, I would really like to give dwarves a little something for "beyond the dungeon." Like maybe extending their "architectural" abilities to above-ground structures as well. Just want some ways to give them more utility above-ground!

  3. Glad to oblige! I am reading the blog often, I just don't post comments as much as I used to on anyone's blogs. Too many blogs to read, these days, and not enough time to read them. :D

    I'd think it wouldn't be hard for a DM running a wilderness or city campaign to find ways to use the Dwarf abilities. Maybe they work on terrain features as well as "worked stone" so the Dwarf can fulfil some Ranger functions. In the city, obviously, their abilities should still function as normal. DMs just need to remember to design ways they could be useful, and players need to seek them out.

    I do allow Name Level Dwarves in my game to craft magic weapons, armor, rings and miscelaneous magic items. It adds in a bit of the mythological dwarf that has been lost over the years.

  4. @Gwydion: Yes, allowing dwarves to use their "architectural" skills in cities might be a plus. I like the crafting of magic items ability as well. How do you execute that in your games, mechanics-wise?

  5. @Gwydion: BTW, I too visit your blog and others often, but wish I could comment more often in a meaningful way.

  6. For Dwarf crafting, it works just the same as Magic-User/Cleric/Elf crafting. Spend the time and gold, and any unusual ingredients the DM decides are necessary, and you craft it. Like I said, though, I pretty much limit them to permanent crafted items. Weapons and armor are no brainers for Dwarves, plus in Norse Mythology they were the crafters of Draupnir, Odin's magic ring, so rings as well. Dwarves tend to be builders/artisan types so miscellaneous items are also available to them.

    That does result in Dwarves being able to craft Elven Cloaks and Boots, but that doesn't really bother me too much. There's again mythological precedence for Dwarves being the ones with caps and cloaks of invisibility.

    Gotta be Name Level, though.