May 222017

Dwarves are typically viewed as masters of mining, crafting, and warfare in RPGs. Although these stereotypes may be a starting point, in and of themselves they are, quite frankly, boring. What if these ideas could be refreshed, made alive by combining ideas of class into the mix by showing how the different classes would fit into daily life? Read on:

In General
Living underground has a variety of challenges and problems not associated with living aboveground. But it also has rewards and joys not found there either. From an early age, dwarves would be familiar with both. This is why they’re familiar with the workings of stone, and are able to tell if there’s hidden worked stone passages (even if it’s not obvious to anyone else). It’s also why they would be familiar with how unworked passageways twist and turn, and are able to retrace their steps so as not to get lost in such passages. It also would teach them what the signs of a potential cave-in are – as well as sudden drop-off, not to mention the signs that there’s animals and monsters down there with them – as well as what it likely is. Knowing this would allow them advantages when dealing with such dangers. Their work underground teaches them about the immense natural wealth waiting to be discovered there in terms of metals and gems. Dealing with other races would teach them their perceived value.

Bards in dwarven society would set the pace for the work day. Their chants and songs would help the day go by faster, making the work of digging tunnels less boring, giving everyone within earshot a morale boost. This same concept could be used for the smiths to beat the metal they mine into the excellent quality armor and weapons the dwarves are so well-known for. They could also perform in parties, at special occasions and holidays, and general entertainment at the local “watering hole” after a long day in the mines. Furthermore, they could also use their skills as an advance warning system to others of danger in the tunnels so they could be prepared, as they would have skills designed to echo through the tunnels.

Because they specialize in sonic abilities, bards could also use their abilities to help mine by creating cracks in the stone that could be later exploited with hammer and chisel. Bards are also charismatic, they can sometimes use their social skills to smooth over things when there’s a misunderstanding or outright insult / offense. Finally, if the dwarven bard is traveling with a group, s/he could use the music to make travel less strenuous, as they’re used to the rigors of mining all day.

Just because rogues are typically sneaking around in shadows, trying to get into an enemy’s blind spot, don’t count them out as useful members of dwarven society in everyday life. Yes, there will always be those criminal elements who wish to disrupt society, but that doesn’t mean that’s all they can do. Rogues have the disable device class feature. One can imagine them working closely with dwarven engineers to test mechanical devices and when they get stuck, use their skills to get them working again. This selfsame idea can be expanded for those who get locked out of their part of the cave: they’d call the rogue to help get them in. It’s also not beyond the pale to have them clambering up walls to get a better look at the ceiling to make sure it was supported properly so as to avoid a cave in. Dwarven rogues would also have studied and know the weaknesses of the monsters that inhabit the caves where they live, thus being able to damage them more effectively should the need arise.

Fighters & Barbarians
Even in times of relative peace, dwarven fighters and barbarians would be a mainstay in their society, guarding the upper echelons of dwarven society, making sure unwelcome races stay at bay. If there’s trouble, they are right there in the front lines to be able to defend their home against denizens of the Underdark (or other similar places in your gaming world). In addition to guarding, their strength would be useful for both mining and hauling precious metals to be purified into arms and armor, as someone has to move the mining carts around.

Also, in the case of barbarians, depending what raging powers they take, there are any number of them that would synchronize to make the jobs in the mines easier, less hazardous, and/ or less unpleasant.

Dwarven clerics would be another mainstay in society. Just like in real life, they would be there to listen to the problems of the people, providing useful advice, bless marriage ceremonies, help to celebrate special occasions and holidays, and assist in funeral rites. Unlike in real life, however, they would help by helping to form stone passages, heal the sick of their diseases, create food and water when necessary, and turn undead. Clerics would also be used to help create the magical arms and armors that the dwarves are so well known for.

Rangers & Druids
Ranger & Druids are typically depicted as being people who care about the lush green wilderness. But this isn’t necessarily so. Both rangers and druids are also found in the mostly bleak caverns underground that are so prominent in dwarven society because of the subterranean creatures, and instead of destroying them (which would not only be unwise, but a waste as well), they learn how to either draw them away, damage them effectively, or to use them, by having them as friends, learning how to turn into them, and summon them to do their bidding. One of the things that the animal companions or animal shapes the druids could turn into would be used for is tunneling. Another would be helping to move tools and materials around. A third would be an early warning system for the dwarves against pockets of bad air or to examine the ceiling for structural problems.

Both rangers and druids would be vitally important in keeping the food supply as a more constant level, because unlike those races that live above ground, farming would be quite a lot more difficult. This isn’t to say that farming doesn’t exist, but it’s rather difficult to do so.

A feature specific to rangers only is the favored enemy. If there are creatures that are constantly interrupting the dwarf’s work, those creatures could very well become favored enemies, and when they came into the mines where the dwarves are working, they’d know how to dispose of them quickly, or more likely, drive them out.

Wizards would most likely be the bookkeepers, the engineers, the chemists, and the like in dwarven society. You’d see them walking around, taking copious notes. They’d be figuring out formulae for their latest spells. They might be examining rock formations to determine how best to exploit the natural resources, looking at gem filled caverns to determine the best way to mine them, or figuring out if the cavern is stable enough to sustain mining without collapse. They’d use their spells to move earth around, as well as summoning earth elementals to help with the task as well, as well as using their spells to enchant weapons and armor.

Warlocks & Sorcerers
Both warlocks and sorcerers are probably quite exceedingly rare in dwarven society.

The former because they receive their abilities from outside patrons, which are often evil, but not necessarily so. Unless the dwarf in question is wanting revenge on someone or some force and needed more power to do so, they typically wouldn’t seek an outside patron, but perhaps the dwarf in question was a scholar and stumbled upon the secrets of the universe through their studies and this is the way that the powers express themselves.

The latter because of at some point in the past they had some unusual heritage that brought out the powers, and it’s highly unusual such a thing would happen. Maybe the dwarf in question had a liaison with a dragon s/he fell in love with and a child resulted.

But just because they would be rare, that doesn’t make them nonexistent. Due to the unusual nature of their powers, they would do whatever they could to help out as they could, but would more likely than not feel the need to disguise their abilities as something else so as not to have to answer uncomfortable questions.

Dwarven Monks are an interesting case, and would be taught how to use their skills differently. They might serve the role of a healer, which could be expressed in the real life idea of acupressure and acupuncture. This selfsame skillset could make their touch all the more painful and deadly to their enemies.

They would be also taught to do mining differently. Instead of using hammer, pick, and shovel, dwarven monks are taught how to mine using a mere touch to cause or exploit cracks. Instead of building a bridge, he might, with a series of touches, cause stalactites to fall into a chasm and interlock, allowing safe passage to the other side.

Just because NPC dwarves are a part of dwarven society, doesn’t mean that they don’t have classes. See what you think of these ideas, and adapt them for use in your game.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how your favorite classes can interact with a dwarf’s daily life. If you have, please comment, like and share!

Jesse C Cohoon

Jesse Cohoon is a serial entrepreneur, who enjoys RPGs. He's been a DM and player of 12+ years. His experience includes various editions of D&D, white wolf, BESM, amongst others. His strength comes his examination of games using science fiction/ fantasy, popular culture (video games, anime/ manga, movies), & more. His blog can be found here. If you want to have him be a guest on your blog or want to contact him to hire him to write you an article, he may be contacted at

  3 Responses to “Class-Based Thoughts on Different Types of Dwarves”

  1. That’s pretty cool. One time at Gen Con we played a game that was nothing but dwarves. It was a blast.

    I thought about how dwarves might approach magic. They would not be afraid of it, but I think they would have a healthy respect for it. They might avoid it as not to appear too “elvish”.

    I wrote a bit about Dwarven witches a while back myself.

    • But looking at the wizards as the engineers of society, the ones that make the plans for where the tunnels go and how to support them, the ones who are concerned about directing the waste into areas where it affects no one, the ones who study the structure of the veins of gold and precious gems turns some ofthe ideas that are popular on its head.

  2. Wonderful ideas! I went ahead and added the Dwarven Rogue Class with some choice skills that are only available to this class to my world in the Mythos Machine. Thanks! Great concepts! I will come back and mine for more interesting stuff again later. Thanks again! 🙂

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