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Let's talk dwarves

I made this thread in order to assure that the Little things that annoy you thread doesn't go too off topic ;)
marcellus said:

I can't find a single portrait of a bearded female dwarf, much less the six I need to create my IWD:EE party of confusingly sexy adventurers...

But all dwarf pictures are unisex.

While we are on the subject of Dwarves, the fact that Dwarves are Scottish in D&D, what the hell is up with that? D&D Dwarves are based on Tolkien Dwarves, which in turn are based on the Dwarves from Norse mythology, so Dwarves should technically be Scandinavian if anything.

Pratchett used to play quite heavily into this, giving most of his Dwarves Scandinavian names, like Bjorn, Sven and so on.

It's my understanding that although the dwarves came from Norse mythology, their language in Middle Earth was actually Semitic. Jewish dwarves.

I do love my bearded dwarf women, but I simply use "male" dwarf images for these chracters. The idea is, that you can't tell wether a dwarf is male or female when they are fully dressed. The concept of gender doesn't exist to them, in my headcanon. Basically the same way dwarves work in the Discworld Novels. If you see an actually feminine looking dwarf (by our standarts), she is shaved because she preferes the beauty standarts of the other kith.

Though I think what @marcelluss is looking for, are bearded dwarf women that still look feminine, and yes, those portraits *are* hard to come by. I was only able to discover these two so far:

Artwork by RachelleFryatt .................... Artwork by VNC-Children
imageimage

I think dwarves in games and movies tend to have Scottish accents because the intonation and rhythm of scandanavian languages sound similar to Scottish-inflected English to an English-speaking ear. It's sort of like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets, if he were speaking intelligibly in English but without changing his accent.

Dwarf uniformity bothers me. TVTropes has separate pages for "Our Elves/Dragons/Fairies/Wizards/Angels/Zombies Are DIfferent." But dwarves?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame

DJKajurusemiticgodFlashburnjoluvJuliusBorisovlolienNonnahswriter
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Comments

  • Abi_DalzimAbi_Dalzim Member Posts: 1,410
    Pillars of Eternity has some female dwarf portraits you can use:

    image

    image

    image

    I'm partial to the second, myself.

    AerakarJuliusBorisovsemiticgodNonnahswriter
  • SmilingSwordSmilingSword Member Posts: 827

    Pillars of Eternity has some female dwarf portraits you can use:

    image

    image

    image

    I'm partial to the second, myself.

    Those totally look like halfings. Dwarves without beards, are not dwarves.

    SionIVKamigoroshiscriverCrevsDaak
  • SionIVSionIV Member Posts: 2,686
    edited December 2015
    The second one looks nothing like a dwarf on those pictures. The only one that in my opinion could pass for a dwarf, is the first one.

    GallowglassSmilingSword
  • GrumGrum Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 2,100
    I always saw female beards as being very thin and soft. Ie: very feminine hair, while male dwarfs would have large, coarse hair. It'd allow both genders to have facial hair without looking ridiculous.

    semiticgodCalmarlolienBlackraven
  • SmilingSwordSmilingSword Member Posts: 827
    Grum said:

    I always saw female beards as being very thin and soft. Ie: very feminine hair, while male dwarfs would have large, coarse hair. It'd allow both genders to have facial hair without looking ridiculous.

    Strange I've always imagined most Dwarf beards to be luxurious and extremely well kempt, always braided or combed. A lot of fantasy has Dwarves sporting multiple intricate braids in there beards, if you have ever had long beards/hair and had intricate braids done for fun, you know that it's a two person job and quite time consuming.

    Now I've just had the strangest thought, I wonder if every morning Dwarf couples, take that hour or so to braid each others beards?

    lolienIsewein
  • ButtercheeseButtercheese Member Posts: 3,769
    I my last Pathfinder campaign, my character came from a vaguely asian inspired area (think Mongolia meets Icewind Dale) with Jade dwarves, I am gonna make a drawing ...

    JuliusBorisovGrumSkaroselolien
  • GrumGrum Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 2,100

    Grum said:

    I always saw female beards as being very thin and soft. Ie: very feminine hair, while male dwarfs would have large, coarse hair. It'd allow both genders to have facial hair without looking ridiculous.

    Strange I've always imagined most Dwarf beards to be luxurious and extremely well kempt, always braided or combed. A lot of fantasy has Dwarves sporting multiple intricate braids in there beards, if you have ever had long beards/hair and had intricate braids done for fun, you know that it's a two person job and quite time consuming.

    Now I've just had the strangest thought, I wonder if every morning Dwarf couples, take that hour or so to braid each others beards?
    I meant coarse as in the texture, not the upkeep.

    In that, I just realized that I might be influenced by having a Cairn Terrier as a dog growing up. Small, bearded, stubborn, and bred to charge down small holes to kill things possibly larger than they are. And always digging. Oh, and a Scottish breed to boot. Very coarse wiry hair (for protection from rain and damp weather).

    So to me, my image of dwarves having coarse beards probably comes from those Scottish working dogs.

    lolien
  • ButtercheeseButtercheese Member Posts: 3,769
    I believe in original IDW as well, same for female gnomes, if I recall correctly.

  • VitorVitor Member Posts: 286
    edited December 2015
    I don't like the idea of female dwarves... bearded or not-bearded, there is a reason why Tolkien doesn't explore any female dwarf character, and Baldur's Gate and most stories that use the mythological race of dwarves doesn't explore female dwarves. The reason is that it's much more fun to explore just armies and kingdoms of male dwarves. Some say that dwarves born from holes in the ground, others say that female dwarves are bearded, and you can't tell the difference from male dwarves... None of this explanations satisfy me, so I've made my own.

    There just exist male dwarves. So, do you ask me: "Then, how they breed?" And, so, I bring a much more mythological explanation: "Dwarves mainly breed with female halflings, and their sons will always be dwarves. They can still breed with female humans, but still their sons will always be dwarves. They can even breed with female giantess, and in almost all the time their sons will be dwarves - with a small chance of a son or daughter born as a giant".

    I use a similar logic for Gnomes, but Gnomes are sterile. There are just male gnomes, and they can born very rarely as a son of a dwarf with a female halfling.


    Some mythological creatures are better done if they're from just one sex. It's the same for Harpyas, Nymphs or Gorgons. With these races, they are better represented if there are just females examples. In norse mythology, where the mythological dwarf creature came from, there are mentions of just male dwarves.

    In the tale of Brisingamen, dwarves mate with the goddess Freyja, wich is a Vanir - the equivalent in Norse mythology of the Maiar in The Lord of the Rings. In Richard Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung, Alberich is in love with the three Rhine Maidens (Woglinde, Wellgunde and Flosshilde), and try to catch them for mating in the beggining of the story. So, basing in Norse Mythology, it seems to me that the dwarven race might depends on cross breed.

    [spoiler=Brisingamen]image[/spoiler][spoiler=RhineMaidens]image[/spoiler]

    Post edited by Vitor on
    semiticgod
  • VitorVitor Member Posts: 286
    edited December 2015
    Grum said:

    That makes little sense. Halflings don't tend to live in dwarven holds. So where would the dwarven kingdoms be getting these female halflings? why would halflings have so many females that they could populate three entire races?

    Even in The Lord of the Rings, in wich is assumed that female dwarves exist, the females are very very rare, wich is one of the motives for the almost extinction of Durin's folk. And very few dwarves tends to be interested or have the opportunity to love, marry and have children (even Thorin died with 195 years old without having a child, besides being a heir to Erebor). Of course that, when they do, it's something like 7 or 9 sons. But the shortage of females for dwarves always was a problem.

    So, the Dwarves would have to make as clans do (Mongolians clans, for example). They take women from other clans. If it's a Good aligned society, than by just and peaceful marriage; if it's an Evil society, maybe by despicable ways. But, if you're talking about dwarven Kingdoms, then presume there will be halfling villages subjugated into the Dwarven Kingdom. Also, as I said, dwarfs can still mate with humans women, and even giantesses.

    Of course, you should take that as a more mythological explanation. If you try to make logic in a darwinistic way, it's obvious that you would break any sense in this.

    semiticgod
  • KamigoroshiKamigoroshi Member Posts: 5,845
    Vitor said:

    In norse mythology, where the mythological dwarf creatre came from, there are mentions of just male dwarves.

    In the tale of Brisingamen, dwarves mate with the goddess Freyja, wich is a Vanir - the equivalent in Norse mythology from the Maiar in The Lord of the Rings. In Richard Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung, Alberich is in love with the three Rhine Maidens (Woglinde, Wellgunde and Flosshilde), and try to catch them for mating in the beggining of the story. So, basing in Norse Mythology, it seems to me that the dwarven race might depends on cross breed.

    I agree that male dwarves within the folklore of Germanic tribes are much more famous, but that doesn't mean that there are no mentionings of females at all. Take the Swedish ballad "Herr Peder och Dvärgens Dottery" for instance: it's about a dwarven's daughter related by blood.

    On a side note, Norse "dwarves" are in fact alfs/albs/elbs/elves known as Svartálfar. And possibly also Dökkálfar. This is the parting of the ways between readers of the two Eddas, so to speak. Well, they were also mentioned as being maggots that festered within Ymir's flesh. But the previous example sounds more fantastic to the media.

    VitorButtercheeselolienCrevsDaak
  • VitorVitor Member Posts: 286

    Vitor said:

    In norse mythology, where the mythological dwarf creatre came from, there are mentions of just male dwarves.

    In the tale of Brisingamen, dwarves mate with the goddess Freyja, wich is a Vanir - the equivalent in Norse mythology from the Maiar in The Lord of the Rings. In Richard Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung, Alberich is in love with the three Rhine Maidens (Woglinde, Wellgunde and Flosshilde), and try to catch them for mating in the beggining of the story. So, basing in Norse Mythology, it seems to me that the dwarven race might depends on cross breed.

    I agree that male dwarves within the folklore of Germanic tribes are much more famous, but that doesn't mean that there are no mentionings of females at all. Take the Swedish ballad "Herr Peder och Dvärgens Dottery" for instance: it's about a dwarven's daughter related by blood.

    On a side note, Norse "dwarves" are in fact alfs/albs/elbs/elves known as Svartálfar. And possibly also Dökkálfar. This is the parting of the ways between readers of the two Eddas, so to speak. Well, they were also mentioned as being maggots that festered within Ymir's flesh. But the previous example sounds more fantastic to the media.
    I didn't know about "Herr Peder och Dvärgens Dottery". But we have to take into account that half-dwarves do exist in norse mythology, like Hagen. So, maybe this daughter of a Dwarf could be a half-dwarf. I don't know this story, but I'm just imagining a possibility.

    Also, for sure. Dwarves are worms that came from the blood of Ymir. But that even shows their kinship with Giants, and that's why in "my explanation", they could breed with giantess.

  • ButtercheeseButtercheese Member Posts: 3,769
    Hagen von Tronje wasn't a half-dwarf, even though his father (Alberich) was a dwarf.
    I think that "halfbreeds" just become either/or, not a mix of the two. Same as Loki, who has no giant traits either, even though he is par definition a half-giant).

    Vitor
  • GrumGrum Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 2,100
    There is a half dwarf in baldurs gate. He is one of the petrified adventurers who briefly fight for you in Durlag's Tower. He has the dwarf Sprite.

    semiticgodButtercheeselolien
  • ButtercheeseButtercheese Member Posts: 3,769
    Well, that's really interesting. I remeber ages ago making a thread here about wether or not specific races could breed with each other or not and wether or not the offsprings would be fertile: https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/32587/are-half-elves-fertile

    There also where half-human/ half-dwarf mentioned, the mul from the Dark Sun setting:
    http://darksun.wikia.com/wiki/Mul

    And thanks to Planescape, all DnD settings are automatically canon to each other.

    VitorGrum
  • GrumGrum Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 2,100
    Darksun blew my mind. Hairless dwarfs who are nomadic and don't seem to have a lost empire. Warlike nomadic desert elves with sun beaten skin. It's familiar yet different.

    Buttercheese
  • SkatanSkatan Member, Moderator Posts: 5,163
    About reproduction:
    I don't think that dwarves in fantasy settings like DnD can be based mainly on mythological stories since they don't make sense. Of course no "race" can be an actual race capable of creating kingdoms and empires unless they have a way of reproducing which is consistent and reliable. I see no other way of interpreting it than that male dwarves mate with female dwarves and reproduce just as humans do.

    About beards on female dwarves:
    I like the idea of bearded females, but tend to think of'em like (I assume similar to @grum) as less coarse and large than for the male dwarves. The pictures that @Kamigoroshi posted above were amazing and, I think, a good representation of what I had pictured in my mind. Hell, even the second and third picture in the top row managed to portrait them as very obviously female but sporting huge beards. Awesome!

    GrumButtercheeselolien
  • DragonKingDragonKing Member Posts: 1,861
    edited December 2015
    I just want to say that dwarves didn't just come from Norse mythology. Bisu/bes is a Egyptian god, and is also a dwarf.
    Vitor said:

    I don't like the idea of female dwarves... bearded or not-bearded, there is a reason why Tolkien doesn't explore any female dwarf character, and Baldur's Gate and most stories that use the mythological race of dwarves doesn't explore female dwarves. The reason is that it's much more fun to explore just armies and kingdoms of male dwarves. Some say that dwarves born from holes in the ground, others say that female dwarves are bearded, and you can't tell the difference from male dwarves... None of this explanations satisfy me, so I've made my own.

    There just exist male dwarves. So, do you ask me: "Then, how they breed?" And, so, I bring a much more mythological explanation: "Dwarves mainly breed with female halflings, and their sons will always be dwarves. They can still breed with female humans, but still their sons will always be dwarves. They can even breed with female giantess, and in almost all the time their sons will be dwarves - with a small chance of a son or daughter born as a giant".

    I use a similar logic for Gnomes, but Gnomes are sterile. There are just male gnomes, and they can born very rarely as a son of a dwarf with a female halfling.


    Some mythological creatures are better done if they're from just one sex. It's the same for Harpyas, Nymphs or Gorgons. With these races, they are better represented if there are just females examples. ]

    Oh you would hate me.

    ButtercheeseKamigoroshi
  • scriverscriver Member Posts: 2,050
    That a similar concept (a short bearded person) does not mean it in any way inspired or influenced the conception of dwarves.

    SkatanVitor
  • ButtercheeseButtercheese Member Posts: 3,769
    I never really thought of the Klaubautermann as a dwarf ... he is more of a ghost o.o

  • SkatanSkatan Member, Moderator Posts: 5,163
    scriver said:

    That a similar concept (a short bearded person) does not mean it in any way inspired or influenced the conception of dwarves.

    I concur. I think Tolkien's idea of dwarves really is all that matters since it's the basis for all fantasy settings afterwards. So in order to find the background for dwarves, I guess lookng at the inspiration Tolkien himself had is all you need.

    This is speculation though since I haven't read up on the matter well enough to _know_ that all depictions of dwarves are based of the depiction in LotR. I'm guessing they are though, same as with elves, orc etc.

  • ButtercheeseButtercheese Member Posts: 3,769
    edited December 2015
    Skatan said:

    Tolkien's idea of dwarves really is all that matters since it's the basis for all fantasy settings afterwards.

    That's exactly why almost all dwarves are cartboard cut-outs and/ or super flat characters in modern fiction.
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame

    In order to keep things fresh, you need to mix them up. Looking at different cultures is one way to do it.

    KamigoroshiNonnahswriter
  • SkatanSkatan Member, Moderator Posts: 5,163
    True, @buttercheese, but my comment was only about the inspiration for the current depictions of dwarves. If a new fantasy setting would to be created, I would enjoy some more creative thinking about dwarves to create something even more interresting.

    I'm quite nerdy at times, so I've created a base draft for a RPG ruleset where I've made dwarves (and most other 'core' races) able to reproduce between races, so dwarves and orcs can have offspring etc. There's also different sub-races within the races heavily inspired by Earth's own races so that dwarves aren't always white with red hair etc.

    Buttercheeselolien
  • DragonKingDragonKing Member Posts: 1,861
    edited December 2015

    Skatan said:

    Tolkien's idea of dwarves really is all that matters since it's the basis for all fantasy settings afterwards.

    That's exactly why almost all dwarves are cartboard cut-outs and/ or super flat characters in modern fiction.
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame

    In order to keep things fresh, you need to mix them up. Looking at different cultures is one way to do it.
    @Buttercheese
    Not just all dwarves, this is literally the text book definition of why I hate fucking elves.

    Post edited by DragonKing on
    CrevsDaak
  • ButtercheeseButtercheese Member Posts: 3,769
    You are really reading the wrong stuff, mate.

    Skarose
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