June 24, 2014
Iconic Characters: Dwarves
The second most iconic fantasy race is in many ways the opposite of the elves. Dwarves are short, stout humanoids who typically dwell deep within the earth, in their great mountain citadels. Often depicted with huge beards that many take to decorating with elaborate braiding or ornamentation — in some cases even with the women — dwarves are the rough-and-tumble counterpart of the elves. Where elves are graceful, dwarves are resolute. Elves are quick while dwarves are tough, but for most players I have seen play as dwarves the thing that always stands out is their personality.
Fantasy gamers have a pretty good idea of what it means to be a dwarf. Most play them as stoic, hardworking, firm, no-nonsense, and loyal. In the same way that elves are often seen as living embodiments of what it means to be chaotic good, dwarves are the same for the lawful good alignment. Now, this is not to say that every dwarf ever played lived up to this ideal, as there is always room for individuality among player characters and non-player characters alike, but this is something of a stereotype of the dwarf race.
Another stereotype is their love of gold. Dwarves are often depicted as greedy, often to a fault. For me, this is something I have always actually liked about the dwarf race. Unlike the elves, who are often depicted as being living embodiments of perfection, the dwarves are flawed. Like a precious stone, they tend to have small imperfections that make them all the more unique. Sure, I can see the draw of perfection in the elves, but to me that has always made them feel a little too alien to relate to. Dwarves I get.
Another trait I have often found endearing about the dwarf race is their sense of friendship and pride. Dwarves are slow to make friends, but once you have earned a dwarf’s trust you will have it for the rest of your days. Not only by that dwarf, but often by their whole clan. In addition, they are a proud people. Unbelievably stubborn, too. Dwarves have no trouble facing against foes much greater than themselves. Many would claim that they are used to it, given their short stature, but that does not stop them from being ferociously competitive.
Admittedly, playing as a dwarf is not for everyone. Many players enjoy playing as more traditionally attractive characters, and dwarves — at least until the recent Hobbit movies — never really fit that ideal. In addition, while I find many of their common personality traits endearing of their race, others might find them a bit too abrasive. I get that. Dwarves are also much more likely to be a strong character than a fast one, and fast characters are often the preferred by many gamers. Grace and agility are presently the more popular choice. Still, if you have ever had any inkling to give a dwarf a try, I recommend it. They are a lot of fun to play.
So lift your axes high and pour yourself another stein of mead, for none know the simpler joys in life than the hard-working, mountain folk.
As always, thanks for reading and I wish you all good gaming.
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