The Old-Folk: Dwarf Culture and House Rules

Dwarves exist scattered across the world in small settlements and great cities. Most are sovereign, even those within human countries. They are hardworking, ingenious, and prideful. They consider themselves physically and intellectually superior to humans, and are often proven right: dwarves live longer, work harder, and accomplish more than their taller cousins. They are the origin of science and progress, builders of machinery and workers of factories. Without them it is possible that humans would be stuck in the dark ages or reliant entirely on magic for survival. And yet the dwarven desire for achievement over power has led them to be a minority on the earth, living within the domains of men.

Dwarves are present in nearly every region of the known world. In the world at large, they are mainly either isolationist or the power behind the throne, but are tightly integrated in a few places as well. They tend to hold a large amount of power within human states. The economic power of dwarven industry grants them respect. In many places dwarves are considered to be of a higher social class than human or halfling commoners.

Long-lived and clever dwarves often hold positions as advisers to royalty going back generations. They advise and support the Hapsburgs of Austria, a dwarven oligarchy rules the Netherlands , and they are the majority population of Switzerland. Germany, Italy, and England all have large independent dwarf settlements and populations, as well as many other countries. Dwarves tend to consider all members of their race more or less alike, and generally lack any kind of nationalistic worldview except in cases where factions of dwarves or humans they are tightly affiliated with are at war with one another. Even so, they tend to seek peace with one another, and peace among humans in the area tends to follow due to their reliance on dwarves.

Dwarven culture is concerned entirely progress and the improvement of dwarven life, as well as that of other living things. There are no gods or afterlife in the mind of a dwarf. They hold few superstitions, and strongly doubt mystical and religious forces. They treat human religion with respect but also a strong, private disdain. For the most part dwarves abandoned religion around 500 BCE, as their long lifespans allowed them to witness the fundamental events of many religions as they truly were and how they later grew into exaggeration and dogma that caused strife and suffering. They recognize the existence of magic but regard it as dangerous, unpredictable and irresponsible. It was largely abandoned as part of their craftsmanship centuries ago in favor of the much more stable results yielded by science.

Dwarf traditions are focused on legacies and honor for ancestors. The dead are gone, say the dwarves, but should not be forgotten. There is a deep-seated fear of the oblivion of death within dwarf culture and much of their research and science is focused on extending life or achieving immortality. This is not to say that dwarves are cowards; they are driven to succeed and consider death an acceptable price if it furthers progress or achieves a worthy legacy.

Dwarf inventors are responsible for many of the greatest technological advances in the world: the printing press, telescope, explosives, smelting, and many others. Other notable technologies of the time invented by humans are strongly influenced by dwarven innovations, often being adapted from existing dwarven tech or in collaboration with dwarves. Their cultural values tend to discourage creation of weapons except as necessities, as their philosophy and relationship to death naturally discourages warfare and the taking of life. For a more detailed account of dwarven historical and philosophical beliefs, look here.

Standard LotFP Dwarf abilities (found in LotFP's Rules & Magic):
  • Dwarfs are able to bear incredible burdens; it takes five additional items for a Dwarf to gain the first encumbrance point. 
  • Dwarfs receive a +1 bonus to their Constitution modifier (so a Dwarf with a 12 Constitution has a +1 modifier instead of the usual 0 modifier, for example). 
  • A Dwarf continues to apply their Constitution modifiers, if any, to Hit Points gained after level nine.
Additional House Rule abilities:
  • Dwarfs always have Dwarf Whisky.
  • Heal 1+Con modifier hp per day without bed rest, and 1d4 +Con modifier hp per day with bed rest. Dwarfs ignore negative Con modifiers when healing.
  • Possess a Craft skill of 3 in 6 at first level which progresses at the same rate as the Architecture skill.


  1. Just discovered your blog! Question for you on your Craft skill for dwarves - has this come up in play for you? Have any of your players wanted to craft stuff, and if so, how did you handle things like the access to materials and a "workshop," tools, cost, and time?

    For background, I started back with a combo of B/X and AD&D in the early/mid 1980's, but back then nobody in our group of players ever wanted to Craft anything. Since 2001, I've been running a combo 3E/3.5/Pathfinder game, and Craft has come into play pretty often for arcane casters crafting objects, but it's pretty tedious. I'm very intrigued by the LotFP D6 skill system, but Craft in particular seems to be a check that might require a bit more detail than the typical descriptions as written in the LotFP book.


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