Atlas   Rules   Resources   Adventures   Stories       FAQ   Search   Links


by Christopher Richard Davies

Given its author, it probably shouldn't be surprising that GAZ6 The Dwarves of Rockhome was basically faithful to the model established by GAZ1. As such, these notes are more or less only intended to bring the material into the current edition, rather than fix any problems that I had with it.

[*] There is somewhat more to the history of the dwarves than GAZ6 reveals. The twelve hundred years between the destruction of Blackmoor and Kagyar's "creation" of the modern dwarf race saw many tragedies, not least among them the enslavement of the original dwarves by giants. These creatures of the Elemental Chaos seized the opportunity presented by Blackmoor's destruction to invade the wounded world, with ambitions of reshaping it to suit their Primordial masters. Humans and elves they disdained as too fragile for their purposes, but the hardy dwarves would suit them quite nicely.

It was, in fact, this captivity which prompted Garal Glitterlode to rescue some of the dwarves and then begin to transform them into the race known as gnomes. He attempted to interest certain other Immortals, such as his mentor Kagyar, in this project, but there were too many other mortals in desperate straits at the time for them to do anything about it. (In particular, Kagyar was part of Ka the Preserver's attempts to keep the Hollow World from collapsing on itself in the wake of the planetary realignment.)

After only a few centuries -- barely two generations for the dwarves -- the giants were forced to abandon their plans. The Blackmoor disaster had transformed parts of the world so that they were like unto the Elemental Chaos, but it had also made them toxic in ways that even the giants found unpleasant, verging on dangerous. They retreated to their home plane, abandoning most of their slaves ... though some few hundreds of them were brought along with them to become the ancestors of the galeb dur and the azer, among other creatures of Chaos.[1]

The dwarves who were remained came to believe that they had been rescued by the Soulforger that their ancestors had worshipped long before. This myth served the purpose of assuring the deeply spiritual dwarves that their patrons had not abandoned them in their time of need. (As they in fact had.) It gave the dwarves the strength to carry on for a few more centuries, since the gods who had been their salvation from the slavery of the giants would surely not allow them to fall to the slow death of their failing birthrate.

Two generations later, when Kagyar finally set out to transform the few thousand dwarves who remained into an even hardier species (giving them their famous "cast iron stomachs", for example) he took note of these myths, and decided to preserve them after a fashion. In the false memories of the dwarves, it had been Denwarf who had returned from some long sojourn elsewhere in the world to rescue the dwarves from the giants' attempt to enslave them, and who then taught the dwarves the arts of war so that they would never be slaves again.

[*] The one arcane tradition commonly practiced among the dwarves is that of the craftmage or artificer, as it's known elsewhere in the world.[2] A dwarf who wants to study other kinds of arcane magic -- wizardry or the pacts of the warlock, for example -- will probably have to look outside of Rockhome for teachers, as they aren't openly taught there. (There are a few warlocks among the Underside, but they don't advertise, and in any event aren't exactly safe to approach.)

In particular, a dwarf who wants to be a wizard will be viewed as being mad by most other dwarves. Not only are wizards responsible for countless acts of cruelty towards the dwarves and their allies, but what wizards create is possibly even more ephemeral than what a farmer does! So a dwarven arcanist, other than an artificer, will probably be an outcast from his people -- which is a good reason for that dwarf to be out in the world adventuring.

[*] As mentioned earlier, living among the dwarves are a large number of warforged. Even the Hurwarfs (reluctantly) tolerate them, as they are viewed as being "created" in much the same way that the dwarves were, and possibly by the same creator. (Rough sketches? Prototypes? Who knows? Kagyar doesn't answer questions about them.)

[*] The future of Rockhome is more or less spelled out in the product. Eventually, Denwarf will return -- likely at the worst possible time for the dwarves and their allies -- and try to lead them on a crusade against every other species on the face of the world. (Yes, even warforged. Furthermore, even after this is all over, Denwarf's rejection of them gives the Hurwarfs the excuse that they've been looking for all these years.) This civil war keeps the dwarves occupied during the early stages of the Desert Nomad invasion, and its aftermath seriously undermines their ability to send forces to aid Darokin. The changes wrought in the world by the war strengthen arguments for isolationism, though even by mid-century the dwarves will still not have completely turned their back on the world. Of course, this is all barring PC intervention.[3]


[1] Incidentally, the "dwarves" of the Star Kingdoms should probably one of these two dwarf-descended races, rather than true dwarves.

[2] Partially described in a playtest article in Dragon #365, to be expanded on in the forthcoming Eberron Player's Guide. The existence of this class means that the dwarves never need to let even a friendly, non-Glantrian wizard anywhere near their Forges of Power -- and they never will, if they can help it.

[3] PCs wanting to stop this course of events should go in search of Denwarf. For game purposes, he should be treated as a rogue eidolon wielding a huge +2 berserker greataxe, who will try to slaughter any non-dwarf (and any dwarf protecting a non-dwarf, and any dwarf whose face he just doesn't like ...) he comes across.