30 June 2022

QHW, Day 30: Dwarves

Dwarves need metal. Dwarves eat metal.

Dwarven society is stratified into castes, which in turn are based on the metal which a dwarf can afford to eat. (This can be quite useful for PC dwarves, who can switch between racial benefits simply by changing their diet and waiting for their body to adjust.) More wealthy dwarves can afford better metals, which in turn marks them as belonging to a higher caste. If a dwarf doesn't eat metal, they will grow weak, sickly, and eventually die.

The Alloyed
Any dwarf who switched from one diet to another. It takes several days for one metal to be cleared from the body and superseded with a new one, during which time the dwarf's skin is mottled and uneven, often with rust-pimples or cracks.

Politely ignored if it's a dwarf mid-transition between castes, often with a celebration if they change into a higher caste. Dwarves who keep changing their caste and are more often Alloyed than not, disparagingly called the "slags", are widely considered untrustworthy and ignored impolitely.

The Impures
The lowest caste is composed of dwarves who do not always have access to the same cheap metal every day, or just don't have enough energy left to care. These are the labourers and unskilled workers.

Copper Dwarves have increased stamina, though overdose can lead to restlessness and insomnia. Tin Dwarves have somewhat enhanced senses, especially in the dark. Overdose can lead to migraines. Bronze Dwarves have a lesser version of both, which is especially useful for the miners.

Bronze Dwarves are not considered Alloyed and don't get the tell-tale signs of changing a diet, even if they eat two different metals.

Iron Dwarves, Ferrics
The military caste. Iron Dwarves are stronger and tougher, with overdose leading to the numbing of pain and all emotions.

Many dwarven veterans are unwilling to ever change their diet, as they have brutally slaughtered many enemies while under the influence of iron and losing the numbness would quickly lead to PTSD. Swallowing a large amount of iron at once to intentionally overdose can be used by dwarves of any caste as an emergency painkiller, though it leads to them becoming Alloyed if they weren't Ferrics.

Silver Dwarves, Argents
The craftsdwarves, artisans and artists. Silver Dwarves have augmented creativity, imagination, empathy and emotional intelligence, but overdose can leave them with hallucinations or something akin to a bipolar disorder.

Despite their social nature, many Argents choose to lead a reclusive life, as silver diet sometimes leads to embarrassingly undwarven behaviour, like freely expressing your feelings!

Gold Dwarves, Aureans
The leaders, merchants and scholars. Gold Dwarves have augmented mental capacity, memory retention and brain plasticity, allowing them to learn quickly and easily outwit most others. An overdose leads to a loss of empathy and moral restraints, allowing one to stay calm, objective and profitable even in the face of death and despair. As such, many Aureans eat more gold than would be necessary.

Occultum Dwarves, Occultins
Dwarves never have a natural gift for magic, but they can gain one by eating occultum. This is quite often lethal, but those who survive the first dose are rewarded with sorcerous powers. Occultum Dwarves rarely change their diet unless forced to by circumstances, as they cannot return to occultum without risking their life with that first dose again.

An occultum overdose has roughly equal chance of either a massive explosion, or a transformation into a mighty spirit of the earth.

Quicksilver Dwarves, Mercurials
Mercurials are not a part of the dwarven society. They are outcasts, considered monstrous and perverse. They are feared, despised and only whispered about in stories to frighten children. Their blood is a deadly poison, thus they steal the blood of other dwarves to survive. Just like quicksilver, they are malleable, able to change their appearance at will, or even dissolve their body into a pool of living mercury.

Some stories also claim that Mercurials are immortal. Many dwarven lands ban mercury to forestall the temptation and prevent the rise of dwarf-eating monstrosities in their midst.


  1. I took a bit too long writing this. The golden dwarves were finished after the time limit.

    Anyway, this is it! The last day and the last entry. This was fun, really fun, even if the 30 days started to feel a little long towards the end. :D

    I still think this is a great way to get an idea out of your head quickly. You can always revisit and rework it later, but at least you have been forced to finish something rather than leaving it as a two-sentence note somewhere in your files where it will be lost for who knows how long.

  2. I love this. I've been pondering the idea of how to make Dwarves mysterious and alien in the same way that Elves are, but different. Elves are easy to do with that- they are Faeries, tricksy and whimsical, cruelty and dreams and nightmares and childlike innocence all rolled up into one.

    Dwarves are obviously not like that. Yet all their Tolkienian description seems to paint them as a fairly ordinary people based on Jewish/Germanic/Finnoscandian folklore. And that's boring. There's a place for that archetypal Dwarf, but I don't really feel the need for it. But how to make the Dwarf a thing distinct not just from humans, but humanity, eluded me. But you, you've done it. The absolute madam, you did it.