The great big fantasy Dwarf/Dwarves discussion

Canini

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(dwarves is my prefered spelling, so it is the one I will use here)


In this thread we can discuss all about dwarves as they appear in fantasy and videogames. It seems that dwarves are the race mostly put in the background and as stereotypes at that! What about you own games or other art? Do you have any dwarf characters? I want to start the dicusssion by sharing a list of the six most badass dwarves in Scandinavian myth that I originally wrote in Swedish for another website.  


1 Fafnir is the Wario of norse myth. He is so inflamed by greed that he murders his father and banishes his brother to gain possession of the family fortune and the mines. He also has a " terror helm" which he can use to transform into dragon. He is later, perhaps not surprisingly, slain by the hero Sigurd Fafnersbane.
2 Brokk and his brother Sindri is the world's best smiths. Among their most sublime objects can be counted a certain hammer called Mjolnir, a ship that can be folded and stored in a pocket, the iron band that bound Fenrir and needle and thread that can teleport, and is strong enough to sew together Loki´s mouth and make him shut up for a while.
3 Allwise is a dwarf who is very wise (nomen est omen). He is so wise that he actually knows everything. He wants to marry Thor's daughter but ends up immediately in trouble with his future father-in-law because he takes the shabbily dressed Thor for a servant. Meanwhile Thor does not want a pale, tinkering small-fry in the family. To get the daughter Allwise, must recite everything he knows. It takes so long that the sun comes up and he turns to stone, there not being a great deal of difference between dwarves, trolls and other nature spirits in early myth. Then I guess Thor donned a pair of sunglasses and said, "Looks like ... .Allwise has left the building."
YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAH
4 Fjalar and Galar kills a very wise god and brews mead from his blood, making each person who drinks it into a poet. In passing they succeed in drowning a giant and drop an oversized mill wheel in the head of the giant's wife "Because her crying became very tiresome for them"
5 Before a certain British linguist said "Original Dwarf Donut Steel" Dvalin was a dwarf king who led his clan from the mountains over the  "wet land" to finally settle down near the sea. According to Snorri, he could also turn into a deer and munch from of Yggdrasil's leaves.
6 Mjothvitner. The name means mead-wolf, what more needs to be said?
 

XxXhelazz

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I only know gimli xD from TLOTR
 

consolcwby

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Wait- dwarves aren't real! Are they?... I never heard of any myths containing these fellows. This thread is interesting just for that fact alone! :)


...


I liked Gimli too. xD That's all I know!
 

vanillacoke

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I'm just curious as to why they're always portrayed with Scottish accents. o_O
 

Canini

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@consolcwby


Dwarves in their modern form pretty much comes directly from Norse mythology via Tolkien. What I wanted to accomplish in this thread is to show the variety of the source material versus the normal stereotypical portrayal.


@vanillacoke


Actually there are more reasons than you might think. First and foremost Scandinavia and Scotland has a common culture via viking merchants and raiders. Also, scots and dwarves have a common stereotype as being temperamental, good with machines (a scotman perfected the steam engine and is the namesake of the watt as a unit of measurement) and drinks a lot.  
 

Canini

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@Canini
I wish I could say those were stereotypes, but they are actually pretty accurate about a high percentage of us Scots. xD


Oh I totally missed that you were Scottish. I lived in Scotland for two years. Fantastic country!


Since many have mentioned Gimli, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about his connection to the dwarves of norse myth. While the name Gimli does not appear the name of his father Gloin and his uncle Oin do. They are dwarves that traveled with the Dvalin mentioned in the OP. Gimli hails from the house of Durin. In norse myth Durin was the second dwarf, spontaneously created from the blood and flesh of the primordial giant Ymir. He created the first of the dwarf lords. Some of these dwarf lords have familiar name as well, such as Thorin, Oakenshield, Gandalf and Balin.
 

Darkanine

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Interesting stuff, I always assumed that Dwarves were more of a southern/central Germanic thing and not so much a Scandinavian thing, TIL. Dwarves always interested me in


fantasy stories, way more than those holier-than-thou Elves. I tend to prefer when Dwarves are portrayed as crude, goofy but extremely intelligent and skillful, I always thought that was a way cooler approach than crude berserkers I sometimes see.


Anyway, my game doesn't use Dwarves, but the Varda (basically Neanderthals) play a very important role in the lore, they're kind of like dwarves in the sense that they're an Earth dwelling society who are extremely proficient in metallurgy and the mystic arts.
 

kaukusaki

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One of my back burner games was to do a game featuring dwarves. (Got assets already just no coding done yet). I know little about them (heard of them reading various fantasy novels but not Tolkien though - found his work boring af). I will eventually do some research and make something awesome with it but with already 100 games in the pipeline,  it'll be awhile. ...
 
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Canini

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@kaukusaki


Sounds interesting! Dwarves are underrated as main characters. Did a short two level Boulder Dash clone with a dwarf (named Brian Blessaxe) as a main character. Are those custom dwarf assets you are using?
 

Vox Novus

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I think it would be interesting to see variations on dwarves. They are always associated with forges, mines, etc... But how about Dwarves that ventured out of those settings and have communities set up in new places.


Dwarves are clearly builders and architects in some respects to and so I'd like to see what forest bound dwarves would be like for example versus the typical stuck in the mine. 


You definitely don't see dwarves as main characters, they usually provide some sort of support; a jovial party member in games or the powerhouse or crafter of the team. How about a story of a looked down upon dwarf who becomes the hero everyone needs to save the world.
 

kaukusaki

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@Canini i had no clue how to draw them so i purchased pvg's high fantasy: the deep. They're being used as place holders until i finish research (and tweak mechanics lol)
 

Canini

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But how about Dwarves that ventured out of those settings and have communities set up in new places.
Funny you should mention this because it actually have precedent in the nordic texts. If you look at nr 5 in the OP:


Dvalin was a dwarf king who led his clan from the mountains over the  "wet land" to finally settle down near the sea.


The actual text goes:


 The race of the dwarfs | in Dvalin's throng
Down to Lofar (Dvalin´s descendent) | the list must I tell;
The rocks they left, | and through wet lands
They sought a home | in the fields of sand.
 

Vox Novus

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Mermaid Dwarves confirmed!? I really like that concept though, Dwarves are people to! Why should they be trapped in mines and mountains.
 

LaFlibuste

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Else, if you're willing to go that way, celtic dwarves are much more forest-y. Although to be fair what the celtic myths call "dwarves" is actually much closer to "gnomes" or "imps", little trickster beings. It might also have been influenced by nordic myths. Or the other way around. Or both ways, maybe...
 

kaukusaki

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So cool to know! *takes notes*


I wonder if there are dwarf type creatures in other cultures? *dons research pith hat* off i go digging some books... Or clicking through google lolz
 

Canini

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I think germany have many creatures of the hidden-in-the-earth types such as Frau Holle. The name Holle is related to Huldras, a scandinavian type of forest lady related to trolls. The name means hidden and was according to at least one researcher the name of a proto-germanic goddess.
 

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