Sunday, March 24, 2013

The GURPS Middle-Earth Dwarf


The dwarves in this post refer specifically to Dunrin's folks, or the descendants of the Longbeard clan. During the third age, dwarves were held back by pessimism [-5], which has come to pass in the fourth age. They now have the outlook of a race reborn (overconfidence [-5]). However, most non-dwarf folk still see them as a race in decline (Social Stigma (race in decline) [-1]). 

Dwarves are shorter than men (SM-1). The average dwarf is much stronger than humans (ST+2 [20]), hardier (HT+1 [10]), but then to be less inclined to intellectual ruminations (IQ-1 [-20]). Similar to hobbits, dwarves are resistant to magic (Magic resistance II), but to a lesser extent. Aule made them capable to see in very low light (Night Vision 5 [5]). Dwarves have an innate Talent (metal and stone trades) [10].

Dwarves collectively are bitter about men and elves, which they both Dislike [-1 each]. They are staunchly chauvinistic [1]. They are less prone to terror (Fearlessness 2 [4]). A defining character of dwarf is a profound Sense of Duty [-15] to all dwarves. 

Drumming and Singing

Dwarves have a particular connection among themselves. Aule created them to accomplish great tasks. Dwarves received the gift of the hymn, a collective song that brings benefits to whoever participates. When dwarves are singing or drumming together, a number of effects can be achieved:
  1. In combat, music coordinate actions within the fighters such that it confers +1 on all attack, defense and HT checks for all dwarves participating in the song.  The song also acts as a successful Leadership skill check, which may stack with another Leadership check if available. Stunned, unconscious, shocked, muted and choked dwarves do not participate in the song. 
  2. In hard labor and combat, it is possible for any participants in the hymn to lend their energy (FPs) to any other participants. Dwarves have developed this technique so master workers can accomplish extended and strenuous tasks with the support of their community. 
  3. In collaborative efforts, dwarves participating in the hymn can use their drum or singing skill in support of a key critical skill check as described in the case of n supporting allies with a leader. The GM should set a reasonable cap for a specific check. 
This ability to invoke a collective hymn is unique to dwarves. It is a gift from Aule which requires that at least one of the participant has Clerical Investment [5]. To join an hymn, each dwarf has to succeed as hard Skill check (-3) for the first 10 dwarves, then without adjustment for larger groups. Any attempt to join an hymn  that do not include both drums and singing is done instead at -5. A critical failure upon joining negates the effect of the hymn for the coming turn while the hymn itself keeps on going. 

Why they are awesome

Dwarves are meant to be working together. In battle, with a leader and while signing war chant and providing that at least one war drummer is present, they get +1 on all attacks, defense and HT checks and +2 on any kind of self control checks. Throwing in their overconfidence, and it becomes clear that dwarves are best served with a strong doze of offensive gusto. The bonus to HT check makes them harder to stun and knockout, and effectively harder to kill 1 while an hymn is ongoing. Stacked with their fearlessness, this gives them up to +4 to resist fright. Also, lending FPs to the shock troops at the front let them do more "Extra effort" attacks and thus makes groups of dwarves even more potent. For this reasons, it makes sense for dwarves to work as combat units, foster the grooming of strong leaders and a sense of collectivism. Most hard workers and fighters should make sure to get either Musical Instrument (Drum) or Singing at a level of 13 or above. 

In non-combat situations, the hymn allows them to dedicate their best worker at performing the most difficult tasks without getting tired. This is how one gets to Mithril, fish out the heart of a mountain or built mighty halls covered in masterwork engravings. 


  1. Not only can I play the The Shire song on the whistle but I have a Bodhran for Zack.

    1. From now on, Zack will have to sign a capella in order to get his character points.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. You've done some great work on building these racial templates. May I use them in a game I'm running?

    1. The template isn't formatted in a standard manner, but it is in in the first three paragraphs.