(Base Race- DWARF, Sub Race- Shield Dwarf)
The sculpted halls and echoing chambers of dwarven kingdoms
are scattered throughout the Underdark like forgotten necklaces of
semiprecious stones. Dwarven kingdoms such as Xonathanur, Oghrann, and
Gharraghaur taught the less civilized races of Faerun what it meant to
hold and wield power. Unlike the ancient human empires, the dwarves
distrusted magic, so they were never seduced by the heights of magical
folly that toppled Netheril and Imaskar. Instead, the dwarves become
locked in eternal wars with goblin-kind and the other dwellers in the
Underdark. One by one, the dwarven empires of the north failed, leaving
only scattered survivors in the mountains or unconquered sections of the
The clans that survived these battles are the shield dwarves. For
many human generations there were divided into two types: the Hidden, given to reclusion and secrecy, and the Wanderers,
comfortable with other races and inclined to exploration. Since the
Thunder Blessing, the older members of Hidden clans are beginning to
change their hearts. Within a few decades the differences between Hidden
and Wanderer may become meaningless.
* Ability Adjustment: +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma.
* Darkvision: Dwarves can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
* Stonecunning: +2 bonus to Search checks when inside.
* Lore Affinity: +2 bonus to Lore checks.
* Weapon Familiarity: Dwarven waraxes are treated as martial rather
than exotic weapons.
* Hardiness vs. Poisons: +2 racial bonus to saving throws against
* Hardiness vs. Spells: +2 racial bonus to saving throws against
spell and spell-like effects.
* Battle Training vs. Giants: +4 dodge bonus to Armor Class against
monsters of the giant type (such as ogres, trolls, and hill giants)
* Battle Training vs. Orcs and Goblinoids: +1 racial bonus to attack
rolls against orcs (including half-orcs) and goblinoids (including
goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears).
* Favored Class: Fighter. A multiclass shield dwarf's fighter class
does not count when determining whether he takes and experience point
penalty for multiclassing. Dwarven culture extols the virtues of battle,
and the vocation comes easily to dwarves.
Regions: Damara, Dwarf (shield), Impiltur, the North, Silverymoon,
Vassa, the Vast, and Western Heartlands.
Found largely in the northern reaches of western and central Faerun,
shield dwarves are the dominant northern branch of the Stout Folk.
Renowned for their smithwork and craftmenship, shield dwarves had
endured a centuries-long decline in the face of never-ending wars with
orcs, goblins, giants, and trolls.
Shield dwarves are descended from the founders of Shanatar, a
legendary dwarven empire that once ruled the caverns beneath modern-day
Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan. After Shanatar fell, the shield dwarves
migrated north, founding kingdoms such as Ammarindar, Delzoun,
Gharraghaur, Haunghdamar, Oghrann, and Sarbreen. Although those kingdoms
have also largely fallen, the Stout Folk of the North endure. The
Thunder Blessing has served as a welcome reprieve for the beleaguered
shield dwarves, giving hope that the descendants of ancient Shanatar may
one day reclaim the glory of their forebears.
Taller by half a foot than their gold dwarf cousins, shield dwarves
average 4 ½ feet tall and weigh as much as an adult human. The skin of a
shield dwarf is fair or lightly tanned, and her eyes are usually green
or silvered blue. Both genders wear their hair long, and males (and a
very few females) have long, carefully groomed beards and mustaches.
Hair color ranges from light brown to red, with all shades fading to
silver or white as time progresses.
Shield dwarves keep their word, whatever the cost, and are incredibly
stubborn, unwilling to concede an inch unless there is absolutely no
alternative. Such intransigence has enabled dwindling shield dwarf
populations to hold on to ancient strongholds with just a fraction of
their original defenders. However, it has also led to clan feuds and
long- standing misunderstandings with other races that have sapped the
strength of the Stout Folk. Shield dwarves love worked beauty, seeing
the world as raw material to be forged and shaped into something more
than the original.
Shield dwarves have the life expectancy and age categories defined
for dwarves in the Player's Handbook, but use the following random
height and weight characteristics instead of those described:
Shield dwarf, male: 4'2", +2d4, 145 lb., X(2d6) lb. Shield dwarf,
female: 4'0", +2d4, 110 lb., X(2d4) lb.
Shield dwarves trace their history back to Taark Shanat, third son of
the great ruling clan of Bhaerynden. In the legendary times more than
twelve thousand years ago, the Great Crusader and his eight sons led a
great westward migration of dwarves from Bhaerynden in hopes of founding
a new homeland. The Cloaker Wars pitted dwarves who followed Shanat
against the mysterious inhabitants of Rringlor Noroth, who rose from the
depths of a great chasm in a battle for control of the caverns of
Alatorin. The Stout Folk eventually prevailed, after Taark slew four
blue dragons who claimed the Rift of Dhalndar as their demesne. By the
hand of one of the dwarven gods, probably Dumathoin, the skulls of the
four wyrms cam together with a throne that emerged from the cavern floor
to form the Wyrmskull Throne. Taark renamed the wyrms' lair Brightaxe
Hall and founded of the kingdom of Alatorin. Shield dwarves mark the
founding of Alatorin as the beginning of the First Great Age of Shanatar.
One Alatorin was established, the eight sons of Taark Shanat set off
to found their own kingdoms in the caverns to the north (beneath
modern-day Tethyr and Amn). Each son claimed one of the children of
Moradin as his patron deity and so each of the subkingdoms they
established became tightly linked with the church of that particular god
or goddess. Around -9000 DR, skirmishing broke out between the eight
northern kingdoms, as each fought to extend its borders at the expense
of its neighbors. Over time, the skirmishes evolved into open warfare,
pitting thousands of dwarves against one another.
While these wars raged, the drow of Guallidurth took advantage of the
dwarves' distraction to attack the caverns of Alatorin, which were far
removed from the frontlines of the fighting. The First Spider War was
fought from -8170 DR to -8150 DR and ended with the capture of Brightaxe
Hall and the collapse of Alatorin. Aghast at their folly, the eight
reigning kings of that era forged an armistice, and turned their armies
against the drow. The Second Spider War raged from -8145 DR to -8137 DR,
and ended with the drow retreating from the caverns of Alatorin.
In triumph, the eight kings marched their armies back into Brightaxe
Hall, pledging never again to fight on another. Seeking to reclaim the
vision of Taark Shanat, the eight kings pleaded with their gods to pick
one of them to sit on the Wyrmskull Throne. In response, the gods
revealed the visage of the reigning king of Ultoksamrin, high priest of
Dumathoin. Shield dwarves mark this event as the beginning of the Second
Age of Shanatar and the elevation of Dumathoin as patron of their race.
Despite their newfound unity, dissension still lurked within the
breasts of many of Shanatar's citizens. The kings of both Barakuir and
Drakkalor both thought that they were entitled to sit on the Wyrmskull
Throne, backed by the whisperings of their gods who had sought to have
Moradin name them patron of the shield dwarves. Before such dissent
could erupt into open strife, the illithids of Oryndoll attacked the
eastern subkingdons in -8100 DR, beginning a conflict that came to be
known as the
Mindstalker Wars to the dwarves and the War of Cloven Thoughts to the
mind flayers. The illithids were driven back by -8080 DR, but in their
wake the surviving Stout Folk discovered that the caverns of Barakuir,
which had been cut off in the early days of the fighting, lay empty,
Clan Duergar had been carried back to the thralldom in the mind flayer's
The Second Age of Shanatar lasted for nearly 1,800 years. Around
-6150 DR, the drow of Guallidruth once again attacked the caverns of
Alatorin. The Third Spider War lasted nearly thirty years but ended with
the Stout Folk abandoning Brightaxe Hall to the drow. The dwarven
refugees brought the Wyrmskull Throne with them, marking the end of the
Second Age of Shanatar.
As the Third Age of Shanatar dawned, the emperor of Shanatar made
plans to establish a new subkingdom in the Realms Above. Dwarven scouts
were sent up to the surface around -6100 DR, where they allied with
humans of the region to oust the remaining djinni despots. The alliance
between the dwarves and the humans quickly foundered because the rulers
in Coramshan turned to evil gods. In response, the dwarves claimed the
surface lands north of the Marching Mountains as their won, establishing
the kingdom of High Shanatar around -5960 DR.
High Shanatar flourished for centuries under the rule of House
Axemarch, but the seeds of its destruction were planted within a century
of its establishment. A conflict over a looted tomb led to skirmishing
and eventually open warfare. The First Kingdom of Mir was established
after Iltaker fell to Murabir Mir of Coramshan in -5330 DR, marking the
beginning of the centuries-long expansion of Calimshan at the expense of
High Shanatar. By -2600 DR, the last known dwarves of High Shanatar had
fallen on the northern banks of the Sulduskoon River, and High Shanatar
was no more.
As High Shanatar struggled to hold on to its territories in
southwestern Faerun, Deep Shanatar struggled with challenges of its own.
Successive waves of emigration led many young dwarves north to found new
realms but also depleted the ranks of those who remained. Over time, the
northern kingdoms of Drakkolor, Korolnor, Sondarr, Torglor, and
Xothaerin slowly dwindled away as their inhabitants migrated north. The
kingdom of Oghrann was established beneath the Plains of Tun in -5125
DR. The coastal realm of Haunghdannar was established in the northern
Sword Mountains and along the northern Sword Coast in -4974 DR.
Ammarindar was founded beneath the Graypeak Mountains around -4160 DR,
and Delzoun, the Northkingdom, rose beneath what is now the Silver
Marches around -3900 DR.
Unfortunately for the shield dwarves, their conquests in the North
proved illusory, and the glory of Shanatar was never reborn. Oghrann
fell in -3770 DR, and Haunghdannar in -3389 DR. Delzoun and Ammarindar
lasted many more centuries, but the Northkingdom eventually succumbed in
-100 DR, and Ammarindar was overrun in 882 DR by lingering horrors
unleashed by the Netherese of Ascalhorn.
In the South, after centuries of decline, the final fall of Deep
Shanatar was precipitated by the Stout Folk themselves. Impelled by
centuries of bitter resentment, Clan Duergar invaded Ultoksamrin and
Holorarar around -1800 DR in a series of conflicts know as the Kin
Clashes. Only Iltkazar survived the gray dwarf invasion, leaving
Shanatar fallen in all but name.
Despite their centuries-long decline and deserved reputation for
dourness and cynicism, shield dwarves have never succumbed to fatalism.
Shield dwarves had traditionally been divided into two camps – the
Hidden and the Wanderers – although such divisions have begun to fade
since the Thunder Blessing. While members of the former group have
literally hidden themselves away from the outside world, content to
pursue their traditional way of life, members of the latter group have
gone out into the world, unbowed by their face's relentless decline.
Shield dwarves are traditionally slow to trust and slow to forget
slights, but a dawning realization of their race's plight has left many
willing to seek out new ways of doing things unconstrained by
traditional prejudices or practices. Shield dwarves have a long and
proud tradition of adventuring, and many shield dwarves follow this
route simply in hope of equaling or exceeding the deeds of those who
have come before. Others seek to recover long-lost strongholds and
treasures that have fallen to orcs or others beasts. Since the Thunder
Blessing, the question for many young shield dwarves is not why they
should become adventurers, but why they should not.
Shield Dwarf Characters
Constant warfare with orcs, goblins, trolls, and giants have imbued a
strong martial tradition in shield dwarf culture. Most dwarves learn to
defend their homes and clan, with fighters, paladins, and martial
clerics being commonplace. Other shield dwarves focus on time-honored
skills, following the path of the expert or rogue. Arcane spellcaster
are quite rare, with few of sorcerous inclination. Common multiclass
combinations include fighter/cleric, fighter/paladin, and
Favored Class: A shield dwarf's favored class is fighter.
For centuries shield dwarves have fought a war of genocidal destruction
against orcs, goblins, trolls, and giants of the North. Fighters have
always served at the core of shield dwarf armies, even defiant in the
face of overwhelming odds.
Prestige Classes: Battleragers are legendary dwarven warriors who can
enter a divine battle frenzy through ritualistic singing. Given to
drinking, rowdy and boisterous singing, and drunken dancing,
battleragers love to plunge into close quarters battle, heedless of any
Shield dwarves of some accomplishment frequently adopt the dwarven
defender prestige class, and many of their clerics become runecasters.
Shield Dwarf Society
Although clan and class divisions were once strong among shield
dwarves, generations of decline have largely broken their once dominant
influence. While shield dwarves are still incredibly proud of their
bloodlines, individual accomplishments now count for more than
longstanding tradition of the dictates of class elders. Shield dwarves
life among the Hidden is still dominated by craft and forge, but
increasing numbers of shield dwarves are making their own way in the
world as adventurers or as craftsfolk dwelling in human-dominated
Shield dwarves are raised in tight family units, with clan elders
playing a diminishing role in overseeing their upbringing. Book learning
is common, and most children are apprenticed to learn a trade as they
near maturity. Adult shield dwarves are expected to support themselves
and their family as well as bring honor and riches to the clan. While
shield dwarves do not shy away from
displays of wealth, they avoid ostentatious or decadent behavior. As
shield dwarves age, they are honored for their wisdom and accorded
respect for their past accomplishments. Families and clans are expected
to honor their elders in death with solemn funeral rites and tombs
befitting the deceased's reputation and accomplishments.
Generations of Wanderers have created large and thriving dwarven
enclaves within most human settlements, with all shield dwarves welcome
as posrt of the loosely knit dwarven “clan". Shield dwarves occupy the
roles of smith or craftsmen in many human communities and are well
respected for their skill as artisans. Few shield dwarves turn away from
the venerations of the Morndinsamman, but most are quick to learn the
local trade tongue and make friends with other races.
Language and Literacy
Like all dwarves, shield dwarves speak Dwarven and employ the Dethek
rune alphabet. They also speak Common. The primary shield dwarven
dialect, Shanatan, dates back to the founding of Shanatar and is still
spoken by dwarves along the Sword Coast from the Shinning Sea to the
Spine of the World. To the east, in northcentral Faerun, most shield
dwarves speak the Galenan dialect, strongly influenced by the Damaran
Common secondary languages reflect the extensive trading contacts
maintained by shield dwarves with their neighbors in the North and
include Chondathan, Illuskan, and, to a lesser extent, Elven and Gnome.
The shield dwarves of northcentral Faerun are more apt to learn Damaran
than Illuskan as a secondary language. Many shield dwarves also learn
the languages of their traditional foes, including Draconic, Giant,
Goblin, and Orc.
All shield dwarf characters are literate except for barbarians.
Shield Dwarf Magic and Lore
Shield dwarves have been engaged in a perpetual war against
goblinoids and giants for centuries, so their magic reflects a martial
bent. Anything that helps slay more giants is a welcome addition to the
shield dwarf arsenal.
Among the Hidden, magic from the Illusion and Abjuration schools are
immensely important, because they guard a dwarf clan from discovery and
attack. The Hidden create layer after layer of protective spells to
guard entrance to their strongholds. Many an invading orc horde has been
tricked into leaving or frustrated into exhaustion without even seeing
the shield dwarves they're fighting.
Spells and Spellcasting Shield dwarves have a strong diving
spellcasting tradition, with many of the Stout Folk called to serve the
Morndinsamman as clerics, paladins, runecaster, or runesmiths. Arcane
spellcaster are much more rare, but increasing in number.
Spellcasting Tradition: Shield dwarves often take the Shield Dwarf
feat, which reflects their knack for creating armor and shields with
Unique Spells: Shield dwarves have created many divine spells over
the years, including mindless rage and shape metal.
Racial Magic Items Shield dwarves favor magic items that aid in
combat, whether offensively or defensively. Whether magic is best
employed to protect of attack is a centuries-old argument among the
shield dwarves. With Wanderers favoring magic weapons and the Hidden
favoring magic armor. In any case, all shield dwarves revere any magic
item that facilitates craftwork, because the urge to create flow
strongly in dwarven blood.
Axes and other blades are commonly crafted with keen, holy, lawful,
flaming, flaming burst, mighty cleaving, sundering, and stunning special
abilities. Hammers and maces are commonly crafted with holy, impact,
lawful, returning, shock, shocking burst, stunning, sundering, and
throwing special abilities. Armor is typically crafted with fire
resistance, fortification, and invulnerability special abilities,
reflecting a long tradition of battles against orcs, goblinoids, trolls,
and giants, and a deep understanding of metalworking.
Common Magic Items: Common examples of items favored by shield
dwarves include anvils of the blacksmith, style="FONT-STYLE:
italic">belts of dwarvenkind (often given as gifts to nondwarves who
help a dwarf clan), style="FONT-STYLE: italic">boots of the winterlands,
forges of smithing, banners of the weaponsmith, tongs of the armorer,
and whetstones of keen edge.
Iconic Magic Items: Shield dwarves have fabricated many unique magic
items as well, such as italic">doorbreakers[i], hammers of staggering
blows, and stonereavers. They are justly famous for foesplitter axes,
which are +1 keen battleaxes.
Shield Dwarf Deities
Shield dwarves have venerated the dwarven deities of the
Morndinsamman since the dawn of Shanatar, although their mythology has
evolved significantly over the millennia. Taark Shanat and his followers
in Alatorin venerated Moradin and Berronar, but worship of those deities
receded as Taark's eight sons set out to found their own kingdoms, each
choosing a patron deity of his won from among the eight children:
Dumathoin, Laduguer, Abbathor, Clangeddin Silverbeard, Vergadain,
Sharindlar, and the twins Diinkarazan and Diirinka.
When the eight kings came together to choose who would first sit on
the Wyrmskull Throne, Moradin selected the king of Ultoksamrin, who was
also the high priest of Dumathoin. This act cemented the Silent Keeper's
position as patron deity of the shield dwarves but strongly disappointed
Dumathoin's chief rivals, eventually leading to Laduguer's bitter exile
and Abbathor's enduring corruption. By the fall of Shanatar, the shield
dwarves had abandoned the worship of Laduguer, Diinkarazan, and Diirinka,
while younger gods such as Thard Harr, Gorm Gulthyn, Marthammor Duin,
Dugmaren Brightmantle, and Haela Brightaxe had arisen.
Dumathoin is considered the patron of shield dwarves, and his church
has by far the most adherents among shield dwarves. Miners and smiths
venerate the Silent Keeper, but he also has a small following among
those good and neutral-aligned shield dwarves seeking secrets of arcane
lore. The Mountain Shield is also considered the guardian of the dead
and is propitiated by most shield dwarves during burials. Dumathoin's
clerics take charge of all burials, inter the dead in secret vaults, and guard the funeral
wealth of great shield dwarves.
Marthammor Duin, the Finder-of-Trails, is venerated be those shield
dwarves who consider themselves Wanderers. He watches over good-aligned
adventurers, craftsfolk, explorers, expatriates, travelers, and
wanderers. Marthammor has a secondary aspect as the dwarven god of
lightning, which curiously has attracted a small growing number of
wizards and sorcerers who specialize in evocation magic. class=postbody>
Relations with Other Races
Shield dwarves get along with most other dwarven subraces, although
they regard gold dwarves arrogance as naive and have little
understanding for their barbaric wild and arctic dwarven kin. Shield
dwarves have a longstanding enmity for the descendants of Clan Duergar,
dating back to the Kin Clashes that marked Shanatar's final chapter, and
they attack duergar on sight.
Despite centuries of squabbling with elves and half-elves, shield
dwarves have always managed to put aside their differences with the Tel-quessir
in the face of outside threats. Shield dwarves have always gotten along
well with gnomes, particularly rock gnomes and deep gnomes. Colored by
their experience with lightfoots, shield dwarves find halflings to be
somewhat unreliable buy easy to get along with. Shield dwarves get along
well with most humans, particularly Illuskans, Tethyrians, Chondathans,
Shield dwarves see half-orcs as little better than their hated
brethren, although exceptions do exist. The Stout Folk of the North
associate most planetouched with the horrors of Hellgate Keep and view
them with suspicion. Earth gensai are a notable exception and are
commonly welcomed in dwarven delves across the North.
Shield Dwarf Equipment
Shield dwarves commonly employ equipment such as armor lubricant,
mobile braces, rope climbers, thunderstones, and sunrods.
Arms and Armorer Shield dwarves favor a wide range of weapons,
including battleaxes, crossbows, gauntlets, handaxes, heavy picks, light
hammers, light picks, longswords, half spear, short swords, mauls,
throwing axes, and warhammers. More unusual weapons include dwarven
urgroshes, dwarven waraxes, horned helmets, spiked chains, spiked
gauntlets, spiked helmets, and spike shooters. Typical forms of armor
include breastplates, chainmail, half-plate, full plate, large steel
shields, and small steel shields. Less common forms of armor include
dwarven plate, grasping shields, and large mithral shields.
Whenever possible, shield dwarves fashion their armor from mithral;
their love of the metal matches the gold dwarves' admiration for
Animals and Pets
Shield dwarves favor bats (especially the common
bat), canaries, and small lizards such as the spitting crawler as pets
and familiars. They use pack lizards and mules as beasts of burden.
Shield dwarves commonly employ ponies or war ponies as steeds, except in Iltkazar, where riding lizards are still the norm. Favored breeds
include the Island pony, the Nether pony, and the Whiteshield (war
pony). The shield dwarves of the Far Hills employ dire bats as steeds
(fitted with exotic military saddles) to navigate the subterranean wells
they call home. Shield dwarf barbarians and battleragers often employ
boars as steeds.