plundering Dragonlance: how not to do dwarves

This entry is part 1 of 11 in the series dragonlance

“Bah!” Flint snorted. “If a gully dwarf can open this, I can open it. Stand aside.” The dwarf elbowed everyone back, plunged his hand into the water, and heaved. There was a moment’s silence. Flint grunted, his face turned red. He stopped, straightened up with a gasp, then reached down and tried again. There wasn’t a creak. The door remained shut.

Dwarves are often treated without dignity. As far as I remember, Gimli wasn’t a comic-relief character in the Lord of the Rings books, but movie Gimli fared much worse. The repeated dwarf-tossing jokes in the movies had to be a low point of… well… anything. Just a universal low, low, low point.

Flint gets pretty much the same deal as Gimli. He actually gets tossed a couple of times during the course of Dragons of Autumn Twilight. He’s hilariously short. In his very first scene, much comic hay is made of the fact that he can’t see over people’s heads, and he has to ask his companions what’s going on!

As is ancient dwarven tradion, Flint has a phobia: as Gimli fears forests, Flint fears water. At one point, when he hears a lake is nearby, he actually runs in the other direction. He’s also allergic to horses. He can’t catch a break, travel-wise.

I wonder if Mr. T is a dwarf? Sure, he’s tall, but he’s burly, bearded, and has an irrational fear of a means of transportation that causes comic inconvenience to his party.

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7 Responses to “plundering Dragonlance: how not to do dwarves”

  1. Sad, but true. I prefer a more “dignified” treatment of dwarves myself.

  2. 1d30 says:

    I agree with Mystic Scholar. In fact, I pity da fool who doesn’t know about the Dwemer from The Elder Scrolls – while they weren’t short-dwarves, I always just pictured them as short anyway because screw the official lore and there aren’t any wandering around anyway. It has a nice post-apocalypse fallen empire kind of backstory. Kind of like how someone round these parts was talking about the Dwarves from The Hobbit just wandering around scraping by because their kingdom was shattered. Proud but forlorn.

    I love Dwarf Fortress dwarves too, comedic but in a different way. The jokes are less about dwarves being short, and more a result of in-game rules like “needs alcohol to get through the working day” (which is a trait of ALL dwarves) or is fascinated by “cows, for their haunting moos”. Dwarves end up making elaborate engravings of that time the overseer bought a lot of really good cheese, or when a skeletal elk (or “skelk”), fell down an air shaft and limped around biting the mushroom farmers for days. It’s possible to make a really cool artifact, someone makes another artifact engraved with an image of the older one because it’s so famous, and then someone makes an engraving on a wall of that second artifact. Which means there’s an engraving of an engraving … and it can go many levels deep like that.

    Because of how a PC’s abilities affect their gameplay choices, I like giving dwarves weird racial abilities like Liquid Courage (drink liquor to heal a little bit, resulting in healed-up but drunk dwarves) or Golden Nose (sniff to detect precious metals and gems within a couple feet).

  3. SAROE says:

    I’m pretty sure Mr. T is the inspiration for GW’s slayer dwarves of Warhammer.

    No armor-check
    Ridiculous jewelry-check
    Bad Attitude-check

  4. 1d30 says:

    6: Likes to armor-up the wagon every time
    7: Hates goblins

    Little known fact: Mr T. cannot abide a goblin.

  5. J. Random Scribbler says:

    Yeah, those dwarf-tossing references in the LotR movies really jarred me out of the story. Gimli was not comic relief in the books– sure, he had one or two moments, but other characters (especially Sam) had a lot more. Sucks that Peter Jackson had to pick on Gimli.

    Oddly enough the Hobbit movie gives the dwarves a lot more dignity than the book did.

  6. cynick says:

    The dwarves of Joel Rosenberg’s “Guardians of the Flame” series have a fear of water for a very good reason – their denser bone structure results in them sinking rapidly.

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