Do Dwarves still have a place in modern fantasy?


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Thread: Do Dwarves still have a place in modern fantasy?

  1. #1

    Do Dwarves still have a place in modern fantasy?

    I don't use them. I haven't heard of anyone using them on any of the writing forums I've visited. So they've declined in the modern age seemingly. Maybe because of beauty standards. Maybe because of political correctness. Maybe because they seem to strongly attached to the idea of beards, axes, mining and the underground, that it feels weird to go outside that. I feel like they've been done so extensively in LotR, Warhammer books, DnD, and other works, that a writer would have to make them distinctly un-dwarvish to differentiate themselves from it. But the problem there, if you take away the stereotypical dwarvish traits, they become like halflings.

  2. #2
    If the traditional take on dwarves works in your story then use it. What I like to see for dwarves and other species is placing them in alternate settings. Have dwarves be magicians, sailors, assassins, etc. An author could even highlight the benefits and detriments that someone of that species has over the others.
    K.S. Crooks- Dreamer and Author

  3. #3
    I have used them in eight published novels.
    Never pet a burning dog.

  4. #4
    Member hvysmker's Avatar
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    I don't recall ever writing them into a story, as such. The closest I've come is an alien race of three foot high humanoids.

    Maybe because I've never known or associated with people that small?

    Oops! I forgot. I have a story about one of Santa's dwarfs being accidentally left behind on Earth as a baby.
    Last edited by hvysmker; May 24th, 2020 at 06:26 PM.

  5. #5
    Dwarves are short hairy people that live underground. Not too captivating if you ask me. How many people actually want to be a dwarf? I mean, there are elves and vampires and other better attributed races. The lack of variation doesn't help. Not just in terms of looks, but with personality. They are usually known for stability, honour, some smuggling? It's a bit bland. Perhaps there just isn't enough content out there to give me an interesting dwarf character.

    It feels like they are born to be side characters. The power gap between them and other races is significant. I don't believe dwarven champions because I know that reach is better than strength. Being short sucks in close combat and for using bows; they should be mages. They have no special powers, just craftsmanship. Wow. They always forge these powerful artifacts, but never really wield them. A glance at history tells us the superior technology usually wins. Dwarves should rule the world. No wonder they keep dying off in mysterious ways.

    Dwarves are limiting in what they do and can be, making them very difficult to write well. In a 'fast food' writing environment these folk just can't keep up.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Biro View Post
    Talos was a giant in Greek Mythology.........He lost against smaller people.

    Goliath was a giant and was beaten by David.....Biblical story.

    Bono ain't done too bad.
    Fantasy dwarven race does NOT mean a person with dwarfism. They are two completely separate things and should not be equated to one another.

    Talos was beaten by humans, either through magic or exceptional skill. Stories differ.

    Goliath and David were human and the victory was (and is) treated as a great accomplishment. Defeating someone larger than you in close combat is very difficult and the rare fighters capable of it are highly praised for their skill. When your opponent can easily strike your head, you're at a disadvantage. David also used a slingshot.

    There are many other 'Little People', like sprites, gnomes, fairies. They each have their own distinctive features and attributes. Gnomes are usually nimble etc. Dwarves are known to be slow, stocky. Sometimes even fearful of the surface. It's difficult to write an adventure with them when there are many more magical and fantastical creatures to pick from.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Razzy View Post
    Fantasy dwarven race does NOT mean a person with dwarfism. They are two completely separate things and should not be equated to one another.

    Talos was beaten by humans, either through magic or exceptional skill. Stories differ.

    Goliath and David were human and the victory was (and is) treated as a great accomplishment. Defeating someone larger than you in close combat is very difficult and the rare fighters capable of it are highly praised for their skill. When your opponent can easily strike your head, you're at a disadvantage. David also used a slingshot.

    There are many other 'Little People', like sprites, gnomes, fairies. They each have their own distinctive features and attributes. Gnomes are usually nimble etc. Dwarves are known to be slow, stocky. Sometimes even fearful of the surface. It's difficult to write an adventure with them when there are many more magical and fantastical creatures to pick from.

    He used a sling, not a slingshot; completely different weapon. The traditional weapon of shepherd in the region, it frequently ignored armor because it worked of kinetic force.
    Never pet a burning dog.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Razzy View Post
    Dwarves are short hairy people that live underground. Not too captivating if you ask me. How many people actually want to be a dwarf? I mean, there are elves and vampires and other better attributed races. The lack of variation doesn't help. Not just in terms of looks, but with personality. They are usually known for stability, honour, some smuggling? It's a bit bland. Perhaps there just isn't enough content out there to give me an interesting dwarf character.

    It feels like they are born to be side characters. The power gap between them and other races is significant. I don't believe dwarven champions because I know that reach is better than strength. Being short sucks in close combat and for using bows; they should be mages. They have no special powers, just craftsmanship. Wow. They always forge these powerful artifacts, but never really wield them. A glance at history tells us the superior technology usually wins. Dwarves should rule the world. No wonder they keep dying off in mysterious ways.

    Dwarves are limiting in what they do and can be, making them very difficult to write well. In a 'fast food' writing environment these folk just can't keep up.
    There are numerous books using Dwarves as primary characters. The Black Library put out numerous.

    Other than a slower ground speed, Dwarves have no drawbacks; I've had no problem depicting them in the books I've included them in. They feature as both primary and second characters.
    Never pet a burning dog.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by RWK View Post
    There are numerous books using Dwarves as primary characters. The Black Library put out numerous.

    Other than a slower ground speed, Dwarves have no drawbacks; I've had no problem depicting them in the books I've included them in. They feature as both primary and second characters.
    You're right about the sling.

    What value do you find in dwarves? Why is your character one? Is there something I'm missing that is explored using one?
    Elves explore pride, beauty, immortality, nature, corruption. Undead explore the cost of power and immortality, the soul, death, afterlife, God. Fairies explore nature, magic, vulnerability, new perspectives. Beastmen look at the divide between human and animal. Their race gives you greater depth and meaning to their stories, beyond their character or culture. I'm struggling to see what a dwarf brings to the table that something else doesn't. From what I've read and seen they function like humans, but with new customs. Why not just have a human then? Or something else?

    The usual 'hook' I've read for dwarves is the 'forgotten city'. Who built this, where did they go, what happened to them? The answer is 'greed'. Greed can be developed with other races just as well. Or the 'fish out of water' humour. 'Doesn't the sky look strange?' haha, they lived underground and couldn't see the sky so they're nervous!

    I think dwarves require more effort to become interesting to me, making them harder to write. They don't have that fantastical pull which dragons etc have.

    I dunno, maybe I'm not ready for that hot dwarf on dwarf romance just yet.

  10. #10
    At least one contemporary fantasy mag openly complains about people sending in too many stories about dwarves. So the trope can't be completely dead.
    What value do you find in dwarves?


    HAIL DURIN THE DEATHLESS ugh this song makes me cry every time
    But seriously, who doesn't love dwarves? Love of dwarves is the love of mountains, of faded glory and twisting caverns, of clever machines and fine weaponry and fearless bearded warriors.
    Stranded in Babylon

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