The Dark Dwarves
Copyright Dan Myers © 2008 Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion
« Through the years, they have become twisted and evil with their long association with the Dark Lord. »
The MERP rulebook only includes the most common type of Dwarves, the Naugrim in the tongue of the Sindar. But known to only the most wise is a small group of dwarves known as the Dark Dwarves or Mornaugrim as spoken in the tongue of the Sindar. The Mornaugrim are related to the dwarves but having been under the shadow of the Dark Lord for so long, their spirit and physical form have been corrupted. This article is an attempt to bring the Dark Dwarves to life for MERP players to use as an additional character race. Dark-Dwarves was first mentioned from Iron Crown Enterprises” Gorgoroth, Charlottesville, 1990 and special assistance from The Crimson Pryrate.
The main tribes of the Mornaugrim know only that Draven was a great and beloved servant of Mahal/Sauron, and gave his life in battle. While they don’t generally revere ancestors, they do revere Fadon Stonetoe as the father of their tribe(s), and Draven Stonetoe as the greatest hero of their kind. Mornaugrim are few in number and secretive. Only a few of the Wise know they exist and they keep the legend to themselves. Dwarves know the tale of the Mornaugrim as a childhood bedtime story meant to frighten them when they were younger. Through the years, they have become twisted and evil with their long association with the Dark Lord. They still serve him and make melancholic weapons of cruel might to be used against the Free People of Middle Earth.
Build : They possess hard and very angular facial features. In contrast with dwarves, they are gaunt (for dwarves) and taller. They are humped around the shoulders. Males average 140 pounds while females average 120 pounds. Their hair and beard is thick as wire and often left unkempt and tangled.
Coloring : They are distinguishable from other dwarves by their remarkable alabaster to light bluish-gray complexion. Their hair tends to be black which provides a shocking contrast to their complexion. However, brown hair is uncommon while red is rare. Their eyes tend to be more round than oval and range in coloring from fiery red to auburn brown. Dark Dwarves have a high rate of melanism, which results in ebony or purple skin with vanilla-white hair and beard. Those suffering from melanism tend to have eyes that are crystal blue to ice blue in color. Dark Dwarves consider melanism as a sign of good fortune.
Endurance : Exceptional. They carry medium burdens over long distances with little rest.
Height : 4 ½ to 5 feet tall.
Lifespan : 175–300 years
Resistance : Since their subversion to the Dark Lord, Dark Dwarves have lost some of the renowned dwarven toughness. They are not as strong willed and resistant to magic as other dwarves. Still they are very hardy. They are resistant to fire and cold (+20 bonus versus heat and cold). Also, due to their close proximity with grimy orcs and filthy goblins over the centuries, they have developed a special resistance against poisons.
Special Abilities : Dark Dwarves see well in the extreme darkness. In dim light they can see 70” perfectly, and well to 140”. They can see 10” in total darkness (non-magical). Their eyes glow with a faint reddish hue. Their eyes are sensitive to sudden bright light. They receive a –10 to bright light and blinding attacks.
Clothing and Decoration : Most wear their beards long, tangled and unkempt. Some are clean shaved. Their hair is much the same way as their beards. They favor black or dark colored clothes, with hooded cloaks.
Fears & Inabilities : Like most dwarves, they are poor swimmers (-50 to Swimming maneuvers). They suffer from the Curse of Durin, which makes them feel extremely uncomfortable in the presence of other dwarves. (-10 to all movement and maneuver activities in the presence of dwarves ; this does not apply in the heat of battle)
Lifestyle : Dark Dwarves are very secretive ; even more so than other dwarves are. They are great craftsmen and stoneworkers. But the things they create lack the intrinsic high-quality showmanship as other dwarves. Instead their crafts shows a dark brooding melancholic quality of strange designs and grotesque forms. They live in underground cities cut deep into the mountains. They often shun the outdoors preferring the darkness of their carved forlorn caverns. A circle of clerics rule over the secretive city with a supreme cleric presiding over the circle. They appoint a king who acts as commander in chief in times of war and administrator in times of peace. Females play an important role in the governing of the city. Several are members of the circle of clerics.
Marriage Pattern : The ratio of female to male among the Dark Dwarves is much higher than dwarves in general. Marriage is tends to be monogamous and for life. The line is traced through male.
Religion : They hold formal religious practices design to promote loyalty and fear of Dark Lord. The Mornaugrim believe Sauron to be the incarnate form, or at least incarnate representative of Mahal. Although a few in secret, still revere Mahal, the true maker of all Dwarves. Unlike other dwarves they do not hold their kings nor their ancestors in any special reverence except for Dravon and Fadon who are respected as founding fathers of their race.
Demeanor : Secretive, mettlesome, nervous, cynical, relentless and often ambitious and greedy. In battle, they are fierce and deliberate. Unlike other dwarves, they do not share kinship with other dwarves only with their immediate and extended family members. They have a strong sense of family honor. Each family seeks to improve their lot and are in competition against the other families. Like other dwarves, they always honor agreements to the letter. They always try to obtain the best bargain.
Language : Starting Languages : When in public or about in the wild, Dark Dwarves speak Westron (Rank 2), or some Logathig (Rank 3). Among themselves, they speak Khuzdul (Rank 5), the secret tongue of all Dwarves. Skill Development : They have many doings with the Dark Lords” many minions, which provide a great opportunity for learning the languages of foreign lands. They can learn the languages of Adûnaic (Rank 2), Varadja (Rank 3), Haradaic (Rank 3) and Black Speech (Rank 2).
Prejudices : Due to their Sauronic views, they do not like Elves and Dúnedain. By necessity, they interact with goblins with a wary eye. They feel a pang of guilt and are uncomfortable around other dwarves.
Restrictions on Professions : Like dwarves, Dark Dwarves cannot become Bards or Magicians.
Weapons : Scimitar, dagger, cross bow, sling, short sword, hand axe, war hammer, battle axe, and spear, and javelin.
Armor : Any. They tend to favour fine chain armour. Target and wall shields are popular.
Clothing : Outer garb: Like dwarves, they wear detachable hood fastened with a brooch. Heavy chains are often used as belts. Steel-toed dark leather boots are worn with chains and studded metal. These garments are solid black or various shades of black colour. Inner garb: They wear loose fitting leather trousers and jerkins or wool tunic, usually of black, red or dark blue hues and often decorated with metal studs and epaulets.
Money : 2 gold pieces or a gem of comparable value.
Normal, 3 background options.
Special Abilities : All available. Replace the range 56–60 with ; Earth Sense, an ability to discern different types of minerals by sound. This ability adds +10 to knowledge to earth lores and locating minerals. Replace the range 71–75 with Underground Orientation; character always knows the direction of true north and the approximate elevation of his or her location.
Special Items : All available. Usually with fanciful engravings but without gems, etc. Finely-made weapons and armour is common.
Extra Money : Precious stones or coinage worth 2–200 gp.
Hobbies : Primary Skills : M/M in any armour ; 1-H edged, missile, concussion, and pole-arm weapons skills, disarm trap, tracking, and stalk/hiding skills ; perception ; and body development. Secondary Skills : caving, contortions, trickery. Artistic Skills : instrumental music. Craft Skills : smithing, fletching, trap building. Influence Skills : Torture, public-speaking. Lore Skills : Earth lores, Orc lore, Demon lore, local geography, local history, and other geographies.
Stat Increases : Any stat may be increased except Intelligence and Presence.
Extra Languages**:** In addition to the tongues listed above, a Dark-Dwarf might in unusual circumstances learn : Adunaic (Rank 2), Apysaic (Rank 2) and Dunael (Rank 1).
Table — MERP Adolescence ranks
|Dark Dwarf Movement & Maneuver|
|% for Spells||5%|
Table — MERP Racial Modifications
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