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.

Physical Character

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.

Other Factors

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.

Out­fit­ting Options

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.

Back­ground Options
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
No Armor 1
Soft Lea­ther 0
Rigid Lea­ther 1
Chain 3
Plate 0
Weapon Skills
1-H Edge 0
1-H Concus­sion 4
2-Hand 1
Thrown 0
Mis­sile 0
Pole-Arms 0
Gene­ral Skills
Climb 1
Ride 0
Swim 0
Tri­ckery Skills
Ambush 1
Stalk/​Hide 1
Pick Lock 1
Disarm Trap 1
Magi­cal Skills
Read Runes 0
Use Items 1
Misc. Skills
Per­cep­tion 1
Body Hits 3
% for Spells 5%
Lan­guages 3
Back­ground 3

Table — MERP Racial Modifications

Dark Dwarf +5 –5 +15 0 0 –10 +20 0 +20 +10


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