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This is a follow up to How can you add character to in-game religions?

If you're building a fantasy setting where you want really rich, tradition-filled religions, what would you do to give Dwarves religion?

More specifically, what would be appropriate rituals and traditions for Tolkienian (or non-Tolkienian, if there is such as thing) Dwarves?

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5 Answers 5

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James at Grognardia has a unique take on his Dwimmermount Dwarves. One of the best I ever seen.

My more Tolkienish version can be found here. Basically all the non-human, non-elves sentient races were magically mutated from base human stock by demons during the Godswar at the beginning of history. The Dwarves were one of the early attempts but were found to be too stubborn to bend to the demon's will. Their culture and worldview was colored by that experience to the present. Basically while the demon created their bodies they believe that the High Lord (Ptah in the writeup) created their souls, thus gave them the will to resist and later rebel.

The key element in crafting a unique culture and/or religion is lay out the premise and extrapolate them into the present of your campaign. Taking in account how the target culture or religion is interacting with others in the setting.

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I like to look to real world religions for inspirations. So what is a dwarf in your setting? Do you play up their tendency towards order and given them a rich, ritualized religious tradition like Catholicism, orthodox Judaism or Islam. Or are they more no nonsense, like .

(I just realized that pigeon holing a bunch of religions might come off as offensive which isn't my intent).

You get the picture. From the Amish to Buddhists, the religions and philosophies of the real world provide a deep well of inspiration.

For me, my dwarves borrow heavily from the Jewish traditions.

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I agree that there's fertile ground for taking real world religions all over the place, in all religions. –  Judd Jan 14 '11 at 5:01
    
But the idea that they borrow heavily from Jewish tradition is troubling. I don't see a clear Jewish link in modern fantasy nor myth concerning dwarves. –  Judd Jan 14 '11 at 5:13
    
Why should it be "troubling"? The dwarfish sense of community, especially their division between them and others, their distance from the other races they live with are all things that together point to Judaism. Dwarves aren't known for knocking at your door and trying to convert you either. –  Adriano Varoli Piazza Jan 14 '11 at 15:18
    
It is troubling because some aspects of dwarves (their beards and greed come immediately to mind) are present in terrible caricatures of Jews. As a big Jew who is often told he doesn't seem Jewish (by other Jews no less) I'll stick by the word - troubling. –  Judd Jan 15 '11 at 21:23
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I guess that presupposes a negative overall view of dwarves. You could probably find a couple of reasons to connect any fictional culture with any real one, if you tried hard enough. Seems unfair to go on thee offense in this case, tho. –  Kara Marfia Jan 21 '11 at 5:36

Seems to me in most world dwarves usually have some religious connection earth, stones, and craftsmanship. These can easily be expanded upon or left up to you and the play to decide how they connect to them, or design them.

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I'd think about the symbols, animals, enemies and verbs that seem most dwarf-related to me:

Symbols: axe, beard, anvil, hammer, tunnels, treasure.

Animals: Bear, boar, bat.

Enemies: Orc, goblin, troll, elf, dragon.

Verbs: Mine, feud, slay, yell, craft, forge, steal, carve.

I'd take religious holidays that I know, mesh them up with the stuff above and make it up.

A winter solstice holiday in which beards are groomed and adorned with gems and silk ribbons. Presents are exchanged by they must be items that were either crafted by your own hands or taken from an enemy who you killed with your own axe.

Y'know... like that.

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Commonly, I find Dwarven religion to be associated with tunnels, gold, and for some reason, ale. This results in a typical Dwarf venerating ancestors who are renowned for their drinking prowess, hoarding his personal wealth as a point of pride, and believing he is descended from some ancient race that perhaps "crafted" Dwarves wholesale out of rock in the deepest reaches of the Earth. I use the word "commonly" here, because I've run into this image of Dwarves so frequently that I've lost track of where its from.

Specific rituals would center around drinking, gold distribution, and probably use ceremonial Earth/Mud instead of ceremonial water/liquid.

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In one R.A. Salvatore book (Forgotten Realms Setting), the Dwarves' holy water is Mead! I find that a hilarious yet genious idea. –  Dakeyras Jan 14 '13 at 16:48

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