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The Basic Rules says, "Dwarven kingdoms stretch deep beneath the mountains", and various other sources give a similar picture, of dwarves living in subterranean communities. Does the 5E source material provide any insight into how they get their food? Do they farm on the surface? Raise crops in caverns? Eat mushrooms?

I'm asking specific to 5E rulebooks and published adventures, although insight from Forgotten Realms lore or past versions could be useful.

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  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ They have a lot of short order cooks. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Aug 25 '18 at 11:53
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From The Complete Book of Dwarves, 2nd edition, an answer comes. There's no answer to my knowledge yet from 5e.

Basically, they use hill and mountainside cattle, grow grain wheat rye and barley, supplementing this with trade by humans. Those who cannot access the surface use various carefully bred mushrooms.

Dwarves enjoy a wide variety of food, with a preference for meat. Hill, mountain, and sundered dwarves keep cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, and fowl. These animals are grazed above ground on upland meadows or plateaus. Sundered dwarves keep their livestock close to home, hill and mountain dwarves allow their stock to roam. Although meat is a staple of their diet, large quantities of grains are also consumed. When possible wheat, rye and barley are grown close to the stronghold. They are harvested and kept in underground granaries. Many who live close to humans buy large quantities of grain to supplement their own production. Dwarves who live in the deep earth substitute various types of fungi for grains. Like the giant lizards and beetles, many of these fungi have been carefully bred to produce a wide variety of flavors to excite the palate. Most are very careful about the kinds of fungi they eat. Dwarven cooking also makes use of vegetables for flavor and variety. They do not eat spicy or heavily seasoned food, and consequently dwarven cooking tastes bland to humans and elves, but the food is wholesome, consisting of thick stews served on broad slices of bread. While they are not voracious eaters, few humans or elves can eat as much as a dwarf in a single meal. (p. 26)

In the D&D 3.5 book Races of Stone, a brief mention is made:

They rely on underground flora and fauna for their food supply, so the type of earth available must be able to support these crops. (p. 27)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you. That seems reasonable. While it would be nice to have specific 5e information, it doesn't seem like the answer could be any different. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Aug 25 '18 at 10:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the real world, fungi - of course - requires something to eat and doesn't grow in caves unless there is something bringing food into it. They are not primary producers, they eat plant and animal debris. Whether you care about this in a fantasy setting or not is, obviously, up to you. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Aidley Aug 25 '18 at 11:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Apparently, either that's not true here, or magic provides something to eat. The precise details of food webs are a homebrew matter. \$\endgroup\$ – Nepene Nep Aug 25 '18 at 15:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or maybe the fungi are grown in the dwarven latrines. Dwarves, the most efficient recyclers... \$\endgroup\$ – CaM Aug 27 '18 at 20:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps. Gotta keep the beer flowing. \$\endgroup\$ – Nepene Nep Aug 27 '18 at 21:25

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