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PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 9:37 am 
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Thanks, Tevish! Good write-up, and I find that my read on fantasy Dwarves are more or less in line with yours. I think that the "short bodies, long memories" seems to hold true across the stories I'm most familiar with. One word you used in your write-up that I most associate with dwarves personally is "pride." I think dwarves are typically depicted as extremely prideful in their work and in their people. In the extreme, this can become a character flaw that extends into arrogance and even narcissism, but tempered a bit, and this is just a rightful understanding of their level of skill perfected over decades for the individual and generations for the family.

I'm still in favor of Barinellos's alchemist idea, personally, and in light of what Tevish says about industriousness, I would say that a large sense of pride in the work should potentially be central to the character.

Barinellos wrote:
I'd almost prefer arms dealer to drug dealer.
If we stay going less scrupulous, it does open up the door in some significant ways.
Albeit said, not hugely thrilled with the idea.

Yeah, me neither, as I said, but the image of an alchemist making stuff and selling it to interplanar clients almost make me think of an M:EM Breaking Bad type of character, which...amuses me. Again, though, especially going off of Tevish's write-up, I would prefer somebody who is more of an artisan, as it were, someone who takes their craft very seriously.

Having said that, though, we should probably come to a consensus about whether we want to go face or heel with this character.

Barinellos wrote:
I mostly suggested alchemist to avoid the tinker trope but still pay homage to the silhouette of the trope at least.

Yeah, I'm personally totally on board with the alchemist thing. I really like how it plays into the traditional dwarven expertise with stones and minerals and plays with it in an interesting way. Additionally, we do not have very many alchemists in our numbers. We have Cyrryc Adda, but his alchemy is focused almost solely on poisons, and we have Lady Nasina, who, while possessing a certain degree of talent, is really more of a dabbler. So personally, I really like the idea.

What kind of dwarf, physically are we aiming to design here?

Like, is this going to be an old Norse-style Duergar dwarf that ultimately descended from giant maggots and as such is kind of awful and maybe evil? Is it more of a modern Tolkien-esque burly, industrious human, but shorter and stockier? Is it some weird variation on what we think of as dwarvish, like the Monster Hunter Wyvarans, with goblin-like features?

I think that deciding on a silhouette, so to speak, will help inform the character, as it could tell us a lot about where they come from.

This is probably a good place to start. We've been talking about this nebulous character for twenty or so posts now. What are people visualizing as we've been doing so? Again, if we can get some kind of consensus here, we can get on the same page. One thing I've noticed in general about community projects is that we tend to jump around a lot, which makes sense; we all bring something different to it. The problem is that often, we throw out a bunch of options and then don't really decide on one. Admittedly, a lot of these elements work in concert with one another, so things like physical appearance and gender and so forth might well inform some of the personality issues we'll need to resolve, but the best part of writing is that you can always change and revise things before it goes to print, so to speak.

With that in mind, as Luna asked, what kind of physical characteristics do we want for our dwarf?

On that note:
Pratchett also had quite a few interesting things to say about dwarves.

I've never read any Terry Pratchett before, so if you wanted to give us a few bullet points on Pratchettarian dwarves, I'd be interested in seeing what they bring to this mosaic.

The number one thing I know about them is that even the women dwarves in Discworld grow magnificent beards, and that confuses humans. That is, unfortunately, about all I know about them.

I know Gimli and Aragorn in the LotR films make reference to this, although I honestly don't remember if it comes up in the books or not. Someone more familiar with the texts could tell us.

I'm not opposed to the idea of going with a bearded female dwarf if people want that, though I don't think it would be my first choice.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 4:54 pm 
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A few interesting things from Pratchett. I might remember more with time.

As other Discworld races, they started out as rather shallow parodies: stout, gold-obsessed workers who love to quaff beer and subsequently get eye to eye with people via de-kneeing. As the setting got deeper (heh), dwarfs (Pratchett kept the F in derived words) were used to talk about community and tradition, how culture can crush people under its weight and how the hateful can wield lore as a weapon to gut or sow dissent. That can be an angle to explore with our dwarven alchemist, since its trade of choice might have not been accepted in their community.

About bearded women: yes, all dwarfs have big beards, very rare exceptions (which, interestingly, are male). In the first books, it's said that dwarfs consider gender a very private thing, only to be revealed in the bedroom (admitting that it might cause some awkwardness during courting) and that he/him is the correct pronoun for any dwarf when in public. It's later pointed out that this leads to the denial of female contributions to society (it's an apparent taboo to admit to have a mother, for reference) and the complete repression of gender expression for dwarf women, which is a massive plot point in later books. While interesting, I'm not sure this is a good point to pick up for this project.

Other interesting facts about Discworld dwarfs:
-Since birth, parents add up every expense done to raise each child, and the children are only considered full adults when they pay off the debt (usually by working in the family mine). When the PoV of the book comments on the supposed coldness of it all, a dwarf replies that this practice allows for more genuine family gifts and less undue responsibilities or guilt-tripping related to parenting, since what is owed is (sometimes literally) set in stone. A peculiar way to separate love and business could be something to look into.
-Dwarfishness is considered cultural, not genetic, and one of the main characters is a 6'6" dwarf. (human by birth, but nobody cares about that. Not dwarfs, at least) That goes into the "maybe not" pile for me.
-Dwarfs, after countless generations of underground life, have built a portion of their culture around darkness. They claim there are several types of darkness, and have a number of symbols to describe it that get a strong and immediate emotional response from any dwarf who grew underground. The most terrible of them, the Summoning Dark, is an eldritch entity that exists with the only goal of inflict vengeance. While most MtG dwarves are on the Boros spectrum, a "darkborn" dwarf would certainly have an unique relationship with light and darkness.
-Loosely related to the previous point: dwarfs have an extremely visceral sense of community, developed through ages of mining dangerous tunnels. Worry, terror and joy can all flow fast as a flood when a group of dwarfs are on edge, and even in relative quiet consensus is reached via groups debating and then spreading the conclusions by breaking up and forming other groups, in some haphazard sort of intellectual osmosis.
-Even dwarfs that left mines for the surface felt the pull of culture, keeping "deep dwarfs" in their surface communities. Well, in the expanded cellars of their surface communities. Those deep dwarfs kept the lore of old, and so made sure even surface dwarfs remained true dwarfs. But when a new dwarfish king started made progressive edicts (like allowing women to declare their gender in public) the deep dwarfs went full fundie, using their influence to scare and threaten people to further their agenda.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:01 pm 
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Thanks, Huey! Interesting stuff. I really like the cultural focus in general, and the gender identity stuff is fascinating (though like you, I'm not thinking that this character is the right place for that).

Thanks for writing this up.

-Since birth, parents add up every expense done to raise each child, and the children are only considered full adults when they pay off the debt (usually by working in the family mine). When the PoV of the book comments on the supposed coldness of it all, a dwarf replies that this practice allows for more genuine family gifts and less undue responsibilities or guilt-tripping related to parenting, since what is owed is (sometimes literally) set in stone. A peculiar way to separate love and business could be something to look into.

Interesting. I can't help but feel like this would cause disputes between children and parents over what was provided before the child could consent. "You bought a toddler onesie for seven gold!?!"

:D


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:07 pm 
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Thanks, Huey! Interesting stuff. I really like the cultural focus in general, and the gender identity stuff is fascinating (though like you, I'm not thinking that this character is the right place for that).

Thanks for writing this up.

-Since birth, parents add up every expense done to raise each child, and the children are only considered full adults when they pay off the debt (usually by working in the family mine). When the PoV of the book comments on the supposed coldness of it all, a dwarf replies that this practice allows for more genuine family gifts and less undue responsibilities or guilt-tripping related to parenting, since what is owed is (sometimes literally) set in stone. A peculiar way to separate love and business could be something to look into.

Interesting. I can't help but feel like this would cause disputes between children and parents over what was provided before the child could consent. "You bought a toddler onesie for seven gold!?!"

:D

Don't forget arguments over inflation and the consistent value of products.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 9:05 pm 
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Barinellos wrote:
It was an extremely simplified means to further the conversation, not meant to be an all encompassing way to convey every scenario. I've had an extremely **** past few days, so please cut me a little slack.

Sorry, I didn't mean to sound like I was picking on you. I tend to be... unnecessarily verbose, especially when I fear I might be misunderstood. I've also leaned into being verbose because of the chatroom I share with my meatspace friends (they all are annoyingly brief). I'll also blame exhaustion for not being able to think of a better way to carry the conversation, like coming up with alternatives for the "dealing with combat" problem.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 4:36 am 
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So, on the topic of heel vs face
I've got to feel like I'd prefer sometime sometime morally gray. Not malicious or evil, but not someone inherently willing to be altruistic either.

I think that'd partly come out as a reflection of the color we're looking at as the core value.
If they're an alchemist because they're looking to improve the world, that'd lean into blue/white.
If we choose the merchant angle, then we're looking at greed and profit as the driving force, adding black to the equation.
But I'd like them to be an alchemist because they're just good at it, a personal reason that'd feel more at home in red, but probably without the chaotic invention process.

I see no reason to include green.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 8:27 pm 
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As I was glancing through Dutch folklore for other reasons, I realized another visual reference I missed on my first go-round were leprechauns (which seem to only have one example in Magic, as a :g: faerie), and pygmies, though that's neither here nor there.

I'm in favor with making the character :r:, not least of which because I immediately understand why a lone dwarf, which are often very closely-knit to their community, would go wandering the planes. Obviously, we don't have to go stereotypical red here, but rather just have the core of the personality someone who is kind of restless, always wanting to move on to the next big discovery or whatever it is they're doing.

I'd have to find it again (I may have it stored among my digital notes somewhere), but I remember a decade or so ago someone on the mothership posting a long philosophical post about what ties each land to their color, and I've used the idea behind it so long that it's ingrained in my memory. Mountains are the physical embodiment of change, as rocks of all kinds are thrust upwards from deep below the surface, and I like how well that metaphor lines up with an alchemist, since alchemy's whole point is turning one substance into another. Plus, I mean, wouldn't it make for a cool visual for this dwarf to just hold a flask of liquid and it boil in his palm, or use a smoking pipe in place of a Bunsen burner?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:19 pm 
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Barinellos wrote:
So, on the topic of heel vs face
I've got to feel like I'd prefer sometime sometime morally gray. Not malicious or evil, but not someone inherently willing to be altruistic either.

I like the idea of a tweener here. If we go with the merchant/alchemist angle, we can have them sell some noxious chemical to some oppressive tyrant for a huge profit, and then sell the antidote to the victims for a narrow profit.

Metaphorically, of course. We probably want to be, you know, more subtle than that...

:D

In all seriousness, though, I like the idea of a character that doesn't fit too easily into the evil/good binary. And in whatever stories we end up telling with the character, we can either tease one way or the other, or simply avoid the morality issue completely.

In all likelihood, the focus will be on the work anyway.

Barinellos wrote:
But I'd like them to be an alchemist because they're just good at it, a personal reason that'd feel more at home in red, but probably without the chaotic invention process.

I'm in favor with making the character :r:, not least of which because I immediately understand why a lone dwarf, which are often very closely-knit to their community, would go wandering the planes. Obviously, we don't have to go stereotypical red here, but rather just have the core of the personality someone who is kind of restless, always wanting to move on to the next big discovery or whatever it is they're doing.

I'm in agreement with . While I certainly understand why Wizards moved dwarves into , and I don't necessarily disagree with the move, dwarves will be for me for a long time yet.

Would anyone else like to weigh in on the color identity?

Plus, I mean, wouldn't it make for a cool visual for this dwarf to just hold a flask of liquid and it boil in his palm, or use a smoking pipe in place of a Bunsen burner?

:takei:

Yes. Yes, that would be very cool and now I want it.

:mage:


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:32 pm 
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obviously this can change for any given character/world/whatever, but dwarves have always seemed like an uneasy fit for to me. they have the aesthetics of mountain-dwellers, but basically no dwarf society in any fictional world that I'm aware of actually fits with how red tends to operate. culturally, dwarves have always very much been about The Old Traditions, which is likely why we haven't seen much of them in Magic: it's hard to aesthetically justify them outside red, but hard to flavorfully justify them in it.

that's not to say the character can't or shouldn't be red. dwarves, like every other race in the multiverse, can be whatever color they want if it fits with their individual personality. (they can even be green. source: Pikel Bouldershoulder.) but I think that, outside of the fairly overt shoehorning Magic has done in a couple sets when they didn't want to use goblins, a truly red dwarf would be an outlier, a renegade within their culture, and I think if we go that direction it's worth reflecting that.

:duel:

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 8:06 am 
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In favor for :r: morally grey trader/mercenary alchemist (an alchemist sapper would be so good, but that's me being fixated with combat :blush:). I'd like to have them if not experienced at least knowledgeable about mining and underground life; among other things, it will help them look for minerals and metals.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 8:42 am 
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razorborne wrote:
obviously this can change for any given character/world/whatever, but dwarves have always seemed like an uneasy fit for to me. they have the aesthetics of mountain-dwellers, but basically no dwarf society in any fictional world that I'm aware of actually fits with how red tends to operate. culturally, dwarves have always very much been about The Old Traditions, which is likely why we haven't seen much of them in Magic: it's hard to aesthetically justify them outside red, but hard to flavorfully justify them in it.

that's not to say the character can't or shouldn't be red. dwarves, like every other race in the multiverse, can be whatever color they want if it fits with their individual personality. (they can even be green. source: Pikel Bouldershoulder.) but I think that, outside of the fairly overt shoehorning Magic has done in a couple sets when they didn't want to use goblins, a truly red dwarf would be an outlier, a renegade within their culture, and I think if we go that direction it's worth reflecting that.

:duel:

Yeah, I think the deep connection with mountains is one of the main influencers pushing my perception of dwarves into , but I don't view them as culturally un-, necessarily. As you point out, their connection to cultural and family tradition seems to play more into than anything else, but with a minor tweak of perception, I can square that with pretty easily. Sure, is usually presented as individualistic and chaotic, but if we extend "individualism" to an individual's family and pride therein, I think we can be touching on , especially when playing into dwarven pride. "My family is the greatest in Rockhelm, and I'd like to see any other dwarf tell me otherwise," I can hear some fictional dwarf say over a tankard of particularly strong (and of course dwarven) ale. And the drinking, a cultural norm that Tevish touched on briefly in his write-up, could easily add that touch of chaos that any -aligned culture needs.

Beyond that, though, I also see dwarf artisanry as a predominately facet of their being. While on a broad cultural spectrum, dwarves are seen as very orderly, I feel like their art is where their individualism comes forth. It's not just pride in their craftsmanship, but an expression of the self. I've always sort of assumed or imagined that a dwarf of any degree of knowledge could look at a dwarven carving and tell you which family created it, if not the particular artisan. The differences might be subtle, particularly to outsiders, but within the society, I bet those differences are as clear as a signature, though far more subtle.

And that could be a very interesting thing to explore with an alchemist character, because while a potion is in a bottle, it would probably be indistinguishable from the potions of other alchemists, dwarven or otherwise. And maybe that's a sticking point for our alchemist, that there is no way to "show off" the way other dwarves can and surely must.

Having said all that, though, razor's last point about a dwarf being on the outs with their culture could be an interesting way to potentially go with this character. Maybe this dwarf is from a highly regimented, very culture, and is something of a rebel or iconoclast. "Minerals are for mining," the elders always said, "not for your alchemical nonsense." This sort of constant belittling of the character's chosen field might, in fact, be what led them toward that morally gray persona we've been discussing.

In favor for :r: morally grey trader/mercenary alchemist (an alchemist sapper would be so good, but that's me being fixated with combat :blush:). I'd like to have them if not experienced at least knowledgeable about mining and underground life; among other things, it will help them look for minerals and metals.

The sapper angle is an interesting one, and I'm not really sure we have any other character at this point who would fill that role, so that might work. Maybe it started down the mine, where our character developed or helped develop that world's equivalent of black powder and used it first for excavation and later in the wars with the hated _______. And I, too, would like this to play into the subterranean aspect of dwarves in one way or another.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 4:07 pm 
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On the topic of dwarven pride, this was my favorite part of the Planeswalker's guide to Eldraine:

Quote:
The majority of dwarves are put off by the hierarchy and stuffiness of the human courts and prefer to live out in the wilds. For a few individual dwarves, the fearless camaraderie of the Court of Embereth appeals to them. These dwarves, driven by the independence so valued by their clans, sometimes pack up for a few years to compete at the Burning Yard, often bringing with them dwarf-forged armor and weapons that give them an edge in combat.

One such dwarf was Torbran, the current Thane of the dwarvish clan of Red Fell. As the story goes, Torbran traveled to Embereth in his youth to compete for knighthood. Though he defeated each foe he faced, when the time came to claim his prize and strike the Irencrag, Torbran refused. According to him, the Irencrag had insulted the craftsmanship of his weapon in its taunts (which I'm told is quite a personal offense in dwarvish culture). Unwilling to give the stone the satisfaction of tasting his blade, Torbran left Embereth and returned to the wilds. Some in Embereth consider Torbran a coward for leaving, but many others believe that Torbran will one day return to claim his rightful knighthood. They believe he has spent the past few decades crafting a weapon of such quality and power that it will strike fear into the Irencrag itself.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 4:56 pm 
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I move that the alchemist got their start because "brewing booze" falls under the skills an alchemist had in their home culture. That doesn't preclude the iconoclast angle though.

I also think the only spells they know are minor spells that help with the work. Like granulate

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 5:06 pm 
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Barinellos wrote:
I move that the alchemist got their start because "brewing booze" falls under the skills an alchemist had in their home culture. That doesn't preclude the iconoclast angle though.

I almost wonder if it might be better to go the other way, where the character wanted to go into alchemy, but has to resort to brewing to be "acceptable." Although as I type that, I realize that might be what you meant.

Barinellos wrote:
I also think the only spells they know are minor spells that help with the work. Like granulate

Oh, that's really good. I like that a lot as a signature spell. It's funny to me that I have no memory of this card, despite it being in Mirrodin block, which is probably when I was most into MTG.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 5:18 pm 
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While Granulate has way more impact than what it's needed to an alchemist (but packs a hell of a punch for a sapper!), having spells that can jumpstart reactions would be almost necessary to have them do any alchemy during their travels.

Have they a base of operation? That's where they'd have their full lab, if they were the type, but it'd also make me think even more about Maral with the whole war profiteering thing.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:44 pm 
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I like the idea of a small, portable lab, possibly something like a suitcase that they bring with them that has all their beakers, some compartments for storing rare minerals, and it can be folded out to set up a small workspace. I just feel like being an itinerant wanderer is a good note to hit, and having to return back to a home base in order to actually do their work loses that.

:duel:

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 10:00 pm 
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Wait, are you telling me you guys weren't already picturing him something like this? I had thought the Mushi-shi backpack-of-shelves was already a given. Then again, I do tend to give every character I make magical pockets, so...

I don't know if I can accurately imagine an alchemist in my head, but if we're talking about "home bases" and origin stories, I think a good question to raise is do you think our dwarfy friend likes going back home? Like, are they even welcome back home? Maybe their spark ignited after they were cast out for being so darn quirky, or maybe they just got hit with some wanderlust and were presumed dead after they didn't come back from their travels. Maybe their lucrative trade deals involves dwarf-only supremacy by bringing back extra-planar techniques and materials to their clan or race.

Nationalism isn't outside of red's wheelhouse, IMO. Maybe they want to build up all dwarves, everywhere, other races be damned because there's no way they're as good as his ale-chugging cousins. Except maybe that one clan. You know the one. On that plane, with the... Ah, ye had ta' have been there. Drinks all around!

... My mind does strange things when I'm tired.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 6:18 pm 
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So what are people thinking about a physical description of our dwarf? Are we leaning towards a binary gender or nonbinary? What kind of costuming do we want?

I have an idea. How about we each write just a short little character description - just physical characteristics - in a paragraph or two. We'll post them without reading one another's, and we'll see what commonalities there are. How does that sound?


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 7:08 pm 
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Last edited by Barinellos on Sat Dec 21, 2019 2:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 8:36 pm 
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