Hello. I'm Paul Bellow, a LitRPG author and creator of this site. I also run LitRPG Adventures, a set of advanced RPG generators and a growing library of RPG content generated by GPT-3 API from OpenAI. Learn more.
Dwarven Names, Culture, and History
Dwarves in fantasy literature and tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons are often portrayed as being gruff and a bit dour, but this isn't always the case. As a race, dwarves are known for their great skill at mining and subterranean construction, industries which are often paired with fantasy literature's other signature art: brewing and distilling. It's only natural that a race with as much skill in beverage creation as dwarves would have a few recipes for wine and spirits. And while we're quite certain that the Dungeon Master would never let the dwarves drink before a dungeon dive, we're equally certain that they'd have a batch of alcoholic beverages at the ready for the dark and stormy nights when they surface into the light. It's only natural that dwarves, a race that shares blood with some of the oldest, most powerful creatures in fantasy, also have some good drinks for those nights when they need a little inspiration.
In modern literature, the dwarven race is typically portrayed as being a bit dour. They're stoic and reserved, often indifferent to the plights of others. There's no better example of this than the character of Gimli, played by John Rhys-Davies in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Rhys-Davies imbued his portrayal of the dwarf with pathos and just a hint of the childlike wonder that comes from being so entrenched in the ways of a traditionalist race. The series isn't perfect, but it does give us a rare peek inside the hearts and minds of the dwarven race, and as such it's a good example of a story that a DM might want to look to when building a world or campaign that includes a dwarf. Like any good fantasy work, it should have two things: a dwarf for the players that is just shy of being a caricature, and a setting that recalls the elements of the game – in this case, ale.
Dwarves are known for their love of ale. Some of the random dwarf names our tool comes up with have ale as part of the name because beer is such a large part of their culture. And so, when a dwarf has a moment of true inspiration, what are they inspired by? A magical, mystical, all-powerful ale, of course. Not all dwarves drink, of course, but there's likely at least one who does in any given adventuring squad. And if he's the party's combat medic, he's even more likely to be found pulling out a mug.
All of this isn't to say that dwarves should always be portrayed as violent, drunken stereotypes. Some DMs and writers have done this, but lovable and funny dwarves are well-loved too. For example, the bumbling dwarves in the original Hobbit novel by J.R.R. Tolkien are almost always a source of comedy in the novel and are responsible for several of the most memorable moments. In the world of fantasy literature, dwarves are often portrayed as being either gruff, reserved traditionalists or boisterous party animals. They're a hilarious race, and we think that in any adventuring party, it's good to have one dwarf. The traditionalist might keep his ale just for the occasions when he feels that he needs to think, and the almost-always-drunken dwarf might drink his ale to keep from thinking. Either way, the players always have a good time.