Dungeon 187 - Creature Incarnations: Duergar

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Dungeon 187
Creature Incarnations:  Duergar
By Craig Campbell

Duergar - the name inspires terror in the hearts of adventurers.  Who are these fell cousins of the dwarves?  What strange and fearsome rules govern their society?  Where do they live, and how do they protect themselves?  What can adventurers expect when they venture into the realm of this devil-worshipping race?  Welcome to the (under)world of the duergar.

Talk about the article here:




Tim Eagon My DDI Articles Follow me on Twitter @Tim_Eagon
i am linking to this thread as the official discussion thread.

@Shroomy:  thank you for creating this thread. 
OK, so I created this discussion thread because the duergar are one of my all time favorite D&D monsters, so I was especially excited to see that this article was released this afternoon.  It is more of a hybrid between a "Creature Incarnations" and an "Ecology of..." article with lots of expanded 4e fluff.  I liked the three new duergar types (I wouldn't have minded more new duegar stats, but between MM2 and MV, there are plenty already), but my favorite mechanical part are the variant quills.  My current campaign features a conspiracy of Asmodeus-worshippers, including a faction of duergars, so this article is going to see a lot of use in my campaign.  If I had one complaint, I would have loved to see more art.
Tim Eagon My DDI Articles Follow me on Twitter @Tim_Eagon
Sorry for interrupting here but this is not marked as insider exclusive, though the download does require it.
Sorry for interrupting here but this is not marked as insider exclusive, though the download does require it.


thank you for pointing this out.  i will report this.

While I've never been a huge fan of Duergar, this article actually made me want to use them some time. I'm not exactly sure why, I guess its cause most my experience with them is "black dwavres who are bad".


This is definitely the quality of article we should see more of.

I absolutely love the concept behind this article. I like the idea of taking a relatively well-known monster and providing powers that extend that monster across other roles, providing a couple of cool new versions, providing hooks, and expanding on the flavor of the species. Fantastic!

More, more, more!

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I heart the duergar. That whole grim work ethic thing works really well for a "dwarves pushed too far" kind of bad guy. An antithesis to the hard-working grumpy drink-loving adventuring party dwarf. A knowledge that all work and no play makes Gimli a murderous thug. That loyalty to clan can be twisted to mean loyalty to a devil's legion.

I've gotta say, though, the bead quills is one of the most goofy game elements ever. It's basically a gag power. "Hur hur, I need a shave, hur hur." I'm not using duergar because I want all the powers of the mighty porcupine, I'm using duergar because I want grim workaholic dwarves corrupted by ages of back-breaking labor in pursuit of material goods under a harsh god that cracks the whip, forcing them to labor for his glory. Beard-quills do jack all to emphasize that (the clever use of the barbazu in this article possibly excepted), and do a whole lot to make me never, ever want to use that power, because "I stab you with my beard" is at the top of things I never want to say at a table.

Quills are dumb.

Look like an evil dwarf of hell-sworn gods to you?

For a fix, I'd go back to their psionic bits, honestly -- how they control their bodies with their minds, using the driving power of their wills to forge even their own flesh into weapons, as they forge steel and iron. Invisibility isn't exactly unique and expansion is really very cool (dwarf grow big!), but size issues are problematic when you've got grid-based combat, so I'd go all grim and solid about it. The iconic power should be something that emphasizes that toil, that work, that hard, stone-like, metallic dwarfness, focused into an engine of destruction. I'd imagine some sort of melee attack power, or some enhancements to their physical power, or perhaps a defensive ability, generated when you're hit with a weapon. Getting punched by a duergar should be like getting wallopped with a hammer, and perhaps hitting a duergar with your sword -- a metal object whose craft they are very close to -- would dull it against their rock-like skin.

But dwarfupines? Not cool, man.

I also can't say I like the picture of duergar as underdark raiders and slavers. Ah, yes, because we don't have enough of THOSE kinds of threats....

For a fix for this, I would make duergar more gloomy, more "monstrous in evil" less "monstrous because they're monsters." Duergar warriors are dangerous, duergar priests are hell-fuelled, but most duergar are minions, and they confront their enemies with a grim, fatalistic determination born of a life lived in service to back-breaking labor. They have been slaves so long that they have enslaved themselves even in freedom, turning all but the priestly caste into unthinking machinations, one million arms beating rhythmically on anvils, forging the very best weapons wielded by the underdark folks, all to kill each other pointlessly. Duergar leaders are merciless, duergar troops are expendible. And not comically bullywug expendible, but expendible in the way that when the duergar priest gives the order, an entire family of minions marches forth -- noncombatants, children, the elderly -- all to crash upon the shores of the nearest threat (adventurer) simply to slow her down with bodies while the priests summon their hell-fired backup.

That's my vision of duergar.

The article doesn't do much to fuel that.

Though I'm open to the idea that my vision of duergar has absolutley nothing to do with how anyone else has ever seen them. ;)

While I've never been a huge fan of Duergar, this article actually made me want to use them some time. I'm not exactly sure why, I guess its cause most my experience with them is "black dwavres who are bad".


This is definitely the quality of article we should see more of.




+1
Please, sir, can i have some more?
O yeah, the publish this just after I finished the adventure in my home campaign that focussed on duergar. Now it will be weeks before I might use them again... (the duergar serve the major villain of my HC) ;) Otherwise a cool article. I certainly could hav used it.
Duergar warriors are dangerous, duergar priests are hell-fuelled, but most duergar are minions, and they confront their enemies with a grim, fatalistic determination born of a life lived in service to back-breaking labor. They have been slaves so long that they have enslaved themselves even in freedom, turning all but the priestly caste into unthinking machinations, one million arms beating rhythmically on anvils, forging the very best weapons wielded by the underdark folks, all to kill each other pointlessly. Duergar leaders are merciless, duergar troops are expendible. And not comically bullywug expendible, but expendible in the way that when the duergar priest gives the order, an entire family of minions marches forth -- noncombatants, children, the elderly -- all to crash upon the shores of the nearest threat (adventurer) simply to slow her down with bodies while the priests summon their hell-fired backup.


This is the sort of high octane awesome that Dragon and Dungeon articles should be made of.

"My flying carpet is full of elves."

Yes!  More Duergar info, and alternatives to the beard-barbs.  Also, they make more sense now.

At this rate the magazines are on their way to make up the suck of the past little bit.

Keep it up, guys.  More articles of this caliber would be greatly appreciated. 
Hey everyone,

Craig Campbell, the author, here.

I'm glad people are enjoying my Duergar article. It was something of a labor of love. This article was in the pipeline for over a year. The initial version of the article was VERY heavy on stat blocks. With the change in editorship from Chris Youngs to Steve Winter and the refocus of the magazines that this brought about, this article underwent a major change in focus (and a major re-write on my part). Less stat blocks and more flavor. I think it's a pretty solid piece of writing, one which I am very proud of.

Speaking as an "insider of sorts", I feel there is now a new direction for the magazines, one which will, I hope, increase the quality of magazine content and win back some detractors.

Hang in there for some great new content in the magazines (as well as in the free portion of DDI). I'm personally involved in a few of these aspects and look forward to hearing your comments and criticisms.

Game on,

Craig


Hey everyone,
Craig Campbell, the author, here.

I'm glad people are enjoying my Duergar article. It was something of a labor of love. This article was in the pipeline for over a year. The initial version of the article was VERY heavy on stat blocks. With the change in editorship from Chris Youngs to Steve Winter and the refocus of the magazines that this brought about, this article underwent a major change in focus (and a major re-write on my part). Less stat blocks and more flavor. I think it's a pretty solid piece of writing, one which I am very proud of.

Speaking as an "insider of sorts", I feel there is now a new direction for the magazines, one which will, I hope, increase the quality of magazine content and win back some detractors.

Hang in there for some great new content in the magazines (as well as in the free portion of DDI). I'm personally involved in a few of these aspects and look forward to hearing your comments and criticisms.

Game on,

Craig




Congrats Mr. Campbell for the piece of art. This was solid gold.
I really liked the article and especially the Adventure Hooks proposed. I particularly loved the Devil-bound Feature its a neat additions. I think Barbazu-Bonded Duergar are totally wicked. Wink

Looking forward to your 21st article sir...

Plague


 


Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

The quality has been awesome. Thanks, Craig!

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

FYI, this article was updated; I didn't do an in-depth comparison, but it looks like they definitely updated the attack bonuses of the alternate quill powers.
Tim Eagon My DDI Articles Follow me on Twitter @Tim_Eagon