Dark Dwarves and the Saraliann

Copyright Dan Myers © 2008

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

"Through the years, they have become twisted and evil with their long association with the Dark Lord."

Dark Dwarves

The MERP rulebook only includes the most common type of Dwarves, the Naugrim in the tongue of the Sindar. But known to only the most wise is a small group of dwarves known as the Dark Dwarves or Mornaugrim as spoken in the tongue of the Sindar. The Mornaugrim are related to the dwarves but having been under the shadow of the Dark Lord for so long, their spirit and physical form have been corrupted. This article is an attempt to bring the Dark Dwarves to life for MERP players to use as an additional character race. Dark-Dwarves was first mentioned from Iron Crown Enterprises' Gorgoroth, Charlottesville, 1990 and special assistance from The Crimson Pryrate.

The main tribes of the Mornaugrim know only that Draven was a great and beloved servant of Mahal/Sauron, and gave his life in battle. While they don't generally revere ancestors, they do revere Fadon Stonetoe as the father of their tribe(s), and Draven Stonetoe as the greatest hero of their kind. Mornaugrim are few in number and secretive. Only a few of the Wise know they exist and they keep the legend to themselves. Dwarves know the tale of the Mornaugrim as a childhood bedtime story meant to frighten them when they were younger. Through the years, they have become twisted and evil with their long association with the Dark Lord. They still serve him and make melancholic weapons of cruel might to be used against the Free People of Middle Earth.

Physical Character

Build: They possess hard and very angular facial features. In contrast with dwarves, they are gaunt (for dwarves) and taller. They are humped around the shoulders. Males average 140 pounds while females average 120 pounds. Their hair and beard is thick as wire and often left unkempt and tangled.

Coloring: They are distinguishable from other dwarves by their remarkable alabaster to light bluish-gray complexion. Their hair tends to be black which provides a shocking contrast to their complexion. However, brown hair is uncommon while red is rare. Their eyes tend to be more round than oval and range in coloring from fiery red to auburn brown. Dark Dwarves have a high rate of melanism, which results in ebony or purple skin with vanilla-white hair and beard. Those suffering from melanism tend to have eyes that are crystal blue to ice blue in color. Dark Dwarves consider melanism as a sign of good fortune.

Endurance: Exceptional. They carry medium burdens over long distances with little rest.

Height: 4 ½ to 5 feet tall.

Lifespan: 175-300 years

Resistance: Since their subversion to the Dark Lord, Dark Dwarves have lost some of the renowned dwarven toughness. They are not as strong willed and resistant to magic as other dwarves. Still they are very hardy. They are resistant to fire and cold (+20 bonus versus heat and cold). Also, due to their close proximity with grimy orcs and filthy goblins over the centuries, they have developed a special resistance against poisons.

Special Abilities: Dark Dwarves see well in the extreme darkness. In dim light they can see 70' perfectly, and well to 140'. They can see 10' in total darkness (non-magical). Their eyes glow with a faint reddish hue. Their eyes are sensitive to sudden bright light. They receive a --10 to bright light and blinding attacks.

Culture

Clothing and Decoration: Most wear their beards long, tangled and unkempt. Some are clean shaved. Their hair is much the same way as their beards. They favor black or dark colored clothes, with hooded cloaks.

Fears & Inabilities: Like most dwarves, they are poor swimmers (-50 to Swimming maneuvers). They suffer from the Curse of Durin, which makes them feel extremely uncomfortable in the presence of other dwarves. (-10 to all movement and maneuver activities in the presence of dwarves; this does not apply in the heat of battle)

Lifestyle: Dark Dwarves are very secretive; even more so than other dwarves are. They are great craftsmen and stoneworkers. But the things they create lack the intrinsic high-quality showmanship as other dwarves. Instead their crafts shows a dark brooding melancholic quality of strange designs and grotesque forms. They live in underground cities cut deep into the mountains. They often shun the outdoors preferring the darkness of their carved forlorn caverns. A circle of clerics rule over the secretive city with a supreme cleric presiding over the circle. They appoint a king who acts as commander in chief in times of war and administrator in times of peace. Females play an important role in the governing of the city. Several are members of the circle of clerics.

Marriage Pattern: The ratio of female to male among the Dark Dwarves is much higher than dwarves in general. Marriage is tends to be monogamous and for life. The line is traced through male.

Religion: They hold formal religious practices design to promote loyalty and fear of Dark Lord. The Mornaugrim believe Sauron to be the incarnate form, or at least incarnate representative of Mahal. Although a few in secret, still revere Mahal, the true maker of all Dwarves. Unlike other dwarves they do not hold their kings nor their ancestors in any special reverence except for Dravon and Fadon who are respected as founding fathers of their race.

Other Factors

Demeanor: Secretive, mettlesome, nervous, cynical, relentless and often ambitious and greedy. In battle, they are fierce and deliberate. Unlike other dwarves, they do not share kinship with other dwarves only with their immediate and extended family members. They have a strong sense of family honor. Each family seeks to improve their lot and are in competition against the other families. Like other dwarves, they always honor agreements to the letter. They always try to obtain the best bargain.

Language: Starting Languages: When in public or about in the wild, Dark Dwarves speak Westron (Rank 2), or some Logathig (Rank 3). Among themselves, they speak Khuzdul (Rank 5), the secret tongue of all Dwarves. Skill Development: They have many doings with the Dark Lords' many minions, which provide a great opportunity for learning the languages of foreign lands. They can learn the languages of Adūnaic (Rank 2), Varadja (Rank 3), Haradaic (Rank 3) and Black Speech (Rank 2).

Prejudices: Due to their Sauronic views, they do not like Elves and Dunedain. By necessity, they interact with goblins with a wary eye. They feel a pang of guilt and are uncomfortable around other dwarves.

Restrictions on Professions: Like dwarves, Dark Dwarves cannot become Bards or Magicians.

Outfitting Options

Weapons: Scimitar, dagger, cross bow, sling, short sword, hand axe, war hammer, battle axe, and spear, and javelin.

Armor: Any. They tend to favor fine chain armor. Target and wall shields are popular.

Clothing: Outer garb: Like dwarves, they wear detachable hood fastened with a brooch. Heavy chains are often used as belts. Steel-toed dark leather boots are worn with chains and studded metal. These garments are solid black or various shades of black color. Inner garb: They wear loose fitting leather trousers and jerkins or wool tunic, usually of black, red or dark blue hues and often decorated with metal studs and epaulets.

Money: 2 gold pieces or a gem of comparable value.

Background Options
Normal, 3 background options.

Special Abilities: All available. Replace the range 56-60 with; Earth Sense, an ability to discern different types of minerals by sound. This ability adds +10 to knowledge to earth lores and locating minerals. Replace the range 71-75 with Underground Orientation; character always knows the direction of true north and the approximate elevation of his or her location.

Special Items: All available. Usually with fanciful engravings but without gems, etc. Finely-made weapons and armor is common.

Extra Money: Precious stones or coinage worth 2-200 gp.

Hobbies: Primary Skills: M/M in any armor; 1-H edged, missile, concussion, and pole-arm weapons skills, disarm trap, tracking, and stalk/hiding skills; perception; and body development. Secondary Skills: caving, contortions, trickery. Artistic Skills: instrumental music. Craft Skills: smithing, fletching, trap building. Influence Skills: Torture, public-speaking. Lore Skills: Earth lores, Orc lore, Demon lore, local geography, local history, and other geographies.

Stat Increases: Any stat may be increased except Intelligence and Presence.

Extra Languages: In addition to the tongues listed above, a Dark-Dwarf might in unusual circumstances learn: Adunaic (Rank 2), Apysaic (Rank 2) and Dunael (Rank 1).

Table MERP Adolescence Table for MERP

Dark Dwarf
Movement & Maneuver
No Armor 1
Soft Leather 0
Rigid Leather 1
Chain 3
Plate 0
Weapon Skills
1-H Edge 0
1-H Concussion 4
2-Hand 1
Thrown 0
Missile 0
Pole-Arms 0
General Skills
Climb 1
Ride 0
Swim 0
Trickery Skills
Ambush 1
Stalk/Hide 1
Pick Lock 1
Disarm Trap 1
Magical Skills
Read Runes 0
Use Items 1
Misc. Skills
Perception 1
Body Hits 3
Special
% for Spells 5%
Languages 3
Background 3

Table MERP Racial Modifications Table for MERP

ST AG CO IG IT PR ESS CHN POS DIS
Dark Dwarf +5 -5 +15 0 0 -10 +20 0 +20 +10

Clansmen of Saralainn

The clansmen of Saralainn have been documented in several MERP modules and one or two fan-modules. Because of this and the uniqueness of their culture, they had to be given their own race descriptions. This article brings the clansmen of Saralainn to life for MERP players to use as an additional character race

Saraliann first came about from the Iron Crown Enterprises', Lost Realm of Cardolan, Charlottesville, 1990.

After the downfall of the kingdom of Cardolan, large groups of people consisting of Northmen, Dunlending tribesmen, and common folk flee from the ensuring chaos to settle in the plains of Saralainn. Over the years and with the assistance of Gandalf, the three groups of folks intermingled to form a new vibrant culture called the clansmen of Saralainn. The clansmen of Saralainn are individualistic, diligent colorful folk. They also have a rough sense of social equality. They are known for their skills in healing, oratory and artistic bronze and silver work. Most live rustic and rowdy lives, herding goats or sheep for living.

Physical Character

Build: They are of medium to stocky build. Males weigh 165 pounds while females average 130 pounds.

Coloring: They tend to be slightly swarthy due to their long exposure to the outdoors although those with a ruddy complexion are common as well. Their hair color ranges from the darkest brown to sandy blonde. In some instances, a few will possess fiery red hair. Their eye coloring varies from brown to blue.

Endurance: average.

Height: Clansmen average 5'7" but clansmen over 6' is not unheard of. Clanswomen average 5'4" although like the men some are over 5'10".

Lifespan: Moderate, 60-70 years

Resistance: Average.

Special Abilities: Clansmen are known for their oratory. They receive a +10 to Public Speaking. They also get a lot of experience healing the wounded from the constant attacks from the evil creatures surrounding Saraliann and their boisterous political intrigues. They receive +10 to first aid and Herb lore.

Culture

Clothing and Decoration: Most men tend to have long side-burns. In clothing they favor bright colors. Yellow is the most popular color. They wear wool trousers (which they call trews) and short sleeveless shirt. They top this with a long bright wrap over their torso. The women wear long dresses with a long wrap. Their wraps often contain intertwining designs of animal or geometric forms.

Fears & Inabilities: They have no fears.

Lifestyle: Clansmen are mostly herders raising sheep and goats for a living. They live with extended families in villages. They are ruled by a monarch, which in turn rules over nine clans. The clans, due to their independent nature and scheming ways, seldom listen to their monarch. Each clan is headed by a chief and is located around two or three towers. The towers are large enough to accommodate the local population in times of danger from the evil creatures that raid Saraliann. The clansmen hold the arts and especially those of great healing knowledge with a great deal of respect. Several artists and healers have become famous outside of Saraliann for their skills. Clansmen will go great distances to buy a product or have their children serve under the tutelage of a great artist or healer. In the arts they excel in bronze and silver works which are often in designs of animalistic and geometric forms or never ending knots. They also excel at playwrights and storytelling. Being true to their sense of social equality, women are considered the nominal equal to men.

Marriage Pattern: Monogamous. Marriages are common between the clans with the wife settling in with the husband's clan.

Religion: Variations of subdue religious practices design to give reverence to the Valar (particular Orome and Varda) and Eru.

Other Factors

Demeanor: Independent, rowdy, rustic, diligent, scheming, individualistic, valiant, rugged and straightforward. They enjoy celebrating, physical games and battle (which results in surprisingly few deaths). They are individualistic and hold a rough sense of equality. Clansmen would treat a king the same as a baker.

Language: Starting Languages: Clansmen speak Westron (Rank 5), or some Dunael (Rank 4). Skill Development: They have doings with a variety of folks, which provide a great opportunity for learning the languages of foreign lands. They can learn the languages of Kuduk (Rank 2), Pukael (Rank 3), Rohirric (Rank 3) and Adunaic (Rank 1).

Prejudices: They distrust Dunedains. They hate Beffraen, orcs and trolls.

Restrictions on Professions: Warriors and Rogues are the most common although quite a few are Bards and Animists. Magicians are very rare.

Outfitting Options

Weapons: Mace, dagger, cross bow, sling, spears, pole axes, short sword, hand axe, war hammer, battle axe, short bow, spear, and javelin. The more experienced warriors use long two-handed swords.

Armor: They favor soft or rigid leather. Round and buckle shields are popular.

Clothing: Since they spin the wool from their sheep, they wear woolen clothes, which they dye in bright colors. Bright yellow being the most common since they derive the dye from a local plant. Although dark blue, forest green and Tuscan orange are not uncommon. Those from the upper class will have clothes dyed purple or dark red. The men (and some women) wear pants and sleeveless shirts normally of uniform color with intricate trimmings endings. The women wear long flowing bright dresses containing a conglomerate of Celtic knots designs. In some years, simple animalistic designs are popular as well. Both genders wear a long wrap around the torso. The warp tends to be of a solid bright color with geometric design. The warp is fastened by a brooch of bronze or silver make at the shoulder. These brooches are highly detailed in the form of knotwork, the more expensive ones are those of knotwork embedded with an animal design. Outer garb: They wear tight fitting woolen or leather jackets of a solid bright color. In some instances when the weather gets extreme, they wear hooded cloaks of a solid dark hue such as forest green or dark blue hues. Both genders wear leather boots or shoes with wooden soles. Clansmen also wear jewelry. Armbands and wristbands of bronze or silver knotwork are common and are worn by both genders.

Money: 2 gold pieces or a herb of comparable value.

Background Options

Due to their colorful individualistic nature they get 4 background options.

Special Abilities: All available. Replace the range 56-60 with; Herbalist of Varda, an ability to discern different types of herbs and poison by sight and taste. This ability adds +20 to Cookery and Foraging Skills. Replace the range 71-75 with Individualistic Clansmen; Character has a deep sense of social equality and individualism that provides added protection to some magical attacks. Charm, sleep and fear attacks are halved for attack level and duration.

Special Items: All available. Usually receive rare herbs, or a fancy silver or bronze brooch or armband with embedded 5th level healing or bardic spell. Or a finely made weapon is common.

Extra Money: Herbs or coinage worth 2-200 gp.

Hobbies: Primary Skills: M/M in soft or rigid leather; 1-H edged, concussion, and pole-arm weapons skills, disarm trap, tracking, and stalk/hiding skills; perception; and body development. Secondary Skills: cookery, first aid, foraging, animal handling, acting and acrobatics. Artistic Skills: singing, story telling, poetic improvisation, dance. Craft Skills: smithing, leather working. Influence Skills: public-speaking, seduction, trading. Lore Skills: herb lore, troll lore, local geography, local history, and other geographies.

Stat Increases: Any stat may be increased.

Extra Languages: In addition to the tongues listed above, due to their proximity to the Dark Wood and the Warlord's Empire, a clansman might learn the following in unusual circumstances: Pukael (Rank 4) and Black Speech (Rank 1).

Table MERP Adolescence Table for MERP

Clansmen
Movement & Maneuver
No Armor 1
Soft Leather 0
Rigid Leather 1
Chain 0
Plate 0
Weapon Skills
1-H Edge 1
1-H Concussion 1
2-Hand 0
Thrown 0
Missile 1
Pole-Arms 1
General Skills
Climb 1
Ride 1
Swim 1
Trickery Skills
Ambush 0
Stalk/Hide 1
Pick Lock 0
Disarm Trap 0
Magical Skills
Read Runes 0
Use Items 1
Misc. Skills
Perception 2
Body Hits 2
Special
% for Spells 5%
Languages 4
Background 4

Table MERP Racial Modifications Table for MERP

ST AG CO IG IT PR ESS CHN POS DIS
Clansmen +5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0