Image used by permission of Purple Duck Games.
1 This category includes barbarians, oracles, rogues, and sorcerers.
There are stories of those who dug too deep into the bowels of the earth, spelunkers who opened ancient cities and awakened things from beyond our worst nightmares. There these miners discovered creatures more akin to gods sleeping beneath the earth, beings neither demonic nor angelic in their forms and minds. There was a clan of dwarves who cast all caution aside, tunneling deep, following richer and richer mineral veins until they found something that shattered their minds, broke their bodies, and remade them in a new image. What returned from that unknown place where logic no longer made sense, where the laws of physics did not always hold sway, and the weak minds of the current races couldn’t fathom were the duergars, who warned of a slumbering deity who would rule over all other deities if awakened. Duergars are reminiscent of the dwarves they once were, in that they are short and broad, of powerful stature, but that is where any likeness is lost. Their ways can seem to be callous and cruel, but it is from their experience deep in the earth that they are motivated. Even actions such as slavery are not only acceptable, but encouraged if it helps to continue the projects that keep That Which Sleeps Beneath from arising.
Physical Description Duergars’ eyes shine with a madness that has touched their entire bloodline. Their ashen skin is devoid of nearly all hair, except on their head and face, although male duergars tend to have a bald pate. While short and broad, standing roughly 4 1/2 feet tall, the rippling muscles of the duergars make most people uneasy, for beneath their skin, the muscles move of their own accord, snaking and twisting. Many duergars have long scars, often caused by their own delusions.
Society Having witnessed what they perceive to be the truth of this world, there is no joy amongst the duergars, only eternal toil. Deep underground, deeper than the dwarven kingdoms, they toil on deranged constructions that twist and turn in ways that give others headaches and nightmares. Driven by an intense need to create and build, those who stop to listen hear the duergars humming and singing while building. The duergars themselves claim they are saving the world by distracting the terrible deity that slumbers beneath the earth, keeping it asleep for the sake of all life. Their society has no joys, no color, no individuality. Everyone wears the same clothes, the same armor, the same weapons, and by birth they seem to know the lullaby chants of the mentally unbalanced.
Relations To the duergars, it is the other races who are mad. As a terrible monster that is beyond what words can describe threatens to awaken and devour the world and the gods themselves, the other races squander their lives away, playing useless games and waging meaningless war. Xephs, dromites, halflings and gnomes can provoke the insane rage of the duergars, for their constant activity threatens the duergar view of how to keep the titanic god sleeping. Other races are most often ignored or disdained for their failure to recognize the truth and the deadly threat. Most other races avoid the mad duergars, but there are those who wonder if the duergars might not be insane, and might actually be correct, and how terrifying that possibility might be.
Alignment and Religion Almost all duergars worship the sleeping horror by working, building, constructing, and redefining, while humming and singing the twisted lullaby that runs through their minds. All other gods are inconsequential, for the horrid thing, That Which Sleeps Beneath, will consume all if it awakens. Lawful neutral, or perhaps lawful evil, tend to be the natural tendencies of the duergars, for they see no use in helping others with their pointless daily problems, when they are busy saving the world from the threat of imminent destruction.
Adventurers Duergars only become adventurers because their unique brand of insanity plagues them with visions and whispers of the peace that others have in their heads. Driven by a need to fulfill these visions and quiet the voices within, duergars often seem obsessed with what they are doing. While capable companions, many are scared to adventure with duergars, for their tendency to whisper in their sleep and their skin’s unusual undulations can be unnerving.
Note On Names Duergars abstain from traditional naming conventions, often viewing names as a pointless exercise in a doomed world. When young, they are ‘child,’ and then become ‘woman’ and ‘man’. Amongst the other races, they often take on a name because their companions ask them to; this name is often matter-of-fact and describes their perceived role in the world.
Names Hammer, Smith, War, Hunter, Tailor, Shieldbearer, Slayer, Hatemonger
The duergars of Psionics Unleashed are different from traditional duergars. Although they share similar traits and abilities, the psionic duergars are those who were altered by the ancient beings found deep within the earth. While they are kin to the traditional duergars, they are a variant form and come from different clans.
Psionics Unleashed. Copyright 2010, Dreamscarred Press.