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Nerdarchy > Dungeons & Dragons  > D&D Subraces for Dwarves: Gully, Frost and Mul

D&D Subraces for Dwarves: Gully, Frost and Mul

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After the rather amusing bit of timing where Wizards of the Coast and I had put out nearly identical content at the same time, I wanted to hold off on doing this article in particular. With the news that the gnomes are being granted the month off, I decided why not check in on the dwarves?

Without further adieu, here are a few of the old dwarves brought into fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Please note: These are homebrew subraces for the dwarven race and as such are in addition (or replacement of) the information on dwarves found on page 20 of your Player’s Handbook.

Subraces for dwarves

Gully Dwarf

D&D dwarves subraces

Not quite the hardy warriors other dwarves are typically known as, gully dwarves have a culture all their own.

Famous (or infamous) denizens of Krynn, the gully dwarf is a far fall from their noble cousins. Though they are almost as tall as a dwarf, these gnome/dwarf hybrids are thin and packed with wirey muscle. Filthy beyond reproach, and incapable of counting beyond two, they are every bit the devolved cowardly lot their cousins put them out to be.

“The stupidity of gully dwarves is legendary. To a gully dwarf, any number greater than one is “two”, which simply means “more than one”. In spite of their dull minds, gully dwarves take themselves quite seriously. They tend to have inflated ideas of their own importance, and puncturing their egos is almost impossible.” – From the second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monstrous Compendium

They do have one merit their cousins do not – they are open with their feelings and caring beyond the point of most creatures’ tolerance. With names consisting of two syllables of sounds made after they have come to from a head injury, the gully dwarf values cowardice, and prides survival over most anything.

Ability Score Increase. Possessed of an odd ability to scamper out of the way of danger, but dull wits, your Intelligence score decreases by 2 and your Dexterity score increases by 2.

Lucky. Your ability to survive and thrive in the harshest places comes through in luck to rival even the halflings. When you roll a 1 on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll.

Diminutive size. Your size is such that you are treated as a small creature in regards to squeezing, movement through occupied space, and being carried by others.

Frost Dwarves

D&D dwarvesThese dwarves have had a rough go of it. Spending time under the yoke of frost giant jarls for so long has changed them to their very core. Though they are still dwarves at heart, they now are something different as well. These dwarves, knowing full well that freedom is fleeting, throw themselves wholeheartedly into any situation they find themselves. Some would call them mad or berserk, some would call them brave, but none would call them cowards. Especially after witnessing one of these blue-skinned, white-haired warriors throwing their axes aside to pummel a foe to death barehanded.

Ability score increase. Your Strength score increases by 1.

Creature of cold. Your time in the environment of the frost giant jarls has left you immune to temperatures up to -40 Fahrenheit (4.444 Celsius) and granted resistance to cold.

Mul

(The following is not a dwarven subrace)

The clammering of pick on stone forms a rhythm throughout the day and night. As endless in its beating as the heart of the one who wields it. Karn had worked the quarry since before he could remember, before his body was transformed into a taught instrument made of sinew and muscle. Only when the sun had set for the third time on this shift did he stop to look out and see the others were ready. It would be a long night, but the giant Overlord Gragish would learn the lesson of complacency before the sun rose. And rise it would, upon a free land and people. For that was the way of the mul, relentless and endless in their pursuit.

Origin of the low

dwarves subraces

Arguably the most famous mul in D&D lore, Rikus was a mul gladiator in Tyr who helped in the overthrow of Kalak the Sorcerer-King, in the Dark Sun campaign setting. [Art by Brom]

Born of the breeding of the slaves of Athas, these half-human, half-dwarven hybrids are a creature unto themselves. Muls possess the stature, flexible thinking, and agility of humans, while boasting the relentless endurance of dwarves. Because of these traits, and the fact their hairless bodies are ideal for hygenic reasons, these sterile beings are highly sought after as slaves.

Rare is the day this race breathes free air, and those who do will die before giving it up. In thisregard they are like both their parent races. Though no greater society of mul exists, they are generally near-exclusively either raised by their dwarven parent or their human parent, typically whichever was the mother. For this reason mul tend to be polarized in their personalities, either social or reserved, dedicated or flighty and flexible. Either way, mul throw themselves at whatever they do with a gusto.

No glorious future in sight

The mul are the product of purposeful breeding more often than not, but are always the end of their line. Each and every one of them are sterile. Thus their name, a bastardization of the insult mule, speaks of their sterility. Though this does depress some, the majority look to it as proof that individual honor is what is most important. It is upon each of them to make sure their names are worthy of being remembered.

This same belief system leads to a very Darwinist belief system where the weak should perish. Why worry about those who cannot help themselves with the only promise of the future being oblivion?

Freedom is not free

Free mul often form communities of their own, having moved on from those they were raised in. These sub-communities contain adults who wish to be around those who are like them. Free or not, mul often will have four names they go by. A human name, a dwarven name, a slave name, and one they chose for themselves as an adult that they keep sacred save for those who have earned the honor of seeing the mul’s inner soul.

For this reason it is possible for people to describe four very different people and yet be discussing the same mul. With murderous overlords towering a story or taller, one can see the value in such a misdirection. Especially when one is caught communicating with cells of free mul.

Mul in name and form

Like their namesake, they are built to work, with bodies surpassing their human parent in height and weight easily. Muls rarely possess more than the bare minimum of body fat, and never any hair at all. Their heavy skeletal structure lends credence to their bulky build. Though their bodies are unblemished by hair, it is common to tattoo their heads and bodies heavily in words, images, and whatever holds meaning to the mul in question. More often than not, the tattoos are done in monotone, containing whatever pigment is most common in the area.

Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2 and two other abilities scores of your choice increase by one.

Age. Mul reach maturity much quicker than either of their parents, reaching adulthood within 10 to 14 years. They tend to live short violent lives but are capable of reaching 200 years old if given proper circumstances. Notably mul stay in peak condition longer than most races in comparison.

Alignment. Mul tend toward the lawful side of the spectrum, living lives etched out with their own codes of ethics and sticking to them. Because these are often based on survival though, a form of brutal neutrality is common for them.

Size. Averaging a bit taller than their human parent and just a bit comparatively leaner than their dwarven parent, mul average between 6 and 7 feet tall and 250 to 350 pounds. Their size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30.

Darkvision. Accustomed to working mines, and dark places, your eyes have inherited your dwarven ancestors’ ability to see in the dark. You have can see in dim light up to 60 feet of you as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of grey.

Inexhaustible. You do not gain a level of exhaustion from lack of rest until 72 hours have passed without a long rest.

Thrall’s recovery. As a bonus action you may spend a hit die as if you had taken a rest. Once you have used this ability you may not do so again until you have completed a short or long rest.

Survival instinct. You have proficiency in the survival skill.

Languages. You speak common, Dwarvish, and Giant.

Short and to the point

What do you think about these subraces for D&D dwarves? Can they find a home in your campaign world? Are there any other dwarven cultures you’d like to see us tackle or other races you’d like to see new subraces for? Let us know in the comments below.

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Nubz

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Nigel “Nubz” Sanford

Nubz hails from the American Pacific Northwest where he has spent the last 24 years living the gamer life and running campaigns of all kinds. Through this he has managed to sate his acting bug and entertain many. Now a father, he wishes to pursue writing to leave a legacy in Nerd culture for his offspring to enjoy.

3 Comments

  • Eric W.
    December 16, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Using an early set of stat generators for Gully Dwarves, I created a series of Gully Dwarf fighter/rogues each named “Junior” (because he was the — held up three or four fingers — two-th with that name) that DMs would let me run as a kender’s companion. The argument being that with most stats in single digits, it wasn’t like I was running a full second character. I modeled “Junior” after a wienie dog with the same name, and similar INT/WIS stats. Tons of fun to play, made the perfect straight man/rescue device for the various Kender, and the only complaint that I ever had was my best friend who “got” to see Junior played two nights a week for several months. (At one point, he said if he ever met a character named Junior in game again, he was killing it on sight, no questions asked). Years later, I tried running a Gully Dwarf with +/- attribute modifiers and standard stat generation and it simply didn’t feel right. Nothing says ‘hero’ like making it from 1st to 8th level with a pile of negative attribute modifiers.

    • Doug Vehovec
      December 17, 2017 at 1:30 am

      what an awesome story! thank you so much for sharing. when i was getting Nigel’s article ready to publish, i don’t know why but i became really interested in playing a gully dwarf character. later that day a post in the 5th edition FB group about Purple Dragon Knights coalesced in my imagination and i thought yes! a gully dwarf banneret to encourage their allies to great victory! i think now Nigel is putting together an adventure for a group of us to play gully dwarves. so already we’ve got a great story shared from you, fun new characters and a quest out of this post. woo hoo!

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