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Nerdarchy > Dungeons & Dragons  > City of Anvil  > Forging the City of Anvil for 5E D&D — City Dwarves

Forging the City of Anvil for 5E D&D — City Dwarves

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Take something core to the understanding of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons and creating something new with it represents one of the joys of worldbuilding. A fresh perspective on an old topic tends to light a fire under other forms of creation. The trick is creating something new without breaking the logic of the setting you’re creating for your 5E D&D games like I’m doing for the City of Anvil. Once your world has a theme or consistency creating within these guidelines is key.

Great 5E D&D stories start with worldbuilding

Additions to a setting should feel like a texture or flavor within the world both reacting to the place and being reacted upon. Beings like the thri-kreen scream Dark Sun because they are core to it like warforged to Eberron and kender to Dragonlance. Finding the magic can be difficult but this discovery or evolution can be equally rewarding.

Building on the suggestions and hints within the other City of Anvil worldbuilding posts this is the first examination of the people and places who call the city home. A full quarter of the city is dedicated to a particular culture I would be remiss not to include Anvilite dwarves to lead this effort. Introducing the city dwarf in all their opinionated, hard working, intellectual and over planning glory.

City dwarf for 5E D&D

Dwarves are famously a proud people rich in tradition and distinct culture in 5E D&D lore. This culture is not a singular defining entity though. Environments, history and shared communities all create and define cultures just as the people of those communities define the environment and shape the history of the region.

Refugees With A Cause. Anvilite dwarves or city dwarves as they are colloquially called are originally refugees of a losing war. They were drawn to the sight of what would become the City of Anvil by the legend of the artifact itself.

Hrothgrim Eisenhand, who lead the remaining dwarves to safety after the fall of Ultgaard during the War of the Harrowed, heard whispers of an indestructible anvil. This seemed like a divine signal all was not lost to a devout follower of Moradin. Hrothgrim lead his people to what was only a tent city at the time. Uniting his people with the varied causes and craftsmen already there these dwarves helped found what would eventually become the City of Anvil.

A New Way of Thinking. City dwarves are the product of centuries of surface life and building. They see purpose more in building up and less in digging down. This led to a new way of thinking as the Anvilite dwarves fine tuned their lives into an expertise in masonry, architecture and planning. Their culture has become known for incredible structures, educating the masses and no shortage of showing off their skills. They are a proud people after all.

Put Your Money Where Your Beard Is. Like other dwarves Anvilites are not afraid or shy of hard work and apply their teachings to action.  Many Anvilite dwarves discover joy in demonstrating their point of view. They love being correct. Challenging an Anvilite dwarf to prove their point may result in more than the challenger bargained for and they had best be prepared for either a long argument or being recruited into a plan to prove a point. This is not to say they are more stubborn than any other race or any other dwarf but they are certainly willing to prove their point.

city dwarf carpenter 5E D&D City of Anvil

An image for the Pathfinder Adventure Path Kingmaker. [Art by Jon Hodgson]

City Dwarf Traits

Ability Score Modifiers

Your Intelligence score increases by 1.

Eye for Structure

City dwarf culture prizes expert builders and you gain proficiency in carpenters tools. In addition your Stonecunning trait applies to woodwork as well as stone.

Find the Weak Spot

Anvilite dwarves are expert builders with an eye for structural weakness. As a bonus action you can examine a construct you can see within 10 feet and make an Intelligence (History) check with the DC equal to the Constitution score of the construct. On a success the next time you deal damage to the construct before the end of your next turn it takes an extra 1d8 damage of the same type. This extra damage ignores any resistances the construct has. [NERDITOR’S NOTE: For an alternative calculation use a DC equal to the 8 + the construct’s Constitution modifier + the construct’s proficiency bonus]


You can speak, read, and write one extra language of your choice. City dwarves’ exposure to the varied peoples of the land who visit or live in the City of Anvil has it’s benefits.

If you enjoyed this worldbuilding post for 5E D&D check out the City of Anvil category for more. Next installment covers rulers and important people of the City of Anvil. Until then, stay nerdy!

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Mike Gould

I fell into gaming in the oddest of ways. Coming out of a bad divorce, my mom tried a lot of different things to keep my brother and I busy and out of trouble. It didn't always work. One thing that I didn't really want to do, but did because my mom asked, was enroll in Venturers. As an older Scout-type movement, I wasn't really really for the whole camping-out thing. Canoe trips and clean language were not my forte. Drag racing, BMX and foul language were. What surprised me though was one change of pace our Scout leader tried. He DMed a game of the original D&D that came out after Chainmail (and even preceedd the Red Box). All the weapons just did 1d6 damage, and the three main demi-humans (Elf, Dwarf and Halfling) were not only races, but classes. There were three alignments (Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic). It was very basic. I played all the way through high school and met a lot of new people through gaming. My expected awkwardness around the opposite sex disappeared when I had one game that was seven girls playing. They, too, never thought that they would do this, and it was a great experiement. But it got me hooked. I loved gaming, and my passion for it became infectious. Despite hanging with a very rough crowd who typically spent Fridays scoring drugs, getting into fights, and whatnot, I got them all equally hooked on my polyhedral addiction. I DMed guys around my table that had been involved in the fast-living/die young street culture of the 80s, yet they took to D&D like it was second nature. They still talk to me about those days, even when one wore a rival patch on his back to the one I was wearing. We just talked D&D. It was our language. Dungeons and Dragons opened up a whole new world too. I met lots off oddballs along with some great people. I played games like Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Car Wars, Battletech, lots of GURPS products, Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, Twilight 2000, Rolemaster, Champions, Marvel Superheroes, Earth Dawn...the list goes on. There was even a time while I was risiding with a patch on my back and I would show up for Mechwarrior (the clix kind) tournaments. I was the odd man out there. Gaming lead to me attending a D&D tournament at a local convention, which lead to being introduced to my paintball team, called Black Company (named after the book), which lead to meeting my wife. She was the sister of my 2iC (Second in Command), and I fell in love at first sight. Gaming lead to me meeting my best friend, who was my best man at my wedding and is the godfather of my youngest daughter. Life being what it is, there was some drama with my paintball team/D&D group, and we parted ways for a number of years. In that time I tried out two LARP systems, which taught me a lot about public speaking, improvisation, and confidence. There was a silver lining. I didn't play D&D again for a very long time, though. Then 5E came out. I discovered the Adventurer's League, and made a whole new group of friends. I discovered Acquisitions Incorporated, Dwarven Tavern, and Nerdarchy. I was hooked again. And now my daughter is playing. I introduced her to 5E and my style of DMing, and we talk in "gamer speak" a lot to each other (much to the shagrin of my wife/her mother...who still doesn't "get it"). It's my hope that one day she'll be behind the screen DMing her kids through an amazing adventure. Time will tell.

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