1. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Dwarves

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Protar, Jun 24, 2011.

    So for my book I kind of wanted things to be the same but different. So I've just done some work on my Dwarves and have taken that line with them. Here's the passage I've written. I want it to be refreshing from what people have previously seen of Dwarves but at the same time I want it to feel familiar. Does it achieve this:

    The Dwarves are a short race of fierce warriors and master craftsmen. Until recently The Dwarves dwelt in massive underground fortresses. However some 260 years ago (within a Dwarf’s lifetime.) They fought a war known as the Deepwar with creatures known as the deepspawn. During the Deepwar most of the Dwarven cities were lost, leaving only a few small settlements near the surface. Nowadays the defeated Dwarves mostly live in human settlements. Dwarves worship a great collective conscience of their deceased ancestors. However after losing the Deepwar many rejected the faith, many worshipping the human God Baelar. Drinking alchohol in Dwarven society is considered a sin, however many Dwarves have fallen into depression and apathy and have turned to drinking. Dwarves are also gifted with the art of Stoneshaping, which allows them to shape stone and metal using a secret language. Once all Dwarves were versed in the Stonetongue but over time the art became more exclusive and in the Deepwar most of the Stoneshapers were killed, leaving only a scant few left. Stoneshaping allows Dwarves to create weapons and structures unrivaled by other races. A stoneshaped tower for example could be made of a single piece of stone. The High Thane Kuzahk Hazun Zak’Zirigahn has ordered the creation of great war machines and is planning a campaign to regain the old Dwarven Empire.

    Well that's the passage. There are a few things I'd like to address from it. The first is the religion. In fantasy series the religions are usually all just Christianity stand-ins. So I wanted something a bit different. I'm not sure but would you say that's like Buddhism but without the reincarnation? I'm sure I've heard something about joining a higher conscience when you die.

    Secondly is Stoneshaping. Pretty much all fantasy series talk about Dwarves being master craftsmen but it's never said how or why humans can't learn these arts. I think that Stoneshaping is a reasonably good explanation.

    Next is drinking. I like the idea of a drunken Dwarf but I thought I turn it on it's head a bit without completely abolishing it. I think a lot of people would start drinking heavily if their race was almost wiped out.

    Finally is the war machines. Lots of series nowadays give Dwarves some steampunk vibes. I like a bit of steampunk but there's rarely an explanation given as to why the Dwarves are so technological. I think an attempt at regaining their empire is a good one though.

    But of course I want your opinions more than mine. What are your thoughts? Is it good? Sorry for the long post.
     
  2. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I like the concepts, stoneshaping, the war, drinking being a crime for dwarves, dwarves living with humans. But it felt like an information dump paragraph. It felt like reading a story concept not an actual story.
     
  3. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Well it was an infodump. That's just the background information I've typed up on some files and I'll be incorporating the information more smoothly into the actual novel.
     
  4. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Oh, my apolgies. I can now see how I misunderstood what you meant by passage. I was thinking passage from the book not passage about the book. I'm a bit slow sometimes. :)

    Anyway I do like the ideas.
     
  5. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    It's a good thing you're trying to avoid the cliches - a lot of fantasy authors don't try, and it shows when you come across a section about elves or dwarves or dragons that you know Tolkien or D&D did right but that this author specifically probably just copied it off from another cliche-filled fantasy novel.

    However, don't try too hard. Make sure to keep it natural, rather than forcing the anti-clicheness onto your dwarves.

    My suggestion is for you to look up some real world present-day and historical cultures - Chinese, Arabic, Indian, West African, MesoAmerican - and see if you like any of them; actually they don't have to be that exotic, you can even have like Italian or Greek or Gypsy or Communist Russian or something. Once you find one you like, see if you can somehow make the dwarves' culture similar to it. For instance having Gypsy dwarves who go traveling from village to village would be a pretty interesting concept (just make sure you have a good justification for why they do it, of course). Or maybe having Apocolypto-esque dwarves who do human heart sacrifices to their gods every other day. Or something like that. Since you're interested in maybe doing the reincarnation thing, maybe look up one of the cultures that believe in it (India, China, Japan, Vietnam, etc., and sometimes there's other ones, too, that you'd never think of, such as certain traditional groups in Africa or Native America), and see if those kinds of cultures suit your fancy, then mold your dwarven culture around it, instead of having to rely on the cliches.

    And it's fine to have the drinking thing too - a lot of cultures are okay with drinking to some degree or another, but maybe add in some cultural specificities to it to make it more unique. For instance, I know that historically in Mongolia getting drunk wasn't considered bad, but was actually considered manly; in other cultures, drinking was confined to certain situations and places, because that culture didn't really approve of it, but didn't want to get rid of it. And so and so forth. Having a bit of knowledge about other cultures, and applying it to your made-up ones, is, I think, the best way to avoid cliches.
     
  6. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Thanks for the positive feedback. I agree that I don't want them to be too different. I've just turned some common Dwarven features on their heads a bit or given them justifications. I think gypsy Dwarves would be the most likely possibility as they have lost their homelands.
     
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    On the technological point, I think it's a good thing that they're technologically advanced, whether or not this includes steampunk. If Dwarves live in "massive underground fortresses" - and I have a mental image of the Mines of Moria here - then it's really not believable to think of them hacking away all that stone by hand with axes. Stone-digging technology would be a neccessity for them. And I've never heard of steampunk Dwarves before, but I think mixing steampunk with fantasy races is pretty cool.
     
  8. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    Steampunk dwarves have been done before, and it's generally done in post-medieval-esque situations. Still, it's not as common as the dwarves mining gems and drinking all day long stereotype, so I think it's fine, so long as, of course, its not their only definig trait.
     
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  9. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    It's mainly a videogame thing. Warcraft and Warhammer are the best examples or at least the ones I'm most familiar with. Though now I think about it maybe steampunk isn't the best word to describe the tech levels of my Dwarves. They (and in fact a large portion of the world my novels will take place in.) have stuff that's more like renaissance age technology. Guns and crossbows coming into prominence, cannons ect. and some more out-there ideas mainly based on Da vinci's planned inventions that he never got round to.
     
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  10. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Thanks for the explanations guys! :)
     
  11. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    Ah, so you mean Clockpunk. Yeah, clockpunk's pretty cool.
     
  12. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    I thought clockpunk was like ridiculously complex clockwork robots and stuff but whatever.

    Does anyone else have any thoughts on the background I've created?
     
  13. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    It reeks of Dragon Age, I'm sorry to say.

    Underground fortresses (that's a usual thing, though, I guess), the Thane thing (I'm pretty sure they were called Thanes in Dragon Age). Mostly, though, the deepspawn here versus darkspawn in Dragon Age? That's really bad, man.

    However, where you've given actual thought to avoiding clichés and being original or logical (the drinking and technology in particular), you've done well.
     
  14. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    I've never actually played Dragon Age. Seen a couple of videos totalbiscuit did but that's about it so rest assured I never got inspiration from there. The Thane thing is from Tolkien which is probably where Dragon Age got it. As for the deepspawn there not really going to be anything like darkspawn. It's just a similar name. In any case I think the term has been used before Dragon Age. I'm reading the Wheel Of Time at the moment and I'm sure the Trollocs and Myrdraal ect. are collectively called darkspawn. Thank you for constructive criticism though.
     
  15. Unit7
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    Personally the whole Darkspawn's remind me of Rune Warriors from a MMO I used to play. Though their origin story was different and well ok basicly everything aside from evil humanoids. Of course I am only going on a quick google search. Never played Dragon Age. lol

    Though not entirely sure about the Thanes. However they did exist in real life. For the most part, they were people who held land for a King. But that's going on a quick dictionary/google search. lol What powers and such they possessed I am not entirely sure.

    Though I personally try and find a better name then Deepspawn. Sounds generic. Great perhaps for an informal name it could work but for something more official I'd go with something different.
     
  16. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    That is what it is, but it mainly draws inspiration from the renaissance era and the Da Vinci stuff.
     
  17. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    @cybrxhan: Oh right then. I guess It will fairly mild clockpunk then.

    @Unit7 yeah I expect that will just be their nickname. I reckon most species and races will have both an informal and formal name. Take Dwarves for instance. Why in the world would you name your race after your short stature?
     
  18. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pffff...there is no big secret to Stoneshaping. Dwarves secretly invented concrete and rebar, that's all! :)
     
  19. polarboy
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    Since it can be very easy to rely on stock species (such as dwarves), I like the way that you are thinking about their culture and making it your own.
     
  20. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Thanks for all the positive feedback. Good to see my ideas aren't completely cliche.
     

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