Every version of dwarves has them being almost constantly armoured, and living in huge fortresses and underground tunnels, usually with some super-dramatic main gate that’s twenty feet high and about three feet thick.
What if there’s a reason for that? Like, they weren’t always a race of warriors and miners who almost never showed themselves above ground?
What if they’re the fantasy equivalent of those survivalists who turn their basement into a bomb shelter and fill the place with guns and canned food because they’re totally convinced The End Is Nigh?
What about a setting where the dwarves used to be perfectly happy above ground, growing flowers and getting a tan, until some huge disaster happened, and they all went Fuck This. So they dug down and hid away until the zombie horde or magical plague or the horde of rabid squirrels or whatever had passed, but they never forgot, and now their entire species is like “Constant Vigilance!”
There might even be some dwarf cities buried so deep they never heard the disaster ended. A whole city-fortress of paranoid, armed to the teeth dwarves, ready to kick the shit out of anything that isn’t a dwarf.
what the fuck i love this
There are three basic kinds of dwarves.
The Deep Dwarves never unsealed their vaults. They’ve got pretty much no idea what happened since they closed the big doors, but they know that things were going really bad really fast when they got to the shelter, and they know that they haven’t run out of anything irreplaceable yet so there’s no reason to open up now.
Then there’s your basic mountain dwarves. They opened the gates at some point, maybe out of curiosity, maybe because they ran out of some resource or broke something they couldn’t fix on their own, maybe because they didn’t have enough genetic diversity when the apocalypse happened to stay sealed up for more than a few generations, maybe they wanted to do what they could to help the poor bastards stuck outside. Regardless, they’ve made contact with the outside world, and they might have trade or even diplomatic relations with the primitive tribes that have risen up out of the ashes of the old world, but except when absolutely necessary they stay in where it’s safe, ready to seal the gates again at a moment’s notice.
Then there’s the third group, dwarves who have decided that living outside with the humans and orcs and elves and shit isn’t too bad. These are widely regarded as lunatics, and evidence of the damage that prolonged exposure to the stuff outside will do to your brain.
There is a reason why the Shield Dwarves of Sharna live below the surface…