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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    Actually I wish I was better at creating any and all noble houses, guilds, and provinces.



    The temptation always exists to have House Good Guy, House Bad Guy and the rest are Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw.

    There is a small chance that a new PC may join our group who likes playing dwarf, but right now there are no dwarf PCs.

    The main conflict of the RPG involves the nation of Fumaya where half the PCs are from and all the PCs are alied with is dealing with orcs raids and random monster attacks to the north and a stronger saber rattling human nation to the south.

    The two dwarf nations of Meckelorn and Stahlheim are nearby and could get involved.

    Meckelorn has dwarfiest dwarves that ever did dwarf. They like hammers and axes, hate goblins and orcs, are more than a little isolationist, distrust arcane magic, and dislike the sea.

    Meckelorn houses a sacred artifact called the Great Stone where they believe the first dwarves emerged from millennia ago. The Great Stone, in addition to it's historical significance acts as a second sun, metaphysically speaking allowing fungi to grow underground for miles magically spawning from nothing.

    Stahlheim are less dwarfy dwarves. They are as likely to use spears and swords as hammers and axes, dislike goblins and orcs, have grown rich trading with humans, and slowly begun increasing their support of a wizard's guild and, established a port and are building a small military and commercial navy.

    Stahlheim used to be a colony of Meckelorn and was much smaller, but Meckelorn had a huge loss of population due to a massive invasion of orcs, goblins, and assorted monsters. Most of the Meckelorn women and children escaped and when the dwarves reached adulthood they started a guerilla campaign to liberate their home which lasted over three dwarf generations.

    Once the Meckelorners finally turned the table and started pushing their enemies back, Stahlheim raised an army and joined them, ultimately crushing their enemies and retaking the Great Stone.

    The two groups almost came to blows over who should possess the Great Stone, but the dwarf clerics intervened saying it would be sacrilege for dwarves to spill dwarf blood near the Great Stone, so as a compromise the custody was given to the clergy who set up a very tiny theocratic independent nation to claim ownership of the Great Stone and allow pilgrims of both dwarf nations to visit, albeit unarmed.

    Though the nation of Meckelorn completely encapsulates the Nation of the Great Stone much how real world Italy encapsulates the Vatican.

    I figure pretty much every dwarf is a member of a clan so there are probably over 100 clans between the two dwarf nations but not all the clans are worth mentioning. I figure clans are patriarchal with women being absorbed into their husband's clan after marriage but retaining ties to their clan of birth.

    I figure in both dwarf nations, the respective king is the leader but the king is not an unchecked leader. If the king loses the support of the clan elders, he is no true king.

    I figure there should be four or five clans in both Meckelorn and Stahlheim that like to play politics. Of the remaining clans, about half are apolitical and the other half are the bootlickers and lackeis of one of the major clans.

    I figure in Meckelorn the most powerful clans would be the clans that historically produced a lot of war heroes, war heroes who then got to marry female members of the royal family. They use prestige and their famous names to influence the king, the king's vassals, religious institutions, and the guilds.

    If you have 3-5 major clans all trying to do the same thing, all with the same origin, what differentiates them if they are all the descendants of famous war heroes coasting on their ancestors great deeds?



    I figure in Stahlheim the most powerful clans would be the richest clans and they use coins to influence to influence the king, the king's vassals, religious institutions, and the guilds.

    If you have 3-5 major clans all trying to do the same thing, all with the same origin, what differentiates them if they are covetous business leaders trying to buy their way into power?


    I don't want any clan to be pure good guy or pure bad guy but I want them to be distinct and memorable.
    Last edited by Scalenex; 2021-08-19 at 02:34 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    One point I've found to help always were random tables. By limiting creativity a bit you get a lot more creative and from randomness ideas tend to emerge.

    Of course, you can roll or just pick.

    The clan is proud of their:
    1 - adhesion to traditions
    2 - former victories
    3 - riches
    4 - famous ancestors
    5 - great dwellings
    6 - artifacts
    7 - craftsmen
    8 - pick one, roll for another

    They are least proud of their (use bracketed option if the same number is rolled as above or if it fits better):
    1 - weak adhesion to traditions (breach of tradition)
    2 - former victories for the wrong reasons (current losses)
    3 - lack of wealth (lost wealth)
    4 - lack of famous ancestors (bad generation)
    5 - poor dwellings (dwellings ruined by time or war)
    6 - lack of artifacts (stolen artifacts)
    7 - lack of craftsmen (craftsmen leaving for other clans)
    8 - pick one, roll for another

    Their patron (deity) is:
    1 - 3 - one of major dwarven deity
    4 - 6 - a minor dwarven deity
    7 - 9 - a paragon (ascended ancestor)
    10 - no patron
    11 - a secret patron (non-dwarven deity)
    12 - a secret patron (entity opposed to dwarves)

    The leader is:
    1 - unscrupulous, and will take any
    2 - warmongering
    3 - extremely orthodox
    4 - paranoid
    5 - greedy
    6 - lustful
    7 - a terrifying presence
    8 - an extraordinary thinker
    9 - a well-known artisan
    10 - well-liked among his clan
    11 - secret coward
    12 - pick one, roll another, combine

    Their leader was chosen as they are:
    1 - charismatic
    2 - great warrior
    3 - great speaker
    4 - son of a great paragon (ascended ancestor)
    5 - strong of faith
    6 - rich
    7 - weak and easy to manipulate
    8 - easily angered
    9 - old and experienced
    10 - skilled negotiator
    11 - tough and resilient
    12 - pick one, roll another, combine

    Their clan inside is (roll 2d8, interpret):
    1 - insidious
    2 - mercenary
    3 - loyal
    4 - friendly
    5 - formal
    6 - hierarchical
    7 - traditional
    8 - hedonistic

    (e.g. insidious/friendly = the clan hides its infighting behind a friendly mask, no open attacks are accepted but there is a daily dose of backstabbing and politicking; insidious/loyal = the clan has a lot infighting, but against outsiders they hold a common front)

    These are just basic ideas, I can continue if you want. This can give you an easy way to create a bare-bones clans, which may have some reason to compete/hate each other. Example below.

    Spoiler: Examples
    Show

    Clan Dawarazar
    Rolls: 3, 3, 8, 2, 4, 5, 2
    A formerly rich house, that has fallen on bad times and is currently lacking funds.
    Their patron is a paragon - one of their ancestors, who ascended.
    Their leader is a warmongering, paranoid dwarven lord.
    Their house on the inside is very formal and mercenary in its nature.

    Clan Gwimmerwend
    Rolls: 8 (pick 2 and reroll 6), 2, 8, 5, 1, 7, 5
    A house proud of their former victories that brought them a good amount of powerful artifacts; which have been defeated on the battlefield several times in a row now by goblin mercenaries.
    Their patron is a paragon - one of their ancestors, who ascended.
    Their leader is greedy, but a very skilled speaker.
    Their house is very formal and traditional in its nature.

    Clan R'gharan
    Rolls: 1, 6, 5, 8, 4, 4, 3
    A house proud of their adhesion to tradition, however, lacking any artifacts.
    Their patron is a lesser dwarven deity.
    Their lord is an extraordinary thinker, son of a paragon.
    Their house is loyal and very friendly in nature.

    The leader of Clan R'gharan, coveting the powerful artifacts of Gwimmerwend, decides to ally with them, but only on the condition that any victories they will assist with that bring artifacts as a loot, their clan has the first pickings. Dawarazar sees this as a breach of their former contract - as the alliance was not formally introduced to them, and now consider their alliance with Gwimmerwend void - based on the decision of their warmongering, paranoid leader. They are however lacking funds, so they will seek employ in someone else's stead - someone rich, who will finance them.

    Just a start.


    I'd also include something like a goal (for the clan, for the leader) and maybe organization of the clan (e.g. clan leader = total power, or there are advisors, councils, etc. - maybe linked to a size of the clan.

    But I'm out of ideas for now.
    Call me Laco or Ladislav (if you need to be formal). Avatar comes from the talented linklele.
    Formerly GMing: Riddle of Steel: Soldiers of Fortune

    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    Instead of having an adventure, from which a cool unexpected story may rise, you had a story, with an adventure built and designed to enable the story, but also ensure (or close to ensure) it happens.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    For Stahlheim, the clans would probably act as quasi-cartels/guilds on a given trade. (Seafarers, gemcutters, crafters, ....)
    That would influence their approach and outlook on society and power, as well as create conflict (mostly about pricing of transport, items and raw material...) .
    If the PCs ally with one clan, they could maybe get special services/rare goods.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    Quote Originally Posted by lacco36 View Post
    One point I've found to help always were random tables. By limiting creativity a bit you get a lot more creative and from randomness ideas tend to emerge.

    Of course, you can roll or just pick.

    The clan is proud of their:
    1 - adhesion to traditions
    2 - former victories
    3 - riches
    4 - famous ancestors
    5 - great dwellings
    6 - artifacts
    7 - craftsmen
    8 - pick one, roll for another

    They are least proud of their (use bracketed option if the same number is rolled as above or if it fits better):
    1 - weak adhesion to traditions (breach of tradition)
    2 - former victories for the wrong reasons (current losses)
    3 - lack of wealth (lost wealth)
    4 - lack of famous ancestors (bad generation)
    5 - poor dwellings (dwellings ruined by time or war)
    6 - lack of artifacts (stolen artifacts)
    7 - lack of craftsmen (craftsmen leaving for other clans)
    8 - pick one, roll for another

    Their patron (deity) is:
    1 - 3 - one of major dwarven deity
    4 - 6 - a minor dwarven deity
    7 - 9 - a paragon (ascended ancestor)
    10 - no patron
    11 - a secret patron (non-dwarven deity)
    12 - a secret patron (entity opposed to dwarves)

    The leader is:
    1 - unscrupulous, and will take any
    2 - warmongering
    3 - extremely orthodox
    4 - paranoid
    5 - greedy
    6 - lustful
    7 - a terrifying presence
    8 - an extraordinary thinker
    9 - a well-known artisan
    10 - well-liked among his clan
    11 - secret coward
    12 - pick one, roll another, combine

    Their leader was chosen as they are:
    1 - charismatic
    2 - great warrior
    3 - great speaker
    4 - son of a great paragon (ascended ancestor)
    5 - strong of faith
    6 - rich
    7 - weak and easy to manipulate
    8 - easily angered
    9 - old and experienced
    10 - skilled negotiator
    11 - tough and resilient
    12 - pick one, roll another, combine

    Their clan inside is (roll 2d8, interpret):
    1 - insidious
    2 - mercenary
    3 - loyal
    4 - friendly
    5 - formal
    6 - hierarchical
    7 - traditional
    8 - hedonistic

    (e.g. insidious/friendly = the clan hides its infighting behind a friendly mask, no open attacks are accepted but there is a daily dose of backstabbing and politicking; insidious/loyal = the clan has a lot infighting, but against outsiders they hold a common front)

    These are just basic ideas, I can continue if you want. This can give you an easy way to create a bare-bones clans, which may have some reason to compete/hate each other. Example below.
    Your charts are awesome! I need to modify them a bit to fit my campaign world. For instance, there is stuff I didn't mention the kalazotz which are gnome sized bat people who are frequently allied with the dwarves, though some dwarves view the kalazotz as loyal and true friends and others view them as smelly but useful little flying servants.

    The reason why most dwarf non-combatants escaped the capture of their capital is that the kalazotz hid them in their nests, and the dwarves have not forgotten though that was centuries ago, and not all dwarves are equally happy to have kalazotz fluttering around.

    I probably want to make a chart to see how well each clan gets along with kalazotz.

    This is the one concept I came up before writing this post.

    Shoemakers Clan Red Shaft Clan

    During Meckelorn’s great exile, the Shoemaker Clan was usually too busy simply trying to survive to worry about making many shoes. At one point, the leader of the Shoemaker clan was locked in a deadly duel with an orc chieftain. This was a formal challenge, Warhammer style so a lot of dwarves and orcs were watching. The orc chieftain sundered his battle axe chopping the blade off the haft and the orcs cheered as their champion was about to win but then the dwarf took the broken shaft of his axe and stabbed it through the eye slit of the orc, demoralizing the other orcs and turning the tide of the battle.

    The Shoemaker Clan thought this was so badass that they renamed themselves Clan Red Shaft. Their champion was blond as were a fair number of Shoemakers at the time. They took the sigil of a broken red axe on a gold field.

    Clan Abehreh, sample kalazotz clan

    Back when they were still called the Shoemaker Clan, the Abehreh clan of kalazotz was able to save the lives of many children of the Red Shaft Clan from goblins by hiding them in their nests. At some point, the leader of the Red Shafts decreed “From now until the ends of time, Clan Red Shaft and Clan Abehreh are allies! Let no outside enemy dare try to sunder our sacred bond!”

    At the time, Clan Abehreh did not have a clan name, but they picked one so the Red Shafts could formally ally with them. Like most kalazotz clans that chose a name, they chose the surname of their most respected living members and kept it generations later.

    Kalazotz are not as big on sigils like the dwarves are, but they have a few sigils they trot out on formal occasions. Clan Abehreh’s banner is a golden bat on a black field holding a small red axe with a crack in it, thus showing their alliance to the Red Shafts.


    Quote Originally Posted by lacco36 View Post
    I'd also include something like a goal (for the clan, for the leader) and maybe organization of the clan (e.g. clan leader = total power, or there are advisors, councils, etc. - maybe linked to a size of the clan.
    This is true. This youtube video on guidelines for creating interesting NPC suggests that every NPC have a weakness, a need, a desire, and an enemy (which may be a struggle and not a literal person or group).


    Quote Originally Posted by Rydiro View Post
    For Stahlheim, the clans would probably act as quasi-cartels/guilds on a given trade. (Seafarers, gemcutters, crafters, ....)
    That would influence their approach and outlook on society and power, as well as create conflict (mostly about pricing of transport, items and raw material...) .
    If the PCs ally with one clan, they could maybe get special services/rare goods.
    My original plan was to give Meckelorn powerful clan elders and comparatively weak guild leaders while Stahlheim was going to have powerful guild leaders and comparatively weak clan elders.

    Though it would be more interesting and easier to keep track of if guilds and clans are tightly linked as opposed to them being loosely linked.
    Last edited by Scalenex; 2021-08-19 at 07:55 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    ElfWarriorGuy

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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    Historically, clans most often (falsely) claim common descent from some sort of semi-mythical ancestor figure and culture hero. Start by coming up with a few great Dwarf heroes from whom the oldest and most prestigious clans (this would be your Stalhelm and Meckelorn) claim descent. Their heraldry can follow from these ancestors: great foes slain, halls built, masterworks smithed.

    Some of the more junior clans may have branched out from the elder ones, so your small batch of ancient clans can provide you with geographic placement and social ties for a number of less important ones.

    To take an idea from Warhammer, a great way to distinguish your clans is via Grudges. In that setting, Dwarves have a religious obligation to avenge all wrongs done against their people, and so each clan (as well as the High King, on behalf of the entire race of Dwarves) keeps a Dammaz Kron; a literal Book of Grudges of every slight (no matter how minor) done agains them, there to be avenged one way or another. A good way to set apart your clans is by establishing which ones have accumulated grudges against outside peoples, or each other.
    Last edited by Catullus64; 2021-08-19 at 08:20 AM.
    The desire to appear clever often impedes actually being so.

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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    Generally I would advise that beyond clan rivalries there should be internal conflict inside each clan. Basically each clan has a decision/secret to wrestle with. That way if the PCs ally with a clan they will face internal complications and thereby be less likely to assume the clan is the good guys and their rivals are the bad guys.


    For Meckelorn,

    Have 1 clan be steeped in history/power but they got nearly completely wiped out during the war and so are a shadow of their former glory. They are focused on increasing the clan size. The internal conflict is about how to go about that.
    • Bringing in the daughters of a non-noble clan known for fertility. Good for getting more children but dilutes the noble blood.
    • Adopting people into the clan. They adopt "disgruntled" dwarves from the other noble clans, those clans view these dwarves as traitors and this breeds a deal of animosity, but often the leaders work out a deal, usually paying off the clan. Adopting non-noble who distinguished themselves in the war is also common even though it dilutes the blood.
    • Bringing in looslely related dwarves from Stahlheim. This keeps the bloodline pure but many in and out of the clan resent those from Stahlheim who didn't come swiftly to their aid during the war.


    Have 1 clan that wasn't noble before the war, but proved themselves invaluable during the guerilla war and got raised to nobility as thanks by the king. Perhaps the clan leader got married to the King's favored daughter to seal it. For this clan the focus is on securing it's station as a noble clan, but the other clans resent them because they don't consider them real nobles yet they have lots of influence with the current king.

    Have 1 clan that has a very traditionalist group of clan elders, with a more modern and very young clan leader. The leader distinguished themselves during the guerilla war by adopting more modern tactics which clashes with the elders view of what a paragon dwarf should look/fight. So the elders still promote using antique armour/weapons and fighting in a shieldwall and being bolstered by Divine power. This young leader wants more of the lightly armored, highly mobile fighting force that uses crossbows and arcane magic, especially illusion.

    The most powerful clan got through the war mostly unscathed compared to the other clans. Overall the clan is your prototypical dwarf clan but with that little bit extra prickly sense of honour. The clan leader secretly cut deals with the orcs during the war but very few clan members know. If the clan at large found out the elder would get quietly executed by the clan, if the king found out it would bring great shame upon the clan. There are people in/out of the clan that suspect something amiss.


    I'd also suggest that beyond the actual clan names you come up with derogatory names for each clan that the other clans use when trying to insult them. And a story or two of the dead heroes of the clans, along with some shameful clan members (Most also dead). This helps make the insults they throw at each other seem more realistic.

  7. - Top - End - #7
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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    Clan pride is a major social issue, on the level of football rivalry. There is a lot of competetion which the dwarves see as a good thing because it makes them better. When rivalries rise to the level of feuds, the clerics step in. The resolution usually involves ritual non-lethal combat of the clan leaders, their champions, the clan warriors, or some combination, followed by a feast at which the clan leaders show they are bigger than the other guy by offering gifts, concessions, and to really stick it to them, second (or third, etc.) sons to join the rival clan whether by adoption or marriage.

    Each clan has a distinct braid for their beards, and it is a point of pride to be well groomed. Female styles include beads, and married males may incorporate a bead from their wives' collection. The beads are colored and patterned along matrilineal inheritance, which females maintain even though they join the patrilineal clan of their husbands. Thus, there are over a hundred clans, with another two hundred maternal lineages. These lineages compete, but their goals are prestige-based: social status, number of sons, better and better appointed living spaces, and so on. When a female of a particular lineage comes of age the elders are certain to attempt to arrange the best match for her, and if (when) the young lady fails to live up to the expectation of her elders they are quick to exert social pressure to bring her in line.

    Surface dwarves trim *gasp!* and shape their beards, but still retain them as a point of pride.

    Dwarves who do not wear braids or who do not regularly groom are of very low status. If a patriarch evicts a dwarf from his clan he is not allowed to wear the clan braid any more, though another clan may adopt him and require the outcaste to wear their braid.

    If a dwarf commits a crime or is somehow shamed, (breaking oaths, cowardice before the enemy, avoiding familial obligations, impugning the character of or falsely accusing another dwarf,) his beard will be crudely hacked off as or as part of his punishment.

    A dwarf who shaves is openly rejecting dwarf society. A respectable dwarf will have nothing to do with him.

    Some humans mimic dwarf braids, which amuses dwarves in much the same way as a monkey in a suit amuses humans. The subtleties of braiding patterns are usually not understood unless the person grew up in or in proximity to dwarves.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    I have adapted Laco36's excellent chart to my setting and to my love of d10s. I'm not even sure if I still have a d12.

    I made a slightly separate chart for Meckelorn and Stahlheim giving these two nations a double chance for matching their national stereotype. Meckelorn clans are more likely to be poor and they are more likely to be proud of their military heritage. Stahlheim clans are more likely to be rich and they are more likely to flaunt dwarven traditions.

    Meckelorn clan is especially proud of their….
    1 - adhesion to traditions
    2 - former victories
    3 - riches
    4 - famous ancestors
    5 - great dwellings and/or artifacts
    6 - artifacts
    7 – craftsmen
    8-adhension to traditions
    9-former victories
    10- pick one, roll for another

    Stahlheim clan is especially proud of their…
    1 - adhesion to traditions
    2 - former victories
    3 - riches
    4 - famous ancestors
    5 - great dwellings and/or artifacts
    6 - artifacts
    7 - craftsmen
    8 - riches
    9 – Great dwellings and/or artifacts
    10- pick one, roll for another


    Meckelorn clan is least proud of…
    (use bracketed option if the same number is rolled as above or if it fits better):

    1 - weak adhesion to traditions (breach of tradition)
    2 - former victories for the wrong reasons (current losses)
    3 - lack of wealth (lost wealth)
    4 - lack of famous ancestors (bad generation)
    5 - poor dwellings (dwellings ruined by time or war)
    6 - lack of artifacts (stolen artifacts)
    7 - lack of craftsmen (craftsmen leaving for other clans)
    8 - lack of wealth
    9 - former victories for the wrong reasons (current losses)
    10- pick one, roll for another

    Stahlheim clan is least proud of…
    (use bracketed option if the same number is rolled as above or if it fits better):
    1 - weak adhesion to traditions (breach of tradition)
    2 - former victories for the wrong reasons (current losses)
    3 - lack of wealth (lost wealth)
    4 - lack of famous ancestors (bad generation)
    5 - poor dwellings (dwellings ruined by time or war)
    6 - lack of artifacts (stolen artifacts)
    7 - lack of craftsmen (craftsmen leaving for other clans)
    8 - lack of famous ancestors (bad generation)
    9 - weak adhesion to traditions (breach of tradition
    10- pick one, roll for another

    Most dwarf clans have a filial shrine with the names of their ancestors in it. Sometimes these shrines are used all the time, sometimes they collect dust.

    Ancestor Worship is viewed as something that is…

    1 Frivolous
    2 Unnecessary
    3 Unnecessary
    4 Kept up for appearances sake
    5 Mostly for holidays and funerals
    6 Mostly for holidays and funerals
    7 Routine
    8 Routine
    9 Important
    10 Vital

    Clans Official Religious Practices
    1 Typical for dwarves
    2 Typical for dwarves
    3 Typical for dwarves
    4 Typical for dwarves
    5 Slightly unorthodox for dwarves
    6 Slightly unorthodox for dwarves
    7 Slightly unorthodox for dwarves
    8 Atypical for dwarves
    9 Atypical for dwarves
    10 Highly unusual for dwarves

    Religion in my setting is very complicated, so I thought it would be impractical to make a chart with every possible combination.

    Kalazotz are… (Meckelorn adds +2 the d10 roll)
    1 Biding their time to betray us
    2 leeching off of dwarf society
    3 annoying to have around but we owe them our hospitality for what their ancestors
    4 Mostly harmless
    5 Useful servants
    6 Useful servants
    7 Allies of convenience
    8 Valued allies
    9 Valued allies
    10 Practically family
    11 Practically family
    12 Practically family

    The Clan Elder

    The eldest male is always officially in charge in ceremonies, but the clan elder might actually be the true leader

    1-3 The clan elder is the undisputed leader in word and deed
    4-5 The clan elder shares his power with a trusted right hand
    6-8 The clan elder shares power with a right hand who often disagrees with him
    9-10 The clan elder is basically a figurehead



    The leader is: (1-6 Roll Once, 7-9 Roll Twice, 10 roll thrice)
    1 - unscrupulous
    2 - warmongering
    3 - paranoid
    4 - greedy
    5 - lustful
    6 - a terrifying presence
    7 - an extraordinary thinker
    8 - a well-known artisan
    9 - well-liked among his clan
    10 - secret coward

    (if there are two leaders, roll separately for both)


    The clan’s unofficial leader was chosen because he or she:
    1 - charismatic
    2 - great warrior
    3 - great speaker
    4 - strong of faith
    5 - rich
    6 - weak and easy to manipulate
    7 - easily angered
    8 - old and experienced
    9 - skilled negotiator
    10 - tough and resilient


    Their clan inside is (roll 2d10, interpret)
    1 - insidious
    2 - mercenary
    3 - loyal
    4 - friendly
    5 - formal
    6 - hierarchical
    7 - traditional
    8 - hedonistic
    9 - ambitious
    10 – insular

    For instance if they are insidious and loyal, that means they quarrel and scheme amongst each other but provide a unified front to outsiders

    If a clan rolls the same number twice they are famous for that having trait to an almost ludicrous degree.
    Last edited by Scalenex; 2021-08-27 at 12:21 AM.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    Something I do is make my warrior dwarfs good at something Specific. In pathfinder there is a large number of alternate traits. One clan I use is anti dragon dwarfs. Their halls are not easy to see nor do they make displays of wealth. They often use camouflage (while dragons have great sight distance can be a problem) when hunting and favor ranged attacks. They, naturally, have the alternate racial traits that give bonuses against dragons.


    Do you have lots of undead? Giants?

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    Clan Auslaugen

    Clan sigil: Snake emerging from a flask
    Great ancestor: Galn Arztheiler the Merciful
    Source of wealth: hospitals, clinics, insurance

    Claiming decent from the revered dwarven physician Galn Arztheiler, the Auslaugen have only grown in influence since the Meckelorn-Stahlheim schism.

    The Auslaugen own the majority of hospitals and clinics in the two dwarven nations, with many branches operating abroad. Most physicians, whether operating from a hospital or a clinic, or a country doctor traveling from house to house are members of the clan. (many back alley ''doctors'' charging more affordable prices are actually young apprentices of the clan attaining "practical experience" incognito)

    Many apothecaries unrelated to the clan bear the clan sigil upon their lintel as a mark of quality assurance from the clan to the customer. To lose the right to bear the sigil often comes as a significant financial blow to the apothecary. Disreputable individuals using the sigil without permission have their internal organs rearranged or removed....mysteriously.

    When Stahlheim came to rival Meckelorn (and some say surpase it) the clan split in two.
    Clan Wundekleben retained it's loyalties to Meckelorn and Hautstich sided with Stahlheim.

    A common conspiracy theory states that the various clinics and insurance salesmen that seem to be in competition with one another are actually colluding to fix prices and give the appearance of a choice.

    In reality the various clinics and insurance salesmen are colluding with each other to fix prices and give the appearance of a choice.

    Another common conspiracy theory states that the clans remain one in the same. That they have on occasion ensured the death of important patients from one nation or the other. Balancing the two nations against each other.

    In reality the two clans remain one in the same. Occasionally ensuring the death of important patients from one nation or the other. All in the name of creating and retaining a financially beneficial balance between the two nations.

  11. - Top - End - #11
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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alcore View Post
    Something I do is make my warrior dwarfs good at something Specific. In pathfinder there is a large number of alternate traits. One clan I use is anti dragon dwarfs. Their halls are not easy to see nor do they make displays of wealth. They often use camouflage (while dragons have great sight distance can be a problem) when hunting and favor ranged attacks. They, naturally, have the alternate racial traits that give bonuses against dragons.


    Do you have lots of undead? Giants?
    I have some undead and some giants but not a whole lot. Though now that I think about it, I've been meaning to brew some new undead and maybe some dwarf specific or mountain loving undead would be an interesting idea.

    I did incidentally create some anti-dragon dwarfs but they are basically a noveau rich family that bought their way to rub elbows with the big boys using a bunch of stolen dragon gold.

    Quote Originally Posted by Balyano View Post
    Clan Auslaugen

    Clan sigil: Snake emerging from a flask
    Great ancestor: Galn Arztheiler the Merciful
    Source of wealth: hospitals, clinics, insurance

    Claiming decent from the revered dwarven physician Galn Arztheiler, the Auslaugen have only grown in influence since the Meckelorn-Stahlheim schism.

    The Auslaugen own the majority of hospitals and clinics in the two dwarven nations, with many branches operating abroad. Most physicians, whether operating from a hospital or a clinic, or a country doctor traveling from house to house are members of the clan. (many back alley ''doctors'' charging more affordable prices are actually young apprentices of the clan attaining "practical experience" incognito)

    Many apothecaries unrelated to the clan bear the clan sigil upon their lintel as a mark of quality assurance from the clan to the customer. To lose the right to bear the sigil often comes as a significant financial blow to the apothecary. Disreputable individuals using the sigil without permission have their internal organs rearranged or removed....mysteriously.

    When Stahlheim came to rival Meckelorn (and some say surpase it) the clan split in two.
    Clan Wundekleben retained it's loyalties to Meckelorn and Hautstich sided with Stahlheim.

    A common conspiracy theory states that the various clinics and insurance salesmen that seem to be in competition with one another are actually colluding to fix prices and give the appearance of a choice.

    In reality the various clinics and insurance salesmen are colluding with each other to fix prices and give the appearance of a choice.

    Another common conspiracy theory states that the clans remain one in the same. That they have on occasion ensured the death of important patients from one nation or the other. Balancing the two nations against each other.

    In reality the two clans remain one in the same. Occasionally ensuring the death of important patients from one nation or the other. All in the name of creating and retaining a financially beneficial balance between the two nations.
    That's a good idea for a clan. I can certainly use it. I got 80-100 clans, but obviously I don't plan to write up a thing for all of them, just the ones that can impact the story.

    I gave my five leading families two traits instead of making them roll to see if they got one trait or two trait. Even though the clans only had 40% of chance of being proud of their adherence to traditions, I rolled that 4 out of 5 times for my leading Meckelorn clans. I guess that fits, Meckelorn is my more traditionalist nation so it makes since if the leading families are mostly traditionalist.

    Anyway, I got nine deities in my pantheon, one for each alignment in a dysfunctional barely cooperating family. Every race and nation in my setting has the same nine gods but they don't all worship them the same way.

    Most Dwarves believe Hallisan (LG god of metalworking and chivalry) is the god who created them and elevate him above the others. Phidas (LE god of commerce and defense against the dark) and Khemra (LN goddess of the sun, history, and writing) are also sometimes held above the others. Mera (NG goddess of hearth and families) is held in increasing high regard because the dwarves allies the kalazotz like her a lot. The other five deities are basically given lip service by dwarves on their holidays and ignored the rest of the year if even that.

    Hallisan is the father of all dwarves and most dwarves either put him at the top of the divine heap or give him a first among equals role. Phidas and Khemra worship is very common in Stahlheim but fairly rare Meckelorn. Mera worship is fairly common in Meckelorn but fairly rare in Stahlheim.

    Greystone Clan
    The royal family, strong adherents to proper dwarven tradition but trying to disguise their empty purses.

    Main Goal: Get rich again

    The Greystone Clan is the royal family. The king is supposed to look out for the good of the realm and not favor his family. Usually the king tries to avoid nepotism or at least the appearance of nepotism. There are a lot of Greystones running around today, many of them have only very weak blood ties to the king whom they have never met, but the fact that they share a surname with the king gives them power and status regardless.

    Being of royal blood, they take pride in being the epitome of everything a dwarf should be, so they are very hidebound traditionalists and have a marital focus. While the Greystones are proud of the mighty deeds of their ancestors, they don’t want to lose sight of the here and now. They venerate their ancestors on holidays and funerals but they say the best way to honor their ancestors is to do honorable and valorous deeds today.

    The clan as a whole, is broke. The clan has many pieces of priceless jewelry and legendary magical weapons, but they would not dare dishonor their clan by selling them. Most Greystones struggle just to pay their staff on time and maintain their holdfasts. They rarely can afford to sponsor festivals, make large religious donations, or finance new constructions.

    For most of their history, the Greystones viewed Hallisan as their family patron and the other deities got token worship, but recently the clan elder has named one of the Masks of Phidas as his personal advisor and is pushing greater Phidas worship on the whole family. Presumably because he wants the god of commerce to bring additional wealth into the family.

    The clan is formally allied with a clan of kalazotz and the clan is pretty pro-bat on the whole though the clan elder is a little bit less bat-friendly than the bulk of his clan. The kalazotz clan matriarch does not approve of the new pro-Phidas direction though some of the younger bats are on board with Phidas, opting to focus on making weavings and crafts that are likely to sell at a high price on the open market rather than creating utilitarian crafts.


    Red Shaft Clan
    Jolly clan of brave warriors reeling from recent heavy losses hurting their pride and image.

    Main Goal: Get revenge for recent losses

    Descended from a family of cobblers, the Red Shaft Clan became a famous clan of warriors during the Great Meckelorn War gaining their name sake when one of their leaders was seemingly disarmed by an orc chieftain only to stab the orc in the eye with the broken shaft of his axe.

    They are a prestigious clan with royal blood in their veins and centuries of honor and respect, but they are reeling from recent dishonor.

    Recently their clan was humiliated, when the elder’s traveling party was ambushed by orcs slaying a great many of their warriors and courtiers while also making off with some of the Bloody Shaft Clan’s greatest heirlooms.

    Religiously, The Red Shaft Clan follows a biased nonagon giving Hallisan lots of worship and praise and the other eight deities roughly equally rote worship. Hallisan is viewed as the guardian of their ancestors souls and their filial piety is mostly folded into their Hallisan worship.

    The Red Shaft clan members are staunch traditionalists, even by dwarf standards. They take their oaths ancient and modern very seriously. They are formally allied to Abehreh Clan of kalazotz and are very supportive of the bats in general viewing this as not only honorable, but practical as well. The one place they bend on traditions is making allowances for the Abehreh less formal ways. In fact, when a member of the Red Shaft acts informally, they don’t say “Letting one’s hair down” they say “going bats.”

    The new clan elder is a skilled craftsman and is generally well-liked, but he would usually much rather be in his workshop or getting drunk in a tavern than presiding over clan meetings. The true power of the clan is the clan’s general who is aggressive and paranoid. He has implemented harsh security measures on all clan holdings and is sending out war parties to punish the orcs and reclaim their clan treasures.

    He is way different from the mainstream clan’s typical laid back friendly attitude. Some of the clan members resent their general but most are so angered by the recent losses, they are willing to tolerate his excesses as long as he gets results.


    Red Scales Clan
    Spiritually focused insular traditionalists that influence and are influenced by the kalazotz more than any other clan.

    Main Goal: As long as we survive

    The Red Scales Clan is said to be descended from a half-dragon, a spirit legacy or possibly both. This is unclear, but there have been a disproportionally high number of favored souls and spirit loas (a spirit loa can invite ancestor spirits to enter his body temporarily) born among them throughout the years. This has given them more pride in their ancestors than most dwarves and it’s rare to see a member of the clan not at least make weekly visits to the family shrine.

    They were among one of the first clans to solidify ties with kalazotz and they have assimilated with the bats more than any other clan. Rather than put Hallisan on top of the spiritual heap, they put Hallisan with equal footing to Mera, largely due to the influence of the kalazotz. The Red Scales Clan was the spiritual heart of the Meckelorn during the Great War, possessing a lot of mundane magical healers, again with a lot of influence from the kalazotz. The Red Scales Clan is largely responsible for the fact that more and more kalazotz are developing their own version of ancestor worship. The Red Scales Clan is more knowledgeable about herbalism than most dwarves, again due to kalazotz influence.

    The Red Scales Clan greatest source of dishonor is that during the Great War is that they won battles in cowardly dishonorable ways using poison or murdering enemies in their sleep. At the time, this was viewed as perfectly justified, but through the lens of history, not so much. Cowardly sneaks skulking in the dark, like little bats…

    The clan elder married a dwarf maid from a noveau rich clan of minor standing and he gives his father-in-law a lot of influence in clan affairs out of naked avarice but they have a good partnership with the elder being the brains and the father-in-law being his charismatic mouthpiece.

    Family comes first, the notion of “family” can be extended to non-blood relatives, but anyone outside of the family can fend for themselves.


    Dragon Bane Clan
    A clan of nobodies steals a dragon hoard and now they are noveau rich.

    Main goal: Prove to the old school families that we are respectable too.

    The Dragon’s Bane clan is the youngest clan to be a major shaker in Meckelorn. An adventuring party they sponsored slew a dragon and took its hoard. The family invested the treasure wisely and are among the wealthiest Meckelorn clan, despite having a lackluster list of historical accomplishments during the Great War.

    Their ancestors were essentially a bunch of peasant tanners before their clan got dragon’s gold. They venerate their ancestors recently and publicly more to show defiance to their naysayers than out of genuine filial piety. Their ancestors had bad experiences where the kalazotz failed to help them making them among the least bat-friendly of any Meckelorners. Among other incidents, a kalazotz ratted out the criminal dealings of a previous clan leader.

    Officially they are primary Hallisan worshipers but this is mostly for show.

    The Clan elder has a handpicked right hand who is a ruthless Machiavellian schemer rumored to have ties to many criminals. They both want to acquire wealth and use this wealth to leverage the other clans, ideally using arranged marriages to build up some respectability.


    Heart's Fire Clan
    The one Meckelorn that succeeds being non-traditionalist reinventing themselves every two or three generations. Right now they are beer barons.

    Main Goal: Ride the gravy train of being a beer baron as long as possible, then do something else.

    The Heart’s Fire Clan has their name sake from a famous artificer who forged magic weapons in a volcano in ancient times though at this point the story cannot be verified. During the Great War they produced a great many war heroes. Filial piety is important to them and most visit their family shrines at least once a week.

    Since the war was over, they mostly hung up their battle axes and turned to commerce and politics, something common to Stahlheim but rare in Meckelorn. They export a lot of metalwork to the nearby human nations Fumaya and Kantoc and they import a lot of Fumayan ale and Kantoca wine. Their clans power comes from their wealth and their wealth comes from the sale of alcoholic beverages. Their religious practices are also similar to Stahlheim with them viewing Hallisan, Khemra, and Phidas as being a triumvirate.

    In Meckelorn, no group employs more outsiders than the Heart’s Fire Clan with humans and tengku employees and more than twice as many gnome retainers as most other dwarves. Detractors say this has eroded their essential dwarf values.

  12. - Top - End - #12
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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scalenex View Post
    I have adapted Laco36's excellent chart to my setting and to my love of d10s. I'm not even sure if I still have a d12.
    Cripes, that is quite a bit! That looks very useful, do you have a link to the source?
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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    Quote Originally Posted by Squire Doodad View Post
    Cripes, that is quite a bit! That looks very useful, do you have a link to the source?
    The source? Laco36 posted some charts, I believe he was the creator. He posted them earlier in thread, then I posted a modified version of the charts and added a chart for ancestor worship and kalazotz relations. The charts are all right on this thread.

    If you mean, my fantasy world and/or the D&D10 system, I got an extensive wiki linked in my signature.

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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scalenex View Post
    I have adapted Laco36's excellent chart to my setting and to my love of d10s. I'm not even sure if I still have a d12.
    Poor d12, never getting any love...

    Idea: put some of the additional entries as "spare" entries. If you roll the same for two following clans, pick a spare instead.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scalenex View Post
    I made a slightly separate chart for Meckelorn and Stahlheim giving these two nations a double chance for matching their national stereotype. Meckelorn clans are more likely to be poor and they are more likely to be proud of their military heritage. Stahlheim clans are more likely to be rich and they are more likely to flaunt dwarven traditions.
    Then I'd also suggest following addition:

    The clan is viewed by their nation as/the clan actually is:
    1 - a traitor in waiting ("they are sure to betray us at any time..." / "as soon as we get the chance to blow this nation to pieces, we'll do so for our clan!")
    2 - a great risk to the nation ("their warmongering/greed/whatever is a threat to stability of our nation" / "let's see how far can we push this bunch of nobles before they break")
    3 - an unstable ally ("they will help today but will cause trouble tomorrow" / "we'll help them today, but we'll claim our prize tomorrow")
    4 - a willing ally ("when we ask them, they'll help" / "when we're asked, we'll help")
    5 - a loyal supporter ("they have always been there for the nation" / "we are the ones holding this nation together")
    6 - a risky asset ("we could use them, but beware of the consequences") / mercenaries ("we get paid, we serve - but we'll always get paid or...")
    7 - useless historical relic ("they have been good in the past but now...") / not appreciated enough and bitter ("we have served and it has cost us too much...")
    8 - invisible ("clan who...? those guys are still alive?") / not appreciated enough and like it ("we serve in secrecy and we don't want our work to be known...")
    9 - dangerously capable, a legends in making ("those guys? they scare the hell out of me...") / glory hounds ("we want our recognition and we want it now!")
    10 - a national treasure ("they are celebrated and belowed for their past actions") / past their prime ("yeah, we did those things. now let us bask in the glory and go away")

    A double table that says how the clan is viewed overall by the general public/most nameless clans/leaders of the nation versus how the clan views their role and how they will treat the national issues (e.g. a clan with rolls 4 and 1 is considered to be a loyal supporter, but will betray the nation if offered a chance).

    Quote Originally Posted by Scalenex View Post
    If a clan rolls the same number twice they are famous for that having trait to an almost ludicrous degree.
    Oooh, this is a great idea, which I will definitely shamelessly steal borrow for my next set of tables!

    Quote Originally Posted by Squire Doodad View Post
    Cripes, that is quite a bit! That looks very useful, do you have a link to the source?
    Yeah, I just had some free time and got an idea. I'm in love with random tables (also, drop tables!) and I like to create those - especially when it comes to worldbuilding.

    So if you have something you'd like randomized, let me know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scalenex View Post
    The source? Laco36 posted some charts, I believe he was the creator. He posted them earlier in thread, then I posted a modified version of the charts and added a chart for ancestor worship and kalazotz relations. The charts are all right on this thread.

    If you mean, my fantasy world and/or the D&D10 system, I got an extensive wiki linked in my signature.
    In this case, I'm quite sure I have created those first ones . While I have a lot of random tables taken from everywhere, this was just some freestyling on my part.
    Call me Laco or Ladislav (if you need to be formal). Avatar comes from the talented linklele.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    Instead of having an adventure, from which a cool unexpected story may rise, you had a story, with an adventure built and designed to enable the story, but also ensure (or close to ensure) it happens.

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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    Quote Originally Posted by lacco36 View Post


    Oooh, this is a great idea, which I will definitely shamelessly steal borrow for my next set of tables!

    I owe you that much for all the help you've given me.


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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    I'd say one option that could be entertaining if there are no dwarf PCs is to make it so that they AREN'T distinguishable to a non-dwarf. Make the differences insignificant (or at least things that would seem insignificant to a non-dwarf). I'm thinking things like the shape of the rivets in their armor, or the designs of their beard clasps, whether the wrappings on the hafts of their weapons are clockwise or counter-clockwise, things like that. Have any dwarven NPCs be totally befuddled by the inability of non-dwarves to recognize a dwarf's clan from these OBVIOUS markers.

    One potential way to introduce a clan rivalry is to have the party meet two dwarves separately and have them both be reasonable people. Then have the PCs present for a chance encounter between the two where those same two dwarves attack each other on sight for no obvious reason. If you want to play it for comedy, have them fight with fists, beer steins, and biting. If you want to play it for shock, have them actually try to kill each other (and maybe they both succeed absent PC intervention).

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    Default Re: How do I distinguish dwarven clans from each other?

    There was an episode of The Andy Griffith Show done as a rewrite of Romeo and Juliet...

    "Hark!" They said hark a lot in them days...

    Anyway, if you have the dwarves fight without actually fighting like in that episode...

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