A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    In my new campaign I have had NPCs use proverbs, homilies, and figures of speech unique to their culture, and the players seem to get a kick out of it. So I would like to make it a running thing in my game, both to lighten the mood and flesh out dwarven culture. Problem is, I am running dry on ideas to last the whole campaign.

    So far, most of them have just been taking a human expression and substituting beards for other body parts; i.e. "right under our beards" "talking my beard off" "cutting off my beard to spite my face" etc. but if anyone has any more creative ideas I would love to hear them!
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    If we're talking standard fantasy dwarves, mining would be a good thing to, er, mine for ideas. Or smithing. "Between a rock and a hard place" could just be "between the hammer and the anvil"
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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    So swearing is really about what your culture values/fears, and doesn't have to be similar to ours.

    Bent nails! (Dang!)
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    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    "May your beard be soaked in ale rather than vomit!" (cit.)

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    Here's a nice collection: (from Reddit)

    You're more dull than a sandstone warhammer, and twice as fragile.

    Never use a Handaxe in place of an anvil.

    You (insert task) like an elf. /u/bdcjacko

    You’re about as pleasant as a breath of bauxite (iirc this is really really bad for you) /u/Slinkyfest2005

    I’d rather listen to me bird die than listen to you for another second (rather have your canary die than continue the conversation, ie you yourself die because of a buildup of toxic gas) /u/Slinkyfest2005

    You’re the sharpest hammer in the smithy, aintcha. (Sharp hammers aren’t great for hammering) /u/Slinkyfest2005

    You’re mothers mother sucked the hindquarters of a goat, and now we have you (I imagine goats would find disparaging family especially heinous) /u/Slinkyfest2005

    Go choke on a plump helmet (dying from eating raw food, how dishonorable. Also, penis jokes) /u/Slinkyfest2005

    Beardless fool. /u/Slinkyfest2005

    Dow eared, beardless, elf lovin’, son of a vagrant, nameless (ie lacking a clan name) /u/Slinkyfest2005

    Work ethic of a halfling (yay fantasy racism) /u/Slinkyfest2005

    Curiosity of a gnome (dwarves love tradition, and are probably often at odds with the creative or erratic representation of gnomes) /u/Slinkyfest2005

    The wisdom of a human (shortsightedness such as one finds in the shorter lived races, always used derogatorily) /u/Slinkyfest2005

    The smithing skills of an orc (infamous for their slapshod metallurgy) /u/Slinkyfest2005

    Farmer (as in, surface dweller) /u/Slinkyfest2005

    Stone eater (impoverished dwarves who are rumored to survive by “eating stones” because they have nothing else, usually use to insinuate lower class or wealth) /u/Slinkyfest2005

    An improvised line of tangential yet relevant history from the mind of the dwarf. /u/Slinkyfest2005

    “brass polisher” because one infamous dwarf was so preoccupied with form over function he had the alarm bells for the fort taken down to be polished, when an orc attack occurred which led to the fort being lost in its totality. /u/Slinkyfest2005

    "Wood-smith” a dwarf who went off to study with the elves from Craghold who was never heard from again. (Actually just stuck out an apprenticeship for 125 years before he was allowed to learn anything but became a talented master of wood carving and carpentry, but took on an elven pseudonym to spite his forebears. Very popular in human lands, mostly ignored in elven) implying an atypical or useless set of interests. “No wood in the hold, why would you learn how to carve it and not stone?” /u/Slinkyfest2005

    “Beard-brew” beer that tastes like its been filtered through a particularly dirty dwarfs beard from the legendary beard-brew brothers who regularly did this to human mead, and sold it back as an exotic dwarves ale to other rubes two villages down. Could be described as snake oil, or bad beer, depends on context. /u/Slinkyfest2005

    Gorgon/Medusa is used to refer to dwarves prostitutes. More neutral in meaning but disrespectful nonetheless. Medusa if they’re attractive, gorgon if they’re not. (They both turn you to stone) /u/Slinkyfest2005

    You're a few hairs short of a beard. /u/Quibblicous

    You'll crush a lot of quartz to get a nugget out of that one. (more trouble that it's worth) /u/ElZoof

    Is your pick made of mushrooms? (Have you lost your mind?) /u/ElZoof

    Your mother was a rust monster! /u/ElZoof

    Your hammer's bigger than your anvil = more bark than bite. Inadequate. Ill-prepared. /u/Lokhammer

    Fresh off the danger room = A soldier with little to no experience. Greenhorn. Newbie. /u/Lokhammer

    Wall-smoother = Skilless. Has no useful skills so it's tasked with smoothing the rough rock walls of the mountain hall. /u/Lokhammer

    "you're taking your candles down the coal mine" (you're doing something very inadvisable) /u/Lord_Norjam

    "Cobalt breath" (cobalt ores often contain arsenic, which is poisonous) /u/Lord_Norjam

    "As flaky as a mica" (a mineral that comes in flaky sheets) /u/Lord_Norjam

    "As useful as a quicksilver helmet" /u/Lord_Norjam

    My wife has a bigger beard than you. /u/commoncanvas/

    I’ll build a cathedral in your mother’s **** and **** your sister on its altar. /u/CallMeOaksie

    Ye bloody lead licking, beard testing, copper fondling son of a bat**** golem. /u/Steamnach

    You pointed ear leaf lover. /u/Tophatguy90

    Oh, is that a beard? My chest hair is longer than that. /u/Eilmorel

    "Yer pick ain't sharp no more, innit?" (You've gotten soft / dumb) /u/TenradMusta

    "Black-bellied" (Covered in soot / hard working) /u/TenradMusta

    "Got a glitter in your cranny" (you've got a secret?) /u/TenradMusta

    "A kink in his helm" (A thought / idea that won't go away. /u/TenradMusta

    "Stiff canary" (Bad news / I'll omen) /u/TenradMusta

    "He counts his braids" (self centered / narcissistic) /u/TenradMusta

    "Turned his pint" (past his prime / too old) /u/TenradMusta

    "Shattered in the coals" (Never would've worked) /u/TenradMusta

    Never bring a wand to a axe fight... /u/HammerHead73

    Time for my centennial beard trim /u/HammerHead73

    What is this “soap” thing? /u/HammerHead73

    Call me crazy again and I'll eat your other eye! /u/aftermeasure

    Your father built his house on gravel /u/Risingphoenix86

    "It ain't the size of your pick, it's how you swing it." Less of an insult but more of a way to put down braggarts. /u/Velune

    "Fair words don't fill my belly" (Dwarves prefer to be paid up front and don't trust in promises by outsiders) /u/DisparateNoise

    "The fools mouth casts gold and silver, but when it opens only words come out" (Fools are often making promises of gold and silver, but don't trust it until you see it) /u/DisparateNoise

    "Bite your tongue before I do" (Shut up or I'll shut you up, said to someone for their own good) /u/DisparateNoise

    "Don't drive an adit without a prop" - as in "don't put the cart before the horse", or occasionally "Your ideas aren't as smart as you think they are". /u/misterja

    "When you set yourself above the clan you're the first to hit your head" - a caution against pride /u/misterja

    "You took longer than a day without ale" for someone slow at doing something. /u/Sunitsa

    “Yer makin statues out of a boulder” (you are trying to draw meaning or of something that is meaningless. Something that players do quite often) /u/that_guy_you_know-26

    “I smell pyrite.” (Calling someone on their bull****) /u/that_guy_you_know-26

    "Some say that dwarfs come from the elemental plane of earth. You, however, seem to have come from the elemental plane of dumbass." -For general idiots. /u/MrMonti_

    "Come talk to me again when one of us is drunk." -For people you dont want to deal with. /u/MrMonti_

    "I'd rather drown in quicksilver." -If told to do something complicated. /u/MrMonti_

    "That's the axe calling the sword sharp." -Callout on hypocrites. /u/MrMonti_

    "Don't go catching Ballista bolts." -General 'good luck and be careful'. /u/MrMonti_

    You’ve the beard of an old man and the face of a baby(shave, goddammit) /u/Silverdragon701

    He’d buy a Goblin house(you’re cheap and don’t care about quality) /u/Silverdragon701

    Get stuck in a dragon’s teeth!(you’re a minor annoyance) /u/Silverdragon701

    "The abyss returns even the boldest gaze." -An elder saying to not dig too deep. /u/MrMonti_

    "You're two pickaxes short of a mineshaft." -General idiot insult. /u/MrMonti_

    "...And I hear dwarves mine!" -variation of 'Tell me soemthing I don't know.' /u/MrMonti_

    'Mud miner'... mountain dwarf insult for hill dwarves. /u/inprobableuncle

    "Iron and wood are stronger than iron alone." - A caution against racism. /u/ElZoof

    "Go dig the roof above your head." - Rocks fall, everybody dies. /u/ElZoof

    "May your funeral be a sober occasion!" - Worst insult imaginable. /u/ElZoof

    "Your nail-head doesn't need no hammer to be flattened" /u/le_fougicien

    "Your beard must be growing inside !" /u/le_fougicien

    "I never saw such ugly face... Except on a goblin !" /u/le_fougicien

    "May you dig in sand for a thousand years!" /u/Dwarfodka

    "The only drink that fits you is piss!" /u/Dwarfodka

    Blood and Pyrite! You're softer than chalk and denser than lead, aren't ye' laddie? /u/MaxSizeIs

    By me touchstone, that rings true! /u/MaxSizeIs

    By Fire and Damp, I wouldn't trust them! /u/MaxSizeIs

    That's a dark seam there, my child. Are ye sure to base your reputation on't? /u/MaxSizeIs

    Sure as blaming the tools is a measure of a weak dwarf! /u/MaxSizeIs

    "The measure of a dwarf's mettle is as much as thier blood, as in thier bones. No true dwarf would debase themselves by prevaricating such as you, laddie!" /u/MaxSizeIs

    "Never bet on a limping hog" /u/Cu5tin

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    Instead of saying "knock on wood", they could say "tap on rock" or something like that.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    Some of the Discworld books focused on Dwarfs, and included this sort of thing. I don't remember much detail, but one thing I remember was that deeper was better. Anything related to the surface/sky/sun/high was bad, and stone/deep/underground/low was good.
    Calling their king "Your Highness" was a terrible insult.
    There were some Dwarf priests who claimed that the surface world was all a bad dream, and didn't matter (similar to D&D Stone Giant belief).

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    "Ahhhh, Barek and his doggies. The boy's got a copper heart." - as in, he's a big softie.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    Tailings are the unusable residue of ore after the valuable part has been extracted, and there are usually piles of it outside (and downhill) of a mine entrance. You can use "tailings" anywhere a human would refer to human waste.

    "That argument is a pile of tailings."

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    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Tailings are the unusable residue of ore after the valuable part has been extracted, and there are usually piles of it outside (and downhill) of a mine entrance. You can use "tailings" anywhere a human would refer to human waste.

    "That argument is a pile of tailings."
    Also Scree or Talus. Not purposefully made, but they are broken fragments at the bottom of a cliff.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2021-09-03 at 04:44 AM.
    "In dark times, should the stars also go out?"

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffWatson View Post
    Some of the Discworld books focused on Dwarfs, and included this sort of thing. I don't remember much detail, but one thing I remember was that deeper was better. Anything related to the surface/sky/sun/high was bad, and stone/deep/underground/low was good.
    Calling their king "Your Highness" was a terrible insult.
    There were some Dwarf priests who claimed that the surface world was all a bad dream, and didn't matter (similar to D&D Stone Giant belief).
    Yep, they had a low king instead of a high king.

    And on Discworld dwarves: when his hands are above your head, your teeth are level with his groin. (on fighting dirty)
    Clacks-Overhead: GNU Terry Pratchett

    "Magic can turn a frog into a prince. Science can turn a frog into a Ph.D. and you still have the frog you started with." Terry Pratchett
    "I will not yield to evil, unless she's cute."

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffWatson View Post
    Some of the Discworld books focused on Dwarfs, and included this sort of thing. I don't remember much detail, but one thing I remember was that deeper was better. Anything related to the surface/sky/sun/high was bad, and stone/deep/underground/low was good.
    Calling their king "Your Highness" was a terrible insult.
    There were some Dwarf priests who claimed that the surface world was all a bad dream, and didn't matter (similar to D&D Stone Giant belief).
    "Low" is important. So they have the low king, the low council, the low judge.
    Light is synonim of ignorance, and darkness for knowledge (because in strong light you get blinded)

    The worst insult is calling someone lawn ornament
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    Thanks so much!

    These are all great, and I have more than enough to last the entire campaign. But still, keep em coming!
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    You're not even worth your weight in slag. (= you are useless)

    He's raw iron. (= he is uncouth/uneducated, but has potential)

    ...like finding a vein in your bedroom. (= very lucky but improbable event)

    You're painting the coal black. (= doing something that has no reason/will bring no benefit)

    ...scolding the mithril for shining. (= stating something obvious but in negative way)

    ...and they also say the royal distiller ate the fruit instead. (= and I think you are lying)
    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.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    - following the kobold down the mineshaft: doing something recklessly stupid

    - good luck: insult, it implies that you're not good enough to make it on your own strength or that you don't really deserve to win, in fact any saying with luck in it is insulting in dwarven culture

    - there's only one goblin: indicating that this is a trap, there's never only one goblin

    I'm having fun with that last one actually

    - many goblins seen means that there's many goblins, few goblins seen means that there's few goblins, one goblin seen means that there's many goblins: if an enemy's strong then he'll show you he's a threat, if an enemy's weak then he'll show you he's not a threat, if an enemy seems very weak then he's actually hiding he's a threat
    Last edited by a_flemish_guy; 2021-09-11 at 06:48 PM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    Quote Originally Posted by a_flemish_guy View Post
    - many goblins seen means that there's many goblins, few goblins seen means that there's few goblins, one goblin seen means that there's many goblins: if an enemy's strong then he'll show you he's a threat, if an enemy's weak then he'll show you he's not a threat, if an enemy seems very weak then he's actually hiding he's a threat
    On that, there's also the dwarf saying: the best goblin is a dying goblin who tells you where you can find his friends.
    Clacks-Overhead: GNU Terry Pratchett

    "Magic can turn a frog into a prince. Science can turn a frog into a Ph.D. and you still have the frog you started with." Terry Pratchett
    "I will not yield to evil, unless she's cute."

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    I think a lot of fun can be had with flipping normal 'human' phrases of speech.
    "what's up?" to "what's down?"
    "Feeling down" can now be a positive thing
    "Seeing the light" could mean being blinded by irrationality
    And yes I did get these from discworld.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waterdeep Merch View Post
    Use your smite bite to fight the plight right. Fill the site with light and give fright to wights as a knight of the night, teeth white; mission forthright, evil in flight. Despite the blight within, you perform the rite, ignore any contrite slight, fangs alight, soul bright.

    That sight is dynamite.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    I don't know much about Dwarves but I do know they don't take anything for granite.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    Human beer is like making love in a canoe (Fornicating close to water)
    He has the morals of a human (referring to the fantasy human’s ability and proclivity to interbreed with every sentient race except dwarves).

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    "[they're] busy braiding braids." - wasting time, or can be used to call someone vain (braiding smaller braids together instead of doing something practical.)
    "Stepping over gold to look for platinum" - ignoring something good because you're looking for something better. Kind of a "don't count your chickens" saying.
    "Forging with a candle" - dilly-dallying
    "Loglegs" - slang for someone who goes and gets wood from the surface, also used to make fun of slow movers and lightweights
    "[like a] napping canary" - someone who cries wolf.
    Quotes from my adventuring party:
    "They're not really innards anymore. They're out-ards."
    "Your lower back burns from the death glare of a dwarf."
    "What's Thor gonna do, zap me?"
    "Is it drugs?"
    "I set my weapons on the ground." "Do you set your brain down, too?"

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    Quote Originally Posted by SleepyShadow View Post
    Instead of saying "knock on wood", they could say "tap on rock" or something like that.
    Wood is used in that idiom specifically because it does NOT last.
    Saying "knock on wood", ideally accompanied by actually doing so, is supposed to say to god/gods that the preceeding statement should not be taken as hubris. You are touching something mortal, something that will eventually rot away, to emphasize that you are mortal yourself, and not infallible.

    Which leads to the question of what Dwarves would think symbolizes their own imperfection and impermanence.

    ... and I really expected to have a good suggestion here, but I am drawing a blank.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dwarven Figures of Speech (Creative)

    Quote Originally Posted by SpyOne View Post
    Wood is used in that idiom specifically because it does NOT last.
    Saying "knock on wood", ideally accompanied by actually doing so, is supposed to say to god/gods that the preceeding statement should not be taken as hubris. You are touching something mortal, something that will eventually rot away, to emphasize that you are mortal yourself, and not infallible.

    Which leads to the question of what Dwarves would think symbolizes their own imperfection and impermanence.

    ... and I really expected to have a good suggestion here, but I am drawing a blank.
    Something to do with water, or erosion in general. Yes, stone lasts a very, very long time. But nothing is permanent.

    "Water erodes every stone."

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