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Cards77
Senior Scribe

USA
569 Posts

Posted - 20 May 2018 :  14:51:01  Show Profile Send Cards77 a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
I've been thinking alot about dwarf holds. I've read both Races of Stone and Dwarves Deep.

Little if anything is said about dwarven food and drink. Nothing is said about how they grow, make, procure or otherwise have access to any food or water.

I will use Mithral Hall for an example (1350s-1370s).

1. No mention is made of any sort of mushroom fields, rothe, or any kind of system to grow food.

2. Neither the door in Keeper's Dale, nor the exit door on the eastern side can accommodate wagons/beasts of burden, nor can the tunnels leading to/from the doors.

This would seem to preclude the idea of extensive outside trade to obtain foodstuffs and drinks.

3. No accounts or evidence of Underdark food-related trade is given. Food and water both are considered extremely scarce in all levels of the Underdark.

Additionally, any nearby underdark races are known to be hostile toward dwarves (duergar, drow, monster races).

4. No accounts of farming arable land are given (as opposed to say mountain dwarves in Dragonlance.).


How have you dealt with this in your game?

LordofBones
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706 Posts

Posted - 20 May 2018 :  15:32:58  Show Profile Send LordofBones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You mean dwarves don't eat rocks or distill rocks into alcohol?

How peculiar.
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dazzlerdal
Great Reader

United Kingdom
3935 Posts

Posted - 20 May 2018 :  15:39:44  Show Profile Send dazzlerdal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Mithril Hall, along with the other dwarven citadel on the savage frontier was built during the time of delzoun when dwarves lived in the surface and farmed normal food.

I'm betting the citadel were only there for last ditch defence and so most dwarves would live outside the fortress.

Now that the dwarves have been ousted from the surface they are forced to delve underground to survive. I'm guessing there are fungus farms in the caverns beneath the dwarven fortress. If there is an underground river then they can fish. There are always insects to eat and any other underground lizards and other small animals you can find.

I only ever designed a dwarven city once and I had it situated atop an undergounrd river which fed fungus. Anything that died was tipped onto the fungus farm, any humanoid waste was tipped onto the fungus farm.
Dwarven populations are small and the food limitations may be a major factor in that.

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Clutches at Greatness
Seeker

Germany
25 Posts

Posted - 20 May 2018 :  15:40:51  Show Profile Send Clutches at Greatness a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I still have to read Races of Stone and Dwarves Deep. If I need a Dwarven Fortress in my game, I developed the tendency to just go to youtube and type "Dwarf Fortress", and skip through the videos until I find a build and a stage I like and copy the map in question with the good old pencil and paper RL app. I so far used games from quill18, arumba and some other guy, who's name I forgot, but somethin with silver...
The advantage is, that all this fortresses come with a quite solid microeconomy. Main food source are usually plump helmets, an edible mushroom types. The disadvantage is off course, that they are not 100% aligned with D&D canon, and sometimes they can be build purposefully weird.
One clear distinction from canon is the Dwarf Fortress dwarves tendency to develop fits of madness, when they start hording random resources to withdraw into closure and produce masterpiece items. I totally adopted that into my games, although only for dwarf NPCs that spend their lives inside their fortresses.
Another distinction from canon is vampirism. Especially the tendency of many gamers to try to keep the vampires alive and recruit them into the city guard is quite atypical, and I either avoid fortresses where that already happened, go back to before it happened or just ignore the vampires when adopting the map.

A possible explanation for dwarves not caring for agriculture could be, that they simply create enough industrial surplus with their mines and forges to trade for food and supply from human settlements. Which admittedly has the lore disadvantage, that that would make them totally dependent from their human neighbors.

I'll be right back, after I caught that piece of string
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Cards77
Senior Scribe

USA
569 Posts

Posted - 20 May 2018 :  15:45:14  Show Profile Send Cards77 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Clutches at Greatness

I still have to read Races of Stone and Dwarves Deep. If I need a Dwarven Fortress in my game, I developed the tendency to just go to youtube and type "Dwarf Fortress", and skip through the videos until I find a build and a stage I like and copy the map in question with the good old pencil and paper RL app. I so far used games from quill18, arumba and some other guy, who's name I forgot, but somethin with silver...
The advantage is, that all this fortresses come with a quite solid microeconomy. Main food source are usually plump helmets, an edible mushroom types. The disadvantage is off course, that they are not 100% aligned with D&D canon, and sometimes they can be build purposefully weird.
One clear distinction from canon is the Dwarf Fortress dwarves tendency to develop fits of madness, when they start hording random resources to withdraw into closure and produce masterpiece items. I totally adopted that into my games, although only for dwarf NPCs that spend their lives inside their fortresses.
Another distinction from canon is vampirism. Especially the tendency of many gamers to try to keep the vampires alive and recruit them into the city guard is quite atypical, and I either avoid fortresses where that already happened, go back to before it happened or just ignore the vampires when adopting the map.

A possible explanation for dwarves not caring for agriculture could be, that they simply create enough industrial surplus with their mines and forges to trade for food and supply from human settlements. Which admittedly has the lore disadvantage, that that would make them totally dependent from their human neighbors.




Trade is plausible, however the lack of any entrances or areas for trade purposes, lack of wagons, beasts of burden or anything required for wholesale trade of foodstuff seems to preclude this really being viable in canon.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
31146 Posts

Posted - 20 May 2018 :  15:54:57  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Cards77

I've been thinking alot about dwarf holds. I've read both Races of Stone and Dwarves Deep.

Little if anything is said about dwarven food and drink. Nothing is said about how they grow, make, procure or otherwise have access to any food or water.




That stuff doesn't make it into gaming material because it's simply not sexy enough. Gamers want dungeons to explore, gold and magical loot -- anything that isn't those things often gets ignored.

Me, I would assume that dwarves do farm mushrooms and rothé, and have surface farms as well. It just makes sense.

Ditto for means of conducting commerce. If not thru the front door, then a well-secured tunnel leading a long way off to a secluded surface location.

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Hoondatha
Great Reader

USA
2415 Posts

Posted - 20 May 2018 :  16:49:07  Show Profile  Visit Hoondatha's Homepage Send Hoondatha a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ed actually answered a bunch of questions about dwarves and elves and their food back in 2005. Here's his response.

* * *

May 28, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. Ed tackles dwarves and their feeding for Phoebus, this time:

Hi, again, Phoebus. Okay, dwarves... Dwarves (and gnomes, too) are great fisherfolk, of the 'weir and trap' method more than the hook-and-line or spear technique. They're also great hunters (of the 'herd prey over a killing cliff-fall, and then make a stew, carrying off marrow bones for use as trail food' sort), AND also great ranchers and farmers.

Ranchers and farmers? Yes, ranching rothé, wild boar, and other beasts with edible flesh and usable hides, that can be introduced into confined ravines and steep-sided, 'prison' mountain valleys. Like farmers, allow the growing herds to graze a valley bare, harvesting individual beasts as needed for food. At season end, keep just a few to regenerate the herd and move them to a second valley (or into mountain caverns for warmth and survival, if need be), and harvest the rest, leaving the first valley to regenerate edible plants.

Yes, farming edible cave and subterranean fungi. THIS is the 'neglected secret' of many dwarf and gnome diets: the near-surface Underdark in particular, but all depths of it to some extent, are home to a great variety of fast-growing fungi that can be sliced thin and fried, stewed, boiled to yield glues and teas and gravies, and that give dwarves (again, like elves, possessing metabolisms and chemical internal needs slightly different than those of humans, though they 'work the same way') all the nourishment they need, and a wide variety of tastes and textures [mushroom bread, anyone?].

This food source is self-regenerating unless fire is carefully and persistently used for eradication; think of real-life mildew that keeps coming back in the same spots. Many southern and eastern gold dwarf tribes do breed, control, and harvest herds of grazing animals, and many cave-dwelling dwarves dine on bats, spiders, and various worms as delicacies.

So except in the hearts of frozen glaciers, food's never as scarce as one might think. Dwarves are fierce, daring, and competent hunters (and train their young continuously to replace their elders as such), but they are also patient and persistent gatherers and foragers, who'll happily eat things many humans wouldn't consider food, or would shudder and turn away from as 'emergency edibles only' (maggots, leeches, eels, gnawing worms).

However, you're quite right: with so much trade-metal and gems to barter with, "most food the Dwarves get comes from trading (selling metalworks, weapons, armor, jewelry, etc., for foodstuffs, linen, etc)." Just like the elves, they enjoy the variety and the freedom (in terms of time not lost to foraging activities) buying food wins them. (Dwarves and gnomes distill potent vintages from Underdark materials such as molds, as well as enjoying human- or halfling-crafted beer and strong drink.)

It should be noted here that dwarves and gnomes have very strong digestive systems and tolerances for 'slightly off' tainted food and for strong or foul-tasting or highly-spiced food and drink. They also have the capacity to gorge themselves (become sluggish but not nauseated) incredibly when food is available (so that a dwarf who has six oxen to eat, raw or cooked, plus the expectation that food will later be very scarce, could settle down and stolidly and patiently eat most of those six beasts by himself, before lurching waddling on about his business.

Most dwarves and gnomes smoke fish and meat into dried, hard-to-human-jaws forms for trail use, and season such 'hardscraw' to taste, taking pride in getting 'strong-but-just-right' flavours in their scraw.

So saith Ed, who'll tackle the last Phoebus question (aging and growing up) on the morrow. love to all, THO

Doggedly converting 3e back to what D&D should be...
Sigh... And now 4e as well.
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Farrel
Learned Scribe

United Kingdom
238 Posts

Posted - 20 May 2018 :  16:49:15  Show Profile Send Farrel a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Volo's Guide to the Dalelands holds a couple of notes in regards to foodstuffs (page 192) as the Dwarves of Glen have taken to using greenhouses aboveground.

It also details that they import "large, luxurious 'shrooms of the Underdark" via the Long Road. They trade their own "home grown" produce for them from many other deeper communities.
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Cards77
Senior Scribe

USA
569 Posts

Posted - 20 May 2018 :  21:06:47  Show Profile Send Cards77 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hoondatha

Ed actually answered a bunch of questions about dwarves and elves and their food back in 2005. Here's his response.

* * *

May 28, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. Ed tackles dwarves and their feeding for Phoebus, this time:

Hi, again, Phoebus. Okay, dwarves... Dwarves (and gnomes, too) are great fisherfolk, of the 'weir and trap' method more than the hook-and-line or spear technique. They're also great hunters (of the 'herd prey over a killing cliff-fall, and then make a stew, carrying off marrow bones for use as trail food' sort), AND also great ranchers and farmers.

Ranchers and farmers? Yes, ranching rothé, wild boar, and other beasts with edible flesh and usable hides, that can be introduced into confined ravines and steep-sided, 'prison' mountain valleys. Like farmers, allow the growing herds to graze a valley bare, harvesting individual beasts as needed for food. At season end, keep just a few to regenerate the herd and move them to a second valley (or into mountain caverns for warmth and survival, if need be), and harvest the rest, leaving the first valley to regenerate edible plants.

Yes, farming edible cave and subterranean fungi. THIS is the 'neglected secret' of many dwarf and gnome diets: the near-surface Underdark in particular, but all depths of it to some extent, are home to a great variety of fast-growing fungi that can be sliced thin and fried, stewed, boiled to yield glues and teas and gravies, and that give dwarves (again, like elves, possessing metabolisms and chemical internal needs slightly different than those of humans, though they 'work the same way') all the nourishment they need, and a wide variety of tastes and textures [mushroom bread, anyone?].

This food source is self-regenerating unless fire is carefully and persistently used for eradication; think of real-life mildew that keeps coming back in the same spots. Many southern and eastern gold dwarf tribes do breed, control, and harvest herds of grazing animals, and many cave-dwelling dwarves dine on bats, spiders, and various worms as delicacies.

So except in the hearts of frozen glaciers, food's never as scarce as one might think. Dwarves are fierce, daring, and competent hunters (and train their young continuously to replace their elders as such), but they are also patient and persistent gatherers and foragers, who'll happily eat things many humans wouldn't consider food, or would shudder and turn away from as 'emergency edibles only' (maggots, leeches, eels, gnawing worms).

However, you're quite right: with so much trade-metal and gems to barter with, "most food the Dwarves get comes from trading (selling metalworks, weapons, armor, jewelry, etc., for foodstuffs, linen, etc)." Just like the elves, they enjoy the variety and the freedom (in terms of time not lost to foraging activities) buying food wins them. (Dwarves and gnomes distill potent vintages from Underdark materials such as molds, as well as enjoying human- or halfling-crafted beer and strong drink.)

It should be noted here that dwarves and gnomes have very strong digestive systems and tolerances for 'slightly off' tainted food and for strong or foul-tasting or highly-spiced food and drink. They also have the capacity to gorge themselves (become sluggish but not nauseated) incredibly when food is available (so that a dwarf who has six oxen to eat, raw or cooked, plus the expectation that food will later be very scarce, could settle down and stolidly and patiently eat most of those six beasts by himself, before lurching waddling on about his business.

Most dwarves and gnomes smoke fish and meat into dried, hard-to-human-jaws forms for trail use, and season such 'hardscraw' to taste, taking pride in getting 'strong-but-just-right' flavours in their scraw.

So saith Ed, who'll tackle the last Phoebus question (aging and growing up) on the morrow. love to all, THO




Thanks for digging that up! Very helpful. Some logical holes but nevertheless pretty interesting.

There really isn't any arable say in the Frost Hills or really hardly anywhere in the Spine of the World.

There are very few if any accounts in the canon of shield dwarves hunting anything....except maybe dragons

Races of Stone mentions "roast mole", but no mention of how such is obtained.

neither are shield dwarves considered herdsman or shepards. Lack of a arable land in the high mountains would make it marginal grazing at best. Likely to support only a few animals.

"above tree line" is the term that comes to mind. Not only is there a lack of vegetation, the growing season and thus the grazing season would be extremely short.

These ares are only without snow for perhaps 4 months at the most. With at least 1 of those months passing until sufficient vegetation would begin to appear.

I guess a more extensive underground trade with Silverymoon would be the only explanation.
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Hoondatha
Great Reader

USA
2415 Posts

Posted - 20 May 2018 :  21:25:01  Show Profile  Visit Hoondatha's Homepage Send Hoondatha a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Cards, that's from Ed. It is, by definition, canon. And Ed can get into more details here on the unsexy, how-people-live stuff here at the Keep than any of the authors can in published works. So yes, trade plays a part, but not as big a part as local dwarven production. After all, many dwarf holds are Hidden, and purposefully try to stay isolated from the outside world.

Doggedly converting 3e back to what D&D should be...
Sigh... And now 4e as well.
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Lord Karsus
Great Reader

USA
3158 Posts

Posted - 20 May 2018 :  22:53:55  Show Profile  Send Lord Karsus an AOL message Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
-When Bruenor reclaimed Mithral Hall, the FRCG (4e) says that he replaced the main door with two "huge" granite doors and that the entry hall was a "wide, high roofed room". Those are all very subjective, but huge, wide, and high can all compensate carts and wagons if you want them to.

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TomCosta
Forgotten Realms Designer

USA
550 Posts

Posted - 21 May 2018 :  00:40:42  Show Profile Send TomCosta a Private Message  Reply with Quote
EG Presents Elminister's FR p 91 has 5 paragraphs on dwarven cuisine -- roasts, tons of salt, ale, orc blood, rothe, der, root veggies, worms. Of course, the berserkers drink gutbuster.
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moonbeast
Senior Scribe

USA
426 Posts

Posted - 22 May 2018 :  09:01:40  Show Profile Send moonbeast a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In the D&D online game Neverwinter (which is somewhat canon material?) — there is the existence of the Gauntlgrym Brewery in Gauntlgrym, an underground dwarven city similar to Mithral Hall. Underground water sources, of course, would be required for something like this.

D&D artist Chris Dien has the illustration on his Artstation site:

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/RnZLD



Edited by - moonbeast on 22 May 2018 09:02:33
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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
6607 Posts

Posted - 22 May 2018 :  12:43:00  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
FR11: Dwarves Deep has some snippets:
"Almost all Gold Dwarves are rich beyond the wildest dreams of most humans, but one can't eat gold. Gold Dwarves of the Deeps have grown accustomed to many foods that cannot be grown below the surface (especially fruit), and spend money constantly on such produce."
"Cloakers and aboleth lurk on the fringes of the Deeps, scheming to control key rivers, lakes, and mines. Intelligent fungi are plentiful, and this ready source of food has made the Deeps sought by many."
"Dwarves are usually pessimists ... As such they always prepare for the worst, preparing back-up weapons, food caches, escape routes, and 'booby traps' for potential enemies."

I imagine that every dwarven clan or stronghold maintains storehouses and caches filled with more than enough food to survive through every practical (and imaginable) calamity. Probably enough foodstuff to last through years or decades of hard siege.

I've seen many references to adventurers half-jokingly describing dwarven rations as being made of stone, heavy and dense, impossible to chew, tasting like gravel, and lasting forever - though I'm not sure if these are proper Realmslore, and they're probably (slightly) exaggerated descriptors in any event. Still, it suggests that dwarves can stock up on food in times of abundance and survive on it somewhat indefinitely when times are leaner. Dwarven endurance and constitution are legendary, they can survive long periods of deprivation or harsh conditions which would kill weaker (and more reasonable) species ... if needed, dwarves can even survive by eating things other races would probably find toxic or indigestible and certainly find unappealing and inedible or disgustingly repulsive, they'll chew leather, they'll fill their bellies with dirt and worms and refuse, if there's any way to survive then dwarves will survive. To be sure, every dwarf worth his beard will happily complain about such grim hardships, but he will also stubbornly refuse to die so long as he can lift a hammer or hold an axe. Dwarven tenacity is instinctive and, just as importantly, it's proven quite successful.

Dwarven priests can create food and water at low levels. Not enough to feed a large clan, but enough to keep clan warriors/champions in fighting shape or to keep precious dwarven children alive, perhaps enough to prevent a small clan from dying of starvation. Dwarves tend to be proactive anyhow, they generally aren't inclined to wait around until they die of starvation, they'd rather head out to confront the problem or at least die fighting, one less mouth to feed (along with a dozen dead orcs) means their clan has that much of a better chance at survival. Dwarven culture is strongly inclined to encourage (and venerate) the sacrifice of the individual towards the prosperity of the group.

There is apparently a rich ecosystem beneath the surface Realms. Many other intelligent races (including drow) live in the Underdark with little need to eat each other. There are fungi and mosses and lichens, all kinds of plants which don't require sunlight (or which might grow near natural and artificial sources of magical light/energy), all sorts of animals (livestock like rothé, bats, fish, small or giant insects and spiders, monsters, and vermin). There are caverns with their own lush natural or magical ecosystems. And, of course, whatever foodstuffs can be obtained from the surface (through raiding/marauding, purchase/trade, or theft), the Underdark is not completely isolated and has many connections to the surface world.

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 22 May 2018 13:06:27
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