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Gitwerc

These kings of the Underworld live in the deepest, darkest caves far below the surface world.

Surrounded by hot, bubbling lava and sulfur vents, their rule near the depths of Hel is undisputed. Little to nothing is known of these rare dwarves, and those that dare travel to their lands rarely return. Spoken of only in legend, the gitwerc are rumored to have dark dealings with devils, using souls as currency. Living so close to Hel, they are foul creatures one and all, turned fiendish by their infernal associations. They are both feared and hated by all of their dwarven kin, and many upperworlders are quick to immediately brand them devils. They are sneaking, scheming creatures and while nearly all of them are evil, it is well known that when they forge a pact they will uphold it (although these are rarely with anyone other than dark and powerful beings).

History

During the Forging of the Dvergr, the gitwerc shunned the gods’ meddling and traveled down to the very core of the world. Only devils lived in this hellish realm, powerful beings as old as time with malevolent intent. The avaricious dwarves negotiated with the ancient entities, arguing that playing their hand in this game with the gods would be a boon to both parties; the gitwerc would gain power and rule over the levels of the Underworld directly above Hel with undisputed authority derived by the infernal gifts exchanged in the compact. In return the gitwerc would siphon souls down to Hel for the devils enjoyment and consumption, until the end of time. Each of the absconded dwarves signed their oaths with the evil powers in blood, and all of their descendants are sworn to uphold the bargain or forfeit their own essence to the chthonic beings (often hunted down without remorse should they refrain).

These agents of Hel make good on their devilish agreement, often acting as the morticians of the settlements they’ve infiltrated (stealing away the souls of the recently departed) or ingratiating themselves with the rulers of the realm, plying their ears with insidious lies and calamitous plans. Incursions to the lands of the gitwerc are not unheard of but survivors are (though some live on as slaves, and even then, not very long).

The primal dragons chiefly disbelieved any claim that the foul dwarves proved vital to enacting their liberation; some were foolish enough to assault the infernal stout folk— none are said to have been seen ever again.

Refugees from The Great Schism briefly sought sanctuary with the gitwerc, but after the first several thousand were sacrificed on the spot in gigantic plumes of hellfire, they fled for the dangerous collapsing caverns above. Many of them developed into empires all their own and struck at the infernal dwarves in revenge— their names are lost to history as the vicious gitwerc literally scoured the Underworld of any trace of their existence in reprisal. Even the highest and mightiest of drow, most potent zwerc, and wisest funglets show a cautious respect to the blasphemous mention of the gitwerc.

They are the most terrifying race beneath the surface world and their very name inspires fear in those that know of the infernal dwarves, and their reach is so great as to be of concern to even the rulers of Upperworld.

Physical Description

Gitwerc are by and far the most bizarre dwarves in terms of appearance. Although built similarly to their cousins (stout of body and between four and five feet tall), their rough skin is always a hue of red, covered in hardened patches of flesh or jutting bits of horn.

A gitwerc’s hair is always the orange of flames, jet black, or stark white and were that not odd enough, their eyes are either pools of inky black or blood red, and lack pupils of any kind. They rarely wear the accoutrement of their homeland, but gitwerc prefer to dress themselves in the flayed skins of their tortured victims, often stylized to fit the newest cultural trend in the realms above Hel.

Society

The only thing that allows gitwerc society to function (keeping them from killing one another in their sleep) is their respect for an agreement. Before venturing into Hel to make the compact that defines their race, leaders were chosen among them—they continue to rule to this day, and their edicts are law, whether the infernal dwarves agree with it or not. Depending on where one is in the expansive realm of the Gitwerc, cultural traditions can be completely different; some ruling lines have devolved into gluttony, while others are obsessed with sensation or the fickle hand of fate. Despite these variations, one thing remains ultimately true of the gitwerc lands no matter where one might be: they are despicably evil.

Relations

To the calculating gitwerc, members of any race (especially their own) are resources to be used, whether in death or in life. They utilize their infernal charm to ingratiate themselves with anyone they deem valuable, going to every reasonable length to gain their trust and compliance. Once this bond has been forged, the foul dwarf considers them to be yet another expendable pawn for the acquisition of more power. This is all under the guise of a dweorg; any that know the gitwerc for what it truly is are often given the choice between striking a bargain or losing their life to the ruthless infernal dwarf.

Alignment and Religion

Lawful evil is the most common alignment among gitwerc, but any variation one step away (NE, CE, LN) can be found throughout the foul dwarves, but their obligation to siphon souls to Hel entraps nearly all of them to life of evil. The abominably rare occurrence of a child of good alignment has almost always been quickly (and viciously) perturbed, but the incredibly few that survive have become legends wherever they travel (it’s hard to maintain a low profile when you’re being chased by devils). They worship the darkest and most despicable deities, if they do so at all, and prefer to strike deals with the devilish powers they know to gain divine power rather than appeal to the gods they despise.

Adventurers

Gitwerc sometimes venture into the Underworld in search of new avenues of souls to fill the demands of their infernal obligations. It’s said that when an opportunity to amass an impressive number of dying spirits is imminent that the foul dwarves are sure to be nearby, even as far as Upperworld. While it is a rare thing, some gitwerc (pure or otherwise) attempt to flee the realm of their kin to escape their chthonic compact; these individuals are always on the run from or patiently awaiting the arrival of devils intent on capturing their souls.

Names

Male Names: Belial, Diavolo, Horangi, Mastema, Setan, Vrag

Female Names: Caocao, Diable, Luciefra, Shetani, Teufel, Velnias

Age

The levels of the Underworld ruled over by the gitwerc are rife with a plethora of toxic and radioactive substances in the Deepworld near Hel. Were that not dangerous enough, infernal infections and diseases can sometimes wipe out those not acclimated to the intense conditions. Their lifespans are decreased considerably from the dweorg, though those that accumulate a great deal of souls earn a longer life than their kin and some particularly malicious gitwerc are said to have lived for many centuries.

Gitwerc Traits

Your gitwerc character counts as a dwarf for purposes of race, but receives a different assortment of inborn abilities, gaining gitwerc traits instead of dwarf traits.

  • Ability Score Increases. Your Constitution score increases by 2 and your Charisma score increases by 2.
  • Age. Gitwerc mature at the same rate as humans, but they’re considered young until the age of 50. On average, they live about 350 years and can prolong their lives significantly via their dark magics.
  • Alignment. Most Gitwerc are lawful evil, believing in a well-ordered society and their own gain.
  • Size. Gitwerc stand between 4 and 5 feet tall and average about 150 pounds. Your size is Medium.
  • Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet. Your speed is not reduced by wearing armor.
  • Darkvision. Accustomed to life in the blistering regions adjacent to Hel, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 ft. of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
  • Dweorg Form. Each gitwerc can assume the appearance of a single dweorg. You decide what you look like, including your height, weight, facial features, sound of your voice, hair length, coloration, and distinguishing characteristics, if any. You can use your action to switch between your dweorg form and your true form.
  • Gitwerc Devilry. You know the fashion blood candle cantrip. Once you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Devil’s Strike spell once per day as a 2nd level spell. Once you reach 5th level, you can cast devil’s strike an additional two times per day for a total of three times per day. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
  • Hellish Resistance. You have resistance to fire damage.
  • Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, you have disadvantage on attack rolls as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
  • Toll of Souls. You must siphon as many sentient souls as you have levels to the forces of Hel before gaining your next level. Failing to do so risks breaking their racial contracts with Hel: 24 hours after gaining a new level, you risk being visited by a devil if you have not siphoned your old level in souls to Hel. (See Blood Candles below for more details.)
  • Languages. You can speak, write and read Common, Infernal and Dwarven.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Underworld Races and Classes © 2017 AAW Games LLC; Designers: Thilo Graf and Mike Myler