Long ago these mystical dwarves coped with the dangers of the Underworld by steeping themselves in the understanding of magic. While the dvergr withdrew as a people, the zwerc did so as individuals, hiding themselves as their studies of the arcane and divine progressed. The few enclaves that survived have developed into truly magical beings able to focus their supernatural energies to devastating effect. Shunned by other dwarves, the zwerc are seen as aloof intellectual superiors by both their kin and themselves. They have always been nomads in Upperworld, and are persecuted by their dwarven brethren throughout the Underworld.
After the Forging of the Dvergr, each of the different races of dwarves lived in tenuous peace deep below the surface. War would surely have erupted between the three great clans (dweorg, dvergr and zwerc) were it not for the arrival of the Great Sculpting.
Before their very eyes, the cities of each fell to draconic claws and magics as quickly as the forces they could muster to their defense. Unwilling to forge an alliance, each struck their own path through the Underworld, leaving their shattered homes behind them. The passage of the zwerc through the Underworld is by and far the strangest of all their kin. Once unified by their devotion to the study of magic, these dwarves used divination spells to guide their journey away from the tumultuous seismic effects the Great Sculpting wrought throughout the caves. After only a few months of travel they struck a strange, magically imbued vein of orange stone unlike any known to mortals. Only a limited amount of mining was required to break through it—and the hollow channels they found were perfectly sized for the zwerc to travel freely through.
Dubbed the Amber Roads, they have proven to be these enchanted stout folk’s chief defense against the myriad dangers of the Underworld. The magical byways did not, however, lead farther into the reaches of Aventyr. Instead— to the delight of the magically talented dwarves—it split off into numerous tunnels that led to limited demiplanes tethered to the Material Realm but based in the Elemental Plane of Earth.
Each clan of zwerc set off down a different channel, building settlements to rule over within their very own worlds. These enclaves focus on schools and pathways of magic, but their line of rulers are always
The zwerc are physically similar to the dweorg; standing between four and five feet tall, they are stocky, but not as powerful in form as their distant kin. Their hair—always a color between blue and black but typically a shade of turquoise—floats away from their bodies, distended by the potent magical energies each of the enchanted dwarves carries within them. Centuries of travel through the Amber Roads and habitation in demiplanes connected to the Elemental Plane of Earth has changed stonespeakers: dwarves with a mystical connection to the earth far beyond that of normal magics.
The stonespeakers, devout holy men, and high mages of the zwerc thought they came to fully understand the Amber Roads. They crafted their own quasi-magical routes out of the orange rock, connecting outposts of like-minded settlements and cities that shared areas of research. Unfortunately for the enchanted dwarves, the assumption that they understood the mystical tunnels was incorrect; over time their meddling degraded the Amber Roads substantially (and while they still don’t know it, the svirfneblin are also partly to blame). Many of the channels collapsed entirely during The Confluence for reasons still unknown to the zwerc, and only the first true veins of the magical mineral retain any dependable strength.
Traveling through the Amber Roads quickly became a dangerous and undependable endeavor, rarely taken willingly. The insular zwerc grew even more distant from one another and esoteric in their studies, though now each ruler insured that there were a minimum of magical practitioners able to perform any spells required for smoothly running their isolated enclaves.
As the decades and centuries passed, each demiplane developed unique and strange customs scarcely understood by outsiders; some only ate magically crafted foods, others came to live in cities grown out of gigantic mushrooms, and rumors persist of an entire demiplane where they eschew clothing of all kinds, instead wearing magically-lightened jewelry that (sometimes) covers their entire bodies.
the hue of their skin to brown and orange tones. Zwerc equipment, clothing and individual characteristics are widely varied, each developed in isolation from dwarven culture as a whole; some proudly wear tattoos that cover their entire bodies, others fashion armors made from mystical stone and some wield simple weapons crafted from crystals otherwise unseen.
While traditions between zwerc outposts can be extremely different (indeed, many of the social taboos most consider natural are eschewed by the nudist enclave) they all have a number of similarities. Chief amongst them is the pursuit of knowledge, specifically of the mystical variety. Foreigners are rare and depending on what sort of value they have to the zwerc—bards and oracles are particularly sought, but spellcasters of all varieties interest them—they may be treated as prized guests or with open disdain. The classes of society in the enchanted dwarven demiplanes are rigid but not restrictive; one merely has to serve a function and they are encouraged to choose their own. While the menial laborers, merchants and guards aren’t treated very well, they still receive a certain amount of respect for their place in the structure of zwerc culture. The art of their cultures are particularly interesting, and each of the settlements boasts an expertise in a discipline fitting to their focus of research.
While ostracized outside of their enclaves, zwerc still retain a stubborn curiosity that often sets them at odds with others. Their enchanted natures can be off-putting as well, but immediately command the attention of people that encounter them and sometimes engenders respect or abject fear. Still, their unwillingness to relent can often overcome the apprehensions their exotic appearance causes and once befriended, they prove to be extremely resourceful allies.
Alignment and Religion
The ingrained drive to learn make the zwerc predominantly Neutral. They worship the natural force of earth, but pay respect to all gods of knowledge. The predominance of spellcasters among the enchanted dwarves has led to temples in all of the enclaves devoted to every deity that champions information.
Zwerc that are cut-off from returning to their home demiplane via the Amber Roads are often left to find a new path through the world of Aventyr, which suits them just fine. They fastidiously catalog all of the new information they come across, compiling great tomes of their experiences, some of which make it back to the settlements from which they hail. While there are fighters and other warrior zwerc, they are uncommon—the vast majority of the enchanted dwarves become spellcasters of one type or another, or learn the ways of the stonespeaker.
Male Names: boldr, eldur, erde, magz, rok, terra
Female Names: aqua, ignis, flo, liqui, scori, zrak
Zwerc traditionally name their children after elemental lords. Their names are never capitalized — scholars of dwarven lore believe the regression (though some call it evolution) from traditional dwarven society has given rise to a new way of dwarven thinking. The zwerc capitalize Us and We to show their admiration for solidarity and community, leaving the first person pronoun “i” (as well as first names) lowercase to denote a lesser importance as an individual apart from the rest of the clan or family.
The vast majority of zwerc enclaves require their citizens to travel the world at some point to research new ways of manipulating magic or esoteric arcane mysteries.
They leave their wondrous pocket dimensions to travel across distant and breathtaking vistas, ancient ruins, and locations of great magic. Their reverence and deep connection with nature, lives steeped with mysticism, and exposure to clean air and water increase the lifespan of the zwerc considerably.
- Ability Score Increases. Your Constitution and Charisma scores increases by 1 and your Intelligence score increases by 2.
- Age. Zwerc mature at the same rate as humans, but they’re considered young until the age of 50. On average, they live about 300 years, though some prolong their lives far beyond that via a mixture of their innate magical powers and adherence to strange, ascetic techniques.
- Alignment. Most Zwerc are Neutral, believing in knowledge for knowledge’s sake, no matter how it is acquired.
- Size. Zwerc 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 reaches of the underworld, 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 a color of your own choosing—some zwerc see the world in shades of green, some in red or turquoise when using their darkvision.
- Zwerc Magic. You know the resistance cantrip (self only). When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the dispel magic spell once per day. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
- Wrath of the Earth (Recharges after a Short or Long Rest). You may use your reaction to being hit to point to a floor of rock, sand, or earth within 120 feet. You cause the ground to shake in a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on the designated point. Any non-zwerc creatures of size Large or smaller in the designated area must make a Strength saving throw with a DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence or Constitution modifier (your choice). On a failed save, you knock the target prone. Starting at 3rd level, you may use this ability an additional time before resting and at 5th level, you may use it a third time before resting.
- Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, you have disadvantage on attack rolls as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
- Languages. You can speak, write and read Common, Primordial and Dwarven.
Underworld Races and Classes © 2017 AAW Games LLC; Designers: Thilo Graf and Mike Myler