Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Discussion: The Topic To End All Topics

Time for another installment of Friday Discussion at RPG Blog 2! This week’s topic is one that has ruined friendships, destroyed gaming groups, and caused flame wars visible from outer space.

This Friday’s Topic is (and may heaven forgive me):

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Do female dwarves have beards?

You have been warned. Answer, below, if you dare. Points for showing your reasoning.

34 comments:

Alex Schroeder said...

Yes! Faint, soft, short beards. It's just cooler that way.

Zzarchov said...

Female Dwarves?

Don't Dwarves just carve a son out of the earth?

If I'm going a more traditional fantasy though, no, female dwarves do not have beards.

Gleichman said...

No they don't.

And this isn't the topic to end all topics. That's balrogs having wings.

Zachary The First said...

@Gleichman: SPEAK NOT OF THE FORBIDDEN!

Dane of War said...

Absolutely not. My culture "created" the original dwarves (Dvergar) - and the females were never depicted with beards.

Just because Tolkien put it on paper, as did (later) Pratchett and others, doesn't make it so. ;)

And Zach - just for my 2 cents - the balrogs did have wings. ;)

Tim Shorts said...

Hmm, haven't ever thought about it. I guess for my own visual comfort I will say they do not. Just because.

Tim Brannan said...

Well I can only answer what is true in my games.

Yes Dwarf women do have beards. But there are the rare occasions where a dwarf woman doesn't grow one. This poor soul usually has to resort to life of adventuring since the other dwarves look down on her and pity her.

There are a couple of ways a dwarf woman is born with out the ability to grow a beard. It is either means she is a Xothia, or dwarven witch, or her family spent too much time with elves in the past and some of that "elfness" rubbed off on them.

clash bowley said...

Dwarven women do not have beards. Actually, Dwarves do not have women. Some of the dwarven men just happen to prefer a more feminine role. Dwarves are acually - as Zzarchov mantioned - chiseled out of rock, so they don't need women. They are manly men! Men who prefer men!

-clash

Jeff Rients said...

I consider the matter undecided until I have a female player who desires to play a female dwarf.

Also D&D balrogs have wings, Middle Earth balrogs do not.

Age of Fable said...

Dwarves are squooshed Vikings who talk with Scottish accents.

Neither Viking nor Scottish women have beards.

Therefore, dwarf women don't have beards.

Amanda said...

I'm pretty sure dwarves carve their children lovingly out of precious stone, crusting them with fine jewels and metals of worth.

Chgowiz said...

I can't resist this one. Forgive me as I lower the bar on this conversation.

Yes, they have beards. Just not on their chins.

Happy Friday!

Zachary The First said...

Chgowiz: Hey! Now it’s a party! If I knew this is what was needed to lure you back, my friend, I’d have posted it much, much sooner.

Hmmm…a lot of “hewn out of rock” responses. Interesting!

sirlarkins said...

Ultimately I'm inclined to agree with Jeff, but for myself I've always figured female dwarves have beards. Roger Raupp did a nice illo of a bearded lady dwarf in an old issue of Dragon magazine. For me, a race with bearded females emphasizes their alien, non-human nature and makes them something other than diminutive Vikings/Scotsmen.

Then again, I've never thought of dwarven females as "eye candy," so it's not like giving them beards "spoils the fantasy" for me or something.

sirlarkins said...

Chgowiz: See, now you've got me thinking, "Say, if dwarven males are known for braiding their beards, then the same probably applies for female 'beards'..." and then I have to go bleach my brain.

Chgowiz said...

SirLarkins: then I have to go bleach my brain.

My work here is done. (What do they do with the braids after? Hmm?)

Dan of Earth said...

Well, Gary believed they had beards...in fact we had this discussion at Winters Dark II. He took great enjoyment out of the topic!

Anonymous said...

No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Gleichman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gleichman said...

As for dwarves in Middle Earth... I don't recall a reference other than a statement by Gimli about dwarf woman having breads. And I've always taken that example as the dwarf pulling the leg of men and laughing all along the way.

And Balrogs in Middle Earth have wings. :)

Greyaxe said...

Balrog’s are flightless but have wings as a reminder they are bound to Arda and can not reach the heavens, where the reminder of the Vala dwell. Dwarves are asexual. They grow up androgynous have a child (one) and then mature into Real Dwarves where they remain until death. This is the reason they are dwindling as they lack the ability to reproduce in greater numbers, so for each unsuccessful member of the species at reproduction the species diminishes. ( I have never actually used this idea I am just starting a Riot) I think that is a cool way of detailing why dwarves diminish despite their inherent survivability and are easily bound to material good because as they are not children of Eru they do not know love or have a future in Eru’s thought.

Stuart said...

If I were going to have a female dwarfs in a game they would have long braided hair and be short and lithe rather than short and stocky. Rather than be a manly miner or blacksmith they'd be experts at brewing potions and making things from cloth and leather.

Basically,Dwarven men are hyper-masculine caricatures, so Dwarven women would likewise be all the feminine stereotypes with a fairy tale / folklore exaggeration.

Greyaxe said...

I use that one as well. Only female Dwarves are healers, give them a niche.

Gleichman said...

I sort of like Greyaxe's version of dwarves, but can't use it as JRRT was rather clear that they were female dwarves (who made up a third of the population).

Except for the part about Eru not caring. They were gift to Aule for being faithful, so I doubt he would be disinterested.

Thing is, I have no idea where they came from. Aule only made the Seven Fathers with not note of Seven Mothers unless my memory fails...

I also like Stuart's take because it would be cool.

Dave said...

Good heavens, no. No beards. They're female, right?? Anyway, not even all male dwarves have beards, for heaven's sake (see Snow White; see the dwarf in the Gnomes book by Poortvliet and Huygen; see any number of Rackham illustrations). Life doesn't begin and end with EGG and JRRT...

And as far as the subtopic: there *are* no balrogs except Middle-Earth balrogs, and they do not have wings. You must all be thinking of something else with a similar name... ; )

Stuart said...

@Greyaxe: Yes - healing potions and all sorts of delicious things from the kitchen. :)

Fersboo said...

I've seen human females with beards, on thier chin, so I can believe that dwarven females have beards.

Gleichman said...

Poor fool, of course life begins and ends with JRRT.

All that changes is which Age it is...

seaofstarsrpg said...

My dwarves, usually not. But if a player wants a female dwarf with a beard, more power to 'em.

1d30 said...

I've seen human women with facial hair. No reason why there should be no dwarven women with facial hair.

That said, Tolkien's male dwarves were shown as having long beards. The company of dwarves in the Hobbit were all young dwarves, but a young dwarf could have been growing his beard for decades. They definitely have cultural reasons to keep a long beard.

So there's no biological reason why a dwarf would have a longer beard than a human, he just has cultural reasons for growing it long and has more than enough time to do it. If he had a cultural reason AND biologically superior beard growth, his beard would be incredible, at least dragging the ground, or perhaps wrapped around his body multiple times or woven in complex patterns that take up the length.

So assuming male dwarves have long beards as a cultural feature, but are biologically just as disposed to beard growth as humans given the same amount of growth time, and have more growth time than a human, we can see that there is no especial reason for a female dwarf to have a longer beard than a human female of advanced age who has always refused to pluck or shave.

So to answer our question, we need to find a real-world human culture where women prefer to keep all the facial hair they grow. A human woman who has grown her facial hair for 50 years is analagous to a dwarf female who has grown it for 50 years. But the dwarf female would be still of adventuring age, while the human female would be more sedentary.

Of course, this leaves open the question of whether Elves have hair anywhere but upon their heads.

Ryan said...

Hmm...I just realized that no female dwarves have ever been encountered in my campaign world...

Anonymous said...

Ryan- Maybe there have been and you haven't known it because they all have beards.

Capheind said...

I always liked Pratchett's dwarfs where, until their feminist movement, males and females were indistinguishable until it was time to mate. Dwarfs who live very long lives of labor and passion for their work and just plain don't care about being a man or a woman until its time for them to setup a household and a legacy.

Although a thought does occur, based on assorted mythologies, that "demi-humans" and certain humanoids constitute a class of Pre-humans who always breed true to type, so elves can all be women, dwarfs can all be men, and when they breed with each other, or any other pre-human their offspring is always the same race as their same-gender parent, whereas the offspring of Pre-humans and humans could always be whatever the father is. So a Dwarf may have to leave his mountain home and go a-courting among the sissy-races to go find himself a mate and keep the race going... which would explain a dwindling ever-less-significant dwarf presence as a sort of dour bigotry means fewer and fewer want to bother. This would all assume a world where mankind was the latest and greatest creation of the gods, and the demi-humans were kept around by lesser gods, or the whims of a mono-theistic one.

Anonymous said...

Of course the womanfolk have beards.

Unfortunately, due to close contact and contamination by human "culture", some have begun consciously adapting the social traditions of the lesser races - and this includes shaving their faces.

It is a shame to see such little respect for traditions of our ancestors in the younger generations, but what can we do...

Atano

"no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
and female alike..." JRRT

Then again - unless you also have immortal elves there is no reason to care what JRRT thought.

Carl