Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons 5e

Dwarf Race Guide [D&D 5e]

Last Updated on October 23, 2023

In the world of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, the Dwarf race is often misunderstood and underrated. These stout, resilient beings have a rich history, steeped in mythology and fantasy lore. They are more than just caricatures of Scottish stereotypes; they are a force to be reckoned with. In this in-depth guide, we will explore the intricacies of playing a Dwarf in D&D 5e, uncovering their strengths, weaknesses, subraces, and the best classes for each. So, grab your battleaxe, and let’s dive deep into the world of Dwarves.

Dwarf Race Guide [D&D 5e]
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Dwarf Traits

Dwarves come with a unique set of traits that make them formidable adventurers:

  • Ability Score Increase (ASI): Dwarves receive a +2 bonus to Constitution (CON). While they may not be the most agile, their hardiness allows them to endure and survive longer in battles. This attribute makes them ideal tanks and front-line fighters.
  • Age: Dwarves mature at around 50 years and can live up to an impressive age of 350 years, making them a long-lasting addition to your campaign.
  • Alignment: Dwarves typically lean towards lawful societies and tend to be of good alignment. They are known for their strong moral compass and sense of duty.
  • Size: Dwarves stand between 4 and 5 feet tall, with an average weight of 150 pounds, categorizing them as Medium creatures.
  • Speed: Dwarves have a base speed of 25 feet, which is not reduced when wearing heavy armor. This is perfect for those who prefer to engage in close combat.
  • Darkvision: Dwarves possess darkvision up to 60 feet in dim light conditions, allowing them to see as if it were daylight. In total darkness, they see in shades of gray, and they don’t discern color.
  • Dwarven Resilience: Dwarves have an advantage on saving throws against being poisoned, and they also have resistance to poison damage. This makes them exceptionally tough against various toxic threats.
  • Dwarven Combat Training: Dwarves gain proficiency in common weapons like battleaxes, handaxes, light hammers, and warhammers, making them skilled warriors and perfect for melee combat.
  • Tool Proficiency: Dwarves can choose proficiency in one of the artisan tools, such as Smith’s, Brewer’s, or Mason’s tools. This choice reflects their character’s past profession or a personal hobby.
  • Stonecunning: If Dwarves don’t already have proficiency in History, they gain it when it comes to stone-related matters. This is highly beneficial when dealing with stories and quests centered around stonework.
  • Languages: Dwarves can communicate in Common and Dwarvish.

Dwarf Subraces

Dwarf subraces further diversify the strengths and abilities of this race. Let’s take a closer look at these subraces:

Hill (PHB)

  • Ability Score Increase (ASI): Hill Dwarves receive a +1 bonus to Wisdom (WIS).
  • Dwarven Toughness: This trait grants an additional hit point every level, which may seem minor at lower levels but can be a game-changer in the long run.

Mountain (PHB)

  • Ability Score Increase (ASI): Mountain Dwarves get a substantial +2 bonus to Strength (STR).
  • Dwarven Armor Training: Mountain Dwarves gain proficiency in light and medium armor, making them a versatile choice for those who prefer martial classes.

Duergar (Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide)

  • Ability Score Increase (ASI): Duergar receive a +1 bonus to Strength (STR).
  • Superior Darkvision: Duergars have darkvision extending up to 120 feet, making them ideal for uncovering hidden threats in the dark.
  • Extra Language: They learn Undercommon, a useful language in the right situations.
  • Duergar Resilience: Duergars have advantage on saving throws against being charmed or paralyzed, which can be a game-changer in maintaining control of your character.
  • Duergar Magic: Duergars get a set of useful spells, such as Enlarge/Reduce and Invisibility. However, these spells are cast using Intelligence as the spellcasting ability, which might not align with every character concept.

Mark of Warding

  • Ability Score Increase (ASI): Mark of Warding Dwarves receive a +1 bonus to Intelligence (INT).
  • Warder’s Intuition: This trait provides an extra d4 to Investigation checks and proficiency with thieves’ tools, adding versatility to your character.
  • Wards and Seals: Mark of Warding Dwarves have access to spells like Alarm and Mage Armor, offering utility and protection.
  • Spells of the Mark: These spells are situational but can prove handy when the right moment arises.

Best Classes and Archetypes for Dwarves

Choosing the right class and archetype for your Dwarf character is crucial to ensure they shine in your campaign. Here’s a breakdown of the best options:


  • For Dwarves leaning into Intelligence, the Mark of Warding is an excellent choice. High Constitution enhances your durability, crucial for front-line Artificers.
  • Subclasses that benefit from high Intelligence include:
    • Alchemist, who thrives on Intelligence for their abilities.
    • Artillerist, where Intelligence helps with positioning and enhancing survivability.
    • Battle Smith, which requires high Intelligence to maximize its potential.


  • Dwarves make fantastic Barbarians. Their high Constitution and natural resilience are perfect for front-line fighters.
  • Subclass recommendations for Dwarves include:
    • Ancestral Guardian, which benefits from Wisdom and makes Dwarves excellent team players.
    • Battlerager, specifically designed for Dwarves, though it may lack damage output.
    • Bear Totem Warrior, providing unmatched durability and damage mitigation.
    • Juggernaut, a perfect fit for Dwarves who excel at breaking things.


  • While Charisma is crucial for Bards, Dwarves can still make it work, especially with a Hill Dwarf’s Wisdom bonus.
  • Subclass recommendations for Dwarves:
    • Valor or Swords Bards, who can adapt their playstyle to lean on Strength instead of Dexterity.
    • Mark of Warding Dwarves can take advantage of their Intelligence bonus for Wizards.

Blood Hunter

  • Dwarves make strong Blood Hunters, benefiting from their high Constitution.
  • Subclass recommendations:
    • Ghostslayer, which excels at fighting undead and benefits from high Constitution.
    • Lycan, offering versatility based on high Strength or Dexterity.


  • Dwarves are natural clerics, with Hill Dwarves being the most common choice due to their Wisdom bonus.
  • Subclass recommendations for Dwarves include:
    • Forge, a perfect thematic fit, regardless of subrace.
    • Life, offering classic clerical abilities and enhanced survivability due to Dwarven Toughness.
    • Tempest, a solid choice for those who enjoy dealing damage and controlling the battlefield.


  • While Wisdom is crucial for Druids, Dwarves can work well, particularly as Circle of the Land Druids.
  • Subclass recommendations for Dwarves:
    • Circle of the Land, providing additional spells to enhance your versatility.


  • Dwarves are exceptional Fighters due to their high Constitution and proficiency in armor.
  • Subclass recommendations for Dwarves include:
    • Champion, a simple and straightforward choice that benefits from high Constitution.
    • Battle Master, offering tactical depth and synergy with the high Wisdom of Hill Dwarves.
    • Mark of Warding Dwarves make solid Arcane Archers.
    • Eldritch Knight, allowing Dwarves to benefit from their Mark of Warding Intelligence bonus.
    • Rune Knight, an ideal choice for Dwarves who want to further explore their racial magic.


  • Dwarves aren’t the most optimal choice for Monks due to their lack of Dexterity, but it’s still viable.
  • Subclass recommendations for Dwarves:
    • Open Hand Monks, focusing on crowd control and battlefield manipulation.


  • While Charisma is essential for Paladins, Dwarves can make it work, especially if they opt for the Oath of the Crown, Oath of Redemption, or Oath of the Ancients.
  • Subclass recommendations for Dwarves:
    • Oath of the Crown, which can work well with the Dwarven sense of duty.
    • Oath of Redemption, focusing on defense and utility.
    • Oath of the Ancients, combining offense and defense.


  • Rangers can be a solid choice for Dwarves due to their hardiness and outdoor skills.
  • Subclass recommendations for Dwarves:
    • Hunter or Beast Master Rangers, for traditional Dwarven flavor.
    • Gloom Stalker, a superb choice for stealthy Dwarves who prefer dark places.
    • Horizon Walker, for those who seek extraplanar adventures.


  • Dwarves can make strong Rogues, benefiting from their proficiency in Perception and Dwarven Combat Training.
  • Subclass recommendations for Dwarves:
    • Thief, specializing in stealth and sleight of hand.
    • Assassin, ideal for Dwarves who enjoy surprise attacks.
    • Scout, focusing on wilderness survival and exploration.
    • Mark of Warding Dwarves can excel as Arcane Tricksters, emphasizing their Intelligence bonus.
    • Swashbuckler, great for charismatic Dwarves with a focus on melee combat.


  • Sorcerers aren’t the best fit for Dwarves due to their reliance on Charisma. However, a Mark of Warding Dwarf can make a reasonable Sorcerer.
  • Subclass recommendations for Dwarves:
    • Stone Sorcerer, an unofficial subclass with a Dwarven theme.


  • While Charisma is the Warlock’s primary attribute, you can make a thematic Warlock with a Dwarf.
  • Subclass recommendations for Dwarves:
    • Undying, focused on surviving against death and undeath.
    • Great Old One, for Dwarves who delve into eldritch knowledge.
    • Fiend, emphasizing their resilience against various threats.


  • Dwarves, particularly Mark of Warding Dwarves, can make competent Wizards.
  • Subclass recommendations for Dwarves:
    • School of Abjuration, which emphasizes their durability.
    • School of Divination, for those who seek insight and foresight.
    • School of Evocation, focusing on offense and protection.
    • Mark of Warding Dwarves are perfect for School of Transmutation, maximizing their Intelligence bonus.


  • Dwarves can work well in various multiclass combinations depending on your character concept.
  • Common options include Fighter/Cleric, Fighter/Paladin, or Fighter/Barbarian for martial dwarves.
  • Spellcasting dwarves can explore options like Cleric/Wizard, Druid/Ranger, or Sorcerer/Warlock with a thematic backstory.

Role-Playing as a Dwarf

To truly bring your Dwarf character to life, consider these role-playing tips:

  1. Embrace Dwarven Culture: Dwarves are known for their deep sense of tradition and craftsmanship. Explore their background, family, and values to create a richer character.
  2. Stubbornness and Determination: Dwarves have a reputation for their unyielding nature. Use this to your advantage in role-playing, but remember to balance it with cooperative play with your party members.
  3. Sense of Honor: Dwarves often uphold their word and are guided by their sense of honor. Use this as a basis for your character’s moral decisions and interactions.
  4. Passion for Crafting: Dwarves are skilled artisans. Consider creating a backstory that ties your character to blacksmithing, masonry, or brewing.
  5. Strong Loyalty: Dwarves are fiercely loyal to their friends and allies. Form strong bonds with your party members and be prepared to defend them at all costs.
  6. Embrace the Stereotype (or Subvert It): You can lean into traditional Dwarven stereotypes, with a love of ale, a fondness for mining, and an affinity for axes. Alternatively, subvert these expectations to create a unique and memorable character.

Dwarf Role Models and Inspirations

When you’re creating your Dwarf character, it can be helpful to look to established characters from literature, movies, and other media for inspiration. Here are a few iconic Dwarf figures that can serve as role models:

  1. Gimli (The Lord of the Rings): Gimli, son of Glóin, is perhaps the most well-known Dwarf in the world of fantasy. He embodies many of the classic Dwarf traits – bravery, loyalty, love for craftsmanship, and a deep sense of honor. He’s a member of the Fellowship of the Ring, proving that Dwarves can stand shoulder to shoulder with other races in epic quests.
  2. Bruenor Battlehammer (The Legend of Drizzt series): Bruenor is a King of Mithral Hall, a legendary warrior, and a father figure to the famous drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden. His leadership, unwavering determination, and commitment to protecting his people make him an admirable Dwarf character.
  3. Flint Fireforge (Dragonlance Chronicles): Flint is a classic Dwarf from the Dragonlance series, known for his gruff exterior and his deep friendship with the kender Tasslehoff Burrfoot. He exemplifies the strong sense of camaraderie that often defines Dwarven culture.
  4. Fili and Kili (The Hobbit): These two young Dwarves from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” represent the adventurous spirit of their race. They venture alongside Bilbo Baggins in a quest to reclaim their homeland from the dragon Smaug. Their youthful enthusiasm and courage are notable traits.

Character Backgrounds for Dwarves

A character’s background is crucial in shaping their personality and role-playing. Here are some background options that can work well for Dwarf characters:

  1. Guild Artisan: Dwarves are renowned for their craftsmanship. As a Guild Artisan, you might have trained as a blacksmith, jeweler, or mason. Your character could have a strong connection to their craft, with aspirations to create legendary works of art.
  2. Soldier: Many Dwarves have military backgrounds, serving in the armies of their clans. As a Soldier, you might have seen battle, honing your combat skills and a sense of duty. Now, you’ve left that life behind to pursue new adventures.
  3. Acolyte: A Dwarven cleric or priest in service to a deity is a common character concept. Your strong sense of faith and a desire to protect your people can be the driving force behind your adventuring career.
  4. Hermit: Dwarves who feel a deep connection to the earth might become reclusive miners, seeking to uncover hidden secrets of the world below. A Hermit background can represent your solitary quest for knowledge.
  5. Sage: Dwarves often treasure knowledge, especially when it comes to stonework, engineering, and history. As a Sage, you might be a scholar who devotes your life to understanding the mysteries of the world and your own people’s past.

Common Dwarf Names

Dwarf names often reflect their heritage, clan, and personal characteristics. Here are some examples:

  • Male Names: Balin, Thorin, Dwalin, Bofur, Gimli, Oin, Nori, Fili, Kili, Brok, Hrothgar.
  • Female Names: Thora, Dora, Nali, Laria, Gundrid, Thraina, Dagnal, Bera, Helga, Freja.
  • Clan Names: Ironfoot, Stonehelm, Ironbeard, Battlehammer, Fireforge, Axebiter, Rockseeker, Thundershield, Hammerhand.

Remember that Dwarf names are often short, crisp, and carry a sense of strength and tradition.


Playing a Dwarf character in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition can be a rewarding experience. With their rich cultural heritage, iconic traits, and a wide array of class options, Dwarves offer a deep well of role-playing opportunities. Whether you want to uphold classic Dwarven stereotypes or subvert them to create a truly unique character, there’s a Dwarf concept for every adventurer. So, grab your dice, develop your backstory, and embark on a grand adventure with the heartiest and most honorable companions you’ll ever find – your fellow Dwarves.

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