Forge Dwarf

There were some unique things that I liked about the old Mountain Dwarves that I would like to see in a new race, possibly of the dwarf genus:

  • Casting spells in heavy armor. A dwarf with a staff of earth was great fun.
  • General heavy armor use. MD had the second best durability in the game for a non-magic user, lagging behind only DD. Now with MD gone, there only 4 species remaining with a positive aptitude in heavy armor, and only two of them have full use of armor slots.
  • A decent evo apt combined with a strong armour apt. DD has this as well, but is different for obvious reasons.
  • Crossbow use: MD did it slightly better than the other species with a positive apt.
  • Beards: I love the red beard on the dwarf tile. Don't tell me to change my character doll, it just isn't the same.

Therefore, I'm proposing a new dwarf species that I like to call Factory Dwarves. I am in the process of testing them right now.

Factory Dwarves are an industrious race of craftsmen and artificers. They have a strong affinity for devices and armour. They have little talent in magic, but have a strong affinity for the elements related to forging: fire and earth. Factory Dwarves appreciate artistry and ingenuity, and are less inclined to combat than their cousins, the now-extinct Mountain and Hill Dwarves.

The basic idea behind this species is a heavy-armour using race that doesn't win by bumping into the enemy repeatedly. Instead, you will have the options to use wands/decks, crossbows, or fire/earth related magic. If you want, you can go for melee and rely on sheer endurance rather than damage output.

The aptitudes of this race aren't finalized, but they have the following pattern:

  • High armour skill (~+4) and high shields skill, with average or poor weapon skills (axes have apt 0, for instance). Low fighting skill might also be desirable.
  • High evocations and high T&D. The second will become more relevant if player traps are implemented.
  • Low magic and low spell-casting, but high specific magic apts. Fire and earth will be at +3 or higher, conjurations at 0 or higher.
  • High crossbows skill. +3 or higher.
  • Medium HP. A race that relies on armour and shields without a fat stack of HP might be interesting.

This race keeps a lot of the old dwarf flavor while not stepping on any species' toes. FD is a tanky race that uses magic or pseudo-magic while using heavy armour, but lacks power in melee. HO will remain separate as a tanky, offensive melee race that can dip into magic skills as necessary.

I think this would be a really great opportunity to merge with the Lava Orc proposal. Maybe not all the temperature and tension stuff, but a fire-oriented race is something we seriously lack IMO. — roctavian 2011-10-30 00:56
Lava Orcs were actually one of the inspirations for this race, but I would like to make this a dwarf for flavor reasons. Creating a race that distinguishes itself solely with aptitudes was one of my goals here. OTOH, this new race could have rF+ and rC-, reflecting the fact that they live in close proximity to furnaces and molten metal. — file200 2011-10-30 03:08
Well, theoretically, you could just merge the Lava Orcs and call the result a dwarf, only difference is that it can't worship Beogh. In the tavern thread dpeg mentioned an unused niche, a species that was reverse-Ogre: bad Spellcasting but good aptitudes in the magic schools. Maybe these dwarves could be it: spellcasting at -2, their specialty schools of Fire and Earth at +3, and all the other schools 0, +1, and +2 for whatever flavor reasons we can think of. — nicolae 2011-10-30 04:51
Reverse ogre aptitudes sound interesting. The current trajectory for FD seems to be melee combat assisted by conjurations. Some schools, such as charms, will have to stay terrible so they don't crowd out traditional users of those schools. — file200 2011-10-30 17:10
Before, I did mean a dwarf race – I was envisioning something like Lava Dwarf or Magma Dwarf (which, for sentimentalists, would preserve the MD initials). I think a race that picks up rF at level 10 like Deep Dwarf rN would be good, and perhaps at level 15 they would gain the ability to walk through lava – that's when Kenku gain permaflight, so it seems fair. — roctavian 2011-10-31 02:56
FD could gain fire resistance through level-up, reaching rF+++. But I don't like lava walking. It feels like an ability that's limited in utility and has strange logic behind it. — file200 2011-10-31 04:32

After testing this concept for a bit, I must say that it is not terribly interesting. As a pure melee character, FD is like a gimped Hill Orc, unless you find a crossbow. Evocations is not enough to sustain a playstyle. FDEE and FE are interesting and powerful; I was able to clear the lair with both without much difficulty. FDEE of Vehumet feels like some kind of unstoppable earthy juggernaut, and I love it. Casting in heavy armour is the most interesting part of this race, so I may tweak their aptitudes to reflect this. FD still feels like a dwarf with its incredible armour and shields, but you're better off using magic than weapons. — file200 2011-10-30 17:10

So basically you are talking about magic-skilled smiths rather than warriors, which is awesome. A moderate skill in weapons would be compensated by the natural enhancement they can infuse. Are the LO temperature mechanism too complex to add or to simplify a little ? Also, as smiths and heavy armor users, shouldn't they be a little less stealthy? — roderic 2011-11-14 13:21


This species is now officially called Forge Dwarf. It has the following traits:

  Base Str: 8
  Base Int: 5
  Base Dex: 5
  Gain 1 Str every four levels
  HP: 0
  MP: -1
  Gains the ability to reforge armour at lvl 4.
  Gains the ability to reforge weapons at lvl 9.
  Gains rF+ at level 16.
  Fighting 0
  Short Blades 0
  Long Blades -1
  Axes 0
  Maces & Flails 1
  Polearms -1
  Staves -2
  Slings -1
  Bows -2
  Crossbows 3
  Throwing -1
  Armour 3
  Dodging -1
  Stealth -1
  Stabbing -2
  Shields 2
  Traps & Doors 2
  Unarmed Combat -1
  Spellcasting -3
  Conjurations 0
  Hexes -1
  Charms -3
  Summonings -2
  Necromancy -3
  Translocations -2
  Transmutations 0
  Fire Magic 3
  Ice Magic -4
  Air Magic -2
  Earth Magic 2
  Poison Magic 0
  Invocations 0
  Evocations 3

This implementation is very distinct from Hill Orcs, and has its own niche as a melee fighter that uses conjurations and evocations. Forge Dwarves also differ from Hill Orcs as spell casters due to their low MP reserves and worse spellcasting. Forge Dwarves are strongest as earth elementalists, but they also make good fire elementalists, fighters, gladiators, hunters and religious-types.

FDEE is very fun, but possibly too powerful. By the time you reach Lair, LRD can consistently destroy rock walls. A little investment lets you wear a buckler with any magic build.

FE is just a weaker background than EE, but FD makes it work. — file200 2011-10-31 04:08

Aptitudes have been edited to reflect the final aptitudes. FD now prefers hammers to other weapons, because they are used in crafting and because the dapper dwarf uses one. Charms, elemental magic and evocations were reduced to make the staff of ~ build harder to reach. Transmutations and UC are slightly better to make statue form/dragon form an option. Growing rF is now implemented. Everything is finalized except for the “Crafting” (make dwarfish) mechanic, which is going to take some time. — file200 2011-11-05 18:01
Further playtesting reveals that the concept “Casting in heavy armour” has some flaws. If you're already playing a caster, you probably want to focus your skills on spellcasting rather than invest in enough armour to mitigate the penalties of ring mail or scale mail. Any caster going in the direction of heavy armour caster needs wizardry or Vehumet to keep their offensive spells reliable. Wearing a buckler→medium shield is quite viable and more likely than heavy armour. — file200 2011-10-31 16:23
Ah, well, that's a shame. “Heavy-armor caster” might not be the main niche for FDs to fill, though some people like the challenge of setting up heavy-armor casters; someone on the SA forums used to do that with MDEEs, and if FDs can do that they would be popular with people who like weird builds. Would it be easier to make FDs into heavy armor casters if they had a slightly better Spellcasting? I really like the general idea of a “heavy armor but not melee” niche, though, and hope something can come of the FD idea. — nicolae 2011-10-31 19:22
Heavy-armour caster FD's are quite viable. The problem is that as a spellcaster, you gain more survivability by focusing on other spell schools, so you have more escape options. More spellcasting skill will make pure casting even more attractive. Moreover, reducing the casting penalty of something as light as scale mail takes a lot of investment. If you want to combine casting and HA you have to do it in the mid-game, when you've already found good spellbooks. — file200 2011-11-01 00:54
Maybe you can solve the problem of the heavy-armour casting obliquely by further reducing the spellcasting penalty for a dwarf in dwarf armour. This way the “dwarfify” ability is more crucial to the race. — wesleyshaver 2011-11-7 14:02
Yeah, this class doesn't necessarily *have* to be the Ogre-In-Reverse low Spellcasting class – perhaps it could be buffed to 0 and other apts like Evocations could be lowered a bit to compensate? Edit: This might be totally insane, but what if Forge Dwarves could burn 1 max MP (or some percent of max MP) to enchant armour like the scroll? That's a benefit that synergizes well with armour-casting and fits the flavor of a “Forge” dwarf quite well. — roctavian 2011-10-31 19:44
I feel like you'd get a lot of players starting with a hybrid background but not bothering with spells, and just using their MP to give themselves enchantments on heavy armor as soon as possible. If FDs were to get some kind of bonus on account of being smiths and forges, I was thinking they could just maybe start with better equipment: any +0 weapons, launchers, and body armor (besides robes and animal hides) in their starting inventory have +1 instead. Or, say, every FD starts with a helmet. — nicolae 2011-10-31 19:58
I see two possible ways to implement “Crafting” flavor that wouldn't be too powerful or game-y. 1. FD could start with “Finely Crafted” armour, which is just their regular armour with a +1 bonus. 2. For a permanent cost (more likely HP than MP), modify a weapon or piece of armour to give it the “Dwarven” trait. I don't have the faintest clue how to do the second, so that is less likely. — file200 2011-11-01 09:09
Some notes on a cursory perusal of these notes: there are a couple of fire and earth spells that make a hybrid work quite well without reliance on conjurations and would be easily castable with such apts as stands (Sticky Flame, Conjure Flame, Ring of Flames, and Statue Form come to mind; Charms -1 and Transmutations -1 are barely noticable), heavy armour casting is usually only noticable early on with lucky dragon armour drops or Okawaru gifts, and is more of a mid-game or late-game switch; +3 crossbows but not much mention of them sounds like you haven't tried FDHu out yet, bucklers are trivial to wear for almost every race and build, and you haven't listed stat gain on level ups! I believe responses to any of these quick observations would serve your testing of this mix of apts well. — claws 2011-10-31 18:38
I tried playing FDFE as a hybrid, but I always felt that it would be more optimal to wear light armour and focus on fire skill for more damage output. To that end, the problem might just be my playstyle. FDEE can be played as a hybrid, but with only one spell in your starting book to boost melee, it feels like some skills are going to waste. FDHu feels like any other hunter until you find heavy armour or join Nemelex. The shield skill is really noticable though. If you forego heavy armour and find enhancers, you can cast iron shot from behind the safety of your large shield. — file200 2011-11-01 00:54
New gameplay update: forget what I said about heavy armour being sub-optimal. Trying to boost straightforward spell damage was not helping, so I tried to boost it even more to make my offensive spells work. But I now have an XL:14 FE that casts sticky while wearing splint mail and a buckler, then laughs at death yak herds. I even had enough XP left to train fighting and long blades for when I run out of mana (which doesn't happen often). This is too much, I will have to reduce certain aptitudes. Sticky flame→regular combat in heavy armour is incredibly efficient. Fire also gives me a chance at ignite poison for snake pits.
Extra note: Racial rF is really strong. Collecting scrolls of immolation is a good idea for FD and conjure flame is even better as an escape option. Fast enemy killing you in a hallway? drop a flame cloud on the other side and walk through it. — file200 2011-11-01 08:04
I've been busy with other things, but I finally ascended a Forge Dwarf (fire elementalist). It works as intended, I must say. FD aptitudes are incredibly focused, so I was able to cast bolt of fire while wearing plate mail and a medium shield as early as the vaults. I never memorized fire storm because haste+staff of fire/earth took care of everything in the Tombs and Zot. Some aptitudes should probably be toned down. Now I just need to find the time to edit some things and find out how to upload a patch. — file200 2011-11-05 03:05
Nice, I hope I get to try one soon! — nicolae 2011-11-05 06:13
Last update. The crafting mechanic had problems in its implementation; and when it did work it was not interesting or useful, so it was scrapped. Forge Dwarf upload is now available by cloning into “” Alternatively, you can go to the tavern thread and implement the changes manually using the .txt files provided. — file200 2011-11-07 05:52
Their aptitude set is quite narrow, but I am happy to try it out. Don't expect FD in 0.10 — octopodes also lingered around for more than one version. Here is an idea I'd like to put up for discussion: Taking our cue from DD's Recharging ability, what about giving FD the ability to enchant items? Rules would be: Only mundane items (no randarts). Each use affects a single item and costs 1 MP. Enchantment is at least one (even for highly enchanted weapons). For items at low enchantment (especially for negative enchantment), the increase can be a lot more than just +1. This would (a) make FD live up to their name (by the way, I like “Forge Dwarf” better than “Factory Dwarf”, but no need to dwell on that right now) and (b) provide some appeal to non-casters which they currently have little: they can enchant weapons very early, when it matters most.
Enchanting items was one of the ideas I tried, but I didn't know how to balance it. Enchanting is a permanent boost, so it feels like it should have a permanent cost…but 1 permanent HP or MP felt like too much. One of the problems is that the boost is “Invisible” and won't grant you any guaranteed benefit. And then you'll drop whatever you're using for a better item when that comes along. “Make Dwarven” just felt pointless at any cost.
They could remove + from items to restore their MP.To balance it i suggest that the can't removes +s that lowers the weapon/armor under +1

I have an idea that I'll try when I get the time (busy week): Pay (MP amount) and (Large food cost) to give an eligible item a +1 enchantment and the dwarven trait. An item that has received this benefit cannot receive it again. The effect is that for some period in the early game, your equipment will be +1 ahead of other characters. Other, less feasible idea: pay 1 permanent MP to add a new trait to the item that gives it an effective +1 without counting as an enchantment.

This really only depends on how much enchantment you get out of the 1 maxMP spent. And that's why I suggested it should be more than +1 at low levels of enchantment. Thought experiment: if you can get a +0 armour/weapon to +8 with a single use of FD innate enchantment, will it be too strong? Sure, I say. So there should be some equilibrium to be found. — dpeg 2011-11-08 12:29
He wrote “MP” not “maxMP”, so +1 once per item would be a reasonable value. — kilobyte 2011-11-08 13:41
I know but I think than maxMP is a much better a cost than MP plus food. — dpeg 2011-11-08 14:07

What about -X MP where X is based on the target enchant +? -1 MP to go from +0 to +1, -5 MP to go from +4 to +5, etc. Only reduce MP if enchant was successful (per enchant scroll failures; I don't suggest allowing failure with these innate attempts), and maximum X is 2x character experience level. Only level 18+ can increase from +8 to +9. And allow multiple attempts to improve the same item. — XuaXua 2011-11-08 20:17

I mean “maxMP”, not “MP”. Also, minimum cost is 1 maxMP (going from -1 to 0, etc.). Optionally could work on artefacts at double cost. — XuaXua 2011-11-08 23:11

Reforge Weapon is now implemented and available via git. It costs 1 maxMP and applies 2-3 enchant weapon (1&2) scrolls to your equipped weapon and makes it dwarven. I don't have much to say about it ATM because I only tested it with 1-2 ench scrolls. My future goal is now to make a single 'a'bility that applies a similar effect to either weapons or armour. — file200 2011-11-09 06:42

The next version of the forging ability (if I can iron out the bugs) will cost 1 max HP and apply a +1 or 2(/+1 or 2) enchantment to weapon, armour or missiles, making it dwarven if applicable. I chose 1 maxHP because it is more disposable for more characters, and because non-magic-users will now face a real trade-off. — file200 2011-11-10 17:40

Forge Dwarf abilities have been finalized, unless anyone has comments.
Reforge Weapon: costs 1 permanent max MP. If you are wielding missiles, it applies 1-2 enchant weapon scrolls. Otherwise, it applies 1-3 enchant weapon scrolls and makes your weapon dwarven.
Reforge Armour: costs 1 permanent max MP. Increases one piece of armour's enchantment by 1-2 and makes it dwarven.
Either or both cost could be changed to permanent max HP if anyone believes it will be more interesting.
I actually would like suggestions for a change to the “Reforge Armour” ability, because the effect is useful to spellcasters but the cost makes it unusable. — file200 2011-11-12 17:31
How about this: Instead of sacrificing MaxMP or HP of your character why not have the Reforge Armor/Weapon ability actually degrade the + bonus on the item? It doesn't sound really intuitive but I think it would make sense from a gameplay perspective. You come across a sweet +3 broad axe of flaming but in order to make it a dwarven broad axe of flaming you have to hammer it down to +1. Or a +2 plate armour becomes a +0 dwarven plate armour. Essentially the “cost” would be two enchant armour scrolls or 2-4 enchant weapon scrolls. Enough that it's not a no-brainer and you'd probably only use the ability on end-game gear. I think this would only work if the bonus for wielding dwarven equipent were very compelling (like halving the armour spellcasting penalty or something. — wesleyshaver 2011-11-15 14:04 > The relevant Mantis ticket ( is being closed but the branch is still in the Crawl repository if anyone was still interested in testing it. — mumra 2013-03-27 08:01
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