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Author Topic: On Dwarves... Part Three : Dwarves and Drinking  (Read 5914 times)
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« on: March 06, 2011, 08:07:42 AM »

Welcome to the third installment of On Dwarves..., a series of semi-ordered discussions that has gone from the intended just irregular to apparently annual. If you're interested in reading through the others, you can find links to them in my signature. Feel free to revive either of those if you want. This time, I'd like to talk about one of the big ones; Dwarves and drinking.

Do dwarves drink in your setting, or in other settings that you've enjoyed? If they do, why? If they don't, why not? Have they always done so or is it a more recent thing? How does drinking fit into their culture? What impact does it have on their economy?

I am, of course, referring to the drinking of alcohol, not simply the drinking of any liquid.
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2011, 08:40:11 AM »

If it doesn't have a mug of beer in its hands it isn't a dwarf
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2011, 08:41:53 AM »

I've always felt that little discussions like this are good for the community overall. Sometimes interesting things can spawn from them. I remember someone creating some dwarves for a community project inspired by one of these very threads. I decided to keep the first post clear of my own ideas this time, instead making it just the discussion prompt. My ideas come here.

First, I'll go with what may be the most simple, logical explanation for dwarves and their drinking. Maybe dwarves drink in celebration, as people often do. In very religious dwarven cultures, this could even be every day. Maybe every evening, they gather to drink and thank the ancestors for the cities they live in and the castes they serve. Maybe their environment is particularly dangerous and they celebrate because every day they survive is like a gift. The problem I see with this is that I have never seen dwarves presented this way, nor have I ever seen them be the sort to have frequent festivals.

Another idea I had also has dwarves behaving in a very human manner. Many people claim to drink to relieve stress or help themselves relax. Since dwarves are often presented as having a very rigid society with strict rules and protocols to be followed, this would make sense. Maybe they have themselves wound too tight being serious and proper all the time and just need a little chemical help to behave like idiots from time to time...or every single day. It could even be a respectable trait in their culture to be able to get really, really drunk at night and be back to normal the next day as a functioning member of society. Those unable to do this are either often hung over / sick or take to drinking all the time.

My third idea relies on dwarves being very different from humans. Maybe some dwarves need to take in some alcohol to survive or for their body to function properly. Maybe they need to drink enough to get drunk sometimes or maybe they only need about a thimble full of pure alcohol each day but choose to take in more and in a different way. Would the alcohol still make them act differently? Maybe, maybe not.

Those are just my first thoughts, I'm interested to see what others have to say now.
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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2011, 08:52:38 AM »

Nomadic

If it doesn't have a mug of beer in its hands it isn't a dwarf
What if those hands are filled with an oversized axe or musket? Maybe just a waterskin full of wine, on the hip?
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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2011, 09:17:43 AM »

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If it doesn't have a mug of beer in its hands it isn't a dwarf


Little known fact, dwarves have a third hand under their beard designed so that they can always be holding a mug of beer.

Anyhow I view dwarves the same as every other classic fantasy race. They are the results of taking the core concepts of humanity and dividing it up among different species. Dwarves being a manifestation of human willpower, tradition, and loyalty. In that mindset I see them as holding to drink as a mixture of traditional dwarven culture, a show of their own personal fortitude, and as a way to bond with their clan mates.
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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2011, 02:31:40 PM »

My islands of non-alcoholic dwarves.

As to the subject of why dwarves would be drinking so much, it could be that they have been made unable to experience much in the way of cheerfulness any other way. Perhaps the entire race was cursed to be coldhearted, or a creator-god simply designed them that way, but due to a minor flaw they discovered a way to cheat destiny through the power of booze. drunk
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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2011, 02:32:26 PM »

If Dwarves don't drink then you're not really talking about Dwarves.
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2011, 02:43:17 PM »

Do the Eddas speak much of dwarves enjoying imbibing?
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These are excerpts from notes on Dwarven culture in my CS:

In Nordgaard the dwarven race is the originator of most mortal culture. As developers of fermentation, their societies  tend to have strong brewing traditions.

The majority of dwarves are devout to the Glormek pantheon, whose scripture teaches that though these gods at are war with one another they all agree that liquor is a sacrament. Practically speaking this means that such beverages are a fact of life and are consumed daily by all social classes, without particular attention to it's holiness.
Naturally; the pious of some sects put especial importance upon drinking because of this implication and holy warriors fueled by liquor are not unknown. "God is great, beer is good, people are crazy"  (http://tinyurl.com/yzltlnk) is a common modern idiom. (Dwarves became indigenous to the surface only 4500 years ago, as such cereal grains were not utilized in fermentation until then, prior to which though a similar sentiment assuredly existed in ancient times, the phrase itself did not.)

Ecclesiastical and later monarchical authorities preside over ensuring adequate potency of drinks at a just price. Standards of quality thus sometimes have millennia of legal weight behind them.

In regions that do not worship the Glormek, there is no shortage of drinking and the practice of fractional freezing runs deep. In these kingdoms it is common economic and social practice for all distributors of drinks (be they familial or business) to be tied to a particular brewer or brewery. House Azamgar in the Ruslevh long ago achieved monopoly on fermented beverages through this practice.
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« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2011, 01:16:06 AM »

It looks like drinking is one aspect of the traditional dwarf that people here actually don't want to mess with. Usually we're good for turning everything upside down. The one exception it seems are dwarves intentionally made to break the trope.

Did the Scottish accent often used for dwarves come from the drinking often associated with Scots, or was it the other way around? I don't expect anyone can really answer that but it's something to think about. It probably just fell into place that way and it works so well we just accept it.
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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2011, 01:25:54 AM »

Do people turn ignore or alter this trope with individual dwarves more commonly than with their culture, I wonder?
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2011, 08:59:58 AM »

I don't know if I've ever even seen that.
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2011, 12:06:13 PM »

My dwarves drink wine.  The steep hills surrounding the mountains near Issachar are ideal for grape-vines.  
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« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2011, 08:43:47 PM »

That's abother issue with dwarven drinking - what do they make the alcohol out of?
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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2011, 08:57:12 PM »

I don't have that many purely racial traits like that any more; there are some, but most of Celtricia's traits are more cultural.  Harou Klaxiks (dwarves) act a lot more like Harou Hobyts or harou humans, and share a lot more in their drinking styles and tastes than they would with an Argussian Klaxik or a Marcher Klaxik.
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« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2011, 10:29:46 PM »

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I don't have that many purely racial traits like that any more; there are some, but most of Celtricia's traits are more cultural.
I think that is a much better way of doing things. Unfortunately, in 'traditional fantasy', races tend to have one uniform culture unless they are different subraces from each other. I like to think of them as being mostly vikings influenced a tiny bit by the Scottish and more by Conan.
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