Saturday, October 4, 2008

Shudder

Say hello to Elwita, female dwarven fighter, and as good an argument in favor of making dwarves a unisexual race that carves its children out of solid rock as any I can imagine (which, incidentally, is what they do in the campaign setting I'm working on now).

17 comments:

  1. Aw c'mon James, I was eating!

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  2. Oh my! What a sexy beard you got Elwita. =P

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  3. Reminds me of The Truth about Dwarves – in his campaigns dwarves are made of rock but disguised themselves as "fleshthings" in the presence of other races. :)

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  4. *shudder*
    Who came up with the idea of Dwarven women having beards anyway? I mean, all for different standards of beauty, but it just strikes me as off.

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  5. Who came up with the idea of Dwarven women having beards anyway? I mean, all for different standards of beauty, but it just strikes me as off.

    Tolkien is the most likely source, much like "elves have pointy ears" this is something derived from his letters, rather than the body of his work. Gygax, by all reports, always enjoyed arguing for bearded female dwarves.

    For my part, the only place I want to see bearded female dwarves is in the circus.

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  6. Tolkien is the most likely source

    Indeed he is. I can't find the quotation at the moment, but one of the appendices to The Lord of the Rings notes that female Dwarves look so much like male Dwarves that many outsiders doubt their existence. The Two Towers movie even makes reference to this, although, like most things pertaining to Dwarves, it's played for laughs, leaving the unfamiliar viewer to think it's just a jest rather than the truth.

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  7. There is some very minor reference in the appendices of Lord of the Rings, but it is not clear cut by any stretch of the imagination. The supporting evidence usually trotted out is Bilbo's appearance described in the Hobbit as almost like a young dwarf or dwarf woman, but without the beard.

    Those can be argued away with alternative readins, the nail in the coffin is Tolkien's letter that explicitly says something like "all dwarves are born bearded."

    Personally, I think he was out of his head when he decided that, but there's no accounting for taste!

    For whatever it is worth, not only do I prefer my dwarf women unbearded, I prefer my elves without pointed ears.

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  8. {Lord Flashheart} "Hey babe! NICE beard! Gives me something to hang onto! Woof woof!" {/Lord Flashheart}

    Let it be entered into the great Chronicles of the Dwarf-Realm: full beard + beehive hairdo is not a good look, and serves only to scare the children.

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  9. For whatever it is worth, not only do I prefer my dwarf women unbearded, I prefer my elves without pointed ears.

    I'm of two minds about the pointy-eared elves. If elves are properly short, they get pointy ears, but if they're taller, I prefer them not to have them.

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  10. I'm almost certain I've never heard anything from Tolkien implying dwarven women had beards. If anyone could source me that particular letter, I might believe it, but I'm fairly sure it was PJ's idea.

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  11. Not a letter, apparently, but some draft work that ended up in War of the Jewel: [url=http://stason.org/TULARC/education-books/tolkien-newsgroups/33-Did-Dwarf-women-have-beards-Tolkien.html]Did Dwarf Women have Beards[/url].

    The question was debated back and forth in some very early Dragon magazines as well, which I suspect is where Gygax got hs fondness for the contention.

    Who are you referring to as "PJ", by the way?

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  12. Appendix A.III of The Lord of the Rings ("Durin's Folk") states, "It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf-women, probably no more than a third of the whole people. They seldom walk abroad except at great need. They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart."

    While it doesn't mention beards specifically, I think, given that every Dwarf we read about has a beard, it's hard to imagine this as implying anything else. There's also the reference in The War of the Jewels, which explicitly says that female Dwarves have beards "from the beginning of their lives."

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  13. According to Christopher Tolkien, an earlier version of that appendices entry was more explicit on the subject of bearded dwarven women, so the ambiguity is likely intentional. What motivated such ambiguous wording is another question, but I doubt it was Tolkien being sensitive to the aesthetics of his audience.

    It is always important to recall that, for all his meticulous world building and attention to detail, Tolkien's Middle Earth was not fixed or stable, but subject to his changing thoughts and tastes. Many issues were unresolved even in his own mind until the end of his life.

    I suspect this might have been one of those things, and that was the reason it was left ambiguous in those works published during his lifetime.

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  14. I really don't see what the big deal is. I mean, deep down, this being is a monster, should we delete the females of Orcs just because we don't find them sexually attractive? Of course not! Nature demands contrasts and opposites. Females may not, nor shouldn't, act as humans do. Dwarven women probably find you lacking the proper amount of testosterone to even be remotely handsome, either. To me, this is some pretty awesome color!

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  15. For my part, it has nothing to do with sexual attractiveness (bearded or unbearded makes no difference to me in that regard), but it is an aesthetic preference, which is to say the concept just doesn't appeal to me.

    Now that you mention it, though, I prefer not to have orc women and children in my campaign milieu, as I feel that they detract from orcs as a "monstrous other".

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  16. For my own part, I have always been firmly in the Dwarven women have beards camp. But I was unaware of this conceit actually being used in illustration. Where is this nifty illustration from?

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  17. The illustration is from Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords. The A-series includes a couple of other pictures of Elwita; it's a treasure trove of artistic evidence of bearded females Dwarves -- one of the few.

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