Hello adventurers! Welcome to my spellbook and thank you so much for taking a look at the first sub-race of the dwarf. Today we’re going to be looking at the gray dwarf also known as a duergar. They were added with the sword coast adventurer’s guide and they are a fan favorite for a lot of munchkins or met or power gamers in general and you’ll see why in a little bit and we’ll talk about them and their potential origin stories at length a little bit later on. But in terms of the formatting of these sub-races i kind of want to keep it more on the mechanical side of things as that’s what this website is kind of built around.
However there are tons and tons of other content creators that deal with deep lore behind these guys, as well as literal volumes of books that have been written about the dwarves in general. So that’s probably not the information i’m going to go over in this although i will touch on it, we’re just going to be focusing on mechanics for the most part. Just you know how to play them and what their abilities do. Now without further ado let’s take a moment here and look at their traits.
Table of Contents
They gain a +1 to strength off of the bat and that is of course in addition to the +2 to constitution that you get, just for being a dwarf and you get superior darkvision which adds another 60 feet onto your already 60 foot darkvision…totaling up to 120 feet of vision which is certainly very impressive.
Although you still cannot see through magical darkness, only the devil’s sight and a couple magical items will do that for you so do bear that in mind however most a non-magical darkness will not be an issue to you.
Under extra languages you can speak, read and write undercommon which might be super useful based on the campaign world you’re in. But if you thought that was all and to be fair that’s pretty good in terms of what just a subrace will offer. However the duergar got a lot more going on than that. Let’s check out their other traits.
So the first one we’re gonna go over is duergar resilience and this is pretty dang cool. So you have advantage on saving throws against illusions and against being charmed or paralyzed. Which is pretty impressive. There is kind of a dark reason behind this that we’ll go over in a little bit. But mechanically i’m sure you can certainly see the benefit in this.
Especially during those early levels where you don’t really have the highest proficiency bonus and where a lot of the enemies you’re going to be going up against are likely going to be taking advantage of these conditions and spells in particular.
It might also be worth noting that we do have an illusions articles, so if you want to check out all the illusion spells you can check them out there but there’s a lot of them including ones that will change appearances. So there’s a good chance that your DM is gonna run up into some higher difficulty when it comes to using some of their more commonly accessible tools.
So it’s kind of good once again munchkins and power gamers really like the duergar, they also have duergar magic so at third level you can cast enlarge/reduce spell on yourself. Once using the enlarge option and we go over that in another article. So you can just search for enlarge/reduce 5e it’ll come up or click on the link given above.
Basically it let’s you increase your size and deal a little bit more damage as well which is certainly nice. At fifth level you can cast invisibility on yourself once with this trait. You don’t need a material components and you can’t cast them while you’re in direct sunlight. That’s kind of a theme for these guy’s and i’ll get into why that is in a little bit.
Although sunlight has no effect on them once they are cast. You regain the ability after a long rest and intelligence is your spellcasting ability. Very cool stuff.
And they have sunlight sensitivity and this is by far the biggest darback to them. They have disadvantage on attack roles and on perception checks that rely on sight whenever sunlight is involved. So by direct sunlight being involved if it’s shining on you. If it’s shining in your peripheral if it’s shining on the creature itself.
Disadvantage sucks but it’s kind of the case. Although there are creative ways around this, the one i see most argued is just using sunglasses, you can have a side quest where you find a jeweler and you can get the special glass or sand or whatever he needs to make them. That is a thing although if you’re going that route as a DM i would probably require attunement.
Reason being and i know i’ll get a little bit of backlash for that. But the reason i’m saying that is the duergar there’s a reason that they have this to kind of hold them back and it’s so it’s a balanced sub-race right! It’s really really good, you get a bonus to strength which is almost always nice especially if you’re dealing with a martial class and what’s the biggest drawback to most martial classes right!
Well it’s usually that they’re rather weak when it comes to various saves, especially against illusion magic and they don’t really have any spell casting ability of their own and the duergar solves both of those problems right! and it doesn’t rather creative ways. So that’s why i think attunement for the goggles would work, i think better ways or is just use magic a low level spell like fog cloud for example would work really nicely or i mean you might make it so it’s kind of a like a placebo thing almost right! like it’s in your head.
So if you use something like suggestion for example and cast it on a fellow party member or even on yourself if your dm will allow and just be like the sunlight doesn’t bother me it’s not like a montra almost and then you can kind of get over that hurdle. But that’s kind of a world building thing so that’s all up to your dungeon master, just run it past him a fog cloud though should work fine. The tempest cleric also has a pretty interesting way around it. There’s ways to deal with it but just wanted to point out that there’s a reason why it’s there.
Or you could cop out entirely and just have someone cast faerie fire and that would give you advantage which would cancel the disadvantage so you could also do it like that in higher levels you were almost always attacking with advantage for one reason or another anyways.
So yeah and i think the way this subrace is meant to be played is more tactfully right like you intentionally kind of convince people to come to dark alleys or things of that nature or you lure them in rather. But let me know how you would deal with it or how you have dealt with it or dealt with it down beneath in the comments section. Always curious to see what you guys can come up with. And that’s about it for their traits actually so let’s get into my personal thoughts.
So if you are unfamiliar with the story behind the duergar and something to the effect of they were greedy dwarves who kind of went too deep and then they got captured by or they were influenced to dig deep in part by mind flayers and they were captured and experimented on by them. Hence their resilience and they have rather adversarial relationship with the drow of memory serves, they were slaves at one point and they kind of bitterly resent that and because of that they have rather almost pessimistic or nihilistic views, very contrary to the rest of their kin.
At least as so far as to the kin that live up top right! So they have a very different set of values they’re pragmatists and quite brutal and not genuinely well liked across most worlds although yours might be different. In terms of classes that work great with them honestly most martial classes are kind of what they’re built for right!
In terms of which ones in particular, you know barbarians would probably be a good place to start, outide of that fighters are always a solid bet, really anything to take advantage of that strength and the resilience of course really helps out being a frontline fighter. Last thing you want is being charmed and then turning on the rest your party so advantage of that saving throw would really be good for you there.
They’re just overall pretty great, yeah just don’t expect to be well liked like i wouldn’t expect a duergar bard to be a very popular combo although who knows i might be surprised.
In any case let me know what you think of the Duergar down beneath in the comment section and of course mention any thoughts, questions, comments, concerns or stories of your own. That being said, i hope you all have a wonderful day and as always happy adventuring.