One of the most well adapted and oldest intelligent dwellers of the underworld is the duergar (or grey dwarf), whose lands were eventually destroyed by dark elf sorcery and beasts. Being the ones who best knew the underworld and were adapted for survival in it, they managed to survive, but became targets of enslavement by the dark elves settling in the underworld.
• Duergar skin tones range from grey to coal black.
• Duergar skin and eye colors are natural color tones such as amber, black and grey.
• Not all duergar have hair, but all will have beards, goatees, or some form of facial hair, including females.
• Duergar are shorter than most humanoids with a stocky, powerful build, standing on average 4 ½ feet tall, and weighing approximately 200 pounds.
Duergar are short, stocky and strong. Their average height is approximately 4 ½ feet tall on average, with heavier builds, and weighing on average approximately 200 pounds. While hair colors can vary, the most common colors are white, grey, and black, with varying degrees in between. Their skin tones are grey to a sooty black due to their time spent underground and constant exposure to toxic minerals in the atmosphere surrounding dwarf towns. All duergar appear to have facial hair in some form, including females. Their eyes can see well in the dark, and while there might be some color variations on a rare occasion, most duergar eye colors are a shade of grey or amber.
• Duergar can see as well as a drow into the extended spectrum, seeing perfectly in the dark as well as detecting heat sources.
• Duergar can sense vibrations through the rock and earth.
• Duergar have ultra-sensitive hearing.
• Duergar are unable to use mana arts.
• Duergar are small enough to fit through most tunnels in the underground, but strong enough to become adept at digging through rock.
One of the original underworld inhabitants, duergar had long ago adapted to survival in the tunnels and caverns. Among the senses that adapted to underground living were their eyesight, hearing and touch. All duergar can sense vibrations in the ground and rock with a touch, can hear in incredible detail, and have eyes well adapted to living in darkness – as well as any drow.
Duergar have adapted to their atmosphere as well, and the high density of ash and toxic minerals in the air have given them a high tolerance for poisons and pollutants. This is used as an advantage, allowing them to life safely in areas that would be otherwise toxic to current or former surface dwellers.
In the Drowtales setting, most duergar are non-aggressive by nature, preferring to live simply. Their passive nature led many to be enslaved or slaughtered en masse if they rebelled against the drow and dark elf invaders who had fled the overworld.
Not all duergar are passive, however, and some have taken to living in small nomadic groups in order to wage guerilla warfare on their would-be masters. These rebels have taken to ambush tactics, using weapons such as cannons and chemicals that would confuse the senses of tracking beasts such as the Sarghress dire wolves. These duergar are considered one of the most common dangers when travelling between the underworld and overworld.
Duergar have a straightforward and blunt nature, preferring simplicity in all things. Their strength and durability, as well as adaptation to the underground, led many to be enslaved by elven refugees fleeing the overworld. The large cities built by the duergar fell to the elves over time, and now only a few duergar towns remain in areas of the underworld that are considered too toxic for the elves to follow them into. Many duergars lost their freedom and even their name; the slaves and former slaves who chose to stay amongst the elves instead of escaping or earning their freedom were eventually renamed “yingil”, or gnome in the human tongue. Those who live free among the drow tend to be a source of cheap labor and entertainment, which falls in line with their instinct for simple living. Many of the current buildings in Chel'el'sussuloth were either former duergar city dwellings or newly built by duergar slaves or servants.
Some duergar actively resisted the drow Empire. Rebellious duergar developed camouflage and ambush tactics, which allowed them to stand up to mana arts on a more equal footing. Living in small nomadic groups has given them some mobility and the ability to better evade their enemies. Another factor that has helped their resistance is their development of chemical and gunpowder weapons, which they use to devastating effect while ambushing caravans on the roads between the overworld and underworld. Other inventions assist in their escapes, such as the irritant powder used against Sarghress direwolves during encounters with groups such as the Highland Raiders.Sources: