Excerpts 08/07/2004

Races of Stone
By David Noonan, Jesse Decker, Michelle Lyons

Any race that spends its time living in the earth or atop its mountains is potentially a race of stone. This book focuses on three races of great interest to players and DMs: the dwarves and their vast underground communities, the burrow-dwelling gnomes, and the goliaths, nomadic mountain-dwellers. Along with detailed discussions of their cultures, equipment, magic, and feats, discover new gnome and dwarf subraces such as the dream dwarf and whisper gnome, plus other races of stone. Be ye warned, however: Not everyone is friendly -- this book also details the stone drake and other classic enemies, and inspirations for creating entire campaigns of stone.

From Chapter 1: Dwarves

Dwarf Deities


Lesser Deity (Chaotic Neutral)

Known as the Bearded One for the thick hair that obscures most of his face, Hanseath represents the festive side of dwarven culture. Brewers hold him in high regard, as do dwarf barbarians and any dwarf who charges headlong into battle heedless of the odds.

Portfolio: War, carousing, alcohol.

Domains: Chaos, Strength, Travel, War.

Cleric Training: Hanseath's clerics often serve in dwarf military units, where they act as healers and spellcasters, urging their fellow dwarves into battle. Such units are not always a comfortable mix of personnel, though, since Hanseath's clerics also have a rebellious streak. Many dwarf armies segregate Hanseath clerics into their own berserker units.

Quests: Hanseath's followers are seemingly always off on a great crusade of some sort; they're either in battle or marching toward the next battle. Hanseath often orders his followers to make war against the traditional enemies of the dwarves: goblinoids, orcs, giants, and drow.

Prayers: Hanseath's prayers are often chanted or sung. Many have simple rhyme schemes and frequent, repetitive choruses. In other words, they're drinking songs.

Temples: Hanseath's shrines are great festhalls dominated by long tables where worshipers feast and raise goblets to Hanseath's glory. Most have extensive kitchens and pantries attached.

Rites: Hanseath's rites look like great feasts, rich with food and drink. Most are raucous affairs performed prior to battle and after a great victory, with one exception -- the Ritual of the Cleft Shield. Few events in dwarven life are more heartbreakingly solemn than this ritual, performed by followers of Hanseath for a particularly beloved comrade who fell in battle.

Herald and Allies: Hanseath's herald is a 20th-level celestial dwarf barbarian. Howlers, green slaads, and death slaads are his allies.

Favored Weapon: Greataxe.


Lesser Deity (Neutral Evil)

Roknar the Tempter claims to be Moradin's brother. Moradin's clerics say that he's not truly a dwarf at all, but an ancient evil that took dwarf form shortly after the All-Father created the dwarves. Roknar urges his followers to delve deep into the earth and takes its treasures for themselves. "Power and wealth is all that matters," teaches Roknar, "and only the weak forego the chance to grab more for themselves."

Portfolio: Greed, intrigue, lies, earth.

Domains: Destruction, Earth, Evil, Trickery.

Cleric Training: Roknar's clerics attract new followers by tempting them with promises of riches and power. In particular, they tend to prey on clans and families that have been the victim of real or perceived injustices.

Quests: If it promises vast wealth, Roknar's followers will quest for it. Roknar is particularly fond of raiding the treasure troves of powerful dragons -- and the treasuries of Moradin's temples.

Prayers: Many of Roknar's prayers reference the aspiration of the follower. "I'll have enough wealth to fill the coffer room/And my rivals' bones will molder in the cave of doom," says one battle prayer.

Temples: Roknar's hidden temples are opulent to the extreme, so few followers doubt Roknar's ability to deliver on the promise of wealth. Mounds of stolen treasure are carelessly scattered across the floor -- driving home the point that Roknar has more wealth and power than he can use.

Rites: Roknar's rites are few -- mostly curses against rivals and pleas for successful subterfuge. Many rites are performed with all the participants cloaked and hooded, so most worshipers don't know the identity of their fellow followers.

Herald and Allies: Roknar's herald is a fiendish dwarf 10th-level rogue/10th-level blackguard. His allies are shadow mastiffs, hezrou demons, and nalfeshnee demons.

Favored Weapon: Dagger.


Demigod (Neutral)

The Tender of the Forge, as Tharmekhûl is also known, is Moradin's assistant. He is the deity of furnaces and fire. Usually smiths and other dwarves who revere the creative power of the forge worship him. However, fire has a destructive side, so Tharmekhûl is also revered as a minor war deity, primarily concerned with siege engines and other weapons. He is depicted in religious art as an azer or as a bronze-skinned dwarf with hair and beard made of black smoke.

Portfolio: The forge, fire, warfare.

Domains: Destruction, Fire, War.

Cleric Training: Clerics of Tharmekhûl are few and far between. Most commonly, a dwarf community has one cleric and one apprentice, who takes that cleric's place upon his death, adopting a new apprentice at that time.

Quests: Tharmekhûl's interests are narrow. His clerics might carry flame from the Elemental Plane of Fire to kindle a new forge, or they might delve deep into ancient ruins to discover a lost forge and retrieve the seal of the smith who worked it.

Prayers: Fire imagery of all sorts fills the liturgy of Tharmekhûl's worship. Fire is a purifier, and it also represents the external dangers that temper the dwarf race. A daily prayer begins with the words "Forge and furnace, melt me and mold me. . . ."

Temples: Tharmekhûl does not have temples of his own. His clerics offer prayers as they tend the forge that lies in the heart of each of Moradin's temples.

Rites: The rites honoring Tharmekhûl all involve the tending of an actual forge: preparing it for use and stoking and damping its flames.

Herald and Allies: Tharmekhûl's herald is an azer 10th-level fighter/5th-level cleric. His allies are fire elementals and azers.

Favored Weapon: Warhammer.

From Chapter 2: Gnomes

Gnome Deities

Gelf Darkhearth

Intermediate Deity (Chaotic Neutral)

Gelf is Garl Glittergold's brother, and rarely have two brothers been more bitter rivals. Gelf, depicted as a gray-skinned dwarf with a black beard, takes obsessive delight in opposing everything his brother attempts. This compulsion puts Gelf in the tragic position of tearing down the gnome society he loves, just to thwart Garl Glittergold. Gelf isn't evil, but he feels compelled to destroy everything Garl holds dear. Gelf is an angry, sorrowful deity, and he attracts followers of similar temperament.

Portfolio: Entropy, revenge.

Domains: Chaos, Destruction, War.

Cleric Training: Would-be clerics of Gelf are individually recruited by senior clerics who sense kindred spirits. Those who follow Gelf are rebels so committed to their cause that they would do anything to defeat the authorities they despise.

Quests: If someone has hatched a plot against one of Garl Glittergold's temples -- or against a thriving gnome community -- Gelf Darkhearth is probably behind it. He takes particular glee in using Garl's faithful against him, duping adventurers into doing his bidding.

Prayers: Gelf's prayers are often wordless ululations -- long strings of vowel sounds. To nonbelievers, they sound like gibberish, but the exact order of sounds has meaning to the faithful.

Temples: Gelf's temples aren't hidden, but they are out of the way and placed so that Gelf's worshipers aren't seen coming and going. Most gnomes know where to find a temple to Gelf (assuming one is nearby), but few can think of a reason to go there.

Rites: Many of Gelf's rites seek to bestow a curse or ill will on a nonbeliever. Few are known outside the fairly insular circle of Gelf's worshipers -- with one exception: Almost every gnome warrior knows the Rite of the Adroit, a brief group ceremony that steels the minds of gnomes to the chaos of war.

Herald and Allies: The herald of Gelf is a 20th-level fiendish gnome rogue. His allies are succubus demons, green slaadi, and death slaadi.

Favored Weapon: Warhammer.

The Glutton

Lesser Deity (Chaotic Evil)

Usually depicted as a massive, ravenous badger or wolverine, The Glutton figures prominently in the bedtime stories gnomes tell naughty children -- "Go to sleep or The Glutton will get you!" The Glutton is blamed whenever a burrow collapses or another misfortune befalls the gnomes. It is said that The Glutton was once a gnome who was cursed with a hideous form and a desire to consume the gnomes and all they hold dear.

Portfolio: Disaster, greed.

Domains: Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Strength.

Cleric Training: The Glutton's few clerics are all secretive cult leaders, for no gnomes would willingly allow worshipers of The Glutton into their burrows. They recruit new clerics from among the mad and the hopeless.

Quests: The Glutton's goals are straightforward enough that he doesn't send followers on quests. But the cults that act in his name might send adventurers on quests to acquire more evil power.

Prayers: Cultists of The Glutton take his name literally when they pray, stuffing themselves with food as they make profane utterances to their evil deity.

Temples: The Glutton has no temples. His cultists meet wherever they can find a measure of secrecy.

Rites: Rites require a level of organization that The Glutton is uninterested in. If his cultists want a ceremony to perform, they have to create it themselves.

Herald and Allies: The herald of The Glutton is a balor with 20 Hit Dice. Allies are howlers, greater barghests, and nalfeshnee demons.

Favored Weapon: Heavy mace.

Sheyanna Flaxenstrand

Intermediate Deity (Chaotic Good)

It is said that Sheyanna is the source of the rivalry between Garl and Gelf, for both woo her in many gnome legends. Sheyanna doesn't commit to either brother, however, choosing instead to encourage matchmaking and passionate affairs among the mortal gnomes in her care. Thus a romantic triangle is formed -- a triangle that has launched a thousand folk tales. Sheyanna is said to be the ideal of gnome beauty, a delicate blonde princess with a smile that melts even Gelf's icy heart. Sheyanna is often depicted with Hearthlight, a golden torch that can spew a fountain of flame wherever she aims it.

Portfolio: Love, beauty, passion.

Domains: Chaos, Fire, Good, Healing.

Cleric Training: Gnomes joke that clerics of Sheyanna are trained extensively in the amorous arts -- and thus they make great spouses. While that isn't quite true, her clergy does indeed recruit the most attractive gnomes in a given community.

Quests: Sheyanna's quests are often to reunite lovers separated by the tides of fortune. Characters might have to rescue an imprisoned gnome wife, guard a bridegroom on his journey to the wedding, or act as an emissary between two noble gnomes during a marital dispute.

Prayers: Many of Sheyanna's prayers are sung as ballads that "court" Sheyanna, praising her beauty and other romantic qualities, and then asking for a reciprocal token of her esteem.

Temples: Sheyanna's temples are often small additions built onto Garl Glittergold's temples. Many a nervous bride awaits her wedding ceremony in a cloistered chamber within Sheyanna's temple and then walks to Garl's temple for the actual ceremony.

Rites: The marriage rite is central to Sheyanna's faith. She also blesses healthy babies and has a number of fertility rites.

Herald and Allies: The herald of Sheyanna is a 20th-level ghaele eladrin cleric. Her allies are bralani eladrins, ghaele eladrins, and Huge fire elementals.

Favored Weapon: Heavy flail.

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