The Deep and the Dark
These kits do NOT represent the entirety of possible options – feel free to bring it up if you’ve got something else on your mind. Many of the kits from the Complete Book of Dwarves are available, such as the Wayfinder or the Clansdwarf.
Ashluua (Spider-knight, lit. spider-rider)
Description: The Spider-Knight is just what his name implies – he is one of the elite cavalrymen, mounted warriors of his people. He possesses a finely-honed rapport with and skill in making a mount of the steeder, a powerful subterranean predator the size of a horse.
Requirements: A spider-knight must have Wisdom and Dexterity scores of 15 or higher.
Role: Ashluuane are the most elite and specialized of all of Ina-Sihirtu’s warriors, and carry great respect, and in some cases, a sort of subdued awe for their bravery skill, both real and perceived. They form their own company, and spend much of their time secluded with their beasts, caring for and feeding the creatures in high lairs. They are often the most independent of the city’s residents, and are given a certain amount of leeway in their activities. They are only called upon for the most dangerous and important of tasks.
Weapon Proficiencies: Required: Short bow and Lance are the most devastating weapons that all spider-knights employ. Recommended: Any other weapons associated with mounted warriors, Spider Archery (see below).
Nonweapon Proficiencies: Bonus: Animal Training (Ashniisku), Riding (Ashniisku*), recommended: General—Animal Handling, Direction Sense, Fire-building, (Priest) Healing (specifically veterinary), (Warrior) Animal Lore, Hunting, Mountaineering, Set Snares, Survival, Tracking.
Special Benefits: The spider-knight has an incredible bond with his mount and the steeder species, (called ashniisku by the dwarves) in general through a near-perfect understanding of that creature’s psychology. He gets a +5 positive reaction adjustment whenever dealing with these arachnids, and he finds it simple to control them. On anything less than a roll of 10 on the encounter table, he can persuade such beasts to leave him and his allies be; he is half as potent with non-steeder arachnids, receiving a +2 positive reaction adjustment whenever dealing with them, etc.
Additionally, every ashluua possesses his own steeder, which will serve him to its fullest ability, even unto death. He can only achieve this level of rapport with a steeder that he has raised personally; any others will serve as mounts, but will not serve him so diligently. Due to his acute understanding of the creature, and the latent psionic nature of many duergar, he forges a telepathic bond with his own steeder, and knows everything from its state of health to its distance from him intuitively, and vice-versa.
Furthermore, within his own culture, the spider-knight may act with near-impunity, so long as he does not grossly violate the laws and customs in place or endanger others, and gains a +2 reaction bonus when dealing with other duergar.
Spider-back Archery: This style specialization represents a familiarity with doubtlessly bizarre circumstances in which one might employ a bow or crossbow: on a wall, or even upside-down. Normally, these circumstances would make the use of such a weapon vexing and next to impossible, resulting in -4 or -6 penalties respectively. With this proficiency, a spider-knight can employ bows and crossbows from his steeder’s back at a no penalty while clinging to a wall, and -2 while clinging to a ceiling, which may be mitigated further by bonuses for having high ground, catching enemies unawares, and the like.
Special Hindrances: Due to the psychic bond the ashluua has with his steeder, if it ever dies, regardless of distance between them, the spider-knight immediately takes 2d6 points of damage and must make a saving throw vs. spells. If he fails, the backlash hurls him into a comatose state wherein he appears to be dead to the untrained eye for one hour per point of damage taken from the previous 2d6 roll.
*Riding a steeder is unlike riding almost any other creature, and it is a unique skillset. Controlling and simply staying on one, not to mention enduring its fantastic leaps and fighting from the back of such an odd monstrosity, is not the same as horseback or even griffon-back riding.
Senur (defender, lit. shield-warrior):
Description: The defenders of the dwarves are generally tunnel-fighters who have learned, through long acquaintance with the murderous bands of orcs, goblins, trolls, ogres, and other creatures of the dark undergound, to stop-up tunnels with their very forms and to make an impenetrable shield-wall when the time comes.
Role:Ina-Sihirtu’s senuren represent a great deal of its warriors: the quarry mine-guards and a large chunk of all scouting parties, and thus there are no special requirements beyond that of their class.
Weapons: Short swords, spears, military picks, warhammers – anything that doesn’t require a large amount of space to wield.
Non-weapon Proficiencies: Bonus:Endurance, Close-quarters fighting (Dex check to gain +2 to hit with bludgeoning/piercing weapons in small enclosed spaces).
Special Benefits: Senurene gain a free proficiency in weapon and shield fighting, as shields are quite useful in the underground. They also learn to use their surroundings to their advantage without too much lateral movement; a Defender may subtract one from their AC if they did not move during the previous turn and are in a confined space.
They gain an Attack of Opportunity against anyone attempting to flank them; this means anyone entering a flanking square for any reason, regardless of movement rate.
Special Hindrances: Senurene suffer a +2 penalty to all initiative counts, as they are generally used to waiting to strike. This does not affect actions that have been held, so they may still roll to attack first.
Ushnir (lit. venom/spell-prince)
Description: Steeped in magical power, the true chosen of the Incantator wield powers like no other dwarves: wizardly magic. Through the ritual draughts and unguents of the ishibene, these brave and enduring souls forfeit much of the hardiness of their kind in exchange for the ability to wield great power on behalf of their people. Ushnirene must have Intelligence scores of 13 or more, and Wisdom and Constitution scores of 15 or more.
Role: Potentially the most individually powerful denizens of Ina-Sihirtu, and swathed in secrecy even within their own city, it is the task of Nusku’s chosen to offer guidance and protection to their people as a whole, if not on an individual basis. A tribunal of the most powerful ushnirene form a loose oligarchy, and their oft-spectral hands guide their lessers; the newly-wrought move amongst the people, and are generally not distinguished from their ishiben tutors by all but the most inquisitive minds, and fulfill similar roles – the oversight of important day-to-day affairs, the success of worthy projects such as new delve-towns and, occasionally, combating the foes of the deep dwarves. They are encouraged by their elders, in general, to do as they see fit and to grow as they will, for this is Nusku’s way, and it is a sad but necessary process that often only the most gifted ever live to approach succession of their tribunal of masters as the city’s rulers.
Weapons: As normal for wizards; daggers and staves most commonly.
Non-weapon Proficiencies: Bonus: Spellcraft, Reading/Writing (inimgir), Religion (Nusku); Recommended: General: None, Priest: Healing, Rogue: Disguise, Wizard: Herbalism, Alchemy, among others
Special Benefits: Spell-princes are mighty in the ways of magic, and are essentially dual-specialist Transmuter/Necromancers, gaining all the attendant benefits and drawbacks; they operate as Channelers, with the Spell Points and Spell Fatigue optional rules from the Player’s Option: Spells and Magic, though their magical spark comes from the double-edged sword of Nusku’s blessings rather than some necessarily inborn talent.
Special Hindrances: Many – they forego their natural immunity to poisons of alchemical nature, and lose their inherent powers of Enlargement and Invisibility, in addition to the duergar Constitution bonus, though they still retain the dwarven constitution bonus to saving throws vs. spells and poisons. Furthermore, for every level the spell-prince gains, he stands a 5% chance of losing a single point from any of his physical ability scores, chosen at random, as his arcane power erodes him from within; this is cumulative with any penalties he might incur from aging or disease. Finally, in return for their dual-specialization, ushnirene have THREE opposition schools: Abjuration, Illusion, and Enchantment.