Natural humanoid
Type Natural humanoid
Vision Darkvision
Location The Underdark
Languages Dwarven, Deep Speech

Duergar, also known as gray dwarves,[1] are a subterranean race, closely related to dwarves, that carve out their existence in the Underdark and are akin to surface dwarves in a manner similar to how drow are to surface elves.

Physical characteristicsEdit

Like their dwarven brethren, duergar are typically stocky figures, though beyond this there are many differences. Both male and female duergar are typically bald, with females also lacking the capacity to grow facial hair. When they are not bald, however, duergar grow spiny quills like those of a porcupine rather than typical hair, both along their scalp and in their beards, which they can shoot at their enemies. Many are also thinner than their dwarven brethren. Most obvious, however, is their dull, gray skin and hair, often matched with an equally stolid expression.

Duergar are in some ways even better adapted to underground living than dwarves. While dwarves lack the capacity to see completely in the deepest darkness, this is not a problem for duergar, who are so adapted. This comes at a cost, however, and duergar, like drow of the past, have a special vulnerability to sunlight. Duergar are also immune to many of the ancient techniques used by the mind flayers to control them, such as paralysis, phantasms, alchemical poisons, or some types of illusion, as well as a general resistance to fire or poison. Duergar are also a sneaky, crafty people, unlike their honor-bound cousins and often excel at setting up ambushes or moving out of sight. Conversely, many also are good at detecting hidden objects. A few duergar also possess natural abilities akin to the enlarge and invisibility spells.

Because many duergar found on the surface world are criminal exiles, a surface dweller who encounters one of the gray dwarves is likely to notice facial and arm tattoos that mark the duergar as a traitor to his or her people.


Duergar are, as a whole, generally cruel and malevolent creatures, but as in most evil races this is as much a cultural affectation as a psychological trait. In the past, before the Spellplague, a few duergar turned away from the worship of the wicked gods who ruled over the Duergar such as Deep Duerra and found salvation through the Morndinsamman. Other duergar have found escape from their society through petty crime, tattooed and cast out from their cities beneath the surface and driven into the arms of other races. Their grim disposition, however, makes them unlikely to form many lasting friendships.


The duergar were once a settlement of shield dwarves in the dwarven kingdom of Shanatar. The shield dwarves that eventually became the duergar lived in certain strongholds that fell under attack of illithids, and were captured. During their captivity, which lasted for generations, the illithids performed many cruel and unusual experiments on the dwarves. Eventually, the resulting race rose up against their captors and gained their freedom from the mind flayers. Now the duergar inhabit the Underdark and have been left as cruel and evil as their captors and bitterly withdrawn as a result of their experiences.