Anyway: the (fantasy rpg) Dwarf. I don't know why people started stereotyping them as Scottish, but it has never really resonated with me. In Angela's game, in which I play a dwarf, I go for more of an Amish angle: the focus on traditionalism and craftsmanship is there. I also declared that dwarves in that world wear hats - each of which has a chip of stone sewn into it - because it would be indecent to go around without stone over your head.
Last week, I thought of a bit of a stranger hook for dwarven culture: What if dwarves were all obsessed with sex?
Let me throw out a few postulates to make this work:
- Dwarves are biologically distinct from humans. Their reproductive systems, in particular, are very different - dwarves bond for life on a hormonal/biological level to the first dwarven member of the opposite sex with whom they have sexual intercourse.
- The incidence of maternal death during childbirth is very high for dwarves. There could be any number of reasons for this. I'm not planning on going into them.
- Dwarven women are remarkably fertile.
- Dwarven mates are strongly physically attracted to each other.
- While dwarves can engage in sexual activities with those whom they aren't mated to (including members of the same sex)- doing so provokes a strong desire to return to their mate - whether or not that individual is still alive.
Dwarves ruled by pent-up sexual frustration. They may or may not get along personally with their mate. Engaging in sexual activity might result in death (or the loss of a mate), but is near irresistable in some circumstances.
So... dwarves tend to spend long periods of time away from their mates. They engage in time and attention-intensive activities. They segregate by gender. They tend towards conservatism and are disapproving of displays of affection or sexuality. Older male dwarves who have lost their mates often become suicidal (though they tend to try to make their deaths count - and often seek death in battle).
Does it work?