Duergar 5e D&D Guide

Duergar are Dwarves who live in the Underdark. In the past, they were slaves of the mental mind flayers. Because they were forced to work as slaves, their bodies changed.

They got mental powers and turned gray, which is why they are sometimes called “gray Dwarves.” The Duergar usually live deep in the ground.

Like most dwarves, they have a natural connection to the earth because of this.

The Duergar were first made into a playable race in D&D 5e’s Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. In Monsters of the Multiverse, their rules have been changed a bit.

Our guide has all the information you need to play as one of these tough Dwarves.

What are Duergar in D&D 5e?

In the Player’s Handbook, Duergar were listed as a subrace of dwarves, but their statistics were not included. The Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (SCAG) has their player character numbers, though.

In the Forgotten Realms (Faerun), the duergar are more developed than in any other setting. There, well-known authors like R.A. Salvatore back up Dungeons & Dragons tales about the duergar.

The duergar have a city called Gracklstugh, the City of Blades, in the Underdark of Faerun. The Drow city of Menzoberranzan is 100 miles away. Like drow, duergar are usually bad.

At least the men are usually bald on top and have beards. Even though they are just as strong as other dwarfs, they tend to be smaller and have grey skin and white hair.

They are also called “gray dwarves” because of the way they look.

Duergar appearance

The Duergar are Dwarves, and they have a lot in common with each other, like being short, stocky, and likely to grow beards.

Even so, they look different from their Dwarven kin, with their grey skin being the most obvious difference. Duergar also tend to be smaller and balder than their relatives who don’t live so deep underground.

When Duergar do show up on the surface, they are usually refugees or criminals. This means that not only are they usually much rougher, but their tattoos and brands also show that they are.

  • Size: medium
  • Alignment: lawful evil
  • Armor Class 16: (scale mail, shield)
  • Hit Points: 26 (4d8+4)
  • Speed: 25 ft.
  • Damage Resistance: poison
  • Senses: Darkvision 120 ft., Passive Perception 10
  • Languages: Dwarvish, Undercommon
  • Challenge: 1 (200 XP)
  • Duergar Resilience: advantage on saving throws vs. poison, spells, and illusions plus resistance to being charmed or paralyzed
  • Sunlight Sensitivity: While in sunlight, duergar have disadvantage on attack rolls and any Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
  • Innate Magic: Enlarge and Invisibility
  • War Pick: Melee: +4 to hit, Dam. (1d8 +2), 2x when enlarged
  • Javelin: Ranged: +4 to hit, range 30/120 ft., Dam. (1d6 +2) 2x when enlarged
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
14 (+2)11 (+0)14 (+2)11 (+0)10 (+0)9 (-1)

Duergar personality

The harsh conditions of the Underdark and their miserable lives as slaves and test subjects have given the Duergar a dark and negative view of life.

Duergar became less and less emotional as they went through life’s hard times. This helped them deal with how bad they felt.

Because of this, the Duergar have gone all the way with Dwarven ideas. They are often much more closed off, greedy, and pessimistic about other people than their other Dwarven relatives.

By taking Dwarven values to the extreme, Duergar think they are the most typical Dwarf and that all other Dwarves have forgotten what it means to be a real Dwarf. They aren’t tough or hardworking enough to make the Dwarves proud.

Since they got rid of the mind flayers, the Duergar have built fortresses deep in the Underdark that look great and are almost impossible to attack.

It shows how hardworking the Duergar are that they were able to build such impressive defenses with so little space.

The Duergar have reached such high levels of craftsmanship out of a love of work and joy in what they have done, as well as out of a need to do so.

Duergar names

Because Duergar live so long, many of them have lived through the stories that humans call legends. Most of the time, the clan elders of a Duergar tribe will name a child after a tale.

These names mean something, and a Duergar can no longer use a Dwarven name if they bring shame to their clan.

Some examples of male Duergar names are Adrik, Barn, Dain, Einkil, Fargrim, Harbek, Horbir, Kildrak, Orsik, Rurik, Thoradin, Traubon, Tugnuth, Ulfgar, Vondal, and Wenmead.

Amber, Dagnal, Eldeth, Gunnloda, Gurdis, Harra, Kathra, Ilde, Ismel, Lodra, Mardred, Sannl, Tharfani, Tobera, and Vistra are some examples of Duergar girl names.

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Duergar will also have clan names that show their place in the Dwarven social structure. A Duergar is very proud to be a part of a well-known clan. Clan names usually come from the trades and jobs that clan members did in the past.

Anvilclasm, Balderk, Battlehammer, Clawhelm, Dankil, Dragonbreaker, Fireforge, Holderhek, Loderr, Rocksmelter, Rumnahein, Stonesmoke, Torunn, Ungart, and Ulmbrewer are some common clan names.

Duergar Features in 5e

The next part of the guide will focus on the rules from Monsters of the Multiverse instead of the rules from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, where the Duergar were first described.

The newest version gives you more ways to improve your ability scores, more reasonable resistances, and better spellcasting that comes naturally, so it’s a better choice anyway.

Ability Scores+2 to one ability score and +1 to another or +1 to 3 different ability scores
Creature TypeHumanoid
SizeMedium
LifespanAbout 350 years
Speed30ft
LanguagesCommon and 1 other
TraitsDarkvision, Duergar Magic, Dwarven Resilience, Psionic Fortitude
Book found inMordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

If you want to play as a Duergar, your character will have the following traits and skills:

Duergar Traits

Darkvision: In dim light, you can see as far as 120 feet as if it were bright light, and in darkness, you can see as far as 120 feet as if it were dim light. However, in such light, you can only tell the difference between shades of grey.

Duergar Magic: At level 3, you can cast enlarge/reduce on yourself, and at level 5, you can cast stealth on yourself without using any material components. You can only cast these skills without using a spell slot once per long rest. For these spells, your ability to cast them is either intelligence, wisdom, or charm, depending on what you choose.

Dwarven Resilience: If you are poisoned, you have an edge on saving throws. You can also take less damage from poison.

Psionic Fortitude: When you try to save against being charmed or stunned, you have a bonus.

How to Play as a Duergar

If you play as a Duergar, you’ll probably be suspicious, sarcastic, and very closed off.

Because of these traits, it can be hard for Duergar to work with other people, but it’s also important to remember that they can work together even when they complain that everyone else is doing something wrong.

You might be a terrible person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help.

You will still want to play on a Duergar’s cynicism while making sure you don’t make things hard for the rest of the party.

You’ll probably see kind actions as attempts to manipulate or trick you. You’ll also be loud about other people’s mistakes and proud of your own bravery.

Even though Duergar tend to be bad because they are greedy and moody, your character doesn’t have to be the same way. Instead, you can focus on the idea of a character who is basically a good person but has had bad luck in life.

You might help other people while complaining that it’s always you who has to do things right. You might never let on that you’re trying to help, just acting like you have to do it yourself if you want something done right.

The Duergar and the Illithids

Mind-flayers are bad aliens with psychic skills and tentacles coming out of their faces. Their real name is Illithids.

The Duergar are one of many D&D races that were once slaves of the mind-flayers, along with the Githyanki and the Githzerai. Even after they had worked hard to get their release, they were never quite the same.

In the Forgotten Realms/Faerun setting, the Duergar used to be part of the Shanatar Empire of the Eight Dwarvish Clans.

People said that the clans had fought, and that the Clan Duergar broke away from the other clans but did not go to war with them.

They dug deep into the ground and dug for gold. They went farther than any dwarf had ever gone before. Many Duergar died because they worked too hard, but they kept going.

When Clan Duergar finally figured out why they wanted to go to the deep, it was too late. The mind-flayers’ Elder Brain was using its psionic skills to put ideas into the minds of the Duergar.

When they got to the city of mind-flayers, it was too late to run away, and their brains had already been taken over by the mind-flayers.

Even though the other groups of dwarves knew about this, they didn’t help. The duergar were forced to work as slaves for thousands of years, and over time, their bodies and thoughts changed to fit under the control of the mind-flayers.

This effect can’t be blown out of proportion. The mind-flayers might be the best psionics masters in the D&D universe.

If they had been able to take full control of the Astral Plane, they would have been able to control how all living things on every plane of existence thought.

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Once the duergar were free of the mind-flayers, they tried to go back to the top. The other dwarves didn’t want anything to do with the duergar because they thought they were dirty.

Bitterness over being turned down led to a long, bloody war. Even now, the duergar and the other dwarves don’t like each other.

The duergar think something like this about the other dwarves:

These brave and good dwarves had left one of their clans to be tortured by mind-flayers in ways they couldn’t even imagine.

Where was the bravery at that time? Mind-flayers paraded one of their clans as slaves for thousands of years while these brave fighters sat and did nothing.

It wasn’t the courage of dwarves that won them their freedom; it was the courage of duergar.

Were they given something for being brave?

Did the dwarfs greet their long-lost family members?

No.

Those self-righteous, hypocritical dwarves thought that the mind-flayers had made the duergar dirty. They didn’t want duergar blood to make their society less pure.

That clean society of worthless cowards who act brave but ran away when the duergar needed them the most.

They could have been our brothers, but they decided to go in a different direction. Now, they will work for us.

Duergar Society

Duergar have lasting damage to their minds. The mind flayers have changed their brains so that they can no longer be creative.

Their towns are boring and boring, and there isn’t much art there. No matter what, they are master craftsmen, and the quality of the utilitarian things they make is amazing.

The present ruler’s face is on one side of a coin from The City of Blades, and a mind-flayer’s skull is on the other. As low as we can go is written on the sign.

Their priests have to go through painful ceremonies. The duergar have their own gods, Laduguer and Duerra, but it is said that they died a long time ago.

People say that these clerics are privately worshipping Asmodeus, Lord of the Nine Hells, whether they know it or not.

Duergar as NPCs (Non-player Characters)

Merchants

Aside from the normal hacking and slashing, player characters may be lucky or unlucky enough to meet and talk with duergar. If the players do start talking to each other, it’s likely to buy something.

Duergar merchants have high-quality things, like magic items, that they can sell, trade, or get stolen. They also have a variety of valuable stones and metals that are hard to find.

Most duergar traders will be lawful evil and follow the values of their society. However, because they are merchants, they are open to doing business with people from other places.

There is no warmth or trust in this relationship, but there can be some respect and even honor, based on how well the two people play their roles.

The answer to the exploring question can also be found in shops. A player can give their character a merchant background, and it is expected that they will go on adventures to find new treasures to sell and make their business and, to some extent, duergar society better.

In real history, traders were often the first people to go on adventures. They were not always the fat, greedy businessmen portrayed in movies. In fact, your player character could be a duergar Marco Polo if the NPC is controlled by the DM.

Bodyguards

The traders of Duergar are not stupid. They won’t be able to carry all that wealth around unless they have strong arms. The more important the wealth, the more important the guards.

Especially as they get better, these guardians won’t just be mindless muscle. They will have their own personalities, and how well players understand and act out these personalities will affect how easy or hard it is to negotiate with trader bosses.

Most of the time, duergar merchants won’t hire people from other races, but there are some cases.

Merchants with ties to the priests, especially if they have ties to Asmodeus, might be able to trade with devils, tieflings, and other outsiders from other planes.

Agents

Even though the duergar don’t like people from other races, their “invisible hand” affects the politics of the other races, both in the Underdark and on the surface.

Their agents could be spies, diplomats, or assassins, or they could be fighters, clerics, or other people who could cast spells.

This agent or the person who controls the agent could be a tough foe for the players, maybe even a Big Bad.

Or, the agent could be a member of a rival group that the players can use to fight the Big Bad and other enemies through clever role-playing.

When these spies are caught and asked the right questions, they can be a good source of information. But be careful, because a race that had been a slave to the mind-flayers for thousands of years could have their own ways of avoiding questioning and mind-probes.

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Outcasts

There are more people like Dwalin the Duergar Sorcerer than you might think. Duergar culture is strict and doesn’t like people who are different. Many people can’t meet up, even if they try.

Because of the mind-flayers, the duergar are a mentally and psychically broken race. Most duergar can still work despite the damage, but some can’t.

Their priesthood practices are also very cruel, and many people don’t make it through them. Many of the people who do make it through are still broken in their minds and bodies.

A society with such strict rules is sure to have people who don’t fit in, and exile is the best way to get rid of them.

Why not kill people?

Even though people can always be killed, they don’t do it if it’s not necessary. Putting him to death would show that they care.

The duergar are not crazy drow who worship Lolth and send killers to the surface to kill every drow who turns good and becomes a ranger. The duergar have been hurt so much that they don’t care about much.

Their priests don’t seem to care much if their gods are dead or not. Laduguer, Asmodeus, Duerra… As long as they get their magic, it doesn’t matter what happens.

Which Classes work best for Duergar?

Monsters of the Multiverse has changed Duergar so that you can now choose which ability scores get better.

This means that matching a class to your race is more about which classes will get the most out of your skills.

Your increased resistance to poison, stun, and charm are the important things to think about. Most of the time, these skills help martials who are in the middle of a fight the most, but anyone can use them and they protect you from more things than most races.

The other bonus is that your natural spells can now make you invisible and make things bigger or smaller. Since you can only use these on yourself, you don’t need to improve any of your spellcasting skills.

Best Classes for Duergar

Enlarge is the most important part of this. It gives each attack you make an extra d4 damage. This doesn’t help spells, but it does help both melee and ranged weapons, whether you’re using dexterity or strength to hit.

This means that the best classes for you are ones that attack a lot on their turn. So, if you want to play as a Duergar, we suggest using the following classes:

  • Fighter
  • Monk
  • Paladin
  • Ranger

The best choices here are the fighter and the monk, since they have the most attacks and will therefore get the most bonus d4s in battle.

They also tend to focus on close fighting, which makes resilience a more important trait. Rangers and Paladins do have spell spots, which means they can cast their innate spells again, giving them more chances to use them before they need to rest.

You could also make a case for subclasses like hexblade warlocks and college of sword bards that get extra hits.

Worst Classes for Duergar

Classes that don’t like to attack as much, like bards, sorcerors, warlocks, and wizards, will get less out of a Duergar’s powers.

Artificers might seem like a good choice if you want a battle smith or armorer who gets extra hits, but they already have access to enlarge/reduce and invisibility, so they don’t gain much here.

Barbarians might seem like a good choice because of how good they are at fighting, but rage and innate powers can’t be used together because you can’t cast spells when you’re raging and you lose focus when you do.

FAQs

What are some Duergar stereotypes?

The Duergar are often stereotyped as being greedy, ruthless, and cruel. They are also often seen as being untrustworthy and dangerous. However, it is important to remember that these stereotypes are just that – stereotypes. Not all Duergar are the same, and there are many Duergar who are kind, brave, and honorable.

Would Duergar Take Captured Adventurers as Prisoners and Slaves?

Yes. Most of the time, the duergar don’t kill just for fun. They will take almost any prisoner as a slave, even a dwarf. Some slaves, on the other hand, might be offered as sacrifices to gods and devils, and there’s always a dragon nearby who wants to eat.

Are Duergar Psionic?

They ought to be. RAW (rules as written), neither the description of a duergar as a monster in 5e nor of a duergar as a player character in SCAG says anything about their psionic powers, other than the magic that comes naturally to them. Some choices could be made up by the DM.

The duergar, on the other hand, took a different road than the githyanki. Even though the githyanki hated the mind-flayers who used to be their psionic masters, they decided to use the power that came with having worked with them in the past. The numbers they have show that.

The duergar, on the other hand, decided to escape, be negative, and feel sad. Instead of enjoying psionics, they fight it. This is mirrored in their resistance to magic, and if I were the DM, I would also make up some resistance to psionics.

Do Duergar have Stealth?

RAW, not more than anyone else, except for Invisibility. But the suggestion is that their gray skin helps them blend in with the Underdark and that they can make stealth items like Boots of Elvenkind (or Duergarkind in this case).