Fleshing out Norse and Tolkien-inspired Dwarves

Fleshing out Norse and Tolkien-inspired Dwarves:

Total posts: [9]
Aussie Tolkien freak
In the story I'm writing, a version of the Volsunga Saga, dwarves or dvergar and their Norse (and Tolkien)-inspired culture play a strong role in the plot, as the hero is a human raised in a dwarven community called Durin's Forge (His foster father is a dwarven prince explicitly compared to Thorin Oakenshield)

A while ago I read something about Norse dwarves (dvergar) that stated that an alternative origin story for them (ie not "were maggots in Ymir's flesh formed into relatively human shape") was that they were made of stone. This creation story reminds me of Tolkien's Vala Aulë/Mahal and his creation of the dwarves and it's almost certainly the one I'll use. (with the "maggots in Ymir's flesh'' one as an alternative version told by humans, elves, etc and referred to an allusion to dwarves being called "maggots.") Does anyone know of an alternative creation story for dwarves in Norse mythology?

Also, who's a good candidate for a dwarven creator god? I thought of Völundr, but he doesn't really fit (of course, I could also change some aspects of him). The Dvergar's religion is based on the Four Dwarves of the Directions (Nordri, Sudri, Austri and Vestri), shamanism, and ancestral worship. Like the Khazad of Tolkien, they use runes to write and cast spells, and adult dwarves have beards. Dwarven children are also raised strictly with a strong sense of community. Physical punishment is common.

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
2 demarquis15th May 2013 08:22:12 AM from Hell, USA , Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
How about Vili? My reasoning is that since Odin and his three brothers killed Ymir and created the earth from the corpse, it would make sense that the Dwarves would attribute their creation to the three brothers. Of them, Vili (wisdom) seems to be the closest in character to what Dwarves are known for.

Also, the theme of three brothers, which I know plays a role in your story.

edited 15th May '13 8:23:25 AM by demarquis

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong
Aussie Tolkien freak
@marquis: that's a good idea.

BTW, I'm also trying to decide on what aspects of Norse culture they could keep and which to discard.

edited 15th May '13 3:29:44 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
4 DeMarquis15th May 2013 05:35:17 PM from Hell, USA , Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Keep those aspects you need to tell the story and discard the rest (you can always bring them back later).
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong
Aussie Tolkien freak
Oh crap... how much borrowing can you do before it gets excessive? I've got a dwarf called Dáin, (a minor character), a reference to a character called Thorin Eikinskjöld who's got a grandfather called Thráin, a supporting character with an uncle called Thrór, mithril and the same supporting character's sister marrying someone from the Iron Hills. I intended these to be nods to my favourite writer...

So that would be;

the concept of fighting someone who has insulted your honour (if you are a man)

the concept of avenging your relatives' murders

the concept of a warrior culture

the concept of ancestor worship

edited 15th May '13 7:52:22 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
I think Dragon Age did this well, giving the similarities with Imperial Japan. It was pretty original. Maybe try mixing the Norse culture with other elements.
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7 MorwenEdhelwen1st Sep 2013 11:57:13 PM from Sydney, Australia
Aussie Tolkien freak
[up] Good idea.
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
8 VincentQuill2nd Sep 2013 10:13:24 AM from Dublin , Relationship Status: Sinking with my ship
[up] I'd say some Celtic culture could be added; Ogham stones, headhunting, hit-and-run raids, cattle (or whatever dwarven substitute) raids, there's really a lot to take from. Other than Celts though, some Himalayan cultures could work. The Potala Palace could pass for a dwarven fortress, maybe?
...can still bite
I don't know if this has any impact on your story, but the original Norse Dvergar were not short, and were capable of using magic. Their shortness was a later invention popularized by Tolkien.

Also, the older creation story for the Dvergar was that they were formed from the blood and bones of Ymir.
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Total posts: 9