In almost every fantasy world Dwarfs are almost always shown to have superior technology compared to other races. Why is that?

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    Frankly, this is indeed the case for pretty much every fantasy world and we know that! I'm sure this can be answered very well in a general way and I doubt reducing the question to just a single book series or whatever would make this a remotely better question. This is the kind of question where this site and its coverage, not of single works but the fantasy genre itself is supposed to play its strengths. Dec 10, 2018 at 22:45
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    Not really an answer, but the archetype for dwarves are probably Alberich and his brethren from the Nibelungen saga (themselves I think rooted in even older mythology), who created technical marvels like the cloak of invisibility and the (for Wagners version of the Nibelungen) eponymous ring that grants power beyond measure. Dec 10, 2018 at 22:50
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    @TARS - It needs some editing. The question writer has discovered a trend, but by declaring it as universal they've rendered the question a little too broad, by opening it up to a parade of answers listing a single work with technologically backward or average dwarves.
    – Obie 2.0
    Dec 10, 2018 at 23:25
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    @Adamant That's not what the question is asking, though and providing such answer would...pretty much miss the point entirely. They might as well be flagged as "not an answer" in that case. Granted, the question could do with some additional elaboration, but...that wouldn't amount to singling down on a single universe, rather than underfeeding the general trend it claims and that everyone is implicitly aware of with a little more explicit substance. However, with examples maybe, not with specific target worlds, as that would also encourage useless single-case answers. Dec 10, 2018 at 23:31
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    It seems to me that there are certain common elements amongst dwarves in most fantasy settings, and that those elements would tend to lead towards the development of technology faster than other races might discover it. I actually had an answer (that references no specific works) almost entered, when the question was closed.
    – RDFozz
    Dec 10, 2018 at 23:46

2 Answers 2


In mythology, dwarves have been portrayed as master smiths, making the most amazing items in their forges.

In Norse mythology, the dwarves Sindre and Brokk forged Thor's hammer Mjölnir, Odin's ring Draupnir, which drips eight new gold rings every ninth night, and the boar Gyllinbursti, whose golden bristles glowed in the dark. Their rivals, the Sons of Ivaldi, forged Sif's magical golden, growing hair (after Loki in mischief cut off her original hair), Odin's spear Gungnir, and Frey's ship Skíðblaðnir, which can be folded up and put in a pocket.

In Der Ring des Nibelungen, which is based on the Germanic Nibelungenlied and the Nordic Völsunga Saga and The Eddas, Alberich the Dwarf forges the Ring, while his brother Mime forges the Tarnhelm (which can turn the bearer invisible). The Ring is based on the Andvaranaut in Völsunga Saga and is forged by the dwarf Andvari.

Since smithcraft, with its forges and production of all sorts of fantastic items, can be seen as the ancestor of industrialism, later fantasy authors have often updated dwarves to be more technologically advanced than the other people of their world.


While every fantasy series tends to deal slightly differently with their fantasy races, there tend to be some common denominators.

  • Dwarves are generally written as living underground.
  • Dwarves are usually associated with mining, and with forging.
  • In many fantasy stories, dwarves tend not be be traditional magic-users; in some stories, dwarves are naturally resistant to magic. Any magic they do use tends to be tied to their forging.
  • (Dwarves are also usually short. Not sure that ties in, but it's hard not to note that.)

Living underground is difficult. Above ground, if you want to expand your house, you have to put up some new walls and extend the ceiling. Underground, you have to remove enough dirt/stone to form the rooms you want. You've got to leave enough rock to support the wieght of the earth above your home; or, provide additional support; otherwise, your new room could lead to your entire home/neighborhood/city being buried in a collapse.

Naturally, mining also involves the removal of large amounts of stone. However, it also entails the ability to determine what materials you may need are present (iron, gold, aluminum, precious stones, etc.), and how to extract them - again, without collapsing your underground structure.

If your magical talents don't lend themselves to this, you've got to develop things that do; tools (picks, shovels, wheelbarrows, mine carts, etc.; also anvils, tongs, and other forging tools), and science (physics, at a minimum to figure out how to safely remove all that stone, and to remove the materials you need intact; one imagines chemistry, in figuring out how to use some things that you may not use in forging ("Hey, look what happens when I take bat guano, sulfur, and some other stuff, mix it together, and set it on f..." BOOM)).

  • Yes, my answer is similar to this one. I wrote most of mine before the question was closed, and didn't have a chance to actually post it until well after Klaus posted his.
    – RDFozz
    Dec 11, 2018 at 16:11

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