If you’ve ever played a D&D video game, you’ve heard a dwarf’s heavily brogued voice yell “by Moradin’s [beard/hammer/axe].” But just who is Moradin?
There is a god for just about everything in D&D. In fact, at one point, you could count on finding a god from any pantheon, and several for each of D&D’s disparate cultures. By and large these have all been distilled down over the years, though 5th Edition does allow for a wider variety by suggesting gods that fit a particular domain instead of concretely saying “only Boccob and Ioun are the gods of Magic.”
And through it all, in one shape or another, Moradin has endured as the creator of the dwarves. He himself, is said to be a soul of creation, with a backstory that reads like something out of a Dark Souls game.
Most dwarven myths claim that Moradin was incarnate from rock, stone, and metal. His soul is an ember of fire, the very spark of life that breathes souls into the first dwarves, forged from metals and gems. He’s also the one that chased the gods of the derro into the depths of the Underdark, depending on which legends you believe.
Moradin is a god of crafting and art. The dwarves who follow him take joy in the art of crafting, in forming strong family and clan bonds, and must balance a drive for perfection with their own temperance. After Moradin forged the first dwarves in his divine workshop, his loyal creations ever since have sought to follow in his footsteps. Through constant, steady work, they strive to emulate the perfect example set by their Creator.
They are driven to apply their own crafting skills to the raw materials around them, in order to unlock the beauty that lies within. But following Moradin means a lifetime of “glorious labor.” Moradin’s ‘perfect craft’ of the dwarves is said to inspire the relentless pursuit of perfection in his charges.
But those who find they cannot measure up, often turn away from Moradin, and this is where the duergar come from. Moradin’s love, while warm like the heat of a forge, was a source of envy for these dwarves, and that led them to delve greedily and deep into the Underdark where they were coopted by a colony of Mind Flayers who experiment upon them and turned them into psionic soldiers in their employ.
So take heed when following Moradin, you might find yourself warmed by his flames, or drawn to them, as a moth.