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D&D Race Guide: How to Play a Duergar

4 Minute Read
Apr 25 2023

The Underdark has Dwarves, too and if you want extra long darkvision and invisibility on command, Druegar may be your next character.

Duergar are to Dwarves what Drow are to Elves. Living in the Underdark has given them increased magic and some psionic ability. But what else can you expect when you chose to play a Duergar character?

“Duergar are dwarves whose ancestors were transformed by centuries living in the deepest places of the Underdark. That chthonic realm is saturated with strange magical energy, and over generations, early duergar absorbed traces of it. They were further altered when mind flayers and other Aberrations invaded and performed horrific experiments on them. Fueled by Underdark magic, those experiments left early duergar with psionic powers, which have been passed down to their descendants. In time, they liberated themselves from their aberrant tyrants and forged a new life for themselves in the Underdark and beyond.”

Duergar Traits

Since Duergar is one of the relatively new player-race options in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, they follow the recent trend of having ability score increases be up to player whim as opposed to determined by the race. As such, you can plan to increase one score by 2 and another score by 1, or three different scores by 1 each.

As a variant of Dwarves, Duergars have Dwarven Resilience. This gives advantage to saving throws made to avoid or end a poisoned condition, as well as resistance to poison damage. But Duergar characters don’t automatically know how to speak or write Dwarvish. Common is the only automatic language known, with one more of the player’s choice.

They also have a few abilities afforded to them by their generations spent in the Underdark. For example, Duergar darkvision is good for up to 120 feet. Psionic Fortitude will give your character advantage on saving throws made to avoid a charmed or stunned condition. And Duergars have a natural magic. At level three they can cast Enlarge/Reduce without material components, and then Invisibility can be used at the fifth level. They can also use intelligence, wisdom, or charisma as spellcasting abilities.

Best Classes

With extra long darkvision and the ability to turn invisible at level five, Rogue is an obvious choice for your Duergar character. Not to mention, Enlarge/Reduce is one of those spells that, when used with some creativity, can be both useful and hilarious in any heist or infiltration situation.


The extra resistance given by this build would be helpful for both Artificer and Cleric, and Duergars would do well in either one of these classes as well. But Clerics don’t usually get access to the Invisibility spell, so adding that to their rotation could be very helpful.


So far we’ve covered the Duegars as they appear in Monsters of the Multiverse. But in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide Duegars appear as a slightly different player race. Here they have a slightly slower walking speed at 25 ft versus 30 ft as well as a sensitivity to sunlight. When in direct sunlight, Duergars have disadvantage on attack and perception rolls that rely on sight.

But they also have access to a few more Dwarvish abilities. For example, Duergars here knows Dwarvish as well as Common, have proficiency in battle axe, hand axe, light hammer, and war hammer thanks to Dwarven Combat Training, and proficiency in artisan’s, brewers, smith’s, or mason’s tools.

Tips & Tricks


The mechanics of playing a Duergar are probably going to be pretty straightforward for you. They’re not particularly complex or tricky characters, but that doesn’t mean they won’t make for a worthwhile story and fun adventure. Both as Dwarves and longtime residents of the Underdark, Duergars have a lot of conflicting history that you’ll want to read up on, discuss with your DM, and work into your character’s backstory, personality, and goals. Any time a character gets their start in the Underdark, you have a fertile field of inspiration to harvest from, so don’t let it go to waste. You’ll have a lot more fun with your Duergar if you really jump in with both feet.

Have you played a Duergar character? Perhaps you’ve had one in your party? What class were they in? Let us know in the comments!

Happy adventuring!

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