Among our many sorcerers, scrying in their wizardly towers, we like to ask the big questions. Is there life in the universe? What’s the meaning behind everything? And, that most elusive mystery of all, do dwarf women have beards? It’s important stuff!
When we first look at the dwarves of lore, their beards are amongst their most defining features. Big and bushy: they shroud their owner’s faces in an aura of hair.
It's a part of their culture; from the Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook:
Male dwarves value their beards highly and groom them carefully.
So, if you were wondering what dwarves were doing in their vast cavern halls, the answer is simple: they’re pampering their beards!
Just take a look at the sheer range of styles in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit:
But what about dwarf women? From Tolkien's legends in LOTR to Dungeons and Dragons, dwarf women almost never appear. They’re known to be a coy bunch. Preferring the warmth and comfort of their underground kingdoms, to the rugged dangers of the lands above.
That’s given them an air of mystery. What are they like? And do they have beards?
What’s the D&D lore on female Dwarven beards?
In the 5th Edition Player’s Handbook, it lists how meticulously dwarves groom their beards. But dwarf women are not specifically mentioned. It is suggested, however, that on the whole beards amongst dwarf women are a rarity.
That wasn't always the case.
Earlier editions of the player’s handbook definitely had women dwarves with luscious beards. Indeed, as Gary Gygax – co-creator of D&D wrote in Issue 38 of The Dragon Magazine:
Can any Good Reader cite a single classical or medieval mention of even one female dwarf? … Female dwarves are neglected not because of male chauvinism or any slight. Observers failed to mention them because they failed to recognize them when they saw them. How so? Because the bearded female dwarves were mistaken for younger males, obviously!
That settles it! Surely?
Perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised. As Gygax goes on to argue, dwarves are an egalitarian bunch. Their female kin aren’t relegated to minor roles. So, how would any outside observer tell a full-bearded and heavily armored female from their male counterpart?
It may not seem “normal” to us. But to the dwarf men, a good healthy and well-groomed beard is perhaps a sign of beauty.
Ultimately though, there is no definitive answer. The brilliance of D&D is that it relies on theatre of the mind. If you want to see dwarven women with big, bushy beards – make it so.
So, do your dwarf women have beards or not?
The father of DnD Gygax clearly stated in the first edition, that female dwarves had beards. All of them. Just like the Tolkein works he stole from.