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Pathfinder 2e - The Dwarf Handbook

Last Updated: September 1st, 2020

Disclaimer

I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
  • Green: Good options.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.

Introduction

Dwarf Racial Traits

  • Hit Points: The most hit points of any race.
  • Size: Medium. Medium and small size have few functional differences in Pathfinder 2e.
  • Speed: At just 20 ft., the Dwarf has the lowest speed of any published ancestry. Strongly consider the Fleet feat.
  • Ability Boosts: Constitution and Wisdom work great for Clerics, Druids, and Monks, and the Charisma increase has little impact for most classes. Any class which doesn't directly depend on Charisma works great with the Dwarf's ability boosts.
  • Languages: Racial language plus Common is standard.
  • Senses: Darkvision is really good, and since it's part of the base race you don't need to spend your Heritage or a feat to get it.

Dwarf Heritages

  • Ancient-Blooded Dwarf: A +1 bonus that never scales and requires you to use your Reaction to activate it, so you can't count on it if you're using your Reaction for other things or if you can't take actioins for some reason. It's a Circumstance Bonus, and those are rare for most saving throws (Take Cover can grant a Circumstance Bonus to Reflex saves, but I can't think of other go-to examples) so it will stack with nearly anything, but I'm not convinced that a +1 bonus remain meaningful at all levels in a game where bonuses in excess of +30 are not only possible but totally normal.
  • Death Warden Dwarf: Situational
  • Forge Dwarf: Scaling resistance to fire damage. Fire damage is common, so any amount of resistance is excellent.
  • Rock Dwarf: Too situational, and being pushed or knocked prone is rarely a significant hindrance.
  • Strong-Blooded Dwarf: Resistance to poison damage and better recovery from the additional effects of poison.

Dwarf Feats

Level 1

  • Dwarven Doughtiness: Situational, but fear is common and if your Will saves are low this could help mitigate a common debuff.
  • Dwarven Lore: Trained in three skills is pretty good for a single feat.
  • Dwarven Weapon Familiarity: The Dwarven Waraxe is tempting for a Duelist fighter, but otherwise dwarven weapons are terrible. The Clan Dagger is a worse Main-Gauche that costs more, and the Dwarven Waraxe is only useful so you can have a Battleaxe and Greataxe in one weapon. Still, if you're limited to Simple weapons but still want to use weapons, access to the Dwarven Waraxe can be a meaningful improvement over your existing options.
  • Eye for Treasure: Too situational.
  • Rock Running: Difficult terrain imposed by rubble is common in many environments.
  • Stonecunning: Situational, but dungeons with stone walls are commonplace in Pathfinder, and without DnD's concept of "Passive Perception" you're normally forced to Seek constantly.
  • Unburdened Iron: Dwarves seeking to fight in melee are heavily hindered by their 20 ft. speed, and any reduction to that already limited mobility is a serious problem.
  • Vengeful Hatred: Not a lot of damage, but if you make a lot of attacks (monks, rangers, rogues) it might be worthwhile after you suffer a critical hit.

Level 5

  • Boulder Roll: This isn't significantly better than using Athletics to Shove the target, and Shove only takes one action. Both Shove and Boulder Roll pit your Athletics against the targets Fortitude, so mathematically they're the same. However, Boulder Roll doesn't require a free hand and has the potential to deal damage, which might be enough to make this appealing if you don't typically have a hand free.
  • Defy the Darkness: Even if you personally swear off using magic, your allies are still free to use it. The ability to capitalize on magical darkness without blinding your entire party is a massive tactical advantage that's effective at every level.
  • Dwarven Cunning: Some critical specialization effects are worthwile, but I don't know if they're worth taking two feats to get this if you weren't already going to benefit from Dwarven Weapon Familiarity.
  • Dwarven Reinforcement: Too situational.
  • Sheltering Slab: Situational. The effect is good, but you can't always count on having a suitable wall around, and if you're the sort of front-line melee character who would consider this, spending a fight backed against a wall means that you're abandoning one of your biggest tactical responsibilities: standing between big, scary, toothy things and your soft, squishy friends which the toothy things want to eat.

Level 9

  • Echoes in Stone: Certainly better than trying to Seek if you're facing hidden or invisible enemies, but Tremorsense is still very limited in a game where magical flight exists, and the fact that this only works on stone/dirt is very limiting.
  • Mountain's Stoutness: Combined with Toughness you'll have a huge pile of hit points and you'll be able to stabilize easily while dying.
  • Returning Throw: A Returning Rune costs just 55gp and doesn't require an extra Action to attack.
  • Stone Bones: Only a 1-in-5 chance, but if you're a front-line martial character you'll suffer a lot of critical hits over the course of your career so you'll get plenty of chances for this to pay off.
  • Stonewalker: Hide inside a rock to cast buff spells or rest, then dismiss the spell to exit on the other side of a wall.

Level 13

  • Dwarven Weapon Expertise: If you took Dwarven Weapon Familiarity and don't already get better proficiency from your class, you'll want this so that your dwarven weapon proficiencies don't fall behind all of your other weapon options.
  • Telluric Power: Not a lot of damage, and at this level you may frequently find yourself fighting in weird places like on sand or in mid-air.

Level 17

  • Stonegate: Walls are a real pain, and the ability to walk through them makes it very hard to keep you out of places. This won't be as effective as casting the spell, but it's still great for getting through castles, dungeons, and similar structures.