I’ve always had a thing for dwarfs, and also monk characters. So when I was creating my very first D&D character for a campaign I’m starting soon, the choice was easy.
I gave a lot of thought to the backstory, which I hope you enjoy. Basically, I started with the premise of why a dwarf might end up being a monk (it’s not a very common race / class build), and worked from there. In terms of all the stats, proficiencies, and starting equipment, I used D&D Beyond to build out my character.
Ember’s home was in the Smoking Mountains between the nations of Unther and Tymanther. The hill dwarves there were secretive, but would often trade with the monks dwelling at the temple not far off.
One day the monks heard a massive explosion and saw giant plumes of smoke in the distance arising from the dwarven halls. The head of the temple, Marius, and his band arrived to find the halls engulfed in an unnatural flame, that hadn’t dissipated despite more than a day having passed. Ember, as the head of the monks would name him, was discovered there on the road leading away from the halls – an infant, alone, cradled in a dead female dwarf’s arms. The fire there burns to this day. The only relic Ember has from that day is a Mythril necklace, worn by the burned dwarf (he presumed his mother, but of course had no way to tell), adorned with a strange symbol.
The monks attempted to take Ember to other Hill Dwarf halls near the temple to be adopted, but as soon as the dwarves learned which halls the infant was from, he was immediately shunned. And so he was adopted by the monks.
Ember was named by Marius for the nature of his discovery and his fiery spirit, evident even as a baby. The residents of the temple were primarily humans who had left their more materialistic lives in search of a more pure existence. Ember was raised in the monastic ways of the Temple, the adherents of whom worshipped Bahamut, a wise dragon, and deity of wisdom and justice. Their worship is a Buddhist like one – they revere Bahamut as a symbol of strength and enlightenment, and though they do not worship him as a savior, they view his deeds and altruistic power as a guide towards enlightenment.
As Ember grew up he took quickly to the lessons of the temple, but also had a hot head which often landed him in trouble and made him continually question the doctrine of the temple. This caused Marius to take a liking to Ember, and though Ember always challenged, he always found the enigmatic riddles and lessons of the temple made sense in the end.
Though the temple preaches finding enlightenment in the now and in good deeds born out of compassion, his past, which was never hidden from him, always tugged him away from his monastic duties. With the temple’s blessing, he starting joining trading parties to the other Hill Dwarf halls in his twenties.
Raised as a monk, his social skills weren’t well attuned to the raucous ways of the dwarves. Dwarves who knew the halls where he came from spoke ill of the once prosperous place, which became secretive and unsavory even before the explosion, and they viewed Ember with a cautious superstition. However, a smith by the name of Azmul took a liking to Ember and the temple would allow him to spend weeks away learning the smithing arts and about dwarven culture. It was he who would eventually give Ember the traditional dwarven surname of Deepdelver, for his curiosity and drive to learn more about the world and its history.
So the years continued, with Ember never straying from the path of the temple, but always being tugged by the past. He took up the bagpipes from Azmul, much to the chagrin his templemates, and would often play in the twilight hours after meditation and think deep thoughts. He visited the flaming site of his discovery on a few occasions, but there was no way to douse or pass the flames, and no dwarves or any person he ever spoke to could ever tell him anything about his former home other than rumors – rumors of forbidden rituals and a secretive leader who shut off contact with other dwarves and presumably led his people to their unnatural ruin.
Due to his longevity compared to humans, Ember became a skilled practitioner of the monastic arts as he watched his human companions grow old. When his master Marius, the monk he considered to be closest to a father, passed away, he decided it was time to leave. He wanted answers, and knew he had reached the limit of what he would find in those mountains.
So he left with his simple possessions and his trusty bagpipes, to learn what he could from the world, help those who are suffering, and perhaps learn something of the events that destroyed his home.
Languages and Proficiencies:
Languages: Common, Dwarvish, Draconic, Deep Speech,
Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Bagpipes, Battleaxe, Dexterity Saving Throws, Handaxe, Insight, Light Hammer, Religion, Shortsword, Simple Weapons, Smith’s Tools, Stealth, Strength Saving Throws, Warhammer.
Are you a D&D player? What is your favorite character you’ve built or adventure you’ve been on? Or if you were to build a character, which class / race / alignment would you choose? Let me know in the comments!
Featured image: Dwarf monk figurine by Mistwalker Foundry on the Shapeways store.