Could some of the 12 Dwarves have been female?

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Earendil
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Re: Could some of the 12 Dwarves have been female?

Post by Earendil » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:19 am

There seems to be a belief here that Dwarven women were kept indoors or otherwise not allowed to go on adventures. But I don't see any support for that in Tolkien. There's a statement that they "seldom walk abroad" and that's basically it. Many of the women (and of the men) don't marry, but there's no indication that they're not permitted to leave.

So if you want to say that one or more of Thorin's companions was female and Bilbo just never knew it, that's fair enough. It seems clear that if no-one told him he wouldn't have known. Probably not one of the dwarves in the "Line of Durin" family tree in Appendix A, though, as the hobbits must have based that family tree on information from Gimli or another Dwarf. That leaves Dori, Nori, Ori, Bifur, Bofur and Bombur.

I don't think it's something I'd want to do; that kind of retconning would, I think, risk taking the players out of the game too much. But if you think it would be interesting, why not?
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Re: Could some of the 12 Dwarves have been female?

Post by HunterGreen » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:33 am

Earendil wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:19 am
There seems to be a belief here that Dwarven women were kept indoors or otherwise not allowed to go on adventures. But I don't see any support for that in Tolkien. There's a statement that they "seldom walk abroad" and that's basically it. Many of the women (and of the men) don't marry, but there's no indication that they're not permitted to leave.
More specifically:
It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf-women, probably no more than a third of the whole people. They seldom walk abroad except at great need. They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart. This has given rise to the foolish notion among Men that there are no dwarf-women, and that the Dwarves 'grow out of stone'.

It is because of the fewness of women among them that the kind of the Dwarves increases slowly, and is in peril when they have no secure dwellings. For Dwarves take only one wife or husband each in their lives, and are jealous, as in all matters of their rights. The number of dwarf-men that marry is actually less than one-third. For not all the women take husbands: some desire none; some desire one that they cannot get, and so will have no other. As for the men, very many also do not desire marriage, being engrossed in their crafts.
The statement is a bit stronger than you make it out, I think. But I also think it absolutely leaves room for a story in which a female dwarf does go abroad for whatever reason the players come up with. All we need is for there to be a possibility, and then the Rule of Cool wins. And we have that possibility. If most dwarf-women are kept indoors, that just makes the dwarf-woman who goes on adventures that much more worthy of being the subject of a story. Just like how most hobbits don't like adventures, and that's why the five (six if you count Fredegar) that did were the most interesting ones and the ones we all read about. The presence of a 'rule' is what makes the exception interesting, it's not a reason to say there can't be an exception.
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Re: Could some of the 12 Dwarves have been female?

Post by farinal » Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:41 am

The Hobbit is a completely female-free book :)
Of Finarfin's children I am the last. But my heart is still proud. What wrong did the golden house of Finarfin do that I should ask the pardon of the Valar, or be content with an isle in the sea whose native land was Aman the Blessed? Here I am mightier.

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Re: Could some of the 12 Dwarves have been female?

Post by Stormcrow » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:13 pm

HunterGreen wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:33 am
If most dwarf-women are kept indoors
I think it's the word "kept" that should be objected to. There is no indication that dwarf-men "keep" dwarf-women hidden away. It just says that dwarf-women seldom travel. It does not explain why.
Just like how most hobbits don't like adventures, and that's why the five (six if you count Fredegar) that did were the most interesting ones and the ones we all read about.
Seven: don't forget about Folco Boffin. Add to that the fact that the Brandybucks sometimes go into the Old Forest, and that Farmer Maggot is friends with Tom Bombadil. And the Tooks are famously adventurous, though beyond Pippin we don't know the names of the adventurous ones. Probably Bandobras Took for one.

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Re: Could some of the 12 Dwarves have been female?

Post by Otaku-sempai » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:44 pm

farinal wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:41 am
The Hobbit is a completely female-free book :)
That depends on how you define 'female-free'.
"To think that I should have lived to be good-morninged by Belladonna Took's son, as if I was selling buttons at the door!"
And:
[Bilbo] was in fact held by all the hobbits of the neighborhood to be 'queer' -- except by his nephews and nieces on the Took side...
Granted, that's not much! :lol:
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Re: Could some of the 12 Dwarves have been female?

Post by Earendil » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:26 pm

Stormcrow wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:13 pm
I think it's the word "kept" that should be objected to. There is no indication that dwarf-men "keep" dwarf-women hidden away. It just says that dwarf-women seldom travel. It does not explain why.
Yes, this is the point I was trying to make.
HunterGreen wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:33 am
The statement is a bit stronger than you make it out, I think. But I also think it absolutely leaves room for a story in which a female dwarf does go abroad for whatever reason the players come up with. All we need is for there to be a possibility, and then the Rule of Cool wins. And we have that possibility. If most dwarf-women are kept indoors, that just makes the dwarf-woman who goes on adventures that much more worthy of being the subject of a story. Just like how most hobbits don't like adventures, and that's why the five (six if you count Fredegar) that did were the most interesting ones and the ones we all read about. The presence of a 'rule' is what makes the exception interesting, it's not a reason to say there can't be an exception.
It's not really about the "Rule of Cool", though. There is no stated reason why a female dwarf shouldn't go travelling, it's just that it's rare (even compared to male dwarves). So if you want a female dwarf adventurer, you don't really need any more explanation than you do for any other race. Adventurers are the exception in any culture; being more exceptional doesn't require a special explanation IMO.

But she will probably not reveal that she's female to any but her closest companions, and she will seem male to most non-dwarves (it's the beard)! :D
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Re: Could some of the 12 Dwarves have been female?

Post by Stormcrow » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:17 pm

It's also possible, and perhaps even likely, that dwarf-women don't grow beards and wear false ones when traveling. Think of Eowyn dressing as Dernhelm because she's not supposed to be there. Having dwarf-women grow beards seems like it would be out of character for Tolkien. Other people would not realize the dwarf-woman was female, or if they did they would think they look just like dwarf-men, including their beards.

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Re: Could some of the 12 Dwarves have been female?

Post by Earendil » Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:46 pm

Stormcrow wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:17 pm
It's also possible, and perhaps even likely, that dwarf-women don't grow beards and wear false ones when traveling. Think of Eowyn dressing as Dernhelm because she's not supposed to be there. Having dwarf-women grow beards seems like it would be out of character for Tolkien. Other people would not realize the dwarf-woman was female, or if they did they would think they look just like dwarf-men, including their beards.
Why would they wear false beards? Eowyn is, as you say, not supposed to be there, but (as I've been arguing) there is no reason to suppose that any dwarf woman who wanted to go travelling or into battle would be prevented. The situations aren't the same.

There is no definitive statement from Tolkien on this, but he says "they are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart." My interpretation of that would be that they look like the men (all of whom seem to have beards) and even their voices sound like the men's. Other dwarves can, apparently, tell the difference, but non-dwarves can't. So I think they do have beards.

Interestingly there's an implication that they dress differently from the men within their own kingdoms, but not outside. Sorry, this is veering off-topic quite badly now...
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Re: Could some of the 12 Dwarves have been female?

Post by Winterwolf » Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:22 pm

Here's an idea/bit of a twist for DoM...
Maybe Frár the Beardless (p22 HotW with sketch, but also p65 DoM) is actually a dwarf woman who has just put out a rumour or two that 'his' beard was cut off by goblins, or by servants of the Elvenking. ;)
Maybe she didn't want to have to wear a damned-nuisance of a false beard as she was out adventuring/wandering so much.
Female dwarves have just have much right to be indignant about their homelands (i.e. Grey Narrows) having been taken from them, and maybe go a bit haywire/obsessive from it. Quite a dwarven hero(ine) really!

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Re: Could some of the 12 Dwarves have been female?

Post by Obadiah » Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:48 pm

Timmity Took wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 9:20 pm
I get your perspectives and views. All good points :)

When it comes to Tolkien's writing, however, the canon i very loose. He used a "writer's perspective" and "historian's perspective" style and have many versions and contradictions when it comes to events described in his various publications and writings. He also had countless drafts as he constantly rewrote both his his minor and major works. Even after publication he went back and made changes and new versions for later publications.
If he lived as long as many of his characters, one of the dwarves would eventually come out of the closet as a female, beard still intact :p
I think the idea that one of the 12 is female, is quite clearly (based on the novels) false. The written text in those novels is all we have to go by. There is no evidence that any were female. It was Tolkien's myth, not ours. He writes the rules.

However for your game, you can do what you want, but it is not something that is supported in the original text upon which the game is based. If I was a player in that game it would be an issue for me - because I prefer everything to be rooted firmly in the novels, but you know your players. Having said that there is nothing wrong with other female hero players and remaining in the world that Tolkien created.

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