Thursday, November 21, 2019

20 Dwarven Light Sources

Art @Marius Schlichting
[1] Fire. Hearthfires, torches, long bronze candlesticks. Fire is a full belly and a good blade, why wouldn't you use fire? Smoke is dealt with easily through ventilation channels.

[2] Lava. Only for deeper fortresses. Magmaforges give off plenty of light, small troughes are cut to illuminate side area- flowing down and not cooling until after they fall into the wide drainage ditches. Some dwarf cities are built hanging like a bat against the roof of a large chamber over a sea of magma; the light and heat travels up enough to warm their homes. Mirrors can help illuminate inner rooms. Throw a carpet over the glass floor whenever you want to sleep.

[3] Trap-Jars. They hold jewel fairies; tiny beings responsible for hiding gemstones in the rock for miners to find. By trapping them in these jars the fairies produce light when shaken up. Eventually they'll find a way to slip out. Usually only outcast or poor Dwarves use these; when the fairies escape they tend to turn any gems the dwarf owned into coal as punishment for being imprisoned.

[4] Crystalline Stone. Stone with many small crystals within that trap and reflect light. Large pillar or floors made of this stone produce a small amount of light, enough to make it visible in the darkness, and enough to give a suggestion of nearby objects and beings. Not useful unless you have a large amount. Dwarf palaces are occasionally built with all crystalline stone, meaning the entire place has a moderate level of light without any energy spent.

[5] Glowing Mushrooms. They grow in little farms, or naturally in the caverns near where Dwarves live. There may be small industries based around these fungi; pressing and squeezing them for their glowing juices. These oils are put into lanterns and torches to light the way.

[6] Sparklers. Yes, like the firework. Little primitive gunpowder devices, rolled up sticks that produce a constant low fizzle and shoot of little sparks as they illuminate a small area. This is the reason Dwarves wear such long beards; keeps the sparks from burning your skin.

[7] Glitter Gas. Type of visible gas that only manifests in deep cavernous regions or nearby geothermal vents. It glows brighter the more pressure it is under; pumped into small glass orbs grants useful light but they explode violently when shattered or dropped.

[8] Olm Oil. Oil harvested from the fatty gills of giant cave olms. This oil is used similar to whaler oil; fueling lanterns and is a household commodity for richer Dwarf families. Also instead of Olms, just use literal underdark ocean great ghost whales.

[9] Magic. Some people don't like Dwarves with magic. Maybe all of it goes into light spells. Dwarf wise-men take handfuls of little polished stones and make them glow, permanently, at the cost of their race's other magical ability. Maybe the hallways just glow from this old magic.

[10] Ambient Light. It comes from the Earth itself, or filtered down from the sunlight lands above, and the lava flows below. Maybe the supernatural stonecarving skills of the dwarves allow light to simply carry further down the dark tunnels. Maybe the light is actually just sunlight and moonlight trapped from sediment; stuck in the pores of the rock and slowly leaking out once picked.

[11] Darkglow Brew. When drunk, mixes with stomach to create a potent glowing mix- can be visible through stomach if the dwarf if bare chested. Not used as a common light sources, but bubbles spat up when burping give off a bit of light. Puking this up create a puddle of rainbow vomit sludge.

[12] Salt Pyres. Deep mountain salts of different colors, purified and refined into a fine grain sand. Thrown in a shallow dish and lit on fire, gives off a low glow from the heated salts, lasts quite a while based on how much salt is present in the pyre.

[13] Electricity. Dwarves are the first and potentially only race to trap this force. By using lighting rods at the top of their hollowed out mountains, they channel this power down into deep chambers with copper wire stretched into cuboid shapes. This power can be siphoned off, bit by bit, to warm and light the sleeping and meeting chambers of the dwarves. Some dwarves may generate it another way, such as the great steam boilers in the bowels of the earth.

[14] Ghosts. Dwarves have a strong respect of their dead, and for good reason. Small glow lanterns or folded paper memorial slips to the dead shine in the darkness with a pale blue light- kept glowing from beyond death by their ancestors. Dwarf tribes who shun their ancestors lose their light, and as such, are lost to the darkness forever.

[15] Eldritch Lights. Glowing lights from down below; an eldritch source of energy. The cracks in the rock put out the light, we reflect and share it with our mirrors and tunnels. It grumbles on occasion, all we have to do is throw down an oath breaker who won't be missed. The grumbling stops, the mountain is quiet, the light continues.

[16] Shining Gears. Gears that turn from machines and steam engines. Unlike other engines, instead of putting their power into a machine or labor, these ones produce light. The small funnel at the end just illuminates a beam of light out of its path. Small cords and wires can be hooked up to funnel this light out of other areas. Not electric. It's gear powered.

[17] Trapped Sunlight. In the same way ancient creatures were preserved and fossiled, so to was the sunlight of ancient days. Cracking open a rock to reveal a dull orange splint of sunlight which can be shattered to release a bright flash, or it can be polished to let out a steady stream of light. Could also be frozen moonlight from a bygone age- the last ice age that froze the whole world.

[18] Glowsteel. It's a type of metal that must be imported, as its crafter must hate something enough to make the metal glow when it is pounded into shape. Dwarves may carry little vials of blood from a different creature, or a little bone talisman tied into their beard, which lets the metal light up as they approach. After many generations, dwarves may not even remember why these talismans work, and have no clue that an orc invasion coming as their steel posts desperately glow blue as a warning.

[19] The Gods. Dwarf Gods grant the gift of light as other Gods grant the gift of rain or success in battle to members of other races. They create little floating planetariums in the dwarf cities which give off pale light from miniature, but very real planetoids hovering just overhead. Maybe light is projected from the blessings of their priests or godly miracles, golden glowing clouds fill the halls of the Dwarf capital, showing both their God's favor and blessing in one.

[20] Domestication. Different glowing animals and creatures are used. Ever-flaming imps are stuffed into cages high above the meeting halls, fat glowbugs are given short leashes and tugged around to provide light to the scholars. Potentially only their bodyparts- farmed and put in lanterns as above, their glowing eyeballs torn out just to keep light in the Dwarvish home.


  1. This is excellent. I especially like the fossilized sunlight.

  2. This is a nice, flavorful list. It never needs to be dark in the dwarven lands!