Thursday, October 6, 2016

Salt Dwarves (and salt golems)

The Salt Dwarves, in contrast with their mountain kin, mine the subterranean salt domes and evaporite basins eschewing their brethren's search for gems and precious ores, instead excavating the "buried ocean."  These mines extend deep into the ground, tapping the halides left by ancient seas and buried under eons of deposits.

Like their hard rock mining cousins, the Salt Dwarves hollow huge caverns beneath the earth, for the mines are both their vocation and homes.  The mines are supported by elaborate timber and rope shoring and cribworks, proof against the slowly settling and flowing salt.  Massive water wheels and pumps evacuate the caverns of brackish water.

Periodically, the dwarves, with their salt-encrusted beards and cracked hands, will come to the surface of their mines, hauling their troves of salt to the surface. Salt dwarves, when encountered, tend to be kitted out in leather armor, with a thick, padded skullcap, and wielding a mining or war-pick. They wear no metallic armor due to the corrosive tendencies of the saline atmosphere within the mines.

Salt may be packaged as ground rock salt, in blocks or plates, and/or occasional, rare, massive individual crystals. These products they vend to a number of client populations.  The locals and regional merchants wait eagerly for their chance at this resource.  Caravan-masters offer very competitive bids to carry a portion of the trove to distant salt-poor areas, where they sell them for seasoning and preservative.  Even those with access to the salt pans and sea salt basins place a greater value in this dwarf-mined salt, sensing it is special.

Then there are the clerics, arcanists, and alchemists, who covet the ancient salt for its more rarefied qualities.  Salt has a number mythological qualities, including:

  • Protection rites
  • Creation of mummies -both the dead and undead
  • Protection or barriers vs undead and abyssal
  • Blessing of alters/consecration of areas/banishment of defilements
After mining the caverns for the halides, the dwarves carve cathedrals and detailed, fragile statuary and dioramas in honor of clan histories and myth.  Rock salt crystals are painstakingly cut and polished into lenses and prisms to reflect and project lighting in fabulous patterns.

The dwarves, like many of their kin, tend to be secretive, and a number of rumors are circulating regarding the features and secrets of their mines.

Some claim to have heard magic salt mills, grinding salt without horses or mules turning the mill-works.  Salt ground by these mills, if they exist, has been enchanted, providing greater protection or efficacy of barrier spells and devices.  

Others say an artifact-ship from a time before dwarves and men has been found in the salt. The 'god-ship' lies deformed within the salt, its wood carbonized and metals corroded.  Even considering the deformation and crushing weight of the eons of time, the proportions of the mystery carrack appear 'off'...

Salt Golems 
Fabricated by dwarven clerics in the depths of the mines, these massive crystalline guardians protect sacred areas and entrance-ways of the mines.  These blocky bipeds are composed of a conglomeration of giant salt crystals.

The golems attack with blows from their blocky fists.  A successful double strike against a living opponent means that the target is grappled, and receives 1d6 points of desiccation damage per round until the golem's grasp is broken by a successful hit. Providing the victim sufficient water will heal up to half of the desiccation damage.

20% of the golems will be stronger, "Blessed" constructs, created as barriers to undead and demonic foes.  These golems will repel up to their HD worth of undead and abyssal creatures (cumulative). Because of salt's natural repellent characteristics against these creatures, they attack any salt golem at a -2 penalty.

Unfortunately, the golems' crystalline structure is also its weakness, as blunt weapons may cause additional shattering damage, and the salt is susceptible to water-based attacks, dissolving the construct.

(S&W specs)

HD: 6 (7 - 'Blessed')
AC: 5
Attack: Slam (2), dmg 2d6; Double hit indicates target grappled, additional 1d6 points of dehydration damage as the salt desiccates the victim
Move: 8
Save: 11 (9 - 'Blessed);
CL/XP: 8/800 ('Blessed': 9/1,100)
Special: Hit only by magic weapons; Blunt weapons cause double damage from shattering; general spell immunity, except water-based spell attacks cause double damage; a flask (quart +) of water will cause equivalent damage to a flask of burning oil.  All undead/abyssal attack at -2.  "Blessed" golems will repel undead and abyssal creatures up to golem's HD (summed).

All photos are of the Wieliczka Salt Mine, an 800-year-old salt mine complex located in southern Poland.


  1. Such a great idea; very well written and researched, I love everything about this!

    1. Thanks! Got to visit the mines on a trip to Poland, so finding a way to utilize them has been on the to do list...

  2. Salt is underused as a material and magical component in my opinion. I played with some ideas for magical salt here: