Dwarven Banshees

Continuing the discussion from Questions for Troy Denning on Bone, Stone, & Obsidian:

I thought I’d create a new topic to discuss this, rather then clutter-up the B/S/O one.

I under the impression that ignoring or giving up on your Focus makes Dwarven Banshees. Dying while working towards your focus, I think, doesn’t make a Banshee.

So, dying while protecting your family, no Banshee; being too drunk to protect your family (and protecting them IS your Focus), Banshee.


That is always the way I’ve interpreted it.

You can leave the focus in non-completion as long as you continued to pursue the focus until death.

Knowingly abandoning the focus means that one becomes a banshee. The internal critic is the determiner.

I saw the question on reddit, that is what prompted me to put it in that thread. My answer on reddit was that Athas’s unusually high number of high level people would deal with them. But I saw that thread and thought I would try and get the OP a more official answer.

The original boxed set says that dwarves who complete their lives before completing their focus become banshees, not that they must abandon their focus. While the abandoning angel does make a fair amount of sense, it seems kind of soft for Athas. It isn’t just try or die trying it is succeed or spend an eternity wallowing in your failure.

Either way though, even if only 1:10 dwarves becomes a banshee, that’s a lot of dwarves over the past few thousand years. And it’s a good bet that it was more than 1:10 during the cleansing wars.

I wonder if the focus is a fairly recent thing. Maybe from the time of the cleansing wars specifically.

Possibly. On the other hand it could simply be that the Dwarven Banshee population was either a) Kept under control or corralled during the time of dwarven kingdoms; or b) Egendo and Borys did a number on them as well - it makes sense that the Butchers of Dwarves would target undead dwarves as well as living ones.


There are potentially some interesting encounters from these theories. A mass grave of dwarves, all of them butchered in the Cleansing Wars, haunt now the site of the fallen, still wearing ancient regalia.

Dwarves, certain to fail in their focus, seek the service of the Sorcerer-King, for their high-level defiling can obliterate souls and preclude rising as a banshee. Dwarves may be fiercely loyal to their benefactor in these cases.

The dwarves take care of their own. Perhaps beneath the sands there is a vault in Kled, a deeply kept secret among the people. Those who have neglected their duty make pilgrimage there, willfully enter and entomb themselves, never to be seen again. Elders keep ward over what lurks within, perhaps keeping a library of unfinished business in hopes of releasing what is inside.

The dwarves may know of a remedy, but it is perhaps as bad or worse, at least for the party in question, as becoming a banshee.


I love the idea of a Library of Unfinished Foci. Perhaps it’s just a legend now to modern dwarves, awaiting discovery by a group of archeologists/adventurers…