On the hairlessness of dwarves

Do the books ever talk about why or how the dwarves of the Try region are hairless and why others aren’t?

There is some conflicting information. There was one book that talked about how all Dwarves are dipped in acid after they’re born to permanently remove all their hair. I believe another boom talked about how they all shave themselves because of some long forgotten pact.
Ultimately neither of those explanations work though, because Dwarf slaves would have hair. I just play that they’re nald because of natural selection. Those who had tons of hair over-heated and died. Or, tou can play that they’ve always been bald.

Mmm I don’t know but I want to add another question. The adaptation I’m using for 5ed says that dwarf and elf characters gain “defiled skin” (+2 to all saves Vs magic). Was that canon somewhere? Maybe in a novel? I don’t remember something like that in the original box.
So were elves and dwarf ever resistant to magic?

  1. You should start your own question, rather than trying to hijack mine.

  2. No, it isn’t canon anywhere other than in 5th edition books.

Can you tell me where the acid thing is mentioned because I can’t find dwarves being hairless in the rulebook and terrors beyond Tyr only says “usually hairless heads”.

If you want a hard lore reason for why dwarves are hairless I don’t have anything concrete to offer. The closest I could say is that it seems heavily implied that during the Red and Brown Ages the pristine tower continued to mutate life on Athas, perhaps even speeding up natural selection. We see the original box mention that mutants are rather common on Athas, I recall there even being a table PCs could roll on for weird hair/eye colors (green skin, gray eyes, etc) and other odd cosmetic mutations. It seems the best explanation for these mutations is the pristine tower has continued altering life on Athas over the millenia. If this is the case then perhaps Green Age dwarves did have beards and they became hairless during the Brown Age due to the pristine tower adapting life for its environment so quickly. This goes in line with how the tower was able to transition life from the Blue Age to the Green Age so (relatively) quickly.

Now that said I personally subscribe with the idea that dwarves shave as a cultural thing and I kept it primarily as a shaving of the beard since I started with the original box that showed them as having head hair still. Perhaps it originally started as a sign of shame due to the halls of all their ancestors being destroyed. These days the dwarves may forget why they shave off their beards, they only know that they do. As for how slaves manage this, it isn’t unreasonable to assume dwarf slaves are allowed to have their hair sheared off. A minimum standard of hygiene for slaves slows the death rate. Furthermore it means your dwarf slaves aren’t nearly as upset if their most fundamental of traditions remains honored and we all know how stubborn Athasian dwarves are. Would that mean some dwarves that are enslaved or in irons may grow beards? Probably yes, but the fact such dwarves are the exception rather than the rule preserves the feel of Athasian dwarves enough for my campaign.

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Another explanation, the one I’m using in my game, is that Boris cursed the Dwarves to remove their pride and affect their moral by humiliating them before raiding the last Dwarven City and we know the story from there. We all know how Dwarves are proud of their beards in all other D&D settings and I believe that it was also the case during the Green Age on Athas.


After reading the above posts, perhaps it was a side effect of the use of the Dark Lens and Pristine Tower to change the sun from yellow to red. It should be a genetic trait, as Muls are hairless also.
I belive the acid explanation was in the Lynn Abbey novels, which are not canon.

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Why are those not canon?

From what I understand the Lynn Abbey novels were made noticeably later than the Troy Denning novels and Lynn’s work was made primarily to try and reconcile a lot of horribly contradicting lore that had built up over the years. Truth be told she did an admirable job at it, but there were a lot of ideas she added into Dark Sun that didn’t jive with people.

Troy Denning on the other hand had a direct hand in creating Dark Sun from the ground up and his novels (at first anyway) felt like a natural extension of where the boxed set left off. He also has the advantage of his novels being confirmed by the later books while Lynn’s work I believe was made after most of the AD&D Dark Sun material.

That said many aren’t fans of Troy’s novels either and choose to diregard them. This was so pronounced that 4e Dark Sun entirely ignores the Prism Pentad and basically built up on the original boxed set only. So “canon” is a dubious term to use for Dark Sun at the best of times. To bring this point back on topic this of course means there could be as many explanations for the hairlessness of dwarves and mul as there are DMs. I personally enjoy seeing everyone else’s takes on these sorts of things since it helps get my own ideas going.


Awesome answer. I knew about 4e not starting at original box, but not about Lynn’s novels.
Thank you.

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I like Lynn Abbey’s novels, they just aren’t canon. Kevin Melka said so in an AOL online interview way back in 1996. That’s why some of the champions are wrong.
It all had to do with the way TSR was set up, the game design people and the novel writing people were separate and not allowed to collaberate. So, when her novels came out, there were already game books that contradicted her novels.
As far as I know, the only canon books were the Prism Pentad. Of course, I am talking about 2nd edition DS and not that silly 4e nonsense.

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