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I'm having some trouble coming up with arms and armament for my fantasy world's dwarven race. I have a few ideas for what they could wield but I'd like a few more to really make this army feel Alive. Simply put: with the parameters I will set what are some suggested arms my dwarven race could use?

Parameters:

TLDR despite the dwarves having an engine I want their weapons tech to be sub-age-of-exploration level technologically. What are some ideas for weapons that employ this technology but don't exceed what would exist at this time for mankind with some extra limits as well.

  • No Black Powder (or limited): The dwarves, as one would assume, live primarily within mountain holds and underground caverns. For fear of cave-ins and wild fires both destroying their structures and eating up oxygen on lower floors they avoid using highly combustible materials at all costs which has lead to...

  • Steam Power: The dwarves have 'mastered' the steam engine and utilize its properties in both their mining operations and in their city design. It stands to reason their practice with this ancient and revered technology has since flowed into their advancements of military technology.

  • Agoraphobic Isolationists: The dwarves simply aren't interested in the surface world or holding territory upon it. To expand: they tend to either A) drill tunnels to other mountain ranges or B) dig further downwards. As such their weapons are more customarily suited for fighting wars of attrition within their tunnels or shock warfare to prevent their enemy from taking ground within their holds. I imagine because of this they'd limit range on weapons and not really employ cavalry or fast movers. That being said, if you can rationalize the use of such technologies feel free to let me know how.

  • Greed: These dwarves are as stereotypically greedy as they tend to be in other mediums. Whether that means they prefer mass cheap production or the production of only the finest of weapons likely varies from hold to hold. One thing I have as uniform among the dwarves is that they all keep a mass horde of gold and diamonds they dig up while working their mines which they will choose to defend over even the most vital military target.

  • Dwarven Forges: Due to their aversion to fire and explosives, dwarven forges tend to be very controlled environments with a heavy emphasis on procedure and safety making production slower but more methodical.

  • Tech Level Cap: This is where things get a little tricky; humans are meant to be generally the most technologically advanced race in this world, being in a late age of exploration tech level. By having an engine of any kind I understand the dwarves are already more advanced so my rationale is that this is a technology the dwarves haven't really attempted to expand upon or develop until recent years. Previously this technology was used more for quality of life and expansion methods within their tunnels and dwellings and only within the last hundred years or so have they really attempted weaponization.

  • Extravagant Competition: Humans, despite being at the age of exploration level of tech as mentioned before, do have a few more extravagant weapons at their disposal. My explanation for this is humanity's general unity over the many centuries in this world as well as their near constant state of war making a few technologies appear early or at least differently. Such examples are an extremely rare and volatile early tank, Gatling guns that are seldom employed outside the defense of the most key empire positions, revolver pistols for the most elite cavalry, flame throwers... relatively common to be honest because I'm a pyro. Off the top of my head those are all the 'out of period' technologies humans have. Hopefully this can set an upper limit for the dwarves extravagant tech.

Example: One weapon I had come up with to be a 'competitor' to the musket is a steam powered harpoon gun. The idea is the dwarf carries a large 'boiler' of sorts on his back that builds in pressure which they then use to fire a harpoon launcher type weapon. the reloading process is waiting for the boiler to build in pressure and the act of loading the harpoons into the 'gun'. Combined the amount of time to reload is comparable to a musket, the range is shorter, the penetration is better (?), and the accuracy is greater. Bonus Question: feel free to throw out ideas to improve/better specify the costs and benefits of this weapon and its design.

EDIT: 9/3/2019 8:04pm To be clear the dwarves do have access to fire they just prefer not to use it unless under very controlled methods. What they avoid using is combustion or more volatile flammable mixes.

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    $\begingroup$ Do these Dwarves have any intention of ever fighting in open ground. E.g.: on the surface? As agoraphobic isolationists, it seems unlikely, which would mean that their entire repertoire of military equipment would be designed for protecting the entrances of tunnels, and for fighting underground, right? Also: How are they making steam if they won't use fire? $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Sep 4 at 1:33
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    $\begingroup$ Their valuing of gold apart from it being pretty, would seem to indicate that they trade in goods and wish to retain resources to do so for what is necessary, unless all they care about is the aesthetic value of golden things. With whom do they trade and for what? $\endgroup$ – We are Monica. Sep 4 at 1:33
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    $\begingroup$ Hell, how are they smelting ore or forging metal if they won't use fire? $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Sep 4 at 1:42
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    $\begingroup$ How does the average dwarven warrior compare to the average human warrior? Smaller stature with similar strength? Shorter but broader and stronger? Some other combination? $\endgroup$ – Michael Richardson Sep 4 at 18:33
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    $\begingroup$ @MorrisTheCat They could always mine Plutonium to heat the water, similar to a radioisotope thermoelectric generator, but for steam. $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Sep 6 at 11:01

13 Answers 13

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If dwarves have a steam engine, then it's not a big leap from there to a powerful defensive weapon: Filling any chosen tunnel segment in their domain with scalding superheated steam.

In order to use this weapon, the dwarves do require insulated doors that will hold against attack for the few minutes required to roast their foes. Then they will require wheelbarrows to evacuate the steaming corpses.

The dwarves seem likely to use deception to lead attacking forces into the kill zone. A well-trained and practiced guard team should be able to lure, trap, and roast a much larger attacking force.

Sometimes, it may be a good idea to let a couple of the less-coherent enemy troopers survive, to spread tales of the dark, hot terrors of the dwarven realm.

Since the dwarves seem to have no real interest in holding land in the surface world, surface-fighting technologies (pikes, arrows, swords) would seem to have mostly decorative use - identifying the guard corps to visitors.

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    $\begingroup$ I really like the idea of locking down tunnels and turning them into massive steam ovens. I actually had an idea for them to have a system of pipes and steam pressure systems to open and closed sort of 'bulkhead' doors so this idea would go along with that perfectly! thank you $\endgroup$ – John V. Sep 4 at 2:04
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    $\begingroup$ That sounds pretty good : the dwarves tends to go deeper/lower to expend so the attackers would have to start at the top of the city/colony and go down to advance in the city, the rising steam of the traps shouldn't be too dangerous for parts of the colony not already taken by the enemy. Also, to reduce the cost of the traps, they could be redirections of evacuation vents : adding some toxic fumes in the mix if steaming your enemies wasn't enough. $\endgroup$ – Nahyn - support Monica Cellio Sep 5 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree on the point of swords not being used (pun intended). I think it makes complete sense for them to use short swords in the close quarters of the mines. $\endgroup$ – TitaniumTurtle Sep 6 at 23:31
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There is no need for gunpowder to have ballistic weapons.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winans_Steam_Gun

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girandoni_air_rifle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_cannon

While in our world these were mostly limited in deployment or purely theoretical, that is because we had and wanted to use gunpowder. If the dwarfs are opposed to using it but have as you said - mastered steam - they could troubleshoot these devices and build functional copies. The air rifle if nothing else saw at least reasonably widespread use, and defensive underground fighting would mitigate it's few weaknesses. A steam cart with air pumps could rapidly refill compressed air canisters.

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Full Plate

Medieval Europe had two qualities of knightly armor: a far-less-expensive full plate that wouldn't stop a bullet, and a much more expensive option - about 1/4 inch thick, with two layers - that was both easy to move in, and completely bullet proof.

Much like Don Quixote running amok, a "lobster" in high-quality full plate was very challenging to take out of combat by any method other than tripping them up, tangling them, or sinking them.

Dwarves, with their fuller hammers and forges, maybe have a much higher percentage of their army wearing good plate armor.

Tower Shields and Formation Defense

Rome's famous military contribution: a body-sized shield made to interlock with the one of your nearest neighbor. Interlocking shield to shield in a practiced formation maneuver, your squad mates can help you to absorb even heavy hits on your shield. At the same time, you can stab back through the wall with stabbing weapons.

Traps

A counter to good plate would, of course, be something the dwarven armory also possesses in quantity:

  • Pits,
  • fall-away floors (when weight is greater than some threshold),
  • triplines,
  • caltrops,
  • gas (great for taking out armored adversaries),
  • lodestones (throw a few hundred lodestones on the floor - watch the fun begin as the advesary starts collecting magnets on their gear that just stick like goo),
  • floods (water being directed down certain passageways to "flush" bad guys)

Polearms

Polearms are good for piercing heavy armor and shields. It would seem likely this gets good representation in the dwarven armory.

Maskirovka

For a little bit of character, maybe the dwarves have been inspired by (or inspired) Russian military thought. Under the mountain is an excellent place for deception tactics, including :

  • whistles, flutes, and calls that can be used to "project" a sound down a tunnel,
  • symbols and chimes to exaggerate the number of soldiers in a force,
  • floating lights to misguide the unwary,
  • stink bombs,
  • animal lures
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A lot of people seem to go a bit fancy, but there is nothing wrong with your dwarves using a standard pickaxe. Not only can they continue to work the mines, the sharp point of a pickaxe gives it very good penetration and the hours and hours of digging through the earth will develop all the necessary muscles for them to stab straight through armor.

As an improvement to the standard pickaxe, you might consider a war hammer or a war pick. One end forms into a pointy pick. The other end is just a small hammer. Its a multi purpose tool for mining, smithing and smacking things that need to be smacked. The pickaxe doesn't need to be sharpened to a perfect point. The direct power concentrated into the tip of the pick is enough to crack rocks and will surely crack any skulls that happen to get in the way.

Of course, to make things more fun, you want to throw in some steam. A steam powered drill, with a removable drill bit (aka we shoot the bit drill bit ) would allow your dwarves to keep mining and in an emergency shoot out a projectile or two. Dwarves are industrious creatures and there should be no waste. The drill helps them mine faster at the expense of carrying some sort of boiler/water system and in emergencies, you overload it, block the outputs and eject the diamond tipped drill bit. Of course, you could always use the drill as your main weapon, but it is far heavier and bulkier so should primary be used as a quick distraction before setting the boiler to explode and making a quick get away.

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Chemical weapons.

When considering enclosed spaces, whomever controls access to air controls the space. Chemical weapons are tricky outdoors because in large open spaces, chemicals are quickly diluted in the immensity of the air. Also a change in wind can bring chemicals back to your own forces. But underground chemical weaponry is extremely effective. A case from the ancient world: https://news.softpedia.com/news/Archaeological-Evidences-of-Ancient-Chemical-Warfare-Discovered-101996.shtml

The Tolkieneque hammer-swinging dwarves have been done. Have your shy dwarves rarely come face to face with an enemy. Instead, they evacuate underground areas claimed by the enemy and deny those areas using chemical weaponry.

This would have interesting long term ramifications.

1: Arms race. The only people willing (read: crazy enough) to fight dwarves in their tunnels would be other dwarves. Opposing factions will develop countermeasures to commonly used chemical weaponry. Dwarf military gear will look different.

2: Long term denial. This would be the chemical equivalent of land mines - subterranean areas treated with chemicals so as to deny them to either side. The chemicals might fade with time but who wants to check? Other things resistant to the chemicals might move in to these tunnels.

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As far as the steam engines are concerned, you can make the machines be working relics of the creators (gods) that they use in their cities... and while they understand how to operate them they do not have the technology to replicate or even repair the engines. Therefore they only use them sparingly and for the purpose their creators intended. Control over these machines are part of the priesthood and not warriors. Even light maglev rail between cities could be "gifts from the gods" allowing rapid transit without giving the technological advantage.

As far as hand held weapons, pickaxes and hammers are much more traditional (goes with the mining theme). But dwarves do not traditionally deal with ranged weapons. Guns are associated with dwarves because it sets them apart from their bow wielding elven friends, but if you don't have guns in your world it is fine; but the concept of explosives MIGHT exist (more like dynamite) even if they haven't come up with a way to weaponize them.

Edit: Dwarves may not have guns but they are highly intelligent and once they have the idea, they could easily replicate it. Especially since they are metal and chemical masters, they could enhance the designs of the humans with considerable improvement for accuracy and power. But just because they could it doesn't mean that guns would be the primary choice for underground fighting. Too many things in the way with uneven cave walls/floors and stalagmites... and it simply goes against the bold nature of dwarves.

Your armor and weapons should be based on the qualities and characteristics of the race... for Dwarves that would be:

  • Strength
  • Endurance
  • Competition
  • Poison Resistance
  • Beer / Ale
  • Earth Magic

Armor would be heavy, but with advanced forging and access to metals heavy armor does not necessarily need to weigh a lot. Mithral is suppose to be a light metal that is able to hold magic enchantments. Other forms of armor could be chain mail or scale mail (interlocking chains or mini shields)... again not light. Leather would be very limited and used only for parts that cannot be easily fashioned with metal (straps, etc). In fact armorsmiths love to come up with clever clasps and fasteners to avoid using anything non-metal in their masterpieces.

Dwarves do not deal with mounts very well... out in the open world they fear horses mostly because they are unfamiliar but also because they are high off the ground. If they did have mounts it would be something like a fast oversized lizard or rat that travels low to the ground -- with the rider lying as flat as possible. These might only be used by scouts or message runners from city to city or from the kingdom borders.

As far as extravagant weapons, they would still be suited for underground fighting and may not have as much of an effect above ground. For example one of the most devastating weapons against goblins and kobalds (amd other underground creatures) could be as basic as directed light -- a "magic" lantern with a hood that shines a light as bright as a theater spotlight. The lantern does not even need to be real magic, but a chemical/metal compound that emits the bright light.

Other more exotic weapons could also be sound or odor based because of other underground creatures are more dependent on hearing and smell than seeing. A non-lethal chemical fog that can dampen both sound and cover up scents could be put to great use by a squad commander even against overwhelming odds.

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Not being interested in the surface world means only ever having to defend against invasion. In those cases, one need only use what miners have always feared:

Getting lost in the dark: A few miles of labyrinth tunnels should keep any attack force moving until their torches run out. Once left in the dark in an unknown place with no known way out...very few will survive more than a few days. Any that do find their way out would be easy to dispatch.

Getting trapped: Sections of tunnel rigged to collapse would cause any foe to be trapped. See the point above.

Oxygen Deprivation: Your dwarves have access to fire, meaning they have everything necessary to fill a room with carbon monoxide.

Water: If you're producing steam, you have water. Simply dig a U-shaped tunnel the attacking force will have to go through to get to your town and flood it. Anyone lucky enough to swim out can be met on the shores by the awaiting, spear clad dwarves and the choice of swimming to shore and being stabbed or hanging further back in the water to eventually die of hypothermia or drown. Either way, they're dispatched.

Innovation is driven by need - and your dwarves really have no need for the traditional weapons outside of spears or polearms. The environment is so drastically on their side simply due to the fact that any surface creature would not be evolved to survive if even left alone in their world.

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Bladed spinning spike shield.

A natural evolution of the drill. Take a standard heater shield and then add a bladed propeller to the front than a massive drill bit on top of that, tie them both to a massive steam boiler on the dwarf's back using a steam tube that's mounted alongside the dwarf's arm, add some heat-resistant armor and presto - you've got a shielded menace that can just walk through narrow caves and turn everything in front of him to bloody salsa.

Also, if you want this to be a bit safer, swap the steam boiler on the back for a condensed air tank, which was made back at the dwarves' base using said steam boiler to condense the air. Still dangerous amounts of pressure, but now you don't have to worry about wearing superheated metal.

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    $\begingroup$ Spinning anything becomes a hazard to the user if it becomes unbalanced, for example, if someone throws a rock at it or takes a good whack with a prybar. It's also useless against an armored opponent: it'll take several minutes to drill through a good wooden shield, and will just skitter off the surface of a hardened steel one. $\endgroup$ – Mark Sep 4 at 22:42
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The Biggest, most exotic weapon the Dwarves could have is simply the environment they call home. Smallish stone tunnels are going to have an impact of just about everything they do.

Narrow Tunnels Humans are going to be doubly challenged by these. Dwarves are short enough that the tunnels are going to be constantly banging their heads or stooping. This is going to limit range of motion. The concussed probably aren't going to be nimble, and the hunched are going to have troubles turning their body and using fluid movements to generate power in a sword swing. If the tunnel is narrow side to side, it cramps humans even more. Swinging weapons become almost useless.

Sound as a weapon and defense Gunpowder weapons will not be as useful as you might think to people. Underground stone chambers will reflect sound, not absorb it or allow it to dissipate as readily. If you have ever fired a firearm indoors you have an idea of how incredibly LOUD it is. A .45 or even a 9mm is almost painful even with modern hearing protection. I don't want to even think about something like a black powder rifle. Fire something like that in a stone tunnel and you have just deafened yourself and all your mates. This is a bad idea. It hampers communication and when line of sight is very limited the enemy can tear you apart from behind and you would never realize it until your light source gets snuffed or you get poked with something sharp. In addition, you can use the acoustics of stone tunnels to create misdirection. Lead the foolish humans around and around an back up and out a different tunnel where they won't realize there are bears around. Also, at key places, set up some loud and/or high pitched traps to deafen your enemy. Steam Whistles come to mind

Booby Traps: Sharp pointy things, Rocks falling from ceilings, holes in the floor, dead drops... Just think the gauntlet run by Indiana Jones and the Goonies and then let your imagination run wild. Steam can drive any blades, gravity and the fact that rocks are heavy does the rest. Booby traps also afford you the opportunity to kill off the enemy without even getting within poking distance. You also have opportunities to use raw steam, firedamp, and other nasty and sinister gasses.

It has already been mentioned that a pick/hammer or axe is going to be a weapon of choice for the dwarves. The Everyday Carry, if you will. It is useful as a weapon. In many cases it will be very effective even against the best armor. If you can't puncture the mail you can certainly crush it. A dwarf would also be short enough to actually swing one in a tunnel. In larger engagements with multiple dwarfs in a tunnel, a short sword would be favored, perhaps along with a buckler for defense. Remember, there isn't a lot of room to be swinging things in there.

One fun thing about dwarves harnessing steam. They can make very powerful projectile weapons that do not have a concussive blast of sound going with them. Have six or seven decorative tubes pointing down the primary entrance tunnel. Those tubes arent decorative, they are designed to hurl stone balls with great force down that tunnel, turning everything in a certain area into a red jelly.

Get creative, and have some fun.

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Pneumatic/Steam Hammers and Rams

With mastery of steam technology comes understanding of pressure and the routing of high pressure gasses. This should naturally lead to the development of steam or high-pressure powered mining tools.

These same mining tools will then be very effective at countering the typical tunnel fighting melee weapons such as shields, polearms, and sealed doors, as a quickly deployed and properly anchored repeating pressure ram will be far more effective and usable a much tighter space than any conventional ram. Eventually a hand-held version will be developed, and likely weaponized.

Conventional weapons will probably still be used since steam is complex to generate and store on a personal scale, but I would expect elite shield-breaker units with hand held steam jackhammers that vent hot steam at the opponent even as they're smashing through shields or barriers.

These would probably be combined with any of the defensive uses of steam and/or chemicals that others have suggested, and together would suggest that a really well equipped dwarven combat force is going to be wearing armour that covers as much of them as possible, resists heat and steam well, and sheds as many chemicals as possible. Physical protection will be provided by some sort of large shield, short swords and one-handed polearms will be typical melee weapons backed up by backpack steam boilers and cabled pressure weapons.

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Flamethrowers

A few caveats before I go into detail what they should be used. They do somewhat conflict with the no fire condition you set, yet I'll explain in a moment why this use of fire won't be as bad as one would think and how the dwarfs can work around the issues. Furthermore I don't suggest flamethrowers as the dwarfs primary weapons but as strategical and tactical support weapons. Their regular weapons would be heavy plate or mail armor (the square-cube-law is actually on our side here), short arming swords, onehanded axes and pickaxe or warlike variations of them for close quarter combat (you can't swing around long weapons in tunnels) as sidearms and polearms as their primary weapons (you can't outflank a shielded polearm position in a tunnel). I think tactics would be pretty much like those of the Greek phalanx; just push on over the enemy with the force of all your men.

You excluded firearms and explosives, but your reasoning for that is too weak. Yes, dwarfs will fear cave-ins and suffication, but some will say screw it and use firearms. Even very primitive ones will have a huge payoff. Imagine a dwarf-phalanx using fire lances to break the enemy line. Or think what a granate, even a primitive one, will do to the enemy line. And if some people sufficate or your troops get squashed with the enemys in a cave-in... This is war, people die. The suffication risk will actually be a very interesting method of warfare itself.

Oil

Petroleum was known and used since antiquity and natural springs are found all over the world, so your dwarfs will have encountered it. They might used bitumen to keep tunnels stable from the very beginning. As they developed they learned how to somewhat refine the crude oil and deveped three weapons applications for it, alongside with many civil applications as it is so much more convineent than coal.

  • Molotov-Coctail

A Molotov cocktail is a breakable glass bottle containing a flammable substance such as petrol, alcohol, or a napalm-like mixture, with some motor oil added, and usually a source of ignition such as a burning cloth wick held in place by the bottle's stopper. The wick is usually soaked in alcohol or kerosene, rather than petrol. In action, the wick is lit and the bottle hurled at a target such as a vehicle or fortification. When the bottle smashes on impact, the ensuing cloud of fuel droplets and vapour is ignited by the attached wick, causing an immediate fireball followed by spreading flames as the remainder of the fuel is consumed. Other flammable liquids such as diesel fuel, methanol, turpentine, jet fuel, and isopropyl alcohol have been used in place of, or combined with petrol. Thickening agents such as solvents, foam polystyrene, baking soda, petroleum jelly, tar, strips of tyre tubing, nitrocellulose, XPS foam, motor oil, rubber cement, detergent and dish soap have been added to help the burning liquid adhere to the target and create clouds of thick, choking smoke. In addition, toxic substances are also known to be added to the mixture, in order to create a suffocating or poisonous gas on the resulting explosion, effectively turning the Molotov cocktail into a makeshift chemical weapon. These include bleach, chlorine, various strong acids, pesticides, among others. - Wikipedia

These are truely nasty and the traditionalists will most likely ban them. Mad alchemists, ambitious young kings and ruthless mercenaries will however love and spread them. They are just to good.

  • Tactical Flamethrower

The traditionalist answer to the risk of suffication will be gasmaks. Coal-based filters might actually be an adaptation of the dwarf keep air cleaning techniques. Simple pumps and cable-pipes to deliver air from clean regions to the soldiers in the suffication zones are trivial to produce.

The tactical flamethrower weapon team has between 4 and 7 members. One heavily armored and shielded gunner who operates the flamethrower; one or two persons each who: carry the fuel tank and pump to keep up the pressure, deploy and manage the air cable, keep pumping in new air. They can either be deployed to soften up an enemy formation before an infanterie change or defensively to deny access to a tunnel. Few soldiers are willing to change into a small tunnel whick can be filled with sticky fire at a moments notice by the enemy.

This article provides further information on the usefulness of the tactical flamethrower.

The greatest advantage of the flamethrower is its ability to penetrate small openings and fill fortified positions with both fire and smoke. Thus, the enemy either burns or asphyxiates due to the lack of oxygen available to breathe. In the urban environment, the flamethrower can shoot fire around corners to enhance movement past dead or blind angles. Besides causing death and destruction, the flamethrower can greatly impact an enemy psychologically. According to several historical examples, the enemy normally surrenders before submitting themselves to a flame attack. They would rather be captured than burned.

Replaced urban environment with "enclosed tunnel environment".

  • Stategic Flamethrower / Chemical Warfare

It was suggested to turn tunnels into steam ovens to kill the enemy. However this is an overly complex and non-organic solution to the problem at hand. Dwarfs must, by the very nature of their habit, be masters of air conditioning and ventilation. If they know how to get oxygen somewhere, they also know how to make sure that no oxygen gets somewhere.

Place a few bathtubs full of oil in a tunnel, set them on fire, (add nasty chemicals for extra fun) and use steam-power driven ventilators to blow the fire, smoke and fumes exactly into the region of the mountain where the enemy is. Your ventilation engineers should be able to calculate how this works best.

This leads to three obvious conclusions. Ventilation superiority will be vital to win a war between two dwarf factions as it determines where infanterie can be deployed and where fresh air can be pumed from. Keeping unused tunnels oxygen free and filled with CO2, CO and nasy fumes to keep out unwanted adventurers and monsters will be a common strategy. If nameing you dwarf cities avoid the names of German concentration camps like the plague. There are already enough links here.

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    $\begingroup$ The problem with gunpowder weapons and especially with fire weapons is that both parties die. The toxic fumes from a fire lance will kill the user in short order; a flamethrower can use up all the oxygen in a cave in a matter of seconds (this was a standard technique to deal with Japanese cave fortifications during WWII). $\endgroup$ – Mark Sep 4 at 22:48
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  • Boiling oil thrower: especially used to attack enemies in lower tunnels. The boiling oil will sooner or latterwould go down in a ver concentrated space and can go throw the armor to burn the skin. It doesn't consume the oxigen but needs a way to keep it hot.

  • Polearms after a curved tunnel: A defensive position with a small curved passages that won't physically allow any stick longer that 2 meters. Their 4 meter pikes would have a superior reach. The back row would have a guisarme that would grab shields and arms of the enemies while the front row attacks.

  • Pronounced slopes / steps with very narrow ceiling: We are used to hills where being up is having the superiority. But this tunel has a low ceiling that prevents you to attack the soldier in front of you unless you duck in a very unconfortable position. Meanwhile the dwarf just need to chop some legs.

  • Molten metal moat: several rivers from the dwarven Forges are crossed by strategic drawbrides.

  • Puzzle shields: This hexagonal design allows you to connect one to another to build a physical wall and its pieces can be connected between themselves. Every few meters the tunnel will have hardpoints to connect the shield to the rock. Some holes between the shields will allow a spear and a crossbow to attack.

  • Coal deposits traps. Minerals would be stored in big deposits designed to minimize affort. Defenders would be able to open small doors to throw tons of dusty solids on a tunnel.

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    $\begingroup$ Related to your "Boiling Oil" - a strategy to be used against the Dwarves by surface dwellers: Set fires outside the entrance to their tunnels/caverns, and flood them with Carbon Monoxide. $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Sep 6 at 14:58
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    $\begingroup$ And surely they would counter attack with gas / oil drains $\endgroup$ – borjab Sep 6 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ Drains to where? Your surface dwellers, safe on the surface, can keep pumping in the heavier-than-air gas until the mines are full. It's a less damaging (and less noticeable, so more effective) version of damming a nearby river and directing it into the tunnels - but, as noted, only works if you aren't at risk of the gas affecting you too. $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Sep 6 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ May be that's why the dwarf like to live under the mountain. This allows them to have natural downward gas exits. Some would go through natural craks in the rock that wouldn't allow a mouse to enter. An army would need to move tons of rocks in low part of the montain to reach walkable tunnels. $\endgroup$ – borjab Sep 6 at 15:14
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A time honoured tradtion in world building is theft: Take ideas from other people, file off the serial numbers, and claim them as your own.

Terry Pratchett has the copyright on Dwarf Battle Bread.

  • Battle muffins
  • Drop scones

Extending this idea: death frisbees made from tortillas. Shield Naan Bread; Deadly bagettes used as lance points. Round loaves used as catapult ammo. Christmas Star shurikin. Dwarf dumpling slingshot stones. Flatbread armor.

Extending further, deadly forms of pasta come to mind.

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