I just noticed that the dwarf Coward lifepath can lead anywhere, including Noble. This means that a lowly clansman Tinkerer can wind up as a Noble Axe-Bearer in 5 lifepaths through an act of cowardice. On one hand, it seems strange a race as honor-driven as dwarves would allow low-born Cowards into the Noble ranks. On the other hand, if a dwarf is elevated to nobility by failing to take an oath which benefits a noble dwarf in some way, and then he needs to sink or swim in said nobility, this makes for an interesting scenario…

Any thoughts? What makes this interesting to me is: what oath could a low-born dwarf fail to make that would elevate him to the nobility?

I could conceptualize this as the “dirty secret” lifepath. You spend that time manipulating people and doing something dishonorable that maneuvers yourself into a noble position. Basically–the dwarves may be big on honor, but I imagine that their class structure is also byzantine enough for the corrupt to climb their way up.

They’re a coward because of the thing they did to get easy power.

Thamin’s rise to power was easy. All he did was swallow his pride when the king’s adviser left having threatening the stick and promising the rutabaga*, doctored up some evidence, then falsely accused the former Subthane of Molravia of plotting against the king. In gratitude, Thamin was appointed Subthane himself.

*Dwarves promise rutabegas, not carrots.

Your liege came calling and everyone followed him into hell and ruin – except you. The survivors put you up as the new lord of the settlement, by popular acclaim. “The Wise,” they call you. You know what they really mean: only a coward can save them now.

You could fail to swear an oath to betray your prince…so you are always remembered as an honorable coward.

You could fail to swear an oath to defend your prince…and end up ennobled in the court of a marauding prince, never fully trusted.

thanks for the ideas guys- great.