|Title(s)||The Exile, the Gray Protector, Master of Crate, the Slave Driver, the Taskmaster, the Harsh|
|Home plane||Infernal Battlefield of Acheron|
|Alignment||Lawful Evil (LN tendencies)|
|Portfolio||Crafts, magic, protection|
|Domains||Evil, Law, Magic, Protection (also Craft, Dwarf, and Metal in Forgotten Realms)|
|Superior||formerly Moradin, currently none|
In many campaign settings for the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, Laduguer (// LAAH-duh-gwur) is the evil deity of the duergar, the Underdark-dwelling cousins of dwarves. He is a strict and unforgiving god. His holy symbol is a shield with a broken crossbow bolt motif.
The origin of the word Laduguer may be traced back to Norse or Germanic mythology. The Germanic word, "laguz" or the Old English, "lagu" is the ancient rune for flowing water, the source of life. The word "duer" is simply a shortened form of the Norse word for dwarf, "duergar" or "dvergar."
Laduguer was first detailed in the book Monster Mythology (1992), including details about his priesthood. His role in the cosmology of the Planescape campaign setting was described in On Hallowed Ground (1996). He received a very detailed description for his role in the Forgotten Realms in Demihuman Deities (1998).
Laduguer appears as a tall, gaunt duergar with skin that can change between gray and brown to match the nearby rock. He is bald and perpetually frowning. He is inclined toward evil, but this is mostly turned inward, gloomy and unforgiving over what he feels is his rejection by his kin. He is supremely lawful above all else, despising the other dwarven deities for being lazy, indolent, and feckless.
The Taskmaster was once a member of the Morndinsamman, or dwarven pantheon, but he exiled himself over a point of honor. His only ally is Grumbar, the Boss of the Earth Elementals. His list of enemies, on the other hand, is long, including Blibdoolpoolp, the Blood Queen, Callarduran Smoothhands, Diinkarazan, Diirinka, the Great Mother, Gzemnid, Ilsensine, Ilxendren, Laogzed, Maanzecorian (dead), Orcus, Psilofyr, Urdlen, the drow pantheon, and every member of the dwarven pantheon, except for Dugmaren Brightmantle.
He was briefly allied with Lolth, and from this alliance he gained the knowledge that provided his people with their giant spider mounts, the steeders. As the drow and duergar fought for resources and territory, however, the alliance shattered, and Lolth and Laduguer became foes.
Laduguer's realm of Hammergrim is located on the plane of Acheron. There, he keeps a hall called Forgegloom, its walls made of armor, shields, weapons, and other martial debris. It has no doors or windows unless Laduguer wills it.
The duergar teach that superiors must be strictly and promptly obeyed. They teach the importance of dedication to one's craft and endless toil to achieve wealth, security, and power. They view life as a harsh existence in which nothing is easy; this is the proper, honorable way to live, as reward without effort is sin. Laduguer teaches his people to suffer stoically and remain aloof from other dwarven peoples, who are lazy and weak. The weak are undeserving, and adversity is Laduguer's forge.
Although primarily the patron of the duergar, Laduguer still occasionally answers the prayers of other dwarves.
Prospective clerics of the Gray Protector engage in many hours of repetitive prayer, punctuated by hard labor and other tests of endurance. The cumulation of their trials involves being trapped between two heavy stone blocks and left there for a week. If they manage to obdurately continue to the satisfaction of their superiors, they are initiated into the priesthood in a ceremony involving branding and torture and permitted to subject new prospects to similarly mind-numbing exercises.
Clerics of Laduguer, called thuldors, wear heavy armor and gray, hooded mantles. The symbol of Laduguer is branded on their foreheads. Their favored weapon is the warhammer. They are often the rulers of their people. It is their job to protect (often with traps) and maintain order in their communities. They keep the duergar cities free from other races. They tend to be skilled craftsmen, especially the older and frailer ones.
Laduguer's temples are simple and undecorated. Many contain torture chambers, prison cells, and battle arenas.
Laduguer's quests involve attempting to awake and control long-buried evils. His prayers are simple constructions of one or two sentences, repeated over and over. Laduguer has few formal rites, as he believes they get in the way of honest work.
One day a year, on the Winter Solstice, the duergar observe the ceremony of Grimtidings. They lay down their tools and gather to hear stories of their voluntary exile and the decadence of other dwarves. Laduguer is praised for his great skill, and the duergar swear vengeance against those who have insulted their god and their people.
Myths and legends
According to duergar legend, the time before time was chill nothingness that hungered for creation. That hunger took the form of a gray-skinned dwarf: it became Laduguer the Creator, who forged the world. Duergar theologians say that Laduguer created himself, forging his flesh from the raw desire to create. Then Laduguer populated the world with the first race, the duergar. The duergar dwelled in peace, creating beautiful things to please their god.
One prideful dwarf, however, sought to elevate himself above his fellows. Known as the Lone Craftsman, he worked in secret to create life, with the result being ugly, gangling things. These, in fact, were all the other races of the world: elves, giants, humans, kobolds, orcs, and more. The Lone Craftsman threw them from his forge in disgust, for try as he might he could not equal Laduguer's original creation. Finally, after years of effort, he succeeded in creating a being like a duergar, but with skin of bronze and eyes like precious gems, the ancestor of the hill and mountain dwarves. Laduguer discovered this blasphemous attempt at improving on his own creation and, in punishment, afflicted the Lone Craftsman with madness so that he could never create again. Thus, the Lone Craftsman became the first of the derro.
The duergar claim that the other gods of the dwarves divided their spheres of influence among themselves, leaving nothing for Laduguer to claim. Without a place in the pantheon, Laduguer left it. The duergar were honorable and faithful and would not abandon their god, following him into exile.
- Baker, Richard, Travis Stout, and James Wyatt. Player's Guide to Faerûn. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2004.
- Noonan, David, Jesse Decker, and Michelle Lyons. Races of Stone. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2004.
- Oppen, Eric. "Servants of the Jeweled Dagger." Dragon #152. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1989.
- Scott, Amber. "The Ecology of the Duergar." Dragon #325. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2004.