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The svart as a monster for first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was created by Cricky Hitchcock, and first appeared in White Dwarf #9 (October 1978). The monster entry in White Dwarf says it was taken from The Weirdstone of Brisingamon [sic]. That book in turn took inspiration from the Norse myth of the Svartálfar or dark elf. In White Dwarf #15 readers were asked to vote for their top ten "Fiend Factory" monsters. The top ten, including the svart, were later reprinted in Best of White Dwarf Articles (1980).
The xvart first appeared in the first edition in the original Fiend Folio (1981). The module The Sentinel (1983) details a xvart lair. In the article "Hey, Wanna Be a Kobold?" by Joseph Clay in Dragon #141 (January 1989), kobolds, xvarts, goblins, and orcs were presented as player character races along with two new character classes, the "Shaman" and the "Witch Doctor".
The xvart appeared in third edition for the Greyhawk setting in Living Greyhawk Journal #1 (September 2000), in "Enchiridion of the Fiend Sage." The xvart appeared in Dragon #339 (January 2006), where it was also presented as a playable character race.
The xvarts also appear in the 5th edition supplement Volo's Guide to Monsters (2016).
Within the Dungeons & Dragons universe, Xvarts are bald, blue-skinned humanoids with orange eyes. They are 3 feet (0.9 m) tall and usually wear loose cloth doublets. Xvarts live in hilly, cavernous regions, and are usually of chaotic evil or chaotic neutral alignment.
In the World of Greyhawk setting the Xvarts are the minions of the cunning demon god Raxivort who is also the patron of rats, bats, and wererats. For this reason Xvart can magically speak with rats and bats and often use them, or their giant size relatives, as mounts and pack animals. Xvarts follow the teachings of their deity which stresses the importance of individual survival at all costs, giving them a reputation for cowardliness. Their annual mating season is known as Raxivort's Orgy. Xvarts who advance as Shamans of Raxivort show their status by wearing ceremonial stilts giving them the same height as a medium size human.
In 4th edition, Xvarts (or xivorts, as they are renamed) were originally gnomes enslaved and experimented on by the fomorians. They escaped to the Plane of Shadow thanks to a pact with a coven of hags, where they mutated further, their skin becoming deep blue in order to blend better with the shadows of the plane. Since then, many have spread back to the Feywild and Abeir-Toril. In this version they were known for their jealous hatred of any species taller than their own, but had no problems allying with other short races like halflings or gnomes.
In the 5th edition book Volo's Guide to Monsters (2016), Raxivort was retconned as being a traitorous former servant of the demon lord Grazzt. In this version Raxivort steals a powerful artifact known as the Infinity Spindle and creates the Xvarts as imperfect duplicates of himself in an attempt confuse those tracking him. These versions are obsessed with stealing gold and other treasure from passersby in the hopes of winning the favor of Raxivort. Should the favor of Raxivort be won the demon god will appear and steal all of the Xvart's treasure, granting it Warlock abilities in return.
Xvarts make random appearances in the computer game Baldur's Gate, based on the Forgotten Realms setting. They are common in the southern areas of the map and have a village due west of Nashkel. Their village consists of wooden huts where they are most populous in the game.
- Turnbull, Don, ed. (Oct–Nov 1978). "The Fiend Factory". White Dwarf (#9): 8.
- Turnbull, Don, ed. Fiend Folio (TSR, 1981)
- Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. p. 116. ISBN 0-87975-653-5.
- Clay, Joseph (1989). "Hey, Wanna Be a Kobold?". Dragon. TSR. #141.
- Williams, Skip, et al. Monstrous Compendium Fiend Folio Appendix (TSR, 1992)
- Reynolds, Sean K. "Enchiridion of the Fiend Sage." Living Greyhawk Journal #1 (Paizo Publishing, 2000)
- Reynolds, Sean K. "Creature Catalog IV: Campaign Classics" Dragon #339 (Paizo Publishing, 2006)
- Mearls, Mike, Greg Bilsland, and Robert J. Schwalb. Monster Manual 3. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2010.