“Few will admit it, but our people were once great and powerful dwarves, not talking fuzzy forest animals!” – Torg Stoneforger, Meles Warrior
In ages past, a huge colony of dwarves sought out to adventure the planes beyond. While many establishments were temporary, they settled on a mountainside and forest that reminded the colony of their material plane home. Many planar explorers know such a place, the Fae World of Arcadia. However, the powerful spirits of this wilderness plane took ire of their presence in a relatively short time. As such, they placed a hex upon them. At first, nothing seemed off; the dwarves had a stronger sense of smell, they gained a taste for new things, they became more active at dusk through night time. In the weeks following, they began to take on physical traits of badgers, as panic set in. As time went on, the explorers became less like dwarves and more like badgers. Revolts against the fey and attempts to escape happened less and less as their minds faded into something somewhat sentient but beastly at the same time. Their newly formed badger bodies and minds became comfortable with the dens they built as they truly became a part of their strange extraplanar home. Only a rare few had their minds kept intact enough to inform any willing to listen about their dwarven heritage.
Meles, to the untrained eye, appear to be awakened badgers. However, they are semi-humanoid creatures that look like badgers. While most of them argue they are badgers given expanded minds by their gracious hosts, the ones that know the truth are stubborn about it, despite not valuing intellect as much as their descendants. Ironically, these “Dwarf Minded” are typically viewed as social outcasts and oddities by their people. That doesn’t stop them from trying to seek a way to become dwarves again. No matter, they often send out adventurers to explore the boundless reaches of reality and bring new information back. In a sense, their drive to explore and learn hasn’t left since the colony first arrived. In fact, the some explorers have encountered their old clans from the Material Realm. Sadly, neither of them were able to recognize each other, beyond a sense of comradery they re-established. In a sense, they’re outsiders for choices that their ancestors made. For that reason, many “Dwarf Minded” go on quests to become dwarves, in hopes of reintegrating into the societies their ancient explorer families hailed from. Majority of Meles are deemed the “wild” social caste, living as beasts given some semblance of thought and guidance. However, they use their somewhat intact minds to bolster their instincts and savage fury. The “Throwback” caste have done all in their power to rekindle their lost heritage by any means possible. To them, balancing the past and the present is the only way to stay sane. They are typically more aware and knowledgeable than their more bestial relatives. However, they are still aliens among dwarven society, friends at best. However, more sinister wild Meles have taken notice of this, channeling dread spirit magicks in an effort to infect other planar dwarves with the same power that created them. Most extarplanar Meles that aren’t Dwarf-Minded explorers or feral scouts were likely created this way.
Author’s Note: I had a discussion about stupid D&D races and among them was the Wildren. They’re dwarf spirits that bump uglies with celestial badgers. Yeah, that’s kinda weird and something I wouldn’t plan on using. So, I babbled about how I could create a better race. Instead they’re ex-dwarves cursed by fey magic, some embrace their wild status while others try to desperately try to remain dwarven in some way. Plus their name comes from Meles Meles, the name for the European Badger. Also, I stumbled across a cool reiteration by Dungeon Hacking, which you should check it!