Dwarves are known for their skill in warfare, their ability to withstand physical and magical punishment, their knowledge of the earth’s secrets, their hard work, and their capacity for drinking ale. Their mysterious kingdoms, carved out from the insides of mountains, are renowned for the marvelous treasures that they produce as gifts or for trade.
Dwarves are slow to laugh or jest and suspicious of strangers, but they are generous to those few who earn their trust. Dwarves value gold, gems, jewelry, and art objects made with these precious materials, and they have been known to succumb to greed. They fight neither recklessly nor timidly, but with a careful courage and tenacity. Their sense of justice is strong, but at its worst it can turn into a thirst for vengeance. Among gnomes, who get along famously with dwarves, a mild oath is “If I’m lying, may I cross a dwarf.”
Dwarves stand only 4’ to 4’6” tall, but they are so broad and compact that they are, on average, almost as heavy as humans. Dwarf men are slightly taller and noticeably heavier than dwarf women. Dwarves’ skin is typically deep tan or light brown, and their eyes are dark. Their hair is usually black, gray, or brown, and worn long. Dwarf men value their beards highly and groom them very carefully. Dwarves favor simple styles for their hair, beards, and clothes. Dwarves are considered adults at about age 40, and they can live to be more than 400 years old.
Dwarven kingdoms usually lie deep beneath the stony faces of mountains, where the dwarves mine gems and precious metals and forge items of wonder. Trustworthy members of other races are welcome in such settlements, though some parts of these lands are off limits even to them. Whatever wealth the dwarves can’t find in their mountains, they gain through trade. Dwarves dislike water travel, so enterprising humans frequently handle trade in dwarven goods when travel is along a water route. Dwarves in human lands are typically mercenaries, weaponsmiths, armorsmiths, jewelers, and artisans. Dwarf bodyguards are renowned for their courage and loyalty, and they are well rewarded for their virtues.
The chief deity of the dwarves is Moradin, the Soul Forger. He is the creator of the dwarves, and he expects his followers to work for the betterment of the dwarf race.
Hill Dwarf or Gold Dwarf – A proud, confident sub race that is skilled in matters of battle and trading. They are both supremacists (believing they are the greatest of all dwarves) and somewhat xenophobic (from their dealings with other races). They average 4’ tall and weigh as much as an adult human, gold dwarves are stocky and muscular. The skin of a gold dwarf is light brown or deeply tanned, and their eyes are usually brown or hazel. Both genders wear their hair long, and males (and some females) have long, carefully groomed beards and mustaches. Hair color ranges from black to gray or brown, with all shades fading to light gray as time progresses.
Shield Dwarf – One of the most common of dwarven subraces, they on average stand around half a foot taller than other dwarves. They take time to trust others and even longer to forgive and are split between those who believe isolation is the best route, and those more adventurous who seek their fortunes on the surface. Shield dwarves keep to their word, whatever the cost, and are incredibly stubborn, unwilling to concede an inch unless there is absolutely no alternative. Shield dwarves average 4’6” tall and weigh as much as an adult human. The skin of a shield dwarf is fair or lightly tanned, and their eyes are usually green or silvered blue. Both genders wear their hair long, and males (and a very few females) have long carefully groomed beards and mustaches. Hair color ranges from light brown to red, with all shades fading to silver or white as time progresses.
Dwarves get along fine with gnomes, and passably with humans, half-elves, and halflings. Dwarves say, “The difference between an acquaintance and a friend is about a hundred years.” Humans, with their short life spans, have a hard time forging truly strong bonds with dwarves. The best dwarf-human friendships are between a human and a dwarf who liked the human’s parents and grandparents. Dwarves fail to appreciate elves’ subtlety and art, regarding elves as unpredictable, fickle, and flighty. Still, elves and dwarves have, through the ages, found common cause in battles against orcs, goblins, and gnolls. Through many such joint campaigns, the elves have earned the dwarves’ grudging respect. Dwarves mistrust half-orcs in general, and the feeling is mutual. Luckily, dwarves are fair-minded, and they grant individual half-orcs the opportunity to prove themselves.
Dwarves are usually lawful, and they tend toward good. Adventuring dwarves are less likely to fit the common mold, however, since they’re more likely to be those who did not fit perfectly into dwarven society.
A dwarf’s name is granted to him by his clan elder, in accordance with tradition. Every proper dwarven name has been used and reused down through the generations. A dwarf’s name is not his own. It belongs to his clan. If he misuses it or brings shame to it, his clan will strip him of it. A dwarf stripped of his name is forbidden by dwarven law to use any dwarven name in its place.
A dwarven adventurer may be motivated by crusading zeal, a love of excitement, or simple greed. As long as his accomplishments bring honor to his clan, his deeds earn him respect and status. Defeating giants and claiming powerful magic weapons are sure ways for a dwarf to earn the respect of other dwarves.