“From Stone have we come, to Stone shall we return.”
The dwarves insist that they were not created, but rose up from the ground where they had toiled since before Creation. Although they procreate sexually, they all consider themselves the descendants of the “Living Rock”, as they call the bedrock of the mortal world.
Dwarves are roughly a head shorter than the average Human, but broader and heavier of build. Their other features are as varied as those of humans. As they grow old, however, dwarves slow down, and their skin thickens and hardens until, ultimately, they turn completely into stone after two to five centuries of life. In this way dwarves are thought to enter eternal communion with the Earth Mother who sends them to maintain the land of the dead with the same diligence they worked the living rock in life. Likewise, a dwarf who has suffered an untimely death petrifies instead of rotting. Dwarven “statues” are memorials, tombs, and links to the afterlife at once, and sacred to the degree that creating a statue through any other process is sacrilege.
Dwarves are a reclusive folk whose interactions – however few – with others have been mostly peaceful and commercial in nature. The all-metal tools of the dwarves are unparalleled in quality and durability, and they seem to have an innate understanding of how to craft stone into the most majestic hand-built structures in the world. True dwarven craftsmanship does not include any organic components, as these they think too transient – “Never wield a tool you wouldn’t mind returning to Stone with,” as they say.
Although customs differ between populations, all venerate the Earth Mother as the first dwarven leader and culture hero. Her ideals of hard work and imperturbability form the linchpin of dwarven society.
Aside from these qualities the various dwarven populations have very distinct cultures, and although the underground passages that link them all together allow exchange, a dwarf visiting another stronghold is likely to feel almost as alien as among, say, humans.