Among demi-humans, the dwarven people are the most similar in their business ethics, at least the good ones, to the humans that share their world. These similarities have allowed much trade to flourish between the two races.
Roleplaying a Dwarf
by: Richard Di Ioia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Used with Permission. Do not repost without first obtaining prior permission from the author.
Dwarves enjoy creating and doing. They are not a people given over to introspection and hypothetical outcomes. They are a patient, hard working people to who laziness and indulgence is seen as a sin. A dwarf will be single-minded in his tasks and will never accept anything less than his 100% effort. Many dwarven craftsmen have destroyed works that they felt were inferior to their best even though from other people's perspective the work was of greatest quality. Although given over to ensuring every detail is perfect, dwarves are not the sort to worry about those details. From a dwarven point of view, the details will be taken care of when it is their time to be looked into. This patient and steady work ethic has been so in-bred to the dwarven mentality that it becomes difficult to get a dwarf to rush a job or to cut corners even if his life is at stake. Dwarves will work only on one task at the time and rarely (if ever) do multiple tasks at once. If, for example, it takes three hours for a forge to be hot enough to work, a dwarf will patiently sit there and stare at the fire until it has reached the proper temperature. This has caused much confusion among humans who alternatively perceive dwarves as being hard working and industrious but then see them lazily sitting down smoking a pipe while watching a fire grow. A popular misconception among other races is that dwarves enjoy working. This is not completely true, a dwarf enjoys seeing the final result of his work. The work itself is a means to an end. For a dwarf, the final result is what counts.
Dwarven family life
Much like everything else in their lives, dwarven family life is patiently planned. Much like humans, a dwarf will remain married until death separates them. The dwarf will mourn the loss of his spouse for at least three years. These three years will be dedicated to creating a permanent reminder of what the spouse represented to the dwarf and to the community. Children are important to dwarves as they represent the ultimate opportunity for creation. Dwarven couples dedicate themselves to teaching as much as they can so that their children become the best at what they do. Within dwarven communities, having your children surpass your achievements is seen with great pride as it means that the parents are particularly gifted in raising children. Inversely, having a dwarven child turn out badly is one of the greatest disgraces that can be inflicted upon dwarven parents. The implications are that the parents have failed in this, their most important task. Many parents of troubled children have left their community with their spirits crushed. Their workmanship in all other tasks has almost always suffered as a result and their products become inferior to what they have worked before.
The learning process
A dwarven child will stay with his parents until he has reached his age of maturity. It is up to the parents of the child to raise him and to teach him a craft. It is very rare for a dwarf to have his child taught by someone else. This would entail some risk that the child grows up with less than perfect dwarven temperament. Dwarves will spend as many years as necessary learning their craft until they have achieved what their parents believe is the most they can be taught. From that point on, the dwarf is considered an adult and he moves out of his parent's home. The teaching process itself varies from family to family and is highly craft dependent. There is one craft that is not taught by the parents and that is the art of warfare. Starting at a young age, dwarven men and women are sent for training in the arts of combat. It must be noted that the warrior training is in addition to their regular training within their family craft. This training is given by the senior warriors of the clan and is geared towards teaching dwarves to work within a team as well as alone. Although this training is common to most dwarven clans, the dedication and level of training is highly dependent on the location of the clan. Dwarven clans living within peaceful lands will spend less time training for warfare and more on their regular crafts.
The dwarven people are divided into autonomous and self-sufficient clans. This stems from the historical difficulties of communication and support between clans divided by mountain ranges. Although all dwarves share a common heritage and will do their outmost to support other dwarven clans, reality makes this a highly difficult task. Each clan has a hereditary clan chief that wields absolute power. A dwarven clan chief's word is law.
Dwarven decision making
Dwarves make decisions through their clan chief or from their elders. A clan chief is the dwarf that has shown the greatest leadership ability in the clan. A clan chief is a life-time position but not hereditary. If a clan chief no longer feels that he is able to fulfill his responsibilities or has found another dwarf within the clan that would be a better leader, he will step down. Otherwise, he is only replaced once he dies. Unlike humans, dwarves do not go senile with age but continue in gaining wisdom. A dwarf's sense of tradition and learning has made it difficult for them to accept decisions made by those that are younger than them. For dwarves, age does mean wisdom and respect. For simple decisions the clan chief decides and the clan responds. For more complicated decisions, or those that have major ramifications, the clan chief calls a meeting with the elders of the clan. The elders discuss and debate while the clan chief listens. Once the clan chief feels that he has heard enough to make a proper decision, he calls the meeting to an end and states what the clan will do.
Dwarven nobility is not hereditary. Dwarven nobility is not the idle indulgence of the rich and powerful though. A dwarven noble is expected to work as hard, if not harder, than those that he leads. Dwarven nobles are a subset of the clan chiefs that comprise the overall dwarven people of a geographical area. The clan chiefs gather and choose one among them to lead them when a combined dwarven decision must be made. These decisions include calls for war, repopulating lands, signing of treaties, the amount of dwarven knowledge to release to non-dwarves, etc.
The dwarves believe in a small pantheon of deities, with each deity overseeing the daily tasks that the dwarven people accomplish. As such, dwarves will pray to a deity whenever they work on a task for which that deity has a portfolio. Dwarven deities are rarely frivolous, but are mostly serious and task oriented. Dwarven prayers are short and practical with very little embellishments.
Dwarves at war
The dwarven warriors take to the task of killing with as much fervor and perfection as they do all other tasks. Once a dwarf has entered into combat he will never surrender and never work with half a heart. What makes dwarves particularly deadly in combat is their tenacity in the face of adversity. Dwarves will not hesitate in attacking even in situations where the losses would be horrendous. A perfectly planned campaign is what the dwarves strive for, with each dwarf doing his task of killing with the outmost efficiency. A dwarf will not hesitate for a split second in combat. If he has decided that there is a need to fight, he will fight even if at half strength or unarmed.