Dwarves have always enjoyed a sense of unity that the other children of the World have lacked. Isolated groups of Dwarves toil in the deeps or under the mountains, each ruled by a Thane, but never in all their long history have two Dwarf nations warred against each other. Dwarf holds may nurture rivalries between each other, to see which can finish an engineering project or produce finer steel, but these rivalries never turn into conflicts. Because all of the Dwarves were fashioned by Thurin, every Dwarf is a brother to every other, and the Dwarven family is likely the most harmonious in all the World.
Dwarfholds are ruled by Thanes, but many of the most important decisions are made by the community as a whole. Every Dwarfhold has within it a massive hall called the Hall of Voices, large enough to hold the entire local population. In frequent meetings, minor matters are decided by votes of acclamation, with the Thane having final say. These meeting are usually subdued, but not always - loud arguments have been known to break out, and there are no rules of decorum: every Dwarf may speak, and give his opinions as loudly as he wishes. Thanes are chosen by community vote, based on merit and ability. The post of Thane has no fixed term, and Dwarves will frequently resign from the post as conditions change. A warrior might become Thane when the hold declares war on a nearby Orc tribe, for example, and remain Thane until the hostilities end, when he willingly steps down. Thanes are advised by a council of the best and wisest Dwarves in the hold, one of whom must be a Priest of Thurin. Outsiders are often amazed at how harmonious Dwarven politics can be, and at how much shouting and bellowing there is when parties do actually disagree!
Of all the children of the World, none can match the Dwarves in skill and craft. To them alone did Thurin reveal the deepest secrets of the forge, and Dwarven steel is still the finest in the world. Only their Forge Masters can craft weapons and armor of adamant, hardest of all metals. Masters of all forms of metalcraft, Dwarves are cunning goldsmiths, drawing gold and platinum into wire or crafting chains of precious metal as thin as human hair. Dwarves are also natural born miners and masons, with mines and tunnels that extend hundreds of miles under hill and mountain. Dwarvish architecture is stunning is its scope, yet remarkably uniform. Dwarves love symmetry, and favor grand spaces and heavy columns. Many lords who live beneath the sun and sky would pay dearly for a Dwarf's help in designing or building a castle.
Other races tend to regard Dwarves as stoic and grim, as emotionless as the stone they're carved from. These impressions may be correct at first glance, but belie a Dwarf's true nature. Dwarves live for work, and have an amazing resolve that is easily misktaken for stubbornness. Dwarvish minds are not so keen as those of Men or Elves, and tend to follow lines of reasoning that baffle Roofless Folk (what the Dwarves call all people who live their lives under the sky). Once a Dwarf has set himself to a task or purpose, however, he acts with absolute resolution, and a single-mindedness few beings can comprehend. It seems as if Dwarves have a physical need to complete tasks assigned to them, whether by themselves or an authority they respect. If interrupted while working, a Dwarf will do whatever he can to end the distraction, and may finally fly into a rage if the interference continues. Dwarves have long memories, and are very good at holding grudges.
Despite their strict focus, Dwarves are far more than stoic machines. Dwarves have a love of beauty and art that rivals any Elf's, and have a tireless appetite for music. Dwarves sing while they forge, while they mine, and while they make war. Dwarves have spent most of the World's history in isolation, and hence know little of the ways of surface dwellers. Dwarves are on their guard when dealing with tall folk, and the sight of the open sky makes them nervous. Most humor is lost on them, and most surface dwellers can find Dwarves difficult to communicate with. The few who have truly befriended a Dwarf, however, or ventured into their halls, have seen a very different side to their demeanors. A Dwarf is forthright in everything he does: loyal to a fault, dedicated to his work, merry at feast, and grim as death in battle.