Secrets of Strugur
Dwarves are a hardy folk tending toward sturdy frames, copious hair, and strong, thick features. Their heights range between those of Halflings and Humans, but their average weight is slightly greater than that of Humans. Dwarves rival even Humans for variation in hair and eye color, but their skin tones generally range only from pale to ruddy, especially among the many Dwarves who spend little if any time above ground; wherever suitable, dwarven settlements are generally built directly into rock, with the oldest and largest being fully subterranean.
Dwarves are almost universally comfortable with living underground. Conversely, how they feel about the surface tends to vary by culture; some Foundings treat it as alien, while others make little distinction, but it’s not uncommon to find the attitude that the surface world is beneath (or, more likely, “shallow for;” the idioms of Dwarven tongues tend to exchange notions of height for depth) any truly respectable Dwarf.
Dwarves can be found throughout Strugur, but generally an area either has an established Dwarven population or none at all. While hermits, exiles, and other solitary Dwarves do exist, their cultural tendencies are strongly social, and favor stability. Even wandering Dwarves usually do so with an eye toward advancing the well-being of their home culture, whether that be Svallborg, a more recent Dwarven Founding, the tightly-knit Dwarven community within a diverse city, or even the whole of a cosmopolitan population such as are found in the Kingdom of Pretarre.
The bonds of family are only one aspect of the emphasis on loyalty and structure central to Dwarven culture. They are famously dependable both as friends and perhaps even more so as enemies; Dwarven settlements have systems of authority and justice but these are supplemented or even superseded by a tradition of grudge-vigilantism where a written declaration of wrongs and proclamation of revenge against an offending party legalizes a Dwarf personally seeking proportionate retribution.
Yet, the orderliness and stability inherent in Dwarven culture is at odds with (and may have even arisen directly to counterbalance) passionate, individualistic, and prideful tendencies in their personal nature. Dwarves as a whole are prone to greed, hubris, and even alcoholism despite a high natural tolerance, and beside their dedication to their home commonly show a deep cynicism toward authority. Not all of this unruly streak is negative, however; Dwarves are known for feats of stubborn bravery, tend to tackle their work with obsession, and have an innate knack for solving spatial and mechanical problems, giving rise to unparalleled traditions in security, mining, engineering, and many other crafts.