The defining trait of Dwarves is their single-mindedness. A given Dwarf will choose a profession (called a “Line”), and work without deviation towards it for their entire lives. The oldest Dwarven child of each gender will inherit the Line of the correspondingly gendered parent, although all others are free to choose their own Lines.
As the name implies, a Line continues through generations, and a strong Lineage is a great honour among Dwarves. Due to the oldest-child-only inheritance though, Lines tend to be fairly short, and even a 4th generation Lineage is respectable.
Dwarves are typically humourless, emotionally flat, and lack sex-drive. They care little for appearances (other than beards), and lack creativity. The two great exceptions to these are:
- If any of these traits are required for their Line. Because of their dedication, they will seemingly instinctively develop any required personality traits.
- As a subnote, if a Dwarf does not think they will be able to complete their life's work in their lifetime, they will develop an incredible urge to procreate so that their heir may finish it. If their same-gendered first-born dies and their Line is broken without completing their life's work, they will fall into despair, or work madly with such a looming and literal deadline.
- Or, if they are drunk. Intoxicated Dwarves are generally quite uproarious, horny, emotional, and free-thinking. This boost to creativity is what drives many Dwarves to drink, although alcohol often causes as many problems as it enables them to solve.
Alcohol is prevalent in Dwarven society; because of the aforementioned lack of sex-drive, Dwarven populations only dwindle without alcohol, so they have “evolved” to include some form of alcohol in all Dwarven societies.
A Dwarf will follow their line to all ends of the earth; it is not uncommon for Dwarves to:
- Become hermits, producing whatever masterful works they have dedicated themselves to for its own sake
- Leave Dwarven society to pursue their craft; this is most common for anything artistic, as they will find little audience or market for art and performances there
- Create a single masterpiece in some obscure location; this may be a giant statue in the desert, an intricate dungeon beneath a wine-cellar, an epic mansion in the middle of a forest, or whatever
- Create an enormous number of the same thing, far beyond any market's demand for them.
- Beggar themselves when their Line is not profitable, or amass an unspent fortune when it is
- Choose a life of crime for their Line. Almost every famous pirate whose name ends in “beard” is a Dwarf. Remember that Dwarves will aim to be the best at what they do.
Stereotypes about Dwarves mostly come from a few famous Dwarves and their Lines. This is mainly miners and warriors.
Dwarves who do not inherit a Line are referred to as Progenitors, Firsts, Primes, Forebearers, or Bears. Firsts is the most casual, and most commonly used, as Dwarves care little for formality (Dwarves often address each other based on their Lineage number, so calling someone a Second or Fifth is common). They typically spend most of their childhood trying a bit of everything, and seeing what sticks with them. If a Dwarf cannot find their Line, they will often fall into alcoholism, and such Dwarves are referred to as Lost (collectively, The Lost), but this is less common than you'd think. A Dwarf typically irons out what his Line will be throughout puberty.
If a Dwarf refuses to inherit their rightful Line, they are typically shunned, and often become Lost or outcasts, even if the take up another Line. This is quite rare, due to the social stigma.
Some Dwarves will try and continue a Line with someone other than the first-born (either a later sibling or an adopted child); this is most common when the first-born dies, especially for miscarriages. This is generally accepted, although their Lineage is spoken with some disdain, as it is not been truly “earned” in public opinion.
It is difficult to find a Line, and many Dwarves end up helping out other Dwarves (i.e. being assistants, apprentices, salesmen, etc.). This can create the awkward position where a Dwarf's Line has become obsolete, or cannot be done anymore due to the death of their master Dwarf. They may get another Dwarf to take up their master's mantle (occasionally forcefully), they may take it up themselves in some cases, or they may end up going insane; sweeping the floor of a long abandoned shop, or selling wares that do not exist.
Dwarven debts are carried through a Line, although note that any Firsts are free from these debts. This includes financial debts, debts of honour or other obligations, and prison sentences.
Dwarves are very proud, although the only two things they typically care about are their Beard, and their Line. Various styles of beard exist, and this is the one area where Dwarves will care about fashion. Both genders of Dwarf have beards, although there are different styles associated with each gender, although this can differ geographically and temporarily. In many cases, an exposed chin is a sign of femininity, although there are several distinctly masculine styles with a naked chin. In general, simpler Dwarves like simpler styles, and more urban Dwarves have more elaborate tastes.
A shaved face is a sign of shame or repentance for a Dwarf, depending if they were shaved by themselves or someone else. Many feuds were started by cutting a Dwarf's beard, and several peace treaties were signed because of a clean shaven one. Such feuds typically only last as long as it takes to grow the beard back, but if further cuts are made during that time, then things can get messy.