The Modgriensofarthgonosefren, or dwarves as they are called by outsiders, are an ancient race dating back to the creation of the world. Or so the legends claim. The elves claim no dwarf was ever seen before the coming of men. The dwarves claim that before men, they had stayed in their homes below the planet's surface, because with only elves about, there was no good reason to come up.
Whatever the case, the dwarves live in large communities below the ground. Some of the dwarven warrens are so huge as to leave surface mages positively flabbergasted at cities so huge where none was known to exist. Human nobles and even elven nobles have been left speechless by the sheer splendor, artistry and phenomenal wealth of some of the dwarven palaces in these cities.
Many surfies, as the dwarves call surface dwellers, tend to think of dwarves as short, crude, poor imitations of humans. They make this judgment based on physical appearance and the often rather crude behavior of dwarves. The truth is more than the exact opposite. While dwarves often don't go in for major efforts on their personal appearance, the visual effects of their craft work more than make up for it. Perhaps it is simply that the dwarves are so devoted to their art and craftsmanship, they have no time for lesser concerns.
Anyone who truly understands the arts understands that in most art forms dwarves reign supreme: in sculpture and carving, in jewelry making, in armory and weapon smithing. Even dwarven tapestries are invaluable. Architecture was invented by dwarves. While many dwarven works don't have the ethereal or transcendental feel of the elven works, they make up for this in sheer overwhelming magnificence and raw power. Elves tend to prefer understated elegance, while dwarves, who also enjoy elegance, revel in sheer grandeur.
Dwarves are the ultimate artisans; if you can imagine it, the dwarves can design and build it. All dwarves from the day they are born are taught artisan skills. Dwarves are also clever merchants. They have to be to sell their wares at their true value. Dwarves are the ultimate skeptics, and they are also somewhat unmagical.
Living underground most of their lives means living in a lot of dark. While the cities are always well lit, the side caverns and passage ways aren't so bright. And while mining tunnels, things are quite dim. Dwarves can compensate for this. They can see as well in extremely dim light (what a human would call dark) as well as most people see on a cloudy day. In absolute darkness, of course, they have just as much trouble seeing as anyone else, but with even the most minuscule of light they can see a vast amount.
With all of this going for them, it seems obvious that anyone would want to be a dwarf. This is what the dwarves insist. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to being a dwarf. That darkside is known as human nature. Dwarves are short, 3' to 4' tall. Short people everywhere are often subject to ridicule and discrimination by leggy people (tall people). The sad truth is that in some places, mainly backwater regions, humans are not always polite toward dwarves. Usually the discrimination is nothing major or life threatening, but it can be troublesome and annoying. Naturally, in any place that deals with dwarves in large numbers and prizes dwarven art, dwarves are treated with the respect they deserve. It is usually just the backwaters that give trouble.