In Norse mythology, fairy tales, and sword and sorcery fiction and role-playing games, a dwarf is a member of a humanoid race, much like humans, but generally living underground or in mountainous areas. Here they have heaped up countless treasures of gold, silver, and precious stones, and here they pass their time in fabricating costly armor. They are famed miners and smiths though, like humans, specialize in any number of trades. Generally shorter than humans, they are on average stockier and hairier, usually sporting a full beard.
Dwarfs are also called little Hill-men (Swiss), Earth-men (Härdmandle, pl. Härdmändlene. - Swiss) and Kröpel (German). Dwarfs were described as the height of a 3-year old human child (about 3 feet tall), ugly and big-headed. Nidavellir is the land of the dwarves in Norse mythology. Some dwarfs of mythology and fairy tales are: Rumpelstiltskin, the dwarfs from Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs, Snorri, Dvalin, Lit, Fjalar and Galar, Alvis, Eitri, Brokk, Hreidmar, Fafnir, Otter, Regin, and Alberich (or Andvari).
As for non-Germanic cultures, the Egyptian gods Bes and Ptah were dwarfs. In Judaism, the wise men of the Talmud said that the Egyptian Pharaoh of the Bible and the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar were dwarfs.
The Dwarfs are also a race in Warhammer Fantasy. Warhammer Dwarfs are hightly driven by honor, and never forget a slight. In fact, one of the most sacred books to the Dwarfs is the Book of Grudges, which, as the name implies, is a listing of every slight perpetrated against the Dwarfs. These Grudges are written in the blood of kings, and are taken very seriously. Some kings take pleasure in striking out these grudges, which always involve payback of some sort, and usually regained through force, but generally, Warhammer Dwarfs like holding grudges.
Another notable aspect to Warhammer Dwarf culture is the Slayer Oath. A Dwarf who has suffered a great shame, loss, or humiliation will dye their hair and beard orange, and cut it into a mohawk, taking up their axe, they go out into the world, seeking out an honorable death in combat to atone. Those that continue to survive their repeated attempts to get themselves killed become fearsome warriors.
Info courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwarf
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