I am dedicating this post to talking about that dour and serious fantasy species.
What makes a dwarf? My examination of this question largely stemmed from this thread over on the Campaign Builders' Guild. D&D likes to make them gruff, short and stocky, isolationist, and many people seem to decide this means Scottish.
Yeah, I don't understand it either. Maybe it's the need for an easy-to-imitate accent.
Dwarves (or dwarfs) in early Norse Mythology weren't even portrayed as being short. Rather they looked human, except for their connection to the stone (For the record, I'm getting all of this from Wikipedia). They had pale skin and dark hair.
Okay, well, I can work with that. Ever since reading the post mentioned above, I've wanted to return dwarves to the stone, and make that the focus of their fluff, rather than being short and bearded.
First off, I'm going to shamelessly steal (well, he did give me permission, I'm 'psychoticbarber' on the forums) the idea that dwarves are cut from the stone, and that life is breathed into them by priests. As mentioned in the thread, this will make dwarven society into a powerful theocracy, as religious leaders literally have the power to stop the dwarves from creating children. Furthermore, dwarves are sexless, and likely the smallest grouping would be not the family but the clan.
Here's my Fantasy Race Portfolio