- "They know drinking, fighting, and cannon. There’s a good life to be had, if you can stand to leave the mountains."
- —Gialar Kunst, Dwarf loremaster[1a]
Imperial Dwarfs is a term used for the Dwarfs that have immigrated to the Empire of Man, merging into their culture and providing the Empire with Dwarfen skill and expertise. Imperial Dwarfs are the “second people” of the Empire, its most important race outside of Humanity itself. These are not the Dwarfs of the Karaz Ankor, the ancient “Dwarf Empire” of the World’s Edge Mountains, but expatriates whose ancestors, distant and more recent, have fled falling Dwarfholds or come to believe that the cause of the Dwarfs is lost, and that they should begin a new life among the largely sympathetic Humans of the Empire.[1a]
These expatriate Dwarfs feel a special bond with the Empire, for its founder, the divine Sigmar, led an army that massacred an army of Greenskins and saved the Dwarf Empire at the Battle of Black Fire Pass. Though it happened over 2500 years ago, the Dwarfs feel they have an enduring debt to Sigmar and his heirs. They therefore work as hard as they can to make sure the Empire itself works, contributing their talents to its welfare and serving in its armies.[1a]
Dwarfs are a feature of the Empire’s towns and cities, sometimes comprising as much as 10% of the population. Although they organise themselves in their own guilds and mostly trade with each other, Dwarfs are a linchpin of the economy, providing quality goods and services to those who can afford their prices and needed loans to those who can afford their interest charges. Dwarfs are also a key force in the Imperial Army, when it takes the field. By ancient agreement, they owe service only to the Emperor, though Dwarfs will naturally take part in the defence of their cities and some hire themselves to local rulers as mercenaries. In the Imperial Army, Dwarfs form into their own units of pikemen and axemen, while also providing siege and engineering skills.[1a]
But Dwarfs are never entirely comfortable in the Empire, never completely escaping the feeling that they do not belong or are not wanted. Naturally clannish and reserved, they gather in their own districts and, in some Imperial towns, walled ghettos. Some Humans interpret this as snobbishness and an insult, while the Dwarfs feel a need to gather together for mutual protection. There have been too many times when hard economic times have led Humans to take their frustrations out on the Dwarfs for them to feel otherwise.[1a]
Human feelings toward Dwarfs are mixed. A few, especially among Sigmarites, hold them in almost religious reverence, given their crucial role in Imperial history. Others are so used to seeing Dwarfs among them and doing business with them that they see Dwarfs as little more than short Humans. Others, usually those who are unsuccessful in life, resent Dwarfs and feel sure they must have cheated to get where they are. All but the most rabid racists, however, recognise they are an essential part of the Empire.[1a]