Commonly considered the “least dwarf-like” of all dwarves, hill dwarves (or haudergar) are a relatively peaceful people who live in grottoes dug into the dirt of small hills, rather than deep tunnels under stone. Although one might expect them to be more commonly seen than mountain dwarves as a result, the opposite is actually true, as hill dwarves are experts at remaining hidden. Also, their preference of farming over craftsmanship leaves them with less to trade with humans, although they do sometimes trade food for tools and weapons with the mountain dwarves. Humans still see them as greedy for hoarding their plentiful stocks of grain. Some of their baked goods are the most durable in the world and can last for years without spoiling (but are rather hard to eat).
Hill dwarves, like most of the dwarven races, might have unlimited lifespans like elves. Most dwarves typically live a few hundred years, and there are a few cases of dwarves living over a thousand years.
Hill dwarves are one of the shortest race of dwarves, averaging around three and a half feet tall. Their hair is usually earth-toned, ranging from light "dirty blond" to dark brown, and like mountain dwarves, grey or white hair is only found in the very oldest of their kind. Their eyes are usually earthy shades of green and brown, but blue is not uncommon, and their skin color is light, though it ranges from pale to ruddy according to sun exposure, like that of Western men.
Hill dwarves are not a warlike people, preferring to remain well-hidden in their camouflaged hill-homes and ignore the plights of other people. Their communities tend to be closely-knit, and hill dwarves share freely with each other while refusing to share – only to trade – with anyone outside the community, often creating mistrust. They are expert farmers, and often times hill dwarf communal farming villages are much more efficient and productive than human farms. The least dwarf-like aspect of their culture is that males sometimes crop their beards short or shave them off entirely. In other aspects, however, they are like most other dwarves, with great respect for their elders and to the traditions of their people. Since they seldom leave the home, hill dwarf adventurers are rare, although those that do seek a more wandering and intrepid life than most of their kin are found to be quite good at it, due to their natural familiarity with the land and skills at stealth and bartering. Their communities, however, may shun them for leaving their home.
Due to their less warlike nature, hill dwarves most often worship fertility gods and goddesses related to farming and production, such as Friga or Demeter. Hill dwarf villages occur more frequently in the Empire than those of other dwarves, and thus they sometimes worship Imperial gods as well as Nordic ones. Although they respect their elders and ancestors, this is not taken to the point of outright worship as with other dwarves.
Though they lack grand armies in shining armor, the fighting prowess of the hill dwarves is not to be underestimated. They are experts at guerilla warfare, at hiding and using the terrain to their advantage, and they often have better weapons hidden away than most would expect, due to their trade with the other dwarven races. They are surprisingly good ranged fighters and far more dexterous than most dwarves, using their height and agility to their advantage, wearing light armor and dodging enemy blows. When threatened, hill dwarves go entirely on the defensive, retreating into deep underground fortresses that the enemy finds it hard to locate, much less assault. They will then send out scouting parties to burn their own fields and those in the surrounding area, literally starving the enemy army out until they are forced to call off the attack. The hill dwarves will then negotiate a new peace treaty and perhaps even demand tribute from the attacking kingdom. This is often quite embarrassing to attackers of other races, which adds to their willingness to leave the hill dwarves well alone.