Gnome Species in Istralar | World Anvil


Mischief and whimsy are only a hair's breadth away from malice and warfare.
— notes on Gnomish behaviour
  Gnomes are particularly small humanoids known for their unique eccentricities and passions that run beyond the comprehension of most other species. Like many of Istralar's species, such as the elves, gnomes are not native to the surface of Istralar. Millennia ago, prior to the Worldrend but potentially before the Second Divine War, calamitous events on their home plane of the First World forced an exodus of native fey species from their home plane to settle across the universe. Many gnomes sought refuge on Istralar, likely helped by the many portals upon its surface, and flourished there.   This fey ancestry contributes to many facets of gnomes as a species, even today, despite no longer being considered fey creatures by those biologists who document species. Their diminutive size, bright colours, and longer lifespans are the most immediately obvious aspects of their ancestors, but the similarities extent beyond the visible and into the gnomish mindset. As a species, gnomes are curious, obsessive creatures that function on different spectrums of morality and desire to most, beyond what their surrounding cultures might dictate.   Naturally, these tendencies do not belong to every gnome, and vary in levels of intensity - some show slight intensity around certain topics that is indistinguishable from a human's preferences for certain hobbies. A number of gnomes also translate their hereditary traits into strong motivations and intense drive, with guilds and militaries around the world praising gnomish dedication due to them.   As their heritage is drenched in magic, so too is the entire species. Statistically, more gnomes possess magic - especially arcane magic - than almost any other sapient humanoid species on Istralar, even counting the elves, with gnomish sorcerers regularly showing strong fey bloodline powers and clerics maintaining near-fanatical devotion to their deities.

Basic Information


Gnomes are a diminutive species that are often far shorter than their fellow smaller races, such as halflings and dwarves. They generally stand between 2'10 and 3'8 in height, with males being very slightly taller than females. They possess highly varied colouration that defies heredity and the genetic understandings of other races; there is no limit to the colours a gnome's skintone, hair, or eyes could be.  
Gnomish family portrait by Hanhula (via Nijijourney)
Similarly, gnomish bodies are strange in their anatomical norms, often seeming to be out of proportion. Gnomish faces may have extremely large eyes with tiny mouths, or the very opposite.   Unlike their colouration, gnomish anatomy does tend to follow family lines; two gnomes with the same large foreheads, bulging eyes, button nose, and tiny lips may very well be related, and children may be easily paired to their parents by judging from their features. It isn't uncommon for gnomes to find harassment over their strange features from non-gnomes, a fact that has yet to dampen gnomish spirit.   Gnomes are also incredibly durable despite their size and strange features, which doubtless influenced the birth of gnome punting. Illness and disease are easy for them to shake off compared to other sapient species, and many gnomes are proud of being able to drink as equals with even the dwarves.
  They are also incredibly dextrous, as is to be expected, and find it particularly easy to dodge the slow, swiping blows of far larger beings such as giants; as a tradeoff, however, gnomes are noticeably weaker in physical ability. This hasn't yet stopped any gnome from entering melees or strength competitions, nor has it stopped their innovations: the gnomish battle ladder exists for a reason.

Additional Information

Social Structure

Gnomes are not a species that try to stick together, contrary to the behaviour of many others. There are very few nations known as 'gnomish nations' contrary to the multiple human empires, elven nations, and dwarven kingdoms about, and even those are largely very multicultural. Polyhedra is only gnomish at its core because it was founded by a single gnomish family that then attracted others; Soniuch Zan, similarly, began with the empire that preceded Galasthin's current smaller form sending its gnomish citizens there to segregate them.   As individuals, gnomes tend to be solitary travellers, experimenters, warriors, and learners. If they settle in one location, one can almost be guaranteed to find that it is as a result of one of their singular obsessions; similarly, those remaining with the same group for a lengthy period of time can be assumed to have formed a strong bond of devotion with their companions. In wider society, this generally results in gnomes being welcomed in almost all civilisations, though some nations keep close eyes on their gnomish population out of an excess of caution for the chaos that may arise from their heritage and obsessions.


Mn. Yes, we tried enslaving gnomes. They're rather too inherently good at escaping to be worth the effort.
— imprisoned slaver
Young gnome by Hanhula (via Nijijourney)
Average Skin Colours
Average Eye Colours
Average Hair Colours
Genetic Ancestor(s)
Genetic Descendants
~350 years
Average Height
Geographic Distribution
Related Organizations
Related Ethnicities

The Chillshade

The horrifying event that initially spawned the gnomish exodus was later named as the Chillshade, largely because of what remains known of its effects.   The few remaining stories and memories in circulation, largely obtained via magical means rather than by communicating information in living memory, describe the First World as having been drenched in a deeper shadow than that of Night itself, and the entire plane being consumed by a hungry, all-consuming frost.   This calamity may have some relation to the many winter-aspected fey species, and in particular, may strongly relate to the later development of Summer and Winter courts in certain groups of fey.
Gnomish mechanic by Hanhula (via Nijijourney)

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Our eyes need to be strong enough to handle all the experiments we put them through! And the late nights reading... and the spreadsheets. Oh gods, the spreadsheets!
— gnome scientist
Gnomish experimenter by Hanhula (via Nijijourney)
Gnomes retain a number of advantages from their fey heritage, granting them supernatural abilities that make them wonderful friends, hard workers, and fearsome foes despite their size. They retain a preternatural sense for what is around them, having keen eyes and ears as good as any elf's, and this extends to the ability to pierce illusions more effectively than almost any other species.   A number of gnomes also possesse innate magic allowing them to speak to animals, produce phantom sounds, summon lights in the darkness, and perform magical effects such as cleaning items or flavouring food; these grant them an immeasurable advantage when living alone in the wilderness. Some go further with this trait than most, possessing innate abilities to defend themselves in their preferred homes or retaining more of the fey influence in their blood to allow them to charm others or speak to plants.   Another lingering advantage from their distant past is how easily gnomes can see in dim light; where a human would be fumbling around in darkness and a drow's vision would be the greyscale of darkvision, gnomes possess low-light vision that extends their sight to double what a human's vision would be. A rare few gnomes descended from generations of those who live in the darkness underground possess true darkvision instead, having lost their kin's usual sight-based advantages.  
You think our normal abilities are weird? Some of us are descended from the Plane of Shadow! Or from dragons! Or.. genies! Efreets! Our possibilities as a species are endless! By the gods, think of our breeding potential!
— overly excitable gnome anthropologist after a few Bestiarytm energy drinks

Articles under Gnome

Cover image: Gnome cover by Hanhula & Nijijourney

This species has multiple parents, only the first is displayed below.
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18 Dec, 2022 14:20

Delightful! I love this take on your world's gnomes and their infinite (but short) stature!

Check out my entry for the Treasured Companions Challenge: the Ghost Boy of Kirinal! His article also spilled over into Adventuring With Ghost Boy full of plot hooks and his 5E stat block!

1 Jan, 2023 13:58

Thank you! I love how bonkers gnomes can get. x)

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24 Dec, 2022 00:24

GNOOOOOMES!! You had me at 'gnomes'.

Storyteller, Cartoonist,..pretty awesome friend =)
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1 Jan, 2023 13:59

Thank you Jaime! Always a blast to see you around here ♥

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4 Jan, 2023 21:58

(Hugs and kisses)

Storyteller, Cartoonist,..pretty awesome friend =)
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28 Dec, 2022 12:03

I love this article all the way around Hanhula; it's got all the frenetic energy of a gnome hopped up on Bestiary but with loads of terrific, valuable information framing those hilarious quotes. Talk about the right combination of awesome!

You are doing a great job! Keep creating; I believe in you!
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1 Jan, 2023 13:59

Ehehehe. Thank you! I had too much fun with the Monster reference there ;)

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30 Dec, 2022 10:42

Nice take on Pathfinder gnomes. Do you have bleaching in your world?

30 Dec, 2022 15:00

I'm not sure if I want to include the Bleaching, since it's a Paizo canon thing, to be honest. I love Bleaching as an effect on gnomes, but I'm also trying to move towards a non-copyrighted look at things so that might involve creating my own take on what happens to gnomes who begin to stop!

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30 Dec, 2022 17:56

Mmm yeah... that's a good point. I'm a fellow bleaching lover, so I just included it in my world, as so far, I am not monetizing it.

2 Jan, 2023 14:44

I LOVE IT. Such a colourful array of gnomes, I must befriend them all >:) and then punt them xD

I hope you have a great day!   Check out my Treasured Companions Challenge Entry!
21 Feb, 2023 15:27

Kelly Pawlik at Kobold Press loved this entry for WorldEmber! <3 She asked me to pass on her feedback to you!   1.I love the chibi visual. I’d love to see an anime full of these multicolored gnomes.   2.The Chillshade sounds both ominous and awesome. I want to know more about it and the effect it had on gnomes, as well as the other fey.