Origin: Mera working with some of her siblings, created the first gnomes fairly late in the Second Age. By this point, nearly every one of the Nine created a paragon race to embody their own personal ideals and they fought with each other and the dominant elves. Mera wanted gnomes to broker peace and cooperation between all the mortal races of Scarterra. That’s why she gifted them with silver tongues and it is also why she made them small, so that they would be non-threatening.   Second Age History: The gnomes followed Mera’s directive and spread out to every continent. They immediately tried to broker cooperation between the various races and nations.   The results were mixed. When the gnomes were not welcome, they would leave peacefully or sometimes flee for their lives or make a fighting retreat. Gnomes like to tell sagas and epic poems about their forebears’ early successes and failures with diplomacy. A lot of these stories are partly or completely made up whole cloth because accurate records before the Unmaking are hard to come by.   Their greatest success was with the dwarves. This was helped because largely due to luck, a gnome was able to save the crown prince of Meckelorn . Gnomes have been welcome and trusted by dwarves ever since. Their greatest failure was trying to broker peace between elves and goblins .   Surviving the Second Unmaking : It quickly became apparent that The Void demons were equally hostile to all mortals, so in a sense all mortals were allies. Few gnomes distinguished themselves on the battlefield, but behind the scenes they were indispensable middlemen helping formerly warring groups to put aside their differences and work together fighting the demon hordes.   Modern gnomes often claim that without their contributions the armies of The Void would have wiped out all life on Scarterra. They were probably right.     Third Age History: Emerging from the rubble of the Second Unmaking, gnomes continued their mandate to spread to all lands and to foster peace between all peoples. Gnomes claim that their ancestors helped resolve many disagreements during the beginning of the Third Age as the emerging humans contended with the survivors of the Second Unmaking. They certainly tried to smooth things over. They had some successes and some failures.   Gnomes already had strong ties with dwarves. Gnomes tend to be accepted in most elven and human lands. They pay their taxes and don’t make waves. Both humans and elves alike have their racists and xenophobes so gnomes were not always accepted with open arm. Gnomes like to brag about their races skills at peaceful diplomacy, but that diplomacy occurred with a cloak and dagger far more often than most gnomes admit.   Early Third Age, gnomes were often nomadic. This lifestyle created a lot of adventurers. A lot of these adventurers took it upon themselves to violently oppose any human or elf leader who made a habit out of oppressing gnomes. Even a gnome assassin that relies on daggers still knows how to practice effective diplomacy. Any ruler that oppressed gnomes could expect their non-gnomish enemies and rivals to be well-informed, well organized, and uncommonly united. The most extreme case of this was with the dark elves of Kahdisteria . They eventually outlawed enslaving gnomes to avoid the constant hassle of gnomes mobilizing mass slave revolts among their human and goblin slaves.   A gnome minority is now entrenched in almost every nation on Scarterra, but gnomes do not have a homeland of their own. It’s hard to get accurate censuses from every nation in the world but most academics believe that gnomes are the third most populous mortal race ahead of dwarves but behind elves and humans .     Organization: While gnomes were compelled to spread about the world, they prefer to live near other gnomes and tend to form their own villages, quarters, or enclaves within other races lands.   Gnomes while willing to work with anyone like to put down roots. It’s pretty rare to find gnomes tagging along with nomadic barbarian groups long-term and all-gnome tribes have not existed for many centuries. A lot of gnomes do like to travel, but they normally join civilized nomadic groups such as wandering minstrel troupes or groups of circuit priests.   Among themselves, gnomes are pretty informal. Many gnomes work hard at mediating disputes among other races. They are not hypocrites as they are very good at mediating their own disputes and rarely show naked favoritism to other gnomes but gnomes are not saints, so subtle favoritism is near inevitable.   Gnomish leaders rarely need to step in to solve disputes of lower gnomes. When leadership is called for, gnomes tend to take direction from their elders, and those who are the most charismatic and diplomatic. Gnomes value expertise as well. Gnomes tend to be familiar enough with their fellows in the area that they can usually identify the expert on any topic at hand, so they can pretty easily figure out the best temporary leader for any specific problem they are faced with finding the best engineer, the best hunter, or the best carrot farmer available, whatever the situation calls for.     Religion: Being focused on peacemaking and mediation, Gnomes will rarely exclude any of the Nine outright. That said, most gnomes acknowledge Mera as “the Mother of Gnomes”, so she is the most commonly worshiped. Gnomes tend to assimilate into other cultures well, so they often mirror the religious practices of the lands they attach themselves to. Gnomes serve as priests to all of the Nine and they tend to do well in temple politics.     Gnome Outsiders: Given how geographically dispersed gnomes are and their penchant for assimilating into non-Gnomish cultures it’s all but unheard for a gnome to truly become an outcast from his own kind. Even if a gnome feels more comfortable in an adopted culture, they usually get along passable with other gnomes. Some gnomes don’t care to be social with anyone. Gnomes who are loners by nature are pretty rare, most are peaceful but you can still find the occasional maniacal wizard or sociopath murderer among gnomes.   The most feared evil gnomes are those who are not loners. When gnomes put their diplomatic skills to nefarious ends it can be very destructive. Even evil gnomes rarely seek self-aggrandizement preferring to quietly pull the strings of others for their own enrichment or amusement. Many kings and rulers have gnomish advisers and some of these advisers are sneaky and ruthless. More than a few thieves’ guilds and other clandestine organizations have a gnome quietly pulling their strings from the shadows.

Civilization and Culture

Major Language Groups and Dialects

Gnomes speak their own language called Gnomish. Most gnomes learn Common or whatever the predominant language of their region is. Many gnomes seek to learn many languages, just in case.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Dwarf nations: Meckelorn has welcomed gnomes in their borders dating all the way back to the Second Age. When Meckelorn split into two nations, many gnomes stayed with the Mecklorn loyalists and served as able scouts and many gnomes joined with the mass migration to Stahlheim. Gnomes easily make up the largest non-dwarven minority in Meckelorn today (6%). In Stahlheim, there are roughly as many gnomes as there are humans (5% each).   Only a single gnome joined the initially exodus to Mondert , but that single gnome was King Mondarious’s most trusted advisor, so Mondart’s law and customs were built around gnomish values. Today, Mondart warmly welcomes gnome visitors and modern gnomes often put forth that Mondert’s peaceful cooperation between dwarves and humans is an ideal that all nations to aspire to. No gnomes live there full-time. Gnomes will say only half in jest that Mondert doesn’t have gnomes because Mondert doesn’t need gnomes.   During the Second Unmaking , gnome refugees ended up joining forces with the elves that would eventually found the Third Age nations of the Elven Empire and the Wood Elves of Codenya . Most gnomes in these lands trace their ancestry all the way back to the original refugees who worked and fought besides these elves.   As the Elven Empire gradually became less elven, gnomes were often called upon to be impartial mediators between elves and humans, usually with the gnomes acting in an informal capacity. A small number of elves took on official roles within the government. The current Elven Empress has decreed that more non-elves should be appointed to high positions. This was intended to provide enfranchise more humans and half-elves, but a lot of these new positions have been given to gnomes. Many of the Empress’ governors and vassals oppose giving the human and half-human rabble more power and since the decree only says “non-elves” gnomes were considered far less offensive. Also, given their social skills and long life spans, gnomes often legitimately merit these posts. Thus, they have power disproportionate to their small numbers.   Penarchian States: The Penarchian states have about an average number of gnomes (about 5%). Gnomes are not oppressed or disrespected but they have been mostly unsuccessful at preventing the frequent interline wars here. It is less common to find human rulers with gnomish advisors than elsewhere.
Gnome Character Creation   Silver Tongue: Gnomes receive a -1 difficulty bonus all non-magical rolls involving Charisma and Manipulation other than intimidation or seduction (they do not receive penalties for intimidation of seduction).   Naturally Stealthy: Gnomes' small size makes them good at hiding and light on their feet. Gnomes receive a -1 difficulty bonus on all stealth rolls.     Puny: Gnomes suffer +1 difficulty penalty to all Strength rolls, including damage rolls using weapons powered by their own strength. Maximum unencumbered carrying is 15 pounds per point of Strength rather than the usual 25.   The one exception is that gnomes are not penalized on their climbing rolls.   Light: Bullrush and Grappling attempts against Gnomes are at -1 difficulty.     Gnomes usually speak Gnomish as their native tongue.

Articles under gnomes

Cover image: Symbol of the Nine by Pendrake