Zegdelian gnomes Ethnicity in Scarterra | World Anvil

Zegdelian gnomes

Zegdalian gnomes are a highly nomadic barbarian tribe of gnomes descended from the disciples of the gnomish priestess of Korus, named Zegdielne.   Zegdalian gnomes are primarily known as reindeer herders and reindeer riders. Their lifestyle and culture is largely based around reindeer which they view as a sacred gifts from Korus.


Major language groups and dialects

The Zegdelian gnomes speak their own dialect of Gnomish. They have no trouble communicating with other gnomes but they sound very distinctive to each other.

Culture and cultural heritage

Scarterran gnomes are generally more literate than most other Scarterran races, but Zegdelian gnomes are an exception. Most Zegdelians are functionally illiterate. They know a few glyphs from the Gnomish language that they used to mark trails.   Afew individual Zegdelians who regularly trade with outsiders learn to read, but this quite rare.   Almost all gnomes love storytelling and the Zegdalian are not an exception and Zegdalians love to tell stories around the fire.   Zegdalians love to hear new stories but most say that old stories are like old friends and should be revisted often. With their lack of the written word, they rely on their oral traditions even more.   All gnomes value their families and clans but Zegdelian are even more tightly knit being more insular and distrustful of outsiders than most civilized gnomes.   Zegdelian gnomes are not outright hostile to outsiders and they will respond peacefully if approached peacefully but they tend to keep strangers at arm's length and shield themselves with great layers of formality.

Average technological level

The gnomes have some primitive metalurgy but they try to use metal minimally. Few, if any, cultures on Scarterra rely on bone shaping more than the Zegdelian gnomes and they have a lot of weapons and tools made out of magically shaped antlers.

Common Dress code

Not too surprisingly, almost all Zegdelian clothes is made from reindeer skins or reindeer leather.   Zegdelian gnomes dress pragmatically for survival and comfort. They do not view clothes as a means of personal expression on frown on impractical or "loud" clothes viewing this as a sign of weakness of civilized mortals.

Art & Architecture

Zegdelian gnomes are skilled wood carvers and will carve intricate designs into trees and logs both to mark landmark and for simple enjoyment.   They will also carve designs onto antler based decorations and tools. Very few weapons and tools belonging to Zegdelians are not decorated or personalized in some way.

Foods & Cuisine

Zegdelian gnomes livelihood depends primarily on keeping reindeer. They eat a lot of reindeer meat, drink reindeer milk, and make cheese from said reindeer milk.   When storing food for lean times, they will often dry out curds of reindeer milk and then disolve said curds in hot water and drink it.   The Zegdelian gnomes don't feed exclusively on reindeer. Most barbarian peoples are very knowledgeable about edible wild plants and herbs. Most civilized gnomes are very knowledgeable about edible wild plants and herbs.   It should surprise no one that the barbarian Zegdelian gnomes have unsurpassed knowledge of the plant life in the tundras and taigas they live in.   The Zegdelian are also decent fishermen and occasionally hunt small game such as rabbits.

Common Customs, traditions and rituals

Zegdelian gnomes love music and tend to favor singing, stringed instruments and drums.   Zegdelian clans and tribal units have proportionally more spell casters than most other Scarterran groups and these Zegdelian theurgists and mages are usually bardic casters.   Zegdelian spiritual is very animalistic seeing spirits in everything. It is not too surprising that a majority of their spell casting learn summoning magic.

Birth & Baptismal Rites

About a month or so after birth, babies are blessed by a priest or priestess of Korus and annointed with reindeer milk and reindeer blood, then ceremonially wrapped in the skins of a slain reindeer calf.

Coming of Age Rites

Zegdelian gnome children have a name day either shortly before or shortly after their third year of life. This is their child name.   Reindeer are the bedrock of Zegdelian culture. So a child's first solo ride on a reindeer is a major milestone that is celebrated, and ends with them receiving a second name.   On the cusp of adulthood, adolescent gnome boys and girls go on a vision quest enduring fasting and the elements, this may or may not be on foot or on the back of a reindeer but it is always designed to be hard. Upon passing their rite of passage, adolscent gnomes are considered full adults and they choose a secret name, one only shared with lovers and very close friends.

Funerary and Memorial customs

Zegdelian funerals are generally deceptively short and simple affairs, but Zegdelian gnomes hold their honored dead in high regard.   Often, the ground is too frozen to make a proper burial feasible. In this case a temporary faux burial is made with the deceased covered in lichen or placed in a tree log. Their friends and family will usually try to relocate the body in the spring and give it a proper burial.   They frequently tell stories about the deceased and they have several sacred days throughout the year to honor their recently lost friends and relatives and ancients ancestors alike are commonly honored with fasting and song.   Spirit loas are fairly common and held in high regard.   Necromancy, even necromancy that doesn't bind ghosts or create undead, is viewed as maleficium.

Common Taboos

Zegdelian gnomes hold reindeer in high regard even as they eat and skin them. Even when they slay reindeer and skin them they perform little rituals thanking the animals spirit.   Cruel or cavalier treatment of reindeer is a serious taboo. The hold giant reindeer as being especially sacred and find it offensive that humans and orcs frequently seek to ride these majestic beasts (nevermind that these are the only reindeer humans and orcs can rider).     Zegdelian gnomes are noticeably more distrustful of outsiders than most other gnomes but they are noticably less distrustful of outsiders than most other barbarians. If approached peacefully, they will respond peacefully but they tend to use a lot of formalities with strangers.   Due to partially true but over time warped stories of humans raping their ancient ancestors, Zegdelian gnome are often prejudiced against half-breeds, finding them objects of pity and revulsions. They are offended by even implied interracial mating.

Historical figures

Zegdielne the Favored Soul of Korus is reputed founding mother of the Zegdelian gnomes crediting with pioneering both their spirituality and survival techniques.


Beauty Ideals

Zegdelian gnomes have predominantly Air based Ethnic traits, a rarity among gnomes who are usually earthy and watery.   This means they are considerably taller, paler, and lankier than most other gnomes, and they generally consider these traits aesthetically pleasing though they are usually too polite to tell civilized gnomes how dumpy they look.

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Cover image: by Eron12 with Heroforge


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Jan 3, 2023 19:37

Great article! I like that they use mainly bone for their crafting. A nice cohesive ethnicity!

If you're seeing this, I may have used your article for my 2023 Reading Challenge.
Jan 3, 2023 19:43

Also that sidebar is fantastic.

If you're seeing this, I may have used your article for my 2023 Reading Challenge.
Jan 3, 2023 20:29

Thanks, I'm glad that my reindeer themed articles have resonated with so many people, and I've long been trying to come up with an ethnicity of gnomes that differentiates from the gnomish gnorms of being assimilated civilized folk but still relatively peaceful