Gnome Species in Ulskandar | World Anvil


Skilled craftspeople and inventors, with sharp minds and even sharper wits, to know a Gnome, even for a time is truly fascinating. However, do not underestimate them because of their size and gentle, kindly manners. If you do, you’ll be in for a nasty surprise!
Extract from Ingrid Aevardottir's Corpus Animalium.   Gnomes are one of the smallest sapient species in Ulskandar, but their skill as craftspeople, artisans and inventors make a huge impact on the communities that they choose to settle in. Unconcerned with living in single species settlements, Gnomish families can be found in most mixed-species settlements, where they live in sprawling dwellings both above and below ground known as Home Settlements.

Basic Information


Gnomes are bi-pedal, humanoid creatures in their basic form, though they are much smaller in terms of their stature than Humans. On the whole, a Gnome will be between 2-3.5ft/0.6-1m in height, and they have very slight builds, often with slightly longer arms and legs than would be proportional for larger humanoids. A Gnome’s natural dexterity is portrayed through their fingers, which are long, nimble and capable of very deft, delicate movements. In terms of their facial characteristics, Gnomes have large eyes and large ears, that are pointed like an Elves, though much broader in profile. Gnomes are also able to rotate their ears from being flat against their heads to an angle of just short of 90 degrees, which helps them pick up small sounds and pinpoint their location. The majority of Gnomes grow curly hair, that tends to range in colour between auburn and blond, and male Gnomes are prone to baldness as they grow older, particularly once they enter their second century.

Genetics and Reproduction

The only major difference in the reproductive practices of Gnomes is that most Gnomes will be born as either twins, triplets or even quadruplets. Gnomes traditionally have incredibly large families that regularly number over 9 children or young-adults living with their parents, and other older relatives under one roof at any one time. Gnomes will refer to their twins, triplets etc. as first siblings, first-brothers or first-sisters, and they will refer to their other siblings as second-siblings etc., and it tends to be with their first-siblings that they have the stronger relationship. Amongst Gnomes it is unusual for mothers to give birth to a single child, and children that are born without any first-siblings are often viewed as having some sort of superstitious or auspicious characteristic about them. Indeed, Gnomish folklore states that children born without any first-siblings are likely to be sensitive to the words and workings of the Gods, and more sensitive to magic.

Growth Rate & Stages

In Gnomish society, an individual is said to have matured fully into an adult on their 30th birthday. Gnomes are considered are referred to as ‘Weens’, children essentially, until they reach 15 years old, and are then known as ‘Troubles’ until their 30th year. The term ‘Troubles’ for Gnomes between the ages of 15 and 30 is thought to originate from the fact that young Gnomes tend to be at their most rebellious and mischievous during this time. After their 30th birthday, Gnomes live for up to 400 years on average, and occasionally longer, and Gnomes will generally refer to individuals who are over 300 years as being ‘Aged’, which is not taken as an insult, but instead as a form of endearment.

Additional Information

Social Structure

There are no Gnome nations or kingdoms as such, nor do Gnomes seem particularly bothered as say, Dwarves and Elves do about having their own racially distinct communities. Occasionally Gnomes may rise to influential positions within a mixed nation’s government, but on the whole they seem content to stay out of politics, which they universally view as being a waste of time. That having been said, Gnomes do have a strong familial structure, which is based around their Home Settlement, an ancestral home generally set in a urban or semi-urban area amongst or near the dwellings of other species which is often the place where generations of Gnomes from the same family have been born. The most accurate description of Gnomish family structure is that it is a gerontocracy, where the oldest Gnome, regardless of sex are viewed as being the family head, and as a result demands great respect from the younger Gnomes in the family, whether they live in the home settlement or not.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

As Gnomes do not have a particular nation, state or area that they claim to have originated from, they can be found across all of Ulskandar’s three continents, and are visible in pretty much every racially-mixed settlement that one might come across. As all Gnomish families have a Home Settlement within a mixed-species settlement, different Gnomish families will always have a different geographical focus, dependent upon where their Home Settlement is, where the majority of a Gnomish family will be based.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Their large eyes and ears mean that Gnomes have very good eyesight, which is also rather effective in the dark, and excellent hearing, both of which are very useful for creatures that have to navigate their way through a world where most other people are larger than them. Gnomes are also highly intelligent creatures, and are capable of significant cunning, which can be used for good, or to create mischief. Their closer genetic link to Fey creatures also means that they are much more capable of resisting the effects of magic than other creatures are, and they are particularly resistant to being charmed.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

Invariably, Gnomes will have four names. The first of these will be their given name, the second of which is the given name of their father, the third name is the name of their Home Settlement, and their fourth name is a nickname or pet-name that they are given during their years as a Ween, and that is often linked to some habitual quirk, obsession or desire that the young Gnome picked up during their formative years.

Average Technological Level

Of all of the species in Ulskandar, Gnomes are regarded as being one of the most technically adept peoples on the Material Plane and beyond. Gnomes can turn their hands to almost any production process, and not only prove themselves competent in it, but excel in their chosen field. Gnomish craftsmanship is always highly in demand in any field where it is available, though when it comes to creating objects for creatures that are not their own size, the amount of time it takes for Gnome to create the desired object is always going to be much longer, due to their smaller stature. When working in settlements where they are not the majority populace, a Gnome will often set themselves up in a workshop with a number of apprentices taken from larger species, who are able to work on much larger objects far more easily, though under careful instruction from their Gnomish master or mistress.   Gnomes’ natural technical aptitude and dexterity means that many of their species are on the cutting edge of technological developments, especially when it comes to machines or automata that are powered by clockwork mechanisms, whose intricate and delicate construction generally require the precise and tender touch of a Gnomish hand to create and repair. One such invention, the Clockwork Carriage, is perhaps the most commonly known of these inventions, with several Gnomes having set up Clockwork Carriage workshops in large, wealthy, often capital cities such as Wardeen.

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

There are several customs that are common to most Gnomes, including:   Rarely writing anything down: Even though most Gnomes are literate, very few of them regularly commit anything to writing, and when they do, they normally write in Common Speech rather than in Gnomish. The reason for this is that Gnomes deeply dislike the way that their first language, which is characterised as being quick, nimble and free flowing, looks when it is committed to the page, particularly as it is written in the Dwarvish script, that Gnomes find clunky and tedious. Gnomish culture is instead very heavily based around oral, rather than written stories and traditions, and older Gnomes are often huge mines of information on anything that has happened in the lives of their own family members, spanning hundreds of years.   Hospitable to all (the first time at least): All Gnomes are taught to provide those that come to them with hospitality, regardless of whether they have met the individual concerned or not. As most other sapient species cannot fit into the average Gnomish dwelling, such hospitality is often given outside the Dwelling or Home Settlement. However, woe betide those who take advantage of a Gnomes hospitality and think that they are foolish or naïve creatures, as Gnomes will be very slow to offer the same level of welcome again if they are crossed, and will shun an individual that has wronged them until reparations are made.   Great respect for Fey: As they are directly related, Gnomes have a deep respect for all Fey creatures, even those that would not exactly be viewed as being ‘good’ by other sapient species. Gnomes can often be found working in the employ of a Fey creature, and are also very good at reading their moods and thoughts, a useful skill given that Fey can be rather capricious beings.   Constantly collecting information and anecdotes: Throughout their lives, Gnomes are always on the lookout for tales, anecdotes and stories that they can recount around the hearth of the Home Settlement to their kin. Gnomes are naturally great story tellers, and have a great memory for details, a skill that is intrinsically linked with their preference for an oral rather than written tradition and records.   Wanderers at heart: All Gnomes, especially those that are over 30 years of age, but are still in their first century have a longing to wander and explore. This often manifests itself in young Gnomes leaving the Home Settlement once they have become adults, to wander the wider world and experience it for themselves. For many this might involve travelling to a different settlement and making their own way for some years as a craftsmen, or working some other trade, whilst many others continually wander, making enough money to get by as tinkers, bards or entertainers. Gnomes themselves refer to this as needing to ‘tire the feet’, a phase that may span decades or even centuries, but eventually all Gnomes will grow weary of wandering and will return to their Home Settlement, where many of them will remain for the rest of their lives.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Gnomes are almost always welcomed into communities that they choose to settle in, partly because of their reputation as master craftsmen, but also because they are well known to be mild of temperament, and to not make too much trouble, or too many demands on the local institutions in the places they inhabit. Their technical aptitude and naturally inquisitive minds mean that many Gnomes are drawn to places of learning, where they can experiment and satisfy their curiosity, and quite a few Gnomes have become well regarded in a number of scientific fields. Some Gnomes, such as Melis Tarcann have been able to reach the status of natural hero due to their technical prowess, with Melis Tarcan herself being famous in the Sultanate of Fashaddon for masterminding several large and incredibly important infrastructure projects, such as the Tarcan Aqueduct.   On the whole, Gnomes tend not to have a problem interacting with most other peoples, though they are naturally wary of larger creatures, such as Goliaths and Dragonborn, and they are especially wary of creatures such as Half-Orcs, whom they view as having a naturally savage streak. When living in large population centres Gnomes generally tend to be most comfortable living near other creatures that are closer to themselves in size such as Dwarves or Halflings, rather than amongst the larger dwellings of Humans, Elves and the like. One thing that does plague Gnomes when they interact in mixed societies, is that their small stature often means that other races are unconsciously-biased to attempt to talk to Gnomes as children, or to look down on them intellectually because of their size. Larger humanoids generally only make this mistake once in their lifetimes, as Gnomes are very vocal in their correction of such thoughtless individuals.   Gnomes have a particularly good relationship with Fey creatures, whom they intrinsically understand on a much deeper level than other creatures, and whom they are thought to descend from. Gnomes have a particularly strong link with Vittra, and Gnomes are virtually the only creatures that Vittra will openly live side by side and interact with. Although Gnomes speak Gnomish amongst one another rather than Sylvan, the language of the Fey, the shared root of the languages means that they can understand most of what is being said between one another, and communicate in basic phrases.
Genetic Ancestor(s)
c.400 years on average.
Average Height

Cover image: by Chris Pyrah


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