Gnomes: Precocious Small Folk
In a little they reached the grass land and the dance began. Hand sought for hand, feet moved companionably as though they loved each other; quietly intimate they tripped without faltering, and, then, the loud song arose—they sang to the lovers of gaiety and peace, long defrauded “Come to us, ye who do not know where ye are—ye who live among strangers in the house of dismay and self-righteousness.
Strange roads traveling through large boulders split right down the middle. The carved faces on the roots and bark of the elm trees of the Hile Dwarf Land. The grottos of graceful arching poplars, forming charming portals leading into the clear-aired clearings where, in the middle, is a thistle bush, and hid underneath is a crock of gold. A whisper behind you, a giggle behind you, you think, done at your expense. The sounds beneath the roots of the mountains. Sounds of whistling and ticking. And the smell of pipe-weed from within the bowels of a wide-trunked tree. What could these be but the signs of the gnome-folk? And a folk they are, to the utmost and to the most ancient meaning of that sacred word: folk.
Natures of the Gnomes
A Gnome is a creature that is descended from the Dwarrow, and has the Dwarf's love of metalcraft, but has the temperaments of a Halfling, and the love of the wilds as an Elf. They are of a small stature and have become the brunt of many jokes. The Gnomefolk, in general a very genial and kind race, take these jokes in stride and are willing to make jokes at their own expense, as well. But don't let their easily mockable appearance detract from their unique traits: an absolutely solemn gaiety -- they take their fun-making very seriously, and you can tell how seriously by how not seriously they are taking it. And their absolutely cheerful industry -- it is a dark day when a Gnome complains about going to work.
In other words, we should add that they are like the Dwarf in metalcraft, like the Halfling in temperament, and like the Elf in their love of the wilds, but they are like Men in their quizzicalness. Because they are, at once, Myeu-ek and Thaqlas, and delicate as the faery, but lovers of the Sun as it rides along the long cycle, and the warmth of the Day is many a Gnome's delight, and the handmade Arts - be it smithing or cooking - are their first loves.
All known Gnomish cultures are defined by the family unit, which can become very large, but remains strictly blood-related. And the closer in blood you are, the more dear you become. Gnomes have never been kingdom builders, and even their small Click-cities are stretching the limits of comfortable Gnomish society. Gnomes, in general, prefer a close-knit community whom they all know personally to some extant.
A Gnome can live up to 500 years. A long life, but Gnomes often find ways to fill the time -- either by happy idling or furious activity. The Gnomes don't have very large populations because, like all the Dwarfenkin, women are a minority. Generous estimates put Gnomish women at about 1/3 of the total population. The role of women in Gnomish society is well hidden from us Humans. This seems to be a relatively common trait among Dwarfenkin.
Tinkering is many Gnomes' favorite pastime. Gnomish toys are among the best in the world, and besides the Dwarf Kingdom of Ngdheim, there is no better place to find children's toys than in Wedevan. Gnomes have an understanding between them and the earth. They can be exceedingly jolly. Most Gnomes marries monogamously, and it is not uncommon for Gnomish men to have much younger wives. Gnomes, like all Dwarrowkin, can only procreate with those of the same species.
It should also be noted that the penchant for the Dwarrow to hide away their most precious items and things is not as strong a desire in the Gnomes as in their larger brothers.
The Gnomes of Wedevan are also perhaps some of the finest gem cutters in the world.
Difficulty with Our Knowledge of Gnomes
Gnomish records rarely make appearances in Imperial museums. This is in part because of the incredible memories of many of the Gnomish people, encouraging an oral society in which all non-work related records are kept within the oral sphere. The more pertinent reason is that the Gnomish language is not publically shared. Presumably, they have many dialects, but we don't know for sure. But even if a scholar may obtain a Gnomish document and decipher it with a Comprehend Languages spell, the Gnomish language is too filled with idioms and literary allusions to make the literal translation at all useful. All this has led to a slow process of understanding the Gnomish people. There are some Gnomes willing to exchange information with the Universities about their culture, writings, and peoples, but even these attempts are foiled by the inherent differences between Men and Gnomes, causing confusion. It is exceedingly difficult to grasp the Gnomish tongue, but there are a few Men who have learned it. The process is slow, and is not helped by many Gnomish scammers willing to make quick cash at Science's expense.
The Origin of the Gnomes
Hiding in the holes, who could be, but the Dwarf, Kobold, and Gnome!
Gnomes are descendants of the Dwarrow, much like how Halflings are descendants of Men, and so Gnomes take a part in Dwarfish culture. But Gnomes are a much more ancient race than once believed. They have simply managed to stay out of the many conflicts that have wracked the world and, like the Halfling, avoided many of the world's troubles in favor of their peaceful lives.
Still, as part of the greater Dwarfen family, Gnomes have a special love for soil, stone, and handicrafts. They take part in Yesod's Inheritance. While many of the Elves claim that the Dwarrow will return to the stone from which they were carved, the Dwarrow and Gnomes believe that their spirits will live on, and return to the halls of their fathers, and they will smithy with Moroi and create wonders unending to adorn the Heavens and the New Earth.
History of the Gnomes
As said before, the records of the Gnomes are difficult at best, and nonexistent or withheld at worst. The history of the Gnomes as known to the Empire is very little. What we do know is mostly from Elvish records, but the Elves wrote mostly concerning themselves, and so it isn't much. The Gnomes were thought to be pure bodies from the realm of Faery at first, and would scuttle naked through the woods using their long beards as clothes. Eventually, closed family realms would appear, the boundaries marked by trees carved with many faces, these were called Weirds.
But then the Elves discovered that the Gnomes had vast family-kingdoms built into the roots of the mountains. These kingdoms weren't as mighty or extensive as the Dwarrow, with whom the Elves had long traded, but they were a surprise nonetheless. It turned out that the wild Gnomes of the forests were a separatist group wishing to go back to the more grounded and primitive lifestyle of their ancestors.
Beyond these tantalizing glimpses into the ancient Gnomes we don't know. These discoveries were made at the end of the Summer Age of the Elves and the Wars of Hate began soon after. With the beginning of those terrible conflicts the Gnomes vanished from history.
Gnomes later emerged as factions vassalised by Dwarrow Kingdoms. The Kingdom of Pokhrazad was the greatest of the Dwarrow Kingdoms, and controlled a large proportion of the Gnomes of the West up to the time of Hod the Great. After whose conquests the Gnomes later broke free and formed their own petty kingdoms, and joined the Dwarrow political ring of the Hile Dwarf Lands and Lower Huraedon.
Today most Gnomes hide in their woods or their underground burrows and cities like the other Dwarrow. They continue to avoid most of the messy affairs of the above-ground world, meaning they have little name in it as well. Naturally, there are exceptions. Many famous Wizards are Gnomes. And there are famous Gnomish figures above ground. And, while Gnomes traveling on the roads of the Empire are not nearly as common as their Dwarrow counterparts, they are still more common than Halflings or Elves.
The Gnomish Peoples
There are many Gnomish ethnicities and peoples within the broader Gnomish species. Make no mistake, much like this article has done with the Gnomes in general, the Gnomish ethnicities and peoples will have to be described in broad and incorrect strokes to reveal consistent and different natures in these various ethnicities. Still, we have had many Gnomes overlook the writing of this article, and Pendas the Pedantic, in particular, was quite happy with the state of it. So we present the currently known Gnomish ethnicities of Erub:
On the Gartynen
- Tu Maskûz
The Gartynen are the most populous Gnomish people. It is the first division of the Gnomish people. They are sometimes called by Men the Rock Gnomes. They love the stones and the burrows of the earth. They are of a fairer skin tone, and are of the taller variety of Gnomes. The Gartynen have all had some sort of important history with the Dwarrow, especially the Dwarrow of Pokhrazad. Gartynen cities are famed for their services in tinkering or gem crafting.
We know of three major people that act as the chief peoples of the Gartynen. They are the Nolwef, a race of sallow-skinned and narrow-eyed Gnomes who have steady hands and often live near Dwarrow; the Tu Maskûz, they are the chief burrowers and enjoy carving houses into large boulders, they have fair skin and fair hair; and the Ysmyhuz, often construed as 'secret-lovers', sages, and writers, the Ysmyhûz have often had a prestigious place in Gnomish society, and are rarely seen above-ground, they are the least populous of the Rock Gnomes and have fair skin but dark hair and wide, oblique eyes.
Presumably there are many more, unknown, clans also considered Rock Gnomes, but we are unaware of them.
On the Nallyllawn
The Nallyllawn are the Forest Gnomes. It is the second division of the Gnomish people. They are often found in the northern woods of Erub. While usually of a fair skin color, due to their time in the sun many of the Forest Gnomes have tanned or more darkly toned skins. They are the shorter Gnomes. They love roots and soils and the bark of trees. The Nallyllawn have often come into conflict with the Gartynen, having separated as a unified people long ago. The Rock Gnomes will come to the overworld to cut down trees for their underground fires, and the Forest Gnomes defend their woodland homes.
The Cywmrab are a folk that live near the southeastern edges of the Hile Dwarf Lands, near Greenbuck Half, and they tend to live in shallow burrows dug into the hills almost like Halfling Holes, they love open new-growth forests, and claim they are the ones to have invented the art of smoking.
The Edfree live in the Mountains of Das EkLachen and have surprisingly powerful voices, they manipulate their high-pitched voices to create strange sounds, sounding as if the leaves on the boughs of trees were singing, a traveler can often hear them yodeling when traveling in this region, the Edfree love the high hills and cultivate hemlock, pine, and cedar groves, and by means of enchantment these places are always warm and are never touched by snow.
The Glawddhass are the most populous of the Forest Gnomes, and can be found all across Erub, but they are most densely found in Eastern Lower Huraedon, especially within the Forests of Color where the Wood Elves lay, the Glawddhass are territorial, and will mark their territory with various signs, the most famous being the carving of faces on their border trees, signifying that one is entering their land.
Presumably there are many more, unknown, clans also considered Forest Gnomes, but we are unaware of them.
On the Nivver Gavvers
The Nivver Gavvers are a special group of Gnomes only found on the Island of Tete. They are extremely diminutive in size; they are about the size of a pixie or sprite. Their nature is playful but also home loving. They will often have tiny parties under the shadows of roots and leaves. They only come en masse during the night, especially during a full moon. They are called Gnomes because they have a similar stature to the more common Gnomefolk -- they are simply much much smaller. But they aren't Gnomes proper. They are pure bodies from Faery. They are often tricksters, and can employ instantaneous methods of travel unknown to the Wizards of the Empire.
The Hedd is what we call a group of these Faery Gnomes when gathered together. It's not an ethnicity, exactly, but more of a local name for these sorts of Gnomes.
"They were very beautiful but also very ugly. Like old shoes that had been worn so often that they hardly kept the rain out but would still be worn two or three more times again. I think the Gnomes taught me that old age can be done with grace and goodness."
"There's been a recent string of murders. The shins of the murdered persons were left in tatters, while the rest of the body was left untouched. As to who could've done such a thing, it's anyone's best guess."