- – Traditional gnomish greeting
Gnomes are a fantasy race consisting of small, earthy (and probably smelly) men and women who possess magical powers and often look prematurely aged. If this sounds like a pretty poor way to describe them, then you're not wrong; the problem is that gnomes are basically the redheaded stepchildren of fantasy gaming, and even that race codifing titan, Dungeons & Dragons, has never been able to give them a solid defining core the way they have done with the dwarf and elf races; mainly because Gygax wasn't codifying shit when it came to dwarves and elves (that was Tolkien. Mostly.) Heck, when the other essential /tg/ game tried to solidly define a core race it was lame, too.
Gnomes in MythologyEdit
The gnome as a mythical race dates back only as far as the Renaissance, when the writer Paracelsus created them for Liber de Nymphis, Sylvanis, Pygmaeis, Salamandris, et Gigantibus etc., describing them as small elemental spirits of the earth. It's believed that he used the term "gnomus" as a result of botching the spelling of gēnomos - "earth-dweller" in
Latin Greek (that's why he would have botched the spelling; Western scholars of that era weren't very good at Greek. Graecum est, non legitur is the origin of our modern colloquialism "it's all Greek to me.")
Gnomes then took off as a result of Romanticism, when the English word "gnome" was coopted as a general blanket term for the "little people" - the vast assortment of small fairy-people from folklore across the many differing regions of Europe, essentially rolling together creatures like the dwarf, goblin and kobold into a single generic term. Drawing upon Paracelsus' original creation, the gnome became a sort of cthonic fey; small, down-to-earth and often quite ugly and masculine in contrast to the masculine-yet-pretty elf and the very feminine fairy.
Perhaps the closest thing to a defining image of gnomes has emerged from the various dwarf-like fae races of Switzerland and Germany; very small creatures of the forests and hills who live in harmony with nature, especially the animals, and who are shy but friendly towards humans. This was the school of thought that ultimately birthed the common garden gnome you see all over the place today, and the character David the Gnome, who has his own section elsewhere on this page.
With roots this tangled and confusing, it's no wonder that gnomes continue to struggle to define themselves to this day.
Gnomes in WarhammerEdit
Un(Un)surprisingly, they were a thing. In the earliest days of Warhammer Fantasy - we're talking 3rd edition or so, and 1st edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay - Gnomes were stated to exist in the setting as a declining race inhabiting the western side of the World's Edge Mountains. They were described as basically being kin to dwarves, but (quite in contrast to Gygaxian dwarves) even more surly and foul-tempered (which, given Warhammer dwarves, is quite something.) Unsurprisingly, with so little to distinguish them, they were promptly phased out, although they at least have the consolation it was because there was no niche left for them, not because they were an inherently terrible idea like the Fimir.
Gnomes in Dungeons & DragonsEdit
Gnomes were latecomers to Dungeons & Dragons, not appearing until 1978 in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1e Player's Handbook - in comparison, the Elf, Dwarf, and Hobbit - sorry, Halfling had been there literally since the beginning, having first shown up in 1974's Men & Magic, the very first D&D booklet.
Right from the start, there were troubles; gnomes had basically been introduced to try and replicate the Fighter/ Mage/Thief trinity in the "shortfolk" races, being the Wizard to the dwarven Fighter and the halfling Rogue. This, unfortunately, did not give them much of a backstory to draw from; D&D gnomes were portrayed as, essentially, a sort of dwarf-elf crossbreed; small, bearded men and homely women who, nonetheless, were playful, friendly, mischievous tricksters with a deep and abiding love of magic and practical jokes. Because, lacking anything better to do with them, they decided to throw them out as the obvious Comic Relief race.
Three editions came and went, and this lore stayed stable; from AD&D 1e to D&D 3e, gnomes were always the afterthought race, the joke race, the short and homely tricksters. Nobody could figure out what to do with them. Some settings toyed with this archetype in their own way - see Subraces - but for the most part, they remained the redhaired stepchildren of D&D.
Finally, by the early days of D&D 4e, the developers were sick of this. They decided to take gnomes out of the Player's Handbook and leave them there until they could come up with a decent backstory and "hook" for them, much like how halflings went from being blatant hobbit ripoffs to nomadic hobbits to river & swamp-dwelling merchants & carnies. Gnomes ultimately made their triumphant return in the PHB2, and actually had an interesting backstory. 4e's gnomes had been denizens of the Feywild, alongside the Eladrin, but had spent generations as slaves under the cruel dictatorship of the Fomorians; cursed fey giants with powerful magical abilities and mystic eyes. These gnomes worked hard, developing their skills with illusion magic and stealth, and ultimately managed to escape - for the most part.
To this day, they haven't forgotten their time as slaves, and so their culture revolves around both celebrating their freedom and making almost paranoid efforts to protect themselves. They build elaborately hidden bunker-villages, supplementing artful mundane camouflage with powerful illusions and other magical mind-fuckery effects. They hate slavery with a deep and abiding fury, and will do just about anything to avoid going back there. They even have specialist defenders, like the Nightcloaks - Paladins armed with illusion magic who act as a combination of secret police and special commandos to eliminate threats before they can strike, and Phantasm Guards - Swordmages wielding fear-inducing illusion spells to attack the body and the mind simultaneously. They are surprisingly badass little fuckers, but without going completely GrimDark, so you can still play a comedic gnome if you absolutely want to.
Naturally, in the face of a positive revamp like this, 5th edition promptly threw it all away and went back to their original lore as inconsequential goofy dwarf-lite elf-lite hybrids.
Even Pathfinder thought that gnomes kind of sucked in 3e, and came up with their own take on them. They decided to double-down on the association of gnomes with wacky, goofball PCs, and so added a dash of Kender to their racial mix. The gnomes of Golarion are former residents of the First World, Pathfinder's equivalent to the Feywild, who wound up stranded in the Prime Material as a race. Deprived of the mystical vitality of their faerie land home, the gnomes are afflicted with a condition called the Bleaching, which slowly sucks the color out of them both literally and metaphorically, until they wind up either dead or as a completely gray and eerily stoic parody of their former selves. Consequently, gnomes seek constant stimulation to thwart the Bleaching, constantly looking to experience the new and surrounding themselves with intense colors, tastes, scents and other sensation, essentially making them an entire race of non-evil Slaaneshi.
D&D Gnome AppearancesEdit
The classic gnome appearance in D&D is essentially a dwarf with a dash of elf; a small, squat humanoid who usually is described as both fairly homely and seeming to age quickly, giving them wrinkly faces and pronounced beards & mustaches. Unlike dwarves, they have no cultural attachment to their beards, and indeed often shave them into goatees or similarly small, neatly kept affairs to keep them out of their way. In AD&D, gnomes are most known for their prodigious noses. The elfin aspect mostly shines through in long, pointy ears.
The Feywild Gnome of 4th edition abandons the dwarfish elements; instead, they look like scaled-down eladrin, with wild, spiky hair. They're surprisingly attractive, compared to the gnomes of past editions, or at least to AD&D.
The Golarion Gnome of Pathfinder looks deliberately like a chibi anime character; weirdly sized facial features that invoke either their iconic D&D look (oversized ears and noses) or the classic anime look (seemingly too small mouth, near-absent nose, huge eyes) are actually canonical to their lore, and they come in a vast variety of different and weird skin, hair and eye colors. This is intended to help emphasize their fey, alien natures when compared to dwarves and halflings, and in fairness it actually works pretty well.
Rock Gnomes are the "mainstream" gnomes of D&D. These are the more dwarf-like gnomish race, though with a sense of playfulness and a love of practical joking that dwarves definitely lack. These are the intellectual and scholarly branch of the gnome family tree, making them naturally inclined towards arcane magic and practical sciences. By the time of 5th edition, they have been used to assimilate the "tinker gnome" archetype, mostly to provide an alternative to the Tinkers & Thinkers of Krynn.
Forest Gnomes, as their name suggests, favor the wilderness and are especially close to the creatures of nature, making them the shyest of the gnome subraces. They can be considered the more elfin of the gnomes, if one directly looks at gnomes as being a blending (metaphorically or literally) between dwarf and elf. Because their niche more heavily overlaps with the elf's niche than the rock gnomes' niche does with the dwarf's, forest gnomes are generally the least remembered and respected of the gnomic races, although 5e promoting them to a corebook subrace may see their fortunes reversed.
Svirfneblins are the obligatory Underdark branch of the gnome family tree. Most known for their obsession with gemstones and for being the one Underdark counterpart race who aren't evil. See their own page for more details.
Arcane Gnomes are a rock gnome subspecies introduced in Dragon Magazine #291. Basically, these are rock gnomes who have gone urbanized to truly focus on mastering arcane magic, losing the more "woodsy" benefits of their rock gnome kindred and instead developing stronger wizardly traits. Mostly this manifests as losing the "speak with animals" ability inherent to most gnomes and gaining some classic "wizard's apprentice" cantrips as spell-like abilities (Ghost Sound, Dancing Lights and Prestidigitation), plus the ability to always use magical devices.
River Gnomes hail from the same Dragon Magazine issue as Arcane Gnomes, and basically are to the rivers what forest gnomes are to the forests. They're mostly known for being really good swimmers.
Wavecrest Gnomes, who hail from the "Stormwrack" coastal/aquatic sourcebook for 3e, are the coastal equivalents to River Gnomes. They're good at swimming and natural sailors. Not a lot more to say about them than that.
Ice Gnomes are another "environmental sourcebook" subrace. Hailing from 3e's Frostfell, they are the gnomes who inhabit "frostfell" regions - taigas, tundras, high mountains, basically the really cold parts of the world. They're essentially a watered-down version of the Uldra, a small dwarven/elfin-like fey creature that shares the same environment.
Skygnomes are a Mystaran relative of the rock gnome who truly embrace their racial proclivities for magic and science to become competent tinker gnomes. These guys are so adept with magitek that they built their own homeland, in the form of a flying city-state the size of a small country which they defend with an armada of magitek biplanes. Told you these guys were competent.
Tinker Gnomes are one of the most well-known - and skubby - gnomish subraces. Created by a divine curse leveled on failed human worshippers of Reorx, the Krynnish god of craftsmanship and invention, Tinker Gnomes are obsessed with SCIENCE! but cursed to be utterly incapable of ever applying it successfully due to their insistence on making all their machines as complex as possible. They were supposed to be a comic relief race - and as this is the same setting that gave us the kender for the same reasons, you can figure out that it didn't work so good. These gnomes are also known as "Minoi".
Thinker Gnomes are rare Tinker Gnomes who have managed to shake off the worst of Reorx's curse, allowing them to actually do their science properly. Unfortunately, outside of the little-studied continent of Taladas, they are a distinct minority in a race that has come to define its very culture around the deep side-effects of their racial curse. As such, they are known as "mad gnomes" by their cursed kinsfolk. They call themselves the Gnomoi.
Feywild Gnomes, as discussed above, are a race of diminutive eladrin-like fey who have been shaped extensively by a history of slavery under the thumb of the fomorians. They are charming but paranoid people, ever protective of their personal liberty, and with a potent natural knack for illusions.
Golarion Gnomes are, like Feywild Gnomes, a species of fey creature. Lacking access to the vibrant energies of their faerieland home forces them to seek constant emotional and mental stimulation, lest they be literally killed by apathy. Bleachlings are a subrace of this subrace; older gnomes who have succumbed to the Bleaching, but somehow survived the final stages, gaining enhanced longevity, greater mental stability and an affinity for the magic of nature. The two races don't get on; gnomes find bleachlings creepy on the level of being walking corpses, whilst bleachlings look down on their "immature" counterparts.
Gnomes in D&D worship a small and tightly focused pantheon; emphasizing just how unimportant they are, whereas Moradin and Corellon have found audiences beyond the gnomish, the gnome gods have been pretty much forgotten by all but greybeards. They did receive a large update in 5th edition's Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. According to Demihuman Deities, they are collectively known as The Lords of the Golden Hills, rather than having a snazzy one-word pantheon name like the Seldarine and the Morndinsamman.
Baervan Wildwanderer (BAY-urh-van) gnome deity of forests, travel, and nature. Baervan lives in the gnomish realm of the Golden Hills on the plane of Bytopia. Baervan's clerics wear wood-brown clothes and green caps. His sacred animal is the raccoon. Baervan's holy days are on the full moon, and he is worshipped in forest clearings. Treasured items are sacrificed to him monthly. He was first detailed in Roger E. Moore's article "The Gnomish Point of View," in Dragon #61 (TSR, 1982).
Baravar Cloakshadow (BARE-uh-vahr CLOKE-sha-doh) is the gnomish deity of illusions, protection, and deception. He creates traps and illusions of stunning complexity and cunning. He is somewhat mean-spirited compared to most of the other gnomish gods, and his pranks may cause even his friends real pain, at least emotionally. He genuinely hates the kobold, goblinoid, and orcish races, believing they cannot be expected to reform. His symbol is a cloak and dagger. Baravar Cloakshadow was first detailed in the book Monster Mythology (1992), including details about his priesthood. His role in the cosmology of the Planescape campaign setting was described in On Hallowed Ground (1996).
Callarduran Smoothhands is the gnomish god of the earth and the patron deity of the svirfneblin (deep gnomes), as he is not very popular among other gnome subraces. Unlike other gods of the Underdark, he is not an outcast. He voluntarily led his people to the depths as a means of encouraging diversity among the gnomes. Callarduran Smoothhands is a True Neutral Intermediate Power. His symbol is a golden ring with a ruby star on it. Callarduran Smoothhands was first detailed in the book Monster Mythology (1992), including details about his priesthood.
Flandal Steelskin is the gnome deity of mining, smithing, and fitness. His symbol is a flaming hammer. He appears as a balding, aging gnome with skin the color of blue mithral steel, eyes like flaming coals, and hair of brilliant blue-silver. He wears a leather apron over the rest of his clothes, and carries Rhondang, an intelligent axe-backed hammer made of yellowish metal. He is the strongest of the gnomish pantheon and is able to sniff out veins of any ore with his prodigious nose. As such, he is the patron of gnomish warriors, miners and metalworkers. Flandal Steelskin was first detailed in Roger E. Moore's article "The Gnomish Point of View," in Dragon]' #61.
Gaerdal Ironhand is the gnome deity of protection, vigilance, and combat. Gaerdal Ironhand was first detailed in the book Monster Mythology (1992), including details about his priesthood. Gaerdal lives in Stronghaven in the gnomish realm of the Golden Hills on the plane of Bytopia.
Garl Glittergold is the patron deity of gnomes. His symbol is a gold nugget. Garl carries an intelligent axe named Arumdina. Garl Glittergold was created by James M. Ward for the Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia (1980).
Gelf Darkhearth is the gnomish deity of entropy and revenge. He was introduced in the Races of Stone supplement book. Gelf is Garl Glittergold's brother, and rarely have two brothers been more bitter rivals. Gelf, depicted as a gray-skinned dwarf with a black beard, takes obsessive delight in opposing everything his brother attempts. This compulsion puts Gelf in the tragic position of tearing down the gnome society he loves, just to thwart Garl Glittergold. Gelf isn't evil, but he feels compelled to destroy everything Garl holds dear. Gelf is an angry, sorrowful deity, and he attracts followers of similar temperament. The reason for Gelf's attitude and rivalry with Garl is not known, but it is possibly because they both covet the Gnomish goddess of love Sheyanna Flaxenstrand. Gelf's holy symbol is a black anvil that is split in two, set against a murky purple background. His favored weapon is the warhammer.
The Glutton is the gnomish deity of disaster and greed. He was introduced in the Races of Stone supplemental book. The Glutton is usually depicted as a massive, ravenous badger or wolverine. The Glutton figures prominently in the bedtime stories gnomes tell naughty children -- "Go to sleep or The Glutton will get you!" The Glutton is blamed whenever a burrow collapses or another misfortune befalls the gnomes. It is said that The Glutton was once a gnome who was cursed with a hideous form and a desire to consume the gnomes and all they hold dear (why is not known). His holy symbol is a gaping, fanged mouth surrounded by what looks like a golden band, and what appears to be a smear of pink blood behind it. His favored weapon is the heavy mace.
Nebelun was first detailed in the book Monster Mythology (1992), including details about his priesthood. His role in the cosmology of the Planescape campaign setting was described in On Hallowed Ground (1996). Nebelun manifests as a spry old gnome with a black frock-coat and glasses. He carries a black leather bag containing many bizarre tools and items. His hat is a hat of disguise, and his mace doubles as a wand of wonder. He can appear and disappear seemingly randomly.
Rill Cleverthrush, the lawful neutral god of invention, creation, and the sky. He is portrayed as an elderly, bespeckled gnome carrying a staggeringly complex ruby said to have a facet for every living gnome. His domains are Air, Knowledge, Magic, Travel, and his favored weapon is the longsword. His holy text is a set of natural laws and instructions for living called Rill's Instructions to the Faithful. He appeared in Races of Stone.
Segojan Earthcaller is the gnome deity of earth and nature. Unlike Baervan Wildwanderer, who is a god of the plants and forests of the surface world, Segojan's area of concern is the deep earth and the life within it. He is said to have given the gnomes their ability to communicate with burrowing mammals. His symbol is a glowing gemstone; usually this is a finely cut gem of any type in which illusion spells have been cast to provide magical light. This can be any gem, but Segojan is associated strongly with diamonds. The god's own power makes these spells permanent as long as they are carried by his priests. His sacred animal is the badger. Segojan Earthcaller was first detailed in Roger E. Moore's article "The Gnomish Point of View," in 'Dragon #61.
Sheyanna Flaxenstrand is the gnome goddess of of love and passion, introduced in the Races of Stone supplemental book. She is said to appear as a delicate, blonde-haired gnomish maiden of the most incredible beauty. Though her heart is desired by both Garl Glittergold and Gelf Darkhearth, she does not reciprocate their desires, but instead focuses on promoting love, marriage and fertility amongst the gnomish races. She is the only gnomish goddess ever mentioned in D&D canon across editions. Her domains are Chaos, Fire, Good and Healing, and the favored weapon of her followers is the heavy flail. Like most gnomish deities, she carries an intelligent magical item for company; a golden torch named Hearthlight that can spew a fountain of flames wherever she points it.
Urdlen is the gnome deity of greed and blood. Urdlen was first detailed in Roger E. Moore's article "The Gnomish Point of View," in Dragon #61 Urdlen is the enemy of the gnomish and halfling pantheons. The hero-deity Roykyn was formerly a priestess of the Crawler Below. Urdlen's realm is the Worm Realm, located on the 399th layer of the Abyss. Urdlen is worshiped in underground caverns. Sacrifices of blood and jewels are made to it annually. Its holy day is the winter solstice.
- Ability Score Minimum/Maximum: Strength 6/18, Dexterity 3/18, Constitution 8/18, Intelligence 7/18, Wisdom 3/18, Charisma 3/18
- Female Gnomes reduce their Maximum Strength value to 15.
- Ability Score Adjustments: None
- Class & Level Limitations: Cleric 7, Fighter 5 (6 if they have Str 18), Illusionist 5 (6 if Int and Dex are 17, 7 if Int and Dex are 18), Thief Unlimited, Assassin 8
- +1 racial bonus to saving throws vs. wands/staves/rods/spells per 3.5 points of Constitution.
- Infravision 60 feet
- 80% chance to detect grade/slope in a passage.
- 70% chance to detect unsafe walls, ceilings or floors.
- 60% chance to determine approximate depth underground.
- 50% chance to determine direction of travel underground.
- +1 racial bonus to attack rolls against kobolds and goblins.
- -4 to Armor Class against gnolls, bugbears, ogres, trolls, oni, giants and titans.
- Ability Score Minimum/Maximum: Strength 6/18, Dexterity 3/18, Constitution 8/18, Intelligence 7/18, Wisdom 3/18, Charisma 3/18
- Ability Score Minimum/Maximum: Strength 6/18, Dexterity 3/18, Constitution 8/18, Intelligence 7/19, Wisdom 3/17, Charisma 3/18
- Ability Score Adjustments: +1 Intelligence, -1 Wisdom
- Infravision 60 feet
- Speak to Burrowing Animals
- Detect Underground Features: Sloping Passages (1-5 on a d6), Flawed Stonework (1-7 on a d10), approximate depth underground (1-4 on a d6) and approximate direction underground (1-3 on a d6).
- Gain a +1 bonus to save vs. spell for every 3.5 points of Constitution.
- +1 to melee attack rolls against kobolds and goblins.
- -4 bonus to Armor Class against all Giant class creatures.
- Ability Score Minimum/Maximum: Strength 3/17, Dexterity 8/19, Constitution 8/18, Intelligence 3/17, Wisdom 6/18, Charisma 3/18
- Ability Score Adjustments: +1 Dexterity, +1 Wisdom, -1 Strength, -1 Intelligence
- Speak to Forest Animals
- Pass Without Trace: Forest Gnomes leave no trace of their passage in any kind of wooded terrain.
- Gain a +1 bonus to save vs. spell for every 3.5 points of Constitution.
- Hide In Woods: A Forest Gnome inflicts a -4 penalty to its opponents' Surprise Rolls when in woodlands.
- -4 bonus to Armor CLass when fighting man-sized or larger creatures.
- +1 bonus to all attack & damage rolls when fighting orcs, lizardfolk, troglodytes or any creature they have directly observed damaging the woodlands.
- +2 Constitution, -2 Strength
- Base Land Speed 20 feet
- Low-Light Vision
- Weapon Familiarity: Gnomish Hooked Hammer
- +2 racial bonus on saving throws vs. illusions.
- Illusion spells cast by a gnome increase their Saving DC by +1.
- +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against kobolds and goblinoids.
- +4 dodge bonus to Armor Class against Giant type creatures.
- +2 racial bonus on Listen and Craft (Alchemy) checks.
- Spell-Like Abilities: Speak With Animals (Burrowing Animals only) 1/day. A gnome with Charisma 10+ can also cast Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound and Prestidigitation 1/day.
- Favored Class: Bard
Various other gnomish subraces popped up in other sources.
Races of Faerun reintroduced that old gnomish subrace, the Forest Gnome, which makes the following tweaks to the standard gnome PC profile:
- +4 racial bonus on Hide checks, increasing to +8 in forest settings.
- +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against kobolds, orcs, goblinoids and reptilian humanoids.
- Bonus Spell-Like Abilities: Pass Without Trace and Speak With Animals, both At-Will, both Self Only, with caster level equaling a Druid] of the forest gnome's character level.
- Level Adjustment: +1
- Favored Class: Illusionist
Dragon Magazine #291 introduced two new subraces; the Arcane Gnome and the River Gnome.
Arcane Gnomes are a subspecies of gnome that has begun developing from gnomish wizard families dwelling in suburbanized areas, resulting in lessened aptitude for their traditional nature-based powers and increased aptitude for arcane magic. An Arcane Gnome PC makes the following tweaks to the gnome racial writeup:
River Gnomes are akin to Forest Gnomes, but settling along the banks of rivers or in caves concealed behind waterfalls. They are share a similar reclusive attitude to forest gnomes, and are known for their swimming abilities and agility. River Gnomes tweak the gnome PC stats like so:
- Speak With Animals works on river animals, not burrowing animals.
- Swim speed 20 feet, +8 racial bonus to Swim checks, can always Take 10 on a Swim check, can Run whilst swimming if they move in a straight line.
- Can hold breath for rounds equal to 4 times their Constitution score.
- +1 racial bonus to Initiative checks.
- Lose the Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound and Prestidigitation spell-like abilities.
When it came to environmental variants, the gnomes got the short stick. Only Frostburn and Stormwrack introduced new subspecies, and the Frostburn subspecies was particularly lackluster - perhaps becase of the overlap with the Uldra.
Ice Gnomes are frostfell gnomes who really don't differ much from their common rock gnome kindred outside those necessary cultural tweaks required to survive where they do. Ice Gnome PCs simply need to tweak their spell-like abilities; their Speak With Animals functions on arctic mammals only, whilst their bonus SLAs for high Charisma are Dancing Lights, Prestidigitation and Ray of Frost.
Wavecrest Gnomes, in comparison, are coastal gnomes, who settle small islands and hidden lagoons, where they build villages of half-buried, round-topped buildings along the coasts and shorelines. Wavecrest gnomes make the following PC tweaks:
- Racial bonus to attack rolls against kobolds and goblinoids is replaced with a +1 racial bonus to attack rolls against locathah and sahuagin.
- Spell-like Abilities are changed: Speak With Animals only functions on sea birds, bonus SLAs for high Charisma are Dancing Lights, Know Direction and Prestigiditation.
Races of Stone finished the family tree with two new divergent races...
Chaos Gnomes, also called Imago (plural and singular), are a gnomish subbreed infused with the raw essence of chaos, especially in the form of arcane magic and luck. They can perhaps be seen as a further mutation of the Arcane Gnome subrace, where generations of wizardly study have mutated them and resulted in a more potent and direct connection to the raw energies of magic. Whilst usually seen as slightly mad, they also possess their own intuitive form of brilliance. They are fascinated by probability, chance and randomness, love arcane magic, and have a great sense of humor, though rarely become tricksters or pranksters. They look much like most gnomes, but their eyes are brightly colored, changing between red, blue, green and violet depending on their mood. Their hair is similarly bright, ranging from vivid red to blond.
- +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, +2 Charisma, -2 Strength
- Base Speed 20 feet
- Low-light Vision
- Weapon Familiarity: Gnome Hooked Hammers are Martial Weapons for a chaos gnome.
- Spell Power: A chaos gnome's effective caster level is increased by +1 when casting a spell with the Chaos descriptor. This stacks with other spell power abilities.
- +4 dodge bonus to Armor Class against Giant-type monsters.
- +2 racial bonus to Listen checks.
- Luck of Chaos (Ex): Once per day, a chaos gnome can immediately declare a reroll of a roll they have made. This is done before the results are declared by the DM, and the second result must be taken, even if it changes success into failure.
- Immune to Confusion effects.
- Spell-like Abilities: Entropic Shield 1/day. A chaos gnome with Charisma 10+ can also cast Daze, Flare and Prestidigitation, 1/day each. For all SLAs, caster level is 1st, with save DC 10 + chaos gnome's Cha modifier + Spell level.
- Level Adjustment: +1
- Favored Class: Sorcerer.
Whisper Gnomes are a secretive, suspicious, and reclusive branch of the gnome family tree. Experts in stealth even by gnomish standards, these paranoid gnomes distrust all other races, including their rock gnome kindred, and are greeted with equal suspiciousness in turn. They stand slightly taller than most gnomes, and have drab colorations, with light gray to light green skin and pale blue or gray eyes.
- +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, -2 Strength, -2 Charisma
- Base speed 30 feet
- Low-light Vision
- Darkvision 60 feet
- Weapon Familiarity: Gnome Hooked Hammers are Martial Weapons for a whisper gnome.
- +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against kobolds and goblinoids.
- +4 dodge bonus to Armor Class against Giant-type creatures.
- +4 racial bonus on Hide and Move Silently checks.
- +2 racial bonus on Listen and Spot checks.
- Spell Like Abilities: Silence 1/day (centered on whisper gnome). Whisper Gnomes with Charisma 10+ can also cast Ghost Sound, Mage Hand and Message 1/day each. All have a caster level of 1st and a Save DC of 10 + whisper gnome's Cha modifier + spell level.
- Favored Class: Rogue
It also introduced the one reasons to play a Gnome in 3E: The Gnome Illusionist substitution levels and Shadowcraft Mage. The Gnome Illusionist variant trades penalties with various schools of magic for earlier access to illusion spells (most importantly Silent Image as a cantrip). Shadowcraft Mage is a Gnome-only Prestige Class lets the user make all illusions they cast function as the Shadow X (Shadow Conjuration, Shadow Evocation ect.) line of spells, allowing them to cast any Sorcerer/Wizard spell from the Conjuration (creation), Conjuration (summoning) or Evocation school of lower level at the cost people may not believe it and be partially effected. The class also gets the ability to make Shadow X spells more real on a failed save. On its own this is merely a good class, but there's two (not necessarily mutually exclusive) ways to break it in two.
The first is to raise the spell level of an illusion spell without raising the spell slot it requires. Just combining any metamagic reducers with Heighten Spell is enough to break this to absurd levels. Arcane Discipline can make Miracle a Sorcerer/Wizard evocation spell. This means you can preform acts of god with a cantrip.
The second method is to combine various ways to increase the partial reality of shadow bases spells. If you combine enough of these you can reach in excess of 100% realness, with 140% being the record. This means you can do things like create 70 proof alcohol.
There are three distinct gnome races in 4th edition. This page covers the Feywild/Common Gnome (PHB2) - for the Tinker Gnome (Dragon Magazine #420) and the Svirfneblin (Dungeon Survival Handbook), see their own pages.
- Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma OR +2 Dexterity
- Size: Small
- Speed: 5 squares
- Vision: Low-Light
- Skill Bonuses: +2 Arcana, +2 Stealth
- Fey Origin: You are a Fey creature for effects that key off of origin.
- Master Trickster: You can cast the Ghost Sound cantrip 1/encounter as a minor action.
- Reactive Stealth: If you have any cover or concealment wen making an Initiative check, you can also make a Stealth check.
- Trickster's Cunning: +5 racial bonus to all saving throws against illusions.
- Racial Power - Fade Away: You can become Invisible until the end of your next turn or until you attack as an Immediate Reaction to taking damage.
- Ability Score: +2 Intelligence.
- Typical Alignment: Any Good Alignment
- Size: Small. Between 3 and 4 feet tall, and clocking in at an average of 40 pounds.
- Speed: Base walking speed of 25 feet.
- Gnome Cunning: Advantage on all mental (Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma) saving throws against magic.
- Languages: Common, Gnomish
- Ability Score: +1 Dexterity
- Natural Illusionist: Free Minor Illusion Cantrip, with Intelligence as the modifier.
- Speak with Small Beasts: You can communicate simple ideas with Small or smaller beasts through sounds and gestures. Be prepared for your party to ask if you're having a stroke if you use this.
- Ability Score: +1 Constitution
- Artificer's Lore: Double Proficiency bonus when making History checks related to magic items, alchemical objects, or technological devices.
- Tinker: Proficiency with Tinker's Tools. Using the tools, you can spend an hour and 10 gp worth of materials to construct a Tiny clockwork device. It ceases to function after 24 hours unless you spend 1 hour repairing it, or you use an action to dismantle it. At that time, you can reclaim the materials used to create it. You can only have three active at one time.
- Clockwork Toy: The toy is a clockwork animal, monster, or person. When activated and placed on the ground, they toy moves five feet in a random direction. It makes noises appropriate to the creature it represents.
- Fire Starter: It's a lighter. Use requires an action.
- Music Box: When opened, the box plays a single song at a moderate volume. The box stops playing upon reaching the songs end or when it's closed.
Deep Gnome (Svirfneblin)
- Ability Score: +1 Dex
- Actually have shorter lives. Only 200-250 years, and consequently, are considered full grown adults by 25.
- Typical Alignment: Any Neutral Alignment.
- Superior Darkvision
- Stone Camouflage: Advantage on Stealth checks to hide in rocky terrain.
- Languages: Common, Gnomish, Undercommon
- Optional Feat: Svirfneblin Magic. While the other members of the Underdark Crew automatically get their magic, the svirf's have to waste an ASI to get a feat to get theirs. That said, it includes:
- Nondetection (at-will, self only)
- Blindness/Deafness (once-a-day, long rest recharge)
- Blur (once-a-day, long rest recharge)
- Disguise Self (once-a-day, long rest recharge)
- Intelligence is their modifier for all spells.
Gnomes in PathfinderEdit
In Pathfinder Gnomes gain the following over 3.5 Gnomes
- +2 Charisma
- +2 to Perception
- +2 to a craft or profession skill of their choice instead of just alchemy
- Weapon familiarity applies to any weapon with "Gnome" in the name.
Gnomes are still pretty lame in Pathfinder. Since Halflings also got a bonus to Charisma and penalty to Strength while gaining superior racial traits and options otherwise (including alternate racial traits), there's not much reason to be a Gnome.
Lorewise Gnomes are descended from former inhabitants of the First World, essentially the god's beta test for creating the world before they implemented souls and the afterlife. The ancestors of modern gnomes were extraplanar travelers who realized their kids had souls and could go to the afterlife instead of respawning or ceasing to exist if they were off the first world. Gnomes have one unique aspect: The Bleaching. If Golarion Gnomes get bored they lose all pigmentation and eventually die if they get bored enough. It's not really emphasized and not really enough to save them. Indeed it makes them worse in many ways since it disqualifies them from a lot of possible professions.
Gnomes in Monster Hunter InternationalEdit
Gnomes in Monster Hunter International play up the extortionist angle of fey. Originally gnomes shook down farmers for offerings and killed livestock if they weren't appeased, and in the present day have turned that into modern "gangstas". Since they are so small (~18 inches tall), for them a .380 is considered a big handgun. While silver works on them they lack truly superhuman durability and lead bullets are sufficient, which is good since they work in gangs and are small, agile targets. They have invisibility and short range teleportation, meaning they are really good at stealth and are good spies. As fey creations, they potentially have access to magic. Don't call them lawn ornaments or short.
No PUFF exempt Gnomes are known. They are however known to be sane enough to honor deals and debts with humans and are common enough a PUFF exempt one is plausible. They'd likely be seen as traitors by other Gnomes though.
Gnomes vs. DwarvesEdit
Part of the reason gnomes struggle to this day with finding an identity is that they overlap too much with dwarves. Which is to be expected, since gnomes (at least the iconic D&D version) were basically made by throwing together various dwarf-like mythical beings into one and dwarves were made to be expies of Nordic dwarves by way of Tolkien. It's far too easy for gnomes to fall into the trap of defining themselves as being "whatever dwarves aren't" - and if that's no longer the case, the gnomish identity struggled. The ability for dwarves to cast arcane magic alone was a huge blow against them when 3e came out.
Another part of the problem is that, really, anything gnomes can do, dwarves can do. This is most readily seen in how dwarves are often the go-to "tech guy" race in settings that don't adhere to Medieval Stasis, despite the gnome's increasing attempts to be associated with fantasy technology and magitek.
The Tinker Gnome PhenomenonEdit
As part of the general and ongoing attempt to make gnomes interesting, many settings have tried the path of making them tinkers. The general logic is that they have a vaguely-dwarfish industriousness and affinity for the sciences, but a distinctly undwarfy knack for magic, inventiveness, and prizing the new over the tried, true and traditional. So, they are a logical fit for a race that tries to create new inventions and things. In settings featuring them, dwarves may be better at rune-crafting or forging masterwork gear, but gnomes will be the ones who create steampunk and guns.
The very first example of this was in Mystara, where the gnomish civilization is a flying city-state, defended by manned machine-gun turrets and fully-functional biplanes. Sadly, like most Mystaran stuff, it is generally unknown except to a few ancient neckbeards.
The most famous example, sadly, are the Minoi of Dragonlance. Unfortunately, as with the Gully Dwarves and the notorious Kender, Tinker Gnomes were intended to be a Comic Relief race. So, once again, the authors failed to realise that A: traits that make one character amusing often become boring/embarrassing/ridiculous when applied to a whole race, and B: a race that is intended to be playable shouldn't come with traits that seem tailor-made for a character to be used as an excuse to piss off the rest of the party. With lore that they used to be humans who served Reorx, the God of Creation, during the mythic era, only to anger him and be cursed and cast from his forge, condemned to never again be able to properly apply the creativity he had given them, the end result is that Krynnish Tinker Gnomes are a race of bungling idiots who deliberately overcomplicate their machinery because they find the extremes of Rube Goldberg design to be more aesthetically pleasing and "scientific", these dumb fucks would actually rather find a new way to fail than a way to succeed -- it's actually considered quite embarrassing by Tinker Gnomes to succeed at making something that does what it's supposed to. There are gnomes in Krynn that actually don't have this curse... Tinker Gnomes have the audacity to call them "Mad Gnomes". Most gnome-fans hate them, as they are implicitly called out as being responsible for Krynn's Medieval Stasis. Even in The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings, there's quotes from "real" gnomes denying that Tinker Gnomes are any relation to them, showing that TSR itself may have been aware of what sort of hack writers they had behind them.
Perhaps fortunately, the tinker gnome phenomena has mostly become associated in the modern era with the gnomes of Warcraft, who are kooky and like to try the outrageous, but also prize functionality and safety (in contrast to goblins, who are happy to risk being blown to bits if it means they get it working faster).
- Dimkin of the Stump: The only Gnome who has left a written record of his travels is Dimkin of the Stump, whose journal makes reference to a mysterious land with a vast plain of turnips and enormous landmarks that seem almost like constructions.
- Jan Jansen: Tinker, tailor, wizard, turnip salesgnome. He seems stupid, until his army of knife-wielding gibbon commandos invades your house, saves his childhood sweetheart, and assassinates you. Anything is possible with that many heavily-armed apes.
- High Tinker Gelbin Mekkatorque: Informally known as King of the Gnomes (in exile), he is actually an elected leader, holding the position for an indefinite term. He and a substantial fraction of the total gnome population fled from their homes in Gnomeregan after an environmental disaster, and is now trying to recapture their old home.
- Underpants Gnomes: ...those little shits stole my boxers.
David the GnomeEdit
If you hang out on /tg/ long enough, eventually, you're going to see a macro. A still from a cartoon, depicting a garden gnome-like figure with a blue shirt and a red hat. He's frowning intensely and has both hands clenched into fists, and emblazoned on the pic will be some variant of "How about I slap your shit".
This is David the Gnome, originally the star of a series of Dutch children's books presented as a anthropological study of the gnomes written by Wil Huygens and illustrated by Rien Poortvliet, whose influence on the series was as defining as Tony DiTerlizzi's art was for Planescape. One of the books going into depth about gnome biology shows has a picture of a shy topless female gnome, with the description that because of the firmness of their breasts female gnomes have no need for bras. Oh you, Netherlands. It was made into a very popular animated series in the mid 1980s by a Spanish studio. The English dub had David voiced by the eerily gnomish Tom "Father Dowling/Mr Cunningham" Bosley. In a mountain forest, David lives the life of a goodly druid; telling lessons about nature to the audience off-screen whilst on-screen rescuing cute animals from danger, patching up their injuries and curing their sicknesses, all whilst protecting the forest from beings who would harm it. He frequently clashed with gnome-eating trolls, whom he defeated with his wits and traps.
It is perhaps most famous for its soul-crushing ending. See, throughout the series, we're told that gnomes only live to be 400 years old - and both David and his wife are 399 at the start of the series. Most cartoons would have just ended in some upbeat fashion, but not The World of David The Gnome. Oh no! Instead, those tuning in for the final episode got to see the clock tick around to the gnomes' 400th year, whereupon they stagger out into the forest, withering quickly under the onslaught of age, share one final embrace, and then turn into a pair of young trees. And then just to reinforce that they're dead, we see their ghosts/souls emerge from the trees, hug each other again, and go dancing off into the sky to the gnomish equivalent of Heaven, all whilst David's series-long partner, a fox named Swift, lays down at the foot of the trees and cries his heart out.
Sweet fucking Garl Glittergold, that was a depressing ending...
|This article or section is about Monstergirls (or a monster that is frequently depicted as a Monstergirl), something that /tg/ widely considers to be the purest form of awesome. Expect PROMOTIONS! and /d/elight in equal measure, often with drawfaggotry or writefaggotry to match.|
As one of the demihuman races, you'd expect gnomes to get the monstergirls treatment pretty regularly - they are, after all, as close as you can get to a canon shortstack race in D&D. But, you'd be surprised; gnomish monstergirls are actually very rare, even though attractive female gnomes have been canon to D&D since at least 3rd edition. The root cause of this? Probably the fact that gnomes don't really have any unique defining culture or traits to build from. After all, what does a sexy female gnome have that you can't get from, say, a good-humored female dwarf, or a mischievous halfling illusionist?
For the most part, if you see a "sexy" gnome on /tg/, /d/ or /aco/, it'll be either a Rule 34 of the gnomes from Warcraft, or else a tinker gnome heavily inspired by said - for all Warcraft's faults, it's still the closest thing to a unique and non-annoying gnome culture that people are familiar with... okay, aside from the Feywild & Golarion gnomes, at least.
One of the few /tg/ sources to address this issue is the Book of Erotic Fantasy. It claims that gnomes really enjoy sex and that bisexuality, partner swapping and group sex are common. They are responsible for some of the most elaborate sex toys and manuals, including the famed Gnomish Kama Sutra, which is often banned outside of Gnomish lands. As long as it does not involve BDSM gnomes will try it at least once, and later try it again in new and interesting ways. Foreplay is considered to be very important for both sexes, and the act itself is supposed to be fun and exciting for everyone involved. Breeding with other species is about as difficult as it is for dwarves, making gnomes more likely to try everything at least once just to see how it feels. This outlook on sex sets them apart from halflings and elves with whom they frequently overlap: to elves it's about the extension of the relationship while for halflings it is what binds the community together on a personal level. This outlook can be added to magitek interpretations to make them the premier manufacturers of sex toys and dolls... which is sometimes already used for the Warcraft gnomes.
The Monster Girl Encyclopedia didn't really know what to do with gnomes. It used the name "Gnome" for its Earth Elemental mamono, a voluptuous slime-girl-like figure of earth (with its "Dorome" mud elemental variant probably being based on the dorotabo, a yokai that appears as a mud-man), used the common look of a gnome monstergirl for its Dwarf, and gave the "mad tinker" archetype to its Gremlin, a demonic loli catgirl.
|Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition Races|
|Basic Set:||Dwarf - Elf - Hobbit - Human|
|Creature Catalog 1:|| Brownie - Centaur - Dryad - Faun - Hsiao |
Leprechaun - Pixie - Pooka - Redcap - Sidhe
Sprite - Treant - Wood Imp - Wooddrake
|Creature Catalog 2:|| Faenare - Gnome - Gremlin - Harpy |
Nagpa - Pegataur - Sphinx - Tabi
|Creature Catalog 3:||Kna - Kopru - Merrow - Nixie - Triton|
|Dragon Magazine:|| Cayma - Gatorman - Lupin - N'djatwa |
Phanaton - Rakasta - Shazak - Wallara
|Hollow World:|| Beastman - Brute-Man - Hutaakan |
Krugel Orc - Kubbit - Malpheggi Lizard Man
|Known World:|| Bugbear - Goblin - Gnoll |
Hobgoblin - Kobold - Ogre - Troll
|Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Races|
|Core:||Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human|
|Dark Sun:||Aarakocra - Half-Giant - Mul - Pterran - Thri-kreen|
|Dragonlance:||Draconian - Irda - Kender - Minotaur|
|Mystara:|| Aranea - Ee'ar - Enduk - Lizardfolk (Cayma - Gurrash - Shazak) |
Lupin - Manscorpion - Phanaton - Rakasta - Tortle - Wallara
|Oriental Adventures:||Korobokuru - Hengeyokai - Spirit Folk|
|Planescape:||Aasimar - Bariaur - Genasi - Githyanki - Githzerai - Modron - Tiefling|
|Spelljammer:||Dracon - Giff - Grommam - Hadozee - Hurwaeti - Rastipede - Scro - Xixchil|
|Ravenloft:||Broken One - Flesh Golem - Half-Vistani - Therianthrope|
Book of X:
| Alaghi - Beastman - Bugbear - Bullywug - Centaur - Duergar |
Fremlin - Firbolg - Flind - Gnoll - Goblin - Half-Ogre - Hobgoblin
Kobold - Mongrelfolk - Ogre - Ogre Mage - Orc - Pixie
Satyr - Saurial - Svirfneblin - Swanmay - Voadkyn - Wemic
|Dragon Magazine:||Half-Dryad - Half-Satyr - Uldra - Xvart|
|Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Races|
|Player's Handbook 1:|| Dragonborn - Dwarf - Eladrin - Elf |
Half-Elf - Halfling - Human - Tiefling
|Player's Handbook 2:||Deva - Gnome - Goliath - Half-Orc - Shifter|
|Player's Handbook 3:||Githzerai - Minotaur - Shardmind - Wilden|
|Monster Manual 1:|| Bugbear - Doppelganger - Githyanki |
Goblin - Hobgoblin - Kobold - Orc
|Monster Manual 2:||Bullywug - Duergar - Kenku|
|Dragon Magazine:||Gnoll - Shadar-kai|
|Heroes of Shadow:||Revenant - Shade - Vryloka|
|Heroes of the Feywild||Hamadryad - Pixie - Satyr|
|Eberron's Player's Guide:||Changeling - Kalashtar - Warforged|
|The Manual of the Planes:||Bladeling|
|Dark Sun Campaign Setting:||Mul - Thri-kreen|
|Forgotten Realms Player's Guide:||Drow - Genasi|
|The Races of Pathfinder|
|Player's Handbook:||Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human|
| Aasimar - Catfolk - Changeling - Dhampir - Duergar |
Drow - Fetchling - Gillman - Goblin - Grippli - Hobgoblin
Ifrit - Kitsune - Kobold - Merfolk - Nagaji - Orc - Oread
Ratfolk - Samsaran - Strix - Suli - Svirfneblin - Sylph
Tengu - Tiefling - Undine - Vanara - Vishkanya - Wayang
|Bestiaries:|| Android - Astomoi - Caligni - Deep One Hybrid - Gathlain |
Gnoll - Kasatha - Munavri - Naiad - Orang-Pendak
Reptoid - Rougarou - Shabti - Trox - Yaddithian
|Adventure Paths:||Being of Ib - Kuru|
|Inner Sea Races:|| Ghoran - Monkey Goblin - Lashunta - Skinwalker |
Syrinx - Triaxian - Wyrwood - Wyvaran
|Ultimate Wilderness:||Vine Leshy|
|Blood of the Sea:||Adaro - Cecaelia - Grindylow - Locathah - Sahuagin - Triton|
|Planar Adventures:||Aphorite - Duskwalker - Ganzi|
|The Races of Starfinder|
|Core Races:||Android - Human - Kasatha - Lashunta - Shirren - Vesk - Ysoki|
|Legacy Races:||Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling|
|Expanded Races:|| Aasimar - Astrazoan - Bantrid - Barathu - Bolida - Borai - Brakim - Contemplative |
Copaxi - Damai - Draelik - Dragonkin - Drow - Elebrian - Embri - Endiffian - Ferran
Formian - Ghibrani - Ghoran - Goblin - Gosclaw - Gray - Haan - Hobgoblin - Ifrit - Ikeshti
Ilthisarian - Kalo - Kanabo - Kayal - Khizar - Kish - Maraquoi - Morlamaw - Neskinti
Nuar - Orc - Oread - Osharu - Pahtra - Phentomite - Quorlu - Reptoid - Ryphorian
Sarcesian - Screedreep - Scyphozoan - Selamid - Seprevoi - Shimreen - Shobhad
Skittermander - SRO - Stellifera - Strix - Suli - Svartalfar - Sylph - Tiefling - Trox - Undine
Uplifted Bear - Urog - Verthani - Vilderaro - Vlaka - Witchwyrd - Woioko - Wrikreechee