- I borrowed a couple of the gears from your Astrolabe. I hope you don't mind.
Of all the intelligent races, there is a small subset that are Civilized, that have the Spark.
Of the Gracious Races, those that bear the Spark of Civility, there are some that are widely known to be The Old Ones. Elves, of course, are the oldest race, or so they claim. Dwarves, rightly so, also make strong claims to the position of First Race. Humans could care less how old their species is, but there is evidence that they are as old or older than any of the other races, and perhaps far older. Halflings, well, nobody is really certain about much of Halfling history, they might be Old Ones or they might not, they have a way of blending in.
And then there are the Gnomes.
Gnomes do not blend in. Gnomes, despite their tiny stature, swagger through history like conquerors. The oldest tales are full of Gnomes doing things, making things, and generally Being Important, despite the fact they have never really conquered much of anything. But Gnomes have personality that is far out of scale with their diminutive bodies.
As a result, the age and origin of Gnomes is easily the best known of all the Old races.
When the First Gods were making the universe, at the very beginning of the Dawn Times, it turned out that the job was a lot messier and slower then even the gods had realized. Most of the Gods, being deifically awesome, simply worked their way through the hard spots. However, some of the Gods found all that detail work tedious, and so, they decided to create a race of mortals to handle all that messy, complicated stuff. They created a race of curious, creative, detail-oriented, obsessive-compulsive tinkerers, to finish the job of creating All Reality.
Those first Gnomes are the ancestors of all Gnomes.
Gnomes were made by the Gods to finish the universe. In a Gnome's mind, whether they are aware of it or not, that job is still very much active. To a Gnome, the world isn't...quite...right, and it needs to be fixed, maybe just a little bit, or maybe a lot, depending on the foibles of the Gnome in question. Some Gnomes express this itch as a wanderlust, becoming nomadic tinkers. Others become millers and bakers, creating the most amazing confections you've ever seen. Others go out adventuring, tinkering and working to get the whole world's wildlife tweaked to just the right setup.
As a result of all this energy, Gnomish culture is remarkably fragmented. Almost every Gnome has made their own clothes and equipment, has designed and built several houses with varying success, indeed, has invented their own personal culture. The only truly unifying aspect of Gnomish culture is that they are all making things, for good and for ill, and they are all remarkably cheerful about it, even if their private obsession is the creation of the most horrible torture devices you can imagine.
Gnomish appearance is just as varied as their culture, housing, and clothing. Gnomes come in almost any color you can think of, with the most common being 'skintone' like humans in every shade imaginable. Gnomes are also frequently yellow in every shade and hue, orange, green, blue, pink to red, and every shade of purple. Their hair is also in every shade and color imaginable, and that's before they get started on elaborate hairdo's and dies, tattoos, piercings, and every other form of body decoration. A Gnome's appearance is wildly unique, and unlike elves, who can be similarly colorful, Gnomes are often (not always) garish and attention-getting. Their detractors say that Gnome's garish coloration is an example of Nature warning everyone else away...and honestly, the idea is not without merit.
On top of this fractured nature, Gnomes tend to move around a lot, especially if they like making things that might disturb the neighbors. Every time you meet a Gnome, expect it to be a totally different Gnome, although the 'quiet, introspective bookworm' Gnomes are pretty darn rare.
Growing Up Gnome
Gnomish personal lives are quite prosaic, given their reputation for wild and crazy antics. A Gnome man and woman marry, children arise in the usual way, and Gnomes tend to follow, loosely, the whole father/mother/children model. Gnomes are often nomadic, and when they are not nomadic they tend to be living with other races in loose enclaves, widely scattered among a larger native population. It does not take many Gnomes to reach the tolerance limit for most populations. Gnomes are fairly rare, although their incredible talents and shameless antics make them seem more prevalent than they really are.
It is not unheard of for a few Gnomes to settle down together and form a hamlet or village on their own, and such Gnomish strongholds are amazing sights to behold. When they are living together, with no other races to temper their nature, Gnomes tend to take a lot of space, with each Gnome family having an expansive patch of ground, several houses, many barns and sheds and outbuildings and workshops, and dozens if not hundreds of old projects and devices sitting around in various stages of neglect. A gnomish settlement can seem like a cross between a junkyard and a ghost town, until somebody gets a new idea and tries something out.
Gnomes are long-lived, and reach maturity slowly. Gnome families tend to follow the Dwarven model and have many children, spread widely apart in age. Gnomes can send their children to school with other races children, notably Humans and Dwarves, and Gnome children easily keep up with their peers in their studies. Sadly, all Gnomes are born with a certain...spark. Gnomes make things, and the things that Gnomes make, while they may seem ramshackle and silly, work. It can be a real problem keeping a Gnome child's attention on history when all she really wants to do is race outside and finish building her flower-planting automaton, that plants seeds at any desired range and depth with a magical arbalest....
Gnomes are creators, and as a result their impact on the economy is vastly larger than their fairly small numbers would indicate. Gnomes make things the way other races breathe: Easily, constantly, and without even thinking about it. It's that lack of thought which keeps Gnomes rare, as a lot of them wind up spectacularly dead when they realize their new Sunshine Maker (so you can grow plants in basements) also produces all the heat of sunlight as well.... In addition, while wise rulers understand that an enclave of Gnomes is a tremendous boon to the community, their actual neighbors are rarely on good terms with any Gnome, ever.
Gnomes have a tendency to pick up baubles and doodads over the course of their lives, largely on the basis of the object appealing to them, rather than for its potential sale value. As a result, a gnome's individual wealth is almost completely random -- that doodad they picked up from that swamp hag might be priceless, or they may go through life with only a vast collection of worthless baubles. Gnomes rarely care about their wealth as measured by its trade value. To them, materialism is centered on framing their experiences and inspiring memories of times past.
That is not to say that there are no wealthy gnomes. Some gnomes decide to excel at business and trade, and often become astonishingly wealthy as a result. However, it is only the rarest of gnome who would begin such an endeavor with the desire to be rich. Wealth is just a side effect of their mastery of their trade.
Gnomes are not much for formalities, like social customs and the like. Gnomes will go along with whatever holidays and general trends they pick up from their host culture, if they have one, although their adherence to such matters is a bit iffy.
Now, that is not to say that Gnomes do not have any customs at all. Indeed, they have a few very strong ones. Probably the biggest Gnome custom is, you do not touch another Gnomes toys without asking first. This is a big thing among Gnomes, and breaking this rule will get you ostracized. Messing with another Gnomes vision and creations is a big no-no. Not to mention, it can be quite hazardous to your health, since if you break the other Gnome's device, then they are going to be realllly mad at you.
Another major Gnome custom is the idea of the Tinker's Walk. At some point in their lives, even the most settled down and sedentary of Gnomes is expected to go out and see the world. Gnomes aren't sure why they have this urge, but sages and ciphers have deduced that it is probably a leftover from their Deific creation. Gnomes need to go out on 'inspection tours' to see if there's anything in the world that needs to be completed. In the modern age, of course, the world is quite well finished, but Gnomes still have the urge to wander, at least once in their lives.
Lifespan and Burial
Gnomes have a definite childhood, and it is a very long one indeed, since Gnomes only reach physical and mental maturity at age forty. Gnomes have a very long adulthood, often over a century or more, experience a fairly normal middle-age period for a couple of decades, and then have a long period of senescence at the end of their lives. To the uninitiated, it can seem as if all Gnomes are either children or wizened crones, since a Gnomes' adult stature is quite childlike in the eyes of most other races. Treating a full grown Gnome like a child rarely makes a Gnome angry, since a Gnomes empathy and understanding for another persons viewpoint is limited at the best of times.
Gnomes live somewhere between 150 and 250 years, unless she meets an end through accident or misadventure. In many ways, a Gnome's lifespan is directly connected to how interested in life she is at any given moment. A life that the gnome finds fulfilling or engaging will probably be a long life indeed, while a Gnome who achieves her goals too easily, or fails to set her life on an endeavor that will drive her will probably die before she reaches middle age.
Gnomish burial is highly individualized, as often the gnome will choose her preferred method of interment prior to death. Many Gnomes make outrageous requests for the treatment of their remains, hoping to squeeze out one last grand experience. However, few people are so loyal to their dead comrade as to feed her corpse to a dragon, or encase her in molten gold.
Relations with Others
Gnomes are quite rare. They have never been common, they tend to have children slowly, and to be frank, a lot of gnomes die in accidents and misadventure. Many of the more pugnacious races, such as half-orcs, nagdyr, and gata, dislike Gnomes intensely, and will react with violence at the drop of a hat. Or, say, the drop of an ether-powered alchemical wall-press. If Gnomes make it to adulthood, around the age of forty, they generally manage enough self-control to keep their more flamboyant adventures away from hostile eyes.
Gnomes prefer to live with Dwarves, above all others. Dwarves have very sturdy houses, and lots of tasty fungi and brews to use as ingredients. Dwarves also tolerate a Gnomes more erratic flights of fancy well, being long-lived enough to recognize that no matter how crazy a Gnomes contraptions might be, they often turn out useful sooner or later. Aside from Dwarves, Gnomes frequently live with Humans, although they have to be more careful and spread out thinner in human society. Humans tolerate Gnomish tinkering pretty well, but if you push them too far Humans will form a lynch mob in the space of two heartbeats, and no gnome wants that.
Gnomes are tolerated by most other races, although they will not willingly cohabitate permanently with any other races beside Dwarves and Humans. As mentioned, half-orcs, nagdyr, and gata dislike Gnomes intensely. Half-Orcs, with their brutal culture of status and gaunts, hate Gnomish frivolity. Nagdyr hate the fact that gnomish inventions work. Nothing a nagdyr tries ever seems to come easy, and it drives the nagdyr to distraction how easily the gnomes get everything to come out their way. And gata have herds and pets in abundance, and Gnomes see all that as a wonderful supply of raw materials to work with. Gata hate Gnomes with a deep distaste that can flash to white-hot rage in an instant over any perceived slight to their animals. All of those races keep well apart.
Starting Height and Weight
Gender Base Height Height Modifier Weight Weight Modifier Male 3 ft. 0 in. +2d4 in. (3 ft. 2 in. - 3 ft. 8 in.) 35 lbs. +(2d4 lbs.) (37 - 43 lbs.) Female 2 ft. 10 in. +2d4 in. (3 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 6 in.) 30 lbs. +(2d4 lbs.) (32 - 38 lbs.)
Adulthood Intuitive Self-Taught Trained 40 years +4d6 years (44 - 64 years) +6d6 years (46 - 76 years) +9d6 years (49 - 94 years)
Gnomes have no class or alignment restrictions.
Standard Racial Traits
All Gnomes have the following Standard Racial Advantages:
- Attributes: Gnomes choose from one of the following ability score bonus sets when creating their character. No ability score may ever be modified above a 20 or below a 7.
- +2 to two different stats, -2 to one stat
- +2 to one stat, +1 to three different stats, -2 to one stat
- +4 to one stat, -2 to two different stats
- Size: Gnomes are Small creatures and thus gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on Stealth checks, a -1 penalty to their Might skill rolls and Maneuver Defense, and their Walk speed is reduced by -10 feet.
- Type: Gnomes have the Humanoid type, with the Gnome subtype.
- Base Speed: Gnomes have a Walk speed of 20 feet (due to size).
- Languages: Gnomes begin play speaking Common and Gnome.
- Bonus Languages: Characters with a positive Intelligence modifier gain one bonus language per +1 of their modifier, selecting from the following list: Dwarven, Elven, Halfling, Giant, Goblin and Orc. Once the character's intelligence is high enough to have acquired all six of these bonus languages, they no longer gain bonus languages for increasing their Intelligence. Characters can also learn new languages by placing ranks in the Linguistics skill.
- Low-Light Vision (Ex): Gnomes can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
- Creative (Ex): Gnomes gain the Creator feat for free.
Major Racial Traits
Choose one of the following Major Racial Traits:
- Darkvision (Ex): Gnomes with this racial trait gain Darkvision with a range of 60 feet. This is in addition to the Low-Light Vision that all Gnomes get. At level 10, the range improves to 120 feet. At level 25, the range improves to 300 feet.
- Toolbox of the Universe (Su): A Gnome with this racial trait chooses one elemental type to be aligned with (fire, ice, acid, electricity or sonic) and may add 1 point of that damage type per two Character levels (round down, minimum 1), to any effect they produce from any source (spells, items, class abilities, etc) which already has the keyword with that damage type. This extra damage may only be applied once per creature per round. Conversely, when using a weapon that deals selected damage type, this racial trait instead adds 1 point of additional damage of the selected type to the weapon's base damage (meaning it increases with the weapon's damage at 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th levels, is multiplied on a crit, and is neither bonus nor precision damage). This damage is applied each time a creature is struck by the weapon. Rays are considered 'effects' for purposes of this trait, not weapons. Weapons or spells which do not already deal the chosen damage type gain no benefit from this trait. The Gnome must declare which damage type they are attuned to at 1st level, and once selected it may not be changed.
- How's This Work? (Ex): Gnomes with this racial trait choose either the Disable Device skill or the Sleight of Hand skill, and may make it a natural talent at character creation. At 15th level, they may make the other skill a natural talent. When a skill becomes a natural talent, it is remapped to the ability modifier of the Gnome's choice, instead of the modifier normally used by the skill. In addition, they improve their chances of a critical success with both of these skills by 1 (requiring a natural result of 19 or 20 to crit with the skill check, instead of only a natural 20).
- Eternal Hope (Su): Gnomes rarely lose hope and are always confident that even hopeless situations will work out. Once per day, a Gnome with this racial trait, may reroll a single d20 roll as a free action and add a +4 racial bonus to the roll. The gnome must use this second result. At 10th level, this trait may be used up to once per encounter (or once per hour outside of combat). At 25th level, it may be used once per round (or once per 5 minutes outside of combat).
- Hyperactive (Ex): Gnomes with this racial trait have a base land speed of 30 feet, instead of only 20 feet. In addition, the Gnome gains a +2 racial bonus to initiative, which improves to +3 at 10th, +4 at 20th and +5 at 30th.
Minor Racial Traits
Choose one of the following Minor Racial Traits:
- Pursuit of Knowledge (Ex): A Gnome with this racial trait may choose one Knowledge skill as a natural talent when this trait is chosen, remapping it to the ability modifier of the Gnome's choice, instead of the modifier normally used by the skill.
- Keen Senses (Ex): Gnomes receive a +1 training bonus on Perception checks. This bonus improves to +2 at level 10, +3 at level 20, and +4 at level 30.
- Fearless (Ex): Gnomes with this racial trait gain a +2 racial bonus to Will saves against fear affects. This bonus improves to +3 at level 10, +4 at level 20 and +5 at level 30.
- Analytic (Ex): Many gnomes are obsessed with knowing how the world works rather than perfecting some specific talent or vocation. These gnomes may put ranks into the Reason skill even if it is not normally available to their class, and add a +1 training bonus to Reason rolls if they have 12 or more ranks in it. This training bonus increases to +2 if they have 24 or more ranks in the skill. Inherent bonuses do not count as ranks. This racial trait does not make Reason a natural talent, however.
- Not Compensating (Ex): Gnomes with this racial trait can use sized-medium weapons without a size or handiness penalty.