Return of the Godspell
One of the least understood and most secretive races in Drm, gnomes – despite their appearances –are not considered humen by scholars as they are not numbered among the seven humen races in the Cilidian. However, no one would think to list gnomes with the likes of giants, goblins, kobolds, trolls, and other vaguely humanoid creatures that have threatened humenities domination of Drm. Recently, some scholars have put forth interesting theories on gnome origins.
According to Burquebainian documents detailing the aftermath of the Destruction of the Satrimmoth Empire, when Burquebain Cliver was leading his people from their shattered homeland through the Burquebainian Chain, a large contingency of dwarves was separated from their fellows by some kind of catastrophe (some suggest an attack by the Named One, Naseus Soulsunder). This small contingency (possibly a few thousand) was swept away by a subterranean river and were never seen again despite search efforts. Eventually, the dwarves named this group the Lost Clan and their records claim them dead. A growing number of scholars, led by Duke Dentun V of the Valernus Library, are offering an alternative theory to the end result of this “lost clan.” These scholars believe that those dwarves survived their separation from their kin.
Gnome sightings did not begin until well into the Age of Humen when Mandlite travelers began their emigrations south and into the Wynding River Valley, some 1000 years after the disappearance of the Lost Clan. Elven Bard’s Tales citing the first appearance of small, bearded people in the Eternal Forest and Worm’s Wood correspond with the approximate dates of the flight from Satrimmoth, some time in the late Age of Mist. Some of these Tales suggest that the elves intermingled with this small race, taking them to husband and wife. If this is true gnomes are the decendants of these unions. There is plenty of evidence to support this theory when one observes gnome physiology, behavior, and culture.
Like dwarves, gnomes are short, isolationists, value gold and precious stones, live within kingdoms or clans, and the males tend to favor small beards. Like elves, gnomes appear to be immortal (or else so long lived that they might as well be), tend to be slender and graceful, value freedom, possess slightly pointed ears, and enjoy living in forests and similarly wooded areas (although the presence of hills and small mountains appear important). Of course, dwarves are aghast at the suggestion that any one of their kind would stoop so low as to mate with an elf. Elves, typically open-minded with regards to matters of sex and intriguing legends, are strangely silent about this theory. Gnomes seem enthralled by the idea, although they have not been forthcoming as to their position nor have they offered any clarity to the theory’s validity. Needless to say, gnomes get along quite well with both dwarves and elves when they must but tend to prefer the solitude of their hilly forests.
Alongside the kin, gnomes comprise the smallest Humen population in Drm. As a race, they have avoided wars and adventure, and have limited their trade with others. Typically, trade with gnomes involves sapiens, elves, and bobgoblins dropping their wares at a specific location near a suspected gnome settlement during the day; the merchants leave and return the next day to find their wares gone and a payment in its place. Most gnomes encountered beyond their hills and woods are those curious enough in the rest of the world to travel from their well defended glades.
Drmian gnomes are best described as inquisitive, mischievous, and witty with a fair. They are also committed to the safety of their people and traditions. Gnomes see the world as a place of wonder and importance, but believe that one must find humor in everything that occurs in life. Even as they find amusement in all they do, gnomes do cling to time honored traditions associated with family and clan in order to always remember the things that worked and the challenges they overcame.
Gnomes have intentionally remained in the background of Drmian history. Gnomes find the machinations of other races and their leaders to be tedious. Gnomes are not cowards and do not fear getting involved; rather, gnomes simply have no patience for the evil of the surrounding world. Like dwarves, gnomes have cloisetered themselves within fortified lands. Still, gnomes believe that they have a responsibility to the outside world and, usually as individuals, have surreptitiously lent aid to the forces of good on occasion.
Gnomes are very creative, although they are not as prone as dwarves to become involved in technological pursuits. Rather, gnomish inventiveness comes in the form of magic ingenuity. Unlike elves, who value magic for the sake of magic, gnomes prefer to push and test arcane limits. Due to their reclusive nature, the extent of gnomish experiments has yet to be determined, but it is known that it is virtually impossible to discover gnomish glades without incredibly powerful magicks.
Magic is often the center of gnomish interaction with others. They love magical pranks, jokes, and – when protecting themselves – traps. Gnomes love testing the patience and humor of others almost as much as they do experimenting with magic. Fortunately for gnomes and their targets, gnomes are sensitive to the reactions of others and often cease their joking of they risk offending potential and current friends and allies.
Gnomes are about 3 ½ to 4 feet tall and rarely exceed 45 pounds. They tend to have beige skin, although slightly darker and lighter complexions are not uncommon. Their bright eyes encompass the cooler colors of the spectrum and their hair tends to the hotter. While male gnomes are fond of short beards (especially goatees), they rarely bother with moustaches, females wear their hair long, although pony-tails and bob-tails are prevalent. Both genders are fond of modest jewelry, especially gold. Their clothing tends to be somewhat gaudy in their color and style, with flared shoulders and flip-toed slippers. Gnomes are apparently immortal.
Although fond of elves, gnomes find them to be absent-minded and too sultry for their tastes. While they get along very well with dwarves, gnomes regard them as too practical and demanding. They hated duruban and would often try to kill them when encountered. Gnomes are largely unfamiliar with chirpto and hobgoblins but have an inherent distrust for both races. Gnomes get along fabulously with kin and many kin are found in gnome clans. Gnomes find sapiens to be fascinating in the same way sapiens are fascinated by Dragons: they are interesting to look at but they are extremely dangerous. Most races regard gnomes as sneaking and almost legendary.
Gnomes believe in peace and happiness, thus by and large they are Good. While gnomes tend to do whatever it takes to promote goodness, they tend to be limited in their application of such acts to their kind. Still, gnomes are committed to tradition. As a result gnomes tend to be Neutral in their ethical outlook with taints of Lawful.
Gnomes worship a small, little known group call the Watchers in the Wood. The leader of the Watchers is known by a variety of different names although he always has the same sobriquet: Goldgleam. Goldgleam is a prankster dedicated to showing evil doers the foolishness of their ways by embarrassing them. Goldgleam peers within the Watchers in the Woods are likewise relatively light hearted about their opposition to evil. It is unclear to what degree gnomes worship the Watchers in the Woods; while most non-gnomes view these beings as gods, gnomes seem to recognize them as folk heroes and long dead gnomes that should be emulated rather than worshipped. Despite this there are gnome clerics. Gnomes are also prone to hold the Children of the Glade and the Masters of the Mountain in rather high regard. Among the Aldra, there have been gnome worshippers of Ausarii, Helias, Nemaria, and Vhanthermis.
Gnomes, oddly enough, do not have their own language. Instead, all gnomes are fluent in Dwarven, Elven, and Common. Although gnomes do have a strong oral tradition, they are versed in the Dwarven alphabet and it is believed keep written histories.
Gnomes do not frequently venture from their enchanted glades and woods, preferring the safety of home. However, most gnomes are highly influenced by and interested in the arcane arts and find the means to practice their skills. There are also many gnomes interested in subterfuge and dedicated to surviving in nature environments. Thus, most gnomes encountered beyond their homes are bards, rangers, rogues, and wizards (particularly illusionists).
Most gnomes live in Worm’s Wood and other temperate woodlands like the Swoon in the Eternal Forest, the western borders of the Barren Peaks near the Deep Sea, and the Silver Valley near distant Tetholas. These locations tend to be hidden by illusions so powerful that even the most practiced arcanist finds difficulty piercing them. Gnomes live in small clans that join together to form small kingdoms. Kingdoms rarely have more than 5000 individuals