The War for Thamatra
Concerning Gnomes in Thamatra
Gnomes in Thamatra are considered Durinkin, descendants from an Elderkin race called the D’ren in the Old World Days. Like their cousins, the dwarves, gnomes are builders and makers, having the exceptional skills in engineering, construction, metalworking, and jewelry craftsmanship noted of their kin. However, unlike the dwarves, gnomes prefer locations such as woods, meadows and hills and places not as rugged or demanding as the dwarf-lands. Gnomes are much more like the D’ren in their general temperament; although they do protect their privacy, they are friendly, curious and tend to be helpful to those they befriend. They are also mischievous pranksters, playing tricks (some lethal) on any uninvited guests who travels into their homelands. Gnomes do have the same ability to carry a grudge as their dwarven cousins, and, if so inclined, will seek vengeance for any grievances.
Gnomish areas of influence are typically in the hills and valleys that makeup the foothill regions of the major mountain chains in the Northern continent, especially the Volkstag Mountains, the Northern Dragonspire Mountains and the Blue Fells regions. Gnomes also have a strong presence in the lowlands south of the Crack, particularly in the Durham’s Downs of Brendanmoor. There are also gnomish colonies in some parts of the Southern Kingdoms.
Gnomes are small, ranging from 1-1/2ft to 3-1/2ft tall, depending on breed. They are of stocky build, with thick limbs, but of a proportion more like a stout hafting than a dwarf (gnomes float, barely). They are also not as hairy as dwarves; the males typically have facial hair in the form of beards, but the females tend to only develop a light fuzz, similar to the hair which covers both the male and female gnome body. Hair colors are usually red, blonde or brown, but turns into a silver color as the gnome reaches later maturity.
Gnomes tend to favor clothing that reflect their preferences for marginal environments, especially the use of leather and heavyweight fabrics like wool and felts. However, they prefer brighter and more cheerful colors for their clothing than the somber tones dwarves wear. Most gnome wardrobes will have custom embroidery and other noticeable embellishments on their garments, especially vests, jackets and, of course, the hats.
A common clothing trait of the gnomish peoples is the gnome hat. Conical in shape, the hat is used by both sexes, and is as essential part of their wardrobe. The color of the material and the embroidery and trimwork represents what family, clan or community a gnome is from or part of. Those familiar with the various clans can usually tell if a gnome encounter may be favorable or not simply by the color of the hat. A gnome does not want to lose it’s hat; it’s a passport thru the gnomish community, and better to arrive with only your hat and a smile, than to be clothed and hatless.
Gnomes are a hardy, hardworking race, able to do intense physical labor in mining, tunneling and stonework, fortifying and expanding their homes and communities. They are also very talented with their fingers, and are capable of exceptionally fine metalworking and fabrications, especially in intricate mechanisms and devices. They are exceptional jewelers, and are able armorers and weaponsmiths. Gnomes have a unique talent for combining skills to engineer and create wondrous machines, and are naturals at making snares and traps as well as other devices. Their small size and nimble fingers give them an added edge in this area.
Gnomes organize themselves into family clans, each with it’s clerics and a clan chief. If a clan becomes large enough, or if several clans join together, they will form a gnome-hall, and elect from their numbers a council to administer the dealings of the colony and allied clans within it. These colonies are usually caverns turned community centers at first, but tend to evolve, as the population grows, into a series of fortified tunnels and warrens that can stretch for miles under the hillsides. Often these tunnels are decorated with the handiwork of successive generations of gnome craftfolk.
Gnomes are in general reclusive, mostly to protect themselves from encounters with the larger races, as well as the larger predatory fauna that exists in the wilds of Thamatra. But, once a gnome has befriended you, they are a steadfast, if somewhat mischievous, companion. Just don’t abuse the friendship.
Gnomes have very keen senses. The evolution of their race underground has given them sharp vision in the dark, and they can sense changes in air pressures; this helps them with their ability to determine depths, elevations and slopes, as well as a fine sense of touch in handling small intricate items. They also have a sharpened sense of smell and taste, which allows them to get a feel of what materials are in the surrounding environment (yes; like dwarves, gnomes can smell gold, although they are not as “addicted” to it). Gnomes are more agile than dwarves, giving them better skills at moving silently and hiding in shadows.
Gnomes have a high resistance to magical phenomena, as well as to weather, poisons or disease, but not to the extent that dwarves do. They also have a resilience to life/manna draining events and fire (although the hair will burn). They are resistant to lycanthropy, but not vampirism, and have as strong of a hatred for undead as do the elves and dwarves. Although they do not have nearly the spiritual sensitivity of the elves, gnomes are aware of changes in earth energies, and can usually sense magic energies better than their dwarven cousins.
The gnomish diet usually consists of wild-crafted or garden-grown plants, fruits and fungi, breads from cereal grains, and meat from wild game. The friendly relationship gnomes have with most mammals dwelling in their locale makes meat an awkward commodity, so usually the meat is reptilian or fish in origin. Most gnome homesteads will produce some form of foodstuffs, as well as craftgoods, with the surplus traded with other colonies and with any nearby dwarf-hall. (A favorite craftgood is gnome hard cider, which is sometimes as potent as elfwine.) Gnomes will trade with other races, though the gnomish people tend to be very self-sufficient, so it’s usually for coin or unique babbles.
Gnomes are usually seen by other races as a trustworthy but mischievous, sometimes annoying people, especially in their dealings with larger peoples who wander into gnomish territory. Gnomes love tricks and pranks, they also like their privacy. They ensure this by boobytrapping their territories, sometimes constructing elaborate snares and traps to catch the unwary traveler, who would then be first questioned (to determine if the gnomes will let him/her live), then introduced to the hospitality and “entertainment” (which may be deadly to the “guest” if the gnomes find they are a threat or an insult).
Gnomes see the other races as either potential customers/clients, potential allies, cousins (dwarves), potential threats, or competition/enemies (especially goblins and kobolds, as they share a common terrain preference). Gnomes do not have the strained relationship that exists between dwarves and elves, but their proximity and dealings with their larger cousins as sometimes led to awkward situations. Gnomes in general tend to prefer dealing with those creatures that are around their height and with similar interests (such as pixies, brownies, and halflings).
Most adolescent gnomes undergo an apprenticeship program where they learn several skillsets deemed vital to the gnome community. Those who show an aptitude for a particular skillset oftentimes will receive advance instruction. All gnomes have a fighting instinct encouraged from childhood, and therefore may become warriors in times of need.
Gnomes can be of any profession (class) except mage. Due to the high level of magic resistance, the average gnome has a limited capability for working the forces of arcane energies that make magic work. The gnomes gifted with any magical aptitude are limited to being illusionists. There are gnomish clerics; they operate as normal clerics, and some tend to be able to work a form of forge-magic under the right circumstances.
Gnomes in their homeland are usually homesteaders (such as the wood gnomes), or are agrarian villagers with their communities centered on the main gnome-hall (such as the meadow gnomes). All gnomes have a special link to the earth, and are exceptional at growing things, including animals. Otherwise, each gnome will usually have a specialty skillset they perform for the community (blacksmith, weaver, miller, brewer).
Outside gnomish lands the wandering gnome is usually a warrior/mercenary type, a cleric, an engineer, a laborer, a merchant, or a thief – especially a thief. Gnomes have an innate curiosity and a possessive nature for beautiful intricate things, so when they encounter an item-of-interest, they tend to “borrow” them for long-term study. Gnomes will not “borrow” from gnomes of their own clan. However, they will take items-of-interests from other gnome colonies, as a matter of competition and friendly harassment – “keeps them on their toes” as one gnome put it. In a non-gnome environment, anyone who is not a friend is fair game for the right incentive. The wandering gnome may have previous skills beside the current pursuit; the long lifespan allows for career changes. Jewelers and gageteers are in high demand in the urban human regions.
Gnomes are usually multi-lingual, speaking both common elf, common dwarf, and common human tongues as a matter of trade and convenience, as well as a common gnome. Each gnome-clan has it’s own gnome-tongue and writing system; these are usually guarded secrets, used only by the members of that clan or their most trusted allies. Gnomes can also speak to several different types of animals in what appears to be their language; this may suggest a latent psyonic potential in the race. There are known cases of psyonic potential manifesting in some exceptional individuals. In general, though, gnomes are resistant to most psyonic attacks.
Gnomes typically live up to 250 years, but can live for almost 400 years in isolated instances.
Gnome breeds in Thamatra are: wood, meadow, mountain, deep, dark, and urban. Gnomes have been known to be interracially fertile between other Durinkin (dwarves), and with some of the smaller races, such as halflings, wild elves and some Fairykin species. These hybrids are generally considered rare, and tend to live within the communities of their mothers. Gnomes are not shy in public, they are not bashful about expressing their admiration for the opposite sex of any race, and they tend to be as randy as a goat, albeit a polite one. Gnomes don’t have the social stigma that the dwarves have about one of their own “running amok” with other peoples. A gnome will hump anything, if it thinks it’s pretty, and isn’t ashamed of it at all. To gnomes, this is the ultimate compliment. This behavior can be present in gnomes of either sex.
And now, the Gnomes:
Wood – these are the most diminutive of the gnome breeds, being usually between 1 to 1-1/2 ft tall, with some clans not reaching 1ft, and rarely over 20lbs in weight. As the name implies, these people dwell in the forests and woodlands in the world. Wood gnomes are masters of stealth and woodlore. They can hide from almost any creature, and can cover their tracks well, including scent trails. They are reclusive, self-sufficient, and prone to setting lethal traps if feeling threatened. Usually these good-natured and kind folk will hide from the bigger peoples unless forced into revealing themselves by deed or need. They are good friends with the creatures of the woodlands, oftentimes coming to the aid of any beast who will deal with the gnome on their terms (“Don’t eat me and I’ll help you” is a popular one). They are also good friends with the Fairy-folk – fairies, pixies and such – and with some of the Spirtkin (such as nymphs and dryads).
Wood gnomes make their homes in the roots of large trees or in small caverns, sometimes moving in with other burrowing creatures for mutual benefit. Their homes are small but comfortable, and usually open up into a larger central room that some of the smaller “big people” can squeeze into. Oftentimes the gnomes will keep pets in their homes, such as badgers and woodchucks (the gnomish equivalent of dobermans and pitbulls). Sometimes they will use these animals for mounts. Occasionally, wood gnomes will also enlist the aid of the local avians, even riding some of the larger birds. Most wood gnomes are foresters or tunnelers, and rarely wear armor above leather, but will use spears, slings and small missile weapons if needed for muster.
Wood gnomes form small communities hidden beneath the forest floor, interconnecting nearby dwellings in a tunnel network to the main hall. Groupings are by family clans, with their leaders chosen by popular vote to sit at a council, usually for 7 years. In times of emergency, they will elect a clan-chief to lead the community thru the time of crisis.
Wood gnomes speak a common gnome, as well as common elf and human, and also can speak with the various mammals in the forest. They can also know such languages as dryad and nymph if previously exposed to these tongues.
Wood gnome population numbers are unknown. Wood gnomes are rare outside of their homelands, but there are enough encounters to assume that there are respectable communities of wood gnomes in the deeper forests.
Meadow – meadow gnomes are dwellers of the plains and rolling hills country usually bordering such places as woodlands and the lower mountain valleys which they share with the hill dwarf folk. Typically between 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 feet tall, these gnomes resemble small halflings in stature, but with the facial features common to Durinkin. Their denser bodies makes their weight between 20-40lbs. Generally good-natured and hardworking, meadow gnomes are friendlier and more common than other gnomes. They tend to welcome travelers, regardless of race or breed, so long as they are not disrupting the community by their actions. They possess the same abilities at stealth and trap-setting as their woodland cousins, so they can both evade detection and neutralize intruders if so desired.
Meadow gnomes build their communities in hilly banks of grasslands and meadows, not far from small streams and rivers. Construction is typically burrowing back into the hillsides and building an interconnecting tunnel network between the households and homesteads in the region. These people are agrarian in nature, working the land in small fields and garden plots to provide for the community. They are known to raise some livestock (poultry, and small mammals for draft labor) and usually have facilities such as a mill and a communal kitchen at the heart of their communities. Many meadow gnomes have other skills needed for the community, such as smithy, miller, and weaver. Self-sufficiency is considered a key to meadow gnome survival in the world of the Big Peoples, although the meadow gnomes will trade with the other races more readily than the other gnomish peoples would.
Meadow gnome communities usually are structured around an elected council, with a council chief chosen in times of emergency. This council sets for 7 years.
Meadow gnomes usually keep small canids (such as foxes and coydogs) as pets, both for security and for mounts. They will also keep a few larger mammals (like goats) for dairy and draft animals. Their clothing is oftentimes sturdy work clothes of darker colors, but the gnome will have a set of “good clothes” of bright colors to wear to festivities and gatherings of the community. Meadow gnomes will wear armor if available and necessary, usually of leather or ring mail. They use spears, short swords, slings, small bows, and sometimes farm tools if that’s what is handy.
Meadow gnomes speak a common gnome, as well as common elf and human, and also can speak with the various birds and mammals of the meadowlands. Legend has it that the meadow gnome can speak to the plants and trees of these regions.
Meadow gnomes are sometimes referred to as hill gnomes.
Meadow gnomes are the most common gnome, since they have more dealings with the Big Folk. There are growing meadow gnomish communities in several urban cities in the human and elven realms (See “Urban Gnomes” below).
Mountain – Mountain gnomes inhabit the cliffs, valleys and crags of the mountainous regions of the world, oftentimes associating with the hill and mountain dwarves of the same areas. Small but stocky, mountain gnomes range from 2-1/2 to 3-1/2ft tall, and usually 40lbs + in weight. Similar in build and appearance to their dwarven cousins, mountain gnomes are also delvers, miners and craftsfolk, specializing in weaponsmithing and jewelry.
Mountain gnomes are also similar to dwarves in their mannerisms and society. Most mountain gnome communities resemble small versions of dwarf-halls, although usually closer to the surface, and with some obviously gnomish features like dance floors and bandstands. Their communities are led by an elected council of clan-chiefs and their representatives.
Most mountain gnomes wear functional work clothing, but with some embellishments of color and personal style. Their clothing is more somber than other gnomes, mostly because of the regions they dwell in hosts a variety of predators who are attracted by bright colors. Armor when worn is usually ring or chain mail, and mountain gnomes will use bows, slings, hammers and axes as their preferred weapons. The fact that they share habitat with goblins and kobolds usually means that the mountain gnomes are frequently engaged in conflict with them.
Although gruff, mountain gnomes are more friendly than mountain dwarves, especially to strangers and other races. Their innate skills at illusion and trickery put them at an advantage with such encounters, and at least the mountain gnome will talk to you before he kills you for trespassing.
Mountain gnomes usually will keep small herds of goats as both dairy and draft animals, and sometimes will use them for mounts. They are also known to keep bears, wolves and pumas for pets and security.
Mountain gnomes speak a common gnome, as well as common elf, dwarf and human. They also can speak with the various birds and mammals of the mountains, particularly with the ursines, the felines and the raptors. Legend has it that the mountain gnome can speak to the stones and trees of the mountains.
Mountain gnome population numbers are unknown. It is known that they exist (they are fairly common in the mountains), but there is insufficient information available to accurately determine their numbers.
Deep – deep gnomes are delvers, burrowing into the earth to depths not even the deep dwarves dare. Their tunnels and mines interlace some regions of the Underdark in a bizarre array of tubes, caverns and mines, oftentimes heavily trapped to repel intruders of the deep gnome’s territory.
Deep gnomes are reclusive, having a distinct dislike for the surface dwellers, as well as any one else. Their limited dealings with other races have proven deep gnomes to be of slightly better temperament than deep dwarves, but they are not allied to anyone but themselves. Their halls are secret, their homelands forbidden to all outsiders, and trespassers are usually killed or enslaved.
Deep gnomes are similar in appearance to the mountain gnomes, with the exception of being hairless. They have very dark eyes, suited for seeing in the unlit realms of the Underdark. They are very sensitive to light, and have difficulty seeing in sunlight. They can move very quietly and hide in shadows well, and can be a deadly foe on their own ground. They are also known to be masters of illusion magic.
Due to their disposition and the areas they inhabit, deep gnomes are sometimes referred to as dark gnomes.
Deep gnomes speak an aberration of D’rak, the ancient tongue of the D’ren.
Deep gnome populations are unknown. It is known that they exist, but there is insufficient information available to determine their numbers.
Dark – Dark gnomes are those gnomes, regardless of breed, who are considered to be greedy, evil, or touched by Shadow. These gnomes are notably mean-spirited creatures, typically selfish in intent and actions, and lead an elusive existence in those regions known to be Shadowlands, such as the Wyrmrim Mountains or the Crack Regions of Wyrdwood. Not much is known of these peoples, but they are believed to be usually Deep or Mountain gnomes who delved too deep into the dark places, becoming ensnared by what forces dwell within the Deep Dark. However, no gnome is immune to the touch of the Deep Dark; sometimes otherwise good-natured surface gnomes will become untrustworthy and act in their own self-interests above all others.
Urban – Urban gnomes are gnomes, usually wood or meadow gnomes, who have taken residence in one of the many human and elven cities where their kind are welcome. These gnomes usually will occupy roles in various specialty trades, such as merchants, jewelers and gemsmiths, higher skills such as alchemy and illusionary magecraft, and in agrarian jobs such as gardeners and landscaping. Oftentimes these gnomes will live within their own neighborhoods, and even multiple neighborhoods can be found in some cities, where there exists multiple economic classes of gnomish society. In these enclaves, the gnomes will setup their own local council and security, sometimes to the ire of the host city’s government, although some cities welcome the example.
These are the gnomes that would be known in the Northern Realms. There may be others, and as we go thru them, we’ll update the descriptions.