The Gnomes of Oerth
Date: Sun, October 05, 2003
Topic: Peoples & Culture

Of all the civilized peoples of the Flanaess, Gnomes are the most often misunderstood and overlooked, until now! Learn about the fascinating history, mythology and culture of these folk in this in depth treatise. (Presented in AD&D 2nd Edition game stats, but somewhat rules-lite and easily compatible with any system.)

The Gnomes of Oerth
By: Argon
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

Many human sages have poured over hundreds of tablets and long lost relics. Many of their findings explain the dwarven and Elvin races. Some rare few have spent a portion of their time researching other races. But gnomes have always been an after thought. Some speculate that they are cousins of the dwarven race, others state they are the union of an elf and dwarven paring. None are true, as you will find in these texts. Gnomes have access to knowledge that no mere human, dwarf, or elf could claim to possess. Gnomes are more than a shorter version of a dwarf; they are a race unto their own. In hear you will find a detailed beginning to the race of gnomes and their relationship to the trolls and spriggan of Oerth. So beware of what you read for it will change everything you know about the gnomish race.
The following is a 2nd edition version of The Gnomes of Oerth. It may be converted for your campaign with minimal effort to 3rd or 3.5 editions of the dungeons & dragons game.

Gnomes Of Oerth
The Gnomes are one of the first races of Oerth. They have a lengthily, history through out the ages of Oerth. The Gnomes are said to be the people responsible for locking away the magic’s that were once employed by both the Baklunish Empire and the Suel Imperium. For a race as long lived as the gnomes, it is surprising to see how cooperative they are with members of other races. Some sage’s state that this only proves the vast sources of knowledge the gnomes have at their disposal, for many have sought the knowledge of the gnomes thinking they have found all there is to know of these people’s. But in reality they haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.
Gnomes tend to dress conservatively, in neutral colors that are often determined by their dwelling-place’s environment. The style may be anything from breeches and surcoat to simple robes, depending on their experiences and locales they have visited. They have no sense of fashion nor any particular interest in it, unless it is an extension of a fascination with a particular culture as a field of study. While jewelry is a common thing in gnomish society, it often does not exceed one or two pieces of fine craftsmanship.
Gnomes have a skin texture which is dry, cool, and soft to the touch, with wrinkles common even in their youth. A gnome’s skin color often matches his habitat, depending on how long he has lived there. Mountain or hill dwelling gnomes may have a grayish or reddish brown, rocky pallor, while gnomes living in a forest might have skin of brownish hue. Their eyes may be of any color with green and hazel being the most common. Gnomes wear long pointed beards but they rarely grow a mustache. Gnomes often like to wear hats especially the males, because of this most gnome males have no hair on the top of their heads just on the sides.

Gnomish Mythology
The gnomish people have vast sources of knowledge, claiming to know how each race was born and when they first arrived. What is listed here is a gnomish telling of the birth of Oerth and its races. Whether the following is true or not, none but the gods themselves could argue either, although elves and even trolls may tell you differently.
In the beginning, their were three types of powerful being’s. Each of these being’s power was greater than any power ever seen in present times. One of these being’s were creatures of immense girth and length, scaly hides with long feathered features, it is rumored that just one of these creatures was the size of modern day Oerth, these creatures were called the Linnorm. Another race of similar girth had skin of silver-gray and hair the color of clouds, their features were of humanish standards and they equaled the size of the Linnorm and were bitter enemies to them, these creatures were called the Joten. The last were being’s of different shapes and sizes, one could appear as frail as a wounded bird while another could appear as strong as the morning sun, but all were powerful in their own right and they were bitterly hated by both the Linnorm and the Joten, for these creatures called themselves the Gods.
These being’s fought for eons, through out the cosmos; the gods gained the upper hand. When the gods had realized that they were the most knowledgeable and most powerful of these being’s they sought to make themselves king’s of the other two. Both the Linnorm and the Joten refused to bow to their authority, and so the Gods forced each of the Linnorm and Joten to a form with witch the gods could have dominion over, and so the stars, the sun and planets were born. Each of the Gods made one of these places there own personal home, but two of these places resisted the Gods still. It was a Linnorm known as Oeferous, and a Joten known as Thantion. The gods grew furious and sought to destroy these infidels, the gods succeeded or so they thought, the two dead bodies formed into one great planet which gave birth to trees, mountains, lakes, oceans, seas, and earth, and from this earth small and large animals were born. The Gods could invoke their influence but were greatly limited, and none could make this planet their home. After tireless centuries the Gods decided to leave this planet alone, it was named Oerth in honor of the two being’s who fought so long and were eventually pulled together.
Ages had past, and the world of Oerth changed very little, until one day a member of the Gods sought to take dominion of Oerth or join with it and rule from within. Oerth swallowed this God and its essence change the world, for some of the trees could walk and some of the stones could too. Many of the Gods were in amusement and wonder of these being’s. They where no wear near the power of the gods but they could call Oerth their home. Some gods decided to speak to these being’s and when they did these being’s spoke back, and so the Ents and Duhr were born named after the god who joined her essence with Oerth. The Ents and Duhr did as the gods told them and the gods were pleased for they had found being’s willing to recognize they greatness.
In the coming years many of the Gods contemplated, creating another being one unlike the Ents and Duhr, one in which they would be wholly responsible for creating. For centuries the Gods argued over which would be the first of their kind to grace Oerth. Some gods cared little for this chatter and continued on their own vendettas, while two groups continued this argument.
The Throlic and Geothum, gods argued more than most on what would be the best vessels for these being’s to take form in. Then a member from each of these houses sent a messenger of their own to search Oerth for the perfect vessel in which their race would be born. The Geothum were given a stone of many sides and angles, it was white and seemingly perfect with little flaws. The Geothum were happy, for none could be as perfect as the gods and each of them put a piece of themselves into this stone shaping and nurturing it until it was born. The Throlic were given a large rough, brown stone with thorns emanating from it. The Throlic stated that only a race as strong and sturdy as them could brave a world that they themselves were forbidden to enter. The Throlic each carved a piece from the stone and handed the finished product back a tablet of knowledge that would be there’s alone.
The Gnomes and Trolls are born, upon their arrival on Oerth; the world awoke and let forth the spawn of hatred upon them. Giants and Dragons the spawn of both the Joten and Linnorm who formed Oerth. The Gnomes and Trolls fought off these beasts together, with the aid of their gods many a dragon and giant were turned back. The Trolls would do most of the fighting while the gnomes tried to make peace with these creatures. The Trolls began to become annoyed with the lack of response from the gnomes, while the gnomes were annoyed at the constant onslaught at which the Trolls would seek out giant and dragon kind. The Trollish people tried to take dominion over the gnomes, stating that the gnomish people were too weak and easily intimidated by the giants and dragons.
The War of the First, the gnomes fought off their trollish oppressor’s, and many a gnome and troll died at each others hands. The gods of both races, argued with there kind to stop this war and continue to claim all of Oerth. But they could not here them, another voice outshined the gods, whispering lies into the ears of both these races.
The Birth of Urdlen, the lies that have been fed into the ears of the gnomes and trolls were spread by this creature. Urdlen revealed himself to both pantheons, and claimed too be responsible for the wars on Oerth. Urdlen was a creature spawned of all the evil of the cosmos, his sole reason for existence was too twist and warp all the gods had created. The gods of both pantheons united against this evil, with the wit of Garl and the spear of Agith, the creature known as Urdlen was sealed into the center of Oerth, were his influence over the gnomish and trollish people were waned greatly. The War of the first had ended, and the Gnomish and Trollish people went there separate ways, each claiming lands for themselves forgetting any past alliances they had made in the past.
The rebirth of Urdlen, after his humiliation at the hands of Garl and his defeat at the hands of Agith, Urdlen decided to exact his revenge. Because he could not create his own race Urdlen used his magic’s and lies to twist the forms of trolls and gnomes. Urdlen created a crossbreed from his foul magic’s these creatures could assume both gnomish and trollish form, they became known as the spriggan. The Spriggan were agents for there dark lord , entering lands of both gnomes and trolls corrupting them and turning the gnomes and trolls once again against each other. Once again the trolls and gnomes warred against each other.
The second war was more telling then the first as the agents of the dark lord Urdlen, entrenched his will upon the gnomish and trollish people. The Spriggan had a flaw though they could only hold there forms for eight hours after which they would have to change into another. The Gods Baervan, and Katorr came up with a contest for Urdlen, if one of his creature’s could best either a gnome or a troll in a riddle contest they would free him from his prison, but his creature’s could not reveal themselves as anything other than a Spriggan. Urdlen agreed and put his wisest of creatures to the test, go forth Rel’than Urdlen called. The armies of the troll’s and gnomes gathered, each sent forth there greatest riddlemasters, to combat this creature called a Spriggan. This contest lasted for 13 days and 13 nights before it meet its end. The Spriggan and one troll known as Dorgal, and a gnome known as Feindura, were left, each had answered riddle’s that even the gods had struggled with, but Rel’than drew a riddle next: “A worm swims in me. I prevent any from leaving. I am both open and closed, but never at the same time. Some revere me, others fear me. What am I”? Both Dorgal and Feindura could not answer; Urdlen screamed with joy, I’ve won now release me from my prison. Urdlen screamed again why do you not release me I have won now let me free, my Spriggan defeated your trolls and gnomes now release me. Garl began to clap very good Rel’than, tell me of what race were you born? Before Urdlen could prevent the Spriggan from answering Rel’than said I was once a troll. Urdlen had just lost his freedom because the Spriggan stated he was once of another race. This was a violation of the agreement Urdlen had made and now the trolls and gnomes knew who their real enemy was.
The war of the Spriggan, once again the trolls and gnomes fought together, and drove the spriggan armies away. In the end many gnomes and trolls were dead both races retreated for a time as the other gods fought to implant their own races onto Oerth.

Gnomish Beliefs
The following is a listing of what appears to be the common everyday belief’s of the gnomish people. Gnomes believe that the races of Oerth were born in this order. First were the Animals, then the Ents and Duhr, next the Gnomes and Trolls (Giants & Dragons), then the Spriggan, next were the Orcs, Goblins, Elves, & Dwarves, then came the Halflings, Gnolls, and Humans, lastly were the Tuatara ”Lizard men” .
Gnomes are on great terms with halflings, delighting in their appreciation for humor, music, food, and relaxation; these two races know the importance of cooperation with other races. Dwarves are seen as to restricted, but gnomes appreciate the dwarven skills of craftsmanship and often get these stern people’s to appreciate the gnomish humor. Gnomes enjoy the elfin philosophy on life, but do not share their isolationist attitudes, and are tired of the Elvin argument that elves were born first, many gnomes will say your right and be on their way just to prevent an argument. Although gnomes have no hatred of trolls, the two races often avoid each other, their past together bring’s up hurtful memories to both these races. Gnomes see the races of Orcs as far too brutal and unintelligible to deal with by normal means. Goblins, particularly hobgoblins can show signs of promise and peace has been made with them before in the past. Giants & Dragons are too proud of themselves to really recognize the other races and that is their major flaw. Gnolls particularly Kobolds have a great antipathy for gnomes the gnomes sense this antipathy and return it when needed. Humans perhaps are the biggest conundrum for gnomes as they have made the greatest advances of any race, though they breed too quickly, rush many decisions that don’t necessarily need an answer right away. The tuatara are rarely seen by the gnomes, but have been encountered, the gnomes state that on their own the tuatara are not bad, but when under the influence of their draconic masters they are not to be trusted. While it is thought that Spriggans were destroyed, the gnomes state that this race still exists because evil still exists, and without evil their can be no good and vice versa. The gnomes hold no animosity against the spriggan, because the gnomes blame Urdlen for their unfortunate creation.

Gnomish Mannerisms
Gnomes are a very emotional people, given to laughter and joy, weeping and sorrow, in loud and affecting displays. This applies to both work and play. Despite their physical resemblance to dwarves, a group of gnomish miners can easily be distinguished not only by their smaller size but by the laughter and song that accompanies them on their task.
While gnomes as a race are jovial beings, they take great delight in lost histories and various texts of knowledge. Gnomes are thought to hoard the stuff of legends deep within their intricate lairs, hidden or forgotten by the world around them. Tales and rumors abound of lost and forbidden magic’s that the gnomes jealously keep for themselves, nothing could be further from the truth. While it is true, gnomes do have vast arrays of knowledge at their hands. Many of the aforementioned magic’s and forbidden lore that some sages believe gnomes hoard, have actually been destroyed by the gnomes. Unlike the mannish and elfin people, gnomes do not wish to hoard knowledge that is harmful. Instead gnomes prefer to gather knowledge and share it with like individuals. Though this sharing of knowledge is just that, if you have no knowledge of usefulness for a gnome, don’t expect a gnome to return too much in your favor.
Gnomes have a few other customs unknown to other races. The big schnozzola (nose) is an important status symbol among all of the gnome sub races. Parents proudly point out the size of their children’s noses and make enthusiastic prognostications about future growth. Many sages believe that the reason, most gnomes put their children though this is to give them an understanding of good humor. Heck gnomes will even have contests, with heavy wages to see who has the biggest & brightest nose. Gnomes are very found of fires and keep at least a small fire or lit candle within their homes. In fact many gnomes like to sit around a fire and meditate, they believe it clears ones thoughts. Gnomes are known to start festivities at the drop of a hat. When in truth each time a festivity is started there is a good reason. Gnomes believe that both work and play are necessary to live a joyous life, and so anytime work tends to be snagging or on job stress seems high, gnomes will though a festive event to alleviate the pressures of life. Marriages are small affairs in gnomish societies, only immediate family members are guests and many quickly leave to allow the newlyweds a chance to get to know each other privately. In most cases bride and groom have been childhood friends and have made the match of their own free will. While most marriages occur during the decades immediately following the coming of age. Those gnomes who choose not to wed are not ostracized or even considered odd. Gnomes marry for companionship as much as procreation, and a couple will almost always remain happily married until one of them passes away. Remarriage is rare, although it has occurred before, divorce is unknown.

Gnomish Nature
Gnomes are a fun-loving knowledgeable people, with a great emphasis on personal freedom. However, a cornerstone of this freedom is a respect for the rights of others, and those who tromp on those rights are considered to have committed a grave breach of gnomish etiquette. This cornerstone of individual responsibility is the key to understanding the gnomish culture. Some infractions are refusing to give their best effort in a task, abuse of ones hospitality, welching on a bet, cheating of all sorts, and criticizing another(especially on their lack of nose size).
Gnomes have a great relationship with the animals of their homeland. Gnomes usually have badgers, wolverines, weasels, moles, owls, hawks, and other small animals as allies. Many of these creatures will take up residence with a gnomish community, and in exchange for kind treatment, they will often act as sentinels, quickly bringing word of any strangers in the area, and if the community is attacked often these creatures will fight savagely in defense of their friends.
Gnomes are famous, or perhaps infamous, for their sardonic sense of humor. All gnomes love practical jokes, the more elaborate the better. This can be very disconcerting when a gnome decides to express friendship or affection to a non-gnome by making that individual a special target for a string of practical jokes. Gnomes will never intentionally harm a victim of their jokes and if this happens it is not thought of as funny and the offending gnome will often apologize profusely.
In a way practical joking takes the place of violence in gnomish societies. Two gnomes, who have a heated argument, are more likely to launch a fusillade of jokes, instead of blows, showing which one is cleverer. Gnomes take this same approach to military endeavors; it’s considered a more courageous act to make your enemy look foolish, than it is to kill the same enemy. This tactic has proven useful to turning the tide of a battle in the gnomes favor.

Gnomish Abilities
Gnomes’ being one of the first races of Oerth has allowed them too acquire abilities other races do not posses. Each of these abilities will be listed with descriptions of their use. While gnomes have been known to live in different types of terrain, they prefer wooded areas and hilly terrain above all. Unlike dwarves and elves that have major differences between sub races, all gnomes regardless of the terrain they reside in have basically the same abilities and similar characteristics. As such there are just gnomes.

Surprise Bonuses: Gnomes are only surprised on a roll of 1or 2 on a 10 sided die.
Defense Bonuses: Gnomes are more proficient at defensive fighting as opposed to offensive as such all gnomes receive a +1 to their effective armor class, for every three levels the gnome has attained as a fighter (maximum +5), every four levels for priests and rouges (maximum +4), and every five levels for a wizard (maximum +3).
Magic resistance: Gnomes receive a + 1 to their saves versus mind-effecting, charm, & illusion spells for every six points of Wisdom they posses.
Blend in with terrain: All gnomes can blend in with their natural surroundings, by freezing themselves in place. Remaining absolutely still for long periods, giving them a 60% chance to remain undetected by any observer, even those with infravision.
Gnomish Scent: Gnomes can identify certain poisons and ingredients merely by scent. This gives all gnomes a 30% chance to detect foreign substances and to track by scent.
Gnomish Lore: All gnomes value intelligence as much as they do humor, and so many gnomes have vast knowledge of legends and lore than any other race. (In game terms this grants all gnomes a 5% + 5% per 100 years of life to check if he has certain knowledge about any local or long lost lore even lost languages , or histories of certain lands or objects). Note: the DM makes the role and determines the level of knowledge the gnome character has on any given subject. Gnomish Bards can add this bonus to their bardic lore ability.
Craftsman: All gnomes are skilled in at least one of many craft professions, most likely are gem cutting, or jewelry making, but tailoring, brewing, cobbling, carpentry, mining, leatherworking, or blacksmithing. As such all gnomes may pick up to 2 slots of these proficiencies.

All gnomes receive the following ability score adjustments. A gnomes long life time has given them experiences and knowledge other races don’t have this grants them a +1 to both their Wisdom and Intelligence scores. Gnomes are an emotionally open people and even though some sages state that gnomes hide many things, it is not evident in their dealing’s with other races this grants them a +1 to their Charisma scores. While not overly weak a gnomes small and simple body frame does not allow for massively strong individuals this gives them a -1 to their Strength scores. Also because of their long life’s and laid back approach to tending tasks, all gnomes must pay 2.5 times the experience cost to attain a level.

This article comes from Canonfire!

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