Gnomes Of Terra

Gnomes Of Terra

Gnomes are inveterate explorers, tricksters, and inventors. Although mostly concentrated in their home land of Neblitvatta in the Alps and parts of Germania, they can be found throughout most of Europa. Indeed, gnomes are highly prized and eagerly sought by many countries wishing to have access to their skills at alchemy, illusion and engineering.

The Giant Wars

It is said that, long before humans walked the lands, Garl Glittergold originally gave the lush green lands of Germania to the Gnarneblin (“Rock Gnomes”, sometimes translated as “True Gnomes” or “Righteous Gnomes”) as their own. There they lived in peace and tranquility, and were highly skilled at various forms of horticulture - herbs, fruit trees, seed crops and vegetables.

At some point, the giants invaded their lands in a wave of terror and destruction. For many years, the gnomes fought in what came known as “The Giant Wars”, and many tales are told of the exploits of one gnomish hero or another defeating scores of giants with trickery, bravery, invention, or sheer luck. During this time, became a little harder, and turned their ingenuity to alchemy, illusion and machines of war.

However, the bravery and inventiveness of the short people were not enough, and the giants gradually forced the gnomes to retreat higher and higher into the alps. Indeed, some members of the race despaired, and fled deeper and deeper into the mountain caves. That group never returned to the surface, and later became the Svirfneblin (“Deep Gnomes”).

Others refused to be cowed. Instead, the crafty and resourceful amongst the gnomes saw the advantages and opportunities of the mountain terrain. The rugged mountains gave gnomes “more material to work with” in setting traps, ambushes and pitfalls, and offered small caves and tunnels that giants had difficulty accessing.

The relentless press of the giants slowed… and stopped. A stalemate formed in the high alpine passes and valleys – the giants couldn't force their way forward, but neither could the gnomes beat them back. For well over four hundred years the two races sniped, feinted, attacked and counterattacked, but to no conclusive victory.

In this time, gnomes established hidden villages, then towns, then cities – part above ground, part below ground, but always hidden and defensible. The great city of Zeurich was established in this time, and in the long history of the gnomes has never fallen to a foreign invader (indeed, some invading armies couldn't even find it).

At some point, the attacks ceased. The myths say that the gnomes of that time didn't even notice at first – their program of attacks and feints went on, the giants were still there defending – but for some reason, the assaults from the giants became less frequent and eventually stopped. Within a few years, there were noticeably less giants to ambush. In under twenty years, there seemed to be no giants at all!

Scouting parties eventually worked their way down the valleys to the lowlands to discover a land plundered, destroyed… and abandoned. The giants were gone. What was unclear was where they went. They did not seem to have moved east towards the lands below the Urals, nor west to the fertile lands of Gaul. They did not seem to go anywhere. Some speculate that most of them were taken by some other-worldly power for purposes of their own. Some believe that one day they will be back.

Most gnomes were more than satisfied with their mountain home. A few, however, were horrified by the damage done to the lands given to them by their patron deity, and returned to help repair the forests. Focusing their skills on the restoration and protection of the forests, these gnomes in time became the Aldarneblin (“Forest Gnomes”).

Zurrekneblin And The Forged

The harsh times of the Giant Wars remain fixed in the backs of gnomish minds even though many generations have passed. Although few gnomes these days actively create in preparation for war, gnomish craft and invention almost always has a hidden undercurrent of possible use “for next time”.

However, there are some who prepare much more overtly. Alchemists experiment with new potions to give gnomes an edge in battle. Engineers develop and refine weapons, armour, siege engines, and civil defences. And all gnomes from a very young age learn the defensive combat maneuvers developed against the giants all those years ago.

However, some gnomes are a little more zealous than others, and are prepared to be a little more… reckless. Gnomish construct-engineers have strict guidelines as to what can and cannot be created – one very important aspect of the teachings of gnomish priests is a holy covenant on the sanctity of life, and the relative roles of gods and mortals. Gnomish ingenuity can enhance life, succor life, prolong life, even revive life… but under no circumstances is a gnomish invention permitted to create life. Indeed, it is for this very reason that there are so very few gnomish necromancers, and that the aberrant few that do exist are outcasts from gnomish society.

However, the heart of an explorer often pushes the envelope, and one work team of gnomes was trying to find ways to manufacture animated constructs more efficiently. By finding the right blend of arcane and divine magics, engineering and alchemy, plus energy drawn directly from the Positive Energy Plane, the team created a construct forge that was 27.3% more efficient in construct production costs and time than any created before. Unfortunately, it had the unexpected side effect of causing the construct to live (in 98.4% of cases – for a full analysis see Appendix 3a-iv of the user manual).

Needless to say, this caused an uproar. Most of the members of the work team were arrested, and much of their material was confiscated. A few members of the team escaped, and with the help of family members and their freshly-living creations, left the city with some of the more important research documents.

Neblitvatta was shaken to its core. The High Council sat in session for an unprecedented eight months. Trials were held, appeals lodged, committees formed, inquiries held. Everybody had an opinion, and everyone wanted to share it. Finally the Neblivethmag ruled that the research be destroyed, and the work team be exiled. This started a new round of appeals, committees and investigations, particularly on the issue of whether the destruction of the research, vis a vis the constructs themselves, was itself an act of murder.

On the day sentence was passed, one more surprise was revealed. The heated debates about the issue at hand had so inflamed the sensibilities of some gnomes, that they actually opted to be sent into exile along with the work team. Thus, a group of well over a thousand gnomes were escorted out of Zeurich, and to the very borders of Neblitvatta. Some gnomish historians later called this “The Little Exodus”.

The group, which became known as the Zurrekneblin (“Tinker Gnomes” - those that tinker with the social order) didn't go far. Moving through the highland regions of Germania, they found the group that had escaped arrest months earler. No mere fugitives-on-the-run, this group had already established a village with a workshop, had recreated the life-forge, and had a working population of over three hundred “Forged” constructs.

The Zurrekneblin now occupy a reasonable section of highland Germania, forming an independent state called Zurrekvatta, and share this new nation with the Forged. There are five working Life-forges in existence, in different towns in Zurrekvatta, but three are operated by Forged alone, and all five are now heavily regulated. This self-regulation was a key factor in establishing a reconciliation between the two factions of gnomes.

The transgression is now an act of the distant past – three generations of gnomes have come and gone since then. Generally, the Gnarneblin official attitude expresses itself as “the act was wrong, but the transgressors are dead”. Ongoing construction of Forged is now in the hands of the Forged themselves, and although there are gnome assistants, no gnome now could be said to be breaking the ancient covenants directly. Consequently, relations between the two nations are amicable.


Gnome Subraces

Still Working On This Bit!

  • Gnarneblin ("True Gnomes")
  • Aldarneblin ("Forest Gnomes")
  • Zurrekneblin ("Tinker Gnomes")
  • Svirfneblin ("Deep Gnomes") - treated as a separate race

Common Traits:

  • Con +2; Str -2
  • Small
  • Speed 20 ft./15ft.
  • Low-light vision
  • +2 racial bonus on saving throws against illusions.
  • +4 dodge bonus to AC against giants.
  • +2 Listen
Rock Gnomes
Gnarneblin
Forest Gnomes
Aldarneblin
Tinker Gnomes
Zurrekneblin
+1 racial bonus on attack rolls against kobolds and goblinoids. +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against kobolds, goblinoids, orcs, and reptilian humanoids. +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against kobolds, goblinoids, and constructs.
Automatic Languages: Common, Gnome. Bonus Languages: Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Giant, Goblin, Orc Automatic Languages: Gnome, Elven, Sylvan. Bonus Languages: Common, Draconic, Dwarven, Giant, Goblin, Orc. Automatic Languages: Common, Gnome. Bonus Languages: Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Giant, Goblin, Orc
+1 DC for Illusion spells. +4 Hide (+8 in woodded areas)
+2 Profession (Apothecary) +2 Profession (Herbalist) +2 Profession (Engineer)
Spell-like ability: Speak With Animals (burrowing mammals only, duration 1 minute) Spell-like ability: Speak With Animals (forest mammals and birds only, duration 1 minute) Spell-like ability: Speak With Animals (alpine mammals and birds only, duration 1 minute)
Spell-like abilities (1/day): Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound, Prestidigitation. Caster level 1st; save DC 10 + cha + spell level. Pass Without Trace (Su): A forest gnome has the innate ability to use Pass Without Trace (self only, as a free action) as the spell cast by a druid of the forest gnome's character level.
Bard Ranger Artificer
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