Gnome Pantheon

Gnome Pantheon

Name Portfolio Rank Alignment Favoured Weapon Domains
  • Garl Glittergold, greater god of all gnomes, as well as protection, humor, trickery, gemcutting and smithing.
  • Baervan Wildwanderer, intermediate god of forests, nature and travel.
  • Baravar Cloakshadow, lesser god of illusions, protection, deception and hatred of goblinoids.
  • Callarduran Smoothhands, intermediate god of earth, good, healing and protection.
  • Flandal Steelskin, intermediate god of mining, smithing and fitness.
  • Gaerdal Ironhand, lesser god of protection, vigilance and combat.
  • Gelf Darkhearth, intermediate god of entropy and revenge.
  • The Glutton, lesser god of disaster and greed.
  • Ril Cleverthrush, lesser god of invention, creation and sky.
  • Segojan Earthcaller, intermediate god of earth and nature.
  • Sheyanna Flaxenstrand, intermediate goddess of love, beauty and passion.
  • Urdlen, intermediate god of greed, bloodlust, evil, hatred and blind destruction.

The Lords of the Golden Hills

Gnomes worship a pantheon or deities known collectively as the Lords of the Golden Hills. They are so named for the region of Bytopia where most dwell. The powers included in the pantheon varies from gnome clan to clan (and even more so from world to world), but those presented hereafter are venerated or at least acknowledged in most gnome settlements in the Realms. Urdlen, the Crawler Below, dwells in the Abyss, but he has tunneled into Bytopia on more than one occasion only to be driven back each time.

While Garl Glittergold is clearly acknowledged as the leader of the gnome pantheon, he has never banished any god from that pantheon, even Urdlen, despite relentless attacks by the Evil One against its fellow powers and the Forgotten Folk. The Lords of the Golden Hills include Baervan Wildwanderer the Masked Leaf, Baravar Cloakshadow the Sly One, Callarduran Smoothhands the Deep Brother, Flandal Steelskin the Master of Metal, Gaerdal Ironhand the Shield of the Golden Hills, Garl Glittergold the Watchful Protector, Nebelun the Meddler, Segojan Earthcaller the Lord of the Burrow, and-by nature of the threat he embodies-Urdlen. As noted later in this chapter, Nebelun is a special case. Although the Meddler is a deity and is venerated as such on other worlds, in the Realms, Gond the Wonderbringer has assumed Nebelun's aspect and is venerated by the Forgotten Folk in his stead. It remains to be seen whether or not the followers of Nebelun will eventually separate from the church of the Wonderbringer. This seems unlikely for the foreseeable future given Gond's widely heralded appearance in the form of a gnome on the shores of Lantan during the Time of Troubles. As such, Gond/Nebelun is currently counted as a member of both the gnome pantheon and the human Faerunian pantheon.

Several of the Lords of the Golden Hills have a boon companion that accompanies them wherever they may go. Some examples include Arumdina, the sentient battle axe of Garl Glittergold, Chiktikka Fastpaws, an intelligent giant raccoon who accompanies Baervan Wildwanderer everywhere, and the intelligent stone golem that accompanies Segojan Earthcaller. Other gnome deities typically travel together or in the company of a nongnome deity of a related portfolio. Mythic tales almost always involve the gnome hero being accompanied by one faithful companion or receiving significant aid from a deity (often in the form of hints and riddles) presented by well-disposed creatures as the adventure unfolds. This reflects the value the Forgotten Folk place on companionship and sharing with trusted fellows, whether they are gnomes or of other races.

The gnome deities, it is said, were born as gems or veins of rich ore in the heart of the world. The gentle erosion of underground waters eventually released them. Some members of the pantheon are still associated in myth with the gems or metal from which myth says they were birthed- Baervan with emeralds, Callarduran with rubies, Flandal with the magical ore, arandur, Garl with gold, and Segojan with diamonds. Other deities have lost this association. Little in the way of familial relations has ever been ascribed to the Lords of the Golden Hills, although some legends refer to gods of the pantheon as brothers. Some myths claim that there were once female gnome deities, by their fate, assuming they ever existed, has long been forgotten. Members of the all-male pantheon have nothing to say on the matter except to betray a hint of ancient sadness.

Notwithstanding, it is an ancient tradition of the Forgotten Folk that when a young gnome wishes to leave the close bonds of his or her community, even for a short period of time, that she or he avoid engendering a feeling of rejection in family and friends by attributing his or her wanderlust to a divine vision to search for the missing sister gods. The Lords of the Golden Hills are actively involved in the lives of the Forgotten Folk.

Compared to the gods of other pantheons, they frequently dispatch avatars to intercede on behalf of their worshipers. However, instead of appearing to their worshipers on a regular basis, the gnome gods typically dispatch avatars only to undertake adventures that will indirectly benefit the Forgotten Folk. A subtle but important aspect of such exploits, as chronicled by gnome legends, is that they encourage small groups of worshipers to settle new lands that they might not otherwise explore. While the Forgotten Folk are not in decline like the dwarves and the elves, their numbers are no longer increasing significantly. The out-of-the-way, relatively untrammeled corners of the Realms that gnomes prefer to inhabit have become less and less remote as the years unfold. This has lead to increased competition for living space with both allies and foes.

While some non-gnome sages claim that Forgotten Folk are the creation of Netherese arcanists seeking to create a race of perfect servants, more cautious scholars note the existence of gnome artifacts dating back long before the appearance of the Forgotten Folk during the Silver Age of Netheril. Gnome folklore holds that the first gnomes were born from gems discovered by Garl and Arumdina in a fashion similar to that ascribed to the gods. The Watchful Protector discovered a sealed cavern whose walls and ceiling were studded with countless gems embedded in veins of valuable ore. When Garl polished the gems and breathed on them, the jewels opened like a blossom to release the first gnomes. Before leading them into the world, Garl bequeathed laughter and a spirit of mischievousness to the newly born race by telling them a joke. Those who were born of diamonds chose to dwell beneath the land and became the rock gnomes, those born of emeralds chose to dwell amidst the great trees and became the forest gnomes, and those born of rubies wandered deep into the heart of the earth and became the deep gnomes (or svirfneblin).

One is struck, in the study of gnome theology, by the relationship between the Forgotten Folk, particularly their heroes, and the Lords of the Golden Hills. In general, gnomes are not a tremendously devout folk, yet they have a rich oral tradition that shows the tales of gods blending with those of mortal heroes. The gods embody the sense of mischievous fun and enduring community that characterizes gnome society, coupled with a strong sense of wanderlust and desire for adventure that is less common among the Forgotten Folk. The relationship between the gods, the people, and the gems and ores with which they work is tightly intertwined.

It is unknown where or when the Forgotten Folk first appeared in the Realms, for gnomes have little in the way of recorded history. Since the Forgotten Folk are rarely referred to in other races' historical texts, there is a dearth of information concerning the emergence and migration of the gnomes across Faerun. What is known is that a large population of the Forgotten Folk were enslaved by the wizards of Netheril several millennia ago, until the Fair Folk of Illefarn and Eaerlann began to assist small groups to escape their Netherese masters. The elves hid the gnomes in the frontier garrisons they had built to defend their forests. They taught them the art of weaving illusions, so they could hide from those who might try to recapture them. A wave of escapes inspired a series of revolts, and after several ill-fated attempts to magically bind gnome artisans to their will, the Netherese arcanists freed their gnome slaves in -2387 DR. The great dispersion of rock and forest gnomes that followed scattered scores of gnome communities throughout the quiet backwaters of the Realms, predominantly to the south and east of what is now Anauroch. Although they were not part of the main wave of emigration, those gnomes who dwell in the Backlands and Sunset Vale of the Western Heartlands - particularly forest gnomes who dwell in the Forgotten Forest, a small remnant of the Far Horns forest, and rock gnomes who dwell in and around the Trielta Hills-have preserved a large stock of stories that tell of their flight from the mad Netherese arcanists and the resulting trials they endured while forging their own communities. Of particular note, it was in these communities that the first spriggans appeared, a legacy of Netherese magical tinkering.

The diversity of the gnome pantheon reflects in part the differences between the gnome subraces. But the interlocking aspects of the various gods' portfolios and the same powers' close cooperation reflects the close ties the various gnome subraces retain. While Segojan is predominantly identified with rock gnomes, Baervan is identified with forest gnomes, and Callarduran is identified with deep gnomes, each is venerated in communities of all three subraces, as are the other gods that constitute the rest of the pantheon. While duergar and derro share a mutual enmity with surface dwarves and drow are implacable foes of the surface elves, deep gnomes entered the Underdark voluntarily, and they maintain good relations with their surface kin. The only evil branch of gnomes in Faerun are spriggans, but while Urdlen has adopted them in part, they are more of a nuisance than a major threat, and their numbers are limited.

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