Racial Bias: Gnomes

The entire purpose of a role-playing game is to achieve one goal; have fun. In that respect, there are few races offered in any iteration of any RPG that offers the scandalous amount of fun that the trusty and often mad Gnome brings to the table.

A table constructed of eccentricity and possibly something dangerous.

Gnomes are often looked down upon by many players, being invoked as a sort of punishment for disobedient players (as if players needed to be obedient in the first place). On a few occasions, I have heard the words uttered, "Do it again, and you're playing a gnome."

Personally, I don't consider that as so much of a threat as I do a promise for boundless fun. Wackiness is in the gnome's blood. It is a part of their being. So often we role-players focus so much on dark characters with heavy baggage making lofty decisions. Ever so often it is a welcomed change to play something that doesn't see the world in shades of gray, but the cavalcade of bright, almost psychotropic colors it was meant to be seen in.

So, without any further delay, let us dive into the fun times and explore why the gnome is the most fun you'll have playing anything under 3 feet tall.

Best. Name. Ever.
Gnomes have the best names in fantasy games today. They also have some of the most complicated, which only get longer and weirder as they get older and more experienced. Sure, at level 1 you could be simply "Gimble". But as time goes on you've done more, seen more, and the name becomes something a little more memorable, like "Gimble Namfoodlesheppenstumbleduck III".
You know you have a good name going when you can say it flawlessly (like the one above), and the other players at the table make it a personal life goal to do the same. Some other fine examples of gnomish names are:
Ozzriphathimous Zorastigellion
Zarzzuckett Zul Zorrizazz
Norna Haggornahnmorna
That last one there may seem pretty average, but by gnomish standards, it is possibly one of the strangest sounding names they have ever heard of. It's all about perspective.

One Of A Kind
Gnomes are unique, to say the least. Even if every play at the table rolled a gnome, the chances of two of them playing the same kind of gnome are slim to none. That is because gnomes, more than any other race, lend themselves to A variety of interpretation. One could be a mad scientist style of gnome while another is a colorful prankster while yet another could just be a pyromaniac that likes to watch things burn.

"Who want to see a magic trick?"

Any class in any book takes on an entirely new look and feel when you slap "Gnome" in front of it. How many other races can pull that off with any class? No one bats an eyelash when you say "Dwarf Barbarian", but "Gnome Barbarian" is sure to get someone's attention.

 "Do you have a lair? I have a lair!"

That is because gnomes bring a flavor to the table that no other race can touch. You never know what you are going to get when a gnome joins the party. Their chaotic nature means they are just as likely to conjure a feather bed and cuddle you as they are to summon their leopard to maul you into an early grave.

"Just for the fun of it."

Loved And Suspected By Everyone
"See? Personality goes a long way."

When most folks see a gnome, two things often spring into their minds immediately:
  1. "Oh! Look, a gnome! What a happy little person! I wonder what kind of fun and excitement it will bring?"
  2. "...I hope to the Gods my home//town survives the visit." 

Gnomes are a double-edged sword in the eyes of most races. They bring a sort of mirth and merriment that can warm even the coldest of hearts. They are like living rays of sunshine, casting a light onto the dark places of the world. On the flip side, a gnome's playful and mischievous nature (due in no small part to their fey lineage), mixed with their partial ignorance of when enough is enough tends to lead to some apprehension, especially when it comes to gnomes with a reputation.

Exploding Can Be A Hobby
Gnomes are notorious tinkerers. They love messing with things, be it machinery, weapons, or even magic itself. They take a great deal of pride in creating or improving on designs...

"My x-ray goggles are nearly complete! Soon I'll be able to tell if I remembered to wear underwear!"

...However, a gnome's ability to do so is often after an extensive testing period comprised of a copious amount of trail and error, the latter of which often takes the form of some manner of explosion/implosion/apocalypse.

"The goggles! They do nothing!"

Still, it is in a gnome's very nature to never be deterred by failure. They will keep pushing themselves in whatever pursuit happens to be their obsession, never taking "never" as a limitation. Gnomes know no limits, only boundaries they haven't broken yet, be them physical, philosophical, or ethical.

Two words: Gnome Necromancer.

"Life isn't the handicap it used to be."

Reason For Adventuring: Literally Anything
"I know it's in here, somewhere."

One of the toughest things a new character must decide before they even sit down at the table is what is their motivation for adventuring in the first place? The life of an adventurer is often harsh, brutal, and short. It takes someone of profound ability to even consider such a foolhardy endeavor, and even then, it is a decision not met lightly.

Unless you are a gnome, of course.

A gnome's motivation for walking out that front door to go on an adventure is as wide and varied as gnomes themselves. They could air on classic themes like revenge, or becoming the best they can be, or it could be something as simple or insane as "It's Tuesday. Time to slay a dragon. I'll be back in 30 years, Please remember to put the kettle on."

The world is a large and magical place for the wee little gnomes, and most would have a harder time trying to concoct a reason to not go out on an adventure than they would to just follow through and have a blast.

"You think you're so tough? HA! My hat was once TWO birds!"

A Mortal Enemy You Really Want To Have
It seems like every race has mortal enemies. Dwarves have goblins and orcs, elves have the dreaded drow, and half-orcs have everyone. One would think that the friendly gnome, with its good demeanour and friendly disposition, would be the last race to have someone gunning for them.

You would be wrong.

The gnomes do have a mortal enemy, and if Tucker is to be believed (and he is), then it is one of the deadliest enemies on the martial plane; Kobolds. Some may scoff at this, but from personal experience, there are fewer enemies as nightmarish and clever as the common kobold. Kobolds have low stats, and they know it, and a proper kobold, a correct kobold will compensate for that with ruthless efficiency.

How kobolds and gnomes came to become enemies has long been debated. Some believe it holds religious significance, where the God of the gnomes played a trick on the God of the kobolds, caving a mountain in around him. Whatever the case, kobolds have a mad-on for gnomes, and gnomes just sort of deal with it. Every day is sort of like a Loony Tunes cartoon. Anvils get dropped, people fall off of cliffs, and someone orders something out of that damned Acme catalog.

Surprisingly Complicated
Gnomes always appear bright and colorful, fancy-free without a care in the world. This is the persona they show to the world, but it is not always an accurate depiction. One might ask why gnomes are so friendly or like to play tricks, or even why they are such jovial jokesters. What is going on in the mind of a gnome?

Pure chaos.

Gnomes are every emotion set on full blast, almost all the time. That is not just the positive ones either, though these are the ones that they would prefer to focus on, and have you focus on. Gnomes don't like troubling others with their problems, and would rather suffer alone than bringing those around them down.

this aspect can make for an incredible complex and layered character beyond the buffoon or party-guy many perceive gnomes to be. They are a person, and prone to the same pitfalls and problems any other person is, more given their empathic natures.

To really understand this, one need look no further than the late, great Robin Williams, a man who brought a laughter to everyone he met, but was broken on the inside.

And what of anger? Rage? The paths to the dark side, they are. If you are a creatue that feels everything to it's maximum, what do you do when you are confronted by feelings of agression and hostility? For a gnome, there is a definate dark side to their usual peaceful nature, and once fed, the results can be rather... unpleasant.

Some consider gnomes to be eccentric, or a bit off. While in many cases this can be considered true. An obsessive devotion to certain projects can consume a gnome's life and sanity. In darker cases it can lead to pure madness. That madness can manifest a number of different ways; mania, obsessive compulsions, violent outbursts, or voices in the gnome's head. Darkest of all is that a gnome's predisposition to magic means they are connected to a wider world of the arcane and unknown, so that madness may attract things that follow in the same circuts. Things like...

"Cthulu fhtagn, what a wonderful phrase! Cthulu fhtagn, ain't no passin' craze!"

Why Gnome Is The Right Race For You
If you want to play a fun, zany, unconventional character who can make everyone at the table laugh and cringe simultaneously, while still tapping into a unique character with a surprising amount of depth, then a gnome is the perfect race for you.

Roll well, my friends,
 +Ed The Bard

Looking for more resources on gnomes? Maybe you'd like to rock out with another race? Either way, the Open Gaming Store has you covered with a mountain of affordable aids to help you be all the player you can be. Just tell them Ed The Bard sent you.

Like what you've read? Follow me on...

And coming soon to...


Popular posts from this blog

Steal This: 50 Adventure Hooks To Swipe For Your Game

GM Advice: How To Design A City

Steal This! 5 Really Useful Cursed Magic Items