Gnomes are distant relatives of the fey, and their history tells of a time when they lived in the fey’s mysterious realm, a place where colors are brighter, the wildlands wilder, and emotions more primal. Unknown forces drove the ancient gnomes from that realm long ago, forcing them to seek refuge in this world; despite this, the gnomes have never completely abandoned their fey roots or adapted to mortal culture. Though gnomes are no longer truly fey, their fey heritage can be seen in their innate magic powers, their oft-capricious natures, and their outlooks on life and the world.
Gnomes can have the same concerns and motivations as members of other races, but just as often they are driven by passions and desires that non-gnomes see as eccentric at best, and nonsensical at worst. A gnome may risk his life to taste the food at a giant’s table, to reach the bottom of a pit just because it would be the lowest place he’s ever been, or to tell jokes to a dragon—and to the gnome those goals are as worthy as researching a new spell, gaining vast wealth, or putting down a powerful evil force. While such apparently fickle and impulsive acts are not universal among gnomes, they are common enough for the race as a whole to have earned a reputation for being impetuous and at least a little mad.
Combined with their diminutive sizes, vibrant coloration, and lack of concern for the opinions of others, these attitudes have caused gnomes to be widely regarded by the other races as alien and strange. Gnomes, in turn, are often amazed how alike other common, civilized races are. It seems stranger to a gnome that humans and elves share so many similarities than that the gnomes do not. Indeed, gnomes often confound their allies by treating everyone who is not a gnome as part of a single, vast non-gnome collective race.
Physical Description: Gnomes are one of the smallest of the common races, generally standing just over 3 feet in height. Despite their small frames, however, gnomes are extremely resilient, and not as weak as many of their foes assume. Though their diminutive stature reduces their ability to move quickly, gnomes often train to take advantage of their size, especially when fighting foes much larger than themselves.
The coloration of gnomes varies so wildly that many outsiders assume gnomes commonly use dyes and illusions to change their skin and hair tones. While gnomes are certainly not above cosmetic enhancement (and may wish to change their appearance just to see how outlandish they can look), their natural hues truly range over a rainbow of coloration. Their hair tends toward vibrant colors such as the fiery orange of autumn leaves, the verdant green of forests at springtime, or the deep reds and purples of wildflowers in bloom. Similarly, their flesh tones range from earthy browns to floral pinks, and gnomes with black, pastel blue, or even green skin are not unknown. Gnomes’ coloration has little regard for heredity, with the color of a gnome’s parents and other kin having no apparent bearing on the gnome’s appearance. Gnomes possess highly mutable facial characteristics, and their proportions often don’t match the norm of other humanoid races. Many have overly large mouths and eyes, an effect which can be both disturbing and stunning, depending on the individual. Others may have extremely small features spread over an otherwise blank expanse of face, or may mix shockingly large eyes with a tiny, pursed mouth and a pert button of a nose. Gnomes rarely take pride in or show embarrassment about their features, but members of other races often fixate on a gnome’s most prominent feature and attempt to use it as the focus of insults or endearments.
Society: Unlike most races, gnomes do not generally organize themselves within classic societal structures. Gnome cities are unusual and gnome kingdoms almost unknown. Further, gnomes have no particular tendency to gather in specific neighborhoods even when a large number of them live among other races. While specific laws meant to contain the potential impact of gnomes on a society may require a “gnome quarter,” and societal pressure sometimes causes all non-gnomes to move away from areas with high gnome populations, left to their own devices, gnomes tend to spread evenly throughout communities that allow them.
However, even when gnomes are common within a community as a group, individual gnomes tend to be always on the move. Whimsical creatures at heart, they typically travel alone or with temporary companions, ever seeking new and more exciting experiences. They rarely form enduring relationships among themselves or with members of other races, instead pursuing crafts, professions, or collections with a passion that borders on zealotry. If a gnome does settle in an area or stay with a group for a longer period, it is almost always the result of some benefit that area gives to a vocation or obsession to which the gnome had dedicated himself.
Despite their extremely varied backgrounds and lack of a unifying homeland, gnomes do possess some common cultural traits. Male gnomes have a strange fondness for unusual hats and headgear, often wearing the most expensive and ostentatious head-covering they can afford (and that their chosen careers will allow them to wear without causing problems). Females rarely cover their heads, but proudly wear elaborate and eccentric hairstyles that often include intricate jeweled combs and headpieces.
Relations: Gnomes have difficulty interacting with the other races, on both emotional and physical levels. In many ways the very fact other races see gnomes as odd is itself the thing gnomes find most odd about other races, and this leads to a strong lack of common ground upon which understanding and relationships can be built. When two gnomes encounter one another, they generally assume some mutually beneficial arrangement can be reached, no matter how different their beliefs and traditions may be. Even if this turns out not to be the case, the gnomes continue to look for commonalities in their dealings with each other. The inability or unwillingness of members of other races to make the same effort when dealing with gnomes is both frustrating and confusing to most gnomes.
In many ways, it is gnomes’ strong connection to a wide range of apparently unconnected ideas that makes it difficult for other races to build relationships with them. Gnome humor, for example, is often focused on physical pranks, nonsensical rhyming nicknames, and efforts to convince others of outrageous lies that strain all credibility. Gnomes find such efforts hysterically funny, but their pranks often come across as malicious or senseless to other races, while gnomes in turn tend to think of the taller races as dull and lumbering giants. Gnomes get along reasonably well with halflings and humans, who at least have some traditions of bizarre, gnome-like humor. Gnomes generally feel dwarves and half-orcs need to lighten up, and attempt to bring levity into their lives with tricks, jokes, and outrageous tales the more dour races simply cannot see the sense of. Gnomes respect elves, but often grow frustrated with the slow pace at which members of the long-lived race make decisions. To gnomes, action is always better than inaction, and many gnomes carry several highly involved projects with them at all times to keep themselves entertained during rest periods.
Alignment and Religion: Although gnomes are impulsive tricksters, with sometimes inscrutable motives and equally confusing methods, their hearts are generally in the right place. What may seem a malicious act to a non-gnome is more likely an effort to introduce new acquaintances to new experiences, however unpleasant the experiences may be. Gnomes are prone to powerful fits of emotion, and find themselves most at peace within the natural world. They are usually neutral good, and prefer to worship deities who value individuality and nature.
Adventurers: Gnomes’ propensity for wanderlust, deep curiosity, and desire to master odd or esoteric skills and languages make them natural adventurers. They often become wanderers to experience new aspects of life, for nothing is as novel as the uncounted dangers facing adventurers. Many gnomes see adventuring as the only worthwhile purpose in life, and seek out adventures for no other motive than to experience them. Other gnomes desire to find some lost lore or material that has ties to their chosen vocation and believe only dragon hoards and ancient ruins can contain the lore they need, which can result in gnomes who think of themselves as bakers or weavers being just as accomplished adventurers as those who declare themselves to be mages or scouts.
Gnomes are physically weak compared to many races, and see this as a simple fact of life to be planned for accordingly. Most adventuring gnomes make up for their weakness with a proclivity for sorcery or bardic music, while others turn to alchemy or exotic weapons to grant them an edge in conflicts.
Male Names: Abroshtor, Bastargre, Halungalom, Krolmnite, Poshment, Zarzuket, Zatqualmie.
Female Names: Besh, Fijit, Lini, Majet, Neji, Pai, Queck, Trig.
- Ability Score Racial Traits: Gnomes are physically weak but surprisingly hardy, and their attitude makes them naturally agreeable. They gain +2 Constitution, +2 Charisma, and –2 Strength.
- Type: Gnomes are Humanoid creatures with the gnome subtype.
- Size: Gnomes are Small creatures and thus gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a –1 penalty to their Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Defense, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.
- Base Speed: (Slow Speed) Gnomes have a base speed of 20 feet.
- Languages: Gnomes begin play speaking Common, Gnome, and Sylvan. Gnomes with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Giant, Goblin, and Orc. See the Linguistics skill page for more information about these languages.
- Defensive Training: Gnomes gain a +4 dodge bonus to AC against monsters of the giant subtype.
- Illusion Resistance: Gnomes gain a +2 racial saving throw bonus against illusion spells and effects.
- Keen Senses: Gnomes receive a +2 racial bonus on Perception checks.
- Obsessive: Gnomes receive a +2 racial bonus on a Craft or Profession skill of their choice.
- Gnome Magic: Gnomes add +1 to the DC of any saving throws against illusion spells that they cast. Gnomes with Charisma scores of 11 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities: 1/day—dancing lights, ghost sound, prestidigitation, and speak with animals. The caster level for these effects is equal to the gnome’s level. The DC for these spells is equal to 10 + the spell’s level + the gnome’s Charisma modifier.
- Hatred: Gnomes receive a +1 bonus on attack rolls against humanoid creatures of the reptilian and goblinoid subtypes because of their special training against these hated foes.
- Weapon Familiarity: Gnomes treat any weapon with the word “gnome” in its name as a martial weapon.
- Low-Light Vision: Gnomes can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
The following alternate racial traits may be selected in place of one or more of the standard racial traits above. Consult your GM before selecting any of these new options.
- Academician Some gnomes are more academically inclined than their kin. Gnomes with this racial trait gain a +2 bonus on any single Knowledge skill. This racial trait replaces the obsessive racial trait.
- Bond to the Land Some gnomes have strong ties to specific kinds of terrain, as a holdover from their fey origins. These gnomes gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC when in a specific terrain type selected from the ranger list of favored terrains. This choice is made at character creation, and cannot be changed. This racial trait replaces defensive training and hatred.
- Darkvision Some gnome strains have lived in the underground depths for so long they have given up on light entirely and gained darkvision with a range of 60 feet. This racial trait replaces low-light vision and keen senses.
- Eternal Hope Gnomes rarely lose hope and are always confident that even hopeless situations will work out. Gnomes with this racial trait receive a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against fear and despair effects. Once per day, after rolling a 1 on a d20, the gnome may reroll and use the second result. This racial trait replaces defensive training and hatred.
- Explorer Many gnomes are obsessed with seeing as much of the world as possible, rather than perfecting some specific talent or vocation. These gnomes gain a +2 racial bonus on Climb checks and checks for one Knowledge skill of their choice. This racial trait replaces hatred and obsessive.
- Fell Magic Gnomes add +1 to the DC of any saving throws against necromancy spells that they cast. Gnomes with Wisdom scores of 11 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities: 1/day—bleed, chill touch, detect poison, and touch of fatigue. The caster level for these effects is equal to the gnome’s level. The DC for these spells is equal to 10 + the spell’s level + the gnome’s Wisdom modifier. This racial trait replaces gnome magic.
- Gift of Tongues Gnomes love languages and learning about those they meet. Gnomes with this racial trait gain a +1 bonus on Bluff and Diplomacy checks, and they learn one additional language every time they put a rank in the Linguistics skill. This racial trait replaces defensive training and hatred.
- Knack with Poison Some gnomes have an instinctive understanding of poisons and their uses. Gnomes gain a +2 racial bonus on Fortitude saves against poison and a +2 bonus on Craft (alchemy) checks to make poison. The bonus on Fortitude saving throws against poisons increases to +4 if the gnome accidentally poisons himself when applying or readying the substance. This racial trait replaces illusion resistance and obsessive.
- Magical Linguist Gnomes study languages in both their mundane and supernatural manifestations. Gnomes with this racial trait add +1 to the DC of spells they cast with the language-dependent descriptor or those that create glyphs, symbols, or other magical writings. They gain a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against such spells. Gnomes with Charisma scores of 11 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities: 1/day—arcane mark, comprehend languages, message, read magic. The caster level for these effects is equal to the gnome’s level. This racial trait replaces gnome magic and illusion resistance.
- Master Tinker Gnomes experiment with all manner of mechanical devices. Gnomes with this racial trait gain a +1 bonus on Disable Device and Knowledge (engineering) checks. They are treated as proficient with any weapon they have personally crafted. This racial trait replaces defensive training and hatred.
- Pyromaniac Gnomes with this racial trait are treated as one level higher when casting spells with the fire descriptor, using granted powers of the Fire domain, using the bloodline powers of the fire elemental bloodline or the revelations of the oracle’s flame mystery, and determining the damage of alchemist bombs that deal fire damage (this ability does not give gnomes early access to level-based powers; it only affects the powers they could use without this ability). Gnomes with Charisma scores of 11 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities: 1/day—dancing lights, flare, prestidigitation, produce flame. The caster level for these effects is equal to the gnome’s level; the DCs are Charisma-based. This racial trait replaces gnome magic and illusion resistance.
- Warden of Nature Gnomes must often protect their homes against unnatural or pestilential infestations. Gnomes with this racial trait gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC against aberrations, oozes, and vermin, and a +1 bonus on attack rolls against them because of their special training. This racial trait replaces defensive training and hatred.
You can combine various alternate racial traits to create gnome subraces or variant races, such as the following.
- Dread Gnomes Moodier, less forgiving, and often crueler than other gnomes, dread gnomes trace their heritage to the darker, more bloodthirsty lines of fey. Though not all dread gnomes are evil, they all find humor in watching others suffer, and have little use for the bright colors and joyful pursuits of their more cheerful cousins. Dread gnomes have the fell magic and knack for poison alternate racial traits.
- Gear Gnomes Sometimes rather than a single gnome becoming obsessed with a project, whole families of gnomes undertake a project so massive it requires generations of artisans to complete. Such projects often involve complex clockwork devices (or entire clockwork buildings), and those born into families dedicated to lifetimes of work on them are known as gear gnomes. Gear gnomes have the academician and master tinker alternate racial traits.
- Lava Gnomes Fascinated by the power of magma and living in vast caverns beneath active volcanoes, lava gnomes are considered hot-tempered and dangerously unstable even by other gnomes. Lava gnomes have the darkvision and pyromaniac alternate racial traits.
- Traveler Gnomes These gnomes were born on the move, their families living on a ship or in a caravan wagon. These gnomes have the magical linguist and either the explorer or the gift of tongues alternate racial traits.
The following favored class options are available to all characters of this race who have the listed favored class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the favored class reward.
- Alchemist Add +1/2 to the number of bombs per day the alchemist can create.
- Barbarian Add a +1/2 bonus to the barbarian’s trap sense.
- Bard Add +1 to the bard’s total number of bardic performance rounds per day.
- Cavalier Add +1 to the cavalier’s mounted base speed. In combat this has no effect unless the cavalier has selected this reward five times (or another increment of five). If the cavalier ever replaces his mount, the new mount gains this bonus to its speed.
- Cleric Add +1/2 to the cleric’s channeled energy total when healing creatures of the animal, fey, and plant types.
- Druid The druid gains energy resistance 1 against acid, cold, electricity, or fire. Each time the druid selects this reward, increase her resistance to one of these energy types by +1 (maximum 10 for any one type).
- Fighter Add +1 to the fighter’s CMD when resisting a dirty trick or steal attempt.
- Gunslinger The gunslinger reduces the amount of time needed to restore a broken firearm using the Gunsmithing feat by 5 minutes (maximum reduction of 50 minutes).
- Inquisitor Add a +1 bonus on concentration checks when casting inquisitor spells.
- Monk Add +1 to the monk’s Acrobatics check bonus gained by spending a point from his ki pool. A monk must be at least 5th level to select this benefit.
- Oracle Add +1/2 to the oracle’s level for the purpose of determining the effects of the oracle’s curse ability.
- Paladin Add +1/2 hit point to the paladin’s lay on hands ability (whether using it to heal or harm).
- Ranger Add DR 1/magic to the ranger’s animal companion. Each additional time the ranger selects this benefit, the DR/magic increases by +1/2 (maximum DR 10/magic). If the ranger ever replaces his animal companion, the new companion gains this DR.
- Rogue The rogue gains a +1/2 bonus on Disable Device and Use Magic Device checks related to glyphs, symbols, scrolls, and other magical writings.
- Sorcerer Select one bloodline power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the sorcerer’s Charisma modifier. The sorcerer adds +1/2 to the number of uses per day of that bloodline power.
- Witch The witch gains 1/6 of a new witch hex.
- Wizard Select one arcane school power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier. The wizard adds +1/2 to the number of uses per day of that arcane school power.