Retroactive Workshop Wednesday: Gnomes

While looking through some of my old writings, I discovered some notes that I had written about gnomes. I think I’ve dismissed way more of my old ideas than I have kept at this point, but I mostly like what I had written down for gnomes, so I thought I would go ahead and reproduce that here:

Though they are distant cousins of dwarves, Al’Tarin gnomes have long since abandoned their ancient mountain homes and heritage.  Indeed, the gnomish culture and lifestyle is so different from that of the dwarves that the only evidence of a shared ancestry lies in a few bygone vestiges, such as a distant physical resemblance and similar constitutions.   The gnomes of Al’Tarin are essentially gypsies, homeless and ever wandering the land, traveling the countryside with their families and all they own in their garish caravans.  They carry with them too a legend: that somewhere there exists a homeland for their kind that has been lost to the ages.  Until they find this home, this race of nomads earn their living through an aptitude for the performing arts and their knack for repairing and crafting all manner of things. A gnomish caravan is part travelling circus and part flea market, and the arrival of such a caravan is usually cause for great excitement. Their aptitude for crafting and repairing things has earned them the nickname  of “tinkers,” and their services and wares are often prized, especially in smaller communities.  On the other side of the coin, their nomadic lifestyle and gift for prestidigitation, coupled with a well-known lust for gemstones, has earned the gnomes of Al’Tarin a reputation as thieves and tricksters. So in many cases the arrival of a gnomish caravan (or “tinker train” as they are often called) is met with not only excitement, but also trepidation and scorn.

Note: The rules changes listed below assume the use of Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 rules, since that is the system all of this errata was written for. As of now I am not wed to any core system for the world I am building, but I thought I would go ahead and list all of what I had written.

Changes in Racial Traits:  The gnomes of Al’Tarin have been above ground wanderers for many generations and have lost some of the racial traits traditionally associated with them, but have also cultivated others. To represent this, the following changes should be made to the gnomish racial traits in the Player’s Handbook. If a trait is not specifically modified or mentioned below then gnomes retain that trait as it is listed:

  • +1 Dexterity, +1 Constitution, -2 Strength:  Not quite as resilient as a Dwarf, nor as nimble as a Halfling, the Gnome’s ability score modifiers represent a mix of their lingering Dwarven ancestry and the nature of their current culture.
  • Replace the +1 bonus to attack rolls against kobolds and goblinoids with the bonus skill points that humans receive at first level and beyond. Tinker Gnomes have long since abandoned their cavernous lairs where fighting with goblinoids would have been commonplace, while their nomadic existence has made them much more resourceful and self-reliant.
  • Gnomes can take the native tongue of any civilized culture as a bonus language. Their wide travels have exposed them to a wide variety of cultures, and learning the language of the lands they travel through is essential to their survival.
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