Unpredictable envoys from another world seeking purpose in a confusing existence.
The eccentric, incredibly intelligent gnomes are the Feyborn cousins of the elves, gnomes are especially uncommon throughout the entire world, and claim no homeland nor shared heritage. Some gnomes claim that the first gnomes to ever exist were conceived in the Feywilds, a plane of existence said to be inhabited by the eponymous Elderfey. Others claim that gnomes simply came to be from the Arcane Pools under the Earth, appearing from pure arcane energy. Some gnomes claim no origin story, simply dismissing the need for one with a shrug. Although they have no real culture, gnomes seemingly exist only in extremes, and they have become divided in the modern era by technology and theology.
You Are What You Believe
When a gnome’s mindset changes, so too do her physical characteristics; although some gnomes may be born with an inclination toward a set of beliefs, no stranger sight exists than that of a gnome’s hair surging to life with arcane knowledge or fading to black with an atheistic revelation.
The Arcane Gnomes keep to the ways of magic, recognizable by their high-energy studiousness, brightly-colored hair (of all shades of the rainbow), and eccentric fashion sense. The Divine Gnomes have most often adopted the religion of the elves, and often call themselves the Knights of Priharé; the elves refer to them as Priharé’dà’sefævèn, or Priharé’s Grandchildren1. The Divine Gnomes can be recognized by their serious demeanor, their hair, which comes in shades from dark brown to bright red (and occasionally blonde), and their Phoenix-bearing tabards or robes. The newest variety of Gnome, the atheistic Industrial Gnomes, have abandoned religion and magic in favor of technological pursuits, often leading extremist lives; these Industrial Gnomes are often quick-speaking and think in binaries, with mathematical and logical aptitudes; they often wear dark-clothing to intentionally contrast themselves with the Arcane Gnomes, diving into and sometimes forging the latest fashion trends around the world; their hair (white, black, any greys between, and typically unkempt) is a dead giveaway.
Gnomes of a Feather
Gnomes have no true society, but often gather together in clubs of similar-minds, hiding themselves away to study or to plot; a gnome never feels uncomfortable around a like-mind. In the same way, other races all seem to adore gnomes of like mind—the dwarves take well to the Industrial Gnomes, the orcs and elves to the Divine Gnomes, and the elves to the Arcane Gnomes. Humans often take in any gnomes without hassle, some happy to hear their perspective and others obliged to watch them in their unique way of living.
Always varied in alignment, gnomes are unpredictable. Religiously, however, gnomes tend to be predictable: the Arcane Gnomes have an undefined spirituality, finding the Arcane Pools to be proof of a higher power, and sometimes worshipping those who live in the Feywilds; the Divine Gnomes follow the way of Véliité, the religion of the elves; the Industrial Gnomes are almost always atheistic, but some may worship Salkash, the Dwarven Gods.
Dedicated to the Cause
Gnomes are always after something: a new discovery, a crusade for peace, a chance to test an invention; gnomes may be spontaneous, but they never lack a goal. For these goals, gnomes are rarely afraid to set out on a quest of life or death, finding the pursuit of these things more important than life itself. Through their dedication, gnomes make themselves some of the bravest adventurers in the land.
Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Dexterity, -2 Strength
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.
Speed: A gnome’s base land speed is 20 feet.
Keen Senses: Gnomes gain a +2 bonus on Perception checks.
Low-light Vision: A gnome may see twice as far as a human in conditions of low light.
Languages: Gnomes begin play speaking Vaslish and Gnomish. A gnome with a high Intelligence score may select any language as a bonus language (except secret languages, such as Druidic).
Passion: A gnome must select one of three passions: Arcana, Faith, or Industry.
Arcana Passion (Arcane Gnomes)
The Arcane Gnomes are naturally proficient with arcane pursuits; their bright attire and hair reflects directly their typical outlook on life. Although some may find them too much to handle, the energized Arcane Gnomes are a force to be reckoned with.
Ability Score Modifier: +2 Charisma
Healthy: Arcane Gnomes gain advantage Fortitude saves against disease and poison, including magical diseases.
Arcane Knowledge: Arcane Gnomes gain a +2 racial bonus to Spellcraft and Knowledge (Arcana), and gain these as class skills if they do not have them as a part of their class.
Gnome Magic: An Arcane Gnome gain a +1 bonus to the DC of any saving throws against illusion spells that they cast. Members of this race with a Charisma score of 10 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities: dancing lights, ghost sounds, prestidigitation, speak with animals. These abilities can be used a number of times per day equal to 1 + the character’s Charisma modifier. The caster level for these effects is equal to the user’s total character level. The DC for the spell-like abilities is equal to 10 + the spell’s level + the user’s Charisma modifier.
Faith Passion (Divine Gnomes)
The Divine Gnomes most often call upon the Elven deity Priharé to give them strength, and channel their faith into an offensive. Typically seen as stubborn and serious, the Divine Gnomes are a strange bunch for a race typically seen as energetic and full of good humor. A good portion of these Divine Gnomes become sages, wandering the land and preaching about Priharé and Véliité. Some Divine Gnomes may worship Salkash or even Elea, and are equally devout in their worship.
Ability Score Modifier: +2 Wisdom
Weapon Familiarity: A Divine Gnome is always proficient with longswords, longspears, and the favored weapon of her deity.
Channeler: Divine Gnomes can channel energy as a 1st level cleric, and Divine Gnomes who take class levels in cleric add 1 to their effective class level for the purposes of the effects of channel energy. They do not, however, gain additional channel energy die until they reach the appropriate cleric level.
Holy Aura: A Divine Gnome has a powerful aura as a first-level cleric of her alignment.
Irrelevant Encumbrance: Divine Gnomes are never slowed by wearing medium or heavy armor.
Industry Passion (Industrial Gnomes)
Ability Score Modifier: +2 Intelligence
Master Tinker: Industrial Gnomes gain a +1 bonus on Disable Device and Knowledge (engineering) checks. Members of this race are also treated as proficient with any weapon they have personally crafted.
Craftsman: Member of this race gain advantage on all Craft or Profession checks to create objects from metal or stone.
Magical Aversion: Industrial Gnomes are not magically inclined, and have disadvantage on checks to overcome Spell Resistance, to overcome Touch AC with a spell, and Use Magic Device checks.
Magehunter: Industrial Gnomes gain Spellcraft as a class skill if it is not already granted by their class, advantage on Spellcraft checks made to identify a spell being cast and a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against arcane spellcasters. Members of this race only gain this bonus against creatures that use spells, not against those that only use spell-like abilities.