|Posted on Tue, November 06, 2001 by Toran
|Longetalos writes "The gnomish people are some of the most interesting and respected races on Oerth. They get along very well with humans, elves, dwarves and halflings by stint of having something in common with each of these races.
Roleplaying a gnome
by Richard Di Ioia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
Gnomes enjoy a good laugh. Although not as loud or as frequent in their laughter as halflings, a gnome will laugh at a good joke for many days after hearing it. They give praise to each other based on their innovative and inventive pranks as well as their ability to tell a joke with a surprising twist. Their high wit and quick thinking make them easy to hold a conversation with and many a noble has used gnomish emissaries to smooth relations between nations. Gnomes approach their work with the same intensity as they do with their relaxation. A gnome will make certain that the smallest detail is taken care of and as such make excellent jewelers and gem cutters. If gnomes do have a failing it is with respect to those they perceive as being less witty then themselves. Although most gnomes are too polite, some gnomes have been known to insult some people by speaking over their head as it were. Gnomes enjoy solving riddles as well as puzzles of any kind.
Gnomish family life
Gnomes marry once in their lives and are never unfaithful. If either of the two were to pass away before the other, the other will remain celibate for the rest of his/her life. A gnome marries for the mental attraction and not for any physical attraction. Gnomish parents will have as many children as they can safely raise and entertain. It is not unheard of for gnomes to have over two dozen brothers and sisters. As a gnomish child grows up he is encouraged by his parents to play and compete with other children. These competitions are mainly mental in nature and the child is severely punished if physical harm is done to another. Of course, embarrassment and humiliation are par for the course and this forms the child's thinking process. By the time the gnomish child reaches maturity there is very little that can embarrass or humiliate him. As such it is very rare that a mature gnome will lose his temper with anyone as there are very few insults or provocation that the gnome has not already heard and overcome. Some humans look upon this as a lack of pride on the part of the gnome or that the gnome is spineless - yet this is far from the truth. For a gnome the expression "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words never hurt me" is one that is ingrained as part of his culture.
The learning process
Gnomish children stay with their parents for as long as they wish. At one point the gnome decides that it is time for him to marry and move out of the parent's house. A gnome's learning process begins at home and on the playground with the other children. Once a gnome reaches the age of 15 the craftsmen take notice of him. The gnomish children are given riddles or puzzles to solve by the craftsmen of each craft. These riddles are written so as to not only check the mental acuity of the child but also to analyze his thinking process. Based on their aptitudes with certain types of riddles, the gnomish community learns towards which profession the child is best suited. The child is then apprenticed to the craftsman. The length of the gnome's apprenticeship is solely based on his aptitudes. Each craftsman not only analyzes the workmanship of the gnome but also presents the gnome with riddles to solve to progress further in his studies. Once again, these riddles are suited towards the skills that the craftsman believes the gnome should have learned.
Gnomes do not belong to a clan as much as they belong to an extended family. Because of the number of children each gnomish family has, many gnomes are somehow related to each other within a few generations. Gnomes celebrate this by always including the family names of their wives and husbands within their own last name. The order of the names denotes how many generations are between you and those of the same last name. From a human point of view this becomes extremely confusing, yet it is ill viewed among the gnomish community to not remember at least 8 previous generations of your family tree.
Gnomish decision making
Gnomes have much in common with humans in their decision-making methods. The nobles of the land make the hard decisions for non-nobles. Gnomes will usually go along with what their nobles tell them to do - at the same ratio as that of humans faced with a similar circumstances (i.e. no forcing peasants to charge a dragon).
Gnomes have a hereditary nobility and rulers. Unfortunately because of the large extent of inter-family marriages the line of succession is difficult to follow. Among the gnomish people a noble is granted rulership of his lands for life, but this does not guarantee that his children will succeed him. Once a noble dies the last name of his oldest child is compare to the others in the community. If he still has the oldest bloodline then he succeeds to the throne as well. Otherwise it passes on to the gnome with the oldest bloodline. Remember that when a gnome marries he merges his bloodlines with that of his wife's. This means that although a noble might have the oldest bloodline that of his married child might not. This becomes very confusing for non-gnomes - but the gnomes themselves understand it perfectly.
The gnomes as a people are deeply religious and look to their gods as the ultimate creators. The whole world is a huge riddle that the gods created for gnomes to figure out and solve. Being a practical and very smart people, gnomes realize that gods are gods regardless of the racial origin of the god. Therefore many gnomes worship gods that are traditional viewed as human. Of course, gnomes will very rarely worship a god that does not fit in with their cultural ideals - such as Heironeous or St. Cuthbert that promotes a very strict regime with few opportunities to play pranks. That being said, very few non-gnomish gods truly fit the gnomish cultural identity so their priests are few.
Gnomes at war
Gnomes are not perceived as being particularly good warriors and this perception has a fair basis in fact. Unlike the dwarves, gnomes do not constantly practice with weapons and prepare to defend themselves. Their first line of defense has always been to ensure that nobody hates them. Of course, this does not always work so the gnomes have used their greatest asset - their wit. In hostile territory, gnomish villages are protected with a series of traps to catch the unwary. Their weapons and armor are made to take advantage of their small size and trickery. Gnomes tend to use many mechanical constructs when fighting wars to augment their ability to deliver death.