Wednesday, 2 May 2012
G is for Gnomes
A much maligned race, Gnomes have a somewhat checkered history throughout the history of gaming.
Mythologically speaking, Gnomes are meant to be small, mischevious creatures - redcaps, brownies, sprites, that kind of thing. Little trickster spirits (or fairies) who lurked in the woods and either lured unsuspecting travellers to their doom, or otherwise hinder people unless placated with gifts and offerings.
"Classic" D&D made them similar to Dwarves - sturdy little buggers, who were miners by trade (most likely a nod to the original Kobolds - spirits of mines and caves). They were naturally talented with magic - again, a nod to their Fae origins. Due to their interations with other minings monsters (like Kobolds), they also gain a bonus when fighting them - leading to a great rivalry between Gnomes and Kobolds (apparently kick-started when the Gnomish God was a total prick to the Kobold God).
One of the defining representations of Gnomes was in the Dragonlance setting, with its Tinker Gnomes - obsessed with mechanical contraptions, a little bit crazy, and fairly annoying. This led to a surge in the amount of "crazy" Gnomes seen in games - annoying little pests, who played tricks on other party members and generally caused trouble with their "loveable" antics. Strangely, while a much-hated representation, it's pretty close to the myth!
I find that their amin problem is that they step on the toes of three of the Big Races - Dwarves, Halflings and Elves. Dwarves, because they live in/on/under mountains, and are fans of mining and smithing; Elves, due to their love of the arts and finer things, and their natural aptitude for magic; and Halflings, because of their fun-loving personality and general "sneakiness" that comes with being Small. They just don't have the deoth to really step out of the shadow of the Big Three of D&D.
For Delraith, I might take a leaf out of 4th Editions book - they're not really a player race. They are essentially servitors to the Elves, Fae creatures either created or charmed into their service. They are naturally talented with magic (as are the Elves), though more with minor trickery and practical things - not the powerful, almost technological magic of other Races. They may act as spies, go-betweens with other races, servants, jesters, or any other function their Lord may desire. They are rarely spotted outside of Elf-held territories, and are considered legendary (or just dishevelled-looking Halflings).