A dwarf would describe a gnome as a rare type of cancer that happens when gemstones are allowed to rot underground, instead of being mined and properly cut. The gem goes to seed, but it's still a gem.
A human would tell you gnomes are diminutive humanoids with gemstone eyes. Apparently, gnomes will buy gems from you at a good price, if you can keep the little fuckers from killing you first. They have gemstone eyes and terrifyingly white teeth.
A gnome would tell you that they are victims of an ancient curse. Sabu Monga, the Troll King, once turned nearly their entire race into stone. But the surviving gnomes were persistent, and labored for generations to find all of their petrified kin, eventually restoring all of them.
The Troll King saw this and was angered. This time, the turned them all into gems--objects that are just as worthless as stones, but were designed to inspire mindless lust among the fleshy races. They would covet these stones, and hide them in their vaults. In this way, the Troll King tricked the other races into helping him lock away the gnomes forever.
This is the source of all gems, they say.
Just as dwarves claim all the gold beneath the earth, so do gnomes lay claim to all gems.
Any gem can be turned into a gnome. There is a certain process that only gnomes are fully proficient in. The gem is washed with alternating bathes of milk and blood, before finally being buried in a rare salt. After two weeks, a gnome-child crawls from the dirt, full of half-memories from the time it was a gem.
Dwarves are capable of the opposite process. Bring them a gnome (living or dead), and through a process involving a a specialized set of vices, squeeze the gnome back into its gemstone state. You will get paid and the dwarf will get a fine gem. Everyone wins.
Despite all this, gnomes and dwarves get along as often as not. They have the same enemies, underground.
All gnomes can speak with gems. All gnomes remember much of what they experienced as a gem (so be careful what gems you sell to the gnomes).
Gnomes treat anyone carrying gems as a slaver. Anyone who attempts to sell them gems is a dirty, filthy slavemaster, and deserves to be put to death for their offenses against freedom. (They're pretty big on Freedom.) But, if there is no way to kill the slavers, they will pay top dollar to purchase the freedom of their family.
|Eyes like this.|
This is Jupiter's sableye, from the pokemon manga.
Much like ants or apes, gnomes are very strong for their size. The tallest ones are about 10" (25 cm) tall.
If a gnomes gemstones are removed, they die. (In addition to the normal trauma of removing someone's eyes.) A gnomes gemstone eyes are not as valuable as a product of a dwarven gnome-vise.
Gnome skulls are conical, and grow increasingly more conical as the gnome ages. This is a sign of beauty among gnomes, and tall hats are common among them. (Human nobility, ever alert for new fashions of power, have even attempted to imitate it.)
Types of Gnomes
Common gems make common gnomes. There is nothing about common gnomes that precludes them from becoming rangers or illusionists, but they lack the mad vigor of their more chromatic siblings that predisposes them to such careers.
Rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and other exuberant gems are used to make gnome surveyors. (More on them later.)
Diamonds make a megagnome, a gnome that is capable of changing size between mouse-scale, gnome-scale, human-scale, ogre scale, and any size in between. They lack the gem-eyes of the usual gnome, and instead have their gem embedded in their bellybutton. Aside from a slight infundibular affect of their skull, they can pass perfectly for a human in their middle form.
Opals, moonstones, and other similar gems tend to make white-haired illusionists, an especially respectable career among gnomes.
Quartz makes for moronic gnomes called gnomens, who have a perfect memory but little other activity in their pointy heads. Despite this prodigious power, gnomens are usually found standing in the village square, staring at the sun, calling out the hours.
Pearls are not a true gem, but despite this fact, they can be used to create the gnomefish, whose tender flesh and succulent vitreous make it a prized gemstone among the gnomes. It is said that their nobility cannot marry without a feast of gnomefish.
The gnomefish itself is a prodigiously ugly fish, with goggle eyes, bulbous nose, and rosy cheeks.
You must never let them get their hands on bismuth.
|A gnome attacking a human barbarian.|
You will know that you are in gnome territory by their effigies. Gnome lands are riddled with wooden carvings of themselves. Sometimes crude, sometimes perfectly lifelike. You will find these mock gnomes peering out from beneath toadstools and leering at you from the crooks of trees.
Gnome villages are well-defended and hard to find. Still, they are worth searching for--a sack of gnomes is enough to retire on. By all accounts, the villages are happy places, full of songs and strong communities of well-adjusted gnomes.
They also really like pineapples for some reason. Every village has a few.
Gnome lands are usually riddled with tunnels and traps. Beware of badgers, who are often hired as shock-troopers. Badgers are dangerous on a normal day; badgers can handily kill you when you are blinded and hanging by your heels.
Those who wish to contact the gnomes are advised to sing songs and wear pointy hats. These signs of civilization will endear you to them, making you seem more gnomish, and making it harder for them to kill you as just another mindless beast.
While selling them gemstones can be profitable (they pay +50% or +100%), it can also be dangerous, since they will hate you for it, and may murder you afterwards. Giving them liberated gems is a quick way to earn their gratitude. Also, talk shit about trolls; they hate trolls. Better yet, bring them some troll heads.
A gift of a diamond is precious. 50% chance that a gnome surveyor joins your party as a hireling. This is the only way to play a gnome PC.
Fighting the Gnomes
Wise men fear the gnome. While most gnomes live bucolic lives in their villages, sipping mushroom wine from buttercups, the gnome surveyors are the battle-hardened protectors of their communities. A gnome becomes a surveyor only after they have killed a wolf without any assistance.
HD 3 (HP 6) AC plate+4 Greatrazor 1d4*
Move as human Jump as cat
Gnomes have strong arms and low bodyweights. In a forested environment, they can combine their grapnels and natural jumping ability to easily move 20' vertically as part of their movement.
With a grapnel and a nearby tree, a gnome can strike halfway through their movement, making an attack and ending their turn on a branch or inside a hollow log.
The razor's damage is doubled if a gnome can attack any of your weakpoints: genitals, eyes, or neck. If all three of these areas are protected, the razor's damage is a mere 1d4.
Gnomish greatrazors are also valued as shaving razors. Dwarves, especially, prize their beards and will pay handsomely for them.
If a gnome brings a PC below 0 HP, the PC is instantly decapitated. Characters will full helmets are immune to decapitation. (Gnomelands and gnomes are well-known for this. Make sure that your players are fully informed of this before adventuring near gnomes. Consider a helmet-seller who charges double.)
Gnomes are aware of this limitation and have a number of method to combat it. If their victim is wearing a coif, one gnome will jump to your shoulder and lift the coif, while their partner strikes at the back of your neck. They also make use of bees, tarthrowers, and heat metal.
Gnomes also make use of illusionists, but you already know how those work.
If you are able to fight gnomes without grapnels, greatrazors, trees, and traps, they're quite easy to defeat. Inside their forests, you are most likely to encounter a patrol of 1d4+2.
|Gnomes fighting a human houndmaster.|
You can grab them as easily as you can hit them with a melee weapon. Grabbing them is probably preferred, since they become helpless when they are grabbed. You can choose to deal damage to them automatically on the next turn (1d6 unless you have a really good way to deal more) or throw them at their allies, potentially taking out two gnomes at once.
Also, if your game has special rules for when the PCs fight giants, the gnomes can use those against you.